Alright, so this didn't all just happen since the ball dropped and started 2009, but alot of the stuff happening right now don't really make me feel hugely optimistic for this new year. Also, as I examine my current biggest conundrum, I feel strangely like I've been here before. Oh, yeah, it's because I have.
Small shit first, though. As most people know, the economy sucks and the job market isn't good either. I'm registered with several temporary employment agencies, the state employment agency, and I fill out applications and send out resumes all the time. I've had very few interviews and the ones I do get go horribly wrong. My first interview at a local casino had to be rescheduled because I got lost attempting to get to there. I should have had at least 30 extra minutes. I had directions from online and a map printed from the same website. Still got lost. So lost that, by the time I figured out how to get there and got turned around, I was already late to the appointment while still 20 minutes away. Another interview went very well and I even had a second interview this week. They showed me their computer program for the specific job and we discussed specific hours and pay. Then, at the end of the interview, just before I left, when I thought I had this job on lock, the boss said that he thought it important to let me know that it was a Christian company and, while they didn't hire or not hire based on religion, that was how they did business. I said that I was more than fine with that, though I wasn't a Christian myself, and that the one thing I could see as being a potential problem is that I'm openly bisexual and involved in the gay and lesbian community, which I knew could be a problem for some Christians. That was the end of that interview and my chances at that job. Though the BIG issue might make having a job here a moot point. But I'll get to that later.
I had a doctor's appointment that I couldn't pay for at the time like I was supposed to because they wouldn't accept my mother's credit card without her there. I stopped keeping track of how much money I owe my parents at this point. It's too depressing and, realistically, I'll probably never pay them back anyway. Best just to attempt to make myself as much of a slave to them as I can, do as much of the housework and errands as possible. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about January's bills. My car needs some serious work and I'll be completely fucked when it breaks down on me after over 1 1/2 years of the "Service Engine" light being on.
Doc is playing with my meds again. Just before Christmas, I got a blood test to check my lithium levels and some other shit. New Year's Eve, my doc's physician's assistant called me and told me that the doc had gotten the test results in and I should just stop taking the lithium. She was very casual and nonchalant about it all. I was fairly speechless. I have this problem, especially around any kind of "authority figure" who tells me something unexpected or uncomprehended. Without proper time to collect my thoughts, I usually just agree and leave/hang up, only to realize within a few minutes all the questions I should have asked or the things I should have said. I did manage to ask her if I should step-down on the lithium or just go cold turkey. She did say that I should just stop all together, cold turkey, which contradicts everything I'd been told about the medicine previously. I called back and left a message, asking for more details, what the tests showed, why he wanted me to stop, etc, but I haven't heard back, obviously. I'm still just... very confused. Were the levels too high, dangerous? If so, wouldn't it be better to step down, hoping to avoid any crazy side effects from going from too high to nothing at all? Or were the levels too low to be therepeutic, so increasing the dose for effectiveness would increase my side effects to unbearable levels, when I'm feeling... a bit better anyway? I'm so frustrated!!!!!!!!! Why put up with all the bullshit side effects if he was just going to take me off it?!?!?!? Or are we going to try something else after this? Hell, I know this sounds completely superficial, but part of the reason I cut my hair off was because of how dry and unmanagable it had become since getting on the lithium. I assumed I'd be on it for quite awhile and I just couldn't do anything ok looking with my hair on this medicine. But now I'm off of it and my hair should go back to normal so I did it for nothing!?!?! I hate this stupid fucking medicine, medical, psychiatry bullshit!
Shouldn't complain too much about my social life and love life. Things are more settled down at the moment, though I somehow keep managing to pick fights with TyRoy and ruin all possibilities for good times. The rest of my friends seem to be luckier, as they are around alot less and are less close to me. I continue to date, despite other situations, and have made friends, maybe more, who knows.
So, for the big issue that's got me tied up in knots right now- taking care of family. Summer 2007 I was in Slightly Bigger Midwestern City (SBMC), taking care of my grandpa in the hospital and taking care of my overwhelmed but healthy grandmother. Early on, I started worrying about... well, to put it bluntly, getting stuck there. If anyone was going to stay there and help, it would be me because I didn't have any concrete ties, job, nuclear family, etc, that I had to stay in Slightly Smaller Midwestern City for. My mom had her job and my dad. My uncle, who'd just gotten his first surgery to remove a tumor, had to stay at his job and in the state to get medical care under his current insurance. Also all his friends, his support network, his partner are in the state. At that time, I had a couple of friends in SBMC and no job or significant other back in SSMC. I was supposed to start a new school semester and a new job in August but I could have skipped that. Ended up fucking both up anyway.
But I'm pretty sure that not all people feel this same kind of obligation to take care of family personally and directly. I think part of it has to do with how close we all are both emotionally and geographically and that we just aren't a big family. I'm an only child, thus I know I'll have to care for my parents, probably all three of them, and an only grandchild. For me, I think that part of it has to do with the fact that, as a female, it's been drilled into me by society that I should be the one to take care of family-related things. I vaguely remember an in-bed conversation with TyRoy about a co-worker who was having a difficult time deciding what to do about caring for her parents or in-laws when there were other siblings and family members, blah, blah, blah. I think HIS point was that there were so many more options than she was acting like there were, most especially putting the person or people in a care facility, and that she shouldn't be the only one making the decisions. Oh, and quit bitching so much. Sigh. I can understand his frustration and I don't necessarily disagree that she should have more family help and that there are options other than direct personal care. But I don't think that society puts the same pressure on him, as a man with a career that takes him all over the world whenever it wants, to take care of an ailing parent or grandparent in a direct personal way. He just doesn't see it as his JOB to be there, in person, to take care of his parents. And most (straight) (American) men do not.
On the other hand, when it started to feel like my grandmother might need someone living with her all the time when I was visiting for Christmas, I started to panic internally. On Christmas Eve, there were several times where she forgot things, messed things up, couldn't follow instructions, and things like that. I started to wonder to myself how we could trust that she was taking her medications on time and in the right amount and things like that. I tried to push it into the back of my head because things looked fine. She seemed to be taking care of herself and the house and the dog. Then she went into the hospital because she was having upper respiratory problems after a head cold the week before. While Mom seemed to dismiss the memory issues as just a lack of oxygen getting to the brain because of the respiratory problems, they seemed to continue while she was in the hospital. My uncle and his partner stayed because my uncle is currently on disability, unable to work with the cancer treatments, and his partner still had more vacation time. And while my uncle is planning on staying there a bit longer, when he and I discussed things, he made clear that he does not forsee himself being the one who stays in SBMC to care for grandma. He is of the opinion that no one should be forced to move, but that, since it is grandma who needs the help and grandma who complains about the house being too much for her, she should choose to move closer to all of us, as we'd be more than happy to help out in anyway we could. He doesn't think that I should feel like I have to go there just because I'm the only one who is in a position to. Physically, my uncle isn't in a position to do the things that my grandmother things he should be able to. But he stated, point blank, that he knew he couldn't mentally or emotionally and he was't going to try to make himself. After my experience in the summer of 2007, I know that I'd go fucking nuts if I had to live with my grandmother 24/7 and take care of her. I do love her, so much. And it might not be very grateful of me to say that I couldn't do it, because Goddess knows my family has put up with me being a major bitch for all my life, but I just know I can't. And I have lived in her house several times during my adult life, always as a stop-over before a dorm or my own place, without trouble. But at the time she had Grandpa to balance her out and I didn't have an obligation to care for her, just help to pull my own weight.
In the end, however, the problem is that, whether Grandma should move to be closer to us so we can care for her or not, I seriously doubt she ever will. Which means we'll have to collectively and individually decide at what point do we think she has to have someone there and, if professional in-home care can't be obtained, who will go and be with her. None of us want her to live alone if it is too much for her, for her living conditions to deteriorate. And none of us want her to have to go into "a home". If we had to make that decision right now, it'd be me doing it, if for no other reason than that no one else will. Honestly, I guess I still have just as little to lose by moving to SBMC as I did summer 07, except for the only thing I really passionately want is here and cannot move to SBMC. Oh, and those friends I had in SBMC? I alienated one. One thinks I'm too dangerous. And the other is in jail. So that's out too.
One of my short story teachers defined melodrama as arising from a situation where the character is in what appears to be a perfect trap, where the only ways out are suicide or homicide. I wouldn't go so far as to say that is how I feel here but I do feel a certain trap here. I don't have anything else important in my life, no good reason not to do this thing that I feel very very VERY obligated to do. But I know in my heart that doing it will probably make me completely miserable. It will also mean that I spend several years with my life on hold, working to prevent the only thing that will end my endentured servitude. When those years ended, I don't know how I could not be a bitter emotional wreck. And seeing as I'll probably have to work full-time and care for my grandmother, I'm not sure when I'd have time to make new friends, find new lovers, or even just have a little time to myself. *Sigh* Yeah, I feel trapped.
Well, sorry to bitch so much. But I needed to vent to someone who can't tell me that they don't understand or that I'm wrong while I was doing it. If you have a similar situation or concerns in your life or you want to talk about how you feel about your family aging and what you see your role to be, go ahead and comment. Thanks.