Small Victories

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It’s not a stretch to say that this has been one of the most challenging years I’ve had since my melanoma diagnosis in 2014. Between losing my dad to having some significant battles over getting the water damage to my condo repaired to recent corporate developments that may leave my position “redundant” sometime around the holidays, it just seems like the wagon train of suckiness has been making too many stops at my door lately.

So I’m trying to celebrate the small victories when I can right now.

The insurance company dragged their feet for over 10 months to pay out for the damages caused by a water leak due to work done by an upstairs neighbor’s contractors. Ten months of me living with holes in my ceiling and rotting wood floors. Ten months of feeling like I could not invite people over to my home. Ten months of getting irritated every time I looked up or down. So when we finally got the funds to fix this, I was hopeful that the long process of unproductive emails, ignored voicemails to the insurance adjusters, the back-and-forth of everyone passing the blame, and the growing sense that I was going to have to pay out-of-pocket for something I didn’t cause would finally be done. And naturally, we ended up getting a crew that was so incompetent and unprofessional that I could have hired two random dudes off the street and gotten better results. So I made my dissatisfaction known to the contractor, who proceeded to treat me like a little lady who didn’t know the first thing about drywall. Nothing will incense me faster than a sexist attitude like that. But instead of losing my cool, I firmly told him that he needed to come on-site to review the work and my issues with it. Full of bravado and bluster, he proceeded to yell at me in my own home (great customer experience, right?). But he made the mistake of doing that in front of his boss. You see, when I get furious, I also get eerily calm. I don’t yell, I don’t scream. I mean, I can probably kill with some of the looks I give. But I do not ratchet up the volume level. Which usually makes the yeller look like a defensive idiot. I then turned to his boss and spoke to him like a rational human being. So the upshot is that we got a new guy in that actually did professional work and the supervisor guy is now being very polite to me. Which is all I freaking wanted in the first place but why I had to go through this ridiculousness is beyond me.

The second small victory is that we finally heard back from the hospital where my dad was treated prior to his death. I mentioned briefly that we had a shift nurse that  absolutely should not be in a patient-facing role. Listen, I have nothing but mad respect for nurses because they do a job that I could never do. I know a boatload of people in the nursing profession, including a vast majority of my aunts. I know it’s a thankless, demanding job. But when you belittle patients, avoid duties that are part of your job, and talk shit about families when you think they can’t hear you – well, you deserve to be called out on that. My mom is the least confrontational person you will ever meet. People love her cheerful demeanor and quirky sense of humor. It’s actually kind of annoying at times because when I was younger, everyone thought she was just the coolest and I was like, “seriously? Come to my house and miss curfew by 15 minutes and tell me how great she is then.”  During my dad’s hospitalization, she was in agony because neither one of us could understand why my dad wasn’t getting better. And then to have this horrible person belittle my dad practically every time she came into the room, talk trash about my mom when she thought she wouldn’t be overheard, and generally make life more unpleasant during a time where we didn’t need more unpleasantness – well, let’s just say that we had a valid reason to be upset. But my mom was scared to speak up. A week after my dad died, I finally convinced her to talk to the ombudsman at the hospital. And then we went through the long process of pulling together our grievance document and submitting it. I’m not going to lie, I did most of the research and wrote it on my mom’s behalf. It was gut-wrenching pouring through my dad’s medical records and seeing in hindsight all of the signs that pointed to something incredibly bad happening within his body. I spent a lot of nights playing the “What If” game, trying to find a way where the outcome didn’t end the way it did.

Anyway, lots of setup to say that the investigation found that our claims were substantiated and corrective action was taken. I have no idea what that means and frankly, as long as she’s not in a role where she directs patient care, I don’t care. But it was a validation for me and my mom that the situation was wrong and someone else found it was wrong too. That we were right to speak out on it. I was proud of my mom for following through on it with me. And I’m hoping somewhere, my dad is proud of both of us for standing up for him.

Standing up for what I believe is right. For a year like this one, I’ll take whatever I can get in terms of small victories.

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