Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This Friday my employment comes to an end. My head has finally wrapped itself around the event and now I’m merely hanging in limbo wishing it would come sooner, rather than two plus days away. I want out. I want to stop going to my little construction trailer and trying to look like I care what happens to the business going on inside it. I’m done.

But, of course, financially, I’m really not done. I’ve got to start again, find something that pays legitimately well enough to support my little family and will bring me some level of accomplishment. Mostly, though, I’m working for the money and nothing else. Pay me enough and I’ll try to do the job. That’s some real motivation, isn’t it?

This job has been dreadful for the last 15 months. First came the boss who threw temper tantrums like a three year old. He actually threw things when he got really angry: chairs, pens, baseballs, books, notebooks, plans. He was also cruel, saying unkind, hurtful things. He actually once told me that if he had to spend a couple of hours in my presence, he’d probably "have to kill you."

In June 2005 the home office shipped off the pretty, slim, and very young bimbo that the married 45 year old partner was romantically involved with (and nearly ruined his marriage over) to the construction trailer, thinking she wouldn’t mind working "in the dirt." She minded very, very much and was gone within two weeks – promoted to a "friendly" contractor that owed my company a favor.

The asset management specialist (the guy who manages the property once it’s built) spent three months trying to get me to do his job every day because he couldn’t "make my computer work, darn it." He got caught trying to sell company secrets to the competition.

The tenant coordinator quit in a huff when management offered him a huge raise and then reneged when they found they had actually given him the salary offer of someone with a lot more seniority. He had signed the offer and told his wife about it – and he never even got an apology. This guy was never replaced so management thought I should do it his job, as well as my own. No increase in my salary, of course.

When the angry manager quit because his superior / best friend resigned to take a more lucrative offer from another company, in came the guy I’m working under now. Doesn’t trust anyone; believes everyone is out to cheat him / get him / shirk their job responsibilities. Runs 30 minutes to more than a day late for appointments. Misses planes and yells at the airlines. Doesn’t complete paperwork in any kind of timely fashion. Writes the English language phonetically but won’t ask for help.

All in all, I’m well out of it. Except I need the money. So, it’s back to the drawing board. The resume has been re-created and updated. I’ve looked on line and have been pleasantly pleased to see that my three years in construction may actually prove beneficial in finding new employment. I've even submitted my resume to a couple of construction companies. Aslo, I’ve got the web-site marked so Saturday morning I can apply for unemployment on-line.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend when no one was around I drove to the construction site and removed all my personal possessions that were invisible to management’s eye – the stuff in drawers and files. All my personal files on the computer have been carefully erased. I can be gone from this trailer in 10 minutes: grab the plant, the CD player, the wreath on the wall, and my purse.

Next week I spend 16 hours working here. That’s all I’ve been told I’m needed now that the job is phasing out. According to the company I can show up for 16 hours a week until probably Christmas. I plan to show up at least for one week. Then we’ll see. I don’t plan to quit. I may find that I can’t afford to put the gas in Big Mo (my Lincoln Towncar) to drive the 60 miles round trip it takes from house to the site the following week. The company has already told me they will NOT pay me any gas mileage. But I refuse to actually quit because I want that damned unemployment. I’ve never had it and this time around I’m figuring it can tide us over until the next job turns up.

Stay tuned. Who knows what I’ll be doing next to earn that almighty dollar. If you have any leads send ‘em my way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Right between the Eyes

Hubby had an appointment with his new neurologist yesterday. We’ve never seen such an array of high priced, super educated, well-titled specialists before and we’ve been mightily impressed. In fact, we’ve met so many new doctors that we now keep a bound calendar with attached address book just so we can note appointments, places, addresses, specialties and try to keep them all straight.

First up, Hubby has a cardiologist. He monitors blood pressure and sends Hubby for extensive cardio testing. He also wears three piece designer suits, blue shirts with French cuffs, and very tasteful ties. Of all the doctors, he is the most handsome and stereotypically dressed.

To date, Hubby has spent 12 hours in cardio testing, stretched over a three day span. The cardiologist is unhappy that Hubby’s blood pressure stubbornly resists going below 140 / 90 (or thereabouts, fluctuating mostly up) so medications are routinely changed. Hubby doesn’t like the medications and if they make him feel lousy he stubbornly resists taking them. The prescriptions from the cardiologist made Hubby very dizzy so he happily resorted to the prescriptions his primary care physician sent home with him from the hospital. To counteract Hubby’s independent streak, the cardiologist has now set Hubby up with his own nurse practitioner that he is to call day or night if he has any bad reactions to the prescriptions.

Hubby also has a neurosurgeon, the one who operated on the aneurism on April 27. The neurosurgeon doesn’t demand the face time with hubby that the cardiologist wants. One post-op appointment and Hubby was released for six months, at which time, a "procedure" will be scheduled to check on the state of Hubby’s head. I took an instant dislike to the neurosurgeon, who was professional to the point of being chilly. He was extremely competent however and it was he who realized after four days of extensive testing and no clear diagnosis just what had happened in Hubby’s head the day after Easter.

Hubby’s favorite doctor is his primary care physician, Dr. Duran. He is young, cute, upbeat, caring, and funny. Hubby, who always believed that health was simply mind over matter, did not have a doctor. Briefly, when he found himself unable to overcome the symptoms of adult on-set diabetes, he saw a specialist and a nutritionist. His blood sugar was over 300 when he was first diagnosed. Simply by weight reduction and the elimination of sugar from his diet, Hubby brought his sugar into the normal range – 80 to 130 usually. He will remind you that clearly he had been correct all along – controlling his health was merely his mind controlling the "bad."

Dr. Duran was on call the night Hubby was admitted to our neighborhood hospital, at 3 a.m., after we had spent seven hours in Emergency waiting for ambulance transport. From the moment he and Hubby met, Hubby wanted him for his own doctor. Luckily, Dr. Duran was part of Hubby’s insurance program and wanted Hubby for a patient. We have an R.N. friend who claims everyone would have wanted Hubby for a patient because clearly he is a text book case, beating the odds in such an incredible way, and the medical community wants to know just how he did it. Several medical papers may soon be in the offing.

Dr. Duran is the most relaxed of the doctors, possibly because he's the youngest. He dresses in jeans and t-shirts under his white coat. He greets you exuberantly in the parking lot on his way into / out of his office. He calls after one of the procedures he's scheduled has been performed just to make sure you are doing okay. He talks with you before he takes your blood pressure. He is happy to include me in Hubby's appointments. We both like him exceedingly.

Dr. Duran has set Hubby up with several new specialists. The gastroenterologist performed a colonoscopy two weeks ago. The results were gratifyingly clear and Hubby doesn’t need to go back for 10 years. Hubby’s knees have caused him great pain for at least seven years, and Dr. Duran believes he is perfect for arthroplasty, the resurfacing or relining the ends of bones when cartilage has worn away and bone has been destroyed.

We had to wait the longest for the post-op appointment with the neurologist and I assumed that this would merely be a check-up and release. The neurologist, though, wasn’t about to let such a "test case" escape without a more thorough study. Consequently, Hubby has been scheduled for some type of procedure and the hospital has called to set it up for tomorrow. Hubby is not sure exactly what they are gong to do, but we know that no "pre-surgical" activities are required.

Hubby was far more interested in the diagram the neurologist drew for him. We had always thought that the aneurism was just off to the side and behind Hubby’s right ear. Nope. He was struck "right between the eyes" where two arteries meet and branch off. We had been warned repeatedly in April that the surgeries on Hubby could leave him blind or mentally impaired but we never pictured something so close to his eyes and the front of his head.

Tomorrow we’ll learn how well the repair on the aneurism is holding. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Looking for the Silver Lining

Right this minute my life seems so overwhelmingly out of kilter that just getting up from the bed uses up all my reserves of energy. Suddenly my usually overly developed coping skills have reached rock bottom.

A long time ago during one of those god-awful corporate sessions where people are forced to gather into pre-selected groups of mismatched coworkers, a very astute man who had known me at least ten years said in response to needing to say something nice about me, "You cope. No matter what happens, you always cope." I had expected to hear I was super-organized or good at structuring group process. Instead I was surprised that someone actually realized that probably my most dominant, and usually best hidden skill, was my ability to cope when things go wrong.

And I have coped. I have coped with divorce, parental and family strife, financial problems, major career changes, marital troubles, disinheritance, death, weight issues, theft and fire loss, friendship betrayal, the disappointment of never having children, as well as all the little disappointments we all face daily.

I think coping is probably a skill most children of alcoholics learn very early. Both my parents drank too much, but alcohol turned my mother very mean and she was a binge drinker. Consequently my childhood was very unpredictable and I was always watching out for the event that could set up a drunken night and the resulting ugliness.

Currently, a series of unsettling events has lead up to the depletion of my coping reserves:

  • Wolfie, my beloved dog, died suddenly in October; one minute he was romping in the park and the next he suffered a massive bleed into his gut and we had to put him down.
  • Hubby on the day after Easter suffered an aortic, cranial aneurism. Though he is now working toward a full recovery, he was hospitalized for ten days, six in the ICU. We have since learned that only one in five survives this type of aneurism and of that one in five, only one in four suffer no long lasting effects.
  • Now the medical bills have begun arriving. The hospital bill itself has billed for over $117,000.
  • I’m being "released" from my job at the end of this week and will no longer be a full time employee, entitled to benefits and insurance.

Here’s the thing. Intellectually I know that every one of the above "traumas" has a silver lining.

  • Wolfie was 19 years old. We were so lucky to have him live as long as he did. He enjoyed his life with us and he died in my arms, knowing he was deeply and lastingly loved.
  • Hubby survived, against all odds, he came out weakened but "in tact." He now has a wonderful array of doctors fighting to bring down his resistant blood pressure and to help him with the other indignities of that being 71 can bring: bad knees and diabetes.
  • Hubby had really good insurance. Sure, a much bigger portion of the medical bills than we would like are ours to pay, but the largest portion is being paid by insurance. All the medications now required to return Hubby to health have so far only been five bucks a pop. The hospital is willing to work with us on setting up a reasonable payment plan for the amount we owe. Our primary care physician is exactly the one we wanted and he understands that medical costs must be kept down.
  • I have come to hate the job; it was fun and rewarding up until May, 2005. The past 14 months have been awful. I dread getting up in the morning, my stomach is always tied in knots, and the pay sucks.

I know all these things mean I’m not doomed. I know that in my head. My stomach, tied in awful knots, refuses to listen to my head. Many of the signs of depression are the ones I’m exhibiting now: laying in bed all day with the covers over my head; sleeping during the day and staying up all night while worrying about finances; the inability to motivate myself to do anything beyond stare glumly at the TV (and watching movies/shows that are beyond boring).

I can’t write and my resume needs updating desperately. I can’t read and I certainly need to be proactive about finding a new job. I can’t think beyond, "Oh no, I don’t want this to be happening." Combined, all of this has left me bereft of my usual coping mechanisms.

For the past two weeks I’ve avoided church. I don’t want to have to explain that I’ve lost my job and I have no interest in the resulting sympathy pats and hugs. Plus, I know that secretly most everyone will be silently thanking their lucky stars they are not in my shoes.

I e-mailed my sister-in-law that I would eventually cope because it’s what I do in life. It’s just that right now coping appears to be later rather than sooner.