Monday, December 15, 2014

Contemplating My Future--Upcoming Pivotal Events!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my future. That seems odd for a 50-something year old mother to say, but it is true. What comes after the kids are all grown and gone? That isn't too far away now! What do I want to do when I "retire" from medicine? WHEN will I retire? What do I want my life to be like in retirement, and how much money do I need to put away to allow me that life?

For the past year or so I had planned to cut down to part time work after I turn 65 but continue to work at MedExpress until about 72 (financially that is the age I should be able to retire and live off my investments). I had considered working as a doctor for a cruise line between 65 and 72. That gig is usually 3 months on and 3 months off and I would be able to travel! The drawbacks are that, if you are on a small ship, you are the ONLY doc and work 24/7 so I would not be able to visit ports. On a bigger cruise ship I could, but I don't know if you can specify this--I'm sure nobody wants to be the sole doc! I bet everyone has to do a combination. Also, at 65+ it might be hard for me to be on call 24 hours a day! It is still a consideration, but I am looking into other options.

I have a good friend who does TeleMedicine. I am going to talk to him further about it over the Holidays. I'm not sure it is for me, but I am intrigued enough to find out more. This would be something I could even start doing NOW on a limited basis to increase those retirement coffers! This same friend is also a travel agent and this excites me even more! After I don't need to work full time to keep medical insurance, it would be awesome to combine my love of travel and my love of writing and start a travel blog! Being able to travel at a reduced rate AND write it off as a business expense would totally ROCK!

So there you have it. If any of you have any ideas I might be interested in, let me know! Travel, writing and medicine are all things I love and am good at. I would love to be able to do all three well into my senior years!

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Slow and Painful Good-bye

Back in 2010 Mom went into a nursing home because Tim could no longer care for her at home and she refused Home Health. At the time she went into the nursing home we were told she probably only had about 6 months to live. She stayed at Harmon House in Mount Pleasant until February 8, 2014! I remember the date because it was Seth's birthday.

I was at work on that day and got a call from Harmon House. Something had happened to Mom's leg when they tried to move her. They sent her to Frick (the nearby hospital) and they diagnosed a fractured left femur. They were not equipped to handle that there so they transferred her to UPMC Presbyterian. I immediately worried about a pathological fracture due to cancer.

Mom had bladder cancer years ago but never had a recurrence. Before she went into the nursing home she was diagnosed with a lung tumor. It was not in an area that could be biopsied without surgery and we knew she would have a difficult time having surgery. Also, she insisted she would NOT have radiation or chemotherapy. So we decided to let it go. That is why the doctors thought she would only live 6 months. She fooled us all!

I expressed my concern to the doctors at Presby about this being a pathological fracture. It did look that way on CAT scan. She had surgery to pin the femur and they took a biopsy. The tissue was rather difficult to pin down (very undifferentiated) but it DID turn out to be from the lung. A staging work up showed metastases in the liver and lymph nodes, but not the brain. Again, Mom declined any treatment. I wanted to put her on hospice at this time, but neither she nor my brother were ready.

After discussions with my brother and my aunt, we decided to move Mom to a nursing home closer to the kids and I so we could spend more time with her. We moved her to one in Greentree. I wanted to bring her to the one here in Moon which is right down the street from me, but they didn't have a bed. From February to June she was in and out of the hospital with fevers and UTIs and she eventually developed a UTI that was resistant to all antibiotics. She became septic. I spent as much time with her during that last week as I could and we finally put her on hospice. She went back to the nursing home one last time. I had just pulled into the parking lot to visit her when I got the call that she had died. I was just a few minutes too late.

I thought I was prepared for losing my Mom, but I wasn't ready. I can't believe or accept the fact that she is gone. Logically I know she is gone, but my heart doesn't want to believe it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Separating A Family

One of the more recent pivotal events in my life was the decision to end my second marriage. Things had not been going well for quite some time. I admit a lot of that was my resentment over being the only one supporting our family. That resentment became toxic and we grew worlds apart (that wasn't the only reason of course, and I won't run through a list of what went wrong, but that is much of it). It was very sad and painful to see that once great relationship die a slow death.

The writing was on the wall by the Fall of 2008. So much so that I actually borrowed $5000 to give him to move out and find a place of his own. He also finally started working to save up money to move. He didn't actually move out until April 2009 but things were quite cold between us during that time. There were a few good times (like some Pens and Steelers games), but we were definitely not living as married people.

The hardest part of him leaving (for me) was that Kendyl went with him. They were extremely close and she opted to live with him. She stayed with him for about 3 years, but eventually moved back with me. I missed her terribly during those years, though she did visit often. Thankfully, we are now closer than ever!

Moving from our house that we had built into an apartment was also hard. But I was a victim of the whole mortgage crisis thing. The loan I got was WAY to high in interest, and when the market values crashed, I was upside down. My earnings at the job I was at were not enough to keep paying all of the expenses and the mortgage. I lost the house. That is a big regret in my life. Because I worked so much, the house was in horrific condition. I didn't have the time or the money to fix things. It was one of the worst times of my life--losing the love of my life slowly over the years and the home we had built. I did not handle it well. At times I felt the kids would be better off with my insurance money than with me. I felt like a complete failure in every aspect of my life.

Most of my adult life I have taken antidepressants. Having a father who committed suicide and a mom who was chronically depressed, I felt I needed these. During that difficult time I started a second one to augment the first. I think it did its job too well and actually made me a little manic. I recognized this and quit the second one. After life had settled down I quit the first one too. I have been free of any of these meds for about 3 years now and feel fine without them. I am sad at times because I am lonely as the  kids get older and have lives of their own, but I hope I never get back to those dark days of 2009/2010.

That time was a huge collection of pivotal events--ending my marriage, my daughter moving with her dad, losing my house, considering suicide. Very sad and scary times. But I got through them, and I am stronger for my struggles.