I’ve spent most of the past several days tending to my sick rat. In a way, it’s a relief not to have a job because he cannot eat or drink by himself. However, if I had a job (and $50 or so) I would have had him euthanized days ago. I can tell he’s really suffering and there is no chance for recovery. He lies with his head down and his mouth gaping open while he gasps and gasps for air. He falls over when he tries to walk. His back legs are barely moving and he’s bone-thin. I suspect a pituitary tumor in addition to his apparent respiratory problems. I let him stay with me most of the day. How I wish I had thought to buy a carry sack! His brother (and cage-mate) won’t leave him alone, and he squeaks in pain while his brother grooms him. He’s my main excuse (yes I’ll admit that it’s more of an excuse than a reason) for not going to Labor Ready today. I didn’t take much convincing not to go. Labor Ready sounds awful. And I’m sick, both chronically and acutely. What kind of construction work could they have me do?
I feel a lot like Lazy Jane in the Shel Silverstein poem. Part of me just expects a job to fall into my lap. The scraps of my sense of entitlement tell me that after nearly six years of looking, that something, somewhere will just come along. Part of me believes that my 600-or-so job rejections were just fodder for the amazing, spectacular job I’m destined to get. I consider myself a rational person, but I really, truly believe this even though I know I’m wrong. I am actively looking for employment, but I am not looking with the same hope and enthusiasm that has gotten me through job searches in the past. I wish I could stop letting my depression get to me. I should be hitting the pavement, networking, schmoozing, hobnobbing, brown-nosing, you name it. But I sleep, I make pasta, I watch a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I spoon-feed and -water my dying pet rat. I also cough and wheeze a lot. One of the first things I’m going to do when I get money is get my inhaler prescription refilled. My lungs never quite recovered from the pneumonia bout of 2008.
I have had chronic low body temperature since childhood, and if it weren’t for that, I’d think I have a fever. I am on thyroid medication that should regulate my temperature a bit, but it’s still too low. Not counting hot flashes (I have never taken my temperature during one), I have had exactly one “real” fever in my life, and that was when I was in the hospital with a post-surgery infection.
I have received a number of phone calls from optimistic recruiters, but it seems like these phone calls never lead to anything. I have now twice applied for a job at the company that laid me off in 2007. I had good references there, but my whole team got laid off while our jobs were shipped to India. The jobs I’m applying for are even in the department I used to work in, yet I am getting nowhere with these applications. Calling to follow up is hopeless –no one will let you talk to anyone, and no one will even let you leave a voice mail. I may very well end up getting a minimum wage job at a local fair. That may be more tolerable than Labor Ready. I actually like the fair.
I am unfortunately at the point where I am rationing my own medications. I will run out shortly, and it won’t be pretty. Last fall while I was a graduate student, my medical bills prevented me from enrolling in classes required for me to graduate. Because I owed about $4000 to the University Medical Center, they put a hold on my registration and effectively kicked me out of school. I protested and explained how poor I was, but I got nowhere with them. The worst thing about it was that since they wouldn’t let me register, I was unable to access my student loans. My student loans were my sole source of income, so I couldn’t even make a small payment because they wouldn’t give me the loan money. I explained to them repeatedly that if they would lift the hold on my registration, I would register, get my loan money, and then pay them. Eventually, I convinced them. Unfortunately, they demanded I give them essentially all of my loan money or get booted out of class. I complied, and was left with approximately $40 to last three months. My medications cost at least $60 with insurance, which I could no longer afford. I quit taking all of my drugs. I paid rent and other bills with cash advances on my credit card because I had a $5700 limit and just a small balance.
I was fine for a couple of weeks or so, but then the brain fog set in. Worse, my thyroid became large and inflamed, and I developed a small (but visible) goiter. It was somewhat difficult to breathe and I felt like I was being strangled nonstop. All I did was sleep and go to class. I don’t even remember what happened the first six weeks of the term. My grades were the worst I had made in the program. I promised myself at that point that even if I had to rob a pharmacy, I would never go without my medications again.
I may very well go to St. Vincent DePaul, even though I’ve had bad experiences with them for two out of the three times I have used their services. The second time I went there, the man there made me cry after he made a comment about how ‘people like me’ were always coming in and taking advantage of ‘nice people like them.’ The third (and last) time I went there the woman I dealt with was sarcastic and rude. She acted as though I was poor because I’d spent all of my money on drugs, and even implied as much to the pharmacist on the phone (to paraphrase “Well, she says she’s underemployed, but who knows what she spends her money on?”). Much like in the aftermath of my negative experience with a free clinic, I decided it was too much trouble to bother with them, even when I really needed help.
Update: About 90 minutes after I initially published this, my little rat passed away in my arms. I’m heartbroken because he was the nicest rat I’d ever met (and I’ve met quite a few and they’ve all been nice) but I’m glad that he isn’t suffering anymore. I still feel guilty that I was unable to give him proper care.