Friday, July 29, 2005

It's a sister thing

Recently a friend of mine had a second son, and after several months he has been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy. And although I know how tough this is going to be on my friend and his wife over the years, I can't help but be concerned about son #1. See, I grew up in a family where there was a "sick" sibling. My sister had a bad heart, severe scoliosis that required several operations, body casts, back braces; and mild retardation. My mother had been told she wouldn't live to adulthood, and so she completely spoiled her, in every way you can think of. When I came along 4 years later, I was so totally ignored, growing up, that I'm amazed I lived to be an adult. My sister was bussed to her school, but I walked, even though that meant walking past bars and strip joints in a really bad neighborhood, alone. I wouldn't dream of letting ANY kid walk that route, then or now. I remember being sent home in the second grade with a note from the teacher that my hair(long) was a tangled mess (because no one bothered to brush it for days, and I couldn't manage it at 6 years old) and so my mother sat me down and cut it off. I wore hand-me-downs, of course, but mine were stained, torn, and ill-fitting; I got one new outfit a year, to be worn on the first day of school. It wasn't that my parents abused me physically; it was that they neglected me in such a way that I felt invisible. They never attended my school plays, concerts, or anything. They rarely attended teacher conferences, and my teachers learned that the only way to get a response was to send notes home. I graduated from high school at 17 and the only colleges I applied to were at least 900 miles from home, I was so anxious to get away. I worked throughout college, and still had massive school loans that took me years to pay off, but to hear my parents talk about it, they paid every dime of it. So strange. After my parents died, I sat and looked through all the old photographs. My dad always had a camera in hand, and yet, outside of school photos, I doubt there are 20 of me alone in all those stacks of photos. Many times my folks even called me by my sister's name. My sister lived to her 50s and became a terrible problem for my folks, which they expected me to help with, and I did, but not without terrible resentment. I've been in therapy for several years now, for this and other problems, and I still can't seem to let go of this resentment, even though my sister is dead now too. I find it particularly ironic that my parents expected so much from me and my family when they were old, even moving from FL to WV to be near us (and bringing my sister), and yet they gave so little when I was young and needed them. Anyway, spare a little extra kindness for the siblings of handicapped children, their life is no bed of roses either.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I was home sick yesterday with a killer migraine, and although I'm back at work today, I still feel a little spacey. If I could I would have stayed home today too, but I have so little vacation or sick leave I feel like I need to hoard it against a time when I really need to be off. I remember a time when I had months of leave accumulated and never thought anything of it, but that was before I took 3 months off for Family Medical Leave. Do you know about this? Clinton passed it (FMLA)into law, that employers are required to allow up to 3 months of leave in a twelve month period for sickness, or to care for a family member who is sick, without losing their jobs. The leave can be paid, if you have the accumulated time, or unpaid if you don't, but at least you'll still have a job when you return. When I took FMLA back in 2000, I returned to find my job had been "outsourced" and that it would no longer be filled; but since the law forces them to re-employ me, they found me a miserable job at the same pay scale, but one I wasn't qualified for. Six months later my new boss filed a "letter of warning" in my personnel file, step one in the process to fire me. I went to human resources and told them they would either find me a job, at the same pay scale, that I was qualified to do, or I would go the Dept. of Justice and file a complaint under the FMLA law. I had, after all, 25 years with this university, and never a single complaint before. They found me this one, and I couldn't be happier. It's easy, I have a swell office, work with a great bunch of people, and feel like I'm doing a real necessary job. So cool. I still see my ex-boss in the hallways, and from what I hear he hasn't been able to hang onto any personnel since me, they all quit after a few months, even when they have nowhere lined up to go to. SMILE! Word does get around about idiots, I'm glad to say. And the "outsourcing" job is costing them a bloody fortune now, something like $2000 per specimen! Instead of earning them an equivalent sum done in-house. Idiots, too.

I was thinking about all this recently because N. (husband), who is retired, has been working part-time for a certain United Way agency for the last three years. He has been getting increasingly disillusioned with them, to the point where he hated to go to work. Monday he gave them two weeks notice that he is resigning. He's been doing consulting work ever since he retired, off and on, and now has a firm commitment for 20+ hours a week, at ten times the salary he was making for the United Way agency. His outlook on going to work now that he knows it's only for a few more days, is radically better. It's funny, how a bad job can ruin your whole outlook on life, making even minor aggravations into insurmountable obstacles. Life is too short for that, better to just move on.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm still a hot babe, only now it comes in flashes

This summer has been miserable for me. Whether it's global warming, or simple variation in the season, it's been bloody hot and humid for as long as I ever remember it being. SO, of course, this has to be the summer when menopause has to rear its ugly head and leaves me dripping, washed up, exhausted and TESTY. I honestly thought this was all behind me, but no, one last surge of whatever hormone, just often enough that I think the spontaneous combustion thing must have its roots in menopausal women.
And have you ever noticed, when you're burning up with heat, how cool and collected everybody else seems to be? You're fanning away, mopping sweat before it drips onto the keyboard, and the person at the next desk is rubbing her hands together to get warm. It just isn't fair. There's so much you can do if you are cold; put on more clothes, turn up the thermostat, or in the summer just open a window. But when you're hot, changing the thermostat down into the glacial region doesn't seem to help at all, there's ony so much clothes you can take off, and only so close you can huddle to the fan. I hate to have people touch me, like pat me on the back, because I know I'll feel damp. I don't remember ever noticing this about other women, so maybe it isn't quite as obvious as it seems to be with me. At any rate, it's miserable.

In other news, I actually had the first flat tire of my entire driving career. Luckily, it was hubby who noticed it, and took the tire to be repaired after putting the toy spare tire on. Boy did I feel dumb when they said I must have been driving on it "quite a while" because I'd chewed up the inside so that it couldn't be repaired. The darn "low profile" tires look half flat to me all the time anyway, so there isn't a real obvious sag to them when flat. Some of them are so ridiculous, they look like a rubber band stretched around a quarter. Whose idea were these, anyway?

The new meds are working a treat, I'm glad to say. I've had other spells when I felt pretty good, only to have another meltdown after a few weeks or months, so I'm only cautiously optimistic this time. Still, the side effects are going away, including the 30 point drop in blood pressure when I go from sitting to standing, so I don't sway in nonexistent breezes so much. More miraculously, I've actually had three nights of good sleep in a row! Woohoo! Some of my dreams have been a little strange, like the one where I was cooking dinner for my mother-in-law (who has been dead for 30+ years--probably not much appetite there). But at least the nightmares are in abeyance for now. I've lost some weight (which is good) and my concentration is much better. So let's hear it for modern pharmaceutical science! Even if they don't know HOW it works, it does seem to work!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Some lead, some follow, I laugh

Well! Nothing like a short stay in the local looney bin to give you a radical change in perspective. And here's to the modern pharmaceutical approach to depression! There's some mighty effective drugs out there. Hopefully, I can count on at least a few months of relative sanity now.

Not that the rest of the world sounds so sane anymore. While I was "in" we heard the news about the London bombings. And the spin since then on those terrible deeds is worrisome too. If we believe what we're told, these are the deeds of a fanatical terrorist group who hate "us" for "our freedoms". But suppose that your intention was to engender hate against certain political or social groups? Suppose this were an effort to start another holy war against innocent Muslims, by making them into inhuman evil terrorists? Or even the efforts of powerful people to justify erosion of our civil liberties under the guise of "making us safer"? Me, I'm an idiot when it comes to global issues, I have enough trouble getting myself up and dressed and into work every day, never mind tracking world news. But I'm a sceptic. I don't actually trust politicians who will do anything to gain and hold absolute power over the rest of us. And I don't like that sneaking feeling I'm being manipulated into a predetermined mindset by forces that have an agenda all their own.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the vital issues of the day. I promise I won't go there again.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The other side

When I think of posting on this blog, I try to think of (semi-)amusing tidbits of life to comment on, maybe a little quirky, and not get all bogged down in narcissic navel contemplation, so boring to perfect strangers. And then I reach a truly rocky bit of life, when humor is so far out of reach, and I try to let a *little* bit of it out here, just to provide some sort of outlet. No one from my family reads this, but I respect their privacy and don't post things I wouldn't talk about at, say, coffee break. I know there are lots of people struggling with truly daunting lives, and my problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and plans, seem so trivial in comparison. I have resources available -- doctor, psychiatrist, therapist -- so I'm not struggling alone. But damn! When the grimmies really sock you, when all of life looks gray, tastes like ashes, the future looks lonely and unbearable, it's so hard to maintain any perspective. I try reminding myself that I've felt this bad before, and it went away, and so it will this time, eventually. I try thinking about how much worse it could be, especially if I botched another suicide attempt and left myself a vegetable, I try to think of some good thing to look forward to, I try to remember some of the good times in the past, but I gotta say, this depression thing, even with meds and therapy, is one tough row to hoe.
One hour until the appt. with the psych dr. I'm going to make it, so far.