The beginning of the crisis has begun only I’m still not aware how my life is beginning to slip slide away. October will be the last full month of work for me. Like seeing the red engine light come on the car dashboard and you are not immediately alarmed but concern is in the back of your mind. If you don’t hear unusual noises or see any smoke you continue to drive and check it out later maybe on payday. That’s how I handled this approaching illness. I had no medical insurance but knew when I got to Phoenix a good job would provide it and I would get the stomach problem fixed for good. I could see the finish line and was attempting to drag my body to it. I’ve never been a quitter and have beaten the odds with my strength and determination but at 42 I’m about to meet my match.
Journal entry – Early October 1988
The 10 year old Dodge truck broke down last week and no money for the part it needs. I refuse to dig into my secret travel money so will have to take it out of tips until I have enough. Since I now have to take a cab to and from work I try to work double shifts to make enough money for cab fare on top of bills. The cab is $15 each way so it doesn’t make since to just make a little over cab fare. I should have enough by end of the week for the part to fix it. It’s been frustrating to get a cab every night then at least every other night have him wait at a grocery store so I can buy a few necessities to keep the kids fed. On those nights the meter runs me an additional $7 as he waits. My usual abundant energy is waning from the extra work and stress. I can’t finish a shift without eight to ten Excedrin and a pot of coffee anymore and my stomach remains a screaming fire pit. I feel I’m running out of steam fast. I know I’ve worked my body way beyond its normal limits for a long time but it’s not too much longer now. I have $900 saved.
Journal entry – middle October 1988
Truck is fixed so no more taxi thank goodness. I bent over in stomach pain today at work. Seems I can’t keep anything down. The boss insisted I go to emergency room so I promised I would right after work. $75.00 later they said I probably have an ulcer and sent me home with a diet sheet and Maalox. The only time the pain is halfway tolerable is if I don’t eat. I don’t understand why I’m not getting better and every day it’s harder to push through this agony. Maybe it’s just a bug, maybe it will pass in a few more days. I’ve always been healthy surly I will overcome. My body’s warning lights are flashing but I don’t know what they mean.
Finally, another work night is over as I pull in and park by the 5th wheel we live in. My whole life, my children, run out to greet me but I have to take a minute before I can drop myself out of the truck. At last I make it to the picnic table where we always meet and discuss our day as I take my black apron off and we count tips as they get to keep all the dimes and nickels for the KOA store after school. The stars are out tonight and there’s a soft breeze. It’s not like the night sky in Arizona where the stars seem so close and the brilliance takes your breath away but it is a different beauty I tell the excited little faces. The pain is a constant reminder that I probably won’t be able to work double shifts or weeks with no day off and that slices through my ego like a paper cut. But, only six more weeks and things will be better. A new life on the horizon is so close I can almost touch it. If I was just not so tired.