Thursday, February 14, 2013
Being sick sucks
My parents had the rather simple lives of retirees. My mom subbed a little, my dad volunteered at the church. They walked their dog. They travelled. They did whatever they wanted. And then out of the blue, they have to rush to San Diego to rescue their daughter and two children from an abusive home, and try and save their daughter's life. Just like that. No warning. And so three new "tenants" move into their home, take up three bedrooms and two of their bathrooms, and most of their back yard, and half their garage. And to top it all off, one of their "tenants" is hardly able to care for herself, much less two children. So it all falls on their heads. And the terror all of us were feeling was really awful. I didn't know if I would respond to treatment. The kids were traumatized. Not only were they moving two states away, but they were leaving behind their dad and dogs and friends, starting a new school and having to make friends, and their mom was sick. They asked daily if I was dying. And try as I might to reassure them that I would be "just fine", I just needed to go through some really un-fun treatments, I'm sure they could see the fear in my eyes. And, well, it was obvious that I was not ok.
So after getting the girls enrolled in their new school, my fulltime job became going to my doctor's office at the University of Utah's Huntsman Center many times a week-- some times every day. I was going for tests, including bone marrow biopsies (OUCH!!!), blood transfusions, platelets, fluids, and chemo. I was taking daily pills of chemo. My hair was falling out in clumps. Mornings were the worse. I wanted to badly to wake the girls up and feed them breakfast and take them to school. And it literally took every single ounce of energy I had and then some. I pushed myself way beyond my capacity. I would come out of my room and go up a short flight of steps and then sit on the couch for five minutes. That short walk left me breathless, heart pounding, dizzy and disoriented. When that sensation subsided, I went up another flight of steps to wake the girls up, who for the first month shared a bedroom. After breakfast, I'd drive them to school and come home and nearly pass out.
By this time, my mom would be up and checking on me, making sure I was taking my cocktail of pills, eating healthy and organic foods, and my parents were ready to take me to my doctor's visit. One morning, I was white as a sheet and they rushed me to the doctor only to find out that I was so dangerously anemic that they debated putting me in the hospital.
My parents had to do kid duty most every day after school, which included homework assistance, bath help, laundry, and cooking meals. I was simply incapable. I would mostly sit on a couch and watch Dr Phil, Rikki, Ellen-- all the talk shows that today I can hardly stomach because it brings back those memories. My poor parents! While they're in great health, they are aging and they had no freedom at all to call the shots in their life-- something they had earned the right to do.
When I had energy, I would often go to my grandparents' gravesite and talk to them. I told them that they needed to talk to God for me and tell Him that I needed to beat this disease. But when I did meet them on the other side, I needed them to greet me-- and to bring with them my grandmother Marinaro and my friends Lisa and Melanie, who both passed away far too young.
Evenings were such a relief. When the girls finally went to bed, I was just ecstatic that I made it through another day. I slept in my bedroom with the TV on because being alone scared me.
And in the mornings, I would awake with my stomach in knots, knowing that there would be hateful and evil texts from my sweet (alcoholic) husband telling me what a loser and lazy awful mother I was. It was horrid. I was living in a Hell like I couldn't even imagine and it was endless.
I remember one day I ran an infection and I was admitted to the hospital for four days. I had a pick line in my neck (a tube that comes out of the jugular vein) that was there to collect my stem cells when they would produce. I had a port in my chest to help with giving me massive chemo injections directly into major veins that also runs under my skin to my jugular. I was feeling awful from the chemo. And beyond that, I was so afraid because my stem cells were not producing and I was terrified they never would and I would have a failed transplant and that was just not good considering I needed that transplant to help save my life. So as I'm in the hospital strapped to an IV getting fluids and antibiotics, I get a text from "Rob" that said "You're a liar. You're not even sick." It's a good thing he was two states away from me or I would have been very tempted to chop off his very tiny three inch penis and feed it to the dogs.
Rob was angry with me for two reasons: 1) I left him and refused to allow him to verbally assault me any longer; and 2) he wanted me to send him money from my disability checks. He was livid that I wouldn't send him money beyond the $2,200 a month I was giving him from my company short term disability, but not sending him any money from my California disability. I got endless calls, texts and emails from him every single day screaming at me to send me money NOW you lazy stupid bitch. I'm not kidding. At the time, being as sick and anemic and focused on my health as I was, and what little energy I had left was for the children, I couldn't even think straight. I finally called my attorney and said that I'm just going to send Rob money so he'll leave me alone. I seriously couldn't take it anymore. She told me absolutely not-- that money was to take care of the needs of my children and me. So I didn't. And oh my God, when I told Rob that, the text and phone calls got even more horrid and awful. And he just loved to throw in my face that this new victim of his, err, I mean woman who wanted to meet him, had so much money that he would be just fine and she wasn't a stupid lazy bitch like me. And, of course, he blamed his drinking on me. I was his trigger. Except is alcoholism was a destroying factor in his last marriage, too, so can't blame me for that! Alcoholics and drug addicts love to blame everyone for their drinking (and deny it). It's what makes them sick, and what makes those that live with them sick, too.
Before I moved from San Diego and on the day I was undergoing invasive tests to diagnose me, and Rob came home drunk and spit in my face and called me stupid and a drama queen, I called the police to have him removed from the home. The next day, I did the unthinkable: I called his ex wife, Terri. We had a very bad relationship during my whole marriage to Rob but that angel actually agreed to speak to me and I'll forever be grateful to her. I won't betray confidences on what was said but I'll share this. I was crying and beside myself with fear and grief. I asked her: "Is it me or did he do this to you?" After a brief pause, she said quietly and emphatically, "No, it's not you. I lived with it for 19 years. He's Rob and he'll never change. He needs help and he won't get it. He'll promise but he won't do it."
Back to my family: It's been just over a year since we've moved here. They are the most giving, selfless, amazing, kind, loving and supportive family one could ever ask for. My parents have gone way above their duty in helping me fight my disease, get well, helping raise my children, and teach them values. They've given us unconditional love and stability. I never come home wondering if my parents will scream at me, disappear, or be in a hyper good mood. It's such a relief to live in that nightmare.
I know that Rob and I married much too soon after meeting. If Rob hadn't lied to me about who he was, I wouldn't have married him. That said, dating him more wouldn't have fixed anything. The only way I would've ever known real Rob was to live with him. Because Rob is a happy drunk when there's something fun on the horizon-- a party, going out to dinner, diving, or vacation. If he has an audience or he's trying to impress someone, he is a kind, great, generous guy. He wants everyone to think he's a hero. It's only if he has expectations that he becomes angry and mean and abusive and scary. If he has to do something like, God forbid, help raise a child (his older drug addict daughter included), empty a dishwasher, put laundry away, or walk a dog, he is scary. And he's lazy. Throughout our marriage he did next to nothing-- he didn't pay bills, or take care of dogs or kids, I can't remember him emptying the dishwasher once in the nearly five years we lived together, or taking the dogs to the vet, or putting a single load of laundry away. Nope-- I did all of it until the last few months when he finally started walking the dogs in the morning and sometimes making dinner. And by then, it was too late. He worked me to the bone and I gave everything to him and our home until I literally had nothing left.
And thank goodness for my loving parents who were here to pick up the pieces. Last night I was exhausted beyond belief. I was so bone tired and weary I could go no further. Yet the kids still needed to be picked up from activities, and needed help with homework, and their laundry needed to be put away. And I literally had no energy left. And my 73 year old mother did it all while I reclined on a chair with a blanket and slept. They are the personification of what truly amazing, good people are. Rob could learn a lot from them.