08 January 2008

An Emotionally Wrenching Day

I'm writing this in my word processing program on the train back into NYC, where I will then take the subway back to Forest Hills.

Today was emotionally wrenching for me. I wound up spending the night in Throgs Neck at my friend's because I went over to her place in the afternoon to help resolve a problem that she was having with her computer and wound up working until almost midnight, and by then I was just too exhausted to spend the two hours it would take me on NYC's subway system to get back to where I was apartment sitting for my friend in Forest Hills (remember that I've been homeless for about the past two years and have been couch hopping among friends since then).

Originally my mother was supposed to come out and see me in Forest Hills, pick me up, and take me to Yonkers where I could finally get to the police station there and file a complain/report regarding what happened to me in October/November/December, and how a really disturbed individual named Louis Rivera pretended to be my friend in order to have me star in his own personal soap opera (at least, this is what it feels like to me). I've previously written about that on my Gather account and, in fact, the narrative was so long that I wound up breaking it up into three separate parts (I'm eventually going to have to post a Part IV...).

So instead I had to call my mother and give directions to my younger brother (who was driving) to my friend's place in Throgs Neck. This actually turned out for the better as it meant that they wouldn't have to drive as far to retrieve me (they live west of Hartford, CT, which is about a bit over two hours from where I was staying in Throgs Neck). Also, my friend is right off a main highway in Throgs Neck, which is a branch of the highway that they would have taken down from Hartford. So this part of it worked out better. My brother said that he would probably arrive between 11 in the morning and noon.

At approximately 1:30pm, my brother and mother finally arrive. I obtain directions to the 2nd Precinct of the Yonkers Police Department and we depart. Once we arrive at the Yonkers PD, 2nd Precinct, I advise the desk sargeant (or whatever his rank was) as to the reason of my visit there, and he tells me that it's probably going to be a long wait. Apparently, the City of Yonkers was going to hell that day and all of their officers were occupied and unable to take a report from me.

I waited at the Yonkers PD for nearly three hours before an officer (a team, actually; I guess they work in teams there) was able to speak with me. And what's worse, because I ended up spending the night in the Bronx (Throgs Neck) instead of going back to Forest Hills (Queens), I didn't have what I really needed in order to lodge the complaint. The officers informed me that there really wasn't anything that they could do because I didn't have bank statements or whatever showing what had been done. They didn't seem to think it a big deal that Louis Rivera still has my old notebook computer, clothing, a suitcase, notebook computer case, diary, debit cards, driver's license, social security card, Medicare card, shopping club cards, checkbook (to my old account) and just about every other important piece of information that helps to identify me. I suppose that because I informed the officers that I had canceled all of my cards, that they didn't think anything was pressing.

Even though I pleaded with the officers to at least open a report, as it is extremely difficult for me to get there via public transportation, they advised me that the best they could do for me was to give me an incident report, which they marked as not having a police report being filed at that time, but when I returned (they advised that I must do so in person) then at least I would have a starting point. So I left there with a small slip of paper with an incident report on it. They took down my name, address, phone number, and email address, and the name and addrees of Louis Rivera (I didn't have his phone number on me as I'd left my mobile phone in Forest Hills when I left for my friend's in Throgs Neck the day before).

So my visit to the Yonkers Police Department was not nearly as productive as I had hoped that it would be.

I also had planned to go up to my bank, and my branch of my bank, to close my new checking account and open yet another new checking account there, without ID (which is why I wanted to go to my branch), because of fraudulent activity that has been taking place on my new checking account. (You may recall that I had to close my old account because of the fraudulent activity that Louis Rivera was conducting on that account.) Needless to say, because of the wait that I had at the Yonkers PD, I wasn't able to make it to the bank in time.

After I was finally finished with the Yonkers PD (it was almost five pm by this point), my mother was complaining that she needed to eat (she's diabetic) so we went to Kam Sen, the Asian Market in White Plains, NY where, in addition to offering everything that an Asian supermarket offers, they also cook food on the premises either for take-out or dining on the premises (they have some cafe-styled tables and chairs set up near where the food is served for people to sit down and eat a quick meal). So we got food, ate, and then my mother bought me some food so I could cook and not have to spend as much money on eating out (which is usually what I do).

As it was too late to get to my bank so I could open a new account,, we wound up going to visit my sister, who lives with my grandfather. Also residing in the household now are my uncle (the one who kicked me out of my grandfather's home), my sister's boyfriend, her daughter, and her godson. Earlier in the day I had called what I thought was my sister's mobile phone number, but my uncle answered and advised me that it was now my grandfather's number, and I asked him for my sister's number and he gave that to me. I really did not want to speak with him and I never call the house number for this very purpose. He was all nice and everything but I just can't deal with it. He's nice one minute and a POS the next.

In any event, I wasn't planning on coming into the house, especially since I'd previously been told that I wasn't allowed inside anymore. But after waiting about 15 minutes in the car while my mother visited with her daughter (my sister) and her granddaughter (my niece), my uncle came outside and told me that my sister wanted to see me, inside. Great, just what I wanted to have happen: interaction with my uncle who likes for nothing better than to screw with my mind.

Oh, have I mentioned that I also haven't seen my grandfather since I was thrown out of the home by my uncle?

OK, so I go inside. I see my sister and she just doesn't look right. [Update: I finally figured out why she wasn't looking "right": she was pale, very, very pale....] I'd been trying to get hold of her since last week--when she told me that she was going in for every test under the sun because they found a lump in her breast, and she's only 31--but she hasn't been online, so of course my anxiety disorder takes over and I start thinking the worst.

I guess that this time, I had reason to be anxious and to think the worst. My sister has a very invasive form of breast cancer—Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 2—and she is scheduled for a total mastectomy of both breasts with axillary dissection, which means that she will have both of her breasts completely removed at the ripe old age of 31, as well as some of the lymph nodes in her breast/back, and then undergo a harsh chemotherapy treatment and, if the results from the lymph removal come back as being positive, then she will also undergo additional surgery to have all of her upper-body lymph nodes removed and then begin radiation treatment. Oh, and did I mention that the reason my mother came down this way was because she has an appointment for a mammogram tomorrow in Bridgeport, CT?

Now here's the thing ... approximately five years ago, I had a lump form in my right breast. There is an estensive family history of breast cancer in my family: my mother has already had a lumpectomy in each of her breasts, the first one occurring in the Fall of 2002—the same year as my automobile accident; both of my grandmothers also were diagnosed with breast cancer, and my paternal grandmother wound up requiring a mastectomy as a result of the cancer in one of her breasts.. Because of this history, I underwent a mammogram and ultrasound to determine if the lump was cancerous. The doctors were fairly certain that the lump was not cancerous and just a cyst at this point, and advised against further testing; however, they did advise me to have the lump checked out every two years via a bi-annual mammogram. Due to a variety of factors (no/little insurance, not having a primary care doctor, etc.), I haven't followed up on their advice. Due to the recent developments with my sister, I believe that I now am left with no choice and must figure out a way to get a mammogram scheduled ASAP.

My sister is absolutely devastated because she went to the plastic surgeon yesterday for a consultation, which she advises me is “practically required for women my age”, and the plastic surgeon showed her images of what she would look like without breasts. He also told her that they would insert something into her breasts that would, over the course of six weeks or so, be inflated, so that when she was completed with her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, implants could then be inserted with minimal effort.

I can only imagine what my sister is going through. She already has body image problems (like me, she's morbidly obese, although unlike me she was more svelte as a teenager and put weight on as she grew into adulthood; I was the opposite as I was quite “chunky” as a kid growing up and wound up taking off the weight in college but I have put all of it back on afte my automobile accident, because I am unable to physically move around like I was before the accident. But I digress....

She's had relationship problems with her boyfriend (the father of her daughter), and he's left her for other women in the past, although now they seem to be doing OK but one never knows. Add to this the fact that she will be losing both here breasts, at the age of 31, and the body image problems rise exponentially. She confided in me that she doesn't want to have to undergo any more surgeries (she had an injury to her arm while she was in college and she also has had, from time to time, some sort of growths in her intestines removed) and she really doesn't want to have to undergo plastic surgery to have breast implants. I told her that she didn't have to undergo any medical procedure that she didn't want to but she responded that, because of her age, they were essentially dictating that she undergo therapy and have fake breasts put on as it was too psychologically damaging for a woman of her early years to have both breasts removed. I'm not sure I buy that answer; if you don't want to undergo a procedure then you aren't required to undergo it.

However, what I didn't pick up on was that my sister was talking about not wanting to undergo any of it, including the removal of the cancerous lumps in the first place. I advised her, as gently as I could, that should she choose that route then she was certainly fortelling her early demise, and I know that that's not what she really wanted, especially given how much she cares about and loves her daughter. She responded that if such was the case then that wasn't a good thing, and she truly seemed torn by the decision to have both of her breasts removed or face certain death.

As we were getting ready to leave, I my grandfather had emerged from his room. He was sittting in a chair in the living room. He is wheeled around the house in a wheelchair. He has a chair that he can slump into in the living room (it's one of those chairs that rise off the ground to make it easier to get out of—the back pushes up and the chair tilts forward so that one is left virtually standing by the time it is finished its thing, and it remains in that position until one returns to sit in it.

I don't know if I've written about this previously, but my grandfather had a run of very bad luck with regard to his health over this past summer (summer 2007). He suffered a heart attack while he was driving (and took out a bus stop near his home). While he was hospitalized, he wound up having, and I'm not certain of the order of these events so I'll just lump them all together, another minor heart attack, a massive coronary, and a major brain hemorrhage (a/k/a a major stroke). The stroke left him unable to speak and unable to use the right side of his body, although he has begun to recover somewhat from that.

It was a real shock seeing my grandfather. He looked frail, and if there was one thing one never would say about my grandfather was that he looked frail. He's now 86 years old, and will be turning (should he survive so long) 87 come April. He can't hear out of his right ear, so he has to turn his face so that his left ear is facing you while you're talking to him. That's from the stroke.

The train will be pulling into Grand Central Terminal in a few moments; I'm emotionally drained, which, along with my depression has left me physically drained. I don't think I could really write much more anyway.

My sister, my grandfather, my mother, my niece, and me. Happy, happy, joy, joy....

For my Gather friends, here's a link back to the article so you can return to comment and receive your points.