As I made plans for New Year’s Eve this week, I suddenly remembered last year. The difference is startling.
Last year, I didn’t want to go out. I had no exciting plans, but even if I’d had them, I probably would have skipped them. I was sad, anxious, and overwhelmed. My grandfather had just passed away. I was still reeling from the passing of my grandmother almost exactly one year earlier. My financial situation was precarious. My hearing for social security benefits was still a few weeks away. My long term disability claim was about to be reviewed and possibly denied. My health was lousy. I was trying so hard to get better and I just couldn’t seem to make the progress that I wanted to make. I had no desire to celebrate the end of such a crappy year, and I wasn’t filled with hope or anticipation for the coming year. I dreaded attending any sort of celebration with happy, optimistic people. So when friends invited me over to hang out, making it clear it would be an early night, that sounded perfect. We talked. We played board games. And when midnight rolled around I was at home in my pajamas, watching the fireworks alone on tv.
By January 2, life had resumed as normal, and I continued plodding along.
This year is difference. I’m not looking forward to some wild, crazy night. But then, even with perfect health I probably still wouldn’t be. I guess that’s what age does to you. I don’t feel the need to celebrate, but I also don’t mind it. Some friends want to get together for a low key evening of talking, drinking, eating, and playing board games (we all love Settlers of Catan) and that sounds just about right to me. We’ll all toast the new year in together, but we won’t stay out too long past midnight. 2 couples have young children who will wake them up early and the other person will get up early for bird watching the next morning. So even if I didn’t need to get to bed at a reasonable time, everyone else will probably be leaving by 1am anyway.
But it’s more than the logistics, of course. This year I saw such improvement. I recently lost another grandparent and that has been difficult, but his final weeks and days were not as horribly painful as the others’. I lost my long term disability insurance coverage but I gained social security. More than that, I no longer have to worry about either one. The lack of worry has had an enormous impact on the improvement of my health. On top of that, I have stable health insurance for the first time in years. With the ability to see doctors and try new treatments, and with the lack of stress, not to mention with another year of the previous treatments under my belt, I’ve seen some huge improvements in the last year. Sure, I still have big health problems, but they’re more manageable and I have more reason to be hopeful.
I still have health-related problems that I’m trying to figure out. I want to see some doctors that don’t take my insurance. Social security disability doesn’t come close to paying all of my bills. I’m still not sure what’s causing some symptoms. I’m still reacting badly to some medications. But overall, I feel better enough that I can be optimistic that I’ll figure out ways to handle all of those issues sooner or later.
It’s not perfect, but it’s better.
One year passes quickly, but it’s really a long time. 365 days. 52 weeks. 8760 hours. It’s going to pass no matter what, so the best we can do is hope that as it does, our lives will be good and our health will improve, or at least not get worse. Then we need to do all we can to make those hopes a reality.
I don’t know how I’ll be feeling 1 year from now. Maybe better. Maybe worse. Maybe the same. But I sure as hell hope I’m doing better. And I hope you are too.
As we welcome 2015 and those 8760 hours begin passing, I will be hoping that you and I all see some good times, some improvement in our health, and some ways to manage the difficulties we face.
Here’s to us.