My beloved adores Star Trek, so some of our conversations turn to Star Trek for important and necessary metaphors. The last few months (more on that in Part 1 below) have been just short of (and sometimes right in line with) horrific.
Yet, we go on. We have to; there seems to be no other choice but to go forward in the original direction. (Yes, I realize there *is* a choice, but that's another post for another time.)
In order to go on, we normalize the situation. We make the bed, brush our teeth, cook dinner, work, go to the grocery store.... Occasionally we might try to do "normal," fun things like write, go shopping, go to the movies, read a book.
And then we think life is fine.... "Hey, I just went to the movies!"
But it's not. It's the Year of Hell.
Star Trek Voyager had a two-part episode called "The Year of Hell." Because of life in the last few months, M made sure we watched it last time I visited. While this post doesn't follow the format of the Voyager episodes (sorry, Star Trek fans), it is a great metaphor.
In the episode, the crew of Voyager have to survive - and survive - and survive against seemingly unsurmountable odds (and it doesn't help that time keeps shifting, and they're put in worse situations than before).
Part 1 of my Year of Hell
- So while I could start with truly a year ago (enduring the second year of separation while still living in the same house, trying to sell the house, moving into a new place, adjusting to a new life, helping my children adjust to a new life, new schools for both girls, new relationship), that seems so old and far away that it almost seems not real, or almost tame in comparison. This Year of Hell starts in November with the first blip in my relationship with M where I wasn't sure the "us" would survive. The "us" did survive, but it took a lot of work and introspection. And, in reality, it was about a week and a half. A week and a half of pure hell (no pun intended), and we were committed to working through it - hence, why it was "only" a week and a half.
- As part of that working through it, M visited in December. His visit ended with a trip to my ophthalmologist to check on my eyes, and I found out I had to have eye surgery - again. After two previous surgeries, the first of which did not go well, I wasn't super excited about it. To be more blunt, I had to constantly work to center and ground myself and to stave off depression.
- The day M got home from his trip here, he found out his mother had brain cancer, and she started treatment that day.
- December, with its frontload of holidays and my car's seeming need for big repair every December, my financial situation was not looking good. I rallied and came up with a solution, but there were a few hours where I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me.
- And since it was December, it was the first Christmas for my girls that wasn't in the house where they had spent the majority of their lives. Their father and I worked to make Christmas work for all of us, but there were definitely some emotions and constant vigilance to make that work.
- Oh, and I slid on the icy roads, and had to make a split-second decision about whether to hit a wooden fence or a brick pillar. I went for the fence. (And now my poor car looks beat up.)
- By the end of the month, M's mother started to deteriorate, healthwise and mentally.
- In January, I was planning my visit to M for two weeks, the longest we'd ever been together. Two days after I got there, we admitted M's mother to the hospital, and we visited every day. Her health and well-being deteriorated even more rapidly, and she died the day I was originally planning to leave. I extended my trip, and did what I could to be of help, emotionally and in practical matters.
- Four days after I returned home, M came for my surgery. My thinking was that I'd undergo surgery, and the weekend after, we'd be partying heartily. (My experience after the second eye surgery was very positive - I was up and painting the bathroom within days - woo hoo!) The immediate aftermath of the surgery was miserable - the worst nausea I've ever experienced and the anti-nausea pain medication brought it down from a 10 to 4 of nausea, not fun to be in a car driving home when nauseous. Hence, recovery in the actual hospital took a very long time.
- And then after surgery - not only was there no partying, but there was extreme exhaustion, pain, and double vision. The "few days" of double vision turned into weeks, and as of today, I still have double vision if I'm tired.
- Because of Dr. Guyton's original "it should only be a few days" and the worsening of the double vision after four days, I had the worst night of my life. Extreme panic and anxiety that had me on the kitchen floor sobbing, really not sure if I was going to make it to the next day.
- I did make it to the next day, which brought muscle spasms that landed me in the ER. M extended his visit as I was obviously in no shape to run my life.
- Work suffered. My productivity and energy level were well below normal. I had to cancel (actually, I was forbidden by my client) attending my client's retreat where I would manage and help out.
- March - My annual papsmear came back abnormal, and instead of doing another one, my doctor did a culposcopy, which led him to do two biopsies. And he wouldn't get the results for 10-14 days. (Hello, this IS 2011. What the heck could possibly take so long?) Let's add another wrinkle to the mix.
- My grandmother, always very healthy and vibrant, went into the hospital and had four surgeries in about eight days. One to fix an aortic abdominal aneurism, and the other three to fix a bowel obstruction. The surgeon removed parts of her small intestine during two of the surgeries, and the last surgery was to make sure all was well before they closed her up.
- Since then, in the last almost-two weeks, my grandmother, feeling like her life won't be what it once was, has decided she doesn't want to live. So, she's in hospice, refusing medical intervention, and waiting to die.
- During all this, M's brother-in-law suffers from Parkinson's, and his health has worsened considerably. (What is it with all the health issues?) Along with physical deterioration, his mental facilities are going, and paranoia and dementia have ramped up. M and his family have been providing care giving themselves, and they finally placed him in a managed care facility. However, he's acted out, and he had to be admitted to the hospital for psych evaluation. And it's not pleasant.
On a daily basis, I've had some of these items affecting me here and right now or, at the very least, in the background. And it's not over. My grandmother is still hanging on (which is making her mad), and the situation with M's brother-in-law isn't resolved yet.
Part 2 to come.