Friday, August 1, 2008

I Miss my Mom

My mother gave birth to me when she was 44 years old. When I was about 5 years old, she became sick and was in and out of the hospital all the time. When I was nine, on a very hot day in July, she died. She had esophageal cancer, that metastasized to her lungs. She was in the hospital when it happened. They operated on her, believing that her cancer had been reduced by radiation therapy, and found that they were wrong once they got inside. I saw her on Tuesday. They let me visit her in the hospital, something I normally was not allowed to do since visitors had to be 12. She told me she was coming home on Thursday and not to worry. I cried my eyes out the last time I saw her, and I'm not sure why. I just loved her so much.

Thursday came with a frantic phone call to my dad from my older sister. Get to the hospital, Mom's not doing well! I remember his nasty mood that day. He had to drive 40 miles to the hospital, in city traffic, and he was not happy. He was more grouchy than usual that morning. He dropped me off to spend the day with my sister-in-law, along with my 14 year old sister. We lived far out in the country and had never been to a sitter, and staying with someone other than our parents was very unusual. My SIL was a jolly, care-free young woman with 3 kids that she'd load up and haul around all day long. She never stayed home, so we were running around with her that day. She took us to a little drive-in ice cream shop and we were waiting in the car with my niece and nephews when my cousin came up and said "I'm so sorry about Aunt Evie!" My SIL came back to the car and was chastising her....oh now, that's not true. Then we all looked up and saw my dad riding into town as a passenger in my brother's car. He was slumped over. Later my sister-in-law would say she knew it was true when she saw that.

We went home. It seemed like there were hundreds of people there. My mother had so many friends. She never worked outside the home, but she had cultivated so many friendships. (Looking back now, I don't understand how that was possible - where did she meet all these people?) Nobody actually told me what had happened, but I knew. Mom was dead, gone, just like that. My 19 year old sister did try to comfort me, and told me she would be my mom now. It wasn't the same. She didn't live with us (and I do not blame her for not moving home). But she did try.

July always brings these memories to me. My mother's death brought on the worst days of my life. After all these years, I have mostly forgotten those days in the interest of self-preservation. But I will never forget the day that changed my childhood forever.

It's been 44 years since that day. I decided a long time ago to let the pain go because hanging on to that hurt would never help anything. But in July, those memories always come back to haunt me and remind me of my mom that I love and miss so much.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Want to GO Somewhere!

I want to take a trip. I'd hoped to go home to Indiana earlier this summer, but we couldn't make that happen. I would love a trip to the UP, but what will we do with our bratty little dog, Lacey? If we take her, she probably won't behave. If we take her to a kennel, she also probably won't behave, and I hate to just leave her with strangers. Oh, and we really can't afford it just now.
So I'm dreaming of running away for just a day or two. A friend told me about a party boat that takes off for 2 1/2 hours from a hotel in Traverse, and that sounds like fun. She said it has a Carribean feel to it. Ok, I really would rather go to the Carribean, but that is not going to happen anytime soon.
I need to make reservations on that party boat!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where I Found the Information and Support I Needed

A blogging friend posted an old thread about something she was going through a few years back from the message boards, and it made me curious about my first post there. I revisit that scary time here with my very first post. Thank God for those message boards, the wonderful and very supportive people who frequent them, and Mary O'Connor who created and maintains them! They all helped me get past the fear and pursue answers about my "mystery illness".
This was posted almost 3 years ago, but it was months earlier that I'd registered on that site under another name:

Hi all. I've been lurking here for the past few weeks and thought I may as well get comfortable and introduce myself. I have had various health problems the past few years, to the point where I felt the doctors thought I was crazy, and to be honest, I was starting to think they might be right. They kept pushing the antidepressants, even when I assured them "my life is good, I am happy!". Anyway, for the past year I've had pain in my upper right abdomen and have seen various doctors for that, with all of them pretty much saying "huh!". One did order an abdominal ultrasound, but that came back fine. One felt he could feel my liver over a year ago (and another 20 pounds ago), but then he moved away. My current gp finally listened to me when I wrote a letter telling of my many health problems and the various things I've been diagnosed with. These include cataracts, neuromas in both feet, arthritis, rosacea, panic attacks, hirsutism, and I'm not even sure what all right now....lots of stuff, though, for someone in her late 40's. I also took in a picture of myself from 6 yrs ago that very plainly shows that I look nothing like the person I used to be. So she started out sending me to a rheumatologist, who said I don't have fibromyalgia, but have very flexible joints. Then she sent me to a gastroenterologist who I just knew was going to find my problem. Well, he scheduled me for an mri. The day before the test, I had my first panic attack since about a year ago. So, of course, I had a panic attack in the mri machine, when the time came for that. After rescheduling, I went and had it done, after taking 2 Ativans and covering my eyes. The mri did not find the cause of my digestive complaints, or the abdominal pain, but did find a pulmonary nodule on my lung. (Yes, I am freaking out over this, but trying to maintain some calm until I get further test results.) In the meantime, I talked my doctor into testing me for cortisol with a 24 hour urine test, and it came back with a score of 104.5 on a test with 75 as the high reference range. Last night I went for a CT scan of my chest. I live in a rather rural area of Michigan and the soonest I can see an endocrinologist is November 8th, and that's 5 weeks off. In the meantime, I am miserable, scared, crying, and no doubt a real pain in the patoot to all who love me. I need some support and this looks like the place to be. Thanks for letting me vent!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Lately I've been thinking a lot about how we perceive a situation and how it can be totally different from how another sees it. Or maybe our perception changes with time. I especially have been thinking about this in relation to how my husband and I lost our jobs.

DH worked at the same place for 34 years. He loved manufacturing and had done every job in the place. When the old company was sold out, and a new one came in 4 years ago, he was promoted to plant superintendant and was making more than twice as much money than he had been before. He liked the boss, and got along with everyone there, but he did not join the office clique that went to the bar a couple of times a week. He's a homebody, a good husband, and he came home to spend time with me. He never worried about his job, because he knew he was doing a good job. We'd both grown up believing that hard work brought great rewards.

On January 11th, a meeting was called with 10 employees. My husband and several of our good friends were called in. The boss was joking and making small talk, but when the door was closed he dropped a bomb on them: "Your jobs have been eliminated. Please gather your belongings and leave the premises. Do not speak to anyone on the way out. If you need to come back, you will need to make an appointment." And then the 10 people were escorted off the property as though they'd done something criminal. I worked there too, so when I went into one of the common rooms, my coworkers were buzzing..."What's going on?!" I didn't know what they were talking about and they explained that 3 of the women we'd worked with for years had come in the room crying and had left without saying anything to anyone. So when the plant meeting was called, I went in thinking they are going to tell me my friends were terminated. And oh, they did. But as an added surprise, my husband's name was also on that list. (Nice of them to consider that I was still adrenal insufficient, as they well knew. 20 mg Cortef necessary that day!)There were gasps and crying in the room. We'd all been blind-sided. One co-worker's son was let go. Another's mom was let go. Friends who'd worked there 20, 25 and 28 years were let go. Two were within months of retirement. And never, not once, did anyone say thank you for your years of hard work and faithful service.

Corporate restucturing. What bull. How interesting that people over 50, and anyone with a chronic health condition were terminated.

Right away people were calling us and saying they were so sorry and mentioning that it's funny, but so and so still works there and she is dumb as a rock and lazy. None of the (young cocky) boss' drinking buddies were let go. The week before, the comptroller resigned. He got a party with a cake. He'd worked there less than a year.

The injustice is what made me so angry. Still does.

So this was on a Friday and come Monday I had to go back in there. I worked there every day hating those people and what they'd done to my husband, who at 54 had worked in that place all his life, but was not yet old enough to retire. I worked there 3 months after he was let go, and then I was on the next list of who was terminated. (Wasn't quite as shocking this time around.) And so was my best friend who worked in the office and who the company had moved here just a year earlier. But what a relief for me. And how scary. How were we going to pay 2 mortgages? We needed a new roof and a new furnace. What would happen to us? It didn't help that it was winter in northern Michigan and depressing as can be, either. And the fact that Michigan is in a serious recession (some say depression) didn't bring us much hope, either. The severance we were able to draw was a blessing, though.

Fast forward 4 months. I was offered an opportunity to learn a new skill and be able to work from home eventually. I am learning to sew, and I am really loving it. I know I have a lot to learn, but I feel so fortunate because I am getting this chance to learn a skill without having to commute to a school 40 miles away. And I will be able to work from home, sub-contracting for a local company, with no bosses and no politics! YAY!
My husband has been promised a job with a government agency and is waiting to be called for his interview. The wages will be quite a bit less than what he was making before, but so will the stress. And the insurance will most likely be much, much better.

Now our old boss is telling his buddies about his new job since the plant is closing. There are about 30 people working hourly jobs there who have not been told that their jobs are being eliminated. Just a few months ago, they thought they were the lucky ones. They weren't counting on a dishonest company doing to them what they did to us.

So here the DH and I are, getting on with our lives. We are 6 months out from the nightmare and we have a new perspective. Who do you suppose are the lucky ones?