and then I have to add the caveat "so far!" because things could always get worse.
My mother has breast cancer. Not surprising since she is a senior citizen and there is a history in our family. She told me about the lump in her breast in March, she finally had a biopsy in November. Why did she wait so long for a diagnosis? Why wasn't she having regular mammograms (like everyone and their sister recommends)? Because my mother is a bit nuts, that's why. Because I think she's suffered from depression and rage issues for most of her life. Because she says that mammograms hurt and she doesn't trust allopathic doctors, and it seems like she would rather die than have chemotherapy. And what can I do about it? Fuck-all, really. Her clinician says that she respects my mother's choice not to have invasive surgery, but I don't. I have NO RESPECT AT ALL for my mother's choice to put her faith in homeopathy, postive imaging and a "healer." I feel that those options are a good adjunct to surgery and other therapies (why not try everything?), but not a replacement. If Chinese herbs and massage and visualization and nutrition and praying were a cure, then why would Western medicine have ever been necessary? Why did she ignore and minimize the problem just hoping that it would go away, that it wasn't cancer? She's always been a procrastinator, but why delay when your health is at stake? I am very, very pissed at my mother right now.
My mother-in-law has cancer. An aggressive form of skin cancer, discovered in October, not as serious as my mom, but she didn't delay in treating it, just went to the doctor, had a biopsy, and had part of her nose removed. So she gets to look like Rudolph the White-Nosed Reindeer for the holidays, but at least she dealt with it in a sane, rational, adult way, not by wishing and praying and ignoring the problem. I respect her deeply for that. She wants to stay around a little while longer to take care of my nephew.
My crack-whore sister-in-law was stabbed twice in the back by a john, collapsing one lung, puncturing her spleen and losing a lot of blood. Oddly enough, even though she is now spleen-less, this has been a good thing. She is now on medication to control her Hepatitis C, and since she is regularly tested, she's staying off the hard drugs. She's applied for government aid, and the john will most likely be paying her reparations for the attack. She's doing better than she has in years, and it only took a near-fatal assault to change her life.
My disabled husband's health continues to be a problem. The latest thing is that the vertebrae in his neck have degenerated to the point that he needs surgery, but the neurosurgeon can't do the operation until his T-score (bone density test) is higher. So there's two years of daily injections that he has to look forward to before he might be able to get the surgery to repair his fragile neck. And in the meantime, he needs to be very, very careful.
My uncle was released after seven years in prison. This could have been a good thing, except that he has had mental problems his whole life, and he's finding it difficult to function in the outside world. He was put away on an arson charge, which makes it difficult to find a place to live. He's in a psychiatric hospital right now because he can't control his drinking, won't take his medication, thinks that God has abandoned him and the Devil wants to roast him alive. He's had such a hard life, and things aren't going to be any easier for him any time soon.
I've been struggling. I used to be what my Mom calls a "blithe spirit," upbeat and sunny and easy to be around. I didn't worry much, wasn't angry and had faith in the future. Now I'm irritable and fretful, angry a lot of the time, stressed to the point of needing to see a therapist and considering medication as an option, because I feel like I need help. I hate being this way. I miss my bright, cheerful, happy self. I hope she comes back soon.
Those are the highlights. I know I'm downright lucky in comparision with other's lives, no one has died (yet), but as my dearest husband says, "you only know your own worst day" and this year has been pretty fucking bad. Can't wait for 2008. Merry Christmas!