This morning I had to shlep up to Newark (an hour drive- and very bad neighborhood), with my mom, to go get my psychiatric evaluation done. Luckily, we didn't hit any rush hour traffic, or get lost on the way. We even got a great parking space, and the facility was very wheel chair accessible. Despite hating getting up early, and the long drive, I'm grateful to Jeanne (the palliative care consultant I've been talking with, for several months now) for referring me to Dr. Shihabuddin. She is not only already affiliated with the VNA, but she also accepts Medicare and has experience working with hospice patients.
Our meeting went very well. She was very objective, and made me feel justified, and validated my reasons, for feeling the way I do. She said she would certainly declare me "mentally competent," which is crucial. That ensures my advanced directive, and DNR will be upheld, and respected, without contention. She also said she did not feel I was clinically depressed. She agreed with me, that my issues are issues of conviction, that they are directly related to my physical condition, and my personal standards for quality of living. It felt so good to hear those words. I just wanted to hug her! Thank you, God, someone who can see my situation, with unbiased eyes, and give me a logical, rational validation. I'm not crazy, nor depressed.
That said, she fully acknowledged the difficulties of my situation. She understands my exhaustion, and frustration, but also my deep care, concern, and worry for those closest to me; my mom especially. She and I discussed the medical implications, of refusing various levels of treatment, and she gave me several medical recommendations, in terms of my medication, and hospice care (if/when I need it). She also took the time, to include mom in the dialog, and explained her diagnostic evaluation to mom, stating that my issues are a matter principle, and influenced by physical suffering, not depression. She acknowledged how hard this all must be for mom, and explained that it was important I have this evaluation done, because no matter how badly I'm suffering, there will always be the concern, on the part of my doctors, that my family might try to fight my wishes, or sue after my demise. Mom said although it makes her terribly sad, to think about losing me, she would respect my choices. I already knew that, but I felt relieved after our meeting.
Emotionally, it was a rough morning, but productive, and necessary. I am at peace with my decision, to no longer wish to be hospitalized, or take antibiotics. I'm tired of fighting. I feel like if I get sick, my body will either fight it, or it won't. If I'm "meant" to live, I will, as long as I possibly can. Like I explained to my mom, and Dr. Shihabuddin, ideally I will get sick, and that will be out of my control. Whether to treat it, or not, is a mute point, for me. I rather not have to resort to refusing food/water, to hasten my own death, but if I get sick, I'm hopping on the train out of here. I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished, given my situation, and I'm tired of being sick. I feel like I've had one foot in the grave, for six years now. I've been cheating death, through medicine, and unnatural, painful treatments, for the sake of my loved ones, and at a terrible emotional and physical price. Dr. Shihabuddin recognized the fact (I'm grateful) that living for the sake of others, sacrificing my own happiness, and against my will, can not be sustained forever. When the time comes, that I can't bear this life another day, I'm ready to go.
After leaving Newark, I decided I wanted to go clothes shopping. I had thought about buying a few new things for the summer, the other night, but decided against it. Shopping for clothes online is tough, cause women's clothing sizes are so inconsistent. I have clothes in my wardrobe ranging from extra small, to large. Many times I end up having to send things back, and forth through the mail. I figured, since it was still early in the day, and I was feeling relatively comfortable, we might as well swing by "Mandee's" on the way home.
The store is a favorite of mine, and close by my old apartment. As usual, it was bittersweet, being in my old stomping grounds. I always feel a twinge of pain, rolling into a place, I once walked in. Before my accident, I was making good money, with minimal bills. I was definitely a bit of a shopaholic (no debt though), and clothes have always been a weakness. I used to hit Mandee's once every couple of months. I'd spend hours, trying on STACKS of outfits. I can remember walking back to the dressing rooms, my arms so full of clothes, I could barely cary it all. I loved dressing up, and buying new clothes.
My wardrobe is still pretty much busting at the seams (no pun intended), despite giving away bags, and bags full of my "pre-accident" clothes, that I can no longer wear (short skirts, shorts, bathing suits, short dresses, etc), or have no occasion to (business suits, cocktail dresses, clubbing clothes, etc). I've given away countless pairs of jeans, high heel shoes, skirts, you name it. Most of my wardrobe now, consists of easy to wear (and put on me) casual stuff, like baby doll tee shirts, and sweats, or stretch pants. I seldom go out, and have few occasions to dress up anymore. I pretty much dress the way I used to dress, to go the gym, with the rare exception to my trips outside. Even so, my draws are still over flowing, and my walk-in closet is packed.
Today was like I said, bittersweet, but also fun. No matter how awkward I might feel, being pushed around, not being able to easily access the whole store (clothing stores are always too crowded with racks, and hard to manuever in a wheelchair), or not being able to try clothes on, there is still that piece of me that enjoys it. We probably spent an hour, looking through racks of clothes, and I ended up with two new skirts, a pair of capris, six new shirts, and two new pairs of sandals. I'm officially ready for the summer; if I actually push myself to go out.
After shopping, mom and I stopped at Wendy's for lunch. I love fast food (although my stomach & hips might not agree), so it's always a welcomed treat. I try to choose small portions. It was yummy. All in all, it was a shaping up to have been a rare "good day." I don't get many of those anymore.
I should've known better, not to jinx myself. My good mood was shattered, a few hours ago, when my sister decided to open up today's mail. We had had a routine maintenance inspection, of our apartment, yesterday. Today we got a letter, citing us for a pet violation. Apparently, the complex (we live in a "luxury" apartment complex) has a "two pet" maximum, that we never realized. As it is, I have to pay $50 rent, per pet, per month. That's on top of the non-refundable $350 I had to initially shell out, for each of them.
When my ex-roommate Steve decided to move, and my backup roommate bailed out last minute, three years ago, my little sister came to my rescue, and moved in with me. She had already had a dog, Precious, from before my accident. I was more than happy, to have her join us. Shortly after they moved in, I adopted my cat Tommy. I honestly never realized there was any limit, especially given the fact that I am paying rent for them. I mean between the non-refundable fees, and monthly rent, I have more than covered for any damages they might create. The thing is, they're both well cared for, and neither of them is destructive.
When we got our second dog, Naama (mini-pin) I admittedly, didn't report her. Frankly speaking, because I'm on a fixed income, and was hoping not to have to pay another $50 per month. It has finally caught up with me, thanks to this recent inspection. I would've never adopted her, if I knew about the rule. However, now I'm totally attached to her. She's the closet thing I have to a kid. She's my baby, and I love her.
The complex sent us two conflicting letters, that have left me perplexed, and totally bummed out. One letters says, congratulations on your new dog, please register her on your lease, and that they will begin charging me, the $50 pet fee, on my upcoming statements. The other letter says, we're in violation, and must get rid of one of my pets. Naturally, I'm heartbroken.
I contacted my lawyer, to see if there were some way I could fight it, but he says they have the right to enforce it, if it's in my lease. So, I decided to resort to old fashioned begging. I wrote them a letter, admitting my error, and said I was sorry. I also explained the fact that I am quadriplegic, and practically bed bound. I told them the truth, that my pets are one of the few things that bring me joy, and comfort. I said that my animals were not destructive, and that I'd be more than willing to pay the extra fee. I pointed out the fact, that they have therapeutic value for me, and that I could ask my doctor to write something, to that effect. It is the absolute truth, that they improve my quality of life. I'm hoping and praying that whoever reads my letter, will be compassionate, and willing to make the exception.
So much for my "good" day. Now I'm going to be anxiously stressing out, until I receive their answer. If we do have to put one of the animals up for adoption, we've decided on Tommy. It makes me so sad, to think about losing him. He's such a good, unique, smart, funny cat. I really love him.
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