The Struggle

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Yesterday I heard some news that disappointed me deeply. The moments when mere words seem to have physical force have been rare for me. Either I am tougher that I think, or I am just lucky. Hearing that I’ll be waiting six weeks to see a spine specialist stunned me like I’d been hit with a psychic gong. I’m already a patient at this orthopedic practice. I waited mere days for my first appointment at this office. I didn’t think I’d be waiting this long for treatment of the problems that actually ail me. I was not prepared for being in limbo for this long.

Six more weeks with no effective treatments, no real pain relief, no official ground to lighten my burdens . . . I hope to God I can endure this. I’ve taken the “Life After Depression” tagline from this blog temporarily because I am depressed now.

I’ve dreaded the prospect of unloading this problem in print because I understand that self-pity appeals to no one. At its worst, such writing is a type of emotional pornography, providing release from which one recoils once its purpose has been served.

I believe that all manner of hardships, no matter how severe, may be endured if one is not suffering from a mood disorder. A disruption in mood regulation can magnify life’s problems to the point to where you might take stock of your daily life and wonder, “how in world have I pulled this off for this long?”

When I think of how I’ve labored in the darkness of my health problem for nearly six months, I feel exhausted. When I consider six more weeks of waiting, I feel defeated.

Winter is the hardest time for me. My dislike of driving sharpens to a diamond point of hatred with each snow fall. If only I could have been like my grandpa, who never drove in his 90 years and bought a house across the street from where he worked. Six years ago, I drove a mile in the snow with a van whose brakes suddenly failed. This saga did not improve my enthusiasm for winter driving. I also have an inner ear fistula that gives me vertigo when I when I drive and my car moves in a direction that my eyes do not see. Slipping on the ice or snow is a big problem for me.

In this season I also have the hardest time with parenting. My daughter has autism and like most 15-year-olds, she is not terribly interested in attending school each day. I literally have to persuade her to get on the bus almost every school day. This effort has exhausted me. Now that we are approaching school delay season, I anticipate that this problem will get worse, as it has almost every year. I have spoken to her teachers and the guidance counselor to discover if something negative is happening which she is avoiding through this persistent campaign to miss school. I have not heard that she is facing anything bad. I think this continual attendance struggle is karmic, for my mother had the same problem with me. However, the world was a kinder place back then for kids who had good grades but weren’t thrilled about going to school every day, and I did not have autism.

I can’t in my right mind rely upon my daughter to get on the bus by herself on school delay days when I am at work. If something goes wrong, the aftermath would go badly given I left a child with autism to fend for herself. So I have had my sister and a neighbor help me whenever possible with delays. Other times I have used paid time off and went to work once I saw for myself that she was on her way.

This year is not looking promising. My neighbor who helped now has a job during that time of the morning. My sister’s car is barely roadworthy. Added to this agony, nearly all of the unused paid time off I had for 2016 has now been paid out. Thank God there are only seven school days left in 2016.

So this is how some of my days could be: I am late to work because of a school delay, so I work later to make up my time. By the time I leave work, it is getting dark out and the roads are probably snow and ice covered to some degree. My feet and legs have been cramping up when I’ve been driving for the past month, too. At work I’ve walked up and down the stairs 15 to 20 times and walked 3-4 miles, with sciatic pain striking at random and reliable numbness in my knee.

This is why I dread facing another six weeks of this. Sometimes people have degrees of disability that make daily life harder. A person can be messed up enough to have a disabling diagnosis, but the powers that be do not think this problem is big enough to grant an official exception on anything. My daughter has autism, but her diagnosis, mild to moderate, is not severe enough that she or I are guaranteed any help on this matter. I have to pay out of pocket for all autism-related services she receives. No health professional has ever offered me intermittent FMLA to deal with my school delay problem with peace of mind.  I have had to rely almost entirely on family for child care. Thank God I have them!

A snow storm is expected tomorrow. This has the potential to make my Monday feel near impossible. I barely feel well enough to work, and I am six weeks away from any real relief. There will likely be a school delay, too. I hope to God I can endure this.

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