Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I once asked my grief counselor if people reach a point of no return in what they can handle, when it becomes too much to bear and they just can't go on. I'm not sure how she answered, I don't recall it now.

This bout of getting sick has pushed me under the water. I am struggling to get my footing and head back up above the waves. My physical symptoms are much improved but my emotional health is suffering. I feel as though I am drowning. It is like I am only going through the motions of life right now.

I should be thrilled with my new job but it is awful. Grueling and ugly. None of the CNAs are practicing the rules of safe hygiene we learned such as washing your hands after working with a resident. Some don't wash their hands or wear gloves. I've been told to forget everything I learned about being safe in my training. If I want to get my work done on time, I'll need to take shortcuts. In our orientation we were told that there are CNAs on staff for 10 plus years who do not want to help newcomers. One of the nice young women in training with me brought that topic back up with a vengence. "Why," she asked, "would employees be unwilling to lend a hand when there are times two people are needed to transport a resident?" The nursing superviser just kind of shrugged her shoulders and said some of the employees might feel threatened. The young woman replied that that was terrible as she shook her head disapprovingly. There are some residents who weigh 400 and 500 pounds, so obviously CNAs will need to work together.

On my second day of being on the floor shadowing an experienced CNA, the male CNA I was assigned to, a mature, middle-aged man working two jobs to support three sons in college, did not want me tagging along and pushed me onto a female co-worker. I guess he thought I'd slow him down.

The writing is on the wall. I felt it the first day. I need to get a job asap in my regular, professional field of social services. That is where I belong and where I best fit in. I rode up the elevator one day with a young woman from the social services dept. and I asked her if she'd mind telling me what her background/training was. She said she had worked her way up to her job but then refused to speak with me any further.

I'm glad I didn't return to work before feeling better. As it stands now, I'll give it my best shot. I will say the days go by quickly. But a number of the CNAs don't take their breaks or lunch, working longer than 8 hours straight through and I will not do that. It is not healthy and if these aides can't get their work loads done to allow for a legitimate 30-minute lunch, then something is really wrong with the system, not the aides. And I won't pay that kind of price for a $10.00 an hour job. I don't return to work until the weekend so I hope my health and spirit is restored by then.

Right now it just appears that there is no end to this hardship. Yes, I got a job but that means we'll lose the medical care we're getting from the state. Now I'll have to pay for it out of pocket again and that means half my salary will be going toward health insurance. My accountant charges $750.00 dollars to prepare a tax return for someone who has sold their home. I am hoping to make a payment arrangement with him in installments. Car insurance is due in mid-April for $600.00 because I put my oldest back on the policy since he needs to start driving again because I am at work. I still haven't paid the remaining payment due to my bankruptcy attorney but it appears filing is probably my only option at this point. I need to pay a $50.00 volleyball fee and get my son new volleyball shoes. He used a hot glue gun to reattach the sole on his shoe that had separated. And the little stick shift sedan I drive needs four new tires to the tune of $300.00. The broken futon my oldest sleeps on will cost $75.00 for the guy to come out and reassemble the bad parts.

The taxes, health insurance and car insurance are overwhelming me on top of my going back to work. Any one of them is enough of a worry. But all of them combined along with just the normal everyday stuff to get through - sports injuries, clothes to be washed, team uniforms to keep track of, making sure there is enough for the boys to eat... And then I'm just supposed to be positive, optimistic and grateful besides! I've reached my limit. The weight has become too much to bear. People can only hold up the burden so long before they begin to break.

Sometimes I have been criticized for bringing up the long litany of my hardships - husband died, son diagnoised with major heart ailment, parents needed help, got remarried, mother died, had to clean out parents' home, divorced, had to sell and relocate. But the reason I've brought that up is I guess to prove to myself that I've reached my personal limit. I don't have the reserves, the strength, the energy or even the hope anymore to keep going like this on my own. All that other stuff brought me down. I've never recovered or regained the energy needed to keep at it in full force. I'm depleted, just shuffling along. What is the point? IRS, go ahead and send me to jail. Creditors try to drain blood from a turnip. All I am is a defeated, tired and drained middle-aged mom who just wanted to be married and raise a happy family. And for the past six years valiantly struggled to be there for her dying Mom and her two young sons when no one else gave a damn about those two wounded souls.

What does someone like me do when you reach this point? I have no one to call, no where to go, no one to lean on during this particularly thorny period of prickles and thistles. I have to keep walking through Hell, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Yes, I've heard all that. I need to take a load off and there is no chair to sit in.

Update: I called H & R Block and am going in to meet with them tomorrow. They will prepare the filing and if it is too much I can take back my records and don't have to pay. They gave me a quote of $170.00 so I am going to try and see what happens there.


  1. I can certainly see why you are tired physically and emotionally and...I have no answers. Putting one foot in front of the other and ploughing on is really all that you can do and it becomes so completely exhausting. I had a fight with the IRS once because I filled a form out incorrectly...they threatened to take my house. I said, "Please do! This house is what is keeping me on the edge of bankruptcy.!" They didn't take the house and they did forgive me and didn't fine me, but...if they had taken the house, at least, I would have been out from under that burden. I couldn't get any help from the State because I owned a home--the very damn thing that took all my money.

    You need to get back into social work and what you were trained in--I hope you can.

  2. Oh my god. I just finished writing you this very long response to reading today's post, and I accidently delelted it! This is the type of this you mention, like I needed that to happen. There is so much on our plates, and we just want to catch a break now and then.

    I'm going to need to rethink this and come back later. Take care.


  3. I am so sorry for all your troubles. It sounds like you have the job from hell. I am shocked at the poor hygeine in--I guess it's a nursing home. I've often meant to ask why you have not gone back to your former profession in social services. It seems like a much better fit.
    I know you're feeling down and on top of everything else just recovering from an illness. I think being sick makes people feel depressed...or more depressed. Hopefully you will get back on your feet healthwise soon.
    I don't know what to say about the financial problems. They sound overwhelming. Can you get a loan to tide you over until you get a reasonable job? Is there any kind of agency that helps with financial problems, in addition to bankrupty filing? My heart aches for you. You have been through enough.

  4. Judy - I spent all my retirement on trying to save the house when the best thing would have been to let it go when my husband first died. But I didn't have a crystal ball and had so many other problems on my plate... And in the end, I lost the house anyway and am still paying the price (IRS back tax debt). It was so not worth all the effort, time, energy, heartache and money I put into it. Oh well, at least now I am out from under that white elephant! It is always nice to hear from you because I know you have been to some of the same places on this road of life. Thanks for caring to comment.

    Dan - You take care of you and yours and focus on your end right now. I know there is much going on and you are kind and generous to be thinking of others when your own plate is so full! I appreciate your support.

  5. Thelma - I went into the CNA program hoping it would get my foot into the door at a nursing home or LTC facility in the social services area. This was because I had trouble finding a full time social services job when the recession hit. I got offers for jobs but only part time or on call positions with no benefits. I am just going to have to bite the bullet and really get out there and go for a job in my field. It was my hope that the CNA job would tide me over while I was looking. I'm crossing my fingers that I can stick it out as long as I can. I didn't care for my cashier job at the big box store but that was an improvement over this in some ways. I'm pretty sure that all the cashiers washed their hands regularly and used hand sanitizer besides! Thanks for your care and concern. It means a lot right now. And I do need to keep in mind that my being sick isn't helping my mood or stamina much.

  6. i don't know what to say. i honestly don't. i just think of you and wish someone would ride in and make it all go away for you. just take care of you so you don't have to face anything anymore. i am so sorry life is so terrible. i wish things were better, different, improved for all of us, but especially for you since you are literally breaking apart. i wish i had a magic wand to give to you. you need it more than i.

  7. wNs - Thank you for your kindness. I was never a career orientated woman. I just wanted to be a homemaker and mom doing some part-time work to help make the world a better place. I'm not a good organizer or financial wiz - I'm scatter brained and always did better as part of a half or team. That is why my husband's death has been such a tragedy. There are some of us out here that don't get stronger because we're forced to live on our own - we really do break apart. We were not meant to go it alone and our getting scolded because we're not trying hard enough or handling things better or being ungrateful doesn't motivate us.

    It is just becoming too hard to keep treading water and stay afloat. At this point I can't even vision ever getting ahead and even my dreams of finding a love again seem hopeless. I will be a ship lost at sea drifting into the sunset, just drifting during those periods I'm not being slapped around by storms...

  8. I just got back in town from going to MA to see my father, who is dying. It took me a while but I think I am caught up to date on what's been going on. My goodness girlfriend, it's been a rough couple weeks!! I am glad you are feeling better physically and I totally understand the emotional. I can't seem to get my feet under me since I've been back myself.
    I guess we just keep pushing forward, venting when we can and praying that things get better. I do NOT like that this is all we can do. I want to wave a magic wand and make it all go away. I do not want to deal with another death. It is already bringing up wayyy to many feelings that I'd rather not face.
    Even in the land of 'sunshine' it has been the winter from hell and I am over it. I want true sunshine for all of us. Jobs where needed, real ones, not the ones you take because you have to, financial respite from the never ending pressures of the past and emotional peace. A soft place to land.
    I may be unrealistic but I have to keep hoping that these things will happen for us. Thoughts become things right?

  9. Kelly - I have been thinking of you and hoping all was going okay on your end. I was just about to email you to check in so am glad you are back but of course, sympathetic about what your are going through. From one who has been through multiple deaths close together be warned that it will take a toll on you. DO NOT let anyone try to talk you out of your emotions or think that there is something wrong with you. For me, the death of my Mom was horrific three years after my husband died. I think people have this crazy idea that we are stronger because we have already faced a huge loss. But surprise, surprise - I think that makes us even more vulnerable to future loss.

    My sons and I cannot enter a hospital without being hit with waves of emotion even six years after my husband's death. Of course you are going to be facing feelings (old and new) with this current situation and your father. Please let me know what is going on and if you need to vent. I'll continue to be on your side as you've always been for me.

  10. Thank you so much for the support. Once again our lives are paralleling each other as it's been 3 years since Joe died. I think the part for me that is the hardest is watching the other family members around me and knowing what they are going through now and exactly what they will be feeling very soon, as if I had a crystal ball. I can't stop if from happening and I wish I could spare them what is to come. For many of them it will be their first foray into the death of a close person.
    Of course, I am having flashbacks. I know it's only going to get worse. I am trying to steel myself for what is to come with little success. I have tried really hard this week to get back into my own routine and have not been very successful. I am writing myself a list of things I want to accomplish around the house this weekend in hopes that if I can get the house in order then next week work will also fall back into place. Wish me luck, I think I'm gonna need it.

    How are things with you? Are you done with the training on the new job? It sucks that the adult facilities have become what they are. I am sure there are some good ones but they are probably the exception instead of the rule. When did we, as a society, allow our elderly to become disposable? It saddens me.

    Has your weather up there warmed up yet? Any signs of Spring? It is not getting out of the 60's again today down here. I can't wait for Spring to do it's thing and warm us up. When I was in MA the crocuses were just beginning to pop out. I miss the spring bulbs.

  11. Kelly - You are sounding good and strong despite all that is going on. For what it is worth, when my Mom died, family members spoke to me saying that now they finally had some understanding what it had been like for me to lose my husband. This was their first experience with death and they were finally getting it.

    Just do what you can with the house and your routines. Maybe there are some weeks that are best spent nurturing our souls and spirits, e.g., forget the routines so much and pamper yourself with some movies, reading, glass of wine, nice dinner, etc.

    Because I got so sick in the middle of my training, I have three days of it left (this weekend). I just pray I can hang in there and do this job without quitting in disgust before I find another one! I won't even touch the subject of long term care facilities and our elderly. Those topics could take a couple posts and I think we both need to relax a little and not get into all of that right now - we have enough on our plates without adding more that upsets us!

    It is in the 60s here but we're supposed to have snow all weekend. But that is okay. I do believe the hard, long winter is behind all of us now!

  12. You are so right, relaxation is the order of the day. That is going to be my goal this weekend.
    As far as my family 'getting it', I fear that they will be so self centered that they will lose sight of the fact that I have gone through this long before it was ever on their radar. It has always been about them. I, on the other hand, will be as supporting as I can be. I will acknowledge their pain without reminding them that they did not do this for me.
    So glad you are getting a glimpse of Spring. Even if it does snow at least you have the comfort of knowing it won't stay around long. Somehow that makes it better. When I was in MA it rained 7 inches in 3 days. While I am used to that kind of water in FL they were completely panicked. Trees came down and the rivers are over their banks. I got some great pictures of the rivers and waterfalls prior to the rains, I can only imagine what it looks like now.
    Keep searching my friend, the right job is out there just waiting for you!!! In the meantime do your best, it's all you can do.

  13. Kelly - You are so good a woman to be there for your family when they were not able to be there for you in your real time of need. I think that is what our losses ends up doing - making us better people because we've learned such painful lessons.

    I continue to struggle with family issues because my siblings refuse to acknowledge what has happened to the boys and I (divorce, losing house, financial hardship). I have not spoken to my sister since Thanksgiving and do not really want to be with them on Easter. Why should I sit and share a meal with my closest blood relations, who pretend my life is fine and rosy and cannot offer one sentence of support or sympathy? So you see, I admire you for your ability to be there for your family members and not let bitterness get in the way of your actions. Good for you, I don't think I am there yet. And I may never be.

  14. I have always 'done the right thing' because I believe in karma, what goes around comes around. It's my karma and therefore I do the right thing even when I don't particularly want to at the time. I have found that when I am done, *I* feel good and that's really what it's about. My own family will learn in due time that they will ultimately be accountable for their own actions or lack there of.

    I have also tried really hard to hand pick the kind of family I would want via friends. That has not always worked out but I feel I must continue to try because not trying would mean being utterly alone and that is not acceptable either.

    While there are times I may feel alone I do know that there are people out there that care. I think my aloneness is often self imposed. I may get invited to go over someone's house and decline because I feel out of place, the 3rd wheel if you will. I also know that there are probably people I could reach out to and don't because I know they have their own families and lives and I don't want to impose.

    Widowhood has brought on all sorts of social challenges that I never would have dreamed of prior to Joe's death. As if the emotional challenges weren't enough, lol. Gotta keep plugging along though, not because I want to but because I know I have to and it's what is best for me.

  15. Kelly - You are right. I'm trying to hang in there for the same reasons - I have to and it is what will be best for me. Thanks for your great way of putting it all into such clarity and perspective.