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Archive for December, 2009

I find myself unaccountably unable to write the “end-of-the-year summation post” I was planning.  It bores me to tears.  Yes, lots has happened this year.  A lot of it was huge.  But if it was that huge, I probably already wrote about it and I just don’t feel like doing it again.

I haven’t written about paying off my debts.  I made the final payment this past weekend and am now officially debt-free.  It’s been a long, grueling process and honestly, I don’t think I could be happier or more relieved.  It’s a huge thing for me, but strangely, it’s not even something I feel like exploring.  I’m just sort of…blase.

I got a call on Christmas Eve from the specialty pharmacy which is handling my Enbrel prescription.  The insurance company isn’t paying for it.  It’s an interesting way they do it – they don’t actually deny it, because that might leave open the possibility of appeal.  No, they just tell you what your part of the bill is – and it’s the whole thing.  So it’s covered, but the copay is 100%.  Does that seem like utter bullshit to anyone but me?  Just curious.

But while my insurance company is completely putrid, I am impressed with the pharmacy.  I don’t normally like mail-order pharmacies or the necessity of using them – and that’s putting it mildly; the truth is I want to chew someone’s face off at the notion that I can be barred from using my local pharmacy by an insurance company mandate – but the case manager has called me twice to update me on the status of the order, even though nothing has actually changed because the insurance rep won’t call her back.  She’s been solicitous and has given me information on copay-assistance programs that might be able to help me, and is exploring some different alternative-dosage options that might manage to get coverage.  She’s been friendly and has not hesitated to at least try to answer my questions and at no time during my low-key rant about the insurance company’s abuse of power did she become defensive or upset.  In short, she was very professional and nice and I liked her.  Even if we never manage to get the medication covered, I feel that she’s done a great job, and that surprises me.  It’s not something I’ve encountered a lot of in my dealing with insurance issues.

I did experience a minor meltdown after that call.  Although I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t be covered, I did think that the reason would be that they wanted me to try methotrexate first.  But they didn’t even give a reason, which leaves little hope that after a trial of methotrexate they might go ahead and cover the Enbrel.  The thing is, I’ve had life-changing results from the Enbrel, and going back to what I was experiencing without it is harder than I expected.  The doctor was right.  There might not be any physical harm from using it briefly and then stopping, but the psychological effects were profound.

DH was a rock star through it all, though.  Over our seventeen years together, I know that I’ve changed and grown a lot, but somehow it always still surprises me and takes my breath away when I realize how much he has grown and deepened as a person.  His love and support and encouragement – and through it all, his solid faith that I am a stronger, wiser, better person than I used to be and can get through this – are proving to be a huge anchor and life preserver for me.  Most of all, it soothes and strengthens me that he never diminishes the difficulty of the situation – but firmly believes and expresses that it’s not something that can beat me, if I choose not to let it.

It’s not in the good times – the easy, fun times when everything is beautiful and going well – that you learn the power and strength and value of a person, or of a love.  It’s when everything goes south and the whole world seems to be drowning in despair that things really have a chance to shine.  I’m a very lucky woman and times like this serve as a reminder of that fact.

So I’m still a little depressed and angry about it, but I’m reminded that I’m not that person anymore – the person who would have wallowed in that and used it as an excuse to be listless and hopeless and self-destructive.  Instead, I’m renewing my resolve to be as healthy as possible and start the new year off the right way.  I’ve gone back to my strict meal-planning – planning all five daily meals in advance for the entire month, with the balance of foods that I know keep me at optimum health and will help me take off some weight.  I’m restarting my workouts (which I have, I am sad to admit, entirely abandoned) slowly, with the WiiFit Plus that I got for Christmas.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and I can start slowly and work my way up to harder things until I can determine what my new limits are.  I’m being accountable.  I’m steeling myself and re-focusing my energy into being the strong, healthy person I know I can be, no matter what my diagnosis is.  It does not have to define me, and I will not let it.

I’m also making a promise to myself to ration my energy and time wisely.  I’m not being terribly structured with that, because I know that once the house is on the market things will get unpredictable very quickly, but let’s just say there will be a significant decrease in the number of Facebook games I’ll be playing, and a sharp decline in the time spent doing so.  Down time is for working out, for writing, and for spending time with my children who are growing up too quickly.  The farm and the mafia can wait; they’re not going anywhere.  🙂  In fact, I suspect that game-playing time will come to be one of my self-rewards for goals met and routines adhered to.

In short, this year I need to get my shit together, if you’ll pardon the crudity of the expression.  2009 was a year of lost focus, drifting and letting things slide.  2010 needs to be a year of focus, productivity and self-care, just so we can all survive it intact.  It’s going to be a year of huge change and only careful navigation will make it easier for me and for all of us.

I’m also going to put a lot of time and energy into making sure the people I’ll be leaving behind know just how much they mean to me and how much I will miss them.  More on that later.  Time to go spend an hour with a couple of them.  🙂

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Another Chapter Closes…

I’m feeling a little sad tonight…part fatigue, part hurt feelings, and a large part anticipatory grief over impending separations. Oh, and part pain, but that part is something I’m sort of getting used to, at least physically.  Mentally is a different matter, of course, but I’m working on that.  On a happy note, I started the Enbrel tonight, so at least I know there’s hope that the pain may improve, and probably take some of the fatigue with it.

The sadness, though, is something I’m just going to have to work through.  We are definitely moving back to Oklahoma; DH got a job offer this past week that meets all our needs and is even a little better than we were hoping for.  He will be moving probably in mid-February, and the girls and I will follow in June, when school is out.  This is a great thing for us, for a lot of reasons.  My mother and most of my family are in Oklahoma, so I will be close to them for the first time in about 13 years.  ED is planning to attend Oklahoma State – pending acceptance, which we should know about this coming week – so we will be close to her, which is huge.  It’s a great job offer with a great company, and DH will be about a million and one times happier at work than he is right now.  It will be a financial improvement, which speaks for itself.  I will be able to explore different employment options myself – which is great, as I am terminally burned out in my current field, which I’ve been in for about 18 years now, and a change will be just what the doctor ordered.

So it’s a great thing, and I am actually very happy about it.  I’m relieved to have the waiting at an end, to know what’s going to happen, and to be able to plan and organize and feel a little more in control of my own destiny.  I’m excited about what the future holds.  I’m more thrilled than I can possibly express for my husband, because he’s been so unhappy and has been so stoic and strong about it, and it’s hard to watch someone you love so much feeling that way.  And there’s also the fact that, in a time when so many are struggling and having trouble even finding a job, we are blessed with an improvement in circumstances.  That’s rare and precious, and I fully recognize and cherish that.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s mixed with sorrow and loss.  Because, of course, we’ll all be leaving things behind.  YD, when we told her, burst into tears at the dinner table (at a restaurant, no less – great planning, Mom!) because she would be leaving all her friends and her school and everything she’s ever known.  Of course we comforted her and told her about all the positive aspects – but honestly, at times I share her pain and would love to be able to just break down and cry myself.

I’ll be leaving a job that I don’t love anymore, but that I know I’m good at and in which I have a great deal of respect and assurance, with a company that I’ve been with for almost 11 years.  A few people at that firm are my very dear, close friends, and we’ve been through more shit together than I can even explain.   The idea of not seeing them every day – possibly not ever seeing them again – is a shock and a wrench and…just hard.  And ugly.

I’ll be leaving a home I adore, where I feel comfortable and happy and as though I belong.  We have worked so hard for the past eight years or so to make this exactly the home we want, and I’m going to miss it.  I guess it’s a minor aspect of the loss, but it’s there.  I do love my home – not because it’s fancy or impressive or anything except mine, in every sense.  I walk into it in the evening and cannot help but smile, because it makes me happy.  I will miss that, and I am anxious that whomever buys it won’t love it the way I do or may even – gasp – change it.   In Facebook parlance, major dislike.

I will be leaving a particular friend who has become more of a sister to me than my own sisters have been, who has brought out things in me that I didn’t even know how to unlock, who gets me in ways I’ve never been gotten.  She is the first friend I have ever had who lived close by and whom I could see on a daily basis at times.  If that sounds strange, please be aware that I have generally lived, by choice, in more rural areas and didn’t really have any close neighbors, let alone ones I liked.  Also, I’m a hermit by nature.  It’s incredibly difficult for me to reach out to people.  I try to force myself – more now than in the past – but it doesn’t come naturally or easily.  I cherish this friend more than I ever thought possible, and leaving her is going to be like leaving one of my children, in intensity of pain if not in similarity of sentiment.

I have really grown up here, to be truthful.  Most of my adult life has been spent here in Charleston, and while there are a lot of things about the area that frustrate me – the air quality or lack thereof, the generally economically depressed status of the area, and a host of other things – the fact is that it is my home, and I love it.  Love it, deeply and truly and intensely.  I have become a real person here, gone from a fledgling and largely unformed young woman who thought she knew it all but actually had less than half a clue about anything, to something of a seeker after truth who still doesn’t know all that much but at least knows enough to know she doesn’t know anything.  (And a passionate lover of the random incoherent run-on sentence, apparently!)  Here, I have learned to breathe, to meditate, to open myself to the beauties and wonders and joys of life.  Here, I have faced my deepest fears and my most intense pain, and have come out the other side stronger, wiser and filled with self-love and a passion for life and truth that still amaze and humble me.  Here, I have gone from a girl to a woman, and every winding road, every tree-covered mountain, every rambling stream hold memories so powerful and affecting that they are almost painful to carry away.

I will miss the people who have become a part of me, who have been with me through the fire, who have walked beside me and held my hand when it got really hard, who have laughed with me and behaved like silly, senseless idiots when the circumstances called for it.  I have learned and grown so much through being blessed with these people’s presence in my life, and walking away from them will tear out a little piece of my heart that has put down roots so strong they simply will not let go.

I will miss the land – the mountains, the forests, the streams, the sudden and unexpected waterfalls that appear around every bend, the blazing glory of the trees in autumn, the lush verdancy of those same trees in the sultry summer.  I will miss the rare blanketing snowfalls that outline every tree and hillside and leave the whole world looking like nothing so much as a Currier & Ives postcard.  I will miss the occasional perfect spring days when the breeze clears away the ever-present miasma of humidity to leave the whole world sparkling and so perfectly beautiful it is painful to see.

I will miss this time of my life, when I have learned and grown and survived and triumphed…the days when I have been happier than ever before, happier than I ever thought I could be, or deserved to be…the days when I finally realized that I did deserve that happiness, and learned to reach out and grasp it and draw it to myself.  It has been a beautiful time, no matter how painful some of it has been – but we all know that there is no growth without pain, and if we don’t experience that pain, then we can’t experience the joy that follows in equal intensity.

It is going to be so hard, and while I want to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderfulness that I know is coming, I also know from personal experience that I have got to acknowledge the sadness and the loss.  That’s difficult, because part of me will always believe that stoicism is simply the only option.  I can’t bear the thought of DH thinking that I don’t want this, that I’m not happy about it, and I’m not sure he would understand that the sadness doesn’t cancel out or in any way invalidate the happiness.  Because I am happy, deliriously so.  I miss my family and I have been longing to be able to be close to them and to rediscover the place where I was a child.  I want to be close to my mother, to help take care of her.  I want to be close enough for my daughter to come home from college for weekends when she wants to.  I want this.  I have pushed for this.  But it’s possible to be deliriously happy about it and still be overwhelmingly sad about leaving.  I’m just not sure if I could explain that to him in a way that wouldn’t hurt him or make him feel guilty or cause him stress and unhappiness.  The whole thing is going to be stressful enough without me making it harder for him.  The girls also need to see me happy about the move, because their own loss and uncertainty demands that; I need to reassure them and help them to focus on the positive, and I can hardly do that if I’m exuding negative emotion.  So I sort of have to keep this to myself…but I know that if I don’t express it and acknowledge it and deal with it, it will eat me alive.  I just have to do it quietly, when no one’s looking.

ED will be giving a senior voice recital in April, at the end of her last year with her voice coach, who I would pack and take with me if I thought her family would allow it.   While I cannot wait for this, for the opportunity for friends and – well, friends, because we don’t have any family here anymore – to hear her sing, I know that I’ll have to pack the tissues.  One of the songs she will be singing will be “Time to Say Goodbye” and on so many levels, that is exactly the time it will be.  Time to say goodbye to her childhood, to her high-school years, to her friends here and so much that she has known.  And it will be that time for me, as well – time to say goodbye to our home here, to the friends I love, to a wonderful time and place…and time to say goodbye to the years when my oldest child was still a child and nestled under my wing.

In many ways, this is the end of a chapter of our lives.  It’s been a good one, and I will miss it.

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