Bills and Taxes and Budgets and Mathematicians, Oh My!

Almost fainted when I saw the American Express bill this month: $1250! Holeee Mackerel!

Since I’m running low on money anyway and am not going to make it to the end of my “fiscal year” when we’re slated to pull out another Required Minimum Drawdown, this was a bit of an eyepopper.

The fact is, though, that only about $700 of that was for living expenses. The vet charged $200 to put Cassie the Corgi down. The plumber charged $350 to rotoroot the plumbing. Et voilà: budget busted.

Fortunately, I’ve been putting $300 a month into emergency savings, so had a couple thousand bucks for damage control. Transferred $200 to help cover the bill; and if at the end of the month push has come to shove, I can transfer another two or three hunnert into checking for survival purposes.

Meanwhile, the scheme to decommission the Copyeditor’s Desk’s Paypal account continues apace. After hours of hassle, I finally managed to trick damnable PayPal to establish a new account, except that they wouldn’t let me attach it to the corporate bank account. So now money paid for editorial and blogging work will go into my personal account, and then will have to be transferred, with elaborate explanations to the tax man, over to the corporate checking account. That is going to be a vast PITA.

However, speaking of decommissioning: WonderAccountant has a modest proposal. She thinks we should change the business’s structure from an S-corp to a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or a C-corp. And she’s got somethin’ there.

If we made it a sole proprietorship, tax prep would be enormously simplified. The only drawback I can see is that the credit union will want to close the corporate checking & savings accounts. However, WonderAccountant and Mr. W.A. believe we can keep the EIN, and so we could quietly not tell the credit union that any change has occurred. This, we will address later…after tax season.

Meanwhile, all the tax stuff for her is in hand. How I hate this bureaucratic stuff! And how happy am I that I do not have a job in which all you do is wrestle with bookkeeping and taxes? Eeek! Let me count the ways!

Oh, in the PayPal department — and the Department of Outrageous Corporate Bureaucratic arrogance — can you believe this?!? Paypal actually demanded that I provide my bank account number AND password!!!!!!!!! Only in a fine-print line does one find a link to allow you to bypass that bit of bullshit.

Can you imagine? Like I’m gonna give PayPal direct access to my money and let them spy on every thing I do with my bank account? Yes, and while we’re at it, fork over my password to the next hacker who takes on PayPal!

Meanwhile, just as I thought the editing bidness was so moribund I might as well shut it down altogether, along came another of the redoubtable Chinese mathematicians, with 18 typeset pages of elaborate theroretical explication.

What amazing stuff. When you read this copy, you realize how creative and original mathematicians are. The whole premise for the system she uses to describe as a way to understand a specific set of empirical phenomena is a metaphor. Her demonstration works because she founds it in a metaphorical view of the real-world conditions she addresses.

And just as I reached the last few paragraphs of this project, in came a message from a senior scholar who contacted me some time back about helping him with a new biography of a very interesting mid-twentieth-century Chinese figure. This is a book I would really like to work on, and more to the point, he is an eminent scholar with whom I would really like to collaborate. Too, too exciting!

In other pastures of the Elysian Fields…I canceled tomorrow’s crack-of-dawn appointment with the adorable Young Dr. Kildare. Suddenly, out of the proverbial blue (is that also Elysian?), the back pain slacked off markedly. Yesterday afternoon it started to feel better, and this morning the pain was almost gone.

Well. In the first place, I’d just as soon not waste YDK’s time if the damn back sprain is going to go away on its own. Less generously, the prospect of spending a full hour in rush-hour traffic fills me with annoyed horror. To get there by the 8:00 a.m. appointment time, I’d have to leave here at 7 a.m., and the drive would be gawdawful. So…”feels better” served as a convenient excuse.

And a chimera: by 4:00 this afternoon it hurt like hell again.

Among the several tasks I’d set for today was to get a grip on Chapter 36 of Ella’s Story. Right. Well. I filled my pen, anyway.

Pain Pain Pain

So while Cassie the Corgi was in her last days, I had to lift her up, carry her outdoors, and set her down, then lift her up, carry her indoors, and set her down. Because she slept on the bed and was too small to jump up or down (even if she had that much strength at the end, which she did not), I had to lift her onto the bed and left her off. She weighed about 23 pounds. That’s not much, of course. But she had a habit of arranging herself in awkward positions, just out of reach on the bed. Upshot: I wrenched my back, but good.

At one point I felt something tear and thought “oohhhh shit!”

Falling and spraining my wrist did not help things. I expect the fall probably added to the back injury.

At any rate, it hurts a lot: enough to be disabling. Yesterday I had to beg off a volunteer chore because I can’t even begin to lift things. Experience shows that doctors can do little for back pain, so I suppose there’s no point in wasting my time traipsing across town to see Young Dr. Kildare. I’m allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen these days, so there’s basically nothing anyone can do. Whiskey works pretty well, as does wine. Or a couple of beers. A long soak in a tubful of hot water. Applying a heating pad. Tincture of time…

It’s nowhere near as bad as the time Anna the German Shepherd put my back out, thank gawd. Holy mackerel!

Anna was only a few months old at the time. She had already displayed her life’s ambition: to bring down a car or truck by the oil pan. This, she passionately desired. Even as a pup, she was a very powerful dog, fully capable of dragging a 130-pound woman into the road.

This one time, I had taken her for a walk in the ’hood, which means I’d taken her for a linear wrestling match. Without thinking about the fact that we were approaching the height of the rush hour, I turned onto Feeder Street NW, which runs through our neighborhood on its route all the way from Gangbanger’s Way to the state capitol downtown. Despite stoplights that last an eternity, many people prefer to drive through the city on this street because it’s less hectic than the main drags.

As we turned north, I realized a steady stream of vehicles was sailing past us…and so did Anna. Within a couple minutes, she realized she was in Predator Heaven, and she went bat-sh!t berserk trying to catch the cars whizzing past us. To avoid being yanked into the traffic, I had to pick her up and carry her back to another street deeper into the neighborhood.

She weighed about 40 pounds by then, I think. WhatEVER: she was too heavy for me to carry around, and certainly not to haul some blocks. I didn’t realize how badly this antic had hurt my back until, some hours later, I almost passed out from a surge of pain. When I sat down, I couldn’t get up. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such extravagant pain, before or since.

SDXB, who was living with me at the time, called 911. Paramedics showed up, loaded me onto a gurney, and carried me off to the hospital in an ambulance.

There they treated me by injecting me with ibuprofen or acetaminophen — don’t remember which. I had not yet developed the interesting sensitivities to these drugs, and so it worked without killing me. Today, that would be highly ill advised…

So that leaves booze and hot baths as the only analgesics. I guess I could go to one of those marijuana quacks and get a fake “prescription” to buy some dope. But I have a feeling that might be ill-advised…

At any rate, I’m getting damn tired of this. It’s been two weeks since Cassie was despatched to her Maker, and I’m mighty tired of hurting. But…apparently it can take six to ten weeks(!!) to get over a sprain. It looks like a month or so is more typical…but wow! That’s a long time to go with this kind of pain, especially when there’s no one around to do the household tasks.

Incommunicado

Now HERE’S the magical mystery wonder balm…

I’ve been incommunicado for a week or so with an episode of back pain SO colorful that I could barely hobble down the hallway. You know it’s bad when I don’t even feel well enough to write a blog post while perched atop a heating pad on the bed…

Don’t know what I did to bring this one on…only thing I can figure is maybe it was trying too fast to get up to a three-mile daily walk, by way of beating back the fat and the blood pressure. Whatever happened, it damn near crippled me. Yesterday it finally began to subside a little, and today it still is better. So I guess it’s not my body telling me it wants its hip replacement now, not later…

So…did the Magical Mystery Wonder Herbal Balm work on this? I have no idea. Maybe: the pain started to ease a day or so after I started smearing it on morning noon and night. But in the past the infallible cure has always been tincture of time, which, after about ten days should be kicking in right about now.

The blood pressure, interestingly enough, is also subsiding! It actually has dropped in spite of my not having any real exercise at all for the past 10 or 12 days. The only motion I’ve been able to manage — and that, painfully — has been the physical therapy routine I learned the last time this happened. And that’s not what you’d call aerobic. 😀  So far this week the average has been 126/83, and that’s WITH a spike into the 140s caused by a few moments of truly bracing pain.

So. I’m beginning to feel some hope that I can get the numbers consistently into the low 120s and high teens — without benefit of drugs — within about six weeks.

It’s interesting that this is occurring in the absence of daily exercise, because in theory a major factor in bringing down BP through lifestyle change is getting a decent amount of mild but real exercise. Apparently, though, weight loss is far more important: managed to drop 3.5 pounds since January 15, and the decline in BP measurements has closely tracked the drop in avoirdupois. When you think about it, 3.5 pounds ain’t much — on a serious diet, you should be able to lose 2 pounds a week without feeling very deprived.

Another factor may be getting off the sauce: I decided to teetotal as part of the BP Reduction Project. I can’t really see much connection, though, between the moment of climbing on the wagon and the moment of BP drop — in fact, one evening I went over to my son’s house and had two or three glasses of wine by way of back pain analgesia, and the next day, all day, the measures were in the teens. Intrigued by this development, a few days later I had one (count it, 1) bourbon & water at about the same time of day, and found exactly no difference the following morning.

So…hm. I figure the operative factor is mostly the weight loss. In theory, getting rid of even five pounds can drop blood pressure measurably.

Today I can walk, and I think I can sling a leg over the back of a bicycle, so after traffic dies down I probably will pump up the tires and go for a bike ride. While it’s not weight-bearing exercise, at least it IS moving around. Sort of. And it gives you a chance to ogle the neighbors’ houses, anyway. Weather is beyond gorgeous here during the day — this is the time of year for bike rides.

Heh heh… I may have to jump off the accursed Water Wagon, too. In amongst the endlessly contradictory research reports about blood pressure and cardiovascular disease comes this latest gem of wisdom: Booze is good for you! Your fevered brain is less fevered on 2½ glasses of wine a day.

Well! If they’d bothered to ask me, I coulda told ’em that. 😀

Ouch!

The honored Back has been out of commission for a week, taking a hip with it. This, I think is the worst back outage I’ve enjoyed since Anna the Ger-Shep was a pup, when she put me in the hospital by charging a passing mammoth pick-up and trying to bring it down by the oil pan — dragging me with her. Yesterday I was in so much pain I could barely walk around the house.

This predicament is not helped by the allergies to aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen… Nor, we might add, by the stress-inducing blood-pressure conundrum.

So crippled up have I been that I’d pretty much decided this must be It: the osteoporosis in that hip has decided to assert itself, so now must be the time for a hip replacement. Holeeeee shit! Just what I need to make my life fun.

This conclusion: especially because if I did anything to hurt myself I don’t know what it was. Or it wasn’t very credible. The pain started after I walked three miles one afternoon: two alone, and one with Ruby the Corgi, who goes right along at a fast clip. But that puts us into the “not very credible” zone (not to say the Twilight Zone…): I walk three-mile stretches all the time and never induce any back or hip pain. That is the proximate event…but we have no evidence that it was the cause.

WhatEVER! Yesterday I was seriously crippled up.

That didn’t stop me from accepting a last-minute dinner invitation from my son last night. Managed to get the pooches into the car, but he had to get them out and, later, put them back in.

And herein lies the interesting development:

Over dinner last night, I fell off the accursed Water Wagon with a resounding thud. Lost track of how much box wine I swilled, but it was plenty. At least three glasses, but when you’re refilling a few drops at a time, it’s kinda hard to judge.

By the time I got home, the back hurt a little less. Yes, I had done a set of physical therapy exercises at his house, whilst he was cooking. But…they haven’t helped one little bit over the past week or so. So there’s no reason to think they would have helped then. Probably the grape-derived anaesthetic was what did the job.

Meanwhile, let us say I happened to acquire a little jar of herbal pain-killer. You’re supposed to rub the stuff on your bod’ to evince a magical mystery rheumatiz cure. Right.

Welp, any port in a storm. So I smear this stuff on around the sore joints.

This morning, I roll out of the sack, spend an hour or so fiddling with the dogs and killing time, and then take my blood pressure — an annoying procedure scheduled twice a day. I expect to spike high, because alcohol does jack up your BP.

But…..lo!

Now, I’ll say: yesterday the BP was relatively low (not on target, but not alarming) throughout the day: Average 128/79 despite one reading of 136/84. But still: that was after three weeks of booze-free living. And…in the absence of the, uhm, analgesic herb.

It’s unlikely that said herb’s active ingredients will be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Human skin is fairly impermeable. Although nicotine is absorbed readily, most chemicals that we come in contact with — detergent ingredients, for example — are not. Nevertheless: an average systolic below 120? And two readings at 116/7n? Shortly after ingesting a different chemical well known for its capacity to inflate blood pressure score?

To coin a phrase: holy sh!t.

Throw open the Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest (i.e., the Internet) and google the active ingredient + blood pressure. And damned if there isn’t a study — in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, which has an impact factor of 12.5(!) — showing that the stuff did in fact reduce blood pressure in a small test group. The authors theorize that the result was caused by the ingredient’s tendency to reduce stress.

Yeah.

The back is somewhat better this morning — still hurts, but walking up the hallway no longer requires bracing oneself against the wall. The fact that it’s getting better suggests (maybe) an injury, rather than crumbling bones. This morning after a hot bath, I rubbed a bunch more of the magical  mystery cream into the hip joint and lower back, and also into the mastectomy scars, which are fine during the day but in the wee hours hurt enough to wake one out of a sound sleep. If the active ingredient actually does absorb through the skin, presumably by this evening I’ll be relaxed enough to reproduce those figures — preferably without benefit of the vino.

In herbi veritas?