Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Healthy People Say to Sick People

 'I wish I didn't have to work, either.'

 'You seemed good yesterday'

'Maybe if you got out more?'

'Man if I couldn't do that...'

'I'm so jealous!' 

:sigh:  Too true, unfortunately.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oh god, don't you have anything else to say?

I do, in fact have lots of things to say, but very little energy, or brain power with which to convey them.  My sleep is terrible lately: worse than my normal level of not sleeping, and I feel like a complete zombie most of the time.  It took me about 27 minutes to come up with an answer to a trivia question this afternoon, even though I knew it right away... just couldn't think of how to say it in a way that made any real sense to the person I was talking to.  It was like brain stuttering - it was in there, but I couldn't access it to get it out.  Sleep, why have you forsaken me?

(Seriously?  27 minutes to come up with "glucose" but three seconds to pull up random "forsaken"s?  Brains make no sense, Chapter 375.)

I do want to thank people who commented on my last post (either publicly or through private means): It was a hard one for me to write, even harder for me to publish, and now that it's been sitting there a week and a half, I still have this itch on the back of my neck to take it down.  It's a subject I don't talk about a lot - got in trouble with one of the sisters who lives elsewhere today, for just that reason: why hadn't I told her about the whole situation? It occurs to me that, aside from the lot of you here in my little corner of the world wide webs, there are very few people I actually talk to about it, very few people I would give the whole truth to.  Lots of dodging the question/talking around it type of conversations - "his temper is abominable, his drinking is out of hand" kind of stuff, but the full out truth?  I can't think of anybody who wasn't there that I could share that with.  Like I said, it's a complex thing - there's so many emotions wrapped up in that event, in all the events, that create our relationship, that I just... I don't know what comes next.  I will say that since that night, he hasn't been drinking (to my knowledge, and I am, as you might suspect, a rather good investigator of that type of thing out of necessity).  He did apologize, and has talked about the changes he needs to make to his behavior.  And he's been working almost non-stop since that night (aside from the days immediately following, during which he isolated himself in his room and walked around moping), maybe because he can tell how uncomfortable it is between any of us right now.

I don't know what's going to happen, and I hope these changes are long term, rather than just guilt induced and temporary, but only time will tell.  But the support I got after posting that - especially you, Fishy - means a lot to me, because, like I said, it's something I was very uncomfortable about posting, and I felt like it was maybe a little too real. 

But that's always what I'm looking to read - the real stuff - so I figure that's what I should try to write as well.

Ok, Lights out for me, for now, but I will be back soon to tell you all about how my doctor called me fat (but in a nice way), how yet another PA thought their blood pressure cuff was malfunctioning when he tried to take my pressure, and why nobody seems to be able to give me a clear answer on any damn thing. Have a good week, if you're up and about already! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Well, that was fun

So yesterday, my dad called the cops on my sister, her husband, my mother & I.

He called the cops, and told them we were "verbally assaulting him in his own home."

By which he meant, we were telling the fucking truth, in our own homes.

The cop pretty much shrugged his shoulders when he got there - we had done nothing actionable, and it was, in fact his behavior that was out of bounds: I know I never uttered a single curse, and neither did my sister.  My mom did, but that was just repeating what he'd said about her, so that doesn't really count.  And my brother in law, who is the (I can't emphasize this enough, honestly) most peaceful person ever (like, I've seen him mad may three times in the past 5 years, and even when he's mad, he's still pretty calm) had to go outside and stand in the cold to keep himself from ... I don't even know what.

I know what I wanted to do, which was rage and vomit and punch his face in and break the goddamn wine bottle into a million tiny little pieces and cry and curl up into a ball and pack all my shit immediately and move into the cardboard box that is my only other option and scream in his face and drag him to a psychiatrist and tie him into a chair & force him to watch every episode of Intervention ever.  (For the record, I did at least two of those things, but they weren't the fun ones.)

The cops told us "families fight" and told him "if you're an asshole when you drink" (Oh crap, I guess I did curse: I specifically told the cops that he was an asshole when he drinks, but it still doesn't count because I didn't curse at him), "then don't do that anymore."  He did not get the outcome he wanted, (which was them making us leave, I guess), and then kept saying how embarrassing it was that it had happened.

 It didn't just happen: You called the cops because we weren't backing down (again) about your ridiculous, abusive behavior.  You were the one who reacted like an ass because someone dared to question you about your drinking.  You were the one who went on the attack.  I wasn't embarrassed at all, to be honest.  A little let down that I couldn't say "Listen, if he opens his mouth again, I'm going to do something that is worth going to jail for" or "Honestly?  He told my mother to go fuck herself, my sister that she was a pill popping control freak, and me that I was a useless piece of shit: please, just take him with you."

I know I've talked about his drinking here before - about my issues with being lucky enough to be blessed with three alcoholic parents, in particular, so if you've been around, you know it's a problem.*  I probably don't talk about it as much as I should, because - no matter that I have no fault in it, and there's nothing I can do to stop it - it feels shameful, it feels like I should keep it quiet.  And, to be honest, it's a little embarrassing because I can't just move out and put myself in a better environment: I am dependent upon my family, financially. 

I also try not to say things that hurt people's feelings here, even though they don't read it. (And hopefully never will.)  But the truth is the truth, and I'm sick of pretending that this is not a life or death, you are ruining our family type of deal.

The fight last night was vicious.  He has this ability to take out the sharpest arrow in his arsenal, hone it to its finest point, and hit your most vulnerable spot dead center.  Tell my mom she's a drunk (although saying "you're a worse alcoholic than I am" probably doesn't make the point you were hoping for);  tell my sister that she "moved in and took over", because you know she's overly sensitive about having to live at home; tell me that I "contribute nothing but a bunch of dirty dishes", because you know it wounds me that I can't do things around the house to help out.  Make sure you dip all those arrows in as much vile poison as they can hold, before you send them.  That's his way.

And then, THEN, he rants and raves about how he has no place in this family, how he wants to be left the fuck alone, how there are no relationships left for him with us, and how that's all our fault.

It probably is my fault that I don't want to give you more ammunition to use against me.  Probably is my fault that I can't feel safe enough in my own home to come out to the kitchen if I know you're out there drinking.  Definitely is my fault that I've been locking myself in my room at night, because I don't want to be around you, because I know if I go out there I'm not going to be able to hold my tongue, and you're not going to be able to hold your temper, and we wind up right back where we are now: You got to yell and scream and curse and stab at people with your insults, and the rest of us get to wander around dazed and betrayed, stunned that we let ourselves get hurt again.  Yeah: that all seems like my fault.

It's definitely my mom's fault if she's "a cold, unfeeling bitch", because everybody wants to be close to someone who makes them feel like shit.  It's my sister's fault that she's not willing to "forget about what happened before", even though it was traumatizing to everyone (including you), and you made promises that you never kept.  It's definitely my brother-in-law's fault that he had to start shoving all his belongings in an empty laundry basket because god forbid someone should treat him or his wife with love, courtesy or respect, even though they do so much for you.

The thing is, I know, in his mind, that he's the victim in all this.   I know that because he stated it very clearly, over and over and over again last night: he was not going to be fucking apologizing for anything he said, if anything he was owed the apology from us.  Because we started it, we attacked him, and all he was doing was "cooking, drinking and minding his own fucking business."  Never mind that that business included doing the thing you promised us you wouldn't do: we don't have the "right" to hold you accountable for that.  Never mind that once someone did call you on your bullshit you started yelling, calling people names, threatening them, using your place as "the moneymaker" to try to bully us into shutting up, trying to throw us out of the house.   That's all acceptable behavior, right?

He didn't go to work today (he "didn't sleep well"), and now he's wandering around upstairs pouting, probably/I'm 99.99% sure.  That's too damn bad: I don't have any answers for you - you want a place in this family you better figure out a way to fix things, because I am D O N E trying to figure it out for you.  Yeah: I love you.  Yeah: I'll miss you if you have to go.  But you can't stay like this.  Or I can't... One of us is going to have to make some real fucking changes.  And, as far as I can tell, only one of us has done anything wrong.

And it sure as hell isn't me.

Sticking up for myself, my sister, my mother and my family?  Not wrong.
Calling your behavior abusive when it is?  Not wrong. (And not "verbal assault" either, asshole.)
Dumping your precious wine down the sink?  Probably a little bit wrong, but only because I lost my cool there: should've stayed calmer.  The dumping part I'm ok with, because Fuck That Shit.
Ignoring you now, even though I know you're just waiting for me to say something, anything, so you can either walk right in or stomp all over me again?  Not wrong.

Let me make this 300000% clear - to myself, and to the sister who needs to hear it, and just happens to read my blog - WE DID NOTHING WRONG.  It is not ok to say the things he said, no matter if we started the argument - we didn't say anything out of bounds to him, but he certainly did to us.  His bullying is NOT OUR FAULT.  THE END.

Of course, it feels like it could be our fault.  Her fault for saying something in the first place, she says; my fault for not just walking away and letting it drop, I think.  But that's just some textbook Over Developed Sense of Responsibility right there.  Over time, everything feels like our fault - when people are happy, when they're not, how they act because of their mood - all of that is not in our control, but it feels like it should be.

Example: Last night's big blow out (which follows our last really big blow out by only 6 months, with about 3 less major ones in between) came immediately following his vacation, last week.  That's 9 days of holding your breath, tiptoeing around, hiding yourself in your room (or at work, or in the cellar, or at someone else's house: Hell I even stayed later at the HOSPITAL so I wouldn't have to come home) so that you don't accidentally say something to set him off.  He, of course, doesn't see it like that, but the rest of us do.  If I'm going to keep a fight from happening I either have to a)pretend that I'm fine with the drinking and drunk him and all that comes along with that (overly affectionate fakeness, pushing food on you repeatedly, an inability to take no for an answer about anything) or b) not be in the same room with him.  I chose, for as much as I was able, option b.  For nine days.  My sister and her husband ate with him more, choosing lite option A and a huge dose of option B (cellar time ALL NIGHT LONG).  And my mom, well she usually can't get away with B, and even though she doesn't do a good job of pretending (i.e: we can all tell she's pissed off at him), he doesn't really notice, so that's the way our week went.

It was only after all that shit that my sister came home from work yesterday and called him on his drinking (A bit of an explanation first: following last ginormous traumatizing fight, he swore off drinking.  That lasted a week.  Since then he has told us that he won't drink at all.  Then he changed it to "I won't drink when I'm cooking" Then it was "I won't have more than 1 glass/2 glasses/3 glasses a night"  Last night he was at 2.5 glasses when she walked in).  And then spent the rest of the night crying, saying she shouldn't have started anything.

She didn't start it, and I want her to get that.  (Hi.  I know you get it, but you don't feel it.  That's ok, too, but just so you know: I know this wasn't your fault.)  He can lay the blame at our feet - hers for daring to say something, mine for not shutting my mouth when he wanted me to, my mom's for not sticking up for him "while I was being assaulted" - but we all know the truth about where it goes.  This is his fault, and that's all there is too it.

Another sister and I were talking recently, about babies. About how much we want them and don't have them, and are scared it may never happen for us.  (Which, let's not talk about that right now) And she said something about never letting her kids sleep over, out of fear of what his moods would be like, and it sort of killed me (because I love my niece and nephews so much and would hate not to be able to spend time with any of them), and at the same time I understood perfectly.  I want a baby more than anything, but I would never bring it into this house the way it is right now.  Never.

So don't give me all this shit about how you just can just "cook, and drink, and mind my own fucking business",  because it is my business.  Because I love you, and because I love them, and because, god damn it I'm trying really fucking hard to love myself.  And I can't love a person who lets other people walk all over them - or her family.  So, I know you're going to do as you please (who knows it better than me**), but it's not going to be crushing me anymore.  It's not going to be hurling abuse at the people I love anymore.  And if that means that I've lost two fathers to alcohol, I'm going to say that that really sucks.  And I'm going to be horribly sad.  But I'm not going to lose myself just so you can be a happy drunk.


*And I'd just like to say that my Mom, whose own issues with alcohol have been pretty intense and troubling, has been sober for almost four months now, and I couldn't be prouder of her.  Yes, it was a decision she made based on medical necessity, but I think every addict's decision to get sober is medically necessary, and she's working really hard on it, which is amazing. 

**My biological father slipped into his alcoholism sometime before I 9, and our relationship was rocky from that point on.  Eventually, 11 years ago this July, it took his life.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Dear Media Relations Person, Susan G. Komen Foundation -

I'm sure you're getting a metric ton of these e-mails and letters, and wading through them is both frustrating and overwhelming.  I know the feeling - I have probably the same amount of medical bills and test results and doctor's notes to wade through myself. Because I live with illness, I live with paperwork.  And because it's your job, so do you.  I doubt you were expecting all of this, however - all these critical, disappointed, stinging responses to your new policy of cutting funding for Planned Parenthood

Here's the thing - I am sure that you started at this job because you wanted to help people with cancer: can't think of any other earthly reason why else you'd be working for a Foundation (usually) known for it's dedication to eradicating, educating about, and researching into the causes of breast cancer.  I just did a little research into the Foundation, which I'd heard of, of course, but knew very little about - I'm sorry to hear of Ms. Komen's personal battle with breast cancer, and touched by the fact that her loss led to the the salvation of many other women: it's a great tribute to her, and for her sister to have created the Foundation in her name is truly inspiring. 

 I am sure, given those circumstances, and all that you all have done in the past 30 years to further the cause, that all of this negative attention is probably pretty disheartening, and I'm sorry for that.

But what's not inspiring is bigotry, ignorance or discrimination.  And what's also disheartening is your organization's new policy, which is both antithetical to your stated goals of "to eradicate breast cancer by advancing research, screening, care and education," but also short sighted and, frankly, appalling. 

I personally, (and every woman I have spoken to on the subject, as well as those who are leaving messages on your Facebook page and sending e-mails and writing blog posts) fail to see how defunding cancer screenings - and let's be clear, that is ALL you are defunding, cancer screenings and treatments (17% of Planned Parenthood's services) - for (mostly) lower-income women will help you to attain your "vision of a world without breast cancer."  That's not logical, it's not honest, and it sullies the good work you have done (or will continue to do). 

Politics, although very few seem to recognize this, has no place in medicine.  There is nothing 'pro-life' about cutting off the ONLY route many women/men will have to prevent, treat, or cure their breast cancer.  It is hypocritical of your Foundation to hide behind 'policy changes' and obscure new rules about 'organizations under investigation', when your own executives are the ones who are leading the charge for those investigations, and whose only motivation is their own political agenda. 

An organization such as yours, which claims to be "For the Cure", which has done so much in pursuit of that cure should not be discriminating against women who need your help.  For any reason.  You should be above the political maneuverings on a divisive issue, when it has absolutely nothing to do with what you are fighting for.

I'm not saying your executives should support Planned Parenthood if they are against some of the things that go on there, but your Foundation?  Whose only mission is to 'eradicate' this illness?  Should continue to support the people on the front lines - the women and men who need screening and treatment and care, the doctors and nurses who provide that care, the technicians and specialists who evaluate the needs of the patients - no matter where they are practicing.  This new policy, is egregious and should be corrected IMMEDIATELY. 

I mentioned my own illness in the beginning of this letter, and while it isn't breast cancer, without the help of local clinics, many funded through private foundations and organizations like your own, my life would be very different right now.  I would not - do not - have the resources to battle it on my own, and would have no way or receiving them without help.  I cannot condone or understand an organization that is supposed to be dedicated to such a noble goal - eliminating breast cancer, The End. - making such an ill-conceived and deadly decision.  Because make no mistake, for women like me, who depend on places like Planned Parenthood for their care, taking away those sort of places, is taking away our only chances of survival. 

I don't send my money or donate my time to organizations that think it's ok to discriminate against whole segments of the population, or who put politics before their own goals and the needs of the people they're supposed to be meeting.  That is what you are doing with this new decision.  I hope that you will reconsider your policy shift, and make this right.  Until that change is made, please know that you will not be getting my support, nor, I suspect, the support of many others.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

I've been writing letters

Some actually got sent (mostly advocacy ones), and some are just rolling around in my brain, and some I typed up just to get them to stop rolling around in my brain - with no plan of ever sending them.  But there might be a couple of letter posts in a row, here, just so you know.  To start us off, here are two that go together -

Dear Therapist Who Apparently Has No Compassion/Home Health Aide Who is Too Rough/Nurse Who is Rolling Your Eyes Right Now,

     I know my grandmother is stubborn - it's kind of a point of pride, in our family, that we are all 'strong willed,' but nobody as much as she.  I know that, at 94, it is sometimes hard for her to adapt to new situations as quickly as you all would like her to.   But I think it also would behoove you to remember that she's not stupid, that she did, somehow survive for these past 94 years, doing the best she could.  This is a woman who has lived through a lot - 2 World Wars, technically!  A major car accident! Being a nurse on the maternity ward when losing mothers and babies was seen as the cost of doing business!  She has raised nine children, one with Down's Syndrome, and helped raise at least one of her grandchildren.  She lost her mother when she was a child, her father almost 40 years ago, all of her 5 siblings, half of her children as adults, and her spouse.  She's a tough lady, is what I'm saying, and she's hurting.  Physically and emotionally. 

So, maybe you take your time going through today's exercises with her, or cut her some slack for not doing them when she had the stomach flu?  Maybe you take her word for it when she says that something feels different, not just assume it's just something she never noticed before. No: she won't always follow directions blindly, which might be easier for you, but wouldn't be for her.  It's pretty reasonable for her to ask questions about something she knows very little about, so maybe rolling your eyes isn't the best response.  Also?

Could you look up from your god damn schedule/paperwork/planned assignment for today just for a minute and recognize that what you want to do and what she needs are not always the same thing?  She's not inside your little laptop - she's sitting right in front of you, and she's scared (though she'd never tell you that) and she's pissed (which you might have gleaned) and she's frustrated (because '8 weeks should be long enough!') and she's hurting (because she fell down the stairs.  And broke her arm.  And had five screws put in.  And is ninety four frigging years old!)  

So let's try out that bedside manner you're supposed to have in there somewhere, and give empathy a shot for a little bit.  It won't hurt you, I promise.  And it'll make things a whole lot easier on her.  

Trying not to hate you right now,


Dear Every Other Person We Have Worked with in the Past 8 Weeks,

     I appreciate your patience and your kindness and your understanding with my grandmother.  I know she has not always been the best patient, but thank you for realizing that it is for valid reasons, and that she's doing the best she can, even when all that is is refusing to do what you want her to do.  She really is recovering incredibly well, and I know it is, in large part, due to your help.  She knows it too, and I think, has shown you all how grateful she is (even though she is also telling you how frustrating it is to need your help).  Many of you have commented on her spirit, and how gutsy she is: I agree.  Some of you have noticed when she is feeling a little low, and have tried to listen to what she needs - even if all that is is listening, or cutting her toenails, or remembering to wipe your feet before you come into her house when it's raining out, and I could not appreciate it more.  She's a special lady, my grandmother, and it's nice to know you all think so too.  

With my very sincere thanks,