A Long Long Year

2019 comes to a close in just a few days. It’s been a hell of a year–a winding, twisting rollercoaster, with more sharp twists and sudden drops than anticipated.

This year has been hard. For me, and for a lot of the people I care about. It’s been rough and I’ve been pretty quiet, because there is so much constantly going on in my head and I can’t seem to form any words.

I realized recently that it’s likely because I’m blocking out a lot of the truth, trying to sugarcoat it for the world–and myself. I don’t like feeling weak. I don’t like asking for help, either. Everything’s fine has been my motto for so long, I don’t even know how to admit when it’s not.

The anxiety and vulnerability I have been feeling scared me into the worst kind of silence. I couldn’t write, not about the things I wanted to write about. Nothing would come out. It was like turning a tap on, expecting water to rush out, and only a drip escapes.

When 2019 started, I had so many goals for my work. I had to drop out of a signing event I was looking forward to, and I cried a lot about that. We were told May for the boys’ surgeries, and I knew I couldn’t swing the hotel room costs. I considered attempting to play it by year and drive out the day of, but our vehicles wouldn’t safely make the trip.

Aside from writing the first draft of one book, I haven’t done much else. I haven’t been able to market or advertise my books because the money hasn’t been in the budget. I didn’t finish writing the ones I’d planned on writing this year, because I knew publishing wasn’t in the budget.

Not being able to do any of the things I set out to do was a hit on my mental health. I felt like a failure as an author and a writer.

There has been a lot going on, and I keep reminding myself that. Not only did we have three surgeries on the docket, but financially…it’s been a struggle.

At the end of spring, both of our cars took a shit and made their last trips to the scrap yard. Dear old Rustatron’s fenders were so badly rusted away, they’d begun to knock against the gas tank when on the highway. Obviously, that isn’t good, so she went first. The Vibe followed not long after, a host of problems rendering it far past worth fixing.

We had to get a working, reliable family vehicle that would see Matt to work every day and us to all of our many doctor appointments, and anywhere else we wanted to go, too.

The boys specialist is in London, roughly four hours west of us, and we have at least one checkup appointment a year there. With the surgeries, we had additional appointments we had to get to. Pre-admissions and bloodwork to ensure neither one of them inherited my platelet secretion deficiency (which they didn’t, thankfully), the surgeries themselves, and follow ups. It was a lot of driving to and from London.

Although we usually kick it with secondhand vehicles, we didn’t have any savings set aside for a new secondhand vehicle, and it was cheapest monthly for us to go with a new 2019 Ram classic. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles–no Bluetooth, no heated seats or any of that. But it’s safe, it’s warm, it NEVER breaks down on us (and comes with a 5 year powertrain warranty if it did). It comfortably transported my babies after their operations. They were so comfortable, neither one of them complained the long drive home from London.

But…those monthly payments took a chunk out of our already limited budget. It was one of those things we could afford to do, but barely. We’d feel it. All of our additional money–money I usually used on my marketing and books–is our truck payment. That had to be okay, because it meant Matt could get to work and we could get to appointments safely.

Matt has worked as a welder and labourer after going to school for welding. Because of my chronic pain bone disorder, I am on the Ontario Disability Support Program, in an attempt to help supplement our monthly income. For years, we’ve managed alright on this, paying our bills on time and having enough for what we need. I’m actually pretty great at budgeting, but saving money has always been an issue. I can only stretch things so far, and we always had to be careful, because ODSP is a month delayed. If Matt made more one month, it didn’t really count because we’d need it the next month when my ODSP reflected that paycheque.

When work was slow one month and picked up the next, we’d trip up. Worse, were any time unexpected expenses arose, because it’d take us months to recover. This last move, when we came here over a year ago, literally set us back years–and that was before having to get a new vehicle, too. Before we’d even really reached “okay again” status, but was a necessary evil that’s hard to regret. We don’t have to worry about the truck not starting when Matt needs to work, or a pulley flying off while on the DVP headed to a specialist appointment (yes, that happened once. Thanks Rustatron, ya old bastard). When we switched specialists and started taking the boys to see Dr. C in London, we started having to borrow the better vehicles of family members because we knew there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of either of our vehicles making that long drive there and back in one day. We no longer have to do that. But from June until, well, now, it’s been hard. Matt recently joined the union, though, so change is finally in the wind. 2019 might have beaten us bloody, but 2020 is the year we rise.

Speaking off appointments and hospitals…the surgeries. Something that occupied so much of my head space and time this year, and yet I couldn’t really speak about it. I agonized and worried nonstop for months about the boys surgeries, but turns out they’re total rockstars.

Nolan’s surgery was October 22, and Archer’s was October 29th. Both surgeries went very well, and the boys are feeling so much better now.

Nolan had exostoses removed from his right shoulder, left finger, and right femur. He was on crutches for the first week and a half, and kept them near by for a week after the immobilizer came off to help with balance. Archer had exostoses removed from his left ulna (requiring a cast for a week to help the incision heal), and one from the side of his lower knee. Both were quick to wake up post op, and both of them got to come home immediately. They pretty much were their stubborn, nonstop selves even laid up post-op.

They even made us take them trick or treating on Halloween–crutches, wheelchairs, immobilizers and all. It didn’t matter that it was pouring rain and cold, they had to go.

Their resilience and strength doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’m so proud of them, and so glad they’re feeling better.

There’s still some pain, of course…there will always be some pain, but Nolan mentioned immediately he felt a relief with the exostoses in his femur gone. There was no more pressure–something he said he felt constantly before. Archer, too, noticed an immediate relief in his left arm, and he started walking on his leg about forty-five minutes after waking up from surgery, and it scarcely caused him issues at all (until those pesky dissolvables started itching, that is).

My surgery was November 29th. The surgical team tried a different cocktail of meds, and I actually woke up alert and was able to start moving about fairly quickly. I was surprised to find that I could walk, that the exostoses removal from my pelvic bone hadn’t hindered that ability.

Another surprise? The fact that I had been walking around with a broken rib for a long ass time. Long enough for it to heal into a fracture. I suspect it happened when we went to the French River, when I was in our tent, putting my socks on. My rib got caught over the exostoses, and I felt a painful pop. I had to lean back on the air mattress, lift my arm over my head and work the rib back over the exostoses. It happened a few times after that, but never as bad. Anyway; because of the location of that particular exostoses, it prevented my rib from healing. With it gone, it should hopefully heal fully–although I may always have a bump there, but apparently everyone who breaks their ribs gets that. I didn’t realize how difficult breathing was until that exostoses was removed and the rib had begun to heal. It felt like I hadn’t taken a full breath in years.

As for my shoulder, they ended up removing not one but two exostoses. The one that was causing issues with my mobility, and one that was going to pop my shoulder blade out if left. They had to detach the muscles to get at the one, so I’ve been feeling that pretty bad. Right now, I have about the same amount of mobility as I had before, but I can feel that it’s just my stiff aching muscles keeping me from moving, not a growth.

Now, I’m determined to not walk away before publishing this post, warts and all. The best way to force my way out of this pit of silence is to let the words flow.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *