Surviving a rough season

The past few months have been really rough for me. When I say rough, I mean kind of nightmarish.
I specifically say me, because I’m the worrier in this household. I’m also the troubleshooter aka fixer of all troubles. I’m not certain I was always this person, but many years of working in healthcare and working short-staffed certainly helped to make me that person. I am in a season, whether it’s my age, time of year, or plate full of issues where I can say, without a doubt, it’s rough and I’m just barely getting by.

It all started three months ago when we received some heartbreaking news that I can’t really speak about here–but hope to sometime in the next month or two. Then my husband received some news at work that his employer would be offering a small bonus to each employee who worked 13 weeks 4 am-5:30 pm no late punch-ins, early punch-outs, no misses, and 55 hours each week would have to be worked and ALL vacation time surrendered and to be paid out. For my husband this challenge was not a big deal as he works long hours every week, punches in early, leaves late, and often surrenders his vacation. He hasn’t, knock on wood, called in sick for 20 years. Yet, Murphy’s Law was right there following us around, because the day after this was announced my husband put his back out. I called around for days trying to get him in to his regular chiropractor, to no avail. Thanks to Covid, chiropractors in this area work 1-2 half days a week and are booked solid. So for almost three weeks we bought creams, braces, heating pads–you name it, and finally he got an appointment. It was a nerve-wracking painful three weeks for both of us as he laid in pain every day before and after work and I, stretched thin from working overtime, waited hand and foot on him.

It was a strain and I know everyone out there has been through this. I deal with my back going out all the time, but unfortunately my treatment begins and ends with creams and ibuprofen. I no longer benefit from chiropractor adjustments–haven’t gone to one in 20 years. All that awaits me is surgery some day… So, we all got through that event only to then discover our cat was having an issue. His doctor is an hour away and he is a very anxious cat. Usually it takes both of us to take him, but seeing as hubby couldn’t miss any work, I took him alone. It actually went fairly well. Turned out he had anal gland infection and oh boy this was fun. He did not like any part of it and honestly I didn’t blame him. He’s had issues like this before so we had them expressed, he received a shot of antibiotic and we were sent home. Easy peasy. No. The antibiotic didn’t work and his issue got worse. Five 2-hour commutes later we were on a new antibiotic and this one seemed to be working. Until, he started projectile vomiting all over the apartment. By this time I was worried sick and starting to think the worst and our poor cat was at his limit. Of course it was hard getting appointments for him and each time I agreed to an emergency check-up cost, we were given one. Last Friday was when the projectile vomiting had been going on for almost two days and my husband was done work at noon. So we hopped in the car and off we all went. Just short of the clinic our car had a power surge and stalled at a very busy and deadly intersection. Just out of the blue–had never happened before. I quickly pulled into the clinic parking lot and left hubby to deal with it and took our poor cat in. He was given an anti-nausea drug, a probiotic, and we were sent on our way. Our car got us home and since then has sat at a local dealership. We had just had it in for an inspection, oil change, and tire rotation. So, this was very distressing to us. On Monday the dealership called and told me they had no clue what had gone wrong–everything checked out.

This phone call brought to mind the movie Autumn in New York with Winona Ryder and Richard Gere were Richard is told there is nothing that can be done for Winona’s heart until she dies, basically, and then the surgeon can go in and possibly fix it. We were being told there is nothing that can be done to fix your car until it throws a code. Until then, it seems fine and nothing is wrong. Same with our cat–every other cat in the universe got better on the antibiotic except ours–now we just wait and see…

This season for me is especially busy with the way the world is right now. I am transitioning from corporate taxes to small business taxes because small business is a much better fit for me. Corporate taxes/accounting is a stress-filled, competitive job that was fine for me for awhile, but in the end I’d much rather work for someone who owns their own business. My employer has been quite saddened by the news, but already I’ve managed to bring in new clients, so–in the end it works for both of us. Balancing the worries of clients and the responsibilities I have in my home has been very difficult of late. A lot of it has to do with the last nineteen months and all it’s worries and stressors. From the beginning of our marriage it was decided that I would handle all the finances–investing, bill paying, credit, loans etc. My husband would bring his check home and I would spend 30 minutes a month writing checks and paying bills. Now, almost twenty-eight years later it takes me 2 hours twice a month to handle it all. I’m also in charge of our retirement–funds, care, living etc. and I deal with all the decisions, emergencies, and fixing of all troubles in our household. Partly because I always have and partly because my husband never has and now wants absolutely nothing to do with any of it. He just wants to bring the bacon home and let me do the rest. After all, that’s what I went to school for, right? So, yes, lots of responsibilities and I’d like to tell you that because of my professional life taking care of personal finances is so much easier. Again, in this day and age with shortages, inflation, and so much uncertainty. Life is hard for everyone. I put myself more into my work when stressed and my husband checks out. Each of us has different ways of dealing with life and yes–sometimes depending on the seasons those different ways are helpful and at other times they are a hindrance.

Everything is going up in price. Two years ago an anal gland issue, shot of antibiotic, and office visit were under $125.00 These days each visit was over $250.00 and we had 6 visits all total with one of them costing $300.00. As far as hubby’s chiropractor costs–well his insurance used to pay for five visits. Unfortunately his chiropractor doesn’t accept insurance anymore. Our bill for 3 adjustments, 30 minutes total time seen over 2 weeks cost $325.00.

Our car has cost us a lot of money over the years. We so wish that when we paid it off years early, years ago, that we would have traded it in. We didn’t because we had so much invested in it and we didn’t want to deal with another car payment. Parts for car,especially ones no longer made, are non-existent or really expensive. That’s where we are right now–between a rock and a hard place. No matter the price we either fix it or start looking for a new car and making car payments again.

Often I am sad. Sad because so much is changing. Time is moving so fast and I am acutely aware that I now have more time behind me then in front of me. This past Sunday as I sat in my recliner in our living room, I thought I was having a heart attack. I half-laughed to myself because yes–ever the one to try and out do everyone, I’d have a heart attack. I figured, as I sat there, I’d finally reached the age where working hard, never relaxing, always trying to do “all the things” had finally done me in. I was sad that in my day to day of having to get everything just right at both home and work, I’d missed out on all the really important things. My arm hurt, my chest hurt, and I was really super exhausted. I sat there thinking the rest of the night and come morning I called to go in for tests. Turns out I’d pulled a muscle in my back that also affected my arm and chest. I was o.k. This and everything that’s happened in the last nineteen months really shook me. I wonder how I will ever get through old age when someday my limits will be reached. I wonder how life will be when all we can afford is treatments, medications, and co-payments with our “extra” cash. We may end up, despite our best efforts, like many millions of people and not be able to afford them at all. I realized that no matter how much I try to control every single thing in my life. I’m not in control. No matter how scrupulously I care for our cat, my husband, myself and our car, things still happen that cannot be prevented.

It’s been a revealing and rough season for most of us. I write this post to offer my story in hopes that as you read it you know that you are not alone. I pray for all of us time to catch our breath. Time to be thankful and time to be grateful. Time to catch up, settle down, and live again. Thrive not just survive.

Until next time, be safe and be well.