Two Weeks of Pain

November 13, 2019

What I plan and what ends up happening are two vastly different things. I had my knee surgery three weeks ago today; I am back to work and back on my feet more or less. Between then and now, instead of being a little creative and recovering, I was in pain, restless and debilitated.

I knew the night I got home from surgery would be a wash. I had to bring someone with me to the operation who would get me home safely. They wouldn’t operate on me otherwise. So I knew with the anesthesia effects and pain I wouldn’t be okay. However right after surgery I wasn’t too bad. I was moving, I was limping but on my feet, and my friend commented how much better I moved than she thought I would. I was surprised to, especially still being lucid and able to move with the pain. So once I got home, I thought things would be okay.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and realized the okay feeling post-surgery was due to the anesthesia and IV meds. I found this out by moving my leg one inch to the right and had searing pain shoot out from toe to brain all radiating from my knee. My mattress is on the floor with no frame, so I was worried about how to stand up. Turned out that wasn’t the problem. The real problem was every other cane/wall-assisted step I took. Each one a new experience in agony and loss of all bodily functions and control. For 48 hour I ran through six pairs of underwear and used all dirty laundry as a mop getting from bed to toilet. That first day was mainly sleep, wake up, pee everywhere, take meds, go back to sleep, repeat. The hospital gave me oxy for pain—which was very much appreciated—but what I really needed was a bedpan.

Saturday comes around and I have another friend help me go to Market Basket to go shopping. The knee still hurts and I would very much love to be unconscious another day, but there’s no food in the house and both me and the daughter have to eat. I can hobble around okay, but I confront a new enemy: stairs. While we use our Section 8 voucher to rent our place, the complex is DEFINITELY NOT handicap accessible—another thing I worried about going into surgery/recovery. Managed going up fairly well; down was another story. Lot of pain even with the cane, but thankfully no explosion of urine. I’m just glad I had friends around to help.

Sunday was church which drew a new challenger: mass transit. Yes they have kneeling buses and seating for injured, elderly, or differently abled, but fuck if it still doesn’t hurt to sit down. My incision ran downwards along the knee slightly to the left of the kneecap, so bending the leg brought pain my nerve endings didn’t need to know about. The effects of the oxy weren’t as helpful anymore by now, which might explain why people grind it up and snort it instead. Stairs and chairs would be my problem for the rest of my time in recovery (and still is a little bit).

Getting through the first weekend was eventually manageable, so then onto the next week, which started with a trip to the periodontal clinic at Tufts Dental School Center. My dentist at Dr. Dental referred me to the clinic because of advanced periodontitis to see what could be done, if anything, to save my gums and teeth. I’ve been to the dental school before years ago; they are a good stopgap for those who have little or no dental insurance and/or resources to see a dentist. The drawback is they are slow. What can be done in one visit to a regular dentist is usually done in two visits scheduled weeks apart; what normally takes two visits could be at least three visits at least a month ahead of the initial visit. This visit was my second visit for them to take X-rays and do an instrumental evaluation. One thing I forgot about Tufts Dental School is Mass Health doesn’t cover all their expenses; some out of pocket expenses need to be dealt with up front. In my case, that meant a $193 fee to cover tests and X-rays. This was a major dick punch to me—especially since I don’t get paid time off to recover—and a “pain” I didn’t need.

The doctor does the probing and stuff, and they schedule a deep cleansing appointment for me in a couple of weeks. I’m okay with that and I think no more about it, until a day or so later when my back left molar feels like it exploded and took part of the jaw with it. I thought it might be an after effect of the probing and it would get better. It didn’t. So another five days later, my mouth is throbbing which both takes my mind off of and competes with the pain in my knee. I have no more oxy, which I’m fine with, but I’m downing ibuprofen like Tic Tacs. I’m using the ice packs the hospital gave me for my mouth and knee simultaneously. Each time one subsides, the other worsens. Sometimes I do something dumb—stand up using the bad knee while eating toast—and both flare up. While the knee seems to be getting better (as long as I remember I can’t walk up or down stairs like a normal person), the tooth feels worse. I’m brushing with Sensodyne maybe three times a day, and that only helps take the edge off until I need another massive dose of ibuprofen.

Through all of this, I can’t think straight. At all. I’m keeping track of whatever appointments I have by phone, all while focusing on whatever movement or meal will produce the least discomfort. My computer has died on me so I can only surf through cable. None of it is entertaining, but it can distract from the stinging nerve endings and muscles that are taking over my waking moments. Some days are better than others, but no day is pain free.

A week after the periodontal clinic, I realize the pain isn’t subsiding and might be getting worse. With my jaw swelling a little more, I know I have to have this tooth pulled. I’ve been here before. I had a dying tooth in my head for three years because I didn’t have the insurance to go to a dentist to have a tooth properly looked at or fixed; eventually I had to have it extracted. With this tooth and the still healing knee, all I could do was flashback to when the abscess of that decaying tooth traveled to my knee during a gout flare up. That was pain I never wanted again, but I was setting myself up for it again the longer this tooth stayed in. Dr. Dental had referred me to a place to extract my wisdom teeth a few years back. Dr. Dental is decent affordable dental work for the most part, except for some extractions. They took out that dead tooth no problem, but I had to stop them almost mid extraction when they tried my wisdom tooth. It’s the novocain. They can only use a certain amount, and I need more than the standard dose to prevent a lot of agony. Now the problem was that the place I was referred to has odd open hours and by appointment only, with no guarantee I could get one for the next day or so. Knowing the next periodontal clinic visit was still a week away, I made an emergency appointment with my usual Dr. Dental.

The night before the dental visit, even if I barely touched my tooth with my tongue, the aching was instant and intense. The day of the visit, I had no such pain from moving the tooth because the gums had swelled up enough as to keep the tooth immobile. I was back at work using the cane not so much for actual work but to travel to and from work on the T because fuck everybody; but the extraction awaited that afternoon.

The dentist explained that this would be an “uncomfortable” procedure. Before I could give some incredulous wise crack, she said because of all the swelling the novicain may not give the full effect. I was in no position to complain; I could not live with the pain for another week or longer, so removing the tooth then and there was the only option. They gave me more than the standard shots of novicain over two rounds. When I told them my cheek felt fairly numb, they were ready to go. That’s when it surpassed hurting like hell.

I could still feel every shove, pull, and leveraging of the tooth to get it into position. The dentist and her assistant had to hold me and my head still for the final yanking of the tooth. I could feel bits of the gum tearing off my mouth as it finally popped loose. This wasn’t just pain. I was in shock for the next hour and a half, shaking in fear, crying in shame, alternating between barely emotionally numb and complete sensory overload. I honestly felt like I had been tortured. I know now that if I was ever put in this kind of pressure to gain information, I would crumble immediately. My only comfort was at home with ice packs and horse pill sized ibuprofen the dentist prescribed.

24 hours after the tooth pull, I could manage to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. The deadening soreness of the tooth subsided to merely tender gums. The knee still hurt the closer it bent to 90 degrees, but it was healing. I’m still using the cane for support, but it’s getting better. I’m slowly on the mend, but I’m finally able to explain what was going on the last two weeks in a coherent sentence.

Toxic Masculinity Can Kill

October 17, 2019

I was on the Red Line as usual this morning on my way to an early shift. It’s a bus to a train to a bus and I do it most every day with no worries. Today was weird.

As I’m going through Facebook on my phone, the T comes to South Station where a lot of people get off as usual. Lately I’ve been picky and like to sit on the corner seat next to the doors. Not sure why but it’s usually a comfort spot for me on any train. While a lot of seats emptied, no one got up from a corner seat or I couldn’t make it to one before another person got to it, so I stayed standing where I was scrolling through Facebook. As I’m standing there, a voice says, “get out of my face. There’s room now.” I realize it’s coming from the guy sitting in front of me. I haven’t done anything, and he’s acting like I’m in his way. I said something like I’m not in your face, just standing here, or something to that effect; I’m not sure as I’m kind of unnerved and angry that he’s challenging me when I haven’t done anything except not move. I don’t even think I was interfering withe his business either; he was staring down at his phone, playing some video game or something. He says it again: “Move. Get out of my face. Sit down.” I said I’m not in your face, still standing here. I think I added chill out or something like that. I hadn’t moved, but with more of a sense of defiance at the moment. I’ve been riding subways since I was 10, and every so often you get belligerent passengers or people who are pissed off for unknown reasons. This was one of those times.

The funny thing about this time is that I actually feel myself falling back into time back to being that fat kid in grade school or junior high teased for being fat and quiet. And angry. I was angry all the time back then as a kid. I couldn’t do anything with the anger: those teasing me usually were faster and stronger than me—not that I got beat up a lot, but picked on easily for not wanting to get hurt is equally shameful. I didn’t know how to push back (e.g. the Dozens, snapping back, etc) well with out getting picked on more. So I hid in corners of the cafeteria and ate a lot of my anger, a lot. So now I’m on a subway and I’m fighting against this anger picked up in grade school that’s popped up because some guy is trying to assert dominance of his territory/seat. I didn’t move for a minute or two as we went through the tunnels to the next stop. I did put my phone away, which may have helped a little, and at the next stop enough people got up and off that I could sit down a bit ways from him. He got off at the stop after that.

Of course he moved on with his day, but I was still bugged by the whole thing as my journey kept on. From the time I sat down until somewhere well in Cambridge, I kept thinking what could I have done to hurt him, even if he attacked me first. I was thinking in countersteps to attacks that never happened but hoped might so I can get some closure of this anger. Maybe goad him into trying to hit me, just so I can hit back. I was angry because I felt in some ways I backed down from a fight again, sneaked away so I wouldn’t get hurt or something. Like getting into a fight on the subway would actually help me in some way. It wouldn’t but it took a big chunk of the morning to get past that.

In some ways that is toxic masculinity. Men like me have a lot of anger issues leftover from our own childhoods from when we backed away from a fight and were hurt more for doing that—the right thing at the time. It’s still a festering wound that stress eating doesn’t make go away, and even makes us a bigger target literally. But it’s born out of misguided messages that to be a man means to be the tough guy, never back down from a fight, be the last man standing, and so on. I can try to quote studies on how bullying leads to depression and anxiety to those bullied, or link to articles about the effects of verbal abuse, but I’m better off stating from my own experiences. I was probably depressed long before I first got bullied as kid, but it did nothing to alleviate the depression, only heighten it. And to be put back to fearful grade school mode by bullshit on a morning subway only shows that what happened to me still lingers. While physical wounds heal with time, psychological wounds don’t heal unless you can work on them and the roots of it. I still have work to do.

Later this morning, I was thinking what if I got into a fight with this guy, whoever he was. I could get hurt or worse and so could he. Not sure why that’s worth getting into over perceived personal space. I do know there’s a lot of damaging messages I need to stop listening to again.

MRIs Suck

September 29, 2019

I forgot how much I hate getting MRIs. It’s not the process itself but the machines. Ages ago I had to get an MRI on my knee; actually the same knee I had to get an MRI on this time. It was okay because I had to go into it feet first. Even so, I’m overweight and the machine is a tight fit. Another time I had to go in to figure out what was wrong with my shoulder (turned out to be a SLAP tear). That was Hell! They had me go in with my arm raised above my head up to about my waist–what they called the “Superman pose.” I barely fit, it was loud, I was contorted in a way that hurt and needless to say I freaked out and they had to stop the procedure. That’s when I learned about Open MRI machines and had that one for my shoulder. Still kind of loud, but I could stand and I didn’t feel like I was in a coffin; so that was a plus. Open MRI machines are great for bigger guys like me, but closed MRI machines have more accuracy and better resolution. It’s a trade off but I’ll take the Open MRIs any time I have to have imagery on anything above my waist.

I had to get an MRI on my knee again, so I went through the closed MRI process again. Since it was below the waist I was okay with it. I guess they make machines a little wider for larger people like me, so I wasn’t so tightly packed into the thing. After you get used to the noise, it actually worked out well. Then the doctor told me they found something behind the knee, and we needed a second MRI with contrast to make sure of what it might be and how to handle it. So yeah, back to the machines. Since the last time was okay, I thought this would be fine, too. Was I wrong.

The IV was no problem; just had to worry while my arms were bent. Keeping my arms folded across my chest the last time helped make the fit of the machine easier. Doing that with a needle stuck in my arm was not easy. Then they moved me into the machine a little further in than last time, which wouldn’t have been so bad if the machine had fit the same as last time. It felt slightly smaller than before, which could be my fault or the machine’s fault; either way that sucked. All of this took me out of trying to focus holding back an anxiety attack. When the machine turned on, that nearly broke me. Closing my eyes wasn’t helping so I tried to focus on the “skylight” they had. They design the lights above with soothing images to help people relax. I was looking up at the blue skies, past the tree branches and other flowers, and it worked for a second or two; then I realized this would be my view if they were lowering me into the grave. So, yeah, staring up at my final earthly view didn’t help ease the tension. Oddly focusing on the noise of the machine, the rhythm and pitch of the whirring, helped me ease into a meditative state and remain calm. It all eventually came to an end 45 minutes later, which seemed to go by pretty fast if I concentrated on sound and didn’t look up.

I’m supposed to get the results back of this MRI tomorrow and find out how surgical the removal of the mass will be. Still in a bit of state of unknowing, but hopefully things should be revealed tomorrow.

The Cost of Gentrification

September 9, 2019

The neighborhood I live in is a minority majority part of town, comprised mainly of Afro Caribbean, African American, Latino and Vietnamese communities. Coming home off the bus, I passed by this porch with two young Black girls were hanging out watching everyone go by. The older of the two girls said this to the younger one:

Girl: “Listen to this song I heard. ‘Look at this photograph. Every time I see it it makes me laugh.’”

And I lost it. We already have a country where our communities of color are being squeezed on economic cruelties on one side and institutional violence and the other, the neighborhoods that do survive are being subjected to gentrification on an unprecedented pace, they are losing their culture and property to richer and fairer skinned people who want more lattes and bookstores and fashion malls, and now this? NICKELBACK???? REALLY?? Hasn’t the Black community suffered enough that we now have their children quoting songs by Nickelback?!?!? MY GOD WHAT DEPTHS HAVE WE FINALLY SUNKEN TO??

Online Medical Issues

August 26, 2019

A truism I knew, but didn’t fully realize until late: never diagnose medical problems on the internet. Back in late January, I had a fall that completely rocked my body. It wasn’t on ice, I missed a step or something and went down on my side hard. It felt like my skeleton—and only my skeleton—moved an inch to the right. At the time I was worried about my shoulder and hip, but a day later my right knee was hurting too. Apparently, as I fell on my left side, I also knocked my right knee directly in to the pavement but it took a day to realize it. I was sore for at least a week, but everything eventually felt better—except the right knee. It wasn’t completely painful, but there was definitely a lump on the knee (better then the previous week when it was kinda swollen) that didn’t seem to go a way. I saw my doctor in April for a physical/check up, and mentioned the fall as well as a cold that seemed to develop pretty quickly, and he recommended I the the orthopedist. Later in the Spring, there were occasions where I would try to stand up and my knee would “lock” and feel like it might dislocate. I’d limp around for several minutes and massage the knee, but it would eventually feel okay to walk on, though a bit tender for the rest of the day.

I should have been worried about that, but the cold didn’t seem to go away and messed up my hearing pretty badly, so my focus was pretty much on the hearing loss. It drove away my anxiety by upping my depression to obnoxious levels and I couldn’t focus anything else except that I’m out of touch my entire environment from not hearing. The congestion lasted until about mid-July, and I started feeling normal. Still I hadn’t seen the orthopedist or really thought about it much.

Then the first Sunday in August, my knee locked again; and it didn’t exactly return to normal shortly after. I was sore on that knee for the rest of the day, and still had to limp around to do errands. The next day I woke up with pain in different parts of my leg because of all the other muscles I was using instead to compensate and take it easy on the knee. I got an an appointment with the orthopedist the Wednesday after Boston ComiCon, by which time my knee was plenty sore from walking around.

The doctor did some intitial exams, listened to my whole story, and said it was probably a torn meniscus. An MRI would prove it and determine if I needed knee surgery or not. PT and sports massage I could deal with, but now surgery was on the table. Even though he said it was a minor procedure, I was thinking what would happen for my recovery. With the cold/congestion, it took much longer than it should have to fully recoup. Surgery, however minor it is, is a different situation. I was not sure how my body would handle the recovery and how much my wallet could take. This was a particularly slow summer for me. In July I was lucky to get a shift for three days one week. Sophia worked three days a week for seven weeks this summer (at her former afterschool program) and earned more money than I did in the same time period. The idea from recouping from knee surgery without a decent pay cushion behind me had me concerned.

So what did I do to ease my mind? I Googled torn meniscus surgery to get an idea of the recovery times. Most of the sites I checked said the recovery time would be 4-6 weeks, which scared the hell out of me. Six weeks with no paycheck or extra income coming in, and you can’t get unemployment for medical reasons unless injured on the job. Plus this six weeks would come right in the middle of the fall which is our busiest time of year and losing that kind of money would kill me (one year it helped subsidize my trip to Vegas; last year it helped finance my daughter’s 16th birthday dinner). Needless to say I freaked out.

Luckily talking to friends that had this condition and had it treated with surgery calmed me down. Most of my friends who had the surgery said they were fairly well mobile after three days; the 4-6 weeks was for the full PT treatment and conditioning. Some with the condition told me that surgery wasn’t necessary in their cases. However knowing that my recovery from the cold was slow going (possibly due to my diabetic condition), I figure my recovery time might be a little longer than three days, but not 6 weeks. This I can plan for and not worry so much about how many shifts I haven’t done (it also helps that late-August picked up at work). So now I have a little waiting game ahead of me. I had the MRI, but I won’t find out the results until second week of September. If it means surgery, I need to schedule close to the end of September as I can so I don’t miss on the other three months of business coming in. The sooner the better. Luckily I won’t be as immobile or bed ridden as I feared I would be.

It would have been easier to google “questions to ask your doctor about knee problems” before looking up surgical consults on the net.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here, but I’ve been a little busy. More to come. Eventually…

Notes for the New Year

January 1, 2019

Taking time out from jumping between the “Big Hero 6” and “Twilight Zone” marathons to get my thoughts together for New Year’s. I stopped making New Years Resolutions around the time I stopped believing unplugging and re-plugging the computer was good virus prevention; it never works. But I’ve also been looking at my New Years Eve posts from the last few years, and I have o say I’m tired of saying “I hope thing next year will be much better than the crappy one we just had.” Granted that was true for a few recent years past, but I’m not sure 8-10 years in a row were all like that.

I am glad the last 5 months were better and more stable than the first 7 months of this year, and hope I can keep things stable for a longer period of time. I hope to get to know acquaintances better and deepen friendships all around. I hope we can all manage to hang on long enough to each other to see us through rough times, and we can be able to lend a hand if and when the need arises. We all eventually die alone; we don’t all have to live alone, isolated, or separated from others we love (or tolerate, I’m flexible). And I hope all my friends and acquaintances get to see some of what you hope for come to pass in the year ahead. Good luck to all of us in 2019.

happy-new-year-quotes

Mixed Bag

December 28, 2018

This year’s NaNoWriMo exercise was a bit of a mixed bag as results go. I was hoping to get more writing done than I did, which could be what happens when you have delusions of grandeur yet no action plan. But I did get things done which I hadn’t expected.

I was writing a play not a novel, so I couldn’t measure my progress by traditional word count, but instead by page count. That count wasn’t high at 6 pages, but the script has officially passed the 100-page mark, which seemed out of reach for a long time. It was also a trickier portion of the script because it had to set things up for the next scene (and the rest of the play without giving everything seat yet still reverberate throughout). That’s tough to do, but it’s definitely there now–with room to tweak if in need of improvement. While I may not have gotten far, I’m in good shape.

One goal of the month was to get a stricter routine to my writing, to get back into a good habit of writing daily, having good writing goals. I’m not sure it was fully accomplished but I felt wanting to write more than I had in a while. Writing didn’t feel like a chore, which is a major accomplishment. For the last few years, my writing felt like an obligation not a willing endeavor; that switched for me this year which feels closer to what it used to be for me a decade ago. Not sure how it flipped, but I’m glad it started. So that’s a plus.

Another plus is I’ve been keeping up with the radio show fairly well. Of the five Sundays in November, I had four new shoes air, including interviews of two separate organizations that I spent four months arranging each. I feel better about getting on track with that (with the exception of the December holidays). It’s still a lot of stress and pressure to do this  show as a one man operation, but I feel in a groove with getting shows our regularly. If I can get both the writing and the radio prep on the same tracks on the same time, I’ll feel more accomplished.

Habit or OCD

October 9, 2018

When I was writing screenplays, I had to find an artist/CD to compliment the writing. I often felt the music gave me/the script a pace and feel that made the writing flow and the script unique (yes other musicians wrote the songs, I converted the musical energy into my creative writing). I also tend to write longhand first; I find it helps later on when I revise as I transcribe to computer. The problem comes in when using a pen. Every once in a while I find, buy, or receive (sometimes steal) a pen that I like and use to write. I like to try use one particular pen per project. A lot of times I lose or misplace the pen, and have to decide between switching pens or continue writing with a different pen. A lot of my older projects have multiple pens, pencils, inks on the same page; lately it’s gotten annoying so that I need to wait and find the pen (though sometimes I cheat and start a fresh page of the same project in the same notebook). The pen thing gets crazy because I carry a number of different pens with me, and the pen usually goes missing on me in the bag I carry them in; I start over on the same project with a new pen, lose that pen, and find the first pen again!

When do these favorite writing habits become a disorder listed in the DSM-5? I prefer notebooks, but I don’t care about college or wide ruled; some people always have to write on the same type of paper. I started this blog entry on an insert of Sunday’s church order of service; some have to be in a specific journal. Yes different color inks on one story can be irksome to me, but it doesn’t always stop my writing cold. Some people have to write in a particular room of the house, or a specific time of day, or only use fountain pens. I have a definite vision of my dream writing room if I ever get a house (which might be never), but I write equally well on a bus or train. Where does the fine line between good writing habits and OCD occur? Does anyone else have issues navigating this?

 

Writing Something

September 29, 2018

I was going to write a blog entry about writing a page of my play finally. Something’s wrong with that.

Maybe it’s the quiet desperation of celebrating one page of writing done. Maybe it’s the need of attention to have done anything. Maybe it’s the long time in between pages of this project that irks me. I’m not sure it’s not exactly something worth celebrating. Maybe I’m not celebrating the writing. I might want to yet again talk about how I’m overcoming mental illness to get things done. That’s worth celebrating, but I tend to wallow in it and make more of it than I should. Maybe it’s simultaneously showing off and a cry for help; surprisingly I can do that. Maybe I just need another blog post to satiate readers. Anyway, I realize I’m not writing something that I’m fully into, so it’s best not to write.

However the one page written got me thinking about something: I need to get my process together again.

I used to be good with writing on schedule. After work, I came home and wrote; then dinner then wrote; take breaks for snacks, bathroom, etc. (though sadly including Facebook) when needed, keep writing before bed. I was good at it and I got stuff done. Even with taking Sophia on weekends, I still got things written. My financial and mental downward spiral and becoming a single parent was the one two punch that threw the whole system out of whack, and it never got back on track. I certainly never had another daily writing routine to follow again. I need to get some semblance of it back. To that end, I’m going to do the NaNoWriMo event this year.

I talk about whether or not I’m going to do it every year. It’s mostly for novelists, but I’ve done it for blogs and essays, as well as scripts. Knowing I have a project that I’d like to finish and needing to turn my writing back into a daily habit, I want to do the month right/write. Wish me luck.

Seven-Month Ordeal

August 27, 2018

It’s strange how everything you do that you hope will radically change things doesn’t.

The first half of this year was dedicated to moving to a new place. Actually more than that. The second we got back from New Year’s in Las Vegas—which seems like years ago already—we had to prepare for a Section 8 inspection of the apartment. We passed, but the inspector failed the building for the landlord to fix. Shortly after the first fail and before the follow-up, my landlord—actually the landlord’s daughter, because the real landlord was moved to a senior living center—told us she wasn’t going to renew our lease and wanted us to move out. She said the costs of the inspections they kept failing were getting to her. There was also talk of her getting out of property rental for a number of reasons. Whatever the real reason, we had to leave. First if was supposed to be March 31 based on the old lease, even though I signed the lease in late April; We later got it pushed back to May 1. Most of the pushback happened because Section 8 moved slowly in getting all our paperwork looked at and sent to me; only then could we look for a place. That brought us to late March.

Still finding a place I was in my budget and still in the Boston School district—I was not about to let her lose a spot in Boston Latin Academy—was near impossible. I found a lot of places but it seemed my credit score was too low and got in my way. Many people said that made no sense because with a Section 8 voucher the landlord is guaranteed their rent. However the credit checks help ensure landlords won’t take Section 8 holders. It’s against the law to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders, but a low credit score gives the landlord an out: they can say the applicant was rejected for bad credit not because of Section 8 per se.

My past also came back to haunt me. My credit score was low (needed work actually) because I filed for personal bankruptcy a decade ago. It’s better, but it shows up on my credit score as well as weighs it down. Another big issue was my eviction from the boarding house in Everett. No landlord wants to rent to someone who has an eviction history, for whatever reason. So all that kept me from finding a place at a reasonable price within a reasonable time frame. And staying where I was wasn’t an option—even though it was; all I had to do was renegotiate the leave date with the landlord and Section 8 would cover it. The problem was staying put with that landlord was trying for most of this year by now. While she tried to appear to be a nice person, I felt she was being unreasonably intrusive in a number of ways (e.g. daily phone calls that bordered on harassment; demands to know if I’ve found a place and wondering how I’m looking, etc). After conversations with a friend who used to be in the building proved to me that this wasn’t al lin my mind: this is how she acts. The stress of looking for a place was hard enough without the downward pressure from a landlord, so May 1 was a firm move date for me.

When that day came and we still hadn’t been able to get a place to move to, it was a different stress. Where could we go? What would we do? Was I doing the right thing? Whether right or wrong, I made sure Sophia would be with family for as long as possible. On May 1, Sophia stayed with her brother in JP for a week, we moved out all the stuff I wanted to keep into storage and left the rest, then I went to spend a week with a friend of a friend in Weymouth.

The house hopping was another problem in itself. I had to find people able and willing to put me up for an allotted time and hope I don’t overstay my welcome (that happened a couple of times through my own circumstances to blame). Also I had to arrange for places for Sophia with family or have the place I hop to next take both of us. I could deal with couch surfing but I wanted to spare Sophia from that if I could. And I couldn’t. The second week Sophia stayed with her aunt while I was able to housesit in Medford for a friend from church. By this time my first real estate agent gave up and gave me back my money saying she did everything she could and couldn’t find anything for me. And I was still looking for a place to live permanently on top of all the temporary housing. I kept after online leads and called a few agencies and people who specialized in helping people like me in this situation. The third week we were able to stay with friends from church at their place in Haverill. All this time, I’m working because I can’t afford not to, but now the commute was about to get nuts. From Weymouth to Lexington by mass transit is hard, Medford to Lexington is circuitous but better, but Haverill was nuts. The only way to get Sophia to school on time (she still had school through the end of June) and me to work from there and then back again was to rent a car for the week. It was very tricky, but at least from the third week on, Sophia and I were together in the same place. We went from Haverill to Medford (for two weeks) then back to Haverill for the rest of our stay in limbo, but it was easier because we were in the same boat together, not in separate boats trying to survive.

For me, everything stopped. The only focus was finding and seeing rentals, work, commuting, sleep, and repeat. Somehow we made it to one protest against Trump’s family separation policy and caught Incredibles 2, but it was an exception to the routine.

Somewhere in mid June, my third real estate agent got a line on an apartment that would work. It was an apartment complex in Dorchester that wasn’t too bad (there were at least two places in Dorchester that were among the sketchiest areas I’ve ever been in). By this time we had been turned down by every other place we applied for (except for one in Roslindale that we both loved, but was slowly fading away). Once we got an approval from that landlord we had to go for it. Sophia didn’t want to move there because a car backfired right outside that sounded too loud and more like a gunshot than it should and scared her. There were other fears she had that I think came up in her past, but we had a long talk about all of it. That helped her be okay with the move.

Now we had to wait for Section 8 to inspect, approve of the place and have me sign all the paperwork before we could move in. By this time it was July and we were running out of time in Haverill quickly—they planned a large family gathering and we needed to be out by July 12. Luckily with a bunch of phone calls to different people (supervisors and other agencies), things fell into place. I got the keys on July 11, we moved in July 12.

Since then we’ve been trying to settle in, unpack, and get used to the place. Sophia has to deal with seven weeks of boredom because any summer plans for her were shot as of May 1. I know I had a couple of days off of work, but I couldn’t tell you when they were because I’ve felt busy and making up for lost time. I’ve been busy working, commuting, and putting out residual fires from moving and trying to coordinate multiple bureaucracies. We still have a way to go before we feel settled, but at least the seven month ordeal is over. It feels weird 75% of the time, but it is a better situation than I started the year with. I’m still as stuck as I was back in January, but it’s a different place. Hopefully things will get better when the school year starts.