Using Herb aka Weed, Ganja, MMJ

I grew up with a mother who had a very high pain threshold.  She thought childbirth pain vastly overrated.  So, that informed my view of pain. In the past, I used to get laughing gas and Novocaine for cavities.  Of course, my mother considered me babyish for this amongst other things.

Some years ago, I started having major issues with my teeth.  In fact, I attribute dental problems for unleashing this in my system.  I had Vicodin.  This was before the pain I am currently in.  My neurologist said it was addictive.  I don’t care.  I do not have an addictive personality. Despite years of denying my mother’s assessment, I confess; I am a control freak.  I, especially do not like anything to be in control of me – people, jobs, drinks, drugs.  I would have managed it.

I also don’t prefer using medicine.  It’s another thing I grew up with.  We only took aspirin with real fevers.  I carry that with me to this day.  When this journey started, I rejected all talk of drugs.  As things progressed, I broke down.  I now take Ampyra, Baclofen and Ocrevus along with high dose Biotin.

I read Megan Llewellyn’s journey with MMJ and was encouraged. People began to talk about it  in a more public space.  People also began to personally suggest I start smoking.  I saw people online walk again.

History:

Let’s tackle actual cigarette smoking, first.  I always thought it most unattractive and senseless.  When I was about 10, I told my at-the-time smoker parents that I thought it was stupid.  This was in the day when there were still cigarette ads and commercials.

I became older and thought it nasty and smelly as well as ugly looking.  All that being said, I found myself from my junior year university finals puffing away during that period.  Only at finals.  However, my senior finals were stressful.  By this time, my parents had stopped smoking.  The first week I was home, I found myself blowing smoke outside the bathroom window.  The control freak emerged.  How could I be smoking like this after only three weeks?  I am my mother’s child and stopped.  She decided one day to stop smoking and she did. After college, the next time I smoked was when I was losing a beloved job.  I had a corner office on a high floor of the Empire State building.  It was back in the days with ashtrays and windows that opened.  I used to have my assistant go downstairs and buy me a pack of Eves.  I remember one of the sales managers coming into my office and saying it smelt of smoke but you don’t smoke.  I lost the job and stopped.

Alright, next, actual marijuana and hashish.  Okay, I am a child of the 70’s.  The first thing that stopped me was (see above) smoking is ugly.  By the way, so is snorting cocaine. In the town and era I grew up in, alcohol was considered better than weed.  Parents had no problems if you were drunk but stoned?  It was around me but not for me.  At college, many of the pre-meds stayed away due to med school.  I had a truly horrific sophomore year which culminated in academic disaster.  I returned for my junior year with enormous tension and stress.  My college boyfriend prescribed pot.  On one of the better days of my sophomore  year, one of my roommates decided to see what pot  was all about.  We enlisted the help of two guys who are now nuclear physicists.  She is also a prominent doctor.  We smoked somehow and became really, really high though we didn’t know it.  It was one of those spicy, inviting spring evenings and we gadded over to her boyfriend’s fraternity house.  He has had fairly prominent political and legal roles, including judicial.  See, I have always known I am the least successful member of my college class.  Anyhow, the two of us stood in the street bellowing for him to comedown.  Wisely, he didn’t.  So, it’s the start of junior year.  I still hate smoking especially in front of the opposite sex.  My boyfriend (significant legal position) eventually brings a hookah.  The bong did not work for me.  Two – three weeks in, Miss Control Freak surfaced again and determined to need something everyday was not in her best interests. After that, only if I drank. If I drank and smoked on a Saturday, you could scrape me off the ceiling on Wednesday.  My last bout for years occurred during senior week festivities when I locked myself in (name dropper) a guy who became a local broadcaster’s closet.  I have successfully avoided him for years.  Thereafter, once a decade ending on Good Friday, 1994.

Before I certified, someone gave me caramel gummi bears with CBD/THC.   I have to channel my father who always said you never knew what you were going to get.  They were uneven.  They definitely relaxed  and calmed me.  They satisfied my sweet tooth after dinner.  My muscles were looser.  Sometimes, I would get higher than other times.  Control!

Someone else provided me with actual weed .  I coughed, my chest burned and I aced the stairstepper.

We were told about a CBD/MMJ Exposition east of us.  Well, it was in an industrial area.  Definitely, stoners.  Not only was I the oldest, but the lamest,  However, I felt like fresh meat.  They didn’t want me to leave.  And no, I wasn’t going to put CBD oil on my tongue  for the hour drive home.

I met someone at my father-in-law’s funeral.  She told me that the legal MMJ was expensive and you couldn’t get high.  Uh, see above.  Not my interest!

I am of Jamaican ancestry.  Marijuana is herb aka ganja. It is definitely medicinal, if not religious. I like the idea of using herb instead of pharmaceuticals.

I went to my primary.  He certifies you for $200 cash.  Clueless, it’s just about the money. He wrote me a fairly open ended prescription – no monthly limit, no specific kind.

In New York , there is no weed, edibles or lotions.  Options are: pills, vaping and sublingual oil.  Guess what I chose?  Well, not vaping.  I chose the sublingual 50/50 CBD/THC oil to start.  It’s cash only. For me, this means over $100 a month.  It did numb my pain. I am mildly less tense.  The first month I was taking it 3-4 times a day.

Last month, I decided to up the THC and went to 75THC/25CBD oil.  This I decided to use maybe once a day.  I was warned about the side effects – sleepy and munchy.  NOT.  I get a little thirsty.  I haven’t noticed a discernable difference between the two .

My husband gives it to me from a dropper.  I feel like a baby bird, opening my mouth for nourishment.

I take Baclofen and recently my dosage was increased.  I started with an extra pill at night, no effect.  One night I took the higher THC.  I just about passed out during one of my favorite programs.  My husband, “That’s it! No more THC for you!”  We figured out the next day that it was the Baclofen combo.

I was gifted with the real deal.  It relaxes me but I hate smoking and feeling high.

What did I expect?  I wanted increased flexibility, energy and stamina.  So far, it’s not working.

What has been your experience?

Suggestions?

New Neurologist Visit

I adore my neurologist, truly.  I have been involved with her since the  beginning.  She was a fellow observing my initial doctor.  When she established her practice, I jumped at the chance.  She explained Zumba and WII to the original doctor.  I have been with her since 2008.  Her philosophy meshed with mine – sometimes a fall is just a fall.  I have always fallen every time I am upset since I was young.  I spent most of my senior year in college on the ground.  The upside is I know how to fall.  I have been told, as much as something like this is possible, that I do it gracefully.  She said if I wanted to wear kitten heels it was fine as long as it was safe.  Personally, she didn’t understand why anyone would want to wear heels.  We email each other.  She practices in a multiple sclerosis institute.  This has given me access to cutting edge research and care.  We agree to disagree on what is inevitable.  In recent years, she has been saying I need to recognize this.  Inevitable is a word I disagree with.  Maybe I am in denial, however, inevitable implies defeat.  Defeat cannot be an option for me.

The Institute is located in NYC and I usually go by train.   I have weakened so that isn’t really possible.  I would have to take car service for hundreds of dollars.  Well, I really haven’t worked in three years so that is an issue.  I did try and get transportation through health insurance.  I jumped through hoops.  I have had my primary care doctor send one form three separate times.  My neurologist is considered  out of area.  However, continuity of care is not considered a valid reason.  Really?!  I have a chronic illness and was being seen by a renown  doctor for 10 years in an Institute dedicated to my condition.  I participate in research there.  This was not good enough.

I found there was an Institute, driveable from where I live.  Problem – this is where I had my second opinion years ago.  It was horrible.  The doctor literally forgot I was there.  When she saw me, she asked what I expected of her.  An f*ng miracle?  At the end when I asked what I could do and was told to live a good life.  I voted with my feet.  It would have been closer and easier. She was an alum of my uni.  Even though I prayed when I was 18 to never get sick so I would never have to deal with any of them, I tend to pick alumni.  She exemplified all the reasons why not.

So, I was faced with returning.  When I rang, I was specific that I did not want HER! Surprised! They made it with someone else.

It started off well.  I was taken more or less on time. There was even an apology for the 10 minute delay.  None had been offered at the time of the hours long wait when that occurred. It went downhill from there.  One of the things my husband and I have been concerned about has beenmy increasing pain.  The medical herb is just numbing it.  I even had to fill out a questionnaire about my levels of pain.  Nothing!  And we asked more than once during the course of the visit.  The closest we came was a suggestion to try different combinations of the medical marijuana.

I brought all three spectral legs, including Frankie.  I indicated the problems with Frankie.  Again, nothing! Onto the chariot aka the rollator.  I self-prescribed and bought mine on Amazon for $25.  I need something different.  “Your physical therapist can do that for you.”  Really? And PT?  She wrote me a scrip for her office, over half an hour away.  Tone deaf!  Diet?  Exercise?  No comment. Call me dissatisfied and back  to the drawing board.

Oh and let us not forget the Ocrevus.  I am scheduled for October 4 in NYC.    Yes, I can get it with her but my husband probably can’t be with me and I’ll be in a circle with 5 other people.  We want a hospital and a semi-private setting.

The only thing I did get is an increase in my Baclofen.  More on that in another blog.

She didn’t even ask me for a return date.  Guess the feeling was mutual.

I feel defeated as I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to my doctor.  So, another stressor, how do I find the care I need?

Look, Ma. No Pain. Teeth

My mother had an extremely high tolerance for pain.  She used to have her  teeth drilled without Novocaine.  She also claimed that childbirth pain was vastly overrated.  Period pain and cramps?  In your mind.  She worked with someone who had to take Percocet monthly and Ma just disdained that.

Me?  Cavities- I used to get gas and Novocaine!  Teeth cleaning – numbing agents.  I was so not her.  In fact, when she finally admitted to pain with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and cried, I was terrified.

My husband also believes that pain is mostly in the mind.

In the last 6 months or so, I have been in pain but due to my upbringing, not really acknowledging it.  Following my mother’s  lead, I have just looked at it as part of my new reality.

I started taking medical marijuana a month ago (more in another  blog).  My impetus was based on hearing people report improved mobility.  Yeah, I mentioned pain but just to justify the prescription.  Guess what?  I found that it numbed or lessened my pain.  My right leg is the one most effected by this condition but my left knee feels like it is a football.  Even with the MMJ, it has been a constant throbbing presence.  I have been unable to concentrate.  It has impacted my ability to do everyday things.  Some days everything just hurts.  I am my mother’s child.  I soldier on.

One of the areas that has been hurting is my teeth.  I have had two huge holes in my teeth.  I chipped a tooth a couple of months ago and it has just rotted away.

Let’s talk about teeth and my condition. Due to losing my job (I didn’t lose it; they let me go), I found myself with  a huge open hole in one of my teeth.  I thought I couldn’t afford to do anything about it as I was trying to keep three households afloat on unemployment, severance and savings.  I am convinced that this was the gateway in for my condition.  I did have a huge infection.

I had my first cavity at 18.  My great-aunt lost her first tooth at 92! As an adult, my teeth continued to deteriorate and I have had root canals, crowns, implants and extractions.  With one of the first extractions, I was given Vicodin.  Amazing!  I was still going to Zumba and did really well.  I taught a class that literally always gave me a headache with no stress.  I told my neurologist.  She laughed and said it was addictive.  I said at my age, “Who cares?”  She gave me Baclofen.  It didn’t hack it.

I went to the dentist a few weeks ago.  I allegedly have dental insurance through ACA.  According to that dentist, most of my mouth needs extractions and  root canals.  Of course, insurance either denied or referred to a subpar clinic.  Once I acknowledge my mouth, I take care of it.  I have learned the hard way that dental is not the place to scrimp.  I headed back to my favorite, expensive oral surgeon. My MMJ supply is also running out and I need to go for a refill. My thinking was that I could make it till next week because I would get Vicodin.  Well, he took out three teeth last night.  Two next to my upper front eyetooth.  No Vicodin!! Just regular ibuprofen.  This surgeon is excellent.  No pain.

Of course, me being me, I went for sedation.  So, last night, no pain, just blood.  And in addition to the Vicodin, I have been looking forward to antibiotics.  I know I have an infection running amok in my body so drugs will kill it.

The brilliant thing is this morning I woke with NO PAIN! NONE!  Not my legs, not my head, not my shoulders, not my teeth.  I am walking more freely. I can almost type the way I used to.   I can actually concentrate!  Bad news is this probably won’t last.  How can I get this effect legally, cheaply and regularly?

Anniversaries and Losses

July marks several anniversaries for me.

July 3, 2000 found me starting a new job at the omnipotent megalith hereafter known as The Bank.  I have told this story in a blog before.  Whilst I was in orientation with the HR person, I was informed there was no early leave at The Bank.  My initial thought was , “Why are they talking about retirement when this is my first day?”  I found out that since July 4 was a holiday, I could not leave early.  Really?  My manager sent me home at half past two o’clock.  My plan was to stay a year.   I live outside of NYC but NYC is my place to work.  Unfortunately, most people have a bad sense of both geography and commutation.  It takes me less time to get into the City than people who live in the other boroughs.  I needed a year back in to quash the naysayers.  Overall, I was there more or less for 15 years!  My mother used to say, “Do two, maybe three, strive for five.”  My parents were totally anti-corporate which also means no pension, no benefits.  I started.  I hated it.  I tried to get another job immediately.  The Bank had surveillance cameras throughout its offices.  No one knew if they really worked.  I am sure they must have as literally hundreds of millions of cash and checks passed through there daily.  When I first started there people could actually make cash deposits.  I remember seeing a 25 million dollar check being casually processed.  Back to the cameras.  So, every morning I would look up at a camera and carefully enunciate. “I hate working here.”  No luck.  I went on a business trip to California with my manager and his manager.  I am a technical trainer so I was training the staff on how to use technology that did everything a real teller in a bank could.  Due to space limitations, the managers had to be in the room with me.  They loved my approach.  In a last ditch effort, I told the senior manager that most days I felt like a square peg in a round hole.  He told me he felt the same way.  So, instead of becoming my ticket out, it became my ticket in.

2001 arrived and I made ready to move on. September 11 happened.  And here are parts of the reason I never liked The Bank.  NYC on September 11 was an odd place to be .  I was in Midtown but no knew what was really happening. People started leaving.  The Bank’s policy was to never expense employee meals unless travelling.  Even then they had a global policy of $45 daily for everything if you w ere travelling.  By the afternoon, one of the managers said he would buy pizza for everyone still there in our department.  He was admonished and advised he would not be reimbursed.  I ventured back into NYC on the 13th.  I had been due to teach a class on loans.  I felt that needed to be placed on hold as people adjusted to our changing world. I went to the floor where the students sat.  It was just past 9 A.M.  And the first day back in Midtown for many of us.  You could have heard a pin drop as people sat at their desks, heads down, working furiously.  I still refused to teach the class.

I worked in the IT area and was hired specifically for my non-techie self.  Someone there told me I would like “The Big Bang”.  It’s because some of the people were just like that.  Despite all this, I stayed even after my group was let go.  I was brought back as a consultant for another 11 years.  It worked.  I was mostly on my own.  Despite the lack of benefits, I made nice money.  Almost too much money as it were because it was difficult to get something similar.  I worked alternate hours 7:30 – 4:00 or 4:30.  Eventually, I worked  7:30 – 3:30 but I was always available before and after hours.  In fact, due to my West Coast following, I took calls and emails till 9:30 or so. I also worked remotely on Fridays as commuting became dangerous for me.  I also worked remotely in bad or hot weather.  This was the job where my mobility began to give out.  My standard line (feel free to use as you see fit) was, “It’s not contagious. It’s not cancer.  It’s not terminal.  And, there is nothing wrong with my brain.”  For the OMG! OMG What happened to you crowd, I would laugh. “I am just falling apart.”

It all ended badly.  My reasonable accommodation was removed.  I was made a truly insulting offer to become an employee which was totally unacceptable.

I struggled to find work.  I was a woman of a certain age who had been at a company too long and walked with a cane and the spectral leg aka brace.  Hey, my canes were seasonal and pretty.  I finally found another position more than a year later.  Enormous pay cut and more responsibility and work.  So, this represents another July anniversary.  On July 14 last year, Bastille Day, Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite,;  I walked out. I could still do that.  I had the misfortune to work for a mean girl from high school.  I loved the company and the people.  It hurts.  I had more personal interactions there in 5 months than I had in the 15 at the Bank.  People miss me both places.

My feeling, rational or not, is that losing these two positions has severely impacted my health.  And I hate the phrase, “losing a job”.  I know where it is.  It’s not lost.  At the Bank, I walked 10,000 easily and often.  The building was a city block and I walked to Grand Central , walked through Times Square Station and then Penn.  The next job had much less walking but phenomenal people.

So, this week I am marking a year without working.  I have become officially disabled and un officially retired.  This is so not what I wanted or envisioned.  It’s hard.  I miss getting dressed – clothing is my life. I miss people.  I have been demoted to a walker.  It hurts me to look at it.

All losses are relative.  July was bad before the Bank.  If you have read me before, you know I have left a swath of dead boyfriends and other lovers behind me.  Bobby was one of my favorites.  Once, I was asked in therapy, of all the guys I had been involved with, who would I have liked to marry.  Immediate answer – Bobby! Uh, a small problem, bisexual?  Well, he left me for a man. But… But we went to the same school and bore similar scars; we liked to cook and eat out; we loved to shop; we loved Dylan’s Black Diamond Bay; we walked in Washington Square on warm evenings; we loved to go to the movies and theater. Big missed hint and clue:  We saw American Gigolo three times and we had to get tickets to Bent.  He died of AIDS before his 30th birthday which was July 7.  It’s hard to imagine that he’s been gone longer than he was here.  I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral as his parents blamed me for his death.  He used to tell me if he ever married me, it would kill his parents.

July 7 also marks the day my childhood friend, Julie died.  Again, way young.  She died around 40.  She was real and funny and loyal. You always knew where you stood with her.  She arranged for her father to take the photos for my first wedding because I hate those forced, frozen, fixed photos.   Her husband had diabetes.  She used to tell him, “Chuckles, I am going to dance on your grave when you die ’cause you didn’t take care of yourself.”  Ovarian cancer.

So, to put it in perspective, what’s the big deal with not being able to walk.  How can I possibly measure not working against not living?  Well, it’s my pity party and no one else is invited.  Mourning is mourning. Respect  for all deaths and departures.  And then?  Then there is summer and its warmth.

Acceptance and Nature – The Child is Father of the Man

A favorite family story revolved around how accepting I am.  I was about three  years old and waiting to cross the street with my mother and her best friend.  A midget came  and stood by us.  My mother and friend waited with baited breath for me to say something.  Instead, I am told I looked the woman up and down, gripped my mother’s hand and crossed the street.

Another favorite family story concerns my mother’s pregnancy with my brother.  He is two years, nine months younger than me.  Almost flippantly and buying for time, they announced there was going to be a new baby and it had been ordered from Macys.  My mother ordered from Macys all the time so, of course, this made perfect sense to a two year old.  I never said a word about her getting fat.

One more favorite and this one speaks deeply to who I am.  When I was about one, my mother inadvertently bent down and was hidden from view.  I am told I looked around, didn’t see her and proceeded to practice walking.  When my father came home from work, they both hid.  Again, I looked around and proceeded to practice.  I actually walked in public for the first time at my one year celebration at my grandfather’s.  Another baby tried to play with one of my new presents.  I stood up in front of all and calmly walked across the room and took it back.

So, what does this say about me? Well, we can’t tell about what I was thinking back then.  What I do know about me now is that when I was working, I tried to make everything look easy.  I had to figure it out myself before I would do it in front of others.  See learning to walk anecdote above.     I also worked with a myriad of proprietary software applications.  Almost always, I worked  around things unless they were totally broken.  See above baby stories.  I also have a wide and diverse circle because of my accepting nature.  I take people as they are, for the most part.

Now onto my disease, condition, whatever you want to call it. When my body started acting differently, I ignored it.   I broke down and visited my husband’s PA because I thought I knew what it was.  It wasn’t.  I then embarked on a doctor journey – neurologist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist. An indecisive spinal tap.  Whilst all this was going on, I did not look up anything on MS.  This was partially due to my not wanting to influence my perception of symptoms as well as flat out denial.

A word about doctors and the medical profession – I was brought up with a healthy disregard for them.  My parents didn’t readily believe everything a doctor told them.  Another story.  My mother’s ob-gyn accused her of eating improperly during her pregnancy with me, particularly salami which she abhorred. She came out of the hospital after having me, weighing less than before she was pregnant with me.  She went to her postpartum visit, told him off and never returned.  As they aged and became more experienced, they trusted even less.  The second part to my disregard of doctors is having been exposed to pre-meds at Johns Hopkins.  At 18, I prayed to never get ill.  So,  I take most things doctors say with a huge grain or grains of salt.  I have never truly embraced my diagnosis.  I refuse to believe there is no hope.  I have tried and continue to work with alternate therapies.  However, this year I came to a realization or several.  I advocated to get a spectral leg and then an improved one.  For the second one, I looked on line for something that would be less obtrusive and allow me to wear better (prettier) shoes.  I did not research what people said.  I did realize after awhile that I was throwing my right leg to the side.  Back to the doctor and for the first time, I was referred to a physical rehab doctor.  I had never known.  This doctor was the first one who actually evaluated my walking and what I really needed.  Result?  Frankenstein!  I went on line and discovered that other people felt like me about these braces.  So I  could discount his statements about wider shoes.  I, also saw, that feeling ugly is valid. It can and does impact my health.  Several years ago, when I was employed and making rather decent money, we found out about the Bioness.  It was around $7000, not covered by insurance.  I asked my neurologist about it.  She told me I probably would have the same result with the spectral leg.  I accepted that.  Now, I have seen research and reports from people on the Bioness and the Walkaide.  Wrong!  It may truly have helped.

When I was first diagnosed, I immediately thought about food. I consulted a nutritionist who made all kinds of claims about a diet that made no sense to me.  I asked my neurologist, who concurred.  I accepted.  It was the Swank diet.  If the nutritionist or the doctor had said so, I would have researched and gone for it big time.

The same thing happened with exercise.  I had started Zumba, which I love.  My doctor approved.  I did water aerobics for awhile.  ( I couldn’t get out of my suit and canes and water are slippery!)  I did get the occasional prescription for physical therapy.  I did have an MS Yoga video. I have just discovered MSWorkout and the MS Gym online along with a myriad of other exercises on Youtube.  Movements I can do that help me.

So, I am fighting my way back  on three fronts: food, exercise and walking assistance. My nature took to the fore over my upbringing.  I have learned a very hard lesson.  And yes, I guess it can be said that these insights into my character is an upside.  I would have preferred not to have had a reason for these.  All I can do is move forward with a new understanding of the effects of my nature – positive and negative.

4th July Independence

The Fourth Of July was not my mother’s holiday.  She grew up in another country. As with Thanksgiving, she would state, “This is not my holiday.  I did not grow up with it, but I will do it for you children..” So, we would have hot dogs and hamburgers and most importantly apple pie.  She would laugh and say the garden knew it was a holiday as it was red, white and blue -hydrangea, roses and daisies.  We’d sit out in the backyard to catch glimpses of the fireworks from the park.  It meant ice cream.  Sometimes, sparklers.  Illegal, illicit glittery sparklers with the other neighborhood children.

As time marched towards adulthood, it became a day to sleep late and not work, followed by the requisite barbecue and pie.

The summer I graduated college I was looking for work.  I went to my local neighborhood dive.  Most of the people there were people I’d been at school with.  I was an introverted nerd who had blossomed in my time away.  I was shocked when a football team jock invited me to spend the 4th with him in Montauk, at another classmate’s house party.  I told him I had to ask my father.  Said father was furious, not that I wanted to away for the holiday with a boy; but rather that I had said I had to ask.  So off we went.  I remember getting  there early in the day.  Just about everyone was from high school and the cool kids no less.  Despite my blossoming, I felt as if I was in a foreign land.  We all grew up drinking.  It was the era.  But these people had started way too early in the day for me.  When it was dark, H the host, suggested that T and I join him and his girlfriend and sleep on his boat.  I don’t do boats.  My grandfather was a ship’s pilot and drowned.  Yes, this was over 50 years later but I had and have an innate antipathy towards boats.  Evening falls and finds us in bed.  Hey, red blooded American twenty somethings! So, lying on my back and thinking of England and see fireworks.  Yes, they’re exploding in the harbor or wherever the hell we are.  I say, “I am seeing fireworks.”  Poor thing took it seriously.  The romance was short-lived.  It was the Son of Sam Summer and that coupled with his fear of spiders cooled things down quickly. The other takeaway was that my high school and forever boyfriend was in California at the time.  Some years later, he returned to NY.  The first phrase out of his mouth was, “What’s this I hear about you sleeping with H on his boat?”  Uh, wrong guy and it’s a truly tiny country.

Next decade(30’s):

“Paris was a place you hide away if you felt you didn’t fit in.”  from  “Every Picture Tells a Story”

I found myself in Paris for July 4 for pret a porter and my job.  I knew I’d get a comp day.  Imagine being paid to do this?  I love Paris and it was not my first trip.  I went all over the city.  My employers had a “rule” that I couldn’t come home without a roll of film.  It was unusually  cold and I wasn’t prepared.  On the Metro, a gentleman thought I was homeless.  One thing, whenever I travel, I note what makes me an American.  If I hear the Star Spangled Banner, it gets to me.  “land of the free; and the home of the brave”

Next decade – the Millennium

I find myself on July 3 starting at a monolith which I call the Bank, in all its omnipotence.  The HR orientation woman tells me, “There is no early leave at the Bank.”  I look at her quizzically as why are they discussing retirement when this is my first day?  She explains that early leave means for the 4th.  This is good because I am already planning my own early leave of staying just a year.  So much for plans.  I end up staying for 15 years through a new marriage, the death of both my parents and the onset of my lack of mobility.  Yesterday was the 18th anniversary.  So much of me was tied up there and still is.

Next decade (40’s)

I am at the Bank.  I have been seeing the man I will marry for about 9 months.  He has a room in a house full of guys.  The owner is a friend of my brother’s.  He has AIDS, which he denies; smokes copious amounts of weed and drinks heavily.  He  is one of the sweetest guys I have ever met.  We barbecue in the backyard.  And of course, we drink.  Everyone laughs as I discover I have drank a whole bottle of rum.  They laugh again as I try to get up the stairs into the house in my dizzy flipflops.  Tom and I sit on the lawn and watch neighborhood fireworks.  I am happy

Same decade(50’s):

We move.  We laugh as our house is close to the police precinct and the display of fireworks emanating from that direction is spectacular.  We sit on the step and move back and forth between the front and the back.  The noise continues till morning.  My reflection is that we are lucky to live in a country where the explosions and the lights are not bombs

Present Day

It’s hot and steamy.  Normally, this my weather.  Instead, the heat has made me captive in home and body.  The fans spin and the A/C is on.  I look out windows and at security cameras instead of being outside, half dozing, reading in the afternoon heat.  No barbecue, no apple pie, no fireworks of any  kind.  I have been told that currently I am grieving the Bank or more precisely my work there and my life.  A couple of things -it may be illogical but I see not being at the Bank, the beginning of my current decline.  I became complacent.  I didn’t learn enough new things.  Most importantly, I didn’t make a plan.  Even if I had, there was no plan to lose mobility.  Today, for now, I am dependent rather than independent.  However, I still have my mind! So, land of the free, home of the brave.

 

Vice Presidential Aspirations and Disability

What did you want to be when you grew up? I was about ten and I sent away for career brochures.  I think it was from an insurance company.  I thought lawyer looked interesting and different.  Girls just didn’t become lawyers then.  I also really, really wanted to become an actress.  Also, write books.  My father was a writer so it’s in my DNA.  And I probably couldn’t do it because my father was a writer.  He did tell me before he died that I should write and not let him stop me. It was a gift from him to me.

As I grew, practicality intruded.  I have a facility for language.  I decided to be a multi-lingual secretary.  My mother was a secretary.  She was excellent, well-paid and powerful at times.  I was told in high school that I wasn’t fluent enough;  native speakers would receive precedence; I was that smart that I should have my own security. Reality?  After Hopkins, I applied for a secretarial spot that wanted someone who spoke English, French, Spanish and German, and who studied Latin America and Africa in that order. All checks.  I didn’t get the job because my typing wasn’t fast enough.

Moving on, again with the practicality. OK, if I couldn’t be a multi-lingual secretary, I would major in International Relations at Johns Hopkins and become Henry Kissinger.  Well, that didn’t work.  Economics and I were a nonstarter.  I did attend a job placement interview at Hopkins.  When asked for my aspirations, I said I wanted to wear Vogue clothes.  The counselor was mildly taken aback but assured me with a Hopkins degree I could do anything.  NOT!!  See above for starters.

Attempting to be logical, I determined if I wanted Vogue clothes, I needed to work in clothing.  I had thought  about this in high school but fashion was a trade and I was supposed to be too smart.  And I didn’t draw.  Uh, all work in fashion is not design.  Hopkins?  So, not working.  I was on my second job as assistant office manager in a major construction company when the receptionist turned me on to FIT Continuing Ed.  I was off and running.  Sundays 9- 5 and two nights a week till 9:30 or 10:30.  And I received an A in my art class.  My new ambition?  I was gonna be Calvin Klein.  In later years, I was questioned as to why I always wanted to be men.  Duh, that’s where the power was and is.

I started out as an assistant at Bobbie Brooks.  Why I got the job?  I was the only candidate with personal stationery; I am a Libra and they thought because of Hopkins, I knew psychology.  I decided I wanted to be a merchandiser in my own right.  Five companies later, I did it!  So, then what?  I wanted that VP title but I was just a “girl”.  This “girl” negotiated a licensing agreement with a major French fashion company.  Girls didn’t get to be vice presidents in that company.  The fashion press referred to me as vice president merchandising but not the company. Yes, they  merged with another company and gave my job to a male VP.  I definitely was able to buy and wear Vogue clothes so I did fulfill that ambition.

Back to the drawing board and I started working in financial services from the bottom up.  I had a facility for it.  Who knew that a fashionista could be successful in banking?!  Complications.  I was up for an AVP but was let go.  I came back as a consultant for another 11 years.  Same story – perceived as VP but no title.  I wanted to end my career as a VP.

Unemployed again, over 50, mobility issues, not happening.  In the last three years I have applied and applied.  I  began to realize that I could no longer commute into Manhattan.  If you want to be a VP and a woman on Long Island, you have no life.  I tried anyway.  I was told three years ago to apply for disability.  Me?  I am not disabled.  I just don’t walk well.  I am no longer the woman who wore three inch heels ,carried pocketbook, laptop and projector but disabled?

I finally succumbed last November and applied.  It’s like when I obtained the handicap sticker 5 years ago.  It was a “just in case”.  I thought it was temporary and I would be me in 5 years.  I am worse.  Cane, walker. Everyone said if anyone deserved it, it was me.  I have fought so hard.  I only did it because of economics.  This is a title I do not want.

Last Thursday, I received a letter saying I was medically qualified but the non-medical was still being evaluated.  This makes no sense.  Friday, there is a check in the mail.  I am officially disabled.  It is bittersweet.  The wolf at the door is being held back.  This is not a title I ever aspired to or even wildly imagined. WTF happened!! This was not what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I am coming to terms with the fact that my career life is over.  I am NEVER going to get that title, again, something outside the sphere of possibilities.

It’s reinvention time, Tresswann rising.    What do I want next?  What am I going to do for the rest of my life?  Well, the great Carib-American novel is possible but probably not publishable. I need to walk.  This gives me the opportunity to focus on getting back to walking.  I feel a little lost but I shall regroup.  I did originally want to write so maybe…

What did you want to be when you grew up and what happened along the way?