Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Yearly Physical

I have my yearly physical in two days and I’m dreading it. Let’s see…

I had foot surgery seven months ago and my foot pain is worse than ever. It’s taken this long to end up in a situation where I have an appointment with a second surgeon who is probably going to tell me I need a second surgery. That’s ok, but frankly it should have been last December. Seven months of nonsense and chronic pain.

I do want to pick her brain about the latest treatment the FDA just released in February for chronic, refractory depression. It made sense to me to wean off all the meds I take for that so I can develop a baseline. I’m doing it properly- very slowly over time. I already see a difference though. There’s an increase in crying and a decrease in tolerance for stress. Not a surprise, but I wish I had something happier to report.

My guess is I’ve also gained twenty pounds since last year and believe me, you can tell. I’ve weaned myself off my supplements to get a better baseline for that as well. I was intending to eat more healthy and get off the pre-diabetic status. I’m going to plead with her not to even test my blood. I’ve gone the opposite direction. I can’t even imagine what my levels are like, but my weight is an indication of what it would show.

Sigh.

I’m hoping that Tim has off work though so he can go and meet my doc. She will be thrilled about that. Last year we had fingers crossed that he was going to stick around and continue to be who he seemed to be. That is the one bright spot I will be happy to report on. He treats me like a queen!

Future blogs will probably discuss the new treatment out there when I have enough information to write an educated paragraph or two. In the meantime, I will just keep hoping to somehow make some progress on these long-term issues I have. Gotta love the aging process!


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Ex’s and Formers

I’ve never really liked the word “ex” so I try to use the word former. Lately, I’ve been challenged about the “formers” in my life so of course I challenged myself and even dedicated a good part of a counseling session to it.

I like the fact – well, I am actually proud of the fact that I have remained cordial, and in some cases even close to my former boyfriends. Part of me feels like when you love someone, there is always part of you that loves them and wishes them health and happiness. That is genuine.

I also know that part of me (as was pointed out to me again recently) has a strong need for everyone to like me. It really eats away at me when someone doesn’t like me and I will literally spend years trying to figure out how I should have improved myself to be more likeable.

My therapist pointed out that some of it goes back to family of origin stuff- specifically my dad. I always searched for evidence that he was proud of me. I’ve known that for years, but it surprised me this weekend because Dad is gone now and I felt deeply resolved with him before he left us. We never had that healing conversation, but I know how he looked at me to help him. Even though that was also painful, I realized how much he needed me and counted on me. When I think of him now I just miss him terribly. The other parts are just healed up.

Anyhow, Tim and I recently went to Seattle/Friday Harbor for vacation. The main draw was my friend Darren who I have blogged about relatively frequently. He was my 7th grade rolling skating boyfriend and he found me online a few years ago when my book came out. He and his wife were two of the most generous hosts we have ever experienced. That could not possibly have been kinder to us.

The big surprise that was unplanned, was also getting to have lunch with my first husband and his wife. I have been surprised by how many people have responded with, “Why would you want to see him?” It catches me off guard because I think, “Why wouldn’t I?” Sometimes we don’t even realize we could use closure and healing. I think John felt it too because he hugged me goodbye and thanked me for making it happen. The next day he texted a photo of the four of us and said it was a memorable lunch. No big discussions, no rehashing, just a chance to feel warm toward someone who was a tremendously important part of my life at one time.

Maybe all my motives aren’t perfect, but I stand by my position. I am proud of the healing that has happened in my life. And even though I have made some very, very big mistakes, I’ve conducted myself well enough that people find a way to feel warmly back.

Thanks to John and Darren for being part of my life. And mostly thanks to Tim for being by my side and trusting our love and commitment enough not to find it all too weird!


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Legal Lying

When I am with clients, I am very careful to articulate that while I may have some experience, I am NOT a doctor, and I am NOT a lawyer. I don’t want to misrepresent myself and give advice out of my scope of competence.

But holy crap, do I ever wish other professionals would do the same. Last week we were exposed to a lawyer that is everything that gives them a bad name. Why can someone who DOES have the official training and degree get to go out and blatantly lie about what is legal and what is not?

Poor Tim has been trying to sell his trailer since February. We thought we had a buyer a couple of weeks ago. Correction. We DID have a buyer. He signed a binding contract with an agreed-upon amount. It clearly stated the trailer was “as-is” and even a non-lawyer could understand it. Tim knew the guy and he is a close friend of two of our relatives. He was actually excited about buying it.

Then his “cousin” who is a lawyer got involved. It started weeks of nonsense. I mean utter nonsense. He was saying and doing things that are absolutely not the way a trailer is sold. A trailer is like buying a vehicle. Most people don’t even have a lawyer for the transaction. Couldn’t be more simple.

One of his brilliant suggestions was giving us a check for half the amount, allowing his cousin to live there for a while. If he decided he liked it, he would pay the other half. Who in their right mind would agree to that? Wish I could get a car dealership to agree to something like that.

I won’t bore you with the dozens of untrue things he said. I will tell you the day he was supposed to pay, they brought four people to the trailer. One was a home inspector. Oh yea, they lied about that too. He was a contractor, not a licensed inspector. They decided the trailer was “unsafe” and breached the contract. After they provoked Tim until he loudly told them to get off his property (with an expletive or two) he got applause from the ridiculously dressed lawyer. (He had on a suit and bow-tie.)

The kicker was discovering the contractor was trying to record it all. It honestly felt like the whole thing was a set-up. Perhaps they thought they could provoke Tim enough to hit someone so they could record it. They severely underestimated my guy.

What is beyond comprehension is that this lawyer works for the city of Buffalo. He’s high up and all over the Internet. Another lawyer explained to us that these city slickers are used to doing whatever they want. The follow-up communication was more nonsense with absolute untruths regarding the law.

It infuriates me. I already hate politics. Kills me that this guy can go around doing what he is doing because he knows he’s untouchable. The law doesn’t touch him. He calls himself a lawyer but advises people erroneously and without shame.

Anyone out there who is honest that wants to buy a trailer?


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Dying in America

I have been reading this mammoth 506 page document referenced at the end of the blog. I admit some of it I read and get the general gist but I couldn’t parrot back the details.

Other times, I feel like I am reading the biography of my father. All of the death experiences I have had with loved ones as well as my own dealings with the medical system certainly resonate too.

It’s strange because I’ve built my business, lectures, etc. around my hard-learned life experiences. I’ve probably said a thousand times that our medical system is broken and I would have no idea how to fix it. Now, reading this work that was published in 2015, it is all there in black and white. I understand slightly better WHY it is broken. I understand a teensy bit HOW it might be fixed.

But mostly, even though it is incredibly validating to read that I actually do know what I am talking about, it is beyond maddening that this stuff is real. It is so lacking in common sense, it is incomprehensible things are allowed to exist the way they are.

Reading on the Kindle platform, I am able to highlight things as I go. I am also able to add “notes” that store in the relevant sections of information. I am like a broken record in my notes when I start with, “This is the like the time with Dad when…”.

There is a plethora of research to back up the usefulness and credibility of end-of-life care. Yet the statistics keep bearing out that most folks don’t die the way they wished. And those that get palliative care only get it briefly at the very end of their lives. Getting it months sooner would be ridiculously more beneficial to the patient and their families. And the big whammy? That actually costs much LESS money.

I have had so many clients and close friends lose people dear to them. Even though they know what I do, most people think they understand what is happening and what their rights are. I hear the horror stories afterward and I want to scream out loud. It didn’t have to be that way!

Yet this will continue, probably throughout the rest of my life on earth. My business won’t make it and my heart will keep breaking because folks (medical and lay) don’t understand death, and don’t understand there are other ways to let things happen than the way they normally fall out. In part, because we still just don’t want to talk about it or deal with it. And we definitely don’t want to feel like we have failed our loved ones in any way.

Even recently when I was at the statewide palliative conference, as I told my story those folks were saying things like, “How did you even know to call the Department of Health?” It makes me sick to think of how many people, every single day, are bullied into choices not in their best interest. And worse yet, they don’t even know they were bullied.

I just took a deep, deep breath as I was writing this. I guess I am equally as crazy, because even though I know all of this, I am going to keep going. I will keep trying and fighting and learning and reading. I’m not even sure why, I just know my passion for this doesn’t seem to be dying.

Pun intended.

Institute of Medicine. 2015. Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18748.


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The Mighty Dollar

I hate to be cynical but…

We have laws/legislature that supposedly protects people. While that might be true, there is no doubt in my mind that a big factor (perhaps the biggest factor?) comes down to money. Almost always does.

I was at a big conference in Albany this week where we were talking about some of these issues. The example I used was my dad. I know there are assisted living facilities that don’t have nurses on staff. However, his did. Not allowing his family to provide medication was undoubtedly for money, not for his protection. How do I know? The literal first words out of their mouths at our meeting were: Now that your dad can no longer take his own medication, you need to pay our medical staff to do so. Let’s see, that is $750 more a month.

Bite me.

Yesterday, I finally got a second opinion on my foot. After 5 1/2 months of post-surgery pain, I am now told I need a nerve shot. (Ouch!) Why can’t I get it while I am already here? You guessed it, money.

DAMN THEM. Insurance won’t pay for two appointments on the same day at the same facility. I have to live in pain for another 24 hours then return to the exact same place to get the treatment I need. How is that is any way, shape or form for the benefit of the patient? If they aren’t going to get paid, they aren’t going to do it. Why shouldn’t they get paid? And why should I be in pain for a longer period of time for no good reason? No common sense. I’m right in the office but get sent home untreated.

Ticks me off. Broken systems again. Makes me sound like a broken record.

Anyway, got the shot today. We will see what happens. The opinion is though, that most likely problems will come back and I will need a second surgery. Guess what? That’s what dumb ‘ol me said four months ago. Five months of PT twice a week, all kinds of contraptions and creams that cost money, and consistent pain with no relief. For what? To end up in the same place. At least I could have had the second surgery back in December and already been recovered by now.

Sigh.

Imperfect world. Thanks for listening to the rant.


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Exclusive Rights

When I was guided through learning my personality type in the Eneagram, I discovered one of the worst things that could happen to me emotionally was to be excluded from something. I could give you several stories from my life where that happened. I get crushed when I find out I’ve been left out. Knowing it’s a personality thing helps soften the blow a little, but overall I still get bummed.

Last week I had to go to a funeral on Tim’s (my husband) side. It was a Catholic service, true to family tradition. I asked about whether it was appropriate to take communion and I was told that the priest will announce whether you need to be Catholic or not. If there is nothing said, it is ok, even if you are Protestant. The announcement came so I didn’t partake.

This week I had to go to a funeral on Tim’s (current partner) side. It was a Catholic service as well. I waited and sure enough the announcement came. There was also a lengthy explanation about Polish Catholic vs. Irish Catholic ritual and how to appropriately walk with your hands for the Eucharist depending on your background. I abstained again. Tim wasn’t really listening (lucky) so he went up anyway. His heart was in the right place.

I remember when I was in college at a fundamental Christian college, studying to be a missionary. When I came home on break and went to church with my family, I wasn’t allowed to take communion there either. They said if I was currently attending a Lutheran church, I couldn’t take it, even though I was baptized and confirmed there. Sigh.

I struggle with the whole thing. I feel like it is a good and polite thing to respect traditions. My heart isn’t interested in offending anyone, especially in a place where love is taught. Men don’t sing in the Buffalo Women’s Gateway Chorus. That’s exclusive to women, right?

I have to admit though, it feels a tinge different. For me, church is a place where God (and often Christ) is preached and the basis is love. Love with a capital “L” and in bright shining lights. Why would anyone want to discourage another human from participating in a ritual that brings our souls closer to God?

I remember in my years with more fundamental churches and being afraid sometimes to take communion. It was between God and the person, but the pressure was even worse. There was emphasis on the Bible verses that talk about how “some have gotten sick and even died because they took communion in a manner than was unworthy”. Holy cow (pun intended)! That’s enough pressure to keep the most saintly person from participating. I could get cancer or even fall over dead if I didn’t participate the RIGHT way.

Yikes.

I guess for now, in my 50’s, I feel like I’m on a good track. God is about inclusion and love to me. Come and share in the bounty. For those that believe differently, I will respect their wishes. But next time I think I will choose Tim’s path. If I don’t hear the restriction, I can take the bread and wine in good faith (pun intended) and enjoy the ritual that has meant so much throughout my lifetime. Alas, ignorance really is bliss sometimes.


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Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?

I’ve been having some serious angst about what to do when I grow up. I was here in January of 2018 and now I’m back. I went to see my former spiritual director. She made reference in our conversation to the song by Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler.” It made me chuckle because I had just listened to that CD earlier this week after I don’t know how many years. Love his music.

I know that when it comes to my decision making, I don’t have a problem with stick-to-it-ness. I can hold ’em indefinitely. I will try every avenue no matter how long it takes or how frustrating it gets. My error usually lies in knowing when to fold ’em.

I’ve sought out some wise folks to help but it is still a daunting endeavor. Some say you have to do what you are passionate about. That is the foundation for all else. Others say it is primarily a job, an avenue for making money. Passion is the icing on the cake. I think I’ve decided you need to balance the two.

One of the things I got out of spiritual direction is that my underlying emotions are in conflict. We recently made a pretty large financial decision. While I think it was the “right” couple decision, I discovered I wasn’t as emotionally comfortable as I thought I was. I know it’s hard to believe that a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve so blatantly even has underlying emotions, but it does happen on rare occasions. At any rate, postponing financial wiggle room has made my work search a bit more frantic.

I love variety and I love that I have had so many different experiences in life where I have been able to earn money. At the same time, moments like this I wish I just had that one simple thing. So many of my endeavors require networking and advertising ad nauseum. How do you evaluate if you are using your time and energy wisely? How long do you keep having conversations that seem so promising but turn out to be fruitless before you just stop having them?

Anyhow, that is where I am at these days. I have an appointment with Darren in just a few moments. I’ve blogged about him several times over the years. He is the last “ear” that I have scheduled with and I am hoping we come up with some helpful plans of actions for how to move forward.

So please feel free to share your own stories. And keep those prayers coming. I need to know when to walk away and when to run. Or maybe stay put.