Friday, November 16, 2007

The Curse and Promise of Change

Weekend Assignment #191: Show us, or tell us a story about, change. A before and after picture of the street where you grew up, a story about meeting an old friend after many years, two pictures of yourself separated by a number of years, a tale about changing your life, or showing or tell us about something in the process of changing itself. Any of these is good. And doesn't have to be a negative, because sometimes change is a good thing.

Extra credit: Do you feel that you are changing in some way right now?

Tcha. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I've been living in "interesting times" for the last three months at least:

Thursday, August 16, 2007: I found out from a newspaper headline outside McDonald's that the company I worked for had just collapsed. Ten minutes later I was officially unemployed.

Friday, August 24th, 2007: I accepted a temporary position at the business office of a regional retail chain, with a reasonable expectation of a permanent position to follow, for significantly higher pay than my last job. By that time I had been all but offered a job in Nogales, AZ and turned it down due to the hour-plus commute each way.

Monday, September 17th, 2007: my boss told me that the company owners hired someone else instead, and my temporary job would end within a week.

Thursday, September 20th: I have a job interview with a large vehicle retailer, and am hired on the spot. At more or less the exact same time, my vet is finishing surgery on Tuffy for three benign epidural tumors, and taking a biopsy of her tongue. When I get home, my rejected manuscript of Heirs of Mâvarin has arrived back from DAW.

(Dang. I changed tenses starting with the third entry. Not gonna change it now. Live with it.)

Monday, September 24th: I start my new job. It is an extremely stressful day, due to the large number of unfamiliar concepts and industry or company-specific terms and abbreviations. The person I'm replacing shows little interest in helping me learn. If she were teaching me to fly, the lesson would have been something like this: "This is a jet plane. This is the joystick. Be sure the DPQs match the RVMs. Here's a page of incomplete notes on how to fly. I'll check with you tomorrow to see whether you landed safely." Let me make it totally clear that the company, my boss, and everyone who is still with the company has been great, and even the person who was supposed to train me probably did her best in the time she had. But it's been tough to learn this new job under somewhat unfortunate circumstances.

Our little stress generator.

Wednesday, September 26th: I learn from a voicemail that Tuffy has cancer on her tongue, specifically a squamous cell carcinoma.

Monday, October 1st: We take Tuffy to the oncologist, and leave her there overnight for surgery. They cut out a section of her tongue, assuring us that it will still work just fine once it heals.

Tuesday, October 2nd: I bring Tuffy home. She is wobbly and miserable.

Tuesday, October 16th: I'm stressed out at work because I think it's my predecessor's last day. Turns out her last day is the 17th, but I barely see her that day. Tuffy's oncologist calls. The pathology report has come back, and they didn't get all the cancer at the microscopic level.

Monday, October 23rd: we are given a list of options for Tuffy, none of them good. We learn toward a third surgery, but it sounds horrible - a seriously impaired tongue and possibly a feeding tube. We take Tuffy home and start to think it over.

Friday, November 2nd, 2007: our regular vet helps us break the stalemate in our consideration of Tuffy's options. We decide to do the palliative radiation, hoping to buy her two more years of life for $2,000.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007: Tuffy has her first radiation treatment. She seems to do great, and is even hungry afterward.

Tuesday, November 14th, 2007: Tuffy has her second radiation treatment. She trembles in the car all the way over, and the whole time she's at the vet's. I buy her fresh chicken strips to try to tempt her to eat.

Thursday, November 16th, 2007: John asks me to call the oncologist about Tuffy's severe reluctance to eat, but after she eats a hardboiled egg, she says he's willing to wait and see over the weekend. We both think she's worse this week. Is she hurting, or are we reading in more than is really there? I catch myself thinking, "We're going to lose her." Also, John gets a raise.

There you have it. Three months of major changes in our lives, piled one atop another. Concurrent with all that, Tuffy's been less and less willing to eat more and more of the things we offer her, and it's clear her tongue is more impaired than we were led to expect. I've been having intermittent back spasms, boils, and an outbreak or eczema or something like it on my left elbow from resting it on the arms of chairs while typing. Oh, and look at that! My feet are turning interesting colors as they start to swell up again. John is dieting, but I'm not even attempting that right now. I've slid into a minor case of depression, which makes it hard to face up to things like fiction writing and church webmastering, doing dishes and cleaning my office. I'm sure it's why some of my recent entries here have been a bit perfunctory; I tend to sit here waiting to come up with some idea for a post, until it's way too late to put things off any longer.

I was going to talk about the pros and cons of change, having come up with the pompous subject header to go with it. But it's late again, and instead I've gone for the pitifest. Briefly, then:

Everything changes, from moment to moment. Even the sun.

Change is inevitable, at every level of existence. Subatomic particles move about in somewhat mysterious ways. Cells grow and divide, die and are replaced (or not), mutate and become malignant. People grow up and grow old, and sooner or later they die. In the meantime they meet people, fall in love, fall out of love, make friends, lose friends, make enemies, make up, take up hobbies and lose interest, change jobs, have children, move, travel, have diseases, have pets, win awards, go to jail - in short, experience their own kaleidoscopic portion of the infinite variations of human existence. Species die out, the Earth gets warmer, and new superviruses arise. Seasons cycle past, and no two sunsets are alike. At the same time we moderate our environment, for good or ill or most often both, with new technologies and the same old shortsightedness. And the Earth and sun hurtle along unnoticed, and entropy increases.

Do we really want to get off the roller coaster ride, to freeze the kaleidoscope in place? Some people get desperate enough to stop their participation in change with one final act, the biggest change of all. But most of us actually want change - on our terms. We want a faster computer and a better internet connection, an iPhone and maybe a newer car that doesn't make that awful noise at intersections. We want a better life, however we define it, and that requires change. We want to grow up and finish school, lose weight, get rid of the blemishes, find the perfect partner, stop the war, save the whales, solve the immigration issue, get
a promotion at work, sell the novel, have a hit record or tv series, make or adopt a child, fix up the house, fix up ourselves, and sock money away so we don't have to keep working at age 80. Some of these things we'll get, others not. Some are partially under our control, and we have to decide how hard we're willing to work for change. And we have to take all the other changes, too, because that's the world, and everything has consequences. And even the good changes, like my new job, can be stressful. That, too, has its consequences.

I know what changes I need in my life right now. I need to know that Tuffy is going to get better instead of worse, at least for a year or two. I need to know that I can learn the rest of my duties at work, and emerge from this depression so I can get back to my fiction and change the status of my novels from unsold and in flux to finished and published. And I need to change this bad habit of not even starting my blog entries until long after midnight. If I can make that last, simple change, maybe some of the other stuff will start to get better, too - or at least my perception of it.



Donna said...

Sad to say, but if one of my pets was going to cost me that much money, we'd have to put it down painlessly. Our budget just doesn't stretch that far. Now, if the pets were covered by our health insurance... but of course, they're not.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear Tuffy isn't doing as well as you hoped. It is hard when a family member is sick and especially when she can't communicate if she is in pain.
Sending hugs your way and wishing there was more I could do to encourage you.
Prayers are being said for all 3 of you.
Good luck to John on his diet.

Nancy said...

Oh are so entitled to a Pity fest. Life has not been very fair for you lately.
I'm very, very sad to hear about Tuffy. I'll keep the sweetie in my thoughts.


Rekha said...

I Googled "How to change your life in three months" in a moment of desperation, and after flicking through too many eBooks promising found your blog entry. Thanks for sharing the past three months of your life with us and certainly hope that your precious Tuffy will continue to mend and have a happy life because she's very cute and obviously you both adore her. Keep writing, Karen. You do it so well.

rafael said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Karen Funk Blocher said...

I am deleting a comment that begins,

rafael said...

The subject of evolution among those who understand it, they must be aware that there is the danger of excessive subjectivity concerning one owns knowledge. This is not healthy, is a means of cultivating the mind with vain thoughts, and be fill with self examination. Is better, to be objective.

...and goes on for a total of 20,661 words, most of it in one paragraph. The bulk of it is an attempt to use Biblical quotes to disprove evolution. It contains misspellings, poor grammar and punctuation, logical fallacies, and poor gobbledegook. My favorite (by default because I haven't the patience to read the entire screed, is the following:

Darwinism was accepted by eugenics which was Hitler idealism or dream, never accomplished in Germany but applied in North America, where is up to now working, nevertheless the biggest lied on humanity is ending microscopic world.

Looky there! A genuine Reductio ad Hitlerum!

I would leave this misguided comment up in the interest of fairness (and so Paul et al. can laugh at it), but the fact is that it fails my comment policy. There is no indication whatsoever that the person read my entry, which was mostly about my job changes and Tuffy's cancer, and secondarily about change itself. Evolution wasn't even mentioned. I'm assuming that the person Googled the buzzword "species" and pasted in comment spam everywhere the word turned up. Sorry, rafael. Your manifesto, pasted in as a response to a posting on an entirely different subject, does not constitute intelligent discourse. Bye-bye.