Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where I Want to Be In One Year

It's New Years Eve 2009 and I'm miserable. I have more bills than money, my health sucks and my husband can't find a job in the field he studied for. I am absolutely determined to change all this in the coming year. Now understand I don't mean I'm going to win the lottery or my husband will magically find a job. What I mean is I'm going to find a way to be satisfied with where I'm at. Remember I was told I was dying and had about 6 months to a year to live. The doctor ultimately admitted, although he had no explanation for it my lungs were better than he expected and I was functioning at 50%. He expected me to be much lower than that. People from everywhere sent me prayers and I did a fair amount of praying myself. Something changed me inside. Despite all that I've been miserable all day. I wait all month for my pension check and its gone before I get it. So I'm determined that in 2010 I'm going to get a handle on my money and figure out where its running off to. I'm going to adhere to a strict budget and give myself an allowance. I'm going to face the large amount of money that my medical bills take each month. Facing this means facing the illnesses the medicine takes care of and that's a tough one. Telling myself repeatedly that I'm better off than many doesn't work. I suspect it doesn't work for most people struggling through tough times. But I'm going to figure out how to get through this and will write about it here. As I've said before, I'm going to figure out who retired Susan is and that includes figuring out who Susan In Control is. I've been wrapped about this big rock for the past 3 years and its been rolling me instead of me rolling it.

Now don't get me wrong. There aren't going to be magic changes. I figure if at some point the Prozac starts working that's going to help alot. A big part of all this is that I've never failed at anything in my entire adult life. I've had set backs but failure is simply not a part of my thinking. I have to find a way to move beyond the failure of my business and move on to the original dream...the dream that drove me to work all night and go to college all day. It never went away. I just assumed it was too late to pursue it. Instead I got in touch with my college professor and asked a hard question. Is it too late for a 56 year old woman to become a published writer. He looked at me as if I lost my mind and said "Of Course Not!" So I'm going take his response and try to write just a little each day on the novel that's been rolling around inside my head for years. Cross your fingers for me that at the end of 2010 instead of frustration I'll have a completed novel.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did You Know Its Possible to Dislocate Your Foot?

Well I went to the foot doctor and it turns out my foot's dislocated. My toes separated from my foot! Who knew? I didn't even know that was possible. The doctor says he's going to put a caste on the foot but didn't go into alot of details because first he has to cure the blister. All of this is scary stuff. The blister is on the toe bone and its been getting larger. Once we fix the blister (because I'll be damned if I'll lose my foot over a blister) then we'll cast the foot. Stay tuned for how he'll put the foot back together. I'm having some pretty horrifying images in my head like snapping it all back together again. Yikes!

I'm fighting the depression hard. Some days it wins and some days I win. You can tell when I win because I manage to write in my blog. I can only hope you're not sick of my bitching and whining. Hang in there with me. I WILL overcome this. Have you ever considered how much of what you do focuses around work? If you rarely left the house how often would you wash up, dress up, put on makeup, all the things that are a part preparing for work each day? We think of not having to do those things on the weekend as a relief. And getting a vacation break as a great time to not have to do those things. I greatly miss the work world and all the social things that go with it. I'm trying to figure out what you do when you don't have the work world. I'm genuinely baffled by this. My New Years resolution is to leave the house more often. I'm becoming way too comfortable with staying home and I think I'm bordering on agoraphobia which is definitely not the direction I want to go in.

Hang in there with me folks. I'm still searching for answers. If I can figure out the things that are blocking me (health issues, inertia) I can overcome all the other things.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finding Time to Write

It's surprising how motivating it can be knowing people are actually reading what I write. I've switched around to writing first thing and then facing everything else I have to deal within the day. Rather than think of my writing as a self-pitying tirade I know (from the comments) that there are other's out there dealing with chronic illnesses so on I go. I've got a theory about some people who appear mentally ill and walk around talking to themselves and won't talk to others. I think they're in pain. Imagine having lupus or fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis and being unable to get the medical care or medicine that would help with that excruciating pain? The cold you're living in only makes it worse. Who would you trust to tell about the problem? It maybe a catch-22. The colder it gets the worse the problem.

I hate dealing with money. There never seems to be enough no matter how I try to slice up the month. Being on a fixed income from disability and pension check means there's nothing coming in in the future, no raise, no bonus, this is it. Since I'm only 56 its a long time to deal with one income. I know I'm luckier than so many since my pension and disability are based on the final income I received from NYS while working as an appointee. And I have my husbands income which I know will improve once the economy improves. But for this moment its not enough and I want to scream. Its my job to make the money thing work. He goes out the door each night and making the budget work is my job. I spent 8 HOURS going over bills and budgets and goddess knows what else and I still couldn't get it right. Where do people get their magic money at Christmas time? Do they max out their credit cards? Do they pick a bill they just don't pay? We don't even celebrate Christmas time anymore. The children are grown so its just a simple gift for one another. No tree because the cats would climb it and who knows what Herman would do to it. What baffles me even more are people who go shopping after Christmas. I'm talking about ordinary people. Where does that money come from? Do they wait to buy all their gifts? I know I think way too much about money and I don't know how to stop it. When you've had money and then you don't have money it can be positively painful. To go from a six figure salary to just being able to pay your bills messes with your head. I find myself looking at the tv and thinking "I bet Katie Couric takes a town car home. I bet Whoppi Goldberg doesn't worry about bills." Now Whoopi is one of my favorite movie stars and I know she came up through tough times. There are people you just have to give their props to. They deserve everything they get because they worked hard for it. Still its easy to get lost in the jealousy and hard to fight.

When my children were small I tried to give them these amazing Christmases which would practically bankrupt me. When Christmas was over I was usually left with a stack of bad checks and the fear of being arrested. I look back on that time and wonder what the hell got into me. I wanted to give them something better than I had which I guess everybody has tried to do. This morning I saw Sting talking about the exact same thing. His memories of how his childhood Christmases didn't match his expectations and how we don't recognize the reality of that. I have alot of respect for him saying that. Sometimes we only see these movie and rock stars as they are right now and not how they got here from there.

Tomorrow is foot doctor day. Since my toes went right and my foot went left the primary doctor says that's what happens to people with rheumatoid arthritis and there's nothing that can be done. I hope she's wrong. Even an orthotic for my sneaker would stop me from constantly falling over. Cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Late at Night Again

It's 3:05am and its been a bad day. When I got out of bed this morning I fell right to the floor. Turned out my blood sugar had fallen to 70 which would have been OK except it was above 600+ the night before. It made sense to take additional insulin but I guess I over did it. All I could think of was what if Stephen hadn't been there? How long would I have laid on the floor? We tested all day looking for a balance and things seemed to balance by late afternoon around 300 something. It must be so scary for people to be alone but doubly so for people who are sick. All day Stephen took care of me, making me lunch, bringing iced tea, making me a sandwich and just sitting with his laptop while watching over me. He says its his job, his responsibility. It amazes me but he never seems to tire of it, never yells at me, just says how grateful he is that I love him. My mother often told me that I was too ugly to ever expect to marry so I didn't. But here I am married to this extraordinary man who told the INS that his only reason for coming to America was to care for me and he's been good to his word. Its late at night and I always find it difficult not to sink into that sadness that comes from examining ones life too closely. Each physical setback is harder and harder to overcome, harder to convince myself that I'll climb back over the wall once again. I know I will but it takes a bit of time to convince ones self. Hang in there with me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I was watching this show called Hoarders on A&E. I think anyone who watched jumped up and cleaned off the kitchen table. It has that effect on you. Then I cleaned off the kitchen counters, then the top of the little freezer until things were basically cleaner. Its so strong the way things effect you when you think they have nothing to do with you. Somewhere buried deep inside you something is triggered and you dissolve in a torrent of tears.

My husband: My husband is a rock and I am his water. I am the water that constantly flows around him. Sometimes the water is slow and smooth, sometimes its a torrent, sometimes its a hurricane. These are metaphors for madness. Toss in my terrible physical health and you've got a very difficult person to live with and yet he stands firm against it all. I have times when he has to sponge bath me because I can't stand up long enough to take a shower. He puts on my compression stockings and then dresses me with pants and a shirt. He makes sure I take my 39 pills throughout the day. I'm deeply grateful and at times furious. No one wants to need a caretaker. I've tried to let go of the image of the strong woman I used to be who went to the gym at 5am every day and after being on weight lifting machines would speed walk to the gym, work out on the weight machines and then slowly walk back home for a cool down. I loved greeting each morning that way, seeing the sunrise, feeling the coolness of the wind on my skin. To have gone from that to having to use a seat In the bathroom so I can sit down safely and wash up makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs....WHERE IS THE WOMAN I USED TO BE!!!!! Now I do go to therapy and have a wonderful therapist whose been trying for two years to help me face the loss of who I used to me.

Wow...I started writing about how wonderful my husband is and slid into writing about how angry I am. This is certainly something in to consider at my next therapy session. Anyway, right now we're working on who "retired Susan" is. In many ways she's completely different from working Susan. We're all brainwashed think of retirement as hanging out on the golf course or sailing off on a cruise but the truth is far from it. I can't afford to do any of those things for starters. Retirement means you're on a fixed income. There'll be no more raises so your budget has to meet the fact that your locked in. It can be really scary. The other part is I was a type A worker moving at the speed of light. If you wanted something done that one else could do give it to Susan. I loved having that reputation. Going from Type A to sitting in an armchair is not my style. I loved wearing expensive business suits, going to meetings and talking about my weekend with my co-workers on Monday mornings. Before you say "there's still alot you can do" remember I'm retired AND disabled.

Since I've had enough of "self-pity retired Susan" I've started reaching out to non-profit organizations that can use my 25+ years of finding, writing, training, you name it, about grants. I found this great online thing called Volunteer Match. For instance I'm working on line with a group that needs help with their grant writing skills. For getting out of the house my daughter told me to "just put the damn diaper on" and leave the house. I had the idea of adding brightly coloured granny panties in case I finally had the car accident that all our mothers have been warning us about since we were old enough to drive. I joined another wonderful organization (the local chapter) called AAUW - Association of American University Women. Unfortunately I'm finding getting out of the house much harder. Between being too sick to get out of bed and being paralzyed by agrophobia I've missed two meetings. None the less I believe I can do this. I went to a writers group meeting at the library and was really I'm impressed with the calibar of writing and they like the beginning chapters of my novel. I'm not up to writing about that in my blog yet but I will hopefully be one day. So dear readers I'm trying. I figure if I write in my blog consistently it will force me to get healthier or at least sit up in bed. Hang in there with me and thanks for the encouraging comments.