AS GOOD AS IT GETS

Sparkling or Still – What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.


What day is today? I don’t mean the date. The day of the week. Because I don’t know anymore. That’s life in the slow lane … also known as “retired.”

Me and Cherrie

Unless I have a doctor appointment or errands to run, everyday is a day off. The best ones are those spent in the company of friends, laughing, remembering, sharing. Laughing over things no one else would laugh about, sharing stuff no one else knows about. Or cares.

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And that’s perfect enough for me. I’m not sure there is anything that could improve on that experience … except maybe an infusion of expendable cash and a theme park with killer roller coasters.

SHARING MY WORLD – WEEK 46

Share Your World – 2014 Week 46

On a vacation what you would require in any place that you sleep? 

Cleanliness and no bugs. But we’ve stayed in some pretty horrible places. Memorably horrible and hopefully will never repeat those experiences.

futon bed cape cod

Music or silence while working?

If I’m editing photos, I will listen to an audiobook or music, but if I’m writing, silence is best. Or at least quiet.

If you were to move and your home came fully furnished with everything you ever wanted, list at least three things from your old house you wish to retain?

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My Chinese porcelain (probably more than three pieces!), some of which is very old … as in thousands of years. And our bed. I LOVE our bed.

Hallway

Our artwork — the paintings and photographs we have hanging on our walls — is worth more than money. My framed photos, Garry’s awards and photos, plus the paintings and photographs we have bought through the years cannot be replaced. Most are one-of-a-kind. These are what make our home ours.

Han Dynasty 206 BC - 220 AD

Han Dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD

What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?

Air by far. It’s not the planes, although they are bad. It’s airports that really kill me. Who designs them? They are the worst experience — horrible — for everyone. Is there anyone who loves airports? If so, why?

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

They finally fixed the well and we have water. And he came back and filled the huge hole with sand so we have something like a front walk again. Next week? A proper lid for the well, then we are finished with the crisis. Or so we fondly believe!

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.

HAIL ODDFELLOW

Cousin It – We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?


We live in “anything goes” times. Who is eccentric versus who is normal is entirely a matter of taste and opinion.

Time has thinned the herd of my family so there are few cousins from whom to choose, weird or otherwise. At least ones I know personally. There are a bunch of second and third cousins I have never met except on Facebook, but I don’t think they count.

SeidenFamily 1963

Maybe I am the weird cousin. Not because I’m especially unusual, but just because I’ve made choices no one else in my generation made. If I were young now, my choices wouldn’t even be noteworthy.

What is weird? I went to live in another country. I was married and divorced more than twice. In my generation that was “something,” but I doubt it’s anything now.

So. If I am not particularly weird, who is? I know I’ve been somewhat unexpected and perhaps a bit unpredictable, but genuinely eccentric?

What would that mean, really? What would I have to do to stand out from the crowd?

I think being alive is outstanding.

In this generation, normal might be the new unusual. Whatever normal is.

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.

Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #129 – 10/16/14

Marilyn Armstrong:

Today I tried to buy something at Rite Aid. I didn’t have (OMG!!) my Rite Aid Wellness card, so the cashier refused to give me the discounts on their overpriced products. I think I got a bit loud. This cartoon reminded me of the incident because the reason they insist on the “wellness card” is so they can use my statistics for data mining!

P.S. I got my discounts.

Originally posted on Evil Squirrel's Nest:

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KEY TO WHAT?

Golden Key – You’ve been given a key that can open one building, room, locker, or box to which you don’t normally have access. How do you use it, and why?


A golden key. Solid gold? Can I sell it?

I can’t think of any place on the real earth I want to go that I cannot access. If it’s the key to memory, I’ll skip it thanks. I remember quite enough.

golden key

Key to a vault? A vault full of money? Whose money? I’m sure it isn’t mine, so I’m not clear on what good it would do me. Are you suggesting I start a life of crime?

At my age? I don’t think I have the nerves for it. I’m pretty sure I never did. Besides, my luck being what it is, I’d be the one person to be given “a golden key”, go grab a few goodies … and the FBI will be waiting when I exit the vault with my ill (but easily gotten) gains. The very definition of easy-come-easy-go.

Tell you what. I’ll keep the key as a memento. Put it on a golden chain (maybe I can find a nice one on sale) and wear it in remembrance.

I’ll think of it as my blogging prize, okay?