Camper coming down.

Sam and I finally connected time and day and met up to de-construct the camper on my truck.

Actually, Sam did almost all the work. I was there to hold this piece or that piece and pick up stray screws. Sam had the circular saw.

I snapped some photos during the takedown…

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woot!

My truck is almost empty enough to take off the front and back panel. This will help tremendously with gas mileage and drivability.

I’ve had to go slow unloading it so I didn’t overload myself (and my limited number of spoons: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/)

I’ll leave the sides on, and maybe the top, because those walls will still be useful for unloading my small storage shed.

It’s amazing how much I had crammed in there. I mean, I know I’m a master at packing stuff in but really… this time I’ve surprised even myself.

Reintegrating is difficult.

I’ve been thinking about this post for several days now and I’m still not sure if I can adequately describe the situation, especially without sounding whiny. I’m not feeling whiny about it but I want to adequately describe it, so here goes…

I love being back in an apartment. I love not being homeless. But it is difficult to jump into the whole “housed” mentality again.
When I was homeless all my energy was spent surviving; I wasn’t worried about what people expected of me, because they didn’t expect anything of me.
Now, people expect an awful lot of me. Even just the basic things like being sociable.

I’m having difficulty keeping track of all the things I’m supposed to be doing.
Even the things that are supposed to be fun, were fun in a past life, that I’d love to get into again as soon as possible, right now those things are pressure to re-integrate.

I spent 6 months being fairly isolated. Now I’m supposed to jump back into society and go here and go there and do this and that, all with lots of people.

People at my apartment complex want to be sociable (this is a good thing but rather overwhelming) and I want to be sociable back but I also want/need my alone/quiet time.

I have the gift of a years membership at my old rowing club but I’m so out of shape and so not used to being around people or being evaluated on my skill (rowing technique) that I’m finding it hard to take advantage of the gift.

It’s a lot to deal with after being so alone and quiet for so long.

I put a deposit on an apartment today.

(and I’m really really excited!)

All the paperwork is done and the property manager person said it was likely she’d hear back by this afternoon.
Tentative move in is scheduled for Friday.

Of course, I don’t have a bed or any dishes or anything but I’ll be okay on the floor until I can buy a bed.

Just figured out what keeps waking me up.

My time living in my truck was uneventful, in the larger picture, but there was some “trauma”. Mostly just being in the open and vulnerable to anyone who wandered by.

Probably the biggest daily fear I had was the hail or the knock.

The hail was someone outside yelling “anyone in there?” before being rousted and processed by the police, then told to move on.

The knock was the worst though. Anyone coming up and thumping on the camper, or shoving it, or whatever else they did.
For some reason this always made my heart race, my adrenaline spike, my breath catch, and my fight or flight reaction kick into high gear.

I just realized as I was finally drifting off that in my mind/dream I heard again the thumping on my camper. And I was wide awake again.

It’s interesting to me, in that clinical detached way, that something so simple can be a “nightmare” and be troublesome enough to be described as a “trauma”.

More apt hunting

I’m off to look at another apt today.

This one is a traditional complex apartment with “amenities” like a splashing pool and laundry room on site.
It’s $100 more than the other one but does have a kitchen and a private bathroom. The location, though, isn’t as prime for activities and “getting out of the house”.
It is within easy cycling distance of the VA though, and it looks like I’ll be spending a substantial amount of time there for the next few months.

I’ll wait to sign anything, if accepted, until Wednesday though when I hear back from the other place.

apartment update

Yesterday I finally got in touch with the property manager of a little dorm styled room downtown for an affordable price.

The room was fine. But the manager seemed to be having difficulty with Keegan. Great difficulty. Ah well. Not everyone is a dog person (even when the law says no discrimination against service animals).

My view is that if the property manager is that uncomfortable with Keegan then I most likely don’t want to live there and deal with him being defensive all the time, that wouldn’t be conducive to a peaceful living situation.

what do I need?

so.. if I do get resettled in a stationary domicile.. what do I need? I have a huge list of “would be nice to have but not necessary” and just pure “Want!” but stuff I need? Hmmmmmm…

a bed.

mmmm…. hmmmm…. errr….

oh yes, a school desk.
a chair.

what else do I need?

ahhh.. house hunting..

bleh. 🙂

Actually, not so bad this time around. I have support and I have assurances that they won’t let me go back to living in my truck. They’re actively helping me look for housing too.

I woke up really early today so I’ve been going through the craigslist ads looking for places.

I’ve found that many advert writers are woefully unprepared for the act of writing advertisements.

But, I’ve got my spiel pretty well developed. First I ask if the unit is still available, then if it’s a roommate situation or a single renter situation (the ads hardly ever say), then a question about more specifically where the unit it (“south” covers everything from on the lake/river to the next town 25 miles away).

Wish me good house hunting karma!!!!

contemplative today

Since I’ve been staying here the past 2 weeks I’ve had to start relearning society’s rules and start forgetting the rules of homelessness. It’s been more difficult than I would have thought possible.

When you think of such a thing, it seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world. Most of us have spent most of our lives learning the rules of society, and I was only homeless for 5 months. It seems like it should be simple to revert back to pre-homeless mindset.
It isn’t.

Once a week or so I go back south to visit the group. Just to catch up, to see if they’re doing okay, to let them know I haven’t forgotten them or forgotten their acceptance of me when I needed it most.

But today after I left… it was difficult. I noticed for the first time the smells, the filth, all the things I hadn’t noticed when I first showed up because I’d already been homeless for a few weeks when they invited me in to the group.
I noticed that I was losing the ability to just hang out and not think about time passing outside.
I felt the urge to be busy, to get going; I couldn’t just relax. I was restless.

The one thing I think being homeless taught me was to live in the moment. To stop worrying about the future, about the past. The only thing that matters is the right now, the sun shining, the rain pouring, the wind whipping through, the long weeds swaying in the breeze.
I think I’ve already started to lose the most valuable lesson the past year has taught me.
I don’t know how to not lose that lesson while still belonging to modern society.

the benefits of a “case worker”

I wrote this as an email to a friend but thought I should post it here. It outlines pretty much where I’m at and what the next/current steps are.

I starting to see that the case worker I have might be pretty good at his job!
__________________________

I’ve been working with this caseworker as you know. He has told me to go ahead and apply to the residential program in Temple. That requires my psych filling out the paperwork and submitting it for me. My psych has said “no problem”, he thinks I should take advantage of the program as well if I can. So I’m waiting on this. I’ll follow up again with him end of this week.

I don’t *know* if I will qualify or not as the VA has so many different definitions/levels of “veteran”, another 4-6 weeks probably before I know if I would qualify unreservedly. But… I think the case worker is trying to maneuver many individual pieces so that he can play them off of each other.

If I qualify for the residential program and I’m “just waiting” on the claim to finish processing but the group is starting now, then maybe they’ll go ahead and let me start. Then my presence in the residential program can be used as an additional data fact to support my VA claim.

Again, if I’m accepted into the residential program but I need “suitable living arrangements” then he can take that data to the various housing groups around town and show all the needed qualities to succeed and fast track me in their programs.

But, while we don’t know for certain yet, my case worker thinks that if I’m able to say “yes, I have a friend(s) that I’m staying with until I can find a place of my own” on my residential application that they will accept that as a working answer. They may require more by the time I leave the program, they may not, we don’t know. But then again.. if I get accepted into the program.. see previous paragraph.

Right now is another “wait and see” stage.

catching up.

A few days ago I emailed an old rowing friend who has a business in town asking him if I could park on the street outside his business while I bussed over to the hospital for my biopsies, and if he would check on Keegan when he took lunch just to verify that she was okay.

He said to come by the office on Monday and we’d see how to arrange things.

So Sunday evening I trundled off to the street by his business (no fee for parking on the street where he’s at, its far enough from downtown) and settled in for the night.

He showed up outside my camper on Sunday night.
Turns out he and his fiance always go out to dinner on Sunday night and this one place has a special two for one deal. So they always take the extra one (piping hot) and hand it to a a homeless person somewhere on their route home.
And then he thought to himself (as he told me), “I bet Rachel is already there at the office!” so he swung by the office and there I was.
So he dropped off three meals worth of lasagna and ravioli and bread and oh my!

So I settle in with my yummies, sharing with Keegan in small judicious bits as I didn’t want the richness to unsettle her stomach.

Thirty minutes later he’s outside my camper again.

Men!

So I open up and say “what’s up?” and he said, “I called Caryl (his fiance) and you need to come home with us.”
Hmmmm…. errrr…. why??
But who am I to look friendship and gifts in the mouth?? 🙂 And I like them both (so that made it easier). And they are sincere people (like you guys), not judgmental or preachy or anything like so many people seem to be.
So I followed him to their place.
And they said I should stay the week while I’m dealing with the biopsies. And I could train their dogs while I was at it. 😀 (they have 3) I like training dogs. It’s their owners I had problems training. Today we worked on Pepper’s licking everything/one within reach of her tongue. She’s a smart dog, she’ll come up and you can watch her head and face… she wants to lick.. it’s a struggle.. twitch.. and which point I praise her for being such a good dog and not licking. She’s catching on really well. One of the dogs goes absolutely bonkers whenever a car goes by or a person comes in, or when a door opens, he’s going to take a bit more work but I think he’ll figure it out pretty quick once we start working on it. Then the third one needs some reinforcement on “come”, which is actually the easiest of the three issues to work with.

It’s awesome.
All the dogs are getting settled together. They have dog blankets for all the furniture so the dogs are allowed on the beds and couch as long as the blanket is out (the dogs know blanket means “me!” and no blanket means “floor..”)
Keegan is on the doggy blanket on the bed with me. Sacked out. Happy as she can be.

I’ve had great conversations with fiance, getting to know her better. Which I haven’t had much opportunity to do before now.

And Keegan got her shots up to date today; Wednesday while I’m in getting cored and sliced, Keegan will go to doggy daycare with their 3 dogs (though she’ll have her own space) and then get picked up after I’m done to come home with me to either sleep off the rest of the anesthesia or help me commiserate a few more scars.

So today I took Keegan to the vet but other than that.. lounged about, watched a Premier League game on the giant TV, talked to fiance, ate good food, trained dogs… that’s about it.

Tomorrow is take Keegan back to vet to get the one shot we didn’t get today (oops), then go see caseworker, then take Keegan by doggy daycare so they can meet her and get an idea of how much private time vs play time she needs/wants and get an idea of where to crate her so she isn’t stressed.
Busy day tomorrow.

Getting better again, slowly

I’ve been hibernating for a couple days now. And I’m starting to be able to see farther than my hand again.
I made myself a good dinner tonight. I was able to charge my electronics in a corner of the library. And I’ve been able to start knitting my first cup warmer.

I have parked in a different spot each night and haven’t been bothered by police or others.

Busy day, again.

Yet another day of meeting with mental health care professionals and telling my story. But the meds are on their way to my post box (let’s all hope the post office doesn’t lose this shipment like they did the last one) and the adjustments have been made, though as with any med change it’s a wait and see if it helps or hinders.

I am scheduled for the biopsies.
I am also scheduled to see a neuro for my hands. I guess they have to zap your nerves to see how/where to operate. If I can call back tomorrow and get through then hopefully I’ll get the date for the actual surgeries, whether it will be both hands at once or one at a time I don’t know.

Then I went back to this other program. Center point something or other. They’re actually being helpful. Really!
Helping me get insurance on my truck again, it lapsed in January, helping me with enough gas to get to my appointments, and helping me fill out paperwork for help with the VFW.

But the biggest thing so far is that there is a program run by the VA about an hour north of me (closer to the regional VA office) that they think they may be able to get me into if I’m interested.
It’s a 7 week residential program for women veterans with PTSD, and it does have the issues I experienced as one of its focuses.
Furthermore, they not only welcome service dogs but request that if a service dog is in use by the veteran that the dog participate in the therapy. So Keegan would be with me the entire time. And maybe she and I would even learn some more useful things since when I was training Keegan service dogs for PTSD didn’t exist and we were training by common sense and need.

Now I’ve always feared residential treatment programs. If its considered “being committed” then I’m automatically barred from many jobs that I would otherwise be good at. But at this point in my life I can’t get ANY job so…

If it can be done without missing my hand surgeries and if they will accept me, I think it would be a good opportunity for me. Almost two months in a safe place, not a lockdown, but secure from the outside getting in. The cutting edge PTSD treatment, med adjustment and fine tuning, a peer/support group of other women veterans, and Keegan with me.

The only drawback to getting into the program is that I have to have a place to go when I’m released, and a camper on the back of my truck doesn’t meet their qualifications.
I have a meeting with the case worker next week and I’ll bring this topic up.
I’m wondering if there’s any way that if I can get accepted into this program if it might move my VA benefits decision a bit faster.

I can hear the confusion from here, but if the treatment program is VA aren’t you already approved for VA benefits? Uhmmmm… Short answer? No. There are so many levels of “veteran” that it’s mind-boggling. Some services/programs count me as a veteran because I have an honorable discharge and a DD214. Some services/programs require proof that I was injured/damaged during active duty. It’s all very confusing and completely unknown to me until about a year ago when I first stumbled into the VA clinic asking for help.

There is also a service dog training organization in the area (not in this city but within this region) that I’m going to be getting information on. Keegan will be 14 in June. I need to start thinking about the inevitable. And be prepared when the time comes.
The training org isn’t a train and give service, it’s a self-train guidance service, teaching handlers how to train their own dogs. I’ve done that once already with Keegan but they know a lot more about training for this situations now and it’s good to have support with any endeavor.

A lot to think about today.

Not really a great day all told.

Though there was one funny bit that made me laugh, you don’t get to hear the funny until all the woe is told though.

First I’ve been out of meds for 4 days now. This isn’t anything I did wrong, two weeks ago I went through all the paperwork, touching base, etc to get the monthly prescription. But it’s been nothing but problems since my case worker quit/retired and the new go-getter came in.
I say go-getter because she’s got that sort of attitude but somehow everything is three times as much work since she got there.
Now that I no longer have a phone I haven’t been able to call, stay on hold for 20 minutes (they never return calls) and hound them until it gets pushed though.
I also don’t have the gas money or the emotional energy to drive across town, sit there, then go to e pharmacy, sit there, then (yes) go back to the office and sit there some more before it gets done. Then get back to the school and attend class.

Factor in that my meds have needed adjusting for over a month now but I haven’t been able to get in to see anyone. Seriously. Here’s a person, me, who’s aware enough to know that adjustments need to be made, begging for an appt so I can stay level, and I’m ignored.
Yes, and “normal” people wonder why the “crazy” people give up.
So I’m not in the greatest of places emotionally or mentally. I’m in my patented “survive for 3 more hours” mode.

This morning I see that someone has stolen my little camp chair off of my camper. Since its too small for anyone over 5’1″ and it’s over 9 years old I can’t figure out why anyone would want it.
But, people do weird shit. Oh look! A homeless person! Let’s go ransack their camp and sell whatever we find!
Really?
Really really.

Then I went by the hobby lobby to check out some cotton yarn for the washcloth sets (possible selling item). Does it freak anyone else out to hear hymns jazzed and muzacked? I mean I know hobby lobby is run by religious people but still…that’s just freaky.
But, as I was coming out of the restroom I heard the young guy cleaning the toilets say into his walkie, “Linda? Theres a lot of really bad graffiti in the men’s bathroom.”
I about lost it. I said “who graffities a bathroom at the hobby lobby??”
Think about the clientele that frequent hobby lobbies. Prone to vandalism? Not so much.
Anyway, that was the funny bit.

Then, I go to my postbox and find two letters from the community care clinic telling me that it’s URGENT!!! that I come in right away.
My mammogram was abnormal. I’ve already had the follow-up. I’ve been referred for biopsies. 4 of them. Most likely they’ll give me a local and try to do all 4 of them at once.
I will tell them that the anesthetic doesn’t work and they won’t believe me.
Then, at the start of the 3rd one, or there-abouts they’ll notice that I’m whiter than the sheets, and that my blood pressure is way off. Then they’ll ask me, “Can you feel that?” and I’ll say “why yes, I’ve felt everything from the start of the second one (this if they’re quick, otherwise it’ll be from the end of the first one). And they’ll say “oh my goodness! Why didn’t you say something!” and I’ll say “I did, before you started” then they’ll say, “well we’re almost done, just hang in there!” I will say nothing. Then they’ll say “and well put this in your chart so they know next time!” and I will likely say, rather sarcastically, ” yeah, I’ve been having these biopsies since I was 28. Every single time you doctors and nurses refuse to believe me, every time you’ll say that it will be added to my records. Yet every single time no one is aware of it and EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME I force you to listen to me you tut tut and say everything’s different now and I won’t feel a thing. And you know what? I don’t like brussels sprouts either. No matter how you make them.
So I’m not thrilled about that whole upcoming fun time.

Plus it’ll be at the hospital downtown where parking is $5 an hour. And there is NO free hospital parking. None. So I have to figure out where I can park for the day where my truck won’t get broken into and where I can leave the top third of the door open so Keegan doesn’t suffocate but not where some do gooder will hear her moving around and have the pound impound her.

Oh.. And..wait, I’ll make that a separate post.

No Fair! You can’t skip to the end like that! Now you have to go find it in the middle somewhere.

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