Health

WITH GRATITUDE – AND ABOUT THE WELL

Feeling Fancy — You’re given unlimited funds to plan one day full of any and all luxuries you normally can’t afford. Tell us about your extravagant day with as much detail as possible.


Raining

Raining

It’s such a dreary, drippy day. I think it will be teeming soon enough. That’s what the forecast calls for. Almost 3 inches of rain today and flash flood warnings throughout the Valley.

At least it isn’t as cold as yesterday, or all the stuff falling out of the sky would be snow and sleet. It’s dark, too. I keep turning lights on, but it doesn’t feel bright enough. And my head hurts. I blame it on the weather.

I blame everything on the weather. The weather can’t argue back.

It is hard for me to imagine spending unlimited funds on myself for any reason. It has been a long time since I saw money and didn’t think “bills need to be paid.” That’s life in the slow lane, life since retirement, since the paychecks were replaced by pensions and Social Security.

So many things which were yearned-for luxuries have no place in today’s world. Not that long ago, a “spa day” sounded great. Now, it sounds like a long drive through heavy traffic, somebody poking at me, followed by a long ride home. I haven’t had my hair professionally cut in more than a year. Not because there are no hairdressers to whom I could go. It’s that I don’t trust anyone near my head with a pair of shears.

I wouldn’t mind a pedicure, though. That would be nice. I can do that locally. Get my eyebrows waxed. How about dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant? Get the car detailed so it looks good and smells fresh?

72-Heron_137

If we are going to go all out, how about a chair lift so we can stop hauling our reluctant bodies up the stairs? And a pair of senior scooters plus a car-carrier so we can take them with us? That would make life a lot more fun!

Maybe a contractor to fix the stuff that needs updating, replacing, repairing, restoring. Not an overhaul. A coat of paint. New vinyl in kitchens and bath, carpeting in bedrooms. Give the old place a face lift. Since you asked.

I don’t brood on this stuff. We manage. We’re not suffering, though we aren’t getting younger or more spry. But who is?

december bouquet

We have a lot more than many others, so rather than yearning for what we lack, I’d rather dwell on how lucky we are.

It has been an amazing year. I’m alive! That’s a good starting point!

ABOUT THE WELL

With your help, we have a well. Water flowing from the taps. The project is not quite completed. We still lack the well’s top. Probably not going to get that done until spring. But everything else is finished.

The well is working. We have water pressure. Water from the taps is icy cold and crystal clear. It means we can continue living in this beautiful valley of rivers and dams, beavers, ducks, and herons.

So this is a good time to be glad. Christmas is rolling around and I’m here to celebrate. Grateful to have friends who care. Family. And so happy we have each other.

That’s huge. Come to think of it, I’ve got plenty!

I’M JUST FINE. THANKS FOR ASKING.

BLAST FROM THE PAST:

A mere two years after a double mastectomy, I’m facing another medical crisis. I’m not handling it gracefully. Too many crises. Dozens of surgeries. I can’t bore you with details; I have, thankfully, forgotten them.

Fake breasts

I’ve spent more time in the hospital than most interns. I’m a professional patient with the scars to prove it. When I die, they should stuff me. Put me in some kind of museum proving with enough medical attention, even the totally unfit can survive. Each doctor who redesigned some portion of me can tattoo his signature along the appropriate scar, assuming all the doctors are still alive. Probably they aren’t because I started my career on the wrong side of medicine while still a teenager and apparently am not due for retirement anytime soon.

I need a new mitral valve. I used to joke and laugh, saying the only major system in my body that continues to work is my heart. I laughed too soon. Probably jinxed myself.

I go into each surgery with fear and resignation. I know how I’m going to feel when I wake up from the anaesthesia. I will hurt. I will be sick and disoriented. I will realize I must have survived because I’m aware how totally miserable I am. Again.

Last time I woke up and the first thing I did was look down at my chest to see if I had a semblance of breasts. I did. Lumpy, not flat. Though I knew they weren’t original equipment, I was comforted by the familiarity of the landscape. With all the pain, drains and anger at my body for betraying me, it was nice to know I would at least appear — on the surface — female.

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View of Boston and Fenway Park from the Baptist Hospital

That was when I said: “Never again. I’m never going through this again.”

I should just shut up. How stupid am I? I can’t remember how many times I’ve woken from that weird deathlike anaesthesia sleep and have fought my way back up to the light. Each time, just a little weaker, a bit less sure of the future — but alive. Hanging on.

Lobby of the Dana-Farber in Milford

Lobby of the Dana-Farber in Milford

It’s too soon. I’m not ready. Maybe this time the magic won’t work. My first husband died following complications of mitral valve replacement surgery. I watched him die. After the surgical accident that killed his brain, he remained technically alive, but in a vegetative state for 9 long months. I took care of something that looked like him, but whose eyes were empty. When finally he passed completely, I and the rest of his friends gratefully wished him well on a journey he should have taken nearly a year before.

Probably no surprise that this particular surgery holds a special terror for me.

Less than two years since I vowed “Never again,”  again has come. I suppose I’ve already made the choice to let them fix me, or try anyhow (does “or die trying” sound too ghoulish?). The alternative — slowly dying while my heart becomes less and less able to pump blood — doesn’t sound attractive. An attractive option does not seem to be available. But, there’s no advantage in waiting. I won’t get younger or healthier. The older I get, the more dangerous surgery is.

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Glass shaft at the Dana-Farber.

I gave myself a little gift of time. I put off my appointment with the surgeon until the beginning of September. I need to get my head into a better space, to settle down emotionally. A few weeks of denial before I tackle another scary reality.

So for the next three weeks If you ask me, I will tell you. I’m just fine. Thanks for asking.

GENEROSITY. MY FIRST MISTAKE.

My husband’s statement from Medicare showed a charge (paid by Medicare) for a doctor neither of us had ever heard of. This wasn’t the first time such a charge had appeared and I was fed up with phantom charges, even if they didn’t personally cost us anything.

I called the number on the Medicare summary to which one was supposed to address issues of fraud. After half an hour on hold, I got a person … who told me I needed to call the “Fraud Hotline.” Following some grousing (I was merely trying to be a good citizen … Medicare was the one getting hit with bogus charges, not us), I called the hotline.

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More like a cold line. Endless voicemail options. Press this, press that, press the next thing, press another thing … and then …

You got it. Wait on hold for another half hour.

When finally I get through, I provided the information. Then, I pointed out if they are serious about stopping fraud, they might want to make it less of a challenge to report it. She said that’s the way the hotline is, nothing to be done about it and I mentally threw my arms in the air and gave up.

It turns out it was actually Walmart (who we already paid for Garry’s eye exam), billing Medicare for yet another eye exam with the optometrist’s wife — who he had never heard of and never seen. Another $100 on top of the $110 he already paid to Walmart. Nice little scam, eh?

Apparently no one appreciated my attempt at good citizenship and like Calvera in “The Magnificent Seven,” I realized “Generosity, that was my first mistake.”

I spent nearly 2 hours trying to report a fraud … and no one cares. As far as Medicare is concerned, it is more trouble to track down scams than to just pay them off.

And here we sit, wondering where our money goes.

Wonder no more. I know where it goes.

NORMAL SCHMORMAL AHBIGAZINT

Pace Oddity

If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?


 THINGS I BROOD ON AND WOULD LIKE TO GET DONE ALREADY

That’ what my mother would have said. “Normal shmormal, as long as your healthy.” In Yiddish. Well, I’m not very healthy and neither was she, and I don’t see what that has to do with it anyhow. I never did.

These days, my mind is focused on water. As the autumn begins to pass and the temperatures drop, I fret. I’m not the only one, either. Everyone is bit peevish. We all have laundry. We want our showers back. And we are stuck, waiting, because there’s one guy and a lot of wells and we aren’t the worst one.

Manchaug Dam

I’m a natural-born worrier. I’ve gotten better with the years, but when stuff like this happens, I want to be done with it. Fixed, finished, finalized. I want to get on with the important worries: why my breastbone has failed to fuse and still makes a grinding noise when I move.

Is there anything that will make my hips work like real hips so I can stop climbing the stairs using the railing hand over hand like a spelunker. So I can brood on what’s going on with my cancer. Just past 3 years and all I know is I’m alive. I’d like to know I don’t have cancer, but apparently that’s unrealistic.

Survivor equals “So far so good — not dead yet.”Maybe that’s the way all life is, but when you have had cancer, you get labels. And they stick.

So please Dave, fix my well. Let’s get ready for winter. I need the well finished. I need the sidewalk back in place. I need snow tires on the PT Cruiser. I need some cortisone shots in my hips.

I need a good night’s sleep.

Speed up! Let’s get this show on the road, Mr. Dave the Well Guy.

Hey, breast bone? Heal, dammit! They said 6 months. Now it’s seven months, so they are saying eight months. Or who know? Ten? Forever? Let’s get moving on this healing thing. I hate the grinding noise my chest bones make. It’s icky and it hurts.

BRIEF STATEMENT ABOUT DOCTORS AND TYPES OF DOCTORS

Nice Doctors

First is my shrink. She doesn’t shrink me,but she tries to help me by finding drugs that will help me feel better. She knows she can’t cure what ails me — because so much ails me — but she’d like me to enjoy my life despite all the problems and to this end, she is dedicated. And I adore her.

My cardiologist who favors anything that will make me feel better, whether it’s medical marijuana or strolling through the park on a lovely autumn day. He tells me I’m doing great,  even though I’m not doing so great in some ways, but I’m always happier when I leave his office. He approves of any drug that won’t kill me but might make my days more enjoyable. Bless his heart.

Stern Physician

I need him, but he’s like the parent who enforces the rules. Nothing namby-pamby about him. He’s my age … maybe a little older. Not big on sympathy. He has that Marine Corps attitude: “This is your body, good or ill. Suck it up, do the best you can. There are no body swaps. Have another painkiller. Oh, and here’s the name of a pain specialist. She’s good with needles. Your breast bone will heal when it’s damned good and ready.” He is not gonna cry ME a river.

“You’re 67 and you’ve had massive, invasive, extremely serious surgery. They cut you open with a buzz saw not all that long ago. What are you thinking?” (That I’d be okay by now and could get back to a normal-ish life?)

So if we are going to put a “hurry up” on something (other than getting the well done) … can we make that breast bone heal already? Please????

If, by perchance, I have an unknown and extremely wealthy relative somewhere who is ready to slip that mortal coil — preferably one who has had a long, productive, happy life, I’d appreciate a rapid distribution on my inheritance. Because I really need a chair lift for the stairs, a carrier for the car to hold a couple of scooters for my baby and me to ride the high country (zooped up ones that will also do off-roading, please). An a well-designed yet economical four-wheel-drive vehicle to get us through the winter and not leave us stranded in the driveway.

WITH CATHARSIS, WE GIVE EGGROLL

Phew. This was cathartic.

Mom, I hear ya’. Normal Schmormal Ahbigazint. And this too shall past. **

Sooner would be better than later, so put a rush it, please. Not the passing. Just everything else.


 

ATTAR of NISHIPUR** “This too shall pass” (Persian: این نیز بگذرد‎, pronunciation:īn nīz bogzarad, Arabic: لا شيء يدوم‎ (“Nothing endures“), Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎) is an adage indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary. The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets, and is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which has the ability to make the happy man sad and the sad man happy. Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The adage and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and being employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.


Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (c. 1145 – c. 1221;Persian: ابو حامد بن ابوبکر ابراهیم‎), better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn (فرید الدین) and ʿAṭṭār (عطار, “the perfumer”), was a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician ofSufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry andSufism.

SALK, SABIN, AND THE RACE AGAINST POLIO

JonasSalkB-D

Today is Jonas Salk’s birthday. If he were alive, he would be 100 today. But conquering polio was not only about Dr. Salk.

9a6c4875-d872-44f1-a031-df088f1930adAs polio ravaged patients worldwide, two gifted American researchers developed distinct vaccines against it. Then the question was: Which one to use?

By Gilbert King
Smithsonian.com
April 3, 2012

They were two young Jewish men who grew up just a few years apart in the New York area during the Great Depression. Though both were both drawn to the study of medicine and did not know each other at the time, their names would be linked in a heroic struggle that played out on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

In the end, both Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk could rightfully claim credit for one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments—the near-eradication of polio in the 20th century. And yet debate still echoes  over whose method is best suited for the mass vaccination needed to finish the job: Salk’s injected, dead-virus vaccine or Sabin’s oral, live-virus version

In the first half of the 20th century, Americans lived in fear of the incurable paralytic poliomyelitis (polio) disease, which they barely understood and knew not how to contain. That the disease led to some kind of infection in the central nervous system that crippled so many children, and even a president (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was alarming enough.

But the psychological trauma that followed a neighborhood outbreak resonated. Under the mistaken belief that poor sanitary conditions during the “polio season” of summer increased exposure to the virus, people resorted to measures that had been used to combat the spread of influenza or the plague. Areas were quarantined, schools and movie theaters were closed, windows were sealed shut in the heat of summer, public swimming pools were abandoned, and draft inductions were suspended.

Worse, many hospitals refused to admit patients who were believed to have contracted polio, and the afflicted were forced to rely on home care by doctors and nurses who could do little more than fit children for braces and crutches. In its early stages, polio paralyzed some patients’ chest muscles; if they were fortunate, they would be placed in an “iron lung,” a tank respirator with vacuum pumps pressurized to pull air in and out of the lungs. The iron lungs saved lives, but became an intimidating visual reminder of polio’s often devastating effects.

Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

LIFE’S GRAND SLAM – A WALK-OFF HOME RUN

Grand Slam

The World Series starts tonight! In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)


We are baseball fans, so when you mention baseball and walk-off home run in one breath, David Ortiz rises before my eyes. I know the Sox aren’t in it this year, but it’s been an interesting baseball season with last year’s first place Sox become this year’s solidly last place Sox. How did they do that? How do you take a winning team and become the biggest losers in just one year? Without major lineup changes or something weird happening with the owners? I don’t get it.

Go Royals.

Back to earth. At this point, my walk-off home run would be a multi-faceted project involved a magic remedy to alleviate arthritis, regenerate missing body parts and internal organs, and winning a big payout on a lottery ticket which I suppose I’d to actually buy, something I keep forgetting do. I used to buy tickets, but during the past year, I never seem to have cash when I am someplace that sells tickets.

nationals in DC baseball

These days, I’d be a happy camper if I could get a night’s sleep and wake free from pain. One day a week. To have the calcification of my spine stop getting worse, even if it won’t get better. To have enough money to buy an all-wheel drive vehicle to get me out of the driveway when it snows.

Mind you, I’m not unhappy. Despite everything, I find life engaging, entertaining, amusing, satisfying. Fun. I’ve had to find new things to enjoy, but everyone has to adapt. We change, the world changes. Unless you want to be one of the people who sits around griping about the “good old days” and how nothing is as like it used to be, we all have to find new stuff to enjoy and new ways to do it. It merely takes some determination … and creativity.

WAITING FOR WATER, HOPING FOR RAIN

DAILY PROMPT: READY, SET, DONE – Free Writing In the Morning

This is a dark morning. It looks like it’s going to rain. That’s a good thing and I hope it will rain for real. But it’s often dark and gray like this in the morning, yet no rain comes. By mid morning, the sky clears. The ground stays dry.

It’s been like this … if I think about it … since last summer, the summer of 2013. That’s the first time I went to Manchaug and saw the dam was dry. It was far dryer this year, the lake being nearly gone. The mallards and swans are gone too. The turtles are living in brown puddles.

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The dams were had already been closed and dry by the autumn of 2013 and have not reopened. Still locked up through this entire year. We had a moderate amount of snow — along with plenty of ice and cold — but the amount of snow didn’t make up for the lack of spring and summer rains. No autumn rains, either. Makes for beautiful foliage, but dry wells.

Dealing with our own personal drought, we’ve gone in just a few days from total panic to a kind of zen acceptance. You can’t do without water, of course. Whether you live in a grass hut or a modern house in the suburbs — or our ranch house in the valley … water is the bottom line in necessities.

Not just any water. We need clean water. Drinkable water. Water with which we can wash and cook. Now … after 4 days … we have a little bit of water in the well. Not much. It’s a fragile thing. No laundry. Hand showers and don’t leave the water running even for a few minutes. Bottled water for making coffee, cooking, drinking, even for the dogs. That stuff coming out of the faucet is not a color water should be. Brownish, yellowish. Unhealthy. Until the well is repaired … which we hope will be soon … we are on rations.

This is Mother Nature reminding we modern folk how little power we have if she wills otherwise. We can have all the technology in the world. Software, hardware, the fanciest smartphones, computers, and cameras … but when the well is dry, nothing help. We know no magic that can make the water flow, only basic technology to try and clear the natural fissures in the rocks through which water passes and fills our holes in the ground. Which is all a well is. A deep hole in the ground with a big pump to bring it to the surface.

We are in waiting mode, waiting for the well fixers to get back to us with final number, hoping those numbers we get and the money we’ve collected work together. Because we have to get this done. Soon. Before the ground freezes.

Each morning now, it’s a little colder than it was the day before. Autumn is here. For real. Winter cannot be far behind.

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