Stroke Victim at 49

26 November 2010

When is enough?

I am trying so desperately to find the spirit of the holiday season. I was to feel that there is hope or even a future for me. I checked the balance of my checking account and realized that there is enough for rent next month and that is it. My unemployment deposit doesn't come in until a week after rent is due. So between now and December 8th there is nothing. Words cannot even to begin to describe the despair in my very soul. I have never felt as much isolation and hopelessness as I do now. I really have no idea what I am going to do. I have been applying for jobs all over the city from cashier to maid. I have completely given up hope of ever using my education or certification again. I am truly at a place where I have nothing. I was always the positive one for others. Tried to let things slide off my back. A few set-backs never crushed me. But how do I not feel that way now? I was really doing good at the beginning of the year. I had some money saved for a down payment on a condo, a bank pre-approved mortgage, a small savings set aside for my sons education, student loans paid off every month for the past 6 years, and a job that I loved. I have never been well off but life was, for the first time, not a struggle.

This year has brought me a loss of my husbands job, my husband leaving me for a brief time, my sons onset of bipolar manic episodes, a loss of my job, and now total financial ruin. It is not even the type of ruin where you can find a small place and live modestly. It is complete ruin. Close to living on the streets ruin. I really don't know what to do. I have talked to my family and when I was asked by an uncle to let him know if there was anything he could do I begged him to get my husband a job at his company. My uncle is kind of high up at the company. His response was, just have him go to the website. Not, give me his resume and I'll talk to a few people. I went to the website and there is nothing my husband is qualified to do.

I am really at a loss. I keep trying to think that it can't get any worse, but then another punch in the stomach happens. I'm still trying to sell off all of my possessions on e-bay but it costs money to even post them. I haven't sold off enough of my things to even make a dent. I just want all of this to end. I really can't take anymore. I am beyond having hope for better things to come.

15 November 2010

Christmas and Father

In Chicago we have a radio station that plays nothing but Christmas songs during the holiday season. It is always my favorite time of year. This year they started playing the Christmas music on the 11th of November. I cannot tell you how much that is a big boost to my sorrow. I longed for Christmas growing up. Every Christmas commercial or the old mash-ups they did with television shows singing carols would send me to tears with an aching heart. It wasn't about presents or "getting stuff" it was about the one thing that I felt was missing, family closeness and love. I didn't celebrate my first Christmas until I was 16 years old. 

The magic of childhood Christmas was not mine to have along with so many things. There are so many little things that people take for granted that mean the world to others. The two things that can really make my heart ache and bring on the tears, to this day, are Christmas movies and of all things, the movie "What a Girl Wants". I know it is a kid movie and there is a lot of silliness, but the theme of the film haunts me. The one thing this girl wants is to dance with her father, the father she has never known. When she meets her father she is an outsider in his life and not wanted by most of those around him. Of course in the end she gets what she has always dreamed of, a dance with her father. That is how I have always felt. The difference is, I am 41 and there is no dance in my future. 

When I met my father for the first time 11 years ago I was happy beyond words. I was so much him. He had a family with 3 daughters. I was like a distant cousin. My father was so important to me. I knew that I could never have childhood memories with him, bedtime stories, Christmas mornings, and feeling protected by Daddy. Nor could I have the adult milestone moments with him, the birth of my son or having my father give me away at my wedding, those were already completed before we met. But the two things I longed for I was to be denied. At his youngest daughters wedding I physically had to leave the "hall" as he had the father daughter dance. My heart hurt so badly. It was the only dance my father and I never offered one. 

The second thing was my graduating University. I worked so hard to finish my education degree. I called and spoke with my step-mother and told her how important it was for me to have my father there. She told me he could not travel that distance with his back. I said I understood, but then they began driving to Florida in the winter which is ever farther than the trip to Chicago. My place was solidified.
It is a difficult thing to come to terms with. A battle I still fight to this day, being second place or an afterthought. I always knew I was an afterthought in my mother's life. In fact, in most peoples lives. It just hurts when it happens when you are older. You are suppose to be stronger and built up an un-scalable wall.

My Christmas wish is to feel as if I matter, feel secure, have a home I can go to when my world is crashing down as it is now, to know that I am loved by some form of family. All I feel is the futility of existence. The only one keeping me together is my son. Who all too soon will not need me as he heads to college next year. It would not even be a blip on the radar in anyone's life if I were gone.

10 November 2010

And I have to go to food pantries?

Member of state Prisoner Review Board on sick leave for 17 months

Roger Walker (George Thompson, Chicago Tribune / November 9, 2010)
A former state prison director has worked just one day in the 17 months since he was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to a little-known but important state board that decides if inmates should be paroled, according to documents and interviews.

Roger Walker Jr. attended a half-day orientation but has been absent from every meeting of the full Illinois Prisoner Review Board except for one session about three weeks after his appointment in June 2009, records show.

He hasn't attended a single additional hearing or work session at a prison or the board offices in Springfield.
"I'm on sick leave," said Walker, who indicated he has heart, lung and stomach problems and needs the job for the health insurance. "So what's the deal? … These bills and stuff are just astronomical."

The governor's office said it was aware Walker had medical issues when he was appointed to the $85,886-a-year position, but officials did not believe his health would keep him from performing the work. State law allows the governor to remove a member of the Prisoner Review Board for neglect of duty or inability to serve, among other reasons, but Quinn has taken no action against Walker.

According to current board officials, Jorges Montes, while still chairman of the review board, told the governor's office about Walker's absences, hoping officials would find a solution to the problem. Montes declined to comment for this story.

Walker, who headed the Illinois Department of Corrections for six years before his appointment to the review board, said he had intended to fulfill his responsibilities when he took the job. But he confirmed in a telephone interview that he has been sick much of the time since his appointment and has not been able to do any work with the board. Walker said he spent several months last year at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and "almost died a few times."

The 15 members who make up the Prisoner Review Board share a range of responsibilities. They meet about once a month, sometimes twice, in either Chicago or Springfield to consider whether to release prisoners who received indeterminate sentences for violent crimes in the 1970s and earlier.

The board also meets to consider cases of people seeking clemency from the governor.

Members, working in panels of three, also travel to prisons across the state to hear parole violation cases as well as to set conditions of parole for the more than 25,000 inmates released each year. Those panels also hear disciplinary cases against inmates and decide whether to take away credits for good conduct.

The state considers it a full-time job, but board members said some weeks involve only three or four days of work — including travel time to prisons — depending on the caseload.

Still, the board's other 14 members have had to pick up the slack because of Walker's lengthy absences.

"The board needs someone who can put in the time and effort. If someone is physically unable to do the job, you have to let them go," said David Morrison, the deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a not-for-profit backing government transparency. "The private sector deals with that all the time. You have to do what's for the good of the organization."

Walker's absences "undermine the board's critical work" in protecting public safety, said John Maki, coordinating director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group in Chicago.

Adam Monreal, the board's chairman, said the board was trying to "figure out the best solution to the situation."

In a statement, Quinn's office said Walker's "life-threatening" health issues date to his appointment and the board has tried to find "solutions to accommodate" Walker. The governor's office said it was investigating "options to appropriately address Mr. Walker's situation while continuing to maintain the integrity of the review board's processes."

Alejandro Caffarelli, an attorney who specializes in employment law, said Walker would have little recourse if Quinn removed him from the board because as a political appointee he doesn't have the legal protections that a civil service employee would.

"There's no law that says you can't terminate someone because they don't show up for work," he said.

Current and former board members said they initially were pleased by Walker's appointment to the board, noting that his law enforcement and corrections experience would be helpful. Walker had once been sheriff of a county downstate. But his absences, they said, have shifted more work to them. They are frustrated, too, that the Quinn administration has failed to deal with the matter.

"It's not fair to be a burden on taxpayers when you're not doing anything," said one current member, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the Quinn administration and losing his appointment. "We're being stretched real thin down here. I understand that he's sick, but the system tolerates it."

09 November 2010

Bell's Palsy and the Blues

Friday evening my husbands smile seemed a little slanted to the left side. It was very minor and we did not worry about it. By Saturday his whole left side was drooping. He could not blink or close his left eye too well. His speech became difficult as only half of his mouth was moving. We were very worried. He had a scheduled visit for Wednesday to see his Doctor. A wonderful man who is charging us very little until we have insurance again. I called his Doctor and told him about what was going on. The Doctor told me to get him to the hospital right away. He had me do a few tests over the phone and the Doctor felt it was Bell's Palsy but my husband still needed to see a Doctor immediately. Our Doctor told us to go to Cook County even though we live, literally 2 blocks from the hospital we see our Doctor at. He even told me if we went to the hospital by the house it could cost us thousands.

We went to Cook County Hospital where they confirmed Bell's Palsy. My poor husband who has always been the take charge man was letting me take care of him and get him to the hospital and be the take charge of the situation. The Bell's Palsy (which I will describe below) will now leave his face paralyzed for 3-6 months. Our hopes of continued job hunting are now up in smoke. My husband can barely speak. There is no way we can have him go to interviews. 

Yesterday I had to take him to the eye Doctor because of the incredible pain in his eye due to the paralysis. That was $75 for the visit and the Doctor was kind enough to give us samples rather than writing a prescription. He told my husband that his Bell's Palsy was pretty severe. 

No money, no means of looking for a job and now my Doctor called me and left a message on Friday saying that she has some test results from me that were very concerning. My last test were taken in June before I lost my insurance. I remember getting blood drawn and not seeing the Doctor again because I could not afford the visit. I am so beyond tired. There is just a constant barrage of insanity dumped on me. I seriously do not know how much more I can stand. I cannot call until tomorrow for my Doctor. She does not have office hours on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I am still unemployed, have no resources and a family that I have told my situation to but seem to have more pressing things to worry about. I understand my aunt who is going through cancer treatment  and her family are pre-occupied. But I have 10 aunts and uncles and not one has offered to help me or check in on me. I am really on my way to an early grave.

Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to the facial nerves. The facial nerve-also called the 7th cranial nerve-travels through a narrow, bony canal (called the Fallopian canal) in the skull, beneath the ear, to the muscles on each side of the face. For most of its journey, the nerve is encased in this bony shell.

Each facial nerve directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control eye blinking and closing, and facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. Additionally, the facial nerve carries nerve impulses to the lacrimal or tear glands, the saliva glands, and the muscles of a small bone in the middle of the ear called the stapes. The facial nerve also transmits taste sensations from the tongue.
When Bell's palsy occurs, the function of the facial nerve is disrupted, causing an interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles. This interruption results in facial weakness or paralysis.

Bell's palsy is named for Sir Charles Bell, a 19th century Scottish surgeon who was the first to describe the condition. The disorder, which is not related to stroke, is the most common cause of facial paralysis. Generally, Bell's palsy affects only one of the paired facial nerves and one side of the face, however, in rare cases, it can affect both sides.

Symptoms of Bell's palsy can vary from person to person and range in severity from mild weakness to total paralysis.  These symptoms may include twitching, weakness, or paralysis on one or rarely both sides of the face.  Other symptoms may include drooping of the eyelid and corner of the mouth, drooling, dryness of the eye or mouth, impairment of taste, and excessive tearing in one eye. Most often these symptoms, which usually begin suddenly and reach their peak within 48 hours, lead to significant facial distortion.
Other symptoms may include pain or discomfort around the jaw and behind the ear, ringing in one or both ears, headache, loss of taste, hypersensitivity to sound on the affected side, impaired speech, dizziness, and difficulty eating or drinking.

Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis. Exactly what causes this damage, however, is unknown.

Many scientists believe that viral infections such as the virus the causes cold sore virus -- herpes simplex -- can cause the disorder. They believe that the facial nerve swells and becomes inflamed in reaction to the infection, causing pressure within the Fallopian canal and leading to ischemia (the restriction of blood and oxygen to the nerve cells).  In some mild cases (where recovery is rapid), there is damage only to the myelin sheath of the nerve.  The myelin sheath is the fatty covering-which acts as an insulator-on nerve fibers in the brain.

The disorder has also been associated with influenza or a flu-like illness, headaches, chronic middle ear infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, sarcoidosis, tumors, Lyme disease, and trauma such as skull fracture or facial injury.
The prognosis for individuals with Bell's palsy is generally very good.  The extent of nerve damage determines the extent of recovery.  Improvement is gradual and recovery times vary.  With or without treatment, most individuals begin to get better within 2 weeks after the initial onset of symptoms and most recover completely, returning to normal function within 3 to 6 months.  For some, however, the symptoms may last longer.  In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear.  In rare cases, the disorder may recur, either on the same or the opposite side of the face.

06 November 2010

My Starry Eyes

 I was driving this morning and had  XRT on the radio. I laughed with joy as this song was played. I hadn't thought of or heard this song in almost 20 years! One thing is for sure, The Records, should have had more of a success here then they did. The song Starry Eyes is simplistically, complicatedly, wonderful. Thanks for the flashback of youth guys!

I tried linking the video from youtube, it was being difficult. Sorry. The premiere of the song took place in a shop window and was filmed. Before the MTV days or videos. It was great to see the crowd gathering for this oddity.
Starry Eyes-By The Records

While you were off in France, we were stranded in the British Isles.

Left to fall apart amongst your passports and your files.

We never asked for miracles, but they were our concern.

Did you really think we'd sit it out and wait for your return?

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.

Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?

I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.

Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!

While you were on the beach, were you dreaming all about your share?

Planning to invest it all to cover wear and tear?

We paid for all the phone calls. The money's off the shelf.

Don't you know that while you're gone away, I've got to help myself?

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.

Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?

I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.

Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!

While you were in the pool, we were meeting with the boys upstairs,

Talking to the money men, and carrying out affairs.

We had no time for cocktails, or working up a tan.

The boys have all been spoken to. The writ has hit the fan.

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.

Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?

I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.

Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

03 November 2010

Amend the Illinois Constitution for what again?

On my 18th Birthday I did three things:

Celebrate my Birthday
Get a tattoo
Register to vote

All three things on the list were forbidden to me growing up. Though I feel a sense of exhilaration for those three acts, done over 20 years ago, my most profound was registering to vote. I find it unbelievable that in a country like the USA so few people actually exercise this right. I was speaking to my son last night about voting yesterday and he informed me that on his 18th Birthday in a few months he will be registering to vote and getting a tattoo. I have always tried to instill a sense of social and civil responsibility in him. When I see what is happening to our country it makes me weep.

While I was voting yesterday there was a ballot initiative to vote on amending the Illinois Constitution. I had to reread the question twice. The question asked if we should amend the Constitution to have a Governor removed by special election. What a complete waste of taxpayers money. Of course the initiative was passed at about 70%. Just because you don't like a Governor or they are of the opposing party affiliation as you, you can now vote them out of office? That is silly. What do you do when you don't like an ELECTED Governor? Suck it up, wait out the four year term, and vote them out of office. This is now going to turn it into a circus sideshow. I just don't understand what happened to patience and dealing with something you do not like. Democrats in Illinois had Republican Governors for 24+ years in a row until Rod Blagovitch was elected. I am sure Democrats were not happy, but they sucked it up. Just like Republicans had to suck up having President Bill Clinton in office for 8 years. Guess what? Both Democrats and Republicans survived their own "ordeals". Life went on. Why now, do we need to have special elections? After only 4 years? I just don't get it.