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Are You Where You Thought You Would Be?

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credit:  online stock photos

credit: online stock photos

This post is inspired by Life in the Boomer Lane’s post on Guerilla Aging http://lifeintheboomerlane.com/2014/03/21/guerrilla-aging-when-where-we-are-isnt-where-we-thought-wed-be/

I am afraid to say my life isn’t what I thought it would be. As part of the boomer generation, I was very much into the hippie movement.

I have always been very independent.  Up until I became pregnant with my daughter, I thought I would be a career woman & never have any children at all.  I had been steadily climbing the rungs of the ladder to that goal (unaware I would have hit a glass ceiling at the time).  I started working my very first job just weeks after my 16th birthday & I worked all of my life up until August, 2012.

In August, 2012 I had been struggling with some health issues (severe incontinence associated with a very difficult hysterectomy, explosive diarrhea associated with gallbladder removal, shortness of breath) & then I injured my left knee. No one had a definitive answer for why I couldn’t bear weight on my left leg anymore (I woke up with it), but I was assured it was “just a sprain.” Except it didn’t get any better. I used a cane, but still had a great deal of difficulty getting around & the pain was not letting up.  I went to the emergency room to try to get some help & was told I was aggravating the “sprain” & was now experiencing micro-tears in the ligaments of my left knee.  I was put on crutches so I would do no weight-bearing at all.   In the meantime I continued to try working.  When my assignment ended I wasn’t in any hurry to take on a new assignment because hubby & I were in the middle of moving from the south end of the city to the northeast end of the city.  I wanted to take some time to get settled in our new place before going back to work.  Except when I tried to go back to work, there was no work for me – I had received an uncomplimentary performance review which referred to my knee injury being part of the reason my performance was not satisfactory.

I had just finished back to back assignments where I was replacing people who had just walked off the job in the middle of their shifts, so I guess I should have been better prepared when both assignments gave poor performance reviews for me.  But I had such an exemplary performance record up to this point, I was totally floored by what happened!  I was 56 years old & I was out of work & not in the best of health.  Although I made a good faith effort to find work, I had no luck whatsoever.  Every job interview for jobs I did not get pushed me further & further into depression.  By the time my employment insurance benefits ran out I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed.

I am still suffering with severe knee pain, severe incontinence, my respite from back pain (born with spina bifida) seems to have ended & I  have recently been diagnosed with COPD for which there is no cure.  My health will only continue to deteriorate.  I was lucky enough to find a medication to help with the explosive diarrhea.

I am fighting with the government to get disability benefits which is mind-numbingly debilitating.  I have had no income for well over a year.  I now rely totally on my husband for support who is fighting his own battle with unemployment.  Who wants to hire someone who is so obviously close to retiring?  (Sorry hubby, but you do look your age)  This is hard for me to do.  I have always had my own income & even if it was low income, I was always able to contribute to looking after the household.  Due to back pain, knee pain & shortness of breath, it is difficult to help with any household chores.

Why is it when you need help due to disability, the government puts so many roadblocks in your way to keep you from getting the help you need.  You’re sick, but expected to jump through hoops, when walking is difficult enough.  You’re already dealing with the loss of ability (& possibly your approaching demise) & the depression which accompanies it, then the government adds to your depression by making it all so difficult for you.  A blogging buddy has said the government does this to you because they hope you will be too sick to keep up the fight, so they won’t have to pay out the benefits you have paid into your whole life.

credit:  online stock photos

credit: online stock photos

I thought these years would look much more like the picture on the left.  My husband should be retiring in May of 2015,  but it’s not going to happen.  Like he says, he will probably have to work “until he drops dead.”  His unemployment benefits run out in another couple months.  Our retirement savings are slowly dwindling as we have to use them to supplement our income right now.  We have pared down our expenses & soon may have to make some tough choices about changing our frugal lifestyle even more.

This is not how I thought I would be spending my remaining years.

If I Should Die . . .

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Courtesy Microsoft Clip Arts

Courtesy Microsoft Clip Arts

While I was in the hospital having my daughter in Winnipeg, I got new neighbors.  The woman (D) was younger than me & ran a daycare in her home.  When I went back to work D provided daycare for my daughter.  It was great for me because my daughter liked to sleep in till 9 a.m. & I had to be at work for 8 a.m., so I could just go into her room, wrap her in a blanket & take her next door, where D would put her in a crib until she woke up naturally.

D was very kind to me.  I was a single parent for a couple years & sometimes I would come home very tired – she would invite me in & put a hot meal in front of me while my daughter had a bath with her 2 children.  We got to be good friends.  She cared for my daughter when I developed a kidney stone & had to spend 3 days in the hospital on an emergency basis.  We were always there for each other.

One of the things I always admired about D was her ability to look after children & keep her home really clean.  You would find toys scattered about in designated play spaces, but the rest of the house was always so clean.  As soon as lunch was over, the dishes were done immediately.  The washer was constantly running, washing clothes & baby blankets.  It seemed like D never stopped.

I found out D’s mother had died when she was in her late 20’s from cancer, leaving D & her siblings with her father.  Being the oldest, D helped her father raise her younger siblings.  At 22, D suffered her own scare with cancer when she developed ovarian cancer.  She had a total hysterectomy.  A couple years later she developed cancer in her left breast.  She had a mastectomy just weeks before I first met her.  I would never have known because she always portrayed this strong image.

D was afraid she would die of cancer.  After her mother’s death, she remembered her aunts coming over to help D’s father clean out her mother’s property.  D remembered her aunts remarking about how dirty her mother’s house was (even though she’d been in the hospital for the last month of her life).  D never wanted anyone to say the same thing about her house if she should die & so she worked like a demon to keep her house spotless every day.

Is there something you’re afraid to have found if you passed away?  Have you got a secret stash or a drawer you wouldn’t want found?  This thought was prompted when our neighbor came over today to ask a favor since his father passed away just days after my hubby went & helped lift him from a fall. 

M is for Menopause

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Courtesy Microsoft Clip Arts

Courtesy Microsoft Clip Arts

Menopause is often one of those subjects few women talk about. Is it because:

  1. If you acknowledge you are going through menopause you have to admit you’re getting older?  Typically menopause occurs in women who are over 45 years of age, although there are exceptions as in early onset menopause.
  2. That you’re now past your childbearing years?  Many women feel their purpose in life is over if they can no longer bear children.
  3. Because of its connection to menstruation?  If women don’t talk about their periods while they’re having them, why would they talk about when they stop?
  4. Women feel they lose their sex appeal after menopause?  During menopause some women experience hair growth in places they don’t usually grow hair like on their upper lip or on their chin as well as extremely dry skin & female parts.  Due to the drop in female hormones, some experience a loss of sex drive as well.  For some women, some of these symptoms can be relieved with hormone replacement therapy.
Photo courtesy of tv.com

Photo courtesy of tv.com

The first time I can remember becoming aware of menopause was when Edith Bunker started going through it as I watched “All in the Family” years ago.  She started experiencing hot flashes & mood swings, memory loss & fatigue, but she wouldn’t share what she was going through with anyone.   Finally Gloria figured out what was going on & sat her mother down to have a talk with her & insist she visit a doctor.  All of this was portrayed very comically.  They called it The Change & at one point Archie says to Edith something like, if you’re going to change, then change & get it over with because I can’t stand these mood swings anymore accompanied by huge laughter from the audience!!

Do you remember menopause being portrayed in other TV shows & how did they handle it?  Or did someone have a talk with you about menopause?  How did you learn – by going through it?

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