Taking Stock

Every once in a while I take stock of my life, partly because it’s therapeutic and to see what I was thinking at the time. One of my regrets in life is that I have not recorded either my words or in pictures many things in my life. Video is a much more prevalent part of our society these days, but it wasn’t way back when my kids were growing up. Particularly because I am now estranged from my children it would be nice to be able to watch videos of them growing up. Both my son and daughter were heavily involved in sports, yet I don’t have a single picture from all those years of hundreds of games.

As for recording my life, you never think at the time that you will ever begin to forget some of the things you experienced during your life. I have been more diligent about it over the last few years, but I never recorded a word before that. I wrote a poem when my son was born and I wrote a poem for my daughter when I moved out West, but that’s about it. On one of my many infamous cross-country trips between BC and Brampton, a trip that takes just over forty hours, I had a recorder with me and from that I produced a novel, carefully transcribing every word and printing it. It was about two inches thick on standard 8 1/2 by 11 paper and I called it My Body Time because that was the note I added on every recording. To his considerable credit my Dad actually read it. Somewhere, somehow it got turfed and I don’t have the computer file anymore so it’s gone, which I regret. It would be fun to not only remember the trip, but to see what I was thinking about my life and future at the time.

So, where am I now? It seems like any record of the things that have happened to me over the past few years has been a tragedy. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Nothing has gone right, from my health to where I lived, to family, really nothing. Somehow I keep plugging along, believing that by some miracle things will turn around and get better, but it never seems to work out that way. I’ve certainly had some low points, like lying in the sweltering heat in a men’s shelter, wondering if this was the bottom. Things got a little better when I got a job, lousy as it was, to getting an apartment through London Housing and having a little money in my jeans. It wasn’t enough though because they, Home Depot, didn’t renew my contract and I was back on welfare again.

That was back in December of 2010 and it was also a time my health took a very bad turn. Because I had no money I went six weeks without my meds and ended up in hospital. My sugars were off the charts and I came close to buying the farm. I don’t remember five days before I finally managed to get to the hospital. They just monitored me until my sugars came down, gave me three days of basic meds and sent me on my way. Thanks to my doctor at the walk-in clinic, who reached into his own pocket and together with a pharmacist got me my urgently needed meds, I survived. I had had an ongoing battle with Ontario Works, trying to get my meds before it was too late. I wrote them a letter advising that there would be a letter on my cold dead body clearly implicating thing them in my death because they wouldn’t help me. Within an hour of delivering the letter I got a call to come in right away. They issued me a drug card, a bus pass and money to buy food.

My job each and every day was to check all the job boards, read the local papers online and research any companies that might be hiring. I also worked with Goodwill, who sent me on a wild goose chase to take courses for my passion – employment counselling, only to have it all fall apart when it turned out to be a post graduate course and I did not qualify to take it. I also went through Leads, whose mandate is to find employment for the disabled, which, by now, I was. They were hopeless and never helped me in any way. In our meetings they would call up a job board, which I knew by heart, and tell me to apply for jobs I had already applied for.

One of the jobs was at a call centre, for which I applied online months before. Out of the blue I got a call from them asking me to come in for an interview, which I did and was hired to start right away. I was praying that they didn’t do a CRC (Criminal Record Check), but they did. I figured it was just another job I lost because of this stupid mistake from twenty-five years ago! I was surprised when they called and asked me to explain what happened. The HR person just kept saying that it was twenty-five years ago, so they went ahead and hired me anyway. I was so grateful at the time to finally land a job, but I had no idea what I was in for. They turned out to be the worst employer I’ve ever seen in my whole life and the stress of the job got so bad that I was shaking all the time and my blood pressure, normally ridiculously normal, was really high and my sugars were off the charts, in the high twenties and low thirties. My doctor said I was a poster boy for a heart attack. I learned about getting Medical EI, so I went off on medical leave to try to calm down, and to find a better job.

My doctor supported my leave, signing the forms required for both my company and EI, showing a return date of sixty days. I hoped this would give me time to find something better, but no such luck. As the sixty days approached the company called me to ask if I was coming back or needed more time? Medical EI runs for fifteen weeks, so I went back to my doctor to get an extension. Instead of continuing to support me he flipped out about not being my family doctor, saying he shouldn’t be signing these forms. I might mention that I have been trying to find a family doctor for three years. As we were talking he was writing something on the original form. When I got home I was horrified to see that he had written “open return to work”, something I had told him the company specifically would not accept. I scanned and emailed it to HR anyway. Naturally I got a call a few minutes later.

They would not accept this form and told me to find a family doctor to fill out the form correctly, even though they were well aware of how impossible this was. As my benefits were about to run out I contacted EI to see what to do. The agent I spoke with was very helpful and told me they could extend my benefits to the maximum fifteen weeks if I brought in the certificate. She said they accept an “open return” because this happens all the time. I went down to Services Canada to deliver the form, only to meet with a real bitch who looked at the form and said because it was signed on August 20th they might claw back my benefit payments. As if things could not be bad enough! I called my employer to return to work now that my benefits were expiring and I had no choice, but they want a clearance certificate from my family doctor. They know I can’t get this because I can’t find a family doctor, so now my benefits are about to run out and I can’t return to work. So frustrating! Enough to drive me to drink, if only I could afford it.

On the health front things have improved a little. Thanks to increased meds, especially larger doses of insulin, my sugars have moderated considerably. I’m even getting some sixes and eights in the mornings, something I haven’t seen in years. My feet continue to be a problem and I’m in pain 24/7, making sleeping really difficult. Walking is no joy either. I’ve recently discovered a new cream that’s helping a bit, but it’s no miracle cream. My biggest health challenge is not being able to do anything physical, which I’ve always done, and the thirty-five pounds I’ve packed on because of all the insulin.

On the family front things are still sad and confusing. My son came to London back in March and we managed to only squeeze in a forty-five minute visit after seventeen years apart, but he said we would get together “soon” and have a better visit. I was hopeful that I could somehow see my three grand kids, two of whom I have never met. Weeks later and after he hadn’t answered several text messages, I called his cell phone, only to learn it wasn’t his phone anymore. I started leaving increasingly concerned messages on Facebook, all with no answer. After weeks of trying I sent a not too happy note reminding him that he had done this to me three times already and asking what’s going on? He finally responded with a really cruel message, saying in part that I wasn’t his real Dad and had no right to see his daughters. Like a knife in my heart. He blocked me on Facebook and said that was the end.

My daughter has made no attempt what-so-ever to contact me after I drove across the country in the dead of winter to see her back in 1994. My wife’s new hubby hid her away and would not let me see her. He also wouldn’t so much as let me have coffee with my wife of twenty-three years, so that says it all. I did find my daughter on Facebook, but she also blocked me and reported me to Facebook for posting a picture of her. Really sad what people do to each other. My kids both encouraged me to move out West seventeen years ago to be with my mother, who we felt was dying of cancer and didn’t have long to live. I never knew that the result was them cutting me out of their lives forever.

On top of everything else going on I had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Revenue Canada had garnisheed my wages to the tune of 30% plus 100% of my vacation pay. London Housing was already taking 30% and I could barely survive, so living on 40% was impossible. Several people who came to my rescue or believed in me and loaned me money got drawn in to the bankruptcy, which I regret more than anything. I hope I find some way to still pay them back for their faith in me. I keep praying that my lottery ticket will hit and I can reward them big time. I figure the odds are fifty fifty – I could win or I could lose.

Friends and love life are still non existent. For a guy who loved being surrounded by many friends and pretty well was always involved romantically, being alone has been a killer. My last relationship was with the woman who I came to London for and that ended tragically when she screwed around on me. My life revolved around her and her lovely daughter, who I got along with so well. It all ended so abruptly and hurtful. I can’t help but think I wouldn’t be in this God-forsaken town if it wasn’t for her. Can’t believe it’s been three years since I moved here. I have to find a way to get out before I go crazy. I had asked for a transfer to Chilliwack from my employer, but they won’t do anything until I return to work here.

Oh well, there you have it.