Thursday. Peserverence.

image

I have a friend and former neighbor who worries me.  I’ve written before about C’s challenges as she’s aging, and it’s really concerning right now as she’s out of her mind.

I thought we were making good progress last week with her ability to deal with the reality of her situation, but yesterday proved that wasn’t true.

While I got her hooked up with a case manager at the senior center, and thought it was a good sign, it’s clear to me that she’s done little to nothing about moving out of her hostile living situation.  Last week, she said her backup plan was to farm her two dogs out to friends, and move in with her sister and (equally hostile) brother in law.  Yeah, progress !

Last night I found out that she’d talked to no one yet.  All these plans are in her brain and nothing has been done in the real world to bring them to reality.  She was asking if my former Roomie could take one of the dogs (no).

She’d lost or misplaced her phone.   Again.

She was walking around with $1,000 in her pocket (from last week’s car / license reinstatement), and had misplaced her wallet, ID, etc.  Again.

She’d paid rent through the 15th of November, forgetting / ignoring / whatever, that she’s been served with a 60 day eviction notice that expires on November 7th.  Again.

I know I cannot help someone who is out of their mind with mental health issues, which is why it was so important to get her signed up with a senior case manager to try and get some professional help with her failing living situation and vulnerabilities.  Clearly, she hasn’t told the case manager what’s happening and asked for help in their initial interview, and she’s under a deadline to find someplace else to live as the 7th is fast approaching.  She’s been without mental health support since she changed medical plans and left Kaiser, so it’s already been a very rocky year.  It’s likely that things are going to get worse before they can get better, and I am clueless about what it’s going to take to deal with this impasse.

After having received a panicked call last night (she was sure the landlord/friend had taken her money and her phone, among other grievances), I got a meal into her and hopefully got her refocused on the fact that the 7th is coming.  The landlord / former friend is likely to call to cops to finish the eviction, and she’s living in denial.  She’s already missed two prior move out dates, and the landlord / friend is becoming angrier and more verbally abusive as (I believe) she’s working up to the point where she feels justified to call to cops and have this vulnerable woman evicted.

It’s a cl*sterf*ck all around.

No answers here, as no one needs this level of stress in their lives.  I’m hoping she’ll get the dogs situated today, so that she can then concentrate on getting herself and her stuff moved out and into her sister and brother in laws (if they will have her).  Otherwise, her next stop is a women’s shelter.  I’m doing what I can to help with transportation and meals, but beyond that, my hands are tied.

Hopefully, she’ll focus today on what’s in front of her that needs attention, vs. concentrating on what’s behind her for things she cannot change.  Winter is coming, and America is brutally indifferent to its people with mental health issues that end up on the streets.

Homework. Done. For now.

image

Ok.  Yesterday was reasonably productive.

– Appointment made for physical therapist for my arm?  Check.

– Therapist selected and appointment made for initial discussion about chronic illness, current situation, and life coaching options about my choices and plans?  Check.

– Made it to swim class and stuck it out for an hour?  Check.

– Sleeping in the car again between errands as I ran out of energy after swim class?  Check.

I’ve got my schedule lined up between now and 11/17, so it’s time to work on the monthly budget, get back to cleaning, and get organized for the Winter.  So far, my budget’s holding out as it’s not gotten too cold yet but I’m worried about the $400 a month hearing bill once it starts to get cold for Nov – Feb.  Finger’s crossed that this will be a warmer Winter than usual to help conserve my funds.

Sunshiny Day Follow-up

IronKissed

With a nod to shyutgal, I’ve received a blog award.  Cool !  Here are the rules, though:

First – Thank the person who nominated you
Okay… ShyUTGal – thank you.  I love your postings on a variety of topics, especially as middle-aged women turn into crones.  As for everyone else who might read this recommendation – go to her blog…you’ll have fun.  And, if you like poetry, there’s a bonus round.  Give her a look – you won’t regret it:

sparksfromacombustiblemindsparksfromacombustiblemind.wordpress.com

Next – Answer the questions from your nominators.  Here’s what ShyUTGal had to answer, so I answered them, too:

  •  Do you suffer from insomnia? If so, what do you think about at 3 a.m.?  Not usually.  I have the opposite problem – so tired I can just about sleep any time, any place.  In order to not miss out on life, I’ve taken to napping in my car between errands.  Sad, but true.
  • What’s your all-time favorite movie?  Just one?  Probably JAWS.  
  • Pets? Pro or Con?  Pro.  I am ruled by a fur-coated diva who is sure my role is that of “staff”.  
  • Do you enjoy sports? If so, what in particular attracts you to that sport?  Ugh, no.  While I refuse to sit and watch sports (it’s like paint drying), I will try almost anything if I can participate.  Just don’t make me be an observer of life vs. a participant.  
  • Dream car? Do you have one?  Not really.  I lusted after the Dodge Prowler when I had a bunch of $$$ in my pocket, but I couldn’t see paying $25,000 for a car that could only be repaired in like 45 places in the whole of the USA…   Of course, if I’d followed my heart (1998), that car sells for about $75,000 used as it had such a limited run.  
  • What is your take on the importance of independence as we age? Do our children (provided we have some) have an obligation to help take care of us?  I guess these are two separate questions, as I don’t have kids.  First, independence is critical so long as we can mentally care for ourselves.  Otherwise, independence is less important than being safely assisted and helped until we die a natural death.  Nobody wants to be prey or captive.  As for the kids question – I believe what they wrote in the screenplay of “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”

 John:    You listen to me. You say you don’t want to tell me how to live my life. So what do you think you’ve been doing? You tell me what rights I’ve got or haven’t got, and what I owe to you for what you’ve done for me. Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you’re supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another. But you don’t own me! You can’t tell me when or where I’m out of line, or try to get me to live my life according to your rules. 

  • Your favorite food?  Just one?  Pizza.  Or chocolate.  Nah, Pepperoni Pizza.  
  • Favorite color?  Blue.  Caribbean or Cobalt – any shade of blue.
  • If you won the lottery/got a million tax free, what would you do with it?  Have fun.  Bank it, and live off the income.  Give a little away to help others.  Probably buy a mobile home park, make it non-profit, and set it up with 1-2 bedroom “grandma pods” for people to buy and live in as they age.  
  • Your best trait?  Persistence.  As long as it’s not a lost cause, and there’s hope of a different outcome, I can’t let an issue rest.  
  • Your worst?  Persistence.  As long as I’m ticked off about something, I can’t let it rest.  Ok, my temper.  I guess I wouldn’t be anywhere without anger as my “go to” emotion for when things get hard.  

And here’s the questions she gave me to answer:

1 – if you had to pick a theme song for your life, what would it be and why?  “The sun will come out tomorrow.”  No, wait… “I would do anything for you… but I won’t do THAT” by Meatloaf / Jim Steinman.  

Meatloaf

2 – what’s your favorite flavour of ice cream?  Peppermint stick.  Unlike this picture, though, it’s got to have chocolate jimmies.  

Peppermint Ice Cream

3 – which of the seven deadly sins do you most associate (identify??) with?   Pride.  I’m always on the cliff edge for getting into trouble with that one.

Pride

4 – how do you perceive love?  More than words.  People lie, so I look at their actions.

MoreThanWords

5 – are you a bookworm?  Yes, although it’s getting harder as my eyes are aggravated.  Luckily, there’s audible.com to come to my rescue.

Bookworm

6 – what are you reading right now?  Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, ” Iron Kissed “, book 3, published 2008.  (See image, above)

7 – would you rather be unable to go on the internet for the rest of your life or not be able to listen to any music for the rest of your life?  Music.  I’d have to give up music because I already avoid it since I have a hard time singing anymore, so it wouldn’t be a new loss.  Giving up my reference library (i.e., the internet) would be intolerable.  Yes, I’m an addict.

Internet Librarian

8 – what’s a random interesting fact about you?  Nothing I can think of.  Maybe the fact that my right pointer finger was cut off and reattached when I was 4 years old?  (Too gruesome to post here)

9 – have you ever truly hated anyone (and who, if you’re okay with revealing that)?  Yes, my father.  It’s a love/hate thing, where mostly I can ignore it.  

10 – it’s the zombie apocalypse! pick a (reasonable) weapon to defend yourself with.   This one is tough.  I was going to say “crossbow” because I can’t run fast, but I think I’d do better with fire.  Maybe a firey crossbow, so that I could get them from afar?  

ZombieApocalypse

11 – when was the last time you cried, and why?  I try not to keep track.  Usually when I’m frustrated, and can’t get the words out.  

CryingWoman

12 – what has blogging done for you?  Freed me to be more of myself.  I’d never have started dating without blogging to help me find likely candidates (yes, it was on a dating website – not here).  Blogging has given me a voice to purge my frustrations when I am otherwise rendered mute.  And a place to be more real about my true self than the real world can tolerate.  

ConcealedWeapons

===================================================

Nominate (eleven) other bloggers and give them (eleven) new questions to answer.

===================================================

I don’t think I’m aware of 11 other bloggers, but I’ll give it a try.

*ShyUTGal has been asked and answered, but please jump in on these new questions, if you wish.

LivingInALimitedWorld – coping with reality and maintaining independence

WlloydJr – COPD and other topics

ProblemsWithInfinity – endless humor

PoliceCommander – deep insights on world affairs, violence, and persistence

WheezingAway a/k/a CrossDoveWriter – COPD and other topics

RobinTournadre – A variety of travel photos and accompanying text.

Sahar – interesting thoughts and occasional poetry.

As for my 11 questions for my nominees, here goes:

  1. Pick whatever you want from the prior asked and answered questions and  reply.
  2. Sports or Politics – which one excites you or aggravates you the most?
  3. Travel – do you like to travel, and where would you go if you could?  
  4. Travel – if you travel, where do you avoid going?  
  5. Faith – are you part of a formal religion (and share if you choose), and if yes or no, why do you feel that way?  
  6. What are your pet peeves?  Many or few?  Share as many as you wish and why they aggravate you so…
  7. Board games – do you like them or hate them?  
  8. Video games – do you like them or hate them?  
  9. Power – do you feel involved in the world or powerless?  Do you think the individual can make a difference?  
  10. Power – do you seek power for yourself, or avoid it?  
  11. Do you think “power” and “being responsible” are the same thing? 

Ok, that’s it for today.  Time to be away to work off my kinks and join a friend for lunch.

CFRA = No income during leave

Ok, I finally begin to see the light.  The insurance company is being such a dick because they can.  Apparently, we have a third option in California (of which I was unaware) which allows me to leave my job during illness, but which also allows my employer to refuse to pay the benefits as outlined in the employee handbook.

Sigh.

CFRA Unpaid Leave Explanation

It’s not good news at all, but it’s an explanation that needs my attention.

This also sets up a renewed sense of timetable urgency to try and nail down options within the next 12 weeks, before they can terminate me (since I’m already through the first month without a paycheck).

No Paycheck Calendar

What this really means, though is that while the 401K funds may keep me functional longer, I have to be serious to wrap this up by December 31st or things could get ugly.

So, in addition to looking at options for alternative treatments, I also need to be looking at apartments and such to reduce my expenses down to the bone.

Fun, fun, fun.

And you?  What interesting thing did you learn recently that turned out not to be a good idea?

COPD Alternative Treatments

I have a new hero today:

My COPD Hero

http://copdathlete.com/2015/10/27/happy-anniversary/comment-page-1/#comment-980

He wrote a very interesting blog a few days / weeks back, talking about his marathoning with Stage IV COPD.  To say I was flummoxed was an understatement.

However, in today’s blog he wrote a little bit about what made a difference in his life – a 10-month course in alternative medicines.

While I have written to him to ask for help in understanding what that means (he’s in AUS and I’m in the USA, so I’ll need to do some research to find similar options nearby), just the fact of understanding what he’s going through is giving me another alternative path to research to see if there’s more that can be done than what I’m doing.

Alternative medicines may be thought of as hokum by a number of Western Medicine experts, but I’m in the fight of my life and I am not too proud to check out everything and anything if it will allow me to remain independent and financially secure vs. going on disability.

Hopefully, I’ll hear back from him soon and get a clue about what kind of treatments he followed to see if they might work with my battered body.

Fingers crossed !

Therapy?

image

There is no title for this painting; it was on a therapist’s website and I liked it.

As I’m about to get my hands on some of my 401k funds in order to survive while going through the disability qualification process  (because I’m not being paid even though my employee benefits say I’m supposed to be),  I’m really struggling with giving up work because of the money shortage issue.  I am many things, but hopefully I’m not willfully blind to the fact that no money = no ability to survive in America.  We have a very limited safety net, and if you’re deemed unworthy, individuals are screwed and survival is doubtful from that point onward.  So, reorganizing and regrouping from time to time is necessary in order to ensure one’s thinking isn’t entitled or flawed.  The landlord’s not going to wait for his rent, and neither will anybody else when it comes to covering the fees involved in simply existing.  Car payments.  Food.  Gas.  Utilities.  Personal hygene.  Whatever.

I’m going back and forth with where my mother was at this point in her life for dealing with the disease (7 years before she died), and marveling at how similar our lives have been at different points in time, even though our circumstances were very different at similar circumstances and ages.  Age 36 – she was in court battling for a divorce and funds to raise her kids.  Age 36 – I was in court battling for repayment after an explosion, and for loss of all my stuff.  A typical example of circumstances which have parallelled each other and been eerily similar.

So, I’m looking at what kind of medical staff should be involved in my care as I’m adjusting to leaving work and making life quality decisions, and everything I’m reading is recommending I have a therapist, life coach or counselor.

image

Ugh !

Plus, yet another parallel with Mom.  (I love her dearly, but she’s been gone ten (10) years this past April, and I feel like I’m being haunted).  Haunted in a kind, supportive, and very motherly way… But, it’s still weird.

Mom was having a horrible time in 1985.  49 years old.  Her best friend moved to Florida in semi-retirement preparation.  Her youngest daughter ran away to California at 16 with her boyfriend, only to come back home in a few months to live as a high school drop out.  Her oldest daughter (me), moved away to California, almost as soon as the younger daughter came home.  Mom’d had a hysterectomy; she was exhausted all the time.  The hot flashes were killing her.  Daddy Dearest, her ex-husband, was refusing to pay child support and her life sucked (her words).  She was passed over for promotion at work, even though she ran the department.  Her youngest daughter then says she’s pregnant at 16.  She felt like she was losing her mind trying to keep it all together.  Her nightly coffee brandy bedtime drink was getting out of control, and something had to give.

So, therapy.  Mom was always an amazingly self-accountable person, and I’m trying to follow her example while not liking it one little bit.

In my case, I come to therapy with baggage.  I’ve already been through treatment as a child, as I suffered from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and the school wanted me locked up with other less intelligent children as “damaged goods”.  (For background on how common this was in New England in the 1960’s, before Title IX, I suggest reading, “The State Boys Rebellion” about children written off and sent to The Fernald School in Massachusetts as societal rejects, just because they were poor or disadvantaged or were independent and defiant).

image

Regardless of how far I’ve come in life and how well I’ve done, though, I remember my childhood as both idyllic and tortured, depending on the circumstances on any given day.  School was pretty much jail.  Who wouldn’t have ADHD if being held against their will by a hostile group of people?  While I am a student of therapeutic approaches, and have read a number of theories on the topic in my own efforts at self-treatment and to learn how to get along with others, at the end of the day I don’t blindly trust anything that does not have systematic, reproduceable results when applied to behavioral issues.  Mental health therapy is too much an art and not enough of a science.  Plus, many of the therapeutic “experts” are trying to resolve their own issues by counseling others.  Not always a good place to come from, in my humble opinion.

In my case, the therapists they had me see were generally pretty good, well-meaning people, with the exception of Dr. Gall.  Gall was the one at the state mental institution who gave me a lifelong distrust of mirrors (I was studied by my parents through a 2-way mirror during my therapy sessions, and Daddy Dearest punished me later for anything I said that he found offensive or felt I shouldn’t have noticed or expressed an opionion about to an outsider).  Talk about counter-productive for making progress !  It’s probably why I find it much easier to write painful or challenging things down in order to get them expressed.  Talking about dangerous subjects always causes my throat to tighten and the tears to flow, but like everything else in life, I bull my way through the landminds of my body’s distress signals because I know it must be done.  Even if I sound like a whiney-voiced, yippy French poodle when trying to get the words out.

Thinking of how difficult it can be for me to speak if I can’t get my emotions calmed and under control, I’m amazed that I make my living speaking.  It’s crazy to have so many of my actions during a negotiation dependent upon cadence and air flow, rhythm and pacing, when the first thing that leaves during stress is my voice.

I often wonder if I went into contract negotiations (procurement) due to the loosey-goosey style of my first behavioral contract with my parents, therapist, teacher and school principal.  Apparently, I only had to “try very hard” in order to complete my part of the process.  Ha !

image

As you can see by what was expected of me, for merely showing up and being quiet, it was clear at a young age that I was strong willed.  Combine that with being at the mercy of my body’s ills and nurses (some good, some abusive) for the first five years of my life while in and out of the hospital constantly, it’s clear I learned to express myself despite my social and behavioral challenges.

Mrs. Garbit, my first grade teacher, was evil.  There is no other appropriate word that can be used to describe her counter-productive, abusive behaviors.  She was power mad, and she was going to groom me like a puppy until I would obey.  Obey; what a red flag that concept is in hindsight, 48 years after the fact.

Using pinches and condescension to try and control me, we were polar opposites from the moment we met, and destined to hate each other.  When going truant as of the second day of first grade didn’t work, I learned to endure treatment I would not normally tolerate because my mother was powerless to help me.  She made it known my freedom was on the line if I didn’t suck it up, so I did my best.  Every day for 4 years of hell, until they sent me to a new school.  Why?  Because the powers-that-be, lead by Mrs. Garbit, were determined that my birth defects were indicators of a character flaw, and she wasn’t going to rest until I was out of her class and locked up.  Regardless of how honeyed her tone when she tried to appear as a caring and concerned woman looking out for the best interests of all the children that I was contaminating with my defiant attitude, I knew her for what she was.  Evil.  My nemesis.

At any rate, I survived.

I’ve told you all that to tell you this… I may have to go – willingly – to therapy as part of getting my disability claim adjudicated properly.  This is what you find out when you’re a smahtypants, trying to stay on top of your own issues while playing the denial-of-benefits game with your employer’s insurance company.

So, as I’m involved in healthy self-care, and also because I don’t think anyone has as much skin in this game as me during this challenging time, I’m trying to ensure I’m doing my best as part of ensuring that I’m dealing with all my issues as we’re discussing end of life realities and evolving my day to day existence into its next phase.  Plus, it will work as a sanity check and possibly as a tie-breaker to see if I need a life coach to suck it up and go back to work, or if I’m right to gamble my 401k funds on a healthier future by eliminating unnecessary stress and claiming my retirement benefits 10-15 years earlier than normal.  All while hoping that they have to repay what I’m spending from my 401k because they are withholding my salary / disability benefits.

image

It’s been just about a month since I stopped working.  Can’t say I’m doing any better for keeping up with the necessary chores and organizing my life, but I am feeling better to not have to try and deal with work demands each day.  I’m still fighting fatigue, but being able to nap each day is making a huge difference in my quality of life and geneal energy level.

Hopefully, talking to a therapist will help on this journey, too.  Maybe 2-3 visits just as a sanity check?  That will be about $600 or less.  I can dig up the funds to see if there’s any relevancy to my situation by at least initiating the conversation.  We’ll see what the therapist has to say as I summarize my needs and understand their ability or interest in participating in this kind of chronic illness review.

Therapy.  I’d rather go to the dentist.  Or watch sports.

Perspective and Rants

image

I was talking to a friend about purging myself of my aggravation through blogging.  It helps, because if I had to tell someone all the things that aggravate me daily, they’d feel like they were being held hostage and run away.  We were going through a problem she was having with her meds and the pharmacy, and was adamant that they were incompetent baboons who shouldn’t be allowed to live.  That’s a bit extreme as a retelling, but I hope you understand my paraphrasing.

When I rant online, participation is completely voluntary, as you can avoid the diatribe, hide the posting, or start to read my latest complaint, roll your eyes and move onto the next topic.

In many ways, it’s like having perspective.  You’re healthy enough to realize you don’t have to stay and listen, and I’m healthy enough to realize that no one needs to hear me whine.  I throw my aggravations out into the universe, and move on.  No harm, no foul.  Everybody wins.

image

I think it’s especially hard to keep perspective in our everyday, narcissistic little worlds, because at the end of the day, most of what many of us rant about won’t make a difference in an hour or a week, but will drive us insane if we don’t find a way to purge our souls of invective and move on.

As we’re aging or fighting a thankless battle in our lives, perspective becomes harder to maintain as our worlds are getting smaller as outside influences are being reduced.  We don’t leave home as much because it’s too physically challening, or aggravating or scary.

As we interact less with the world, our petty aggravations take on a greater importance because we’re losing the constant bombardment of negative stimulous to remind us of our insignificant place in the world. We foam at the mouth, and nobody cares because they are busy with their own realities and their own aggravations.  Which is as it should be.

In my case, there’s no blood; no dead bodies.  There’s just me screaming about insignificant first world problems as elsewhere in the world a real problem goes unattended.  Unresolved.  Unheard.  Indifference is rampant to wars, refugees, captives,  so why should someone give two flying figs about my insurance benefit battle when I’m housed and fed, and elsewhere in the world a child is being abused and exploited?

At the end of the day, it’s about perspective.  And compassion overload.  Setting priorities.

When we think about perspective, though, we need to learn to laugh at ourselves as well as learn to move along from whatever narcissistic thing is pricking our expectations of life, the world, and our place in the scheme of things.

We need to learn to laugh at ourselves and our fears, and find a way to deal with whatever life hands us on any given day as we can only control our choices in how we react to things we cannot change.

My friend left me a shamefaced voicemail that she’d found the Rx documents in an overlooked bag, after being so certain that she’d given the pharmacy tech the Rx’s to fill, and he (or someone) was withholding her meds for their own illicit use.

A brain is a terrible thing to waste.  As we’re aging and our worlds are getting smaller and more isolated, we need to remember to take a breath when impatient and frustrated.  Truly, the egg we feel on our faces if we are found to be wrong is not a meal I’d enjoy eating.

Go your own way.  Do your own thing.  For heaven’s sake, though, just keep it in perspective.

As for me, I’ve slept on it, and I’m still determined to cut off my nose to spite my face.  Comcast is getting it’s cable television equipment back due to a complete failure to provide any service at all last night after the upgrade.  Rabbit ears will work fine for me.  For now.

image