A Turning Point

I have decided to get a lawyer to hold the insurance company vipers accountable. This decision made me weirdly happy the other day. Why would starting a whole new pain in my ass make me happy? I had to think about that one for a while.

It’s because it’s about me. This is what I’ve been waiting for. For years. I’ve been saying, “It sure will be nice when my life is actually about me.” Now it is.

I can’t work until the insurance company starts to reimburse me. That means getting a lawyer is my job for the foreseeable future. I have a purpose.

I noticed that it became easier in my mind to do this when I framed it in a context of fighting for the rights of other caregivers. Part of me is so caretaking that I can’t seem to do this just for my own benefit. Caretaking is truly a perspective and not just a lifestyle. It infiltrates everything. That bugs me. I feel like I need to learn to be more genuinely selfish.

My view is that, right now, my life is 80% Barry, 20% me. When I get a job, maybe it will be 50/50. Gradually, it will be 80/20 in my favor. Eventually, Barry will die and things really will be all about me. Horrible but true.

Things take time. The tricky part is not truly knowing how much time you actually have to do something. We make assumptions because we have to. We cannot function without a certain bedrock of assumptions. What’s hard is to admit is that that is all they are: assumptions. Reality is change and impermanence. Timing is the issue and mystery.

But the shift has occurred. Past tense. And I am happy about it.


Can’t Escape the Urgency

I need to be ready to come out swinging.

First, about Barry. Everyone I talk to is telling me how much more quickly Barry seems to be going downhill. I heard it from Lynn, my friend with a cat. She saw Barry with me at the Biggby’s (a local chain of cafés) a couple weeks ago after not having seen him since probably January. Then there’s Lori from the AA clubhouse, who maybe works there two or three times a year. And then there’s my parents, whom I saw at the family get-together this past week. They could hardly believe how much Barry had gone downhill from last fall (when we actually lived with them for almost a week during plumbing hell) till they got back from Florida in April.

I fight myself on the Barry’s-health issue. I am pretty sure I can see him go downhill a little at a time, but I see him every single day. I am always wondering if I am just imagining things. I need fresh eyes to tell me what they see more objectively.

And I am seeing things now. I am watching the lump on his neck grow. And yesterday, his right ear did not look quite right. First, it looked red, and then slightly blue. I need to observe this more closely. But the goal is never treatment, only pain-relief if it hurts.

I’ve been functioning on the basis that Barry could live another couple of years, spending a final chunk of it in a hospital and/or a nursing home. And now I am not so sure. I also feel like his internal clock is shutting off. For the past few years, he has always awakened at 6am, with his alarm set at 6:45. How he would wake at 5:58 or 5:59 (I would look at my clock when I noticed him get out of bed) was amazing to me. How on earth did he do that? Well, he’s not doing it so much now. The alarm got him out of bed at least once this past week and he’s been getting out of bed later than 6 regularly. So… something is happening.

And then there’s the insurance company vipers. I had a twenty-day elimination period, which ended on May 29th. And they are fighting me on that. They are saying that the Brightstar people had not faxed in the care notes. I do not believe that for one second. So I had them fax them in again. Bottom line: they have yet to reimburse me for one penny of my Brightstar expenses and I cannot continue to afford to pay out-of-pocket forever. I am going to a lawyer for a referral for a “bad faith insurance” attorney.

I cannot work if I cannot get reimbursed for Barry’s care. Period. There is no job I am qualified for right now that will pay me the $20/hour I am paying Brightstar. I’ve gone to great lengths to get qualified to work. What the insurance company has yet to understand is that they messed with the wrong chick. I am not some high-school-dropout, 80-year-old housewife. I am almost 50, with an MBA. Most people are too busy to deal with the insurance company. Not me. I have zero life until they start paying up. I have nothing better to do and all day to do it. I have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain by fighting them. I am not wondering if I should contact an attorney. I have actual physical proof they have lied to me in the past. Legally, I have what is called a “slam dunk.” I have documented my phone calls with them. I know when I called, what they said, etc. I have no reason to believe Brightstar is lying to me.

So, Monday or Tuesday, I will call the insurance company to see if they have received the care notes. If not, they are simply making my case. I am going Tuesday to a lawyer that told me that I should contact him for a referral if the insurance company continued acting in bad faith. I’m not doing this just for me. I am advocating for all caregivers that insurance companies are screwing with. I will be able to show others how to beat these vultures at their own game.

I keep having dreams and intuitions that something significant will happen this fall. I do not know what, but this autumn will be huge. I feel a pressing need to prepare now.

Don’t Waste Your Life

This past Monday, the lady whose house we have the Blessing at told us that this upcoming Monday will be the last time she hosts. At the end of the month, she is moving back to California to be near her daughters and grandchildren. Who can blame her? I know I would do the same in her position.

It affected me more than I thought it would. It felt like one of my few supports was being yanked out from under me. I feel like everything I need is evaporating and changing before my very eyes. Meanwhile, I plod along being a caretaker forever, not experiencing change in the only area that would actually help me. Everything changes except what I most desperately need to be changed.

It just ups the urgency factor. I am determined to use every available moment to prepare for my next job. I will definitely have no excuse for not being prepared, given the sheer amount of free time on my hands. My life is over half over and I feel like I have wasted most of it doing things that “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Talk about famous last words.

I want to tell young girls: Do what you want while you are still young and healthy enough to do it. Will you screw up? Definitely, but the ultimate mistake is to be the good, obedient girl who doesn’t realize that life is passing her by until it is too late. Your fears are simply programming to make sure that you act in other people’s best interest. When I first got into Al-Anon, I heard a great quote. “If your family is crazy and you have their approval, what does that say?” Amen.

One More Step Done

Friday, I finally had my neuro-psych eval. Ugh.

It was hard and tedious. Listen to three words, do some things, and what were those words? The psychiatrist seemed highly expert and clearly wanted to get it over with. He flipped the pictures very quickly. The solo part was a fill-in-the-bubble. I was able to do 338 T/F questions in about ½ hour. Some of it was checking me to see how tin-foil-hat I am. Questions like, “People are following me,” and, “People are reading my mind,” are entertaining. Don’t get me wrong. I believe there are people with psychic abilities who can read minds. I am not one of them and, even if I were, I would seek someone more interesting than myself to read. Someone really might be reading my mind right now and I can’t imagine caring any less about it. Imagine someone with their eyes closed hard, their fingers on their temples, saying, “I see she is thinking about…a cat. A gray one. Definitely a gray cat.”

I think, in general, he was impressed with me. I was there early, paid close attention, and was all business. He seemed particularly pleased with my language comprehension. This may be where being a tad Asperger-y pays off. He referred to the guy from Michigan Rehabilitative Services. I bet he called him as soon as he was done with his part. We finished the part requiring him in a little more than 3 hours, which I think must have been really good (because I was told to give 4-5 hours for the whole thing and I was completely finished after 3:45 time-wise). He seemed happy.

I hope this helps MRS to find something for me. If nothing else, I proved that I am good at test-taking, which, of course, I already knew.

I just want to get on with the next phase of my life.

Could Undoing be my Purpose?

I was thinking about my family the other day and thought that maybe part of my function might be to, at the very least, not contribute to the dysfunctional crap and maybe even to undo some of the insanity.

Then it hit me: I think that is what I am trying to do in every area. There is a biblical proverb: “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” Meditation’s purpose is to observe the mind and to learn how not to react to it. Self-control is that time gap between having a feeling and acting on it. Every time I meditate, I am un-training myself. Buddhism is the deliberate undoing of all forms of religious thinking. It is ultimately subversive. Buddhism doesn’t say, “Think this, not that.” Buddhism says, “That opinion is just a thought. You will have another one in a second. So?”

I have spent many years learning about systems thinking and corporate culture. In times of great change, like what we are living in now, those who eventually win are the ones that know what people want and can guide their fellow humans into creating new habits. That means undoing old habits. Most people are creatures of habit and, if you can get someone into the habit of using your product, you now have a market base. But all  of this means undoing people’s old habits, often so slowly that they don’t realize they are being retrained at all.

I think my gift is one of asking questions. Why are you doing this? Why do you believe that? Is this really a risk worth taking? Have you thought about how others will respond? Most people operate on automatic pilot and have never thought of these questions. Sometimes, I really piss people off by my questions because I will push them until they say something out loud they didn’t want to say. “You just have to take it on faith!” means that they just lost the argument. Facts and reason are not on their side and so they assert faith instead of logic. Another good one is, “Because that’s how I was raised!” because it translates into,”This is what my mommy and daddy told me, therefore it is true.” This is why I don’t get along with religious “authority figures”: independent thought is anathema to them. I don’t take their pronouncements seriously without fact-checking them first. I am submitted to logic, reason, and science, not their self-professed “authority.”

I am subversive and looking for a job. I’m not sure that’s a great combination. I do not blend into corporate culture because I see through it. I understand the techniques and goals. But if what you want is someone that can give a fresh reality-based perspective or get you to see what it is you really want, I’m the one for you. I am going to have to find a place that is all for independent thinking and not mind control. That’s all there is to it.

Trapped for the Better

In the past couple couple days, I have been updating my resume and work history. These are things I have not done since 2012. I never thought I would go to all the trouble of getting an MBA and then doing nothing with it for five years. I simply assumed I would be working and updating everything regularly. Silly me.

The shame comes from not having contact with my professional references for years. Cindy who? Being Asperger-y, I have little felt need for social contact. It just doesn’t occur to me to keep up my social contacts. There have been times when, looking back, I have realized that someone was probably deliberately snubbing me and I either did not notice or was just so relieved to have that person out of my life that I was incapable of taking offense. So-and-so doesn’t like me? Phew. That means I don’t have to worry about them getting all up in my business. I am not always the most socially aware person.

While contemplating updating these things (for my time with Michigan Rehabilitative Services), it felt familiar. What I had done was to give myself absolutely nothing else to do. I used to do this all the time at school. I would have a paper I extremely did not want to do and I would go to the library, where I could play solitaire on the computer until I nearly lost my mind until I finally got bored enough to do what I was there to do in the first place. If I stayed at home, I would do laundry or the gazillion other things always needing doing. I had to give myself no choices. At all. How do you graduate college? One freakin’ paper at a time.

This is why I had to sell the house. I could not take care of Barry and the house and hope to prepare for a future without him. The house was sucking up my time and energy. It had to go. So now we are in an apartment that requires a minimum of upkeep. There is just nothing to do. Barry sits and watches TV. All day. Every day.

Now I have an abundance of books to read, some of them given to me by my New-Age-y friends. I should not have to purchase any books for a while on Amazon. Not having a list of books to buy from Amazon is alien to me. I need nothing now, except some more office attire, which I am building one piece at a time.

Soooo…… I need nothing and have nothing to do. This keeps me focused on doing what needs to be done. I have almost no distractions. I designed things this way. Because I know myself.

Breakthrough But Wary

Of course, this came from reading a book. It is The  Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts. The book is from the early 1970s. Little of it is new to me. But this is what I read that struck me so greatly, “When you abruptly change your beliefs, then in the group you no longer have the same position—you are not playing that game any longer….The status quo which served a certain purpose is gone, new elements are introduced, another creative process begins….You are setting out to experience the most fulfilled reality that you can.” (Pages 76-77) This is not brain surgery.

What hit me was this: I’ve done this before. I did it in my late teens and early twenties. I remember it so clearly. I remember how painful it was to have my life not working on any level. My beliefs and attitudes were simply not working. At all. It was bad. So I went to therapy, just like my family had always said I needed to do. I was dating Barry, who was in AA and so I was in Al-Anon. I remember the first time, as a young adult, that I disagreed with my dad. I was now living by new more functional beliefs and values. I was so confused. I thought my dad would be proud of me. I was actually saying and doing things that worked. What a concept. I scratched my head for a few days before I figured it out: I was rejecting my parents’ values. If I had been forty, it would have been very different. To reject my dysfunctional values was to reject my entire upbringing. Of course, my dad was offended.

The last time I went through this process, I pretty much lost my family. I walked away. My brothers were doing drugs. I was tired of feeling manipulated and never being taken seriously (which, by the way, has never changed). It has been very hard to lose my family of origin. However, I do not regret it in the slightest. Things were chaos back then and the last thing on earth I needed was to be in the middle of the fan-hitting. I had been wrongly blamed in the past for creating arguments and the only way to highlight my not-being-at-fault was to be far, far away when everyone was going crazy. Getting myself out of the middle of that drama was the wisest thing I have ever done.

But the price was very high. Of course, I don’t want to do this all over again. Duh.

However, I have no choice. I am starting my life over and preparing for Barry’s death. This is not pretty. Barry’s dad died at the age of 68 and Barry turns 66 in September. The odds of him living that long are slim, but, then again, I didn’t think he would live this long.

Part of me is excited and relieved, all at the same time. I think I was treating this upcoming phase as something brand spanking new. So many dots got connected simultaneously. For some reason, I feel far less afraid. Yes, I am starting over, but I am doing it with thirty years of additional education and experience under my belt. I’ve dealt with a gazillion emotional issues and am no longer having my emotional ass kicked by my unmet childhood needs in various religious settings.

My hesitance comes from that underlying question, “What (or who) will I have to lose this time?” But I feel a lot less afraid now.