Saturday, December 25, 2004

2004: A Wild Ride

Have you ever been to Disneyland?

By today's standards, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride ranked as a pleasant roller coaster ride for the kiddies. But when you're young, all that you can remember is being jerked around a steel roller coaster track inside a darkened building. It was terrifyingly fun with lots of sharp corners, unexpected turns and belly-lurching drops. It promised moments of impending disaster at every corner.

Although this ride was shutdown and replaced in the late 90' has somehow reincarnated itself here...with me...and embedded itself into my life this year.

As proof, here is a glimpse into my often unexpected and frequently frightening year of 2004:

The Good:
Reaching out to my parents. Helping them move into an assisted care facility 5 miles from my home helped extinguish years of anger and resentment that boiled deep within my belly. My heart breaks to see their pain from growing old. Now, all I feel is compassion...the anger is g-o-n-e.

Inviting mom to live with us. It gave me an intimate glimpse into her pain from liver disease. Impatience and harshness have melted into love and concern.

My husband is an amazing man. He took mom to her doctor appointments, sat with her in the hospital emergency room many times, made midnight runs to the pharmacy, purchased Depends, and accompanied us on field trips (to get her out of the house). In many ways, this year fortified my marriage.

Work went well. I won several Kudo's for reorganizing the team and building two strong sales/customer service functions. Several systems across the country are now using us as the model. I also had the highest score on a management assessment. (Tied for 1st place with another colleague.) And I hit my numbers in 10 out of 12 months.

The Bad:
Plans to adopt were delayed so we could take care of my parents and complete an add-on.

My sister Denise had seriously low levels of iron and had a hysterectomy.

My sister Ann had surgery to remove an ovary and a separate mass on her fallopian tube was discovered. The biopsy confirmed it was pre-cancer, so she had a second surgery 2 months later for a full hysterectomy.

Three months after that, Ann fell and broke her femur. She now has a steel rod in her thigh that runs from her knee to her hip.

Ann was also hospitalized two other times when she lapsed into a deep diabetic coma. After five visits to the hospital this year, she now has exhausted her savings to pay off all of the bills. My blind, diabetic sister has nothing to fall back on.

Our plans to remodel and expand our house 500 square feet were cancelled. The financial pressure was too much for me...with my husband going 4 months without earning any income. This now means that we won't be able to adopt two babies unless we move.

My parents love their new home and have begged us to not move.

Dad insists on driving, at the ripe old age of 80. He can't walk, he can't hear, and he can't see. Nonetheless, the stellar State of California saw fit to renew his license 6 months ago.

Meanwhile, I rearended an older man who stopped in the middle of an intersection after taking off from a stop sign. I was turned to see oncoming traffic and didn't see that he stopped cold in front of me. My fault, minor damage.

Last week I was rearended myself by a 16 year old who was chatting on his cell phone. The neck still hurts and I'm slated to start physical therapy.

The Ugly:
Dad suffered a heart attack and can barely walk. He'll be transitioned into a wheelchair very soon.

My nephew was diagnosed with autism.

We discovered that my sister Ann has lied all year about seeing her diabetes doctor. Despite the hospitalizations and comas. All the while, Ann assured my other sister that she was going at least twice a month. The doctor confirmed this week that he hasn't seen or talked to Ann since April.

I was investigated for a charge of harassment by an employee who I was performance managing. The employee felt I was acting unfairly by monitoring his "field time." Turns out, he was going home everyday at 3pm to work another job. The investigation deemed the charges against me "unfounded."

My husband's business tanked.

The blood was overwhelming. It puddled on my floors, squirted onto the cabinets and began anew with every bandage replacement. If I never see blood again it will be too soon.

One of my supervisors turned out to be the Poster Child for passive-aggressive behavior. She threatened her direct reports to never report problems or complaints to me or the director...all while she habitually met with the VP to complain that my management style was squelching her "creative abilities. " Forget about the fact that she consistently missed her numbers. I was a Monster because I micro-managed her (we met weekly), edited her writing (it was poorly done and grammatically wrong) and made too many stringent rules (reps should be in the field by 9am). Oy vey.

I kept a lot of my anguish and discontent locked inside and gained weight.

The Future:
I had intended to be eloquent when writing this post but am somehow left feeling Mentally Vacant. If I was a negative person, I would say that this has been a rather shi**y year. Instead, I happen to think that my family is incredibly blessed to have survived so many issues.

A friend tells me that the lesson of 2004 is that I am stronger than I ever imagined. Perhaps. And perhaps this all may have merely been a preparation of What's To Come in 2005.

Another Wild Ride? We'll have to wait and see, I guess.

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