Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflections on 2017

2017 was an incredibly difficult, terrible, horrible, no-good year.  I say, good riddance.  In 2017 I:

  • Lost my mother to end-stage liver disease.
  • Lost a job I'd been at for twenty years, that I loved.
  • Was unemployed for several weeks, with all the uncertainty that brings.
  • Had a lot of general anxiety.
  • Spent an inordinate amount of money on keeping my health insurance going through COBRA.
  • Watched the country and the world go down the tubes in terms of politics [in my opinion].
  • Dredged up childhood fears of nuclear Armageddon thanks to the insane, narcissistic morons in charge of two major countries with weapons of mass destruction.
  • Watch what I thought was a great relationship (not mine) unravel due to addiction on the part of one spouse, despite all efforts of the other.
Some good things did work out for me in 2017:
  • I managed to ave for the new building or donate most of the professional medical library I worked in to India, including the journals. 
  • I was only unemployed for seven weeks, having been requested back at my old employer in a different capacity due to higher volumes to do contract work--no benefits, but it kept the lights on.
  • I moved in with a friend to share expenses, someone who I've known for 30 years, whom people have always said we should live together, which we've always resisted, and it's working out really well.
  • Moving forced me to put my therapy into practice and completely de-hoard my belongings.  Some are in storage.  Many were donated or discarded.  I wish I could have gotten everything to charities, but still, I donated a lot. I'm now basically living in a room with a bookcase bed with drawers, two nightstands, and the use of a cedar chest and closet, and I'm much happier to not be crushed under mounds of stuff accumulated over my (mostly) adult life.
  • I recently was hired by my old employer as a regular worker.  While it's for quite a bit less money than I had been making as a librarian, I have full-time work with benefits and was able to go back to regular health insurance, etc.  I like the people I work with, I'm still very invested in the work the non-profit does in caring for children with disabilities and musculoskeletal issues, and it's nice to still be around people I care about.  If the right library job came along, I'd certainly apply.  But right now, at least I'm working and doing okay.
  • Thanks to living with a great cook who makes healthy vegetarian food (as opposed to just bread and cheese, my mainstays), I've lost weight.
Things I hope will work out in 2018:
  • I'm learning to de-stress with my work responsibilities and handle the volumes and duties necessary.  I want to continue improving so that I don' t really feel overwhelmed like I did in the first few months I worked.  I'd like to get to a point where I don't just come home exhausted on big-volume days wondering why I am doing what I'm doing.  I want to do what I'm doing and loving it, or barring that, find a job that I love being there for.  That's one reason for the lack of blogging; I simply am too tired most nights, because I've given my all at work.  I think that's getting better, though.
  • I hope I can make changes to improve my health.  Watching my mother die of liver disease was very disturbing.  She smoked and had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise for most of her adult life, had the misfortune to have diabetes (our entire family on my maternal side is pretty much diabetic, pre-diabetic, or at risk for it) and COPD (much of that was from smoking, but her father and I both also had/have asthma and breathing issues, so there was already an underlying propensity).  When the only thing that could have saved her was a liver transplant, she was still smoking (or at  least vaping), wasn't exactly compliant with her choices, and pretty much ran out of time between those and her age, although she was only 69, which these days is fairly young to die, especially when your mother lived with diabetes into her nineties.  What I realised was that with the exception of smoking (which I have never done), a lot of her food issues and genetics were passed down to me.  We were both overweight, although she dieted regularly when I was young, and that scarred me a little, and I've resisted it partly for that reason.  But I could eat much more healthily and not emotionally.  The diabetes gene is there, but I could improve my illness through lifestyle changes such as eating well and moving more.  Her fatty liver and eventual non-alcoholic cirrhosis may have had a genetic component but is common in diabetics, but it too can be helped through wellness changes.  When she was my age, her main indicator of what would eventually kill her was a few liver enzyme lab results that were slightly off and had been for some time.  I've had that same issue for awhile.  You know what happens when you go into this syndrome?  For one, you're more likely to get liver cancer.  My mom did, and they did an ablation and the tumour got better, but her bloodflow through the liver was impeded, so then when that happens, your ammonia builds up (as well as other toxins) to the point where you get very confused (she once put a Bic lighter in the microwave thinking it was soup, and my stepfather managed to catch her before she hit it on), and you have pints of fluid on you that have to be drained by parencentis (think of a big needle drawing fluid out of your abdomen).  You have to take LOTS of a liquid laxative that is awful and deal with the inevitable consequences to keep the ammonia and fluid from building up.  It's horrible.  She was in and out of the hospital for weeks on end in the months before she died, often unable to speak or be understood, and when she was finally put into hospice, my step-father said it was a terrible way to go, that she was in a lot of pain.  So it was a blessing when it was over.  I am so glad my step-father was there every step of the way.  Whatever anyone can ever say about him, he was a very good husband, and I wish him all the best.  He dealt with my mom's illness, her death, the death of their dog, his mom's infirmities (the lady's in her 90s), and a whole bunch of drama related to his sons' addiction issues.  I so wish him a much better 2018, too.
Okay, I guess I'd better start working on those notes.  But first I'm going to have dinner.  Good night.

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