I spent most of last week running around ferrying my sister and mother to various doctor's appointments. The good news is, we think we have a diagnosis for Patty! It appears that she is suffering from temporal arteritis. That means that the big artery that comes off the carotid artery, up her left temple and on across to various parts of her head, has become inflamed and stopped pumping the blood correctly. Thus the places it serves, which includes the optic nerve, are not getting proper bloodflow, and it is the oxygen deprivation this causes that is causing the pain. She had a biopsy done on the temporal artery on Thursday and we are still waiting for the formal results to come back. But we really, really expect it to confirm the diagnosis. They went ahead and started her on steroids, which is the treatment, and she is experiencing some relief already.
She is really fortunate because if left untreated, this could have caused permanent blindness in her left eye. I wonder how long it has to go untreated for that to happen, though -- she had this headache with increasing frequency over a period of months and then constantly, without a minute'e relief, for over three weeks.
Of course, devoting a couple of weeks primarily to these extended family concerns has completely upset the delicate balance I had struck in how I spend my days and how I manage my job search and my emotional state. I still find very few viable opportunities to pursue. That said, though, I went on a job interview yesterday. It was the first one I've had since January. The job isn't one I would normally have pursued, but after interviewing with them I am still interested if they are. (I don't have extremely high hopes because it is outside my real area of experience. I have to suspect they can find better qualified candidates out there. But if they are interested in taking a chance on me, I'm still interested!)
I had this weird, awkward, sort of painful interaction with my sister on Friday. I have always wanted to write and in fact have always written, just not for paid publication. Looking back, probably my greatest regret in life is that I let myself become convinced during college that I couldn't afford to pursue writing as a career, and went off to study other more "marketable" things. My sister, on the other hand, was always interested in arts and crafts and animals and lots of non-bookish things. She is dyslexic and therefore did badly in school, so her focus was just completely different.
Now, she's developed an interest in writing. She's joined a little writers' group there in Zanesville and writes stories for fun. She's imaginative and thinks up cute ideas, but the whole dyslexia thing comes to play in the process of translating them to writing. So her clever ideas get sort of drowned in a sea of bad spelling and syntax errors. This development has always made me uncomfortable. Not that she's writing, just when she talks with me about it. I can tell she has no idea how much I've wanted to write and how disappointed I am in myself that I haven't written more, and been published. So Friday, she tells me while I'm unemployed I ought to write a book.
There I stood with my sick sister, knowing she has just spent the better part of a month in constant pain. I know she means this as an encouraging statement. I know her motives are purely positive. And yet it took all my strength not to burst into tears. I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. Does she think I haven't thought of that? Does she think I don't feel like the biggest failure in the world because during this period where I've had huge blocks of available time I feel like every ounce of creativity I ever had has escaped? I haven't even been able to thumbnail a plot for a short story. I can't even come up with the core kernel of a plotline. There are days it takes all my discipline just to write something, anything for this blog!
And even though I know this is irrational and unfair, I also had a bit of a feeling of "How dare she?" How dare she talk to me about writing a book like she knows more about it than I do? How dare she imply that she and I are on the same plane about this? I'm ashamed of myself for feeling that way, but in all honesty, I do. It was one of the most awkward, difficult moments I've ever had with her. I just sort of froze up and didn't say anything, and after a few minutes she sort of got the hint and moved on to another subject. But I know she has no idea why I reacted the way I did, or what I was really feeling. I didn't feel like I could explain it to her, even after some time had passed, because there's no way to do so without admitting that I don't have much respect for the stuff she writes. And while I don't have respect for the writing, I have a great deal of respect for the fact that she puts herself out there. I just don't want her to do it in front of me, or to try to tell me how I should be going about it.
So there's my sad and sordid tale of family life. Tomorrow, I write about something more upbeat!