Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I Hope

Yesterday I went to Hattiesburg to do comedy in front of a crowd of maybe a dozen people. It was in a restaurant and the food smelled amazing, but I didn't order anything. In truth, I have no idea how much money I even have, but I know its not enough. I never know how or when I would ever pay someone back for a kindness if someone asks if I wanted anything, so I always decline, even though i appreciate the offer.

I had tuna casserole earlier that I made enough of for lunch and dinner - hoping it would hold me over. It did not. "One day, this will all have been worth it." I hope.

Today, I'm not as prepared. I had sandwiches I was going to eat for dinner, but I ate them for lunch. I guess dinner is the oatmeal I saved myself and I eat in the break room long after I'm supposed to go home. I'm sure I'll be starving on the way home.

Gas has been inexpensive lately, though I'm worried about jinxing that by typing it out. I still can't chance driving all the way to Gulfport to vote and then driving back for another show.

I hang out in Ocean Springs, wondering what to do. My uncle appreciates my visits, but it's a far enough drive through some questionably maintained roads that I fear for my tires' integrity. I just did a withdrawal from my retirement fund to buy shoes, I can't do another one so soon for car repairs. My daughter is closer, but with my ex's boyfriend home, it just feels intrusive and uncomfortable even though we like one another.

Maybe I should sleep? My apnia surely won't kill me at this age without my mask. I could use the extra hours.

I'm tired. I'm hungry. I'm lonely. I'm poor. "One day this will all be worth it." I hope.

Last night I had a restless night. Fat guy wearing a seatbelt that barely stretched across my barrel chest - not a recipe for a restful car ride. I passed out at 12:30 AM to wake up at 6:00 to get ready for work, but only after eating the Doritos my girl didn't eat. I hate Doritos, but I can't afford my own snacks and by the time she came back they'd be stale. A little sirracha helped them out though.

Now I'm tired and have a show at 10. New material tonight, so that's always exciting and nerve wracking. I had to take my blood pressure meds I'm running out of to ensure I didn't stroke out from the stress. I don't always take it anymore since I can't afford a doctor to refill the prescription.

Then I'll drive home. I'll get four or five more hours sleep and do it again tomorrow. A pizza place is the venue tomorrow. I'll be starved because I won't have time to cook tonight or in the morning before work. I'll just have to wait till I get home to cook. "One day this will all have been worth it."

I hope.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life's Katrina's - The Recovery

Over the last few months I have been overwhelmingly negative on these blog posts.

There has been nothing but constant death, hardship, unrequited love, and financial ruin.

My life hasn't been entirely doom and gloom though as there have been some miraculous things happening.

I've always been thisclose to having something of mine produced, whether it's a TV pilot, a screenplay, or a premise but finally after all these years it seems that it is really happening this time.

My friend and writing partner sent me a scrip with five pages of dialogue and a premise and I ran with it. What was completed was described to me as one of the funniest things a certain professional actor had ever read. Now we have a cast, a director, and a bunch of other things you need to make a movie in waiting. I just hope this is the thing that eventually launches a career I enjoy.

My podcast had been doing really well and now I get to hang out with three of my favorite people at least once a week.

My comedy is doing a lot better than I ever imagined, honestly. I'm consistently named one of the funnier people there and I've been asked on more than one occasion to go to other venues other than the one I normally perform at.

Finally, being a father really is the greatest thing anyone could ever ask for. My little girl is my world and I really couldn't imagine my life having as much sunshine in it without her.

Life's Katrina's Part 5: Closer to Death

I don't remember how old I was when I got cellulitis for the first time, but I remember that I worked at Sicily's.

I was working the oven at the time and I began feeling like I had the flu or something. I started limping and my shoe was getting progressively tighter as time went on.

I checked myself out by rolling up my pants leg and I was greeted with a swollen pink lower leg. It hurt when it was touched and was warm. Despite my protests, my manager told me to go home. I went to the doctor the next day, got antibiotics, and felt better in a week.

Cellulitis is an infection that starts in your skin. It is caused by bacteria entering your body and attacking your weakened cells due to number of things. In my case, my veins are so wide that my circulation struggles when it hits my legs, it pools up, and BAM - infection.

This would be something I became very familiar with.

It was many years later that I would get it again. At the time, I had ballooned up to almost 600 lbs - a byproduct of rejection and heartache. Less than a year before, Hurricane Katrina had decimated most of the coast and I had a terrible infection in my right hand.

I had grown so large that my knee had given out on me while I was trying to walk around a fitness trail and had to crawl to my car. Surgery repaired me, but a few months later I had the grand misfortune of getting cellulitis so severe that it put me in the hospital. I spent several weeks in the hospital getting IVs of medication and over the next few months, I would get cellulitis a couple more times.

I had just started dating my future ex wife when I had one of the worst - if not THE worst outbreak of cellulitis I ever had.

It was the middle of the night that I had gotten it - I know this because I woke up to go to the bathroom, but I wasn't thinking right. I stood and the pain was so excruciating I had to prop myself up with the wall on my way to and from it. Describing the pain is difficult. Imagine what it feels like when you burn yourself on the stove. Now imagine your entire lower leg feeling that way. Now throw in a severe case of the flu.

Now you're getting the idea.

Later that same night, I only barely remember wandering in the living room in my underwear looking for my keys so I could go to work with my bewildered brother's friends trying to understand why this was happening.

I was lead back to the bedroom and I slept - waking from time to time in pain. My girlfriend called me up and she knew immediately that there was something not right. She kept me talking on the phone until she showed up to take me to the hospital. I really don't remember anything after she picked me up, but I know I woke up in a hospital room. If Boo hadn't gotten me to the hospital that day, I would likely have passed away in my bed.

This was the worst time I had ever gotten cellulitis, but there have been times that it had been really close to killing me.

I used to get it maybe once every few months and then I would just go to the doctor, get some antibiotics and that would be that. I would only go to the hospital in one of those emergency situations because it was more expensive.

Well, then my insurance changed. Like anything, they were pulling more per month for the premiums, but my deductible was a lot higher too.

The last time I went to my doctor about my issues he sent me to a specialist to look to my veins for answers. I went in and the doctor did an ultrasound of my legs and told me that he couldn't figure them out so he wanted me to wear compression stockings until my legs were less swollen. In the mean time, they would prevent as many cellulitis attacks.

The issue that I ran into is that the doctor visit cost me almost $300. The specialist wanted another $300. The stockings were almost $100 and this is on top of all of the hospital debt I was accumulating in the thousands of dollars once my insurance changed. Luckily a good friend of mine was able to help with the cost of the stockings.

During this time frame I was responsible for the final expenses of my mother and mother-in-law and things had gotten terrifyingly tight.

One day I came home to a summons on my apartment door. I was being sued for one of my doctor bills and I freaked out. I literally had no money to give and I called up the collection agency who had sued me and worked out a payment plan. It was $100 a month that I honestly did not have, but I supposed I didn't have a choice.

Two months later, my father had passed away.

I was tapped out. I was terrified. I really didn't know what I could do because I had just spent my tax return (like a dumb ass) and I still had all of this debt that I had accumulated with final expenses, medical, car issues, and the stupid stuff I got into as a young adult.

I really don't know who suggested that I start a GoFundMe account, but I decided that it might be for the best because we really didn't have anywhere else to turn. We owed every loan company in the south and being the only responsible Phelps boy, I had to take on this responsibility as well.

I wish you could understand the jubilation that I felt when we raised the money to give my dad a proper send off in less than a day. I have so many people out there who love me and my dad had so many people who loved and respected him. I put the remaining amount in savings and planned on saving just a little bit more to get my parents the urns that they deserve instead of the plain black box that you receive their remains in at the funeral home.

It was about a month after my dad had passed and I knew I didn't have much money left in my checking account. I went to check my account to see if I had enough to get me a soda in the break room and I was shocked to see that not only was it empty but so was all of the money in my savings account.

My account was garnished, which frankly I had no idea was even a possibility. I had missed a payment to the collection agency in the midst of trying to get my dad's final expenses in line ad before I was able to get in contact with them, they took the totally legal step of filing a court order to pull as much money as they could from my account hoping to pay off my debt. It didn't but it certainly crippled me in  away that is just disgusting. If I could afford to pay the debt off, I would have and now they had TAKEN the money I was planning on spending on my parents.

Currently, the remains are still in those black boxes until I can pay off the debt I have found myself in which, if you're paying attention, is a goal that keeps being pushed back due to my constant illness.

I try to not go to the doctor now so I don't keep getting these bills I can't pay. As I type this, I still have the case of cellulitis I went to the hospital for over a week ago. I was in "ok, this is serious enough to possibly kill me this time" mode while at work and I didn't go to the hospital till a week later when I wasn't getting any better and I've depleted the meds that were prescribed. I requested a refill in case this were to happen and the doctor told me that he couldn't and I should just go to my doctor. I don't have the $300 I need to do that. I don't have the however much I have to pay to go to Urgent Care.

I don't have anything. I'm bled dry and there are really good odds that I'll be dead soon.