2009 the year of "It's always something..."
This story actually began in '08. I have had Epilepsy since 1990, but have been able to work with the aid of medication. May of '08 I had a real whopper of a seizure that started with a grand mal, then progressed to my walking around the house trying to find the keys b/c we had to "get away from IT," then falling asleep. Being a single mom, my daughter called my dad and he called my doctor. The doctor said if it lasted 45 minutes I either hit my head or we had something new. I didn't hit my head. I had developed TWO new types of seizures and they progressed to 4-5 times a month. I lost my job as a teacher. We were in a small town, so I had to move back to my hometown to look for work.
I moved in with a friend who was recently divorced in January '09. He saw a couple of the seizures, and realized I was NOT going to be able to maintain a job for any length of time and evicted us. Luckily, my stepfather let us move in and I filed for disability in April '09 after missing more interviews than I made b/c of seizures. We were given one room to share. I was turned down for disability in June. I hired attorneys, but had no means of income~~depended soley on my friends and family for everything. In late July, my daughter started developing high fevers for no reason that went away with pain relievers. She also threw up a time or two. She started school and came home with leg cramps, but said they did LOTS of exercises at PE. The only thing I couldn't explain away was the fact that her stomach was getting bigger, but she was eating less. I was so confused as what to do b/c none of these ever happened together. Then, on August 27, 2009 they did. The school called and asked me to come to see the nurse.
Being a single parent is very, very difficult when it comes to these type of decisions. Especially when every PENNY counts, and wasting it on a co-pay for a doctor to tell you that your child has a fever could mess up everything. The nurse took me to a room and said she was very worried about my daughter's condition. She said that another student had to help her to the office b/c her legs hurt so badly. She had gotten sick at lunch and had a fever of 104. She said what concerned her the most was that her stomach was distended. I asked where I should go and thank heavens she made the decision for me: Children's Hospital ER. We went in at 2:23 and had a Leukemia diagnosis at 8:45.
I skipped all of the stages of grief and latched on to anger. I remember walking outside to call my stepfather to come down to help me call family and the rain was pouring down. I was not aware of that. He asked me if it was raining and I looked up and said "Oh, that is why my cigarette keeps going out." As soon as I got off the phone, I started screaming at my mother. She promised she would be there for me when my daughter's father left, then she died of Cancer six years ago. I wonder, still, if the people in the valet shack thought I was crazy! I was angry at the doctor, and decided that I would NOT let her see me cry. I didn't, but as soon as she left the "family room" I fell apart with the chaplain.
Chemo in children is a WHOLE different world than chemo that my mother went through three times. My 11 year old is not all that different than she was before. Maybe more tired, less active, but she IS on chemo and DOES have cancer. I still push her, and I am insistent that if adults want to be around her, rules still apply! She is doing very well and I am very proud of how WE have handled that.
But, this is about my grief and that pesky anger. I am a very happy person. As each thing in life happened to me, I spent a day to cry, then just sort of moved on. Well, apparently that wasn't good enough. Leukemia was that storied "straw." I was angry at everyone, everything. Thankfully, I have very smart friends, very good friends, and very observant friends. A few days after getting home, one of them called me and said that a group had gotten together, and they were worried about me. I gave the "I'm fine" answer, and she said "You are angry. You are mean. You have been talking about people. This is NOT who you are!!!" She asked me to please call my doctor, even if I didn't talk to her ever again. Of course I would talk to her, she loves me.
My doctor didn't take very long to point out that my grieving came from the loss of my career, home, health, finances, independence, and finally my daughter's illness which brought up all of the grief I was just accepting over my mother. In my situation, medications were the only option as I had to be the sole caregiver to my child. I am on low doses, however, and I have been able to move a little more comfortably through the stages. I do go sit and cry for my losses for lengths of time, but I also am realizing that my job did not ACTUALLY define me. Yes, I went above and beyond most of my peers, but I can do that in a charity or with the families at the hospital. I do not have to help JUST at work. I am my daughter's healthcare worker for just a few more weeks, then she goes back to school. I am going to have to find some way to go from acceptance of one role to the other.
HOPE=Having Only Positive Expectations. If I didn't have that, I don't know if I could get out of the bed. When my mother passed, there were some days like that, but with my faith and my outlook from experience, I pray I do not have that many more. None would be nice. :)
So, there is a part of my story. I know it wasn't all deaths that I included, but those are over for me now. These are the ones that are relevant to my grieving process today.