Gotdamm, I'm glad it's ending.
[511 Warning: This post contains too much information]
(read the bolded elements for the highlights)
It started with my surgery. I had endometrial hyperplasia. Had it for years, but between being busy and broke, and having crappy insurance for a while--I had delayed taking care of it. It was at a point, though, where it was debilitating. I was bleeding, heavily, all the time. I was afraid to go out.
So, beginning of this year--first, a D&C. That's basically scraping out the inside of the uterus. Give it a fresh start. But within 3 weeks, I was back to where I had been. And the tissue sample showed atypia--which is basically pre-cancer. 60% of women with hyperplasia with atypia are later found to have cancer.
Next step, surgery. Because I also had poly-cystic ovaries that were overproducing both estrogen and testosterone, the doctor decided to take both of them out along with my uterus. So, all the internal girl parts--gone. He is an excellent gynecologist and surgeon. The surgery was robotic, and I have only 4 tiny scars.
Now, part of a complete hysto is the removal of the cervix. And, apparently, when he removed my uterus through my vagina, there was some tearing. So, he had to stitch together a new top of the vagina, and had to do some episiotomy stitches. The end result is that my vagina is notably smaller. This is a strange thing to adjust to.
They did find a pencil-point sized spot of cancer. (Out, out damn spot!) I'm getting scans and exams a couple of times a year for a while to keep an eye on things--but my doctors are pretty sure they got it all.
The good thing is: I'm rid of some major health issues that have bothered me for years. More to deal with, (wicked psoriasis and chronic pain that may be related, as well as my weight) but those were the big ones. I am so relieved, and happy.
While I was dealing with that, the company I work for had been bought out. New owners, new management, new approach. Suddenly, everyone was expected to put in long hours and to drop everything at a moment's notice. To jump, or lose your job. I work from home, and the new C-levels felt it was important to have the corporate jobs in the HQ. I wouldn't mind, except that it's in Connecticut, where the cost of living is over 60% higher than in Dallas. They'd have to give me a 30% raise, and my lifestyle would still be compromised. So... I jumped through every hoop.
Many people were fired, including my manager, and hired, and fired again. I returned to work 1 week after my surgery, rather than the recommended 2, because I was worried about job stability. At one point, I was doing literally 3x what the agreed-upon maximum was for the job. And my work quality was low because of it. (I was more stressed by putting out crap work than by the thought of getting fired for it. I hate doing less than my best.)
They had us fly out to the HQ with less than 2 weeks notice, and had us scheduled all day every day for a week working on a special project--but didn't take anything else off my plate. I would leave the office, have dinner, and work for 5 or 6 more hours. This was on top of other stress in my personal life (which I'll get to in a moment), plus it was making my chronic pain flare, and I came very close to a nervous breakdown. I was on the edge of just bursting into tears in the middle of the office, or curling up and not leaving the hotel room. Thankfully, my best friend and my sister talked me through it and I made it through that week.
Eventually, things evened out at work--and there was an admission from the C-level for my department that, essentially, they had been testing us. At this point I feel like my job is pretty secure. I'll be called out to HQ less often, and they trust me. Now, I only have to worry about the stability of the company.
So, while all of that was going on--my father was arrested.
That drama started a couple of years ago, with him losing his medical license. He was a Physicians Assistant, and had been managing pain treatment clinics. He had a background in pain management, but these clinics were the kind which mostly serve people with little or no insurance, and, as a result, tend to give prescriptions rather than long-term treatment. It's easier to get medication paid for than massage and physical therapy.
These clinics were under observation by the DEA, as some of them were prescription mills. Doctors would pre-sign several scripts, and basically sell them. My dad was not doing that, and, at least according to anything he was willing to admit, he was oblivious to anything like that happening in a clinic where he worked. But one of his patients, after getting multiple scripts from different doctors, died... so he came under investigation personally.
They decided he wasn't conducting enough of a background check to rule out drug-seeking behavior, and was giving out anti-depressants without a proper psych examination. He was under observation for a few months, and then they pulled his license. I know my dad. I am pretty sure that he thought he was better than the people investigating him, and was pedantic and superior, and probably didn't comply with requirements he thought were stupid.
My dad is a lot like House. Looks a little like him. Even has a limp and sometimes uses a cane. He doesn't have House's power, so he mostly tries to hide his opinion...but really, the sarcasm and superiority--that's my dad. Oh, and he kicks puppies. I kid you not. So, while most people think he's nice--he's actually a bigger asshole than House. House wouldn't kick a dog.
So, my sister and I (who share a house) get a call from my brother saying my dad was arrested. That there was the DA, and an DEA agent, and he was taken away.
Which also meant that my brother was back in town and staying at my dad's. With his year-old baby. We thought he was in another state. My sister and I no longer talk to him, after years of lies and petty theft to buy drugs. We were not happy that he and the girlfriend decided to keep this baby. (She's put the previous three up for adoption.) It ended up just being for the best that we not deal with him. For our own health and sanity.
Dad, however, despite losing his job and being forced into retirement with no savings, despite losing his house--he was still sending my brother money. And apparently, paying for his cell phone. We found out brother dear had worked a scam, using the phone account to buy several phones and sell them. And still, dad welcomed him into his home.
We found out from dad's not-girlfriend* that dad's diabetes had been poorly controlled, despite his medications and a healthy diet. He'd been in the hospital with an infection that took a very long time to heal.
(The not-girlfriend= a woman he has supported, along with her daughter, son, and granddaughter, for a few years. Who lived with him. But who never slept with him, and was, in fact, not even particularly nice to him... A golddigger whose attention he bought, and who knew that the less she gave him, the more desperate he was to buy it.)
So, I learned a lot about how the jail system works in this country, and it's seriously fucked up. There's no such thing, really, as a speedy trial. A person can be indicted for a crime, and not get a trial for many months. Their lives turned upside-down, even if they are not convicted of anything.
When we went to visit dad at the jail, he was like a frail and lost puppy. He cried. He hadn't expected us to come. It was hard to maintain the facade in front of other prisoners. They weren't giving him all of his medications.
Oh, and they charge for everything. I couldn't even send him socks. I had to put money in an account for him to use at the commissary. (This is one of the major ways the prison-industrial system makes profit.)
While he was in jail, the not-girlfriend, my sister and I decided we needed to get my brother (even with the baby) out of dad's apartment before he stole everything. We started with removing the most valuable items. Brother was hurt, but he had already sold some DVDs, so... yeah. Dad was worried about it, adding to his stress.
We ended up changing the lock, and decided to pack everything up to put into storage,a dn let go of the apartment. Brother had been driving dad's car around, and was shocked when we took it. Dad couldn't keep up the payments on it, and not-girlfriend was going to take it back to the dealer. The value of the car should have been a few thousand more than the balance on the loan, and that went to a lawyer.
Brother never did visit dad, or write to him.
While dealing with all of this, my sister had a bout of acute pancreatitis. According to the hospital staff we spoke with, this is one of the most painful things a human can experience. More than childbirth. More (and this is important, remember this for later) than a massive heart attack.
She had weight-loss surgery a little over a year ago, and has been very successful. However, the fat loss can contribute to gallstones, or sludge in the gallbladder. If the ducts get blocked, this can trigger pancreatitis. We rushed her to the hospital, where she was not allowed even a sip of water for 24 hours, and where she had to stay for 5 days before it was under control. She later had surgery to remove her gall bladder.
Then, shortly after that: Dad had a massive heart attack, and underwent an emergency quintuple bypass. Yeah, I didn't even know there was such a thing. He was in a special ICU, and in a medical coma for about a week, hooked up to a machine that was pumping his heart. He had more IVs than I've ever seen on one person. 16! 16 separate tubes feeding into him. Not counting the heart pump.
The jail dad was in was in Houston. We live in Dallas. This meant that, to go see him, we had to drive down. It was money for gas, money for a hotel, money for food. We had already put most of our extra money (which was not much) into his spending account for jail and paying for the storage unit for his belongings.
But, we went. For myself, even if I have mixed feelings about my father, I didn't want him to wake up alone. I wanted him to feel people around him.
His recovery was slowed by stressing about jail (they eventually declared him released, but we didn't have that in writing), about where his stuff was, how he would support himself, and where he'd go after the hospital. He was moved to a rehab, but got fluid in the lungs and went back to ICU before rehab one more time. (This overlapped my sister's illness and my visit to work HQ.)
He hinted heavily that he thought we should take him in.
It was an agonizing decision, because who wants to deny a frail old man the security of knowing his family will take care of him? But there was no way that was going to happen.
1) He really should have gone to another rehab, one that was less acute care and more designed to getting him strong and functional. We researched it and found a couple that would work--it was just a matter of working with the VA to get it paid for. But he panicked at that idea. Acted like we were trying to put him away. Even though we pointed out that the places we were recommending were designed for only a few weeks' stay.
but, let's say we did have him in a bed in our living room...
2) We have three dogs. They jump on people. Even before his heart attack, they nearly tripped dad a few times.
3) I don't have a car. I work from home, but that's busy working hours. My sister works long hours out of the home. He would not have transportation to doctor's appointments. We aren't available to take care of him. He wasn't even strong enough to open a can of soup and microwave it. He needed more care than we could provide.
4) Basically, fuck him. While he was managing those clinics, he had been doing very well. He was making over 150k/year, mostly being paid in cash. And when I had needed help--a loan--he gave me shit about it and refused. There had been several occasions when my sister and I could have used some help, but he was too worried about buying expensive jewelry and a cars for the not-girlfriend and her family. Or sending money to my brother to spend on drugs. He had put us last, and rarely expressed support or interest in us outside of times he needed someone to pay attention to him.
I still feel some guilt, but really, I don't see how living with us would have been good for him or us. His sister ended up taking him to her house.
At this point, we don't really talk to him. All that drama, and his attempts to emotionally manipulate us, brought up feelings that made it clear that he's just not someone we want in our lives. Writing my autobiography I've realized the passive-aggressive behavior has always been there... and the memories of him failing to protect me from abuse... and the fact that he may have (she is uncertain of her memories) sexually abused my sister.
This has been one of the most challenging years of my life.
#1 was the three-year period I was with my alcoholic husband, during which we were illegal aliens, lived in a squat with no water or electricity, and which ended with his death in a fire.
#2 was the year my mom died of breast cancer, where we also were given less than a month to move because our rental house had sold, I found out the guy I was dating was maintaining 3 other relationships (!), and I hit a man who drunkenly stumbled in front of my car.
This year is #3.
So, well, what else?
- My sister has lost 200 lbs in a year and a half. She's healthier than ever, and looks great.
- I love what I do, even if there are issues with who I do it for. Proposal writing and working from home suits me. I love the project-oriented nature of it--bringing something complex to completion on a deadline.
- I got started using a biPAP machine for sleep apnea, and it's improved my health
- I have given myself a new name, and it fits beautifully. I feel more comfortable than ever in my skin, identifying clearly as genderqueer.
- Ello! Ello has been fantastic for me. It has me reading more, interacting more, and writing more (outside work).
This next year, I look forward to focusing on losing weight and to paying off old debts so I can afford a car.