Oh, this year. One of the lessons I have learned in my almost-36 years is to never ask “what else can go wrong?” Never. So, I don’t. Still, as life is wont to do, things continue to happen. Good things. Bad things. I really wanted this new blog (my third attempt) to be something…else. A place where I can share my thoughts and feelings. I envisioned it being a wide array of emotions. It seems, though, that this blog…at least in 2011…is going to consist of “Debbie Downer” information.
I have a favorite uncle. Sure, you’re not supposed to have favorites but, let’s me honest, we all do. My favorite uncle – W – was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. As far as cancer diagnoses go, it was pretty favorable. He went through treatment (radiation) and was deemed pretty much cancer-free. (In as much as one can be declared cancer free so soon after treatment.) Then it came back. It had spread into his spine so they decided to run more tests and start radiation and chemotherapy. My aunt told me that the doctors were taking the “wait and see” approach to his prognosis. In other words, they don’t really know how bad it is….well, didn’t know.
Aside: My mom is currently staying with my aunt and uncle while my uncle goes through radiation treatment. I should point out that my aunt/uncle are on my paternal side and, while my parents have been divorced for almost 30 years, she still remains close to his family. She would remain good friends with him were he not married to a woman full of low self-esteem and anixety and were he not fully of anxiety himself. My mom was already in the area with her job and when the job came to a close, she decided to visit with them and help out.
My mom called me yesterday and I could tell she had to share some bad news. There has been so much going on this year that I couldn’t even harbor a guess as to what her news was so I finally just told her to spit it out. My uncle’s cancer…the man who was more of a father to me than my biological one…is terminal.
I felt…nothing. Not even numb.
I’ve been wondering if I have some type of emotional detachment. Not one stemming from a narcissistic personality disorder but one from living a lifetime filled with anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, the news is upsetting but I feel nothing. My friends, after I shared the news, all said their “I’m so sorrys” and asked how I was doing. I made up some feelings. Appropriate feelings for the situation. It’s not that I am emotionless. On the contrary, I am overcome with emotion quite easily. (Case in point: parades make me cry…can’t explain that one.) It’s just that when it comes to people who are not directly in my life (meaning, in the same State as I), I have some type of emotional cutoff. I’m sure it’ s a defense mechanism. Or are all people like that?
I have essentially cut myself off from my mother’s family. My grandfather (her dad, whom I adore as much as, if not more than, my uncle) is probably the one exception. The last time I visited the family back East (8 years ago), however, I said my goodbyes to him. He has been declining for the past 10 years – dementia and health – and I decided that I was done with that side of the family. There was too much turmoil and emotional abuse (although abuse seems too harsh a word but I cannot find another word that fits) growing up that when I realized my grandfather assumed I was visiting every day (he is prone to hallucinations), I no longer needed to associate with that side of the family. My point is this, I am supposed to want to visit and care for these people because we share a genetic code but I don’t. I feel nothing.
I have started to become reacquainted with my father’s side of the family (my father excluded). Yet I still have the emotional cutoff. I enjoy spending time with them (I have visited them a few times since moving out here 11 years ago) and enjoy calling, emailing and such. Yet I still have that emotional disconnect. If they’re in my life, that’s fine. If they’re not, that’s fine too.
I’ve never really felt as if I have belonged. I’ve always felt like an outsider. Different. As an adult, I have realized that everyone – at some point or another – feels this way. Do they also have the detachment?
Am I being melodramatic?
I assume it’s a proximity issue. When my mother-in-law died, I was very emotional about it. We lived only 30 minutes from her and helped take care of her in the last years of her life. So maybe I would feel differently if I still lived near my family. (I have no desire to live near my family.)
On the brighter side, my father-in-law started gaining weight so they took him off of Hospice. He still has his good days and bad days but that is par for the course with dementia.
The thing that bugs me about the most recent suicide is that he had terminal cancer. Oregon has the Death with Dignity Act. I just don’t get it.
This is turning out to be a depressing year – in general terms, that is. Everything that has happened has indirectly affected me. In the past month, I’ve known about two suicides. These are people I do not know – one, I believe I met once and the other was a cousin (third cousin, maybe). Still. You never want to hear about someone taking their life. Especially when you know what they were feeling. Or at least have a good idea. I’ve been there before. On the brink. It’s not fun. You just want the pain to stop but it won’t.
The most recent death was a man in his 60s. He had advanced prostate cancer. He covered the backseat of his truck with a tarp, tied a garbage bag around his neck, covered his body with a tarp and shot himself in the head. My stepfather found him.
Just two weeks prior my 15-year old cousin (whom I’ve never met but I was really close to her aunt), after being bullied for months and attempting to take her life once before, hung herself. Her little brother found her.
I can’t stop thinking about either person and hope that, in this instance, things don’t come in threes.
All I have been able to think about today is that there is currently a Scrambler located across the street from my office. Too bad it is cold and rainy….
Update: Seriously. The boss left early and there is hardly anyone here. Couple that with the fact that every time I look out the window NO ONE is riding it. I could’ve been riding the crap out of that mofo all afternoon! (that’s what she said)
This week has sucked. I’m not going to write about it because I have talked and written about it to the people I care most about. That’s enough for me.
So I thought, to make myself feel better, I would write an embarrassing story.
I peed my pants in Belize.
I’m just going to own it. It should go without saying that this was unintentional. At least, I hope that goes without saying. It’s not as if I make a habit of peeing my britches.
I mentioned in the last post that my husband and I went on a cruise in 2009. It was a belated honeymoon, belated 5th anniversary and early 7th anniversary trip all-in-one. We left from New Orleans (it didn’t impress me but we were there less than 24 hours, most of that time I was tired) and sailed to the Costa Maya area of Mexico; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. My modus operandi is one of worry. I worry about everything. It should come as no surprise that I am currently on anti-anxiety medication. That’s a story for another day. My point is taking a tour means I don’t worry. Everything is planned for me. I show up where I’m needed to go and enjoy the day. In theory. I’m always worried about the bathroom situation. I have had too many close calls in my life so it’s an important part of my being. I always go to the restroom several times before leaving anywhere and take advantage of any bathroom breaks, when I can. Except this day.
I did, as per usual, make my twenty million bathroom trips before we left the ship. We had to tender into port (ships cannot dock in Belize because of the reef) and to say it was chaos would be an understatement. So, the anxiety started to kick in. My brain was telling me “go to the bathroom one more time, just in case.” Every other part of me was saying “NO! We might get left behind and miss the tour!” The tour consisted of a boat ride up the Olde Belize River, a stop for lunch (and a chance to buy souvenirs) and a trip to the Mayan Ruins, Altun Ha. I must have, in my hyper state, convinced myself that he boat ride wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It wouldn’t be that long.
I was wrong.
We were having a great time on the river. We got to see quite a bit of wildlife and learn about Belize (something the history nerd in my thoroughly enjoys). At some point, though, I started getting the urge. I ignored it. There was nothing I could do and I refused to let it interfere with my enjoyment. Soon it became clear that I had a major problem. Many thoughts ran through my head: 1. Maybe I could get them to pull the boat over and I could run up to some stranger’s house and ask for the bathroom 2. Maybe there will be a little town soon and we can stop for a break and 3. Maybe I should “fall” into the river. I dismissed each idea 1. embarrassment 2. embarrassment and 3. crocodiles. Despite the fact that we had seen swimmers, preparing for Baron Bliss Day, in the river, I wasn’t about to get my leg gnawed off because I refused to listen to my body.
When we spotted the monkeys, my body made my decision for me. I was mortified. No…MORTIFIED. I had, at 33 years of age, peed my pants. Then I realized there would not only be evidence on my pants but also a puddle.
I took the batting I had used to wrap my camera, out of my purse and tucked it underneath me and in my shorts. When I assumed all was “dry”, I put the batting BACK IN MY PURSE (away from the camera) and pretended as if nothing happened. When we finally got off the boat (about 1.5 hours later), I pulled my shirt down as far as I could and put my purse – thankfully a messenger bag – on my butt. (My husband, while sympathetic, told me it was still pretty noticeable.) I hightailed it the solitary restroom – possibly pushing some little old ladies out of my way – and tried to clean up as best I could. I spent the lunch break standing in the sun. Miserable.
After my body turned against me (at no fault of its own), the tour guided handed out bottles of water and said “Be careful. We’ve only reached our halfway point!” Everyone laughed. Sadly, it never occurred to me (until later) that I could have “spilled” my bottle of water all over myself thus hiding my shame.
I made my husband vow to never tell a soul. Naturally, I had to share it with my closest friends.
Like I said, I’m just going to own it.
I hate, when someone is terminal, that doctors will tell them how much longer they have to live. It is as if they are assigning the person an expiration date. My father-in-law, who is in his 80s, has dementia and was recently assigned a Hospice nurse. The doctors have not given him an expiration date, if you will, but everyone at his memory care facility, and my husband and I, have seen a decline in recent months. There is a chance, should he start gaining weight, that they will take him off of Hospice.
The nurse doesn’t see this happening.
My mother-in-law was assigned a Hospice nurse in December of 2008. We were told she had at least 5 months to live unless she went on dialysis. The nurse informed her that if she went on dialysis, they would take her off of Hospice (should everything go well). She chose not to take treatment and passed away in January 2009.
While we were on vacation.
On a ship in the Caribbean. We were in Guatemala, to be exact, but didn’t find out until the next day after we returned from visiting Belize.
I’m still very bitter about that. Not that she died while we were on vacation but that we didn’t have more time. It’s not her fault. It was just so sudden. She didn’t even seem sick. Her body failed her and failed quickly. That pisses me off too. I hadn’t finished recording family stories from her. I had barely begun to get the family history. She still had stories to tell.
Grief never leaves you.
We had considered canceling our trip but the nurse insisted we keep our plans. She would be fine, the nurse insisted.
The nurse was wrong.
My father-in-law recently had pneumonia. He’s still fighting it. When I went to the hospital to pick him up, he looked dead. So gaunt. So weak. So not him. He didn’t seem to recognize me. I chalked it up to him being sick but on our last visit with him this past weekend, he still didn’t seem to recognize me. That pisses me off too. It was always a point of pride for me that he recognized me. That I arrived early enough in the family (11 years ago) that my face was embedded in the non-diseased part of his memory. Luckily he still recognizes my husband. His face lights up when he sees him. That’s a positive.
I can’t imagine my brain abandoning me. I know he used to grow frustrated with his memory faults. He would tell me that he was losing his mind. I would tell him that it was okay. We could help him remember. He used to ask to go to his wife’s grave and put flowers down for her. He would ask to go to our house to visit our dogs.
Now he doesn’t.
It fucking sucks.
I’m not sure why I started this blog but I realized that the path I was taking after my first two posts was one of a train on a collision course with a mountain. I don’t want this to be a place of negativity so until I figure out what I want to do with this site, I am going to put it on pause.
I might even make it private. I would like an outlet for my thoughts and feelings and it is so much easier to type than to write. So, we’ll see..