Notes from the Road, #16

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[Content Note: Today’s post deals with a difficult topic, specifically long-term care and end-of-life issues. If you need to give this post a miss for whatever reason, definitely do so. It’s difficult for anyone, and more so when it hits close to home.]

The weather’s finally warming up consistently, and it’s raining outside as I walk home from the hospital. The noise from the start of the neighborhood event starts out distant, but gets louder as I make my way down the street and to the sidewalk when I get to the place where it starts.

Visiting hours were almost over, and it was dinnertime, so I took that as my cue to head back. We met with the social worker and a CNA from the home health and hospice agency that’s gonna be working with us.

As the rain beat down on my umbrella in the warm spring air, the message finally sunk in: my family member isn’t coming out of this. The doctor we’ve been dealing with during this hospital stay said that the overall trend is another year to two years. There are indeed outliers, and I hope to the universe that my family member is one of them.

I’m gonna ramp it up and do my best to put the odds of that happening for them in their favor. Like I said, we’re a team. They’ve already hit the 5 year survival rate for the lung cancer they had chemo and radiation for.

That was caught purely by happenstance with a diagnosis of pneumonia, and caught in the early stage before it spread. Limited stage, to be exact. The statistics that were widely known at the time are grim af, however, there has been more research done in the years it’s been since their diagnosis and treatment.

From what I’ve read, very few people are diagnosed that early on in the game, and those that are, it’s typically due to another issue, and the doctors catch it then.

They were outliers for the diagnosis nearly 5 years ago, and I want them to be outliers again.

I don’t wanna lose them. Sure, there are times where they made mistakes (some really dumb ones, btw), times where they’ve been a colossal pain in the butt, and times where we haven’t seen eye to eye, but who hasn’t when it comes to family?

We had the talk about finances, and while I can’t support myself entirely on my own right now with the work being so sporadic at my day job, I do have most of my student loans paid off. I’m down to about $5,000, and that’s both the federal and private loans combined as of the date of this posting.

I’ve been going without in order to knock down the private loans ever since the CARES Act put the federal loans on hold until September. After what they’ve caused me over a case of mistaken identity, I want as little to do with them as possible as I move toward completely washing my hands of them.

No other debt, I made sure of that when I made the decision to be done with credit cards once and for all after a long, difficult summer of unemployment among my family back in college.

That, I paid off while I was still in college. The joy and satisfaction I felt when I called up the credit card company after I sent off that last payment to them to close my account with them was off the charts.

Sure, they tried to negotiate with me to try and win me back as a customer, promising this, that, and the next. But it didn’t matter. I was done with them, once and for all, and I haven’t looked back.

Nor will I. They aren’t the be-all, end-all of building a credit history anyway.

But back to my family. I had known (and feared) for years that this time would come, as far back as high school when they had a breathing crisis that landed them in the E.R (or Accident and Emergency for you international readers).

There were more hospital visits and E.R. sojourns in the years that followed. I was already unable to attend my college graduation ceremony, and in a freakish turn of events, they needed to go to the E.R due to another crisis that same morning.

Looking back, I believe the combination of their condition forcing them into retirement and the pandemic sent them on their downward spiral. They mentioned something in passing to one of the nurses working with them that told me all I needed to know in order to confirm it.

For a little while, I was angry with them. I wished they hadn’t been so stubborn, and I wished they hadn’t trivialized it and rationalized it away over the years.

But then I realized that their addiction went way beyond just being stubborn. Their addiction was just that: an addiction, and a difficult one to crack at that. They didn’t know this would be the road their teenage coping mechanism would take them on.

Who thinks that far ahead as a teenager anyway? I didn’t, at least not on a level I could’ve comprehended or had the wisdom to assign to it.

That anger gave way to sadness and compassion, and became my catalyst to slam the pedal to the metal in my day job, as well as a couple other ventures I’ve recently started exploring. I have a set goal in mind, and my plan is to have multiple income streams as an extra layer of security.

I wanna be able to tell my family member, hey, it’s all good. We’re gonna be ok, and we’ll take it from here.


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