Late last 2020 – I had finally reconnected with one of the few friends who had not dumped me in the proverbial friendship garbage pile during the time when I was so ill, fighting for my life (I have spoken about this before but, in short, I lost just about every friend that I had when I had to leave Pittsburgh and come back to live with my parents because I literally could not function on my own; they stopped answering my calls and texts; they invited every friend in our “groups” except for me to their local weddings, knowing I was here; they blocked me completely). I was really happy because I really wanted to reconnect and so there was a period of time in which we were texting and forth fairly regularly. And then the texts started to form a strange pattern … although it was fine for me to be texted at 6 or 7AM straight through the day and into the night every weekday, on weekends, I would hear absolutely nothing, even when I tried to say “hi” or “what are you doing this weekend?” I was also in a period where I began realizing I had to set boundaries on just about everything because so many people have just trampled over me (I could write a book just on that one!) and some of the few friends I had managed to keep were trampling the boundaries I needed to put up because of PTSD and being triggered terribly. So, in all fairness – and something I would say to other people without even thinking about it – I asked “do you text other people during the weekends? haha” and it was really that simple and it was really that lighthearted in intention (of course, everyone will believe what he or she wants to believe and I have talked many times here about intention, but if you know me well, you will know that I can be honest to a fault as well as being someone who tries to tone down “tense” situations with sarcasm and humor). Well, that basically threw me into the “I HATE YOU” part of the friendship dump … and to this day I do not understand and it still hurts me. I was basically told that I am not his wife or mother and I have no right to “tell him what to do” and this went on and on and on and nothing I said could have stopped this rampage against me. I have no intention of being anyone’s mother EVER (in fact, if you’ve read this blog in the past or simply spoken with me, you will know very well that the idea of being a person’s significant other just because I am like the other person’s mother is absolutely appalling to me and if there is any one thing I have stuck with it is the belief that I NEVER want to be the cause of anyone’s future resentment – which basically means I will not play “mother” and tell you what you can and cannot do and what you like and don’t like and what you will and won’t do, &c., because doing these things to someone you claim to love is setting that person up to have large weights hanging over your head … and I don’t want that for me or for anyone I love!). Furthermore, I am not yet in a place in my life where I want to be anyone’s “wife” (I have gone through my phases, but right now I just have too much to do to worry about dating … if it happens, it happens!); and the words being put in my mouth and the intention being put in my mind externally made me extraordinarily confused – not only because I try very hard not to do this to others but because I will come out and say something if it is something I ever intended to say. This was simple. But even saying that it was a “simple question” basically cost me one of the few friends I had left.
So I will pose a question here for anyone who is reading this – please leave me a comment if you have ever LOST a friend over something like this. Do you think this is, in any way, an inappropriate question for someone I once dated and stayed friends with through thick and thin for about two decades? What strange nuances that I’m not picking up could be implied from saying this? Again, please remember that on weekdays, even if I was not yet awake, I would be bombarded with texts all day … and at that point I didn’t mind because I thought we were putting a better foundation on our friendship and building that back up … but to be texted by anyone all day for 5 days of the week and then to be ignored for 2 feels kind of crappy. It actually feels really crappy. It makes you feel like you’re just being used when it’s convenient … and I don’t like to be treated in that way nor would I like to treat others that way. Perhaps if I had been told during the week that the weekend would be too busy to be able to talk, things would have been different. But the fact of the matter was absolute radio silence on the weekends, without any forewarning.
January – February 2021 – car door was blown into leg when a strong wind caught the door, knocking the corner right into my knee and breaking it (compound simple fracture, thankfully, because it was extraordinarily painful and to this day I still cannot use my knee very well and you can see the difference when I wear tights or shorts, etc.; the fracture looked like a large “L” that went down through my patella and then came out just near the bottom in a ledge-like shape); my meniscus was also torn and I had very severe bone contusions along the three other “long bones” in my leg, raising my already sky high probability of getting a blood clot. Technically, this was called a “closed sleeved fracture of left patella.”
same time – trying to get my first Covid shot; this was its own part-time job every day; finally I had a kind neighbor (I don’t have many) who told me to try the Department of Health in the city … and eventually I had luck; I was in a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk because of my mangled leg (I was using crutches as well as the “knee brace,” aka the “leg torture device” at home) but the venue didn’t have any real wheelchair-friendly means of entering, and I took a couple of dumps when my dad tried to get me inside – I was very sick after this first shot.
*I am just publishing as I go; I will have to come back in and sketch out the middle parts where I have omitted information; please do not “assume” I have had any significant “down time” here … which has resulted in one of the worst nervous breakdowns I have ever had.*
March, 2021 – My birthday month. Plagued by a terrible flu. And yet another breakdown of friendships based on my setting “boundaries.” The last friend I ever had from years past who was also a long-time off/on boyfriend (that’s a very long story as well), had always been around for me; there are so many versions of events that have been twisted by this person in order to appease both his family and his wife’s family (such as the idea of “true love,” which I find … questionable, at best, being that this person wanted very much to be in a relationship with ME, which is also ironic in that I told him to date the girl he thought was “kinda cute….” while we were on opposite sides of the country but still together … that “kinda cute” girl eventually married him – taking him for all he had except perhaps sperm – and is now referred to as “beautiful,” which, no offense, she is not, nor was in the interested party’s initial response to her; I very much believe this “wife” knows very little about this guy’s history, especially the part about him being engaged at least 3 times that I can remember before meeting this “girl” in college). At any rate, we had met back when I was about 16 and he was about 18 during a student exchange with the UK and Ireland where we met and continued over several years with him flying back and forth to PA and my going to see him, on the west coast. He was himself then; he knew what he wanted, and although he had some geeky tendencies, we had so much fun in everything we did. All of that aside, when he started seeing this current “wife” and then when I started seeing other people, we kept talking very regularly. I would get a call at a very early hour of the morning most weekends when he was driving home, where he wanted to stay, just to keep him awake during the drive. After I became so sick, we remained friends – the only person I have ever dated long-term who actually kept in contact with me. So what happened? He and my sister started doing things with their respective “significant others” without even thinking of me. After so much time and so much thought on all of it, after an anniversary or birthday of some kind, he gave his “wife” a necklace of the map where they had first met. But MY story, the story of me actually giving him the space to date other people, has been completely deleted from the story … and him being in touch with my sister and her then-fiance as well as several of her friends which he and his friends have NEVER met, brought me to a point of disgust. This was only enhanced when I was told his basic veterinarian wife (again, he paid her college and grad tuition, moved where she wanted him to by her family, which was NEVER what he wanted, &c.,) was deemed a “medical professional” after which he, having joined an overtly sketchy health insurance company that basically took advantage of those of us with severe chronic disease, also deemed himself a “healthcare professional.” Now all of this started from a joke I made about the necklace and it not “being the whole story” on top of a totally misunderstood message I had sent to the initial writer of the text, on Facebook, but being assumed to be me attacking THEM, which, again, if you know me at all, I just don’t do, sent me into trauma and hysterical panic. I started making snarky remarks and he tried to message me and to call in his old voice trying to talk to me … while totally disregarding the border I had set that when I said he was triggering me, he needed to stop … which didn’t happen. So I likely lost the best friend I have ever managed to hold on to because I set a boundary that had to be upheld if I wanted not to jump in front of a bus … and even that ONE thing I asked for couldn’t be accepted, and he trampled on that boundary time and again until I had to block his phone and texts. Again, I ask, if you blatantly express what your border is, when someone is crossing it, examples of that happening, and then basically begging for that border NOT to be trampled all over, do you think it’s okay to have a relationship with that person? I had SO MUCH going on at this time including JUST getting off steroids for about 3 months that I just couldn’t take it. And so here I seem to have lost the only friends I had the longest and loved the most because I just needed to set borders to keep me from going mental in PTSD land. I don’t think many people will argue that it has nothing to do with what the border is if crossing it without regard to the person setting it meant KNOWINGLY triggering some of my worst traumas and making that first and foremost in my head. It’s not okay to me … but I would love to know if you feel differently. And, again, I am just balling my eyes out and weeping because this is not fair; again, I don’t think I did anything “wrong” to merit being treated as less-than-human, and this set me over the proverbial edge for a very long time … obviously through the present, since it still breaks my heart.
March – May – a very long and excruciatingly painful period of bone and meniscus healing (the bone contusion lasted very long after this) and a very long and brutal round of physical therapy, 2-3 times a week for 3 months. Trust me here as well – you do not want to break your knee in any way!!! You also don’t want to break or otherwise harm the long bones in your legs because the risk of throwing a “fat embolus” is INCREDIBLY HIGH with these types of fractures.
Father’s Day weekend – After moving to a new area with very few friends (most of those around me are or were very old and the others are largely just awful – that will be explained as I go along here!), I did start to make some friends during my daily walks – it was difficult to do with a broken knee and otherwise mangled knee that couldn’t be moved for months, but as soon as I could adjust the angles on that torture device, you bet I was out and walking! There was one couple I met; a man, who I saw frequently and often took short walks with (we had a lot of similar history in medical problems and other areas), his long-time partner who was a breast cancer survivor with a double mastectomy (in lymphedema sleeves on both arms; that is one of the first things I noticed with her because I also have lymphedema … which is another post entirely!), and their schnauzer. At first, I didn’t recognize this friendly neighbor was talking to me … I would hear a faint “HELLO!” and look around cautiously, fearing a creep was onto me … and after several weeks of hearing “HELLO!” yelled to me in the approximate area I was walking, I found the source and we became friends.
That weekend his daughter came to visit for Father’s Day. That weekend he posted – as he often did for many charities – a fundraiser for a Suicide Prevention number and resources. And two days later, I was walking through and I saw the dog walking about with no one with him. This was very unusual (this dog is a really really good dog; he doesn’t need a leash because he listens without question to his owners and will not come jump up on any person he doesn’t know; however, although he was often not on a leash, he was always with at least one of the aforementioned couple, or a friend or a relative of theirs) … so I kept my eye on him to make sure he was okay; someone opened the door of their house and he went back inside. I resumed my walk … and only later, after I came back (I believe I had an appointment), I saw several police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks right at the front of their home. I swear the entire neighborhood (on that side) was standing outside to make sure my friend and theirs was okay … but he was not.
Later that day, I saw my friend being taken out of the back garage in a body bag. He had taken a gun to his head in the garage. If you have never seen a friend being taken out in a body bag … and I have far too many friends who have died because of foolish reasons … I cannot really explain what it feels like … I can tell you now that it makes me weep and shake like crazy, perhaps because I once tried to take my life (which is another several posts, I’m sure), and I just know from just being here now that there is nothing darker that I personally know … and given the things I have experienced in the past, that is saying something immense. But his family had no clue, I had no clue, no one on the street knew … before he came out, I asked some of the neighbors if he was okay and the only responses I got were vague, like “****** hurt himself … I hope he’s okay.” But I think we all knew. I didn’t know; his partner, now living alone after a year no one on earth should ever have to live, only knew that he had been acting a little bit distant for the few weeks preceding this, which was not something I had picked up on. I am still trying to process this one because it’s so much more than I can write right now … and it’s yet another trauma that has accumulated on what seems to be an infinitely high pile of anathema I can never actually hope to dig through and hope to find the good in.
No one should ever have to see their friend taken away in a body bag after just talking to him pleasantly the day before. No one.
September 7 – After my first Covid-19 booster, done about 2 weeks before, I was up the previous night with what felt like non-stop panic attacks. When I got up and tried to take a walk, I felt so dizzy and fuzzy-headed I very much felt unsafe being outside, so I went back inside and got an electrolyte-heavy drink and tried just to relax … but my heart started beating faster and faster and faster. I grabbed my Pulseox and my heart rate would not drop below 180bmp. I weighed my options – during this time of the pandemic, there were no “good” options – so I made an appointment at an urgent care, called my mom at work, told her I thought I might be having a heart attack, she left work early and drove down to me and then drove me to the hospital. I was in and out of consciousness the whole car ride. When we got to the hospital (it was kind of far out because they had the appointment closest to when I had made the appointment), they got me a wheelchair, noted that I looked very grey, and hooked me up to an EKG which showed several abnormalities. The doctor was then obligated to call an ambulance; the EMTs arrived and could not get a peripheral line (surprise surprise!), so thankfully I was spared the heparin considering I already had what felt like a skull crushing headache. I was given several aspirin despite being afraid I would start to bleed out for like … the 10th(?) time, but I didn’t. And then I was put in the ambulance, my mother following behind, and taken to the hospital where I stayed for what was worked up to be myocarditis from the Covid booster; nothing else was wrong (they ran all kinds of x-rays, blood cultures, the requisite heart tests including keeping me on a 12-lead, &c.). This was a surprisingly long recovery … I would say it affected me severely for the next couple of weeks (I had to make all of my REGULAR doctor appointments phone visits because I was weak beyond even EBV weakness) and then moderately week for at least a month after that. I was supposed to have a full cardio workout outpatient to determine if it is ever safe for me to get another Covid shot / if I incurred permanent damage to my heart, but things have been so crazy since this time that it simply hasn’t happened.
September 23-29 – x-rays and further imaging revealed a new compression fracture in T5 (I have previous compression fractures in T6, which healed in an “S” shape before I realized it was broken, left me forever with a “hump” in my back; I will never be able to stand fully straight again. I also had a compression fracture in T7, which required back bracing and a VERY long time doing physical therapy. Perhaps you might ask if I could have any sort of spinal fusion or “concrete” to fill in the compressed vertebrae … however, given my osteoporosis after 15+ years of being on steroids leaves me with no real options, just as I cannot take any medication for the osteoporosis (aside from Calcitonin nasal spray) because it puts me at a very high risk of developing osteonecrosis, especially in my jaw and especially because I have so much work done on my teeth and had 5 root canals done in the year this all came to be; the risk was too high both for my doctors and myself to try). If I were to have fusion, the resulting combined thoracic vertebrae would form a bone harder than any I have in my body; similarly, having medical “cement” pumped in to “reinflate” the compressions would be so hard that I would, eventually, break every bone in my spine as the compression against the hard spot would cause a chain of fractures both up into my cervical spine and down into my lumbar spine. I already also have many problems with my right SI joint, so this would be bad all around!