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Archives for September 2011
I started writing this blog post over a month ago. Life has just come at us that fast since I started it. The first few weeks that Megan was here were a bit rocky, between the carrot dangling of maybe getting back with her boyfriend, the very hard let down when that relationship went south and the struggles of her trying to find a job. So much has happened since.
When it became apparent that Megan’s four year relationship was over with her boyfriend/ fiance, we gave her a few days feel the normal sadness that anyone would feel when a relationship ends. Then the need to get back to work was impressed upon her. It had sounded like it was going to be fairly easy for her to get on with DollarTree here in our area. One of her managers told her to go look at the stores and then call back with the one she wanted to work at. It didn’t quite work that way. Instead she had to find one that had an opening for her position. She went back to one of the locations she checked out, talked to the manager and was referred to the district manager. But after a couple of rounds of following up leads on opening and not hearing anything back, she started pounding the pavement looking for other retail locations that were accepting applications. She even did the online application thing, but she (like millions of other people looking for work) got the best responses from stores that she submitted an application in person. She wound up getting a job 5 minutes from the house. No sooner did she get that job than one of the other locations she interviewed at, also offered her a job. She tried to juggle two retail jobs for almost 2 weeks, but when the second location was wanting her to tell the first location what days she needed off it was easy for us to tell her to quit that job.
But let me sidebar. The hardest thing for Megan when it comes to a job search, is finding something she feels “comfortable” doing. That comfort zone is what almost everyone has trouble understanding or doesn’t understand. Her comfort zone is complicated by a number of issues. She does her best to keep her Type 1 Diabetes out of the equation, but her emotional struggles are big road blocks for her. Her panic attacks can paralyze her. She struggles with her self-esteem and a number of other things that most people just aren’t sure how to deal with. Megan feels like the only thing she’s really able to do is retail, and given her druthers, she would rather be a stocker and out of the constant public eye. She is uncomfortable filling out job applications at the store kiosk. But give her credit, she continued to pound the pavement in the deep south heat of August and got not one but two jobs. We are very proud of her efforts. I’m just not sure if anyone else is aware of what a struggle it is for her to find a job that she can “breathe”.
During the two months Megan has been here, I’ve noticed that she has problems dealing with some of the basic things young adults have to deal with – car insurance, banking, car maintenance. When we talked about it, she said it’s like she knows someone is talking but it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher – wah wah waah, wah wah waah. It made me start wondering if some of her anxiety and panic attacks are triggered by her being frustrated by a situation she doesn’t know how to deal with or understand. Her doctor in Tennessee had even suggested her going on disability. She wants to go back to school, but there are a number of catch-22’s. She needs an income to pay her bills (from her impulse shopping), she more than likely doesn’t qualify for any grants, she doesn’t need to take on anymore debt right now and is she academically qualified?
The longer Megan is here, the longer she feels like the elephant in the room. You know it’s there but you don’t talk about it. She’s heard from her father twice (maybe three times) since she’s been here. I know she wishes it were more, but I’m not sure if she could handle that much communication from him since she’s not used to it. She feels like people are distancing them self from her, just when she needs them the most.
In the past month things have calmed down quite a bit. It’s not so much like Mister Toad’s Wild Ride anymore. Sure she still has bad days, we all do. We have our talks about coping skills but it’s not something that’s going to happen over night. Think about it, 4 years in a bubble being “homeschooled”. Then the dental school that was more interested in her tuition then a quality education. I won’t even get into the lack of job placement assistance. She was still pretty much in an isolated environment. The isolation prevented her from developing the coping skills she needs now. Some days I feel like I’m dealing with a high school aged child trying to deal the life lessons that should have been learned at that age.
I too have days where I feel like I need an extended support system. I’ve even considering asking about support groups for family and friends of those dealing with the issues that Megan is going through. Even though I’ve had years of training in Psychology and Sociology – the first lesson we were taught was “know when to defer” and not trying to “treat” your own family members. I can use all my knowledge to ensure she does get the best care possible though. It just takes a tremendous amount of emotional energy to be able to do so.
In all of this, Megan has taken charge of her Type 1 Diabetes. We’ve discovered some interesting things that we will need to mention at her visit to Vanderbilt for the last Defend1 study checkup. She has been needing less insulin, she can go without her pump overnight and be at a normal level in the morning. We’re not sure if it’s the heat at work but she’s been crashing a lot with her pump, so she’s gotten in the habit of eating a set amount of carbs for breakfast and lunch which seem to be helping her make it through the day without then need for glucose tabs to get her blood sugar back up. Megan could be experiencing some positive effects from the study drug – we can always hope – because a Type 1 Diabetic will need insulin for rest of their life. Her diabetes came with it’s own round of emotional issues – depression, the “why me?”, the days of not wanting to test or inject.
So the list of questions we are going to ask her health care team continue to grow. We need to make sure we understand what her needs are too, just as she wishes everyone else did too.
Guess I also need to get the goal on the SmartyPig account changed – a nice Mediterranean cruise sounds good right about now.