Note: thank you warmly to everyone who's /msged and written me about this. You're all awesome, and you know who you are.
I haven't been noding much recently, and when I'm on I'm mostly blurting ALL CAPS asinine jokes in the catbox. For this, I'm a tad regretful. Life has decided in its ineffable wisdom to kick me in the fundament.
This is One Of Those Daylogs Which Lists The Current Trials And Tribulations Of The Noder. If such things irritate or annoy you, please, click on Random Node and find something more to your taste. It will in no way bother me. This is written mostly for me, for the exercise of laying all the crap out where I can look at it once I'm done.
Groundwork first. I'm a fairly depressed person. I don't have severe depression; I know that much. I do have long-term depression, though, with consistent 'depressive episodes' which pretty closely fits all the criteria of dysthymia. The 'low self-esteem' bit hits extremely close to home. I had been doing fairly well with medication, but it stopped working for me about a year and half ago despite multiple adjustments to the cocktail. I finally went off the medications about five months ago (under the observation of my therapist and physician) due to the extreme annoyance of suffering all the logistical nightmares of being an addict with none of the slim upsides at all. My therapist noted that I didn't seem to exhibit much change after the medication stopped, confirming my self-diagnosis of their lapsed effectiveness.
My mother has been sick for just over a year. She has metastized endometrial cancer, which means that cancer cells are freely moving in her body fluids. Despite two prior runs of chemotherapy, the cancer hasn't been reduced - well, it was in abeyance for some months, but then recently - over Thanksgiving - caused her enough problems to have to return to the hospital. Her heart was suffering congestive tamponade from fluid inside the pericardial sac, and her lungs were filling up with fluid as well. In addition, it turned out, she had severe blood clotting in her pulmonary system. The heart and lung fluid was saturated with cancer cells.
She's been in the hospital since Thanksgiving day. This itself was a problem for me; my father (whom I love dearly) has never been a particularly functional person on his own. He married my mother, and the two of them had an explicit contract that she would handle dealing with the world when he couldn't, which was much of the time. This isn't his fault; I knew his mother briefly (because she wouldn't acknowledge my brother and me as grandchildren until she started feeling really mortal due to my mother's being black, and then she departed before I could interact with her much at all) and it's a miracle he's as sane as he is.
However, his flat denial that anything is wrong, fueled as it is by desperate panic, has resulted in Mom not getting into the hospital several times now until it was long past time for her to be admitted to cope with whatever her current problem was. To make matters worse, my parents live several hours from me and even further from my brother and his family, and are in a rural area with no access to high-maintenance health care such as is required by an oncology case like my mother's. They are four hours from the hospital (in my city) where she finally managed to find a decent oncologist.
Anyway, she's been in the hospital numerous times. She's of such strong will, however, that it wasn't really until this last time that I came right up against the fact I'd been trying to avoid: my mother is dying. Given that I've been extremely close to her for most of my life, this was difficult enough.
But that, of course, isn't all. I'm employed in a different city from the one I'm in. I had been in the process of moving there before Mom went into the hospital this time. After several months work finding an apartment to rent, and spending all my savings on urban real estate fees and the like, I found one. Just as I was approved by the co-op board as a tenant, Mom went in. I've been unable to find a moving company (ever dealt with interstate moving? It's populated 85% by scam artists, 10% by the genially incompetent, and maybe 5% by genuinely reliable movers - the trick is that it's almost impossible to tell the upper 70% apart) and thus unable to schedule my move. Once Mom went into the local hospital here, well...that wasn't a high priority.
The past couple of weeks I haven't been doing much work at all. My employers are understanding, massively so for employers, but their patience isn't infinite and nor should it be. I'm fortunate, I suppose, that the holiday season is coming up where nobody does much work - but I better get something done before then.
Through all of this, my younger brother's family has been sort of the rock I've leaned on - not in the financial or logistical sense, but emotional. I've been able to rationalize away my own normally-miserable existence by comforting myself with the fact that my Mom does have two wonderful grandsons to point to as her descendants, even if they're not my kids. Her younger son has found a wonderful woman with whom to have those kids, and keep him on the mostly-straight path, sharing the burdens of life. Mom often would bemoan my forever-single status in the way that only a truly concerned Jewish mother can - heartbreakingly sympathetic and enough to make you want to shoot her.
My brother, who has a pretty high-powered job himself, has been a rock in helping me deal not only with Mom but with Dad, a more complex problem since our father is basically healthy - just not really mentally self-sufficient for dealing with problems that don't affect only him. We had to hospitalize Mom over his objections at least once. Not because he wishes her any ill, but because he just can't handle the thought of what her going meant.
So a couple days ago I realized without much feeling that I've done nothing for two weeks but sit in the hospital with my mother who is miserable but refuses to give in easily, play video games, and sleep for sometimes 15 hours a day. This is not healthy. I'm paying over a fifth of my (gross) income a month for an apartment I haven't seen in 4 weeks and haven't moved a stick of furniture into, not to mention the mortgage on an apartment I'm currently squatting in and thus can't rent out or sell. I still don't have a good notion in my head of how this move to New York will take place, despite the overwhelming need to get my ass in gear for fiscal, emotional and pure physiological reasons. I was about to go to the hospital to sit with mom again and I got a call.
My brother had to go home for several days because his wife was travelling on business, and obviously he needed to be home to be with the kids. The caller was his wife, who was worried about him. She described his recent behavior, which sounded awfully familiar - not getting out of bed, gloom, severe irritation - and then finished by asking me to please call him because she was worried, and because this episode was apparently touching off some long-standing problems the two of them are having.
I was fucking floored.
Not because I didn't believe it. Hell, I've known the kid all my life; it's a miracle anyone wanted to live with him when they first met, much less was confident enough to want to spend her life with him. I believe both of them - and if they're having problems, they'll need to deal with them. But now I've been asked to do what I can to help.
There's nothing, nothing I wouldn't do for my brother, for his family. Given my own abject failure at coming up with one, his is the vessel into which my hopes for the future pour. I love both my nephews, and my brother, and his wife. I'm going to do whatever I can.
The problem is that I can't manage to do my own fucking laundry at the moment. My apartment is a complete nesting heap from my own inability to handle my own life.
I'm petrified that with everything else that we're going to lose, imminently and for reasons beyond our control - Mom, Dad's stability perhaps, the life we've known - my depression may finally spill over and fuck up something beyond my own existence. I know intellectually that none of this is my fault, but that's irrelevant. Fear of an outcome doesn't need to depend on whose fault that outcome is. It's not guilt, it's terror.
Through all this, Mom managed to stabilize slightly, being transferred from an intensive care unit which she approved of (doctor that she is) to a rehab facility which even I can tell is not nearly as tightly run, and which she (stable enough to have undergone new chemo, and in the depths of the confusion and discomfort that engenders) whispers to me is like being in a prison sometimes.
There's no chance my mother's cancer will go away. There's a chance it will abate enough to let her leave the hospital, emaciated and weak but alive - but for how long, I don't know. Through the core of my variously fucked-up responses to this whole situation, I have to deal with the guilt of just wanting the situation to be over but knowing that it can only be over in one way.
Even more pernicious is the whisper I listen to lying in bed around five in the morning which reminds me that even if all this wasn't going on, my base state - to which I so desperately wish I could return - is one of low-grade misery.
Because I've gotten responses to this sort of thing before, let me state clearly: In no way do I think my situation is a terrible, unjust thing. I am a fortunate person. I'm an American who is well-off enough, through his own efforts and no other means of income, to support a relatively comfortable existence. Downright luxurious compared to the rest of the planet. I am (mostly) healthy. As my Jewish cousins love to remind me, I have all my fingers and toes. I have nephews I adore.
But for fuck's sake, I could wish I could enjoy some of it, is all.
I have, at last count, seventeen different types of whisky in my kitchen. Through all of this, I've been drinking no more than 4 or 5 drinks a week. Not because I'm rationing myself; just because I haven't really felt the desire to drink anything (depressant, you know).
Hm. I wonder if I have any fucking ice.