I had grand plans for 2018.
You know those “On this day” memories that pop up on Facebook, Amazon Photos, ect? I really enjoy seeing them pop up, and it occurred to me last year that there were hardly any memories for the last few years. That’s when I decided that for 2018 I was going to find at least one fun thing to do every month of that year so that I could begin to change that. But then the year started with a personal struggle and I had not even reconciled myself to that when a huge bomb dropped at the company where my mother and I worked, and after that 2018 turned into a struggle to just keep my head above water, much less trying to swim around for fun.
I don’t want to say that 2018 was a “bad” year because God knows that I’ve had years that completely destroyed me, and I’m so thankful that it wasn’t one of those, but it was a very…let’s say it was a very tiring year. There were not a lot of notable events, but each one had so much impact and emotion attached to it that there was rarely a moment in the year that I did not feel completely drained. To be honest nearly every moment of 2018 deserves its own entry instead of being crammed into just one “Year in the Review” entry.
So I’m going to do two “Year in Review” entries for 2018.
Okay, seriously, I will most likely elaborate on a few of these events in forthcoming entries — which is the reverse of how I used to do things back when I wrote about events and feelings at the time they occurred and then did a recap at the end of the year but you didn’t hear me say that — but in the mean time I did my best to keep each month’s summary as succinct as possible. That said the entry was still getting too long for one post so that’s why I’m affording 2018 the dubious honor of being reviewed in two parts. Another dubious honor is that both entries talk a lot about my mundane day job, the details of which I usually keep separate from my writing world, in fact I noted this in the first Year in Review I did following my return to the medical field. Unfortunately the day job impacted everything this year, particularly my writing which I’ll get to in one of the above mentioned future entries, but in the meantime I present Part One of 2018 In Review.
A very dear friend lost her brother-in-law a few days after New Year’s, and because of how close she and I are it was painful for me as well, particularly since it was an unexpected passing.
Despite all my efforts to mentally prepare myself to turn forty (I started preparing on my birthday last year) I still had a difficult time accepting the reality of it and that it meant that the time when I could have carried a child was over. (This is one of those “future entry events”.)
I’ll do my best to keep this month’s summary as brief as possible, but this was a truly nightmarish month, and while the events were definitely “future entry” worthy, I don’t know that I want to relive them enough to write them, so I’m getting it out here. On February 13 my place of employment called nearly every department into the auditorium and told us that our manager had just been let go and our departments were being dissolved. Long story short, the third party vendor who had taken the outsourcing contract in November was now a partner in the company and they were taking over. We were assured that no one else would be losing their job, but our jobs would be changing. The department which dealt directly with patients had been divided into four teams and we could apply for which team we wanted to transition to in that department at the end of the month. Translation: The only thing that you people can do that this other company can’t is to speak to a patient with an American accent. Thus started two weeks of bullshit where everyone in my department waited to see if we really would have jobs, and if we did, then which level of Hell would we be assigned to in the patient care department. None of us wanted to be forced into handling patient calls, but the waiting and not knowing what was going to happen was worse.
On February 24 my brother’s quest to adopt a dog ended when a tiny bundle from a hoarding rescue in Texas became part of our family. Bella was understandably exhausted after her long trip, but she was also very underweight and I could see that she was not feeling well. We went back to the rescue group’s vet the next day, but we were assured that she would recover with the medication he had already given her.
On the 27th I learned that during the previous two weeks of hell and uncertainty at my job, when I thought that no one in my department knew what was going to happen, actually only half of us had been struggling in the dark. It turned out that my department was not dissolving completely and my supervisor had been allowed to pick her favorite members of the team to stay as part of it. She had informed those members before the end of the first week that they were safe from transitioning to the phones, but it was to be kept secret so that only the people she had chosen would know to apply to stay in the revenue department. The rest of the team only found out about this when we sitting at our desks and happened to noticed that half of our team had suddenly disappeared from their desks. Some people thought that they had gone to lunch but when I pointed out that three of the people missing were ones that I always went to lunch with we realized that they were all attending a meeting that we had not been privy to. I had not been surprised at my supervisor’s sneaky, shady behavior because she had always showed ridiculous favoritism, but I was extremely hurt by the people who I considered to be close friends who had not said anything at all to me. (Side note here: This is an extremely simplified version of the situation and by reading just those few sentences where I explained it, I know that I sound childish, petulant, and petty but trust me that there’s a lot I’m not detailing and I was justified for feeling as hurt and manipulated as I did.)
That same day, as I was still reeling from the turn of events at my job, I got a call from my mother that she was taking Bella to the emergency vet because she was getting worse. The only positive of this event was that it helped to give me perspective about being upset about what was happening at a job. I immediately left work and met my mother and Bella at the vet where they did an x-ray and told us what I had feared: Bella had massive double pneumonia and would need to be admitted. I was in pulmonology for years and never saw an infiltrate as bad as Bella had. It was a miracle that she was able to breath at all.
On March 1st we received a call from the vet that despite antibiotics, oxygen, and nebulizer treatments he did not know if Bella would make it. I completely broke down. I can’t even go into everything I was feeling and why I was feeling it, but I did the only thing I could do which was to fall my knees and sob to God that He promised to not give us more than we could bear, and this was more than I could bear. And this is my testimony because Bella made it. That was a Thursday night and Bella came home on Sunday. She was on massive antibiotics and needed home nebulization (running the hot shower for 20 minutes twice a day), but the prayers had been answered. As tiring as 2018 was I will always be thankful it was the year God performed a miracle to keep our Bella here.
Back at work though, the overall situation was worse. I talked to my coworkers about how betrayed I felt and I tried to understand the situation from their point of view, but I couldn’t completely forgive and forget especially since I still didn’t know what was happening. I did learn that I would be transferring to the phones department along with six other members of our former team (which included my mother), but unlike those members who would be transferring immediately, myself and another team member were still needed in what was left of my old department and would transition within the next two weeks or later. Again I was left dangling, except now it was with the knowledge that I was being used for as long as it was convenient for them, and that during that time I’d be working under the supervisor who had finally revealed just how much she was running the department as if it was a high school lunchroom and resented that her favorites were friends with me, who she did not want as part of her group of “cool” kids. I immediately updated my resume and started looking for another job though it killed me a little to have to again look for a job in a field I’d come to despise. The only good news was that the stress of work eased a bit when the supervisor realized that she had showed her true self to too many people and gave her two week notice for the end of March. On the last week of the March, after six weeks of limbo hell, I was informed that my supervisor’s leaving meant that there was space for me on the new revenue team and I was offered the position to stay there. It was not an easy decision, and to be honest I’m not sure how much “choice” I truly had, but I decided to stay on the team. I figured that I would at least be doing a job I was familiar with while I looked for something else, and it also meant that I could take advantage of the overtime that was offered in the department because it was dismally behind due to losing half of the team members and the inability of the new outsourcing company to do our former jobs correctly. I worked 61 hours the last week of March.
My grandmother had a minor surgery on April 2 to remove a cyst from her ovary, however during the surgery the doctor decided to not remove the cyst because he thought that it might be cancerous. This was a scare that was thankfully resolved quickly because my grandmother was able to see an oncologist within days and had the second surgery exactly a week later during which the surgeon determined that it was not cancer.
On the job front things were a little better with the supervisor gone, and the sting of hurt began to subside a little, but I still wanted to leave. Unfortunately my lack of formal education had become a sticking point in the job hunt, mostly because I decided that I could not stand to continue in the medical field.
I had a plant sale on Mother’s Day which is the traditional start of gardening season, and despite a half-assed effort on my part to do any advertising, I sold fifteen plants — which sounds like a sad amount but this was the most plants I had ever sold so I was thrilled.
I also started the next part of the The Massive House-wide Renovation Project — which should be called The Massive Property-wide Renovation Project because the yard needed attention too — and that was removing the rotting pieces of lumber that were making a pathetic attempt at being a retaining walls in the front yard, and to replace them with retaining wall stones.
I had hoped to be gone from my job by this time, particularly since I was forced to interact with my ex-supervisor at the end of the month for a coworker’s baby shower, but the job hunt continued to produce nothing. I had even re-resigned myself to continuing in healthcare and sent resumes to jobs in that field, but none of them called me. I began to think that I might have to make a drastic move, like go back to school, if I was ever going to be considered as anything more than garbage by an employer.
When plans I had for the first weekend on June got cancelled, I decided to do another plant sale. I put more effort into advertising this time, though it wasn’t much more since my plans had been cancelled at the last minute so I’d only decided to have the sale the night before. I am still in of awe of this but I sold about 150 plants. Not only was it brilliant to finally see a return on my investment in the business, but it gave me a bit of hope for a direction I could take to create income. The only problem was that I had a massive Lupus flare after the sale was over. To be honest I was surprised that I hadn’t had a flare sooner considering all of the stress I had been under on top of working an average of 55 hours a week for over three months at work, but I still didn’t appreciate being out of commission for two days. I just hoped that once I left the stress of the job that my body would be able to handle more time in my plants. I had to hold on to that hope because the success of the plant sale had been the only thing to make me feel less than worthless in a long time.
End Part One
The fact that this post is late* is of itself a testimony to 2017. I didn’t get to do a post sooner because I’ve been too busy, and also too tired – physically and mentally, alternating but usually concurrently – but mostly I’ve been busy. I seriously look at everything I did this year and I do not know how I did it. And I did it all in the midst of learning how much my body is falling apart and experiencing the exhausting process of “getting better”. I have to admit though, had I not been dealing with a medical battle I might not have accomplished as much as I did. There were many, many, many days that I wanted to just lie down and do nothing but groan or cry, and on some days I did, but most of time when I got that feeling ,it was immediately followed by the much stronger urge to prove that this condition wasn’t going to get me. It wasn’t going to change me, in fact it reminded me of who I am: I am a fighter. This is often (and increasingly so) a source of consternation to my worried loved ones, but I just don’t think I know how to be anything else. I think most of them have accepted it. That said, I present the 2017 Year in Review.
The year began by accompanying my brother to look at the first (of what would be many) houses in his search for his own abode. There’s nothing like looking at houses in the middle of winter- particularly since most of them were unoccupied which meant they were barely heated – to make you aware of how bad your Reynauld’s has become.
And then in a perfect illustration of how much my mind was spinning I chopped off about sixteen inches of my hair. I think this freaked out everyone who knows me well.
On February 2, while much of the United States was focused on a small town in western Pennsylvania, and whether its most famous resident was going to see his shadow or not, I saw my first Rheumatologist and got to hear, “Yeah it looks like you probably have Lupus” because delivering a diagnosis like that to someone in a flippant and nonchalant manner is what you hope to find in a physician.
“Your gallbladder is inflamed and needs to come out.”
After looking at several city blocks worth of houses, my brother decided that he really wanted one of the first ones that we looked at and placed a counteroffer to the one that the seller made back in January. And because the house was empty and my brother didn’t have to worry packing up another house to move, he was able to move in by the end of the month.
My mother and I had given thought to moving ourselves, but ultimately decided that we would stay. On April 30th we ripped up the carpet in the family room and though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of The Massive House-wide Renovation Project.
April was also the month when I finally convinced a doctor to change my one medication after complaining about it for five months.
After many months of communicating with a friend who had a friend with a Westie that needed a new home after her owners surrendered her, all of the pieces fell into place to get the Westie from Virginia up to us, and on May 8th we welcomed Spirit to the family.
The Massive House-wide Renovation Project continued with the massively messy removal of the popcorn ceiling from the family room. There was popcorn ceiling was on the entire first floor, but getting it off of the vaulted family room ceiling was a special kind of torture. My mother and I did this on the 13th which was the ten year anniversary of my dad’s passing, so it kept us from dwelling on that.
Wonder Woman opened. ‘Nuff said.
The renovations on the family room continued…
The Month of Trying New Shit!
Beach concert! (Technically not a first because I had seen KC and The Sunshine Band on the beach many years ago, but it was such a forgettable concert that I don’t count that.)
And we finished the family room! Just in time for the new Game of Thrones season, which had been my goal, but I still can’t believe that we made it considering all that had to be done. Ultimately the carpet was ripped up, the concrete underneath patched, installed hardwood laminate floor and all the mouldings around it, whitewashed the fireplace, replaced the doors and grate, put thin brick continuing up the the wall to make the fireplace look full height, stained the mantle, built built-in shelves, painted the walls, installed crown moulding and installed door casings. That list looks like a lot but that does not even begin to illustrate all the work that went into all of those things–particularly since I did not know what I was doing and was learning as I went.
I went to an estate sale and ended up finding a first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I found out that it’s technically worth several thousands of dollars, but in actuality it’s just a really cool book to have in my collection.
A dear friend was pressured into an ill-advised trip to Puerto Rico and was there when Hurricane Maria hit. She managed to call me just before the official landfall and I can’t tell you what a horrible feeling it is to talk to a loved one as they are huddle in a hallway, completely terrified, and not be able to do a thing to help them. She, her mother, and sister thankfully survived uninjured, but were stranded there without running water or electricity for over a week.
I worked on one of my more ambitious projects which was creating five of the “ghost dresses” I had create last year. I unfortunately didn’t finish them before the end of the month, but considering that was trying to help facilitate a rescue from a decimated island in the Caribbean, I guess it was okay.
It was a fairly uneventful month. I didn’t get the ghost dresses out on the first, but I did get them on display by the end of the first week.
On Halloween I discovered how much stress can aggravate Lupus and managed to have the worst flare since my diagnosis.
My mother and I decided to tackle the popcorn ceiling in the hallway and kitchen. We figured that it wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as scraping the vaulted ceilings of the family room. Ha ha. To keep this short, the popcorn was covering a multitude of sin, not the least of which was evidence of a long running leaking pipe inside the facet over the cabinets. This turned into a massive nightmare from hell as we found that the leak was coming from the bathroom sink on the second floor and it had caused damage and mold in the bathroom wall, and also in my closet which backed up to that wall. The home owner’s repair policy managed to find three of the most incompetent plumbers in the state and send them to our house at the times which would be most inconvenient for either myself or my mother. This went on for the entire fucking month.
Of note also we had a meeting at the company where my mother and I work to announce that the third party company was supposed to be working our A/R was being replaced by a new company and would be starting immediately. (Remember this because it has a huge impact on 2018.)
It was the end of the first week of December and the pipe was still not fixed, so I told the insurance company that I was hiring my own plumber, would pay them myself and they would reimburse me. I repaired the facet and that was the end of the 2017 chapter of The Massive House-wide Renovation Project.
I finished my first official chicken wire commission “Pooh”. This required skipping sleep a few times, but the client was really happy with it so it was worth all of the work.
And that was 2017
I’ll add that in the midst of this I had blood drawn twelve times, five new medications, and eight dosage increases.
It was a busy year.
* I started this entry in mid-January and it’s now end of December that I’m finishing it after finding it in the drafts as I went to start the 2018 review.