Homework Hysteria

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Thank heavens for Brian Lageose’s Bonnywood Manor tales, as it was just what I needed in silly resuscitation after more than an hour spent on the phone lining up “medi-gap” medicare supplemental polices.

Comprehending Venutian would be easier than sitting through one of those government-inspired “simple” discussions.

I’m exhausted !  It took over ninety (90) minutes and four (4) transfers simply to START the process.  It may take another ninety (90) DAYS before enrollment is complete.  Sheesh.

Due to lingering insomnia from my ballooning adventure (my spine / small of my back pain has returned with a vengeance, so restful sleep is non-existant once again), I decided today was the day to determine my Medicare supplemental coverage since COBRA has decided retroactively that they don’t have to pay for squat – retroactively to March 1st – despite accepting my premiums through the end of May.

In case I wasn’t clear before now… I don’t do homework.

It’s a major undertaking to get me to do my taxes once a year, (and since they always owe me money, I put off claiming it for a year or two), so don’t get involved in my medical care and assign me homework.  Trust me – I ain’t doing it.

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My insurance-provider-from-hell has decided that it’s secondary to my new medicare coverage, and is trying to get me to snail mail in my claims.  Homework.

I don’t care how much my out-of-pocket expenses may be… I ain’t doing the “reimbursement roulette” game, wasting time filling out forms to the best of my ability, only to be told that it’s wrong, or the medication or office visit isn’t covered.  Whatever.  I’m not your girl for paperwork.

I have fast forwarded to the time in my life when I have no responsibilities beyond trying to stay well, and I’m not signing up for more crazy-making pointless chores.

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When you look at the medigap coverage forms online, NOTHING OF A PREVENTIVE CARE NATURE IS COVERED.  Seriously.

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Just looking at the green checked boxes, the only policy that offers much of anything is Medigap Policy F.  So, one would think it would be a fast call to sign up under Policy D for drug coverage (nope!) and Policy F for everything else.  Not. So. Fast.

If I was a drinker, I would have needed one after this morning’s call.  The initial call took one hour and six minutes.

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Then, there were three (3) transfers just to finish the enrollment because I was TOO YOUNG to simply enroll online.   It was another 30-odd minutes before I was done.  Sheesh !

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Even with something as simple as ensuring that I’m doing what I’m supposed to for ensuring I have nursing home and hospice coverage, I have to speak to a live human being because I’m outside of the “norm”.  And that human being has 5,001 questions that are none of its business, and which waste both of our time, and then their computer cuts out and dumps us.  Seriously.

Hey, Bureaucrats… with a population of over 300 million citizens, ten (10%) percent of which are known to be on Disability / Social Security at any given time, that means at least thirty (30) million people fall under your service program needs.  Wouldn’t it be reasonable to offer an online sign up option for the portion of those THIRTY MILLION PEOPLE who are under retirement age vs. putting us all on the phone???

I’m all for employing people, but… when you know you’re going to be screwed, it’s better to just get it over with vs. dragging it out and hoping for a kiss.  The highlights of each Policy where summarized well enough:

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Most of my medications aren’t covered (surprise, surprise, surprise) and since I’m not doing mail-in Rx’s (more homework!), we went with their basic Rx policy and the best offered “everything else” policy, with automatic deductions from my SSDI check to ensure it’s paid even when I’m too ill to deal with it myself.

There was zero reason to have to have a live human being on the phone, from what I could see.  But, I persevered through AJ, Jessica, Julie and Sarah to get them forms completed.

Done.  (I hope).

Now on to doing my 2016 taxes.  Maybe.  I’m not making any promises.

 

Accommodations

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I’m a big fan of finding ways, or accommodations, to get around barriers to participation in adventures just because of one’s physical limitations.

In my journey to figure out how to do a balloon ride safely, I kept on looking at the cost per person (approximately $150 each) vs. the cost per handicapped person (approxinately $799 each), and shaking my head over the gouging of the handicapped.  As we all know, disability pays crap, even if you’re lucky and had a well-paid job before ending up on the disability list.  People without a seperate source of income, or who aren’t independently wealthy, often have to cut their expenses to the bone to survive, never mind having spare funds for bucket list adventures.

So, the handicapped person’s ballooning adventure at about 4 times the standard cost really rankled.  Until I did the math.

There were 6 passengers per side on our balloon, with a ground crew of 4 (driver of the passengers to the event, plus 2-3 more chasers and preppers in the ground crew, plus the pilot).  If you make up one side of a hot air balloon basket for a wheelchair bound person, you need to put in breakable / scratchable plexiglass for their visability, plus you need to reduce the number of passengers from a maximum of 12 down to about 3-4, and those same starting costs need to be met before one can afford to take someone aloft.

Less passengers + same crew minimums + plexiglass = higher per person costs to be met.

So, in retrospect, the handicapped costs being higher made much more sense.

https://thevacationgals.com/wheelchair-accessible-balloon-rides/

 

Defiant

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“Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth illustrates the defiance of human nature to do what we are determined to do, despite any roadblocks.

In this particular case, I found the painting compelling (having first seen it as a child, referenced in an episode of “The Night Gallery”, I believe), having zero idea of the facts behind the image.

Today, when I was looking for an image to illustrate this post, “Christina’s World” popped up in my feed and seemed to fit the overarching theme of my jumbled thoughts as I worked to clarify my thinking on my mixed feelings involving this past weekend’s adventures.

On the one hand, I was determined to have a good time with my cousin, T, as we both visited our Las Vegas Auntie to see what was going on with the purchase of her new house (more on that later).  On the other hand, I am afraid of the insurance company handling my supplemental benefits, and the stress of worrying that I will lose my matching salary benefits if they decide I’m too active, or I get hurt doing something that the disclaimer paperwork to participate in warns me against doing so long as I have pre-existing conditions that might make me too fragile to participate in tge jaunt without fear of injury.

I found out today that the picture above was not simply a story of abandonment or yearning, but was actually an illustration of the next door neighbor’s daily life.  Christina had a medical condition that would cause her to lose feeling in her peripheries without warning, leaving her to have to crawl back to her own home or over to a neighbors if she decided she was determined to do something.  Christina’s defiant persistence in the face of adversity is to be admired, even if it is sad that she had to deal with this issue her entire life.

Anyway… I tell you all that to tell you this; ballooning is not for me.

Yes, I did it.

Yes, I survived.

While I eventually relaxed enough during the flight to take a few pictures, the landing was HARD, jarring my neck, the small of my spine, and my inner thighs (I was braced for impact as instructed, and holding on for dear life, which probably added to my bone pain).

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After we got up from our nap following the adventure, I began to see news reports of ballooning accidents on the Las Vegas evening news, making me grateful we’d survived at all.

Then I heard a horror story from a former boss that a co-worker suffered a broken leg and ankle during a hard landing in Napa, and was laid up for months, recovering.

While I am still very much afraid that the insurance company will try and cancel my benefits due to learning about my trip to the UK, I am still going.

I refuse to sit at home waiting to die, and I refuse to ask for permission about how I live my life.

As one of my fellow COPD Gaspers wrote to me about his joy in seeing me defy the odds and go up in the air where there is less oxygen, “I’m only sorry I waited too long, and can now no longer even dare to try.”

We never get enough time to do all we want in this world, and while it was embarassing to have to use a step ladder to get into the basket (my arms were no longer strong enough to aid me – which I should have known from last week’s doggy kennel breakdown debacle), and it was doubly embarassing to have to be lifted out of the basket as my arms were like rubber after the fear of the ride and then the hard landing, but I did it.  Defiant to the end, I did it and knocked that off of my wish list of “some day want to dos”.

My cousin, T, meanwhile, has had a replacement hip, needs her right leg amputated due to a non-healing broken ankle from 2008 that just won’t stabilize, and should have never been on the balloon ride per the release of liability paperwork we both had to sign in order to participate.  But, she did and she loved it, and would go again in a heartbeat.

Yes, it truly takes all kinds.  I’m a fan of the defiant ones, myself.

 

 

 

Stubborn.

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Yes, I am tired.  Tired of passing for normal, but feeling my body get weaker and weaker as COPD takes its toll.

Today, I packed the dog up, loaded all her accessories into the car, and then nearly lost it when I wasn’t strong enough to break down her kennel and carry it to the car.  The kennel that I purchased six (6) short weeks ago, and struggled to set up, was bullying me and destroying my illusion of self-sufficiency as I struggled to break it down and fold it up into something I could carry out to my car for easy transport.

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This M#$!~r F%#?§r was NOT going to defeat me.  I would get it collapsed and folded down into the same small footprint it had when I brought it home from the pet store.

Next, I needed to do the same thing for the folding gate.

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Mother F%&#er !

It wasn’t arthritis bringing me to the edge of frustration today, but ineptitude.

Try as I might, I didn’t have the stamina to manhandle the crate or the pet yard easily.  I can lift both without becoming winded, so I know the weight of each is less than 35 lbs. While I’d guess that each item’s weight is about 18 to 20 pounds, I can’t find the actual specs anyplace to figure out how low my ability to pick things up and move them has fallen.

Maddening.

After taking all morning to medicate the dog’s eyes, feed the dog, walk the dog, and pack up its stuff to move it and the dog to the other friend’s home, I was in desperate need of a nap.

But, being the stubborn person I am, there was no time for a nap as I had to get the dog delivered on time, as well as get to the bank, and hit the post office before I had any hope of calling it a day.

Once at the bank, I was upset to realize that I wasn’t thinking clearly and ended up with $400 in $5 bills.  Even the bank teller’s challenge to clarify didn’t prompt me enough to realize that my $50 amounts were going to be in $5’s.

Rather than bother anyone in fixing my error, I took out another $200 plus cashed the checks I had for deposit, in order to get my desired $50’s.  Granted, it’s only an extra $200 to take with me, and I will absolutely use the $5’s for valet tips, the chambermaid and other daily incidentals.  The point is, though, that extreme tiredness reared its ugly head, and my lack of clarity in thinking is getting this trip off on a bad foot and is getting on my last nerve.

Knowing at this point that I was not safe to drive, I napped in the bank parking lot for about 20 minutes, AND picked up some caramel M&Ms to help me get through the rest of my errands and safely drive the 30 miles home.

Once safely home, though, I’m still exhausted, but now have my second wind and cannot sleep as the candy is still coursing through my veins.  Even if all I want to do is catch about an hour so that I can get back up with some energy to complete my day and all the things I have left to accomplish before I get on the plane tomorrow.

The rage at being weak fills me in moments of peace and quiet, as I try and keep up with what I “should” be able to do, but which my increasingly tired body proves I can no longer do.

Did I tell you I hate the whole, “Buck up, tough it out” school of thought, too?

 

I see so many of us with such varied abilities or levels of COPD disability hanging on, fighting the stigma of being less able, so I know this is parr for the course.

Plus, all those motivational catchphrases about “Winners never quit” drive me nuts as my body continues to wind down.  While I’m a big fan of “believing yourself well”, I also wonder if my belief systems and stubborn resolve falter, will I simply fade away?

I know I’m blessed my disabilities aren’t keeping me hooked to an oxygen tank and simply sitting in a chair.  Yet.  But it’s the “yet” factor that gets on my last nerve.

One of my neighbors, Ray, just had knee surgery this week.  His foot is swelling up, and the doc wants him to stay off of it.  But, Ray being Ray, and a stubborn cuss like me, keeps moving.  His image of himself as a strong man, a husband and caregiver, a man married for over 50 years to his Alzheimer’s stricken wife, Annabelle, won’t let him rest even after surgery.

Damnit, we have things we want to do !  Yes, we’re both stubborn, and so far I can’t see either one of us going quietly into that long goodnight.

I just hate watching my abilities evaporate, and hope the current stamina setback isn’t my new normal.

 

Significant Other(s)

 

 

I am not the nicest person.

I’m well trained and can put on appropriate manners with the best of them, but at the end of the day I just don’t want to spend my free time and space with another person underfoot.  This is why I like P!nk’s music so much.  She puts into words exactly what I have felt on so many levels, but has some how managed to heal herself to the point where she can live with another person and reproduce without losing herself.

The care and feeding of other people can be quite a lot of work, and that’s when everyone is healthy.  When you add in a situation where one is married and ill, it can easily become a whole new level of entitlement.

As someone growing up in an unhappy household (and then a violent household), and then was moved to another household for safekeeping (that no one knew was violent), I have strong views on the expectations that society tries to impose on each of us regarding our gender specific roles, never mind our “family” roles.  While I’m lucky to have been born at the time The Pill was introduced to give women more options about their lives and the suitability of their options, the reality is that change takes time.  Lots and lots of time.

While I am a very liberated woman, my brain is chock full of programming from the cusp of women’s lib and earlier.  After 57 years here, I can confirm that it’s really hard to get that automatic programming cleared out from your brain about what your life is going to look like, and how you should be a princess on your wedding day.  Regardless of your preferences or your own health reality.

Before moving away from home, I did date upon occasion because it was expected.  Even then, I knew I was not a “keeper” and didn’t want to be kept.  Dating was always unsettling.  I didn’t feel that I measured up or could be myself.  And, when I was attracted to someone, I was nasty.

Not nasty sexually, but simply someone who would goad the other person either attracted to me, or worse, to whom I was attracted to, until I didn’t like the person that I was in their company.

I wasn’t playing fair.  I wasn’t kind.  I was out of control and running on a hormonal reaction of pheromones run amok.  I was doing what society told me I should do at my age and for my gender, and I wasn’t happy.

So, I moved across country.  I figured out that I was a hazard to myself and others when I did stuff involving my emotions, and I stopped doing anything that made me uncomfortable.

I already knew that I didn’t want children due to my birth defects.

I already knew that I didn’t want to entangle anyone in my life who wanted more from me than what I was willing to give.  I wasn’t about to put up with violence in my home, and I wasn’t about to be bossed around by some guy just because I was a woman.

I put up with the presumption that I must be a lesbian.

I put up with the presumption that I “chose” to be fat in order to drive away men.

Despite all the challenges, I built a life that suited me, and which allowed me to explore my sexuality and related cohabitation decisions at my own pace.  And, while I don’t want one under foot, I definitely prefer guys, and have been able to learn to control myself and be kinder than I was when my hormones ran amok.  I found a couple of nice men who helped me find myself as I explored society’s expectations vs. my own boundaries and preferences.

SwampHawk2 / Dale Bowers was a very kind man, 18 years my senior, who showed me how to safely date via the internet.  While I could not stay with him until the end as he, too, battled COPD, we shared our blogs and our hearts, and I did what I could to support him until I lost him as he refused to adjust to reality and accept the limitations of our shared disease.

Dale lived with me for about six (6) weeks, after I got him out of the hospital when they were refusing to let him move home to die.  The Social Worker would not let him move back home to live off the grid, and without someone in the house at the end stage of his illness.  Unable to walk out of the hospital under his own steam, he was trapped.

Dale lived in Castro Valley, hoarding his money for things that were important to him – his son in LA, struggling to be an actor.  His solar or generator powered mobile home.  His freedom of choice.

Like an old time cowboy, Dale lived simply and chose to have nice date clothes and present an image of gentlemanly courtesy and appearance, while struggling to get by on disability.  He would do without for regular meals, surviving on beans and sandwiches, so that he could splurge on nice dinners.  He would refuse to turn on the heat to warm up his tin can home, as heat was expensive and he was saving his money.  Always.  Money was never to be wasted on anything that resembled comfort, as he was sure there were ways to live cheaper.  Even when he no longer had the energy to run the gas generator when the Winter rains moved in and drained his solar powered batteries.

So, I got him out of the hospital and brought him home to live with me with the understanding that it was a short-term solution.  Dale agreed he would make arrangements to move into an apartment, and he would get his freedom back as I was not wife material.  Despite the fact that I was waiting on him hand and foot while working a full-time and very fast paced job, and giving a very good imitation of wifely devotion.

When it got to be 6 weeks of having Dale underfoot, well ensconced in my home, making no effort to line up the aids he needed to live independently I kicked Dale out of my house in March 2009.  I first set him up with liquid oxygen deliveries, which do not require any sort of external power, and ensured that he had portable liquid oxygen tanks to give him the freedom to drive and be mobile once again.

I was done making beds, doing laundry, cleaning and making home cooked meals every day.  I just was not suited to being anyone’s “significant other”.

Living with Dale showed me where I fell short in being someone’s significant other, and even when it was ugly for him and for me, as I refused to be the person he needed me to be in his life, he helped me grow into a better person.  A person who knew what she was, and was NOT, suited to do in this life.

The parting was hard on us both, and he died November 13th, 2010, shortly after I moved my suicidal Auntie into my home.  While I was able to stabilize Auntie and get her out of bed and back on her feet with the help of the professionals at Stanford, and her Geriatric Care Manager, living with Auntie also confirmed that I was not caregiver material, despite the fact that I had happily done so for my Mom.

My Auntie was having a suicidal episode around Thanksgiving 2010, and I was juggling her care needs as well as those of my older brother who was struggling with brain cancer.  I didn’t have time to grieve for Dale, who died alone and due to a COPD exacerbation aggravated by cold and damp weather exposure, as he wouldn’t turn on the heat in his tin can home.  The Winter storms were having their way with his ability to survive with COPD, and he lost the battle.

While I was in MA checking on my brother, Dale’s landlord sent me a surreal text from his phone, informing me he had passed away.  I was sitting in a hotel room in Woburn, Massachusetts, and I had no idea how to handle the news.  I had last seen Dale in April 2010, and I had broken things off between us as he was clinging and I could not come to terms with his end of life choices.  I loved him, we would remain friends, but I was selfish and loved my peace and quiet more, and we both refused to compromise.

We had discussed my refusal to be at his side at the end before we began dating, but it was still a shock to learn that he had passed away.  I never expected him to go without another, final, hospital stay, and without a chance to say goodbye.  I never got my chance to confirm for him that he was important to me.   Instead, I was visiting my family and trying to spend as much time as possible with my older brother before we lost him, too.

There was no funeral.  Apparently, the son refused to show up to take care of things, so the landlord was left to handle Dale’s affairs.  So sad.

But, I tell you all that to tell you this – I will not suck the life out of another person just because I’m scared that it’s getting near the end.

While I have a different wonderful man in my life he, too, has to put up with my boundaries.  We both have very different priorities in our lives, and make it work despite our mutual selfishness.

Yes, being friends with benefits is more than being just a friend, but it’s also thankfully less than being someone’s spouse or publicly-acknowledged significant other.

We come into this life alone, and we leave this life alone.

Along the way we find some nice people to share adventures and fun with, if we are lucky.  Life doesn’t come with a guarantee, and we only lose ourselves if we forget our dreams and preferences in pursuing others.  Whether we’re married, single, or involved with a significant other, it’s up to us to ensure that we do no harm along the way while we are building the life we desire.

When I forget that, there’s always P!nk’s music to remind me of just how good and how bad it can be to try and be “normal” or “conventional” and fit in with the status quo for one’s age, gender and level of health.

Anyway, I’m not sure where I was going with tonight’s blog.  But, I was working in the cold and damp, trying to get more of the garden planted, before flying away this weekend, and this song came on the iPad, reminding me of a bittersweet time in my life.  I can never hear this song without thinking of Dale.  Hard to believe he’s been gone eight (8) years this November.

***************

P!nk – Please Don’t Leave Me

I don’t know if I can yell any louder
How many time I’ve kicked you outta here?
Or said something insulting?
I can be so mean when I wanna be
I am capable of really anything
I can cut you into pieces
When my heart is, broken
Please don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me
How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I’ve never been this nasty
Can’t you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest
But baby I don’t mean it
I mean it, I promise
Please don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me
I forgot to say out loud how beautiful you really are to me
I can’t be without, you’re my perfect little punching bag
And I need you, I’m sorry.
Please, please don’t leave me
Baby, please don’t leave me
No, don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back,
It’s gonna come right back to this.
Please, don’t leave me.
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please don’t leave me
Baby, please don’t leave me
Songwriters: Alecia Moore / Max Martin

Busybodies.

The animal police have invaded my life.  As you can see from the above images, there are two minds about the benefits or detriments for chaining a pet outdoors.  I clearly fall into the first category, and would use a zip line if I had more room for the dog to roam safely.

Backstory:  As the weather has warmed up, I have been moving Keri Jo out into the yard to enjoy the sun, and chaining her so that she doesn’t wander off.

Yes, I’m still walking her a couple of times a day.

I’m keeping her in the carport when it’s raining (so that she can do her business), and while I clean the gated area in my office where she sleeps.

Unfortunately, KJ is incontinent, so no amount of walking or puppy pads covers the mess she makes each day, so chaining her outside during the daylight hours and sometimes until bed time ensures that I’m not getting ill from her dog hair / bodily fluids, and that she has plenty of fresh air.  Plus ensures that she gets enough exercise so that she is not up howling all night.

Today, however, I was told that putting her on a chain was not allowed.

This is the same busybody in the park who told me last week that KJ was not allowed on the grass per park rules (Really?  No one else has said anything to me, and she is neither peeing nor pooping on the grass; simply rolling in it for a few minutes while I take a break when walking her as she loves the grass).

Dee, the Busybody, bothered KJ a couple of times today when I was out of sight and inside the house, to the point where she was howling (she is normally very quiet), and I don’t appreciate her interference.

I stepped out this evening to get more puppy pads and some supplies for my vacation.   When I got home, maybe 30 minutes or an hour later, I found that Dee had bothered yet another neighbor about the dog being “unattended”, and was working herself into a frenzy of busybodiness.

Seriously?

While the dog is child-like in its dependence, it is not a child.  The odds of someone stealing an elderly and frail dog are pretty slim, too.

You can see that the dog is fed, is putting on weight, is well groomed, and is not left outside and chained 24×7, yet you must still interfere into my life?  I guess she’s one of these kinds of people:

FriendsDontChain

And, while I agree that dogs need more interaction and should not be left outside 24x7x365, I have no problem chaining a dog to keep it within the property boundaries and so that it won’t be a nuisance to other people walking by the house when I am not immediately by her side.

Apparently, Dee is worried about possums and raccoons and coyotes attacking (oh, my!) as if we were some place in the deep woods with regular predators wandering our city streets.  Apparently, I must be at the dog’s side 24×7 or I’m a bad dog sitter.

I am so done with having everyone in my / our business.

I am so done with having neighbors think there is nothing wrong with dogs unattended and running loose, yet take issue with a perfectly content pet enjoying the warmer weather and attached to a chain for its own safety (and to comply with leash / animal control laws).

Only 4 more days until I get a break from doggy duty.

ChainsObjects

 

 

Challenges.

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I accept things I cannot change.

I don’t expect other people to subsidize my lifestyle.

If things aren’t working out,  I find a way to make new choices that I can tolerate.

I don’t take out my frustrations on others.

*** Those are just a few replies that I didn’t say ***

It’s been another tough week.  The homeless elderly friend appears to have received her mental health meds, as there is more reasoned behavior and less screaming and hysteria.  But… she is still getting on my last nerve.

This week, I am trying to make plans for boarding her elderly blind dog with another friend, and it’s been very hard to track down the other woman.

After 3 unanswered calls to this other friend, I finally asked C if they were still talking after their last couple of blow ups, and she assured me they were.  So, I made the mistake of asking C to have her friend call me when next they talked, as it was almost time to begin preparations for my long weekend trip, and I needed to ensure C’s dog was cared for in my absence.  (Of course, C had forgotten completely that I am going away next week and panicked and became demanding and controlling.  Ugh.  I am so over this drama).

Anyway, in the middle of what was supposed to be a quick 10 minute daily call, C launches into the next dreaded opening line.  “Hey, can I ask you a question?”

Not only no!, but hell, no.  We don’t make the same choices or even follow anything near the same rationale anymore, so I can see the conversational landmines appearing ahead.

”I’d prefer you didn’t, C.” was my diplomatic reply.

”What do you mean by that?!” She challenged.

”Whatever I say, I’m pretty sure you won’t like my answers, so I’d prefer not to play this game.”  was my worried response.

”Well, I am really angry at my social worker, and I want to complain.  She won’t take me back to the shelter!  I hate living here, and you wouldn’t like living here, so why should I have to?!!!” C demanded, pushing ahead with yet another conversation that I wanted no part of.

”You’re in the board and care home because you have no money and are out of options.” I replied soothingly.  “You can’t go back to the shelter as that is not a guaranteed bed each evening, and you don’t want to be living on the streets, do you?” I countered, cringing at whatever was coming next.

”Find another place to live if you hate it.” I continued.  “Work with her to find someplace you can live with your dogs.  But, until you find an alternative, you’re stuck there.”  3, 2, 1… and the diatribe was on.

“Would you put up with sharing a room with another person?  Would you?!” She demanded.

”I don’t want to be having this conversation with you, C.  I’ve told you that I can’t handle the stress you’re dumping on me.  None of us can take you in, and you’re going to have to find a way to tolerate where you’re at until YOU can come up with a better plan.  Going back to the homeless shelter is not something the social worker will help you do as that’s only a temporary solution, and you’re in a longer-term stable solution that is the best available until you can find a better living situation that suits you and your dogs.” I placated.

”Would. You. Want. To. Live. Here?” She challenged again.  “What would you do if you were in my situation?” C demanded.

”First, I wouldn’t be in your situation.”  (You could hear a pin drop as my temper began to climb, too).  “Second, when I was threatened with being homeless, I made different choices than you.  I cooperated with the homeless advocate, I did everything they told me to do, and managed to get back on my feet.”  You could hear another pin drop as her angry, racing brain was frantically trying to find a loophole to stab me through.

”Are you saying you’re better than me?!” C challenged down the phone line. (Oh, for the love of Pete!)

”Look, I’m not saying I’m better than you, so don’t pull that crap.  What I am saying is that we make different choices, so you and I would NEVER be in the same situation, even if it was an identical nightmare.  Plus, we have different finances.  So, we have different realities.  Believe me, I understand your tight budget and I would be just as screwed on disability alone if not for my matching salary benefit.” I said desperately into the silence.

I could hear her heavy breathing over the phone line as she worked to throttle back her anger.  “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.  You are making me very angry.” C finally said into the silence.

“I’m sorry you’re angry, but it’s not my fault.  I’d prefer we never talked about this stuff as it’s just too stressful for me.” I agreed.  “Let’s just keep the conversation to the dog, as that is hard enough for both of us” I commented.

On a good note, the dog gained another 2.5 lbs and is now up to 16.9 pounds as of yesterday.  The elderly cocker spaniel is still very under weight for her breed, but she’s healthy enough with all the time and attention she’s getting from me.  I am counting the days until I can drop the dog off at her other friend’s house and wash my hands of the daily phone calls while I am away.

With any luck, C will do what she has threatened and come take the dog away with her to live on the streets.  While that is not an ideal solution, I have zero control over what C chooses to do, and having KJ and C out of my life would reduce my stress tremendously; never mind improve my finances.

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(Don’t ask me why she takes this pose, as if she’s crawling through the trenches.  “Army man” is KJ’s favorite activity every few minutes).