Over the past fifteen months, I’ve done some serious growing up. My life has been pretty easy, so a lot of lessons like wisdom in trusting the right people, and that things don’t always turn out rosy, which some people learn relatively young, have come late, but oh, so very fast. I really want to write about all of those things, since they are kinda cool, but first, I have to dump some junk out there, so that it all makes sense.
So, here goes.
Last year was just horrid. Coming from the girl who survived cancer, multiple surgeries, and her house burning down, that’s saying something. I think it was harder than cancer and my entire house being able to fit into a cardboard box. Those were huge and traumatic events and it made sense to be angry for a while, mourn the losses, and deal with building a new normal. But, last year was different. It seemed like every morning, someone handed me another tiny yapping dog with intenstinal woes and told me that I had to fix it.
If you are wondering how bad it could have been, let me fill you in.
To start things off, we had a sociopath of a renter living in our house in California beginning in May of 2010. I have never in my entire life been so verbally abused by anyone. She accused me of lying, cheating, stealing, threatened me with continual lawsuits, lied about work that needed to be done in the house and after she stiffed us on two months rent, kicked in our beautiful front window on her way out.
It was a few months before we found another renter and paying the mortgage on an empty house left us in pretty bad debt for the first time in our lives. I truly understand now why money ruins lives and I am SO thankful that Greg and I have never once fought about money. We argue about who is going to put the dog out in the middle of the night, yes, but money, never.
When our trip to California for the 2010 holidays arrived, I was so excited to get away from the crazy for a while. We hired a housesitter, took off to sunny California for a much needed break. I think my strep throat broke out before the plane hit the runway and Greg got stomach flu #1.
Our Christmas really kicked into high gear when we got the call from our housesitter that our house had been broken into. All of our electronics were gone as were some very precious items, including my most of my swords from the martial art I had been studying for three years. They also got into our bank account and seriously messed up our finances for a while, even though we did get all the money back eventually.
Two weeks later, after sorting through the insurance mess, we had to go away again, this time to Vegas for a conference. I really didn’t want to go, but thought that it was probably a good time to relax and shake off what seemed to be an already cruddy 2011. Since we believed that the break-in had been a random act, the same housesitter came back. We weren’t in Vegas 12 hours before I got the call that our house had been hit again and our truck had been stolen. This time, we knew she had been involved and the loss of that trust and the deception broke my heart.
In the middle of that trip, which ended back in California, Jake got seriously ill and Greg got stomach flu #2. Greg felt awful and Jake threw up around the clock for two days, lost 4 pounds, at which point he and I ended up in a county hospital. County hospitals really are as bad as they are made out to be. Jake got rehydrated, but was never seen by a doctor, and despite families of 12 crowding me out of our little room, Greg wasn’t allowed back to help me out during our 6 hour stay. I have never been so scared for Jake in his short little life. He was totally devoid of personality, his eyes were sunken in, his belly extended out, and he was completely limp. If we could get him to sit up at all, he would cry hoarsely until he fell over and then he whimpered himself back to sleep. The rehydration helped only a little and the next day, we packed our bags and headed back to Colorado. It helped only a little that our truck had been recovered, damaged beyond recognition, but fixable.
I was so thankful to get home, but walking into our burglarized house was so hard. I discovered that my flute was gone along with all of my jewelry including my wedding ring, which was off my finger until we could afford to replace a diamond, as well as my great-grandmother’s locket with my grandmother passed on to me on my wedding day.
Somewhere at the end of January, a few hours into a super-fun trip to Denver, I realized that my cranky, tired self was incubating an ovarian cyst that burst on the floor of the women’s bathroom of the Cheesecake Factory. But, hey, I got my first ambulance ride and my first CAT-scan. The technicians thought I was nuts because I was all excited to get the CAT-scan checed off my “done” list of medicine. There are times when I am so very thankful for a warped sense of humor.
I spent three months arguing with our insurance company and praying that some of our stuff would be returned, the bandits caught, justice done. I found out that insurance companies are really helpful until it is time for them to give you money, and justice is rarely served. We got one set of movies returned, the guy who compromised our bank account got community service, and the mastermind behind the whole thing still walks free. It took three months for us to get a partial payment and over eight for any action to be taken against our bandits.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be at home. I was paranoid about doors and windows being locked and I routinely hid all of my electronics when we left the house. I continue to find my iPod and my Kindle in the oddest places!
While all that was going on, I found out that our taxes had been irrevocably screwed up for not one year, but three years and the IRS believed that we owe over $10,000. (We don’t actually owe that much, they just bill us for the most amount we could possibly owe and then require payments until THEY get their butts in gear and get it figured out.) We discovered that our state taxes were also a mess and that California, while being known as the way relaxed state, is not in fact, relaxed about their money. Twice they emptied out both of our bank accounts, leaving us with no money to live on until the next payday. The second time, I knew they were wrong, so I made them give it back, but not until I got really nasty, which I hate, hate, hate to do.
As if all this isn’t enough, the most consistent tough thing for our family has been discovering that Jake has Sensory Processing Disorder as well as Hypotonia. We’ve been in at least one therapy session a week for the last year and while we are making significant progress, it’s been rough.
To add to our financial struggles, in June, I got an unexpected bill for almost $4,000 for Jake’s therapy. I tried to fight it, but discovered that even though an insurance agent told me we wouldn’t owe anything for his therapy, the insurance agency didn’t care. We are faithfully making payments to get that taken care of.
While I’ve been struggling through all of this, my chronic pain hasn’t let up. I typically go through anywhere between 2 and 6 very painful episodes a month, varying from limping around to flat out disappearing for a few days.
2011 was also lonelier than all get out. I made two or three groups of friends, only for them to inexplicably fade away. It got bad enough that I had to make an appointment with a very sweet friend from church who reassured me I hadn’t become too weird to be around.
In October, my grandma passed away. She had been struggling for a while, but the last decline was very fast. And, as prepared as we all tried to be, it hurt more than I thought it ever could to lose her.
When she died, I think everything just…broke. At least for a while. I think that if the rest of the year hadn’t been so gross already, I would have done better with it all. It was just the final straw. My heart felt a bit like a grandfather clock when it’s pendulum doesn’t swing right. It kept working, just badly.
On New Years Eve, I drank a beer at 10:00 p.m. and went to bed early, thankful that the year was over!
Before I dump all that on you and run, I need to honestly say that we are doing so much better! I have worked through a lot of this junk, and the lessons learned have been rough but valuable.
And, if you aren’t totally grossed out about the above, check back in a few days for the rest of the story, which deserves its own 1600 word essay. It does get better. I promise!