Life is not always fair
I have not posted much over the last 18 months. My life has turned upside down. I have always known life is not easy nor fair, but always tried my best. I left a cushy office job 7 years after getting a BA from college. Did well but hated working in a "cube farm". Was making good money but decided I wanted to change careers. Quit my job and went to trade school for HVAC. My family and friends thought I was crazy. Never missed a day of class even worked part-time. As most of us know, school learning and on the job learning are very different. It took many years to become competent. I worked for a nice "Mom + Pop" company for the first 5 years, learning service and install; residential and commercial. This company's business got slow and I moved on to another company primarily doing service work. Always tried to keep learning admitting to myself there is still so much to learn and become better at. I had been single until 2003, so I worked alot. Able to buy a home, save money and always pay my bills. Never had any serious illnesses nor injuries. I truly enjoyed this trade. Got married and started a family. My income was high enough my wife could stay home with the kids. Plan was she would work part-time, but this did not allow her to go to school. This was a big change in my personal and family life. Quite a learning experience that all the "Having a Baby" books and classes for having children was not the same as reality. We were expecting a boy this time (decided to have the sonograms and not wait until birth) in early January 2008. However, a few weeks earlier, two days after Christmas 2007 I had a mild left knee fracture and torn meniscus at work. Oh well, Workers Comp for a few months, BUT hey, I would be home 24/7 with our new son. By mid March 2008 I returned to work. It was the slow season. Within 2 weeks (I thought it was my April Fools Joke), two fingers on my left hand started going numb. Didn't understand why. By late April 2008 finally went to my MD. He sent me for an MRI. He thought I had a pinched nerve. 15 minutes after the MRI, the Radiologist came out and told me he phoned my MD and to go back to him immediately! I wondered WTF but the Radiologist refused to discuss anything. Within an hour I was back at my MD's office and he immediately took me back to an exam room. Told me I have a "mass" on my spinal cord in my neck. I was in shock. Referred to to a great Neurologist and Neuro sorgeon. Had 3 more MRI's over the next two months. By this time my palm was going numb and tingling pain was working up the arm to my shoulder. None of the Neurologists at two hospitals could determine what it was, BUT it was growing. The top Neurosurgeon did a laminectomy, removing a spinal section from the back of my neck on 6-30-08. They also took a biopsy for pathology to determine what it was and cut out as much as the could without risking cutting my spinal cord. 4 days later, while recovering in the hospital several MD's came to my bedside and told me I have Malignant Cancer. A very rare type that typically is a brain tumor, not in the spine. I was in shock. 3 weeks later started Radiation therapy, 30 treatments. Then 6 months of Chemo (worst thing I have ever felt in my life). From September 2008 to now I have MRI's done head-to-bottom of spine, a) to see if it shrinking or growing and b) if it has spread. These MRI's take about 3 hours and they bill my health insurance company $14,000 a pop. All this time I had to take Disability but continue paying my employer the full monthly healthcare cost for my family at about $950 a month. Our savings were draining fast. Went back to work part-time late September 2008. Chemo side-effects made my tired and sleep alot. But I was so very happy to be working. On Friday February 6, 2009 I was driving home after the long week. The company had an emergency furnace install that they sent 2 young service techs on. The only metal tool they had was a "can-opener and a pair of linesman pliers". They were stuck. They had called our office manager and the owner for help, someone just to come out and do the metal work. All the other employees turned off their Nextels. But mine was on and asked me to help. Yes I was tired and wanted to go home to my family but I agreed to go finish the metalwork so the old lady would have heat that night. The two techs met me outside as I parked my Van on the street. Told me that they have everything downstairs and JUST bring my metal tools in. We walked to the back of my van where I keep my metal tools and the WHOOPS! I slipped on the black ice falling on my right knee. The two guys tried to lift me up and I cried out in pain. One of them took me to the ER. Doped me up un morphine after taking X-rays. My knee cap was Shattered! Took me the the OR. Total reconstructive surgery: plates, pins and wires. I got a beautiful 5" long scar. So now I'm out for 6 months, first ina cast with crutches, the eventually to a soft cast with a forearm cane. Went through PT. My company grew tired of all my time off of work during the past year and-a-half. Although Workers Comp was paying my medical bills I still needed to continue paying my Group Health Premium to them and all the expenses at home. Had to SELL my HOUSE. But I refused to quit the company. So my employer told me they filled my Service Tech position and the only thing available was Lead Installer. Not good, they were forcing me out. Returned to work late August2009. Soon had a 5 ton split system to intall. Indoor unit Horizontal in a hot attic. By 3pm that day my back began to hurt. Next day could barely get out of bed. Called in sick to work. Wife forced me to go to the hospital. What a zoo with family in tow. Took X-rays and said I have a slipped disc in the lower back and 4 more discs were bad/degenerative. Back on Worker'sComp. Had two second opinions. Recommendation was not what I wanted to hear: Surgery or quit this type of work (no lifting over 25lbs). Otherwise my back condiotion will continue to worsen ( I still have pain) or I'll be "laid out on some customer's basement sooner or later. ??? What to do? Well my company fired me. I've got Comp and Unemployment. My family and friends want to to quit HVAC, but I really like working in the field, not in an office or a Supply house. During these last 19 months I developed major depression. This stinks trying all kinds of anti-depressants, dosages, and combinations.
I never got Life Insurance when I had a chance. Now with Cancer noone will touch me. My life expectancy is 2-5 years (after researching 40-50 medical web sites). Over one year has passed. Bottom line- I have terminal Cancer, the body of an 80 year old and major depression. What money we have I have sent my wife to Community College. She will need a job that will pay benefits for her and the family. I feel like a broken man, a lost soul. Little self worth or self esteem. I was supposed to be the provider, Not a liability. I ask God what I did to deserve this.....I don't know the answer. If I could say one thing to you guys, get Life Insurance. And say a little prayer for me, It is worth more than medicine.
meanwhile, back at the ranch.....
Bittan, you have made it this far and you havent given up. I cant imagine what it must be like, but.
Instead of thinking you are a liability to your family you may be teaching them the most important lesson of all. Life is not fair, but you can never give up.
You have and are setting a great example for not only your family but for others.
I know you feel down right now but this to shall pass.
I wish there was something i could say that did not sound trite or cheap, but you will be in my prayers as well as your family.
You sure are cocky for a starving pilgrim.
Nothing I could say would fix anything, but I wish you the best and will pray for you. Your family needs you, that's the most important thing in life. Money and possessions are often put first in our lives but as long as you have the ones you love you can get through this. Hang in there brother.
Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. (William Blake)
Perhaps it's time to buy a lotto ticket? I mean, with all that bad luck it would make for a pretty cool TLC "I won the lotto story"!
Seriously though, hang in there! Everything happens for a reason, and despite what you might think you've probably showed your family how to be strong which is a lesson you can't be taught in any school.
"If you call that hard work, a koalas life would look heroic."
VETO PRO PAC, The Official Tool Bag of HVAC-Talk.com
Testo... you guys rule!
bittan, I can truly relate to your frustration. I do not have cancer, but I was diagnosed three years ago with parkinsons. What I thought was parkinsons turned out to be a rare brain disease that is untreatable and incurable. The doctors expect it to take me in less than three years. The disease is causing my brain to waste away and is affecting my movement and speech. I haven't worked in the last year. My employer was extremely understanding and kept me employed as long as he could, he had a brother who died from MS. My situation is different than yours as my children are grown and between ssd and a disability insurance I am able to stay in my home. My wife is the one who has to shoulder the burden and it depresses the hell out of me. So I can kind of relate to what you are going through and I know your frustrations.
I wish you the best of luck
I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through.
You will be in my thoughts.
We have a bit of a support group going here for a couple of other cancer patients here.
See this link. http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread.php?t=247362
I also linked them to this thread so they wouldn't miss it.
Because we don't, and can't, see the Big Picture, our first inclination is to ask God, "why me? What did I do to deserve this?" The answer is most likely that you did nothing to "deserve" this. If you are a believer, then you have to ask yourself how you can serve Him by facing this adversity with Honor and Courage. And, why should you even consider that question?
You see, all these experiences are interconnected. Something happens, you react. Others react. You family sees your struggle, they help, and they learn. Others observe your reaction to duress. They pray, they consider your trial, and take a second hand lesson in what you are experiencing directly. In other words, what is a rough ride for you becomes an inspiration and lesson to others. For some, it may be as simple as "look out for that black ice." To others, it may be "live your life right for your Creator, because you never know when your time will end here."
My advice is to cherish every moment you have, to pray for wisdom and strength, and support your wife as she prepares to take the next steps of her life knowing that you have loved her and your child. And, I would recommend that you draw closer to God, because we ALL will meet Him eventually, believers or not. There is a lot of strength to be draw from in times of adversity. If you want an example of a man who loved God and yet, had the whole manure pile dumped on him, pick up a Bible and read the book of Job (pronounced "Jobe"). If nothing else, you will say to yourself, here's a guy who went through a lot more than I have.
And remember, someone, maybe several others, are learning from your experience, whether they know it or not. Your life is a puzzle piece in their lives. Make it as good a piece as you can, while you can.
Last edited by timebuilder; 09-20-2009 at 12:17 PM.
[Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
2 Tim 3:16-17
RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist
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you are in my prayers my friend. cherish this time with your family no matter how short it is. the reason i say this is that even though it seems so tough just let them know EVERY day how important they are to you.
my uncle was in perfect health and athletic and at the age of 44 he collapsed one day in the kitchen with no warning signs. he died on the spot, ended up he had an anyuerism in his brain and he left behind a wife and 4 daughters. he was so caught up with work and other things he never got the chance to say what he felt and to be shown what was REALLY important in his life......his family.
I'm just about to take my last Cancer treatment I been 3 surgeries and a year of treatment 3 times a week. and After all that I have a 40% to 50% of 2 - 5 year survival.
come Join us at http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread....47362&page=792 the guys are great and I don't know is I could have made it with out them.
PM or email me if you need to talk.
A fellow Cancer Patient
If you help others then you are a Success
If you help others then you are a Success
I am here for ya too! If I can be in FCS' corner... I can be in your corner too! I have been fortunate in my life to be in pretty good shape (although I feel like I am 84...) and I have no clue how you deal with your situation.... but I want you to know that I will have you in my thoughts and prayers as I know many others here will too.
Head up and shoulders back... cause you have nothing to be ashamed of nor do you have any reason to think... "why you". This may be a test... and as with any test.... you can get through it. My black cloud changes shades from pitch black to dark gray daily.... but as long as I can see the color.. I know I am alive and I have a chance to get to to disappear. Keep posting and coming back.... as will I
Silent Service........ Death From Below!
Somewhere in Kansas, a town found a village idiot!
Thanks for all the replies and support! I have found local group counseling here supportive. This is why I shared --- Not for pity's sake but simply to talk out loud. I have always enjoyed this site. Not that I have posted a lot over the years but always knew there are a LOT of smart HVAC guys who could not only answer my questions but have a great sense of humor
meanwhile, back at the ranch.....
Never apologizes thes guys understand hows treatment going?
Originally Posted by bittan
If you help others then you are a Success