Wednesday, March 13, 2019

So Where Have I Been?

My god...has it already been this long? Guess I should explain myself.....

So...I was going through my life as per usual. Writing about games in a prolonged internship, working at a warehouse, and trying to flex my creative muscles here on this blog with an ambitious creative writing exercise prompted by the rise of JumpChain, peppered with my thoughts on this and that. All while taking very close care of my grandmother. The very last parental figure in my life.

Then...around May of 2018, she had to be admitted to the hospital, and then everything changed at practically lightning speed. It was revealed that what was continuously diagnosed as Stage 3 Kidney Failure was actually identified as Stage 4 Renal Carcinoma, a highly aggressive form of kidney cancer. One that had metastasized to her spine. She was given six months to live.

And, as if that wasn't bad enough, my girlfriend, who had been working at a hospital getting her doctorate in Oncology (ain't that poetic) got hit with the biggest piece of garbage tragedy ever. Her hospital was located on the big island of Hawaii...and the tragedy was the eruption of the volcano Kilauea. Losing contact with her by seeing it on the news on the exact same day as the cancer diagnosis. It was an absolute bombshell that left me devastated.

So...naturally I dropped everything and spent as much time with her as possible. Getting her into surgery to remove the tumors on her spine, which was successful, helping her every single day with her physical therapy, keeping her spirits up while going through the early phases of radiotherapy. Cleaning up, keeping the bills paid, shouldering as much responsibility as I could. If she had six months, then by God Almighty I was gonna help her fight that thing and win.

Yeah...well that's not what happened. About two months later, she started getting chest pains and had to be readmitted. And it was discovered that she was displaying signs of Congestive Heart Failure, which is something that runs in the family.

Alright, no big deal, just radically change her diet to be lighter on salt and make sure she just keeps to a comfy chair and bed and keep fighting the good fight. That was my attitude at least.

Unfortunately... that's not what happened. Her condition worsened and she had to be re-admitted. Apparently, the cancer was spreading to her spinal cord and messing with her brain. Motor function ceased, her ability to speak started to go, and her CHF exacerbated her body's ability to fight off the effects. The Death Spiral had begun.

So, with a heavy heart, I exercised her Power of Attorney and transitioned her into hospice care. And on August 5th 2018 at 11:56 pm, holding my hand... she passed away....

I had to work with a funeral home, get her cremated as per her wishes, and deliver a eulogy in her memory, while still not hearing a word on the fate of my better half. the first half of this story. As emotionally and spiritually taxing as this experience was, it would feel almost quaint compared to what would happen next: settling her estate. My grandmother had spent fifty years of her life as an RN, and spent her golden years raising me, buying a quaint home to raise me in, and when she finally retired, it was basically just us dealing with keeping the little place together and getting her credit cards paid. She..left behind no life insurance but managed to keep some nest eggs tucked away and started using them to pre-emptively pay off her credit card debt. The logic being when she died, I'd be able to just use the lump sum of those assets and what I had squirreled away to settle everything, retain ownership of the house, and be set for the rest of my life. My childhood home under my name.

But...crap got complicated. After looking over her record books, it was obvious things weren't going to be enough, so I did everything in my power to close that gap. Taking out some cash left behind by my father. Selling plasma. Renting out the house to two people who needed shelter and were willing to pay. Working overtime at work and working on writing commissions. I started a GoFundMe page. Basically everything short of selling my organs on the black market.

And all of it basically backfired. My veins weren't big enough to safely sell plasma, it was a safety risk. The housemate situation only lasted a single month since the affected parties had to deal with members of their family dealing with a loved one, a grandmother who had also died of cancer because screw your carefully laid plans. Overtime wasn't being offered (long story) with any attempts at promotion or pay grade increase getting shot down despite multiple interviews. And my writing pitches weren't being accepted. And the GoFundMe basically died on the vine.

What about distant family who could help? They basically fell apart or got into major trouble on their own the minute she died. Uncle got divorced. Aunt kind of cracked from grief and bought a summer home somewhere. My cousin basically went off the radar but not before stealing some cooking recipes from the kitchen. I...was basically on my own.

And as for that chunk of cash left by daddy dearest? I combined it with as much money as I could and tried to meet the estate's difference head on. And the result looked like a reasonable gap of about three to four thousand dollars that could be paid to the estate by the end of April. It looked like everything would work out if I just kept at it. Then I found out there was some debt I couldn't account for, and my opportunity to make good on a promise to the woman who raised me on her deathbed basically died.

So...I've been packing up my things and trying to sell this small and modest home for a decent bit of cash, move into an apartment, and get on with my life. Packing up my old life tied with strong emotions to roots I stubbornly put down for well over two decades, cutting as much as I can, and trying to put the most soul-destroying six months of my life behind me.

But what really hurt me throughout this time: the depression, the grief, the absolutely non-existent amount of time I was given to fully process the multitude of life choices coming my way, etc., was my inability to return to JumpChain for the longest time.

In addition to actually making two Jumps of my own for the broader community to use, Deadly Premonition and Destiny 2 FYI, I had developed a style guide and a set of rules for how I wanted to engage in my own personal isekai-esque adventure through the multiverse. Write it out like a semi-professional fanfic, have established rules and mythology and try not to mess with it. But above all, that the main character would effectively be a version of me...from roughly December of 2016. With a limited, albeit defined, pool of knowledge and references, as well as a defined mental state where things hadn't completely devolved into the darkest timeline. And it was damn near impossible to return to that semi-innocence. Not just in terms of getting back into that headspace, but also the fact that my first Jump was in trying to stop galaxy-wide genocide via the Reapers in the world of Mass Effect. Exchanging a real-life tragedy for a daunting fantasy one waiting to happen. And the fact that it would be too easy for me to slowly turn it into a potentially unhealthy bit of wish fulfillment. That in at least one timeline, a magical God-like being had pity, let me go on an odyssey of power and adventure, then let me come back to magically cure cancer for everyone so everything would be great and dandy and there would be ice cream and all that jazz.
It just wasn't what was good for me at that particular moment. And it's the reason why I'm only just now writing out why this blog has been dead for so long. I basically went to war against the most insidious killer in the modern age, and lost in a gruesome death of a thousand cuts. And I'm only just now getting the last of my wounds patched up.

I know that life changes and changes fast but...the good news is I know it's not the end of the world. My sweetheart let me know she was completely alright. My..needs on the whole are quite simple. And my current income is more than enough to support me. Plus the windfall of this whole thing can mean a roundabout way I will be able to have a new home to call my own hopefully in a few years. I just have to keep moving forward.

So, what I'm trying to say is... I'm back. It'll be a while before this is regular again. But I haven't forgotten what I do here, and I haven't forgotten the small but dedicated readership I have here.

So... pour yourself some 24th century vodka and feel free to turn off those robot appendages. You're among friends, and the drinks are on the house.

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