Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Usually Ends Up as another Journey of a Thousand Miles.....

I've hit a rough patch. Everyone I've told about this rough patch says, "Oh, you should write a book!"  Nurses, doctors, people at the bank, clients, all manner of people. It certainly would make a compelling story. But I've been reluctant to start. One reason is because it feels awkward talking about myself. Another reason is because it's painful to relive some things, and painful to relive things that you did that were wrong or careless or hurtful. And sometimes it's hard to come to terms with what the people you love have done, because you still love them and you don't want bad things about them to be true.  So I've been pretty "good," except in the eyes of the people who watch my every move and parse my every utterance to manufacture their own outrage and help themselves feel better about the guilt they may be carrying.

I've pushed it all down, for so long, I've been cooperative and helpful  and bit my tongue and made sacrifices and concessions while getting nothing in return expect lies.  Last night was the final straw, the last kick in the ribs, the insult briskly stirred in with the injury. I'm done with being Ms. Nice Girl, and I'm not ashamed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And names are not being changes to protect the guilty.  Remember, kids, it's not slander or libel is everything you say is true.

I am nobody's whipping girl.  And the minute you come after my children, you are going to end up in a bad way.

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's (Not) A Wonderful Life

I've always loved It's a Wonderful Life. I mean, seriously, like always. Of course I was one of those nerdy kids who loved old movies from the time I could turn on a TV and even at six or seven  -- like the darling lil insomniac I've always been - would stay up all night watching the old black-&-whites on Channel 2 from Denver, where in the good old days they would play classic movies all night long (you could sometimes catch four in a night) until they started up with The Little Rascals or The Abbot and Costello Show about the time the sun came up. Eleanor Powell dancing to Begin the Beguine with Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1940, where it looked like they were flitting across a floor made of stars. (Oh how I wanted to be Eleanor Powell for a time -- or Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle, or Veronica Lake in My Favorite Witch. Yeah, I was a weird kid.) I love Fred Astaire, and I loved Ingrid Bergman. But there were always the big three: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. So, given that, there were certain movies that were favorites of mine -- heavy on the screwball, the sophistication, and the schmaltz: The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace, and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

So, it being the holiday season and all, and this holiday season in particular, that movie has been on my mind.

For anybody who has lived in a cave their whole lives and is scared by moving pictures, this is the plot in a nutshell:

Everyman George Bailey lives in the All-American hamlet of Bedford Falls, where he runs the family savings and loan, having given up his dreams to travel and do what-not because of various things that have happened and he, being the sincere, responsible, Jimmy-Stewart-everyman that he is, has put off everything to take care of whatever needed taking care of. And life happened to George Bailey -- he married and had children and bought a drafty old house that he couldn't pay to fix up, because being selfless tends to keep you from being rich, unlike Old Man Potter, who is the opposite of George Bailey and, being the scurvy spider that Old Man Potter is, hates George Bailey and all the schmaltzy, sweet, idealistic things he stands for.

And so it comes to pass that on Christmas Eve, George Bailey finds himself in crisis -- his life didn't turn out like his dreams, he really doesn't care for his job, his children are in need of constant attention (as children are wont to be), and his wife sometimes snaps at him because she has just as much to deal with as he does. And now he's found that because of a series of mistakes/happenstances, the old building and loan is going to fail. So George sees himself as a failure, and in his despair, goes to throw himself off a bridge because he figures he's worth more dead than alive. George Bailey has had enough.

But, because this is a magical place, this sweet, 1940s hamlet of Bedford Falls, an angel stops George and shows him all the terrible things that would have happened had he not been who he was, had he not been there at all. And by the time Clarence the Angel is done -- and he has quite the job, does old Clarence, because George Bailey has really had quite enough -- George realizes that, indeed, he did have a wonderful life, because he was kind and thoughtful and responsible and had ended up with the things that are the most important: the love of his family and friends and the respect of those around him. And so George Bailey -- praying that it's not too late -- goes home and finds that all the people have rallied around him, because George Bailey didn't realize how much he was loved, and how much he had touched everyone's lives. And he's still in the drafty old house with the decrepit bannister, and he still has a passel of kids that need constant attention, and his boring old wife who is busy with keeping the family running, and he still has his plain old job at the good old building and loan,  which is not fun or glamorous or exciting or any of those things.

And I still cry when George finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket, and when Harry raises a glass to "my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town."  (Just as I still cry when the Grinch hears the Whos down in Whoville singing and his heart grows three sizes, just as I still cry when Linus tells Charlie Brown that "it's not such a bad little tree.") I cry because those things are woven into me, despite my years as a card-carrying cynic -- and I was a pretty good cynic even at age 7-- because, especially in this season of goodwill towards men, and magic, and belief, I believe. I always have. 

And I am crying as I type this, because all those other things that could have happened to George didn't: he didn't throw himself off that bridge, he didn't carry on with Violet, he didn't leave Mary and the kids in that drafty old house and run off to a quiet and uncomplicated shack in Potter's field. And, yes, maybe I'm as heavy-handed as old Frank Capra, but it irks me when people are shallow and facile and selfish, and they pretend they understand what these things mean.

And I get up in the mornings these days, and I try to be George Bailey, even though I have come more than passing close to throwing myself off a bridge into the inky blackness below a few times lately. Because, despite it all, I have had a wonderful life in the important aspects: I have four bright, kind, marvelous children; I have spent the last almost-20 years with a man I adore, who has almost always been George Bailey himself; I have rescued my share of critters and given them their own wonderful lives; I have created things of beauty, or at least honesty; and I have tried my best to be kind and faithful and true and brave.

So this post serves as my Annual Christmas Post -- which has usually been about how fortunate I am.  Because right now my wonderful life is pretty much a smouldering ruin, or at least feels like one, and I am daily fighting the cynic and trying to hang on to my belief.  There are a few Old Man Potters around me, who seem to hate me just because I am not like them, and I do my best to ignore them. They're used to winning, because it's easy to win when you're selfish and thoughtless and shallow. But still....the Whos keep on singing, and Charlie Brown's friends wave their hands and uncover the beauty of the sad, little tree, and somewhere, George Bailey finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket and realizes it's not too late.

So happy season of belief to all my friends and those I love -- may you find your own wonderful life, and even when it's darkest, may there be a light you follow to guide you home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Embracing My Inner Lorne Malvo

This is a test. This is only a test. If this wasn't a test, it would say something pithy or interesting. Maybe.

Ringing out the old, ringing in the new.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

@#$%^$#@#$%^&*(^%#$

Today has been a stupid day.

I am tired and feeling the effects (I think) of the hyperparathyroidism, which include diminished fine motor skills and some cognitive difficulties. This is not helpful at all, seeing as I work with my brain and my hands. They say it all goes away with surgery. I sure hope so, because otherwise I'm slowly grinding to a halt.

I'm trying to get so much work out to clients, but nothing will attach in email. No matter how small the file. The glorious effects of living in an internet black hole.  I need to bill people, but it's impossible if I can't deliver any files because THEY WON'T FREAKING ATTACH.

Avs lost in overtime. Again. On paper our offense should be explosive. In reality, not so much. YET. (I DO have a sincere pumpkin patch. Maybe the most sincerest.) Sigh. This has been a tremendously depressing hockey season so far. Also, I think the Jets had an illegal force field around their net.

Was reminded today why I make sure I'm always with my kids. Some people just can't help themselves, no matter how many times they have been expressly told to STOP DOING SOMETHING THAT HURTS PEOPLE. Kids are mad, and now I'm mad, and I am tremendously exhausted by all the times I've been forced to be mad. STILL MAD EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT. (Stupidity or Evil? Why not both?)

It's become rather inconvenient having to unplug the fridge and plug in the washer every time we need to wash clothes. We either need to stop eating anything refrigerated or start throwing out our clothes when they get dirty.

Forgot I had another doctor's appointment tomorrow, 45 minutes away, in the middle of the day. (This is that whole cognitive difficulties thing.)  Going to doctors 4-5 times a week is really meddling with my freaking work schedule, at the time when I can't really afford it. And by "afford it," I mean I HAVE NO MONEY. I can't work when I'm at the doctors, and I can't bill for the work I have done, because NOTHING WILL ATTACH TO EMAIL.

In the words of Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy, "My easygoing nature is being sorely fucking tested."  Amen.

Update: files won't even upload if I use Google Docs or Box.com.  I'm going to have to trap some carrier pigeons and equip them with snap drives. And some of my clients live very, very far away. Like Europe and Australia. I'm not sure carrier pigeons can even make that trip unless they find a wormhole.

So, yeah, a little shouty and a little stabby today. Hopefully Walking Dead tonight will be as good as the last two episodes. (LESS EUGENE PLEASE.) When I go to bed tonight, I'm going to erase this day from my memory, and start over fresh. (Does electroshock therapy help with that? With the wiring in the house, I could probably arrange a home treatment for myself. )

In short *grumble grumble grumble, yell, grumble grumble grumble*

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming, which is hopefully not an Avalanche game or an episode of The Walking Dead featuring any Eugene. 





Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where Every Day Is An Adventure.

Man, am I getting tired of being all complainy. I really try hard to look at the positives, which is sometimes quite difficult, being the normally gloomy pessimist that I was born. But things do just keep getting better and better (she said sarcastically).

Needed labwork yesterday to check on the worrisome hypercalcimia and to make sure my white count, platelet count, and hematocrit weren't taking a dive. Went to the lab bright and early -- well, at 10:00 -- and there was a room full of people. The tech said, "Sorry, Ma'am, we're closed," which seemed odd because there was obviously a room full of people and it was, after all, only 10:00 in the morning. I must have looked non-plussed, because she further explained, "After I see all these clients, I'm closing up." It seemed perfectly normal for me to ask when she would reopen. She replied, "I have no way of knowing, Sometime this afternoon, but you'll have to check back to find out the afternoon hours."  This struck me as a very shoddy way to run a business. Still, I had little choice.

We took fancy take-out lunch to one kid (well, as fancy at Taco Bell gets -- for some reason the kids think it's haute cuisine) because he was having a particularly rough time and I hoped it would make him feel better.  Then we walked around Walgreens for 45 minutes, because, why not? We drove back to the lab, found out they would be open again at 1:00, so did defensive driving maneuvers in the parking lot for a half an hour, just in case a zombie apocalypse broke out while we were inside. You never know.

Blood taken, went home, just in time to go back and start picking up kids. Another day shot!  Dropped one kid off at drama and took the other kid to get some Taco Bell for dinner -- important rule: if one kid gets Taco Bell, the other kid must also get Taco Bell within 24 hours or there is a rip in the space/time continuum.  Or as Nicky calls it, a rip in the space/time condominium.

Got kid back from drama, came home, opened the fridge. The fridge was not on. Checked around, found the breaker for that part of the kitchen (stove and fridge) was tripped. Switched it back, it tripped again.   Once more, with the same result. Pulled up info from the interwebs which said, "If a tripped breaker immediately trips again, DO NOT TRY TO FLIP IT BACK ON."  Oops.  Clearly said to call an electrician immediately before your house burns down and you all die. This was alarming. Not as alarming of as the smell of smoke in the hallway, though. It turned out to be from a power strip in the boys' room which was kind of scorched. Yeah, no idea. Unplugged it and threw it away. By this time the alarmed feeling was definitely increasing. Unplugged fridge and stove. Tried to calm kids down. Debated whether we could all fit in the car, along with the dogs and cats, overnight in case the house did decide to burn down. This seemed unworkable. No help from any quarter. Didn't want the food to go bad, so took the extension cord that runs the washer (the laundry room outlet that regularly runs the washer had shorted out about 18 months ago -- and there's also a shorted out outlet in one of the bathrooms -- yes, the house was apparently wired by meth-addled woodchucks and is probably a deathtrap in ways I haven't even considered) and found that if I plugged that in in a different hallway, we could alternate plugging appliances in. So most of the time we'll run the refrigerator off the extension cord, only unplugging it when we have to do laundry. And we can unplug that if we have to plug in the oven, or simply only eat things that can be heated in a microwave or eaten cold.)

And, yes, you're asking why I haven't called an electrician. Well, like doctors, electricians like to charge for their skills. Unfortunately doctors have already taken up all the money, and there is currently none left over for electricians. (Which is also why we have no working heater in the house -- hoping for a mild winter!)  Come to think of it, though, if we lived totally without any utilities for a while, we might be able to afford to choose one item to get repaired! Maybe we can score a reality show about people who live like pioneers, or possibly cavemen!  Really, there's opportunity everywhere you look.

Also, went back to the oncologist today to check yesterday's labwork. My WBC, RBC, Platelets, and Hematocrit all look good. So no expensive Neulasta shots to boost my immune system. Yay! But -- and there's always a but anymore -- the high blood calcium is yet higher and and the parathyroid hormone analyte is also way high  The good news is that doesn't indicate any kind of cancer. The bad news is that it does indicate a wonky set of parathyroid glands. This, unfortunately, necessitates seeing an endocrinologist that is located over an hour away (because that's the only endocrinologist anywhere within driving distance that is covered under my insurance). It also means another surgery to remove my parathyroid glands. Yippee! The trifecta. I asked if this was something that needed to be done soon. My oncologist replied, "Well, soon-ish. Within the next two months."  I asked because, even though I have already hit my out of pocket insurance limit with copays alone, it's all happened so fast that nothing is showing up on my insurance yet. And being that they won't take my word for it in any fine doctoring establishments that I am currently frequenting, I'm still paying hundreds of dollars in copays every week, with no end in sight. The copay well has run dry. After this week, it will be a choice between copays or eating food or defaulting on all the household bills. I'm supposed to be on a conference call with my insurance company case worker and the benefits department tomorrow to see if we can get all the claims expedited, but, honestly, at this point, I don't hold out much hope. Maybe they'll take an organ in exchange for enough money to pay for the next chemo round. Although I'm starting to get low on the organ front. I think most of the ones I still have left are pretty vital.  So we'll see.

I was recently told that my health problems are "very convenient" and quite burdensome to the delicate sensibilities of certain people. Something about making me too sympathetic for some people's tastes.  To which I say:  Why, yes, this is all very convenient!  Just as I planned it. Muhahahahahahaha. Even I can't understand my own evil genius.

So there, I groused about it, and now I go forward. I don't think people are bound to feeling sympathetic to me, because as bad as things are, there are tons of people who have it worse. Lots of people who have things that are waaaaay worse. Things I probably couldn't even imagine dealing with. And there are people who suck, and have to live with the fact that they suck, while at least I feel pretty good about myself 90% of the time. (And of course there are people too self-involved to realize how much they suck, but what are you going to do? Live and let live. I'll worry about myself, thanks.) In some respects, I'm quite, quite fortunate, and don't think I'm not grateful for that.

Message for the day? I don't think I have one. I've expended a lot of words in a lot of different mediums lately -- should that be media? I dunno anymore. And for all I say, a lot of times it just feels like messages in a bottle or scraps thrown into a wind storm. But at least saying things gets them out of my head. It's the only way I have left to deal with things, because every other avenue has been blocked off or bricked over or shunted into another dimension. Every signpost I relied on for the past 20 years to show me the way to safety has been systematically dismantled and burned until there aren't even any ashed left. So maybe the message is, as usual lately, to do your best. Do what you need to get by, to stay sane, to protect yourself and those you love. Sometimes it's a little to much to try to save everyone or help everyone, especially those who see your help as a hindrance (or an evil plan).  Do what you can, when you can. Pick your battles. Decided which hill is the one you're bound to die one, the one that is truly worth it,  and make that one count. Think good thoughts for those who have it tougher than you, no matter how tough you have it.  Because no matter how tough you have it, there's ALWAYS somebody who has it tougher. Understanding that helps you keep your perspective and stalls the little pity-party that sometimes springs up. It's all right to feel sorry for yourself. To feel pissed off. To rail at the unfairness of something. To scream at someone that this, this right here, is the final straw. To want someone to hold you or take your side or just make you feel that everything isn't an unmitigated disaster, to make you feel safe, to tell you everything is going to be okay and make you believe it. But sometimes all you've got is you, and it seems like that's just not going to be enough. So you cry or fall apart a little, or even a lot. And after you've got that out of your system, go forward. There's no other direction that's going to take you anywhere good or anywhere worth being. .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Victory! Sort Of.

So, chemotherapy kind of kicked my ass. Not the first day or the second day. But the third day was pretty brutal. Feeling like crap intensified my pre-existing soul-crushing depression issue.  (Health care providers keep asking me if my depression is related to my cancer diagnosis -- which is apparently pretty common -- and I keep telling them, "No, trust me, finding out I had cancer was NOT the worst thing that happened to me this summer." And then I explain the situation and everybody feels bad. Right now I am the opposite of whatever a ray of sunshine is, spreading darkness and gloom wherever I go.)

So this weekend I mostly tried to make myself eat, vomited repeatedly -- in the parking lot at the SLU homecoming game, once so violently that I vomited blood, every time I thought about ingesting anything -- and randomly burst into tears. It wasn't so much physical nausea as the trauma-induced anorexia I've been fighting with since July, so the anti-nausea meds aren't really helping, because it's mostly in my head. Oh, and the body aches. The heating pad was not large enough to cover everything that hurt. The dogs all got up on the bed and cuddled me, because even as dumb as they are I think the realized how pathetic I was, and that helped some, but still.

So Monday it was back to my GP, who prescribed a new drug to add to the regimen to help with the anxiety, insomnia, and anorexia. And some great news -- other than the crippling sadness and cancer, I'm really, really healthy! So last night I took the new pill along with my regular anti-depressant, and within an hour I was asleep. I didn't have any disturbing dreams -- in fact I had a rather affirming dream. And I didn't pop awake at 3 AM or 4 AM. I did however sleep through the first and second alarms, and only woke up when it was 10 minutes before the kids had to leave for school. (It seems Nickolas kept helpfully hitting the snooze bar....) But I got lunches and snacks made and got them dressed, kitted up, and brushed and combed in time for them to make it. I went back to bed for a bit, because I was still a little groggy, and didn't get back up till 9:00. So either I've got to take the pill earlier or try cutting it in half. I feel enough like a zombie right now that I don't need any chemical zombie enhancement.

When I did get up, I managed to go shopping without feeling too nauseous -- even seeing food in the store is a bit too much lately -- and also managed to make three phone calls. Then I managed to eat a chicken strip, a snack cake, and a quart of skim milk. An hour after that, I also had a package of oatmeal/brown sugar/nut granola (thanks to my daughter who is trying desperately to supply me with snacks I can eat) and a cranberry Sprite. And, so far, knock wood, I haven't thrown up!  So, yay, me.

And there was something else I realized this weekend, when I was laying there feeling like hell. Sometimes the only way is through. Sometimes you have to have a whole lot of patience. You definitely have to have a lot of faith. And if you do your best, keep your faith, and try to be true to the things that are most important to you, there is always hope, no matter how hopeless things may temporarily seem. And while it's really tempting to rise to the bait that some people of bad intention throw out, that only sinks you to their level, and there is nothing to be gained there, so it's best to just walk on by and not give them the satisfaction of screwing up the universe any more than they already have.  I've been told by several people lately that karma works, sometimes it just works really, really, almost glacially slowly. That there is a righting of things. And while things seem so unworkable and hard and terrifying and heartbreaking right now, in the end I do have complete and utter faith that it's going to be okay. Someone I love very, very, very much once told me that certain things are fate, that there is no explaining them. And sometimes those things that are most important to us become temporarily lost -- through carelessness, through a passing lack of faith, through a web of circumstance that seems impossible to navigate back to through to where you're supposed to be. A lot of people give up, cut their losses, shut down a piece of their heart, and crawl away. But that is not in my nature. And so, despite the transient moments of despair, I will not give up. I will repair whatever needs repairing, do my best to replace anger with love, and always be there for the people who need me, whether they notice it or not.  And I won't succeed every day -- in fact, I imagine there will be days that I feel like I can't succeed at all and I'll fall prey to worst things in my nature. But I will remind myself that this too shall pass, and with every setback I'll learn something. And when it comes down to it, I have nothing but time. And with enough love, faith, and time, nothing is truly lost and nothing is impossible.

So yeah, a chicken strip and some orange juice is a victory of sorts. Getting out of bed and making a phone call is a victory. Helping your kid with a tough piece homework is a victory. Cuddling your kid when he feels like his world has fallen apart and making him believe that things will be better is a victory. Celebrating with your kid when she accomplishes something that seemed so intimidating is a victory. Telling someone how much you love them is a victory. Holding your tongue when you are tempted to say something petty or hurtful is a victory. Remembering the good things in the midst of all the bad is a victory. String enough of those things together, and you've gotten through a day, a week, a month, a year. String enough of those things together and you've gotten back to where you were supposed to be. Be truthful and faithful and do your best to make the world a little better whenever you have the opportunity. Don't beat yourself up when you fail to match up to your own ideals, but try harder next time. Admit when you are wrong, apologize to those you harm or hurt. It's the small victories that will get you through to where you need to be. I know where I need to be, and I'm not stopping until I get there.