Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Letter to a Friend

You know, I never dreamed I would actually see you here. Well,'re late, man!

Happy to see you.

So much to tell.

So much to ask.

Hrmmm...where to start.

Well, lemme see...When I saw you last, around 1996, I was working at Broadlawns. I left there to take a job at the help desk at Norwest Financial, which then became Wells Fargo Financial. The department grew from 7 staff to 35 staff while I was there. I ended up being their training coordinator and wrote their manual. Four and a half years ago I found a wonderful position in the company doing nothing but technical writing in Arizona. A year and a half ago I was laid off (you know trainers and writers are the first to go, lucky me). I've seen so many of my friends at Wells lose their jobs over the last two years. But for me, it's probably been a good thing.

Around the same time I moved to Arizona, I met a fella in Second Life. He lived in Indiana. He moved to Arizona two and a half years ago, and works at Intel as a level 9 programmer. Very interesting stuff: Right now he's working on a project for a prototype board for the entertainment system for a new BMW automobile.

My son, Doug, lives in Iowa City with his girlfriend, Age. They, too, have been impacted by the recession but they're getting by. Doug is an English and Library Science major. Age is a nurses aid at U of I Hospitals...they're members of what I would call a trendy counterculture, if there could possibly be such a thing.

My dad, at 81, has early Alzheimer's, but is otherwise in good health. He worked up until about a year ago. He and my mom still live in a condo at the corner of 79th and Douglas in Urbandale. The house...well it was sold when I moved to Arizona.

My mom is 77, and has been battling cancer for 14 years. That is not such a happy story. She is in the hospital right now, as a matter of fact. She has pneumonia and tomorrow will receive the first in a last-ditch round of chemo therapy. I spoke with the doctor today: He said that she's not dying but that the same may not be true in two months. The cancer is in her liver now, and her lungs and skin. She has a couple of lesions on the spinal column, too.

I'm trying to decide when I should go to Des Moines. Since I'm not working, I could go any time, except...

I'm sick.

The reason I took this job in Arizona was because it was supposed to be less stressful. The doctor had told me that I should find something with less stress. I was having some odd health issues, and after all kinds of tests, nothing serious enough could be identified as causing my symptoms. Since people at work were falling over with stress-related illnesses, my doctor hypothesized that I could be having a problem with stress. Examples of things we were seeing where I worked included irritable bowel syndrome; depression; alcoholism; nervous breakdown; attempted suicide; and suicide. We were a cheerful bunch.

Four months after I moved, I was admitted to the hospital with a mysterious illness. After ruling out leukemia and lymphoma through various tests, including the painful extraction of bone marrow, it was determined that I have an autoimmune illness called Evans Syndrome. The symptoms? Well, basically, I was bleeding to death without bleeding. Instead, my body was destroying my blood cells.

I was given transfusions and other IV treatments, and a week later was released from the hospital on massive doses of prednisone.

A week later, the guy I met on the Internet came to visit me for the first time. Oddly, he has never known me to be well, and loves me still. God finally helped me find a good one. In fact, I would go so far as to say that God created he and I so that we would be complimentary of each a well-made glove fits the hand for which it was made.

This time I have spent in Arizona, so far, has been filled with darkaness and joy. Arizona is where I found out that I would never lead a normal, healthy life...and Arizona is where I fell in love with William.

Since 2004, the doctors have also determined that I have fibromyalgia, and the beginnings of Lupus SLE.

Nonetheless, I am happy.

How are you?

- C

To learn about Evans Syndrome, visit the Evans Syndrome Community Network.
To learn about Lupus SLE, visit the Lupus Site.