maarmie's musings

Saturday, May 11, 2013

41

Tomorrow, I turn 41. I don't think I'll be receiving a nervous breakdown combined with several weeks of deep depression like I did last year, but there are gifts from my brother and from Elliot so I won't be coming away completely emptyhanded.

This year, for the first time, I won't be getting a birthday card from my parents. The last time we spoke was a year ago January. At the end of that conversation, my dad said he would be calling me much more frequently but then decided he'd never be taking to me again only he never told me why. I didn't know this last March when I phoned grandma only to reach a disconnected line. I called dad time and agian to find out what happened to grandma, but they never called back. Then, last Mayish, I called him all times of day and night and left tearful messages about feeling alone and scared and begging him to call me back. Nope. It's not to be.

What happened to grandma, you ask? Well, dad and stepmom decided to move her against her will to a place that can provide extra care for her in her dementiated state but didn't think my brother or I needed to know about it. When it was obvious they weren't going to tell me what happened or how to get hold of her, my brother asked them three times, in person and on the phone, for her updated phone number. They wouldn't give him the info, either, so he decided to just search for her in the White Pages online. He found the new number, so I called her and talked to her for awhile, making sure to tell her that my parents kept the information from us even though we repeatedly asked for it. Oooh, snap!

So I guess my grandma told the horrible beasts that I called her, and female horrible beast asked brother how I got her phone number. Brother told female horrible beast that I looked it up online (I told him he could say it was me) and that was that. I talked to my grandmother's sister the other day. She says that female horrible beast is in charge of grandma's finances and billpaying and that, not only do they rarely visit her but that female horrible beast won't even give her money for a haircut. If I was there, this shit wouldn't be going on, I assure you. But there's nothing I can do from here, especially when the horrible beasts won't even give me a chance to excoriate them.

Since the horrible beasts refuse to talk to me or call me back and since they reportedly didn't seem to much care when they heard I was ill but they find it necessary, still, to send birthday and Christmas cards signed "with love" (as if they know the meaning of the word)  I decided to send them a note to end the painful charade. So, months ago, I sent them this:



I take it they received it, because I didn't get a card from them for my birthday for the first time ever. Good riddance, horrible beasts.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I almost died

Cool title, eh? I almost died. I almost died? I almost died! I did!

So it all started out with a virus. You know, one of those viruses noone can do anything for. You just have a fever and chills and headaches and feel queasy and you've vomited a few times and it'll pass and there's nothing we can do for you and you just have to wait it out kind of thing. Only I didn't get better. I kept getting worse. And that's not like me. Even when I had swine flu, I was comatose in my bed with fever and vomiting for two days and then I was feeling much, much better. With this virus, the sweats and chills kept coming for more than a week, I was getting paler and paler, the headaches became a constant companion, and I couldn't walk more than two steps without having to sit down for a rest.

The first time I went to the doctor for the virus, he took a urine sample (dark orange in colour) and tested it for glucose (negative) did the whole temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level thing and sent me on my way. By the end of that week, I was feeling even more crappy, so I figured I should talk to the doctor again. All they would give me was a telephone appointment. He reiterated it was a virus and that I should just rest, etc.

That weekend was a nightmare with me not even being able to wash more than two dishes without needing a rest. The headaches were intensifying, and I knew something must be seriously wrong. The following Monday, I made an emergency appointment at my surgery but requested a different doctor. I went in to that appointment knowing that if I was turned away with "it's only a virus" I was going straight to the emergency room because I could no longer really function. I could barely take care of Elliot, and I was miserable.

The new doctor took one look at me and became concerned. She noted my "interesting colouring" and tested my urine for protein (positive) and felt my abdomen and did other routine tests and ordered blood tests. She was hoping the results of the blood tests would be in that night and personally phoned me at half 7 that night to say they weren't in yet. The next afternoon, I got a call from a nurse at the surgery who mentioned something about a blood transfusion and booked me in to see the same doctor three hours later. I went to the appointment and sat with the doctor as she looked at the blood results for the first time. She said I was severely anaemic (normal red blood cell count is between 118 and 148 and mine was 79 at the time)  and said she was getting on the phone right then to get me booked into the hospital. She asked if I could go right away and I said "Please. Please can I go right away."

An hour later I was booked into ward 6c and would move to 6a then 5c before being released three days later. In that time, I had a blood transfusion of 3 units of O+ (my red blood cell count had fallen to 59) and one of the thoughts was that I had leukemia given that my marrow had stopped producing red blood cells altogether. There were mumblings of a bone marrow test (cringe) but then they discovered the dirty little secret about myself that I didn't even know: I have a hereditary red blood cell disorder called spherocytosis. I was basically a time bomb waiting to go off my entire life, and I finally did.

I have since found out that my paternal grandfather had spherocytosis and that my uncle and cousin both have it. I'm assuming my dad is a carrier of the gene that causes my red blood cells to be produced as spheres instead of flat pillows with concave sides thereby making them weaker and more prone to bursting and makes my spleen see them as foreign bodies it is determined to kill. Because my red blood cells have a much shorter life span than other people's, my bone marrow is used to producing many, many times the number of blood cells that a normal person does. However, I just happened to have contracted parvovirus and this one virus in particular causes bone marrow to stop producing red blood cells altogether for a short time. For the average person, this is no big deal. For me, this is fatal without intervention.

A scan of my abdomen shows my spleen to be twice the size it should be and shows my gall bladder to contain three small gallstones, another side effect of this hereditary condition. The haemotology outpatient department of the hospital will be monitoring me on an ongoing basis to see if my spleen grows or shrinks and to check me to make sure I don't become chronically anaemic. If my spleen grows or I become chronically anaemic, I will have my spleen removed (and my gall bladder removed at the same time, what the heck!) and will go on low-grade antibiotics for the rest of my life. As it is now, I'm taking a monster-strength amount of folic acid every day for the rest of my life to keep my marrow producing just as fast as it possibly can.

After I got out of the hospital, I had all sorts of other issues that seemed to spring from being in the hospital and off my feet for a few weeks. I developed tendonitis in both legs and had severe leg cramps in my calves to the point of being unable to walk and handing Elliot over to her dad as I could no longer care for her. I went and stayed with a friend for a week. She cooked for me the entire week so I only had to get up for the toilet, and that, and only that, is what enabled me to get better. I have been in the emergency room several times since with various leg pains and chest pains and have had my heart, lungs and legs checked and rechecked. Nothing is wrong with my heart of lungs, but I can't help feeling like my whole body has completely turned on me.

I was off work for 5 weeks. Now, almost six weeks after the first sign of virus, I am still anaemic (last count was 114 but I'm on a very heavy period right now and I'm all pale and slightly dizzy again) and my liver function is all off. They have done toxicity tests and tests for Hepatitis C and other viruses that could cause it to be off but have found no other cause as of yet. Either my liver function has always been off and I've never known it or all the medication and the parvovirus are still throwing it for a loop.

All I know is that I'm tired of all the bloodlettings, and my arms and hands are begging for a reprieve.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Letter #7

(Postmarked 5 May, 2001, when I was living in Portland, Oregon, with Garreth. This is the last of the letters)

Sunday Evening

Hi Honey,

Sitting here, the earth is damp and smells wonderful, the wind is pushing the leaves around, and all greenery is smiling. God was good to us today...rare, blessed rain. Just makes you want to get naked and wallow in a puddle.

Did some house and AA bldg. cleaning and came home to an unhappy pain in the ass I call my sig. other. (Why won't he just disappear like a rainbow.) So demanding, so rude. He feels me pulling away with disdain and crushed, retaliates weakly. Dramatic huh?

Life is kind. I love my family and friends and try to stay as far from the house until the guilotine falls. It sucks. That which was once lovely has turned to pig poo poo; though at present, it could be mended and life go on in a spiritless sort of fashion with no sharing and me listening to hill Jack shit on the TV and sharing my life with a man who brags that he has never read a book or appreciated art, and keeps asking, "What does that word mean?" I am too caustic. Beneath all the crap Todd is a good man. Good just isn't enough when a brain has turned to mush from lack of challenge or stimulation though. I am too hard on him. He made a mistake and banded with me, the restless bitch that wouldn't be happy because boredom strikes quickly and the spirit of new pushes at my back. Oh such high drama - isn't it fun and aren't I ever mans nightmare. (They all think I'm so kind until the have the misfortune of being ensnared in my hastily built web.) The house is full of boys (which also pisses Todd off...I think I'll invite a few street people to move in - he hates and fears their hold on my heart. Eric is here...a friend of his, Sean (until tomorrow), and another in the travel trailer out in the side yard. All my little ones who are not ready to fly...or find staying here free far more appealing than soaring and being responsible. I just want a dry cave and a ton of books...a few intelligent friends, and my loved ones around. Sometimes life is just too full...I need a deserted island for a week or so to fill me back up with me. Julie my dear, I love you. I know you don't want to hear it but I do. Your quick wit, lively mind, abilities, sense of high drama, your urge to soar, questioning mind, and beauty quickens my heart. Unfortunately I was the pod you entered life through. I'm not too good at anything and harmed your spirit, which I will always regret. I never meant it to happen. Seems that I hurt the ones closest to me, the ones I love the best. I wish I could take all this time back, know what I know about life now, and do it all over again, right. I wish that my addictions had never gotten in the way of my heart and my selfishness in the way of my responsibilities. I'm a nomad, not that I want to be, but it's a part of me I cannot change. I'm not Beaver Cleavers mom, just a rebel trying to exert a little self control...and mourn at my inability to be a good mother...but I can be a good friend and do love you as a mother loves her child, and always will. I'm just not good at it. Bi-polarity, although a wee bit under control, still takes me to Never - Never Land then drops me on my head. At present I am doing absolutely nothing interesting. The second book is shelved - I'm too scattered. No Newspaper articles. A few poems. But the garden is lush and is my 15 square feet of flowers and serenity. A little chunk of peace in my whirling world. I need a break from my head. You, if anyone, knows what I mean. You understand me and I do you too.

Well my dear, I will close for now and will flip the processor back on soon. I hope you and Gareth are content (which is much better than happy). Happiness is so fleeting, a brilliant spark of red and purple. Contentment a warm green and blue - much easier on the eyes and spirit. Please send me a picture of you two. I would like to see what Gareth looks like - and even more, would like to meet him. Peace.

I love you -

Janine

Letter #6

(Postmarked 29 May, 1998)

Thursday the 28th

My Dearest Julie,

Thank you for replying so quickly. And thank you also for including some of your favorite articles. "a bizarre series of installations and videos" - love it. And "become a vicious character and prepare to defend life and limb against..." - has life. Julie, you're good. Talented. Your work is smooth, no chop to it, and deals with the meat - excluding flowery nonessentials. Shit, I'm not a critic but I like your "stuff". And true...your name on an article is better than any high you can buy on the streets...for me too.

"You Hit Me, Kiss Me, Keep me alive, Make me die" must have been a catharsis for you. Chances are some other young girl in a similar situation may see the light through your article and realize that there is a way out...and will gather the courage to make a stand. Sometimes our work CAN make a difference.

Baby, I know you're angry at me. How could you not be? I want you to know that it's ok to vent - to be truthful and dump that hostility on me. I can take it. If you don't, that anger will turn inward and can cause deep depression. I know. I bottled all that childhood pain and became an angry rebel. I want you to do whatever it takes to make you whole.

Re: Eric. He's got his life together after two years in PAR and is working, going to meetings, and has a nice girlfriend. Yes, he was an asshole when you were at the house. He was in the throws of his addictions and self-centered to boot. He's still self centered, but aren't we all - to a certain extent.

I wasn't doing too well then either - locked in a codependent relationship. Should have never gone off for that weekend. It was an empty two days that caused so many problems and lingering ill feelings. I will always regret it.

I'm glad the Escort served you as well as it did me. Kind of a shame that it has to die, but I'm happy you could use it as long as you did.

A couple years have passed Julie; there's no more chaos in my life. I'm finally settled and serene. Life is simple - just the way it was always meant to be...and, as always (even though it may not have seemed that way) I love you. Sometimes I fee that you're me and I'm you (if you know what I mean). I DON'T want to loose you again. Your letter gave me hope that we could be close. I know I can't be your mother, even tho' I am, but I can love and accept you unconditionally - can be your friend. So...if you are ready, baby, so am I. It may be rocky for a while but that's ok...you're worth it. No matter what...I will always love you.

Janine (Mom)

P.S. Your Christmas present was an angel on tile...delicate. Don't know why you didn't receive it. I mailed it to this same address.

Please send me a picture of you and Garreth.

If you decide to take in Big Sky and your grandmother let me know. Mom would be pleased and you'd probably love the serenity.

Again...Julie, I love you.

Letter to Mom

(I either took this letter back or was given it after Janine died in 2004. Postmarked 18 May, 1998)

Janine,

Thanks for the birthday card - it was really nice of you to send that.

I guess there's a lot to catch you up on considering we haven't made contact with each other in nearly three years.

Since last October, I have been working at the Tallahassee Democrat, the area's only daily newspaper. I am a news assistant, but I am doing my best to learn as much as I can there before my boyfriend, Garreth, and I move to Seattle.

We were hoping to leave by August, but now it seems December is more realistic.

Anyway, so far at the paper I've been doing obituaries, working in the library and helping out at the Capitol Bureau during the legislative session.

I've gotten articles in the paper, too. I even have my own column called "Tallahassee Traveler" about different people's travel experiences. I wrote a 37" article about domestic violence (an editorial about my experiences w/Ike) and I've written a second one about me quitting smoking (it's only been 3 weeks so far) But I'm most proud of my two legislative stories - one made it to the top of the legislative page and one hit the top of the front page - that's a news assistant first!

Anyway, I have 13 by-lines to my credit and expect 3 more within three weeks. Plus, I may be getting a promotion into doing the copyediting and layout for a section of the paper - all the writing I do is considered "freelance" and is done on my own time - I get paid overtime for it by the department that had me write the story -

Anyway -

I would like to set up a journalism internship @ the Seattle Times, a much bigger operation than the Democrat and I would like to get a masters degree in Journalism. Right now the money sucks, so I'm getting a 2nd job. Other than that, there's not much news.

How have you been?

I gather from the return address that you live in a house, but I don't know much more, and neither do Brian & Cindy, it seems, as I grill them about you all the time to no avail.

Hope you are fine.. Anyway, my # is (850) 575-4536
e-mail - jab8232@garnet.acns.fsu.edu or tdtravel@hotmail.com

Julie

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Letter #5

Thursday

My Dearest Julie,

Hi honey. I was so kinda relieved to get your letter. I thought I had pissed you off in the last I wrote to you, 'cause I didn't hear right back (I'm greedy).

Dallas/Ft. Worth. Never been more than through it so I have no information to base a judgment on. I know you like big cities so you'll probably like the fever of it. Hope you can get on with the paper of your choice! You're good...can't see any reason why you wouldn't be grabbed up. Hell, they will consider themselves fortunate to have you on staff.

Please send a copy of your "daily". What did they assign? I'd like to read it. All the articles you've sent, I've kept. Julie, I'm SO proud of you.

You've come such a long way, healed so much, developed your self esteem (no, earned it), grown GROWN. I hope you're as proud of your success as I am of you. I know it's been a long, tough journey. Perhaps that is what makes it so valuable...the tears, struggles, and just the act of keeping on...no matter what.

Have had some minor successes here. Am in the process of the finality of  "Road Dog Warriors". I will be shipping it out next week. Did a complete rewrite - add ons, deletions, and revision. I have written the query letter including an overview of the book. Bio's done. Just need to complete the outlines and I'm procrastinating on that. Afraid of rejection. Rejection, after three years of work, would really hurt. Anyway...the publishing house I was in contact with wanted to know what I could do here to help market the book. Contacted: WUSF, Channel 3, Channel 13, Channel 10, and Channel 8...all are willing to do interviews with me if (when) the book is published...and Gayle Sierens called me. Both papers - the Trib and Times - will do articles. Barnes and Noble - a signing. And the public library wants me to be a guest speaker. Love that positive feed...almost makes me feel like the book is already on the way to the presses. Little blind successes.

Julie, am reading a book that I think you would enjoy (if you haven't already read it). "The Liars' Club" by Mary Carr. Her descriptive capabilities are honed and detailed, but not so detailed that it bores. If you get a chance, check it out.

You wanted to know about Tommy. Sounds like he's about the same as Garreth as far as insecurities and needing to grow up. He's an outdoors person. Stable. Faithful. Makes a decent wage. Very dependent on me - instead of making friends and doing guy things...and it makes me push him away. He's kind, quiet, and somewhat apologetic. Short, mustached, and has pretty eyes. He'd defend my defects against the world. Deprive himself for me. Not the bad boy - intellect rising, that I want...but a nice person.

Damn, I don't think I'll ever settle down. When the book sells, maybe I should go live in the mountains alone and write...so I won't hurt anyone else. Commitment is such an impossibility for me. I want it all - freedom, security, friends, alone time, but basically freedom...freedom from drudgery, freedom to let my mind soar and stay where it will. Freedom to go - or stay. Freedom to be the best bi-polar me I can be...and not hurt anyone.

My street "warriors" are having a hell of a time now. Teenagers here have developed a new sport called Catch A Street Person and Kick His Ass. Gangs (Bloods, Crypts, and "normal kids") are finding loners and beating them up. Calhoun was in the paper a couple weeks ago after four boys beat him badly and Hippy got four ribs shattered by eight feet (and a gash in the back of his head) last Sunday. Calhouns assailants were apprehended and a couple of the guys that caught Hippy too. But Donn's weren't - he got his teeth kicked out. Or Boston's - he was beaten with a tree limb. Or many others. I still love the street people and very much care about them. The authorities and the punks are all coming down on them at one time and...who do they go to for help?

Julie, I love you and I love your letters. Please keep them coming. And remember...I'm here if you need a friend. - or even if you don't.

I love you baby,

Janine

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas card!

Surprise of all surprises! My parents sent a Christmas card this year. I wasn't expecting it at all, especially considering I didn't send my father a birthday card or Father's Day card this year. I didn't send them a Christmas card this year, either, the first time in my entire life I haven't done so. I'm trying to send the message that I'm done. I assumed that, considering they haven't bothered to contact me since we last spoke in January, they were done as well. But I guess sending a card doesn't mean they're not done. It just means they sent one. It doesn't really mean anything at all. And it doesn't not mean anything, either.

The thing is, this card, this Christmas card AND the other Christmas card, the one sent to my daughter that included the standard $50 check for her (I already ripped it up), the ones signed LOVE DAD and MOM and LOVE GRANDPA and GRANDMA, these cards sent me into quite the tailspin. My friend, Michael, asked me about the tailspin and I hadn't talked about the card thing yet with anyone and the first thing that came to mind after a good 20 seconds of thinking about it was

Let's say you get raped and the rapist comes by your house a year later just to say hi.

Now off to think about this some more.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The usual Christmas melancholy

I seriously doubt I will be getting a Christmas card from my parents this year. I actually don't think I'll ever be hearing from them again. I feel sad about it, but, in a way, it will make my life a lot easier.

I didn't send my parents a Christmas card for the first time in my life this year. I also didn't send dad a birthday card or a father's day card this year. In fact, I will likely never be sending them another card as long as I live. I will never be phoning them again, either. I feel sad about it, but, in a way, it will make my life a lot easier.

The only thing that could make me forgive my dad for his final transgression would be if he called me up (or showed up at my doorstep!) in tears, apologising for all the horrible things he has said to me over the years and all the good words and deeds that never came to be. He would have to weep and beg for forgiveness and promise that everything will be different. He would have to do so many things, things he's probably never done in his life. He's certainly not going to be doing them for me, folks. Of that, I am sure.

So what will be, will be.

I guess it's good that Elliot has only ever talked to them on the phone once and probably doesn't even remember the conversation. The only photo she has ever seen of them is the group shot at my wedding. To her, they are basically nonexistent. And it's not like they've ever sent her any gifts to know them by beyond a $50 check twice a year.

They don't appear to be treating my brother much better, either. Two weeks after Thanksgiving, they still had not contacted him about getting together for Thanksgiving. Two weeks after Thanksgiving, it was my dad's birthday, so my brother called them again to wish him a happy birthday and see if he could go by their house to give him a card. During this phone conversation (he should be grateful they at least answer the phone for him!) he made a point of asking if they got the message he left about Thanksgiving. Apparently, dad just kind of blew him off by not mentioning the message or why they didn't call him back. With just a "Um, we didn't end up doing anything that day" the conversation was over.

Brian says he doesn't see this knocking back as disrespectful. When I told grandma about the whole thing, she laughed and said it sounds like they're trying to send my brother a message by not contacting him after he left the message. I don't really ever see the humour in it, and, every time I hear of them acting not altogether nicely towards him, I am angered anew.