WORLD-SHARING 2.02.4 – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – July 9, 2018


What would you name the autobiography of your life?

Serendipity.


Which do you prefer sweet, salty or buttery?

All of the above, in varying combinations. I do not, however, like “sweet-salty” combinations such as chocolate covered salty pretzels. I do like sweet-bitter combinations like bitter orange, lemon … to a point. I’m not an extremist. I don’t like intensely bitter orange or super-soured lemon. I sort of appreciate subtlety in foods.

As for buttery? Not so much these days. When I was younger and didn’t mind fatty foods, I was more butter-inclined. Fonder of “slathered in butter.” Not much these days. I’m more temperate. I like a little bit of this, that, and the other thing. Too much of any single thing is … well … too much of a good thing.


What’s the finest education?

For what? Law? Medicine? Software Engineering? Physics? High Mathematics? History? Economics?

Even amongst the top schools for each subject, you could argue which was which THE school. Do you like MIT or Cal Tech? Harvard or Yale? Cambridge or the Sorbonne? Julliard? Oberlin?

Photo: B. Kraft

I think the best education for me or you would be the best we could get out of what happens to be available. I’ve met some really ignorant PhDers and some incredibly smart people without any formal education.

Still, that being said, a really excellent education at a top school for whatever you are studying can’t possibly hurt, right? So if you can get into the right school, definitely go. And I don’t mean online. I mean GO. Because there’s more to college than classes.


What made you smile this past week?

When we got home from the hospital — it was a long day — I found a package. It was the fancy Red Sox 2018 shirt I ordered for Garry. A bit more than I would normally spend on a shirt, but I thought he needed something to perk up his world. He has been so worried about this surgery, he needed an “upper” and I thought this would be it.

You think? It certainly made Garry smile  😎

DARTS, MUSEUMS, AND THE BEGINNING OUR OUR SUMMER PUSH … Marilyn Armstrong

#FOWS – Museum and #RDP 39 – Dart

What do these two words have to do with anything I have to say this morning?

Nothing that I can figure out. Maybe you can find the link I’m missing, but I can’t. This morning is a bit rushed for us. I’m hoping traffic is okay.

This seems like a reasonable place to say what’s about to happen, so bear with me.

Today is Garry pre-op day at UMass Memorial. In less than 2 weeks, it’s going to be surgery and a lot of weeks of checkups, adjustments. and evaluations. Mostly, it means (for us) a lot of running back to and from the hospital until finally, the magic comes together and all is well with the world.

This is the moment when I have to begin to pull away from this blog for a while. Between one thing and another, we are going to be going through a busy time. I don’t want to feel like a failure if I can’t meet my quota of blogs I’ve read, comments made, photos I’ve taken, and posts produced. For a while, the world will have to somehow turn without me giving it a twirl. I suspect it will do just fine.

I’ve been blogging with almost machine-like precision for six years. I hope I can take a break and you all won’t abandon me. I will try to keep up (within limits), but this is not going to be my best summer for creativity.

We’ve won’t be traipsing to museums, though I do very much enjoy them and I’m not planning any dart-throwing in the foreseeable future. I’ll try to comment when I can and you are all in my heart.

Wish us luck and may this summer be warm, full of joy, and smelling of flowers!

TO HEAR: THE OBJECT OF THE EXERCISE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE OBJECT OF THE EXERCISE: TO HEAR

Yesterday, I got a call from the Audiology Department of UMass. She said she wanted to give me the rest of Garry’s official audiological follow-up appointments — as opposed to the surgical follow-ups. I had already gotten the ones for pre-op and Surgery, plus surgical follow-up. Lucky for both of us, she didn’t expect to talk to Garry personally. This is the only medical place that realized he can’t talk on the phone.

As a deaf person, he can’t chat on the phone. That’s what the surgery is all about. Every other time I talk to a medical person other than our family guy, they insist on talking to Garry. I hand him the phone, shout “JUST SAY YES!” Which he does and the conversation can progress. They totally fail to have a grip on the “he can’t hear” issue. Either that or they think if they yell louder into the mouthpiece, that will fix it.

No more of these!

The cochlear implant is a surgical miracle and a lot of technological fine-tuning. Post surgery, he has a date for “turning on the equipment,” three more tune-ups, with a final official get-together after six months. If he needs more help or another type of help, like speech therapy, we can add those.

It’s just as well we aren’t trying to do this in Boston. We’d never survive the traffic.

The object of all of this? To bring Garry back into the world. To make him part of the conversation. To have him in it and not have to round it up and tell him about it later. To take him out of the enclosed space in which he now lives and bring him into the bigger world — the way he was. The way I remember him.

All those objects they will put in his ear and on them? These will change him. I have a feeling they will change him more than he expects. Maybe even more than I expect.

Tune in! We’ll be playing this one by ear.

WHEN IT STOPS BEING FUNNY – Marilyn Armstrong

How funny or witty can you be when reality — your existence — has gone beyond whatever we imagined was the ultimate degree of ludicrousness? When your future expectations have been effectively annihilated?

That we have a horrible government (it makes me ill thinking about it) is bad. Awful. Unspeakable.

But all the little things that should be easy are also obscenely complicated. There’s no reason for it — except the people with whom one is dealing are incompetent. Not because they can’t do the job, but because they don’t care.

Is this all part of the overall feeling we have that our country is going to hell? That trying to be better isn’t worth the effort? We already know we aren’t going to be rewarded because no one cares about the quality of our work.  Or us.

I have learned that when anyone “fixes” something, the new version is going to be harder to use and less functional. This includes hardware and software. It includes medical care. It includes any form of communications. It includes things like logging on to my computer.

I didn’t want to have a password for my computer because no one uses it except me. Garry wouldn’t go near it. It’s too heavy to haul anywhere and I would have to be dead for someone to try to figure it out.

But I gave up. I put in a password. Yesterday, Microsoft sent down a new version of Windows 10 and now, I can choose one of three ways to sign in. I can use my password. I can use a numerical key through Microsoft. Or I can set up facial recognition.

Thanks. If I didn’t want a password at all, why do I now need three choices of new ways to slow down my computer?

I turned off Alexa on each machine on which it has appeared. I refuse to use voice recognition or Skype. It takes me at least three tries to make the robot in the computer understand what I’m saying. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how many times I say it, it isn’t going to understand.

Moreover, I don’t need Alexa to take charge of anything, thank you very much. Please, take Alexa, Cortana, and Siri away. Make them disappear.

I don’t need electronic solutions to stuff that isn’t a problem. If I add these electronic solutions, they will become problems. It’s like the electronics in your car. You don’t have a key, so if the computer malfunctions, you not only can’t drive your car, you can’t even open the door.

Why is everything so needlessly complicated? Why does every simple task involve hours on hold, getting disconnected? Why are they making toilets require Bluetooth or WiFi? Are they going to analyze our shit to make sure we’re getting the right amount of roughage? Do I need the toilet to talk to me?

Why am I arguing with robots or people who know less about the problem than I do? Why won’t people believe anything I tell them?

I’m tired of being mad. Tired of arguing about stupid shit. I’m worn out. I am not ill, dying. I’m not going to have a stroke or heart attack. I’m exhausted from endlessly dealing with a million idiotic things that should not need to be dealt with at all. By anyone.

I’m tired of the incompetence of people who have jobs when so many competent people could use a job.

It’s not merely that we have a stupid government. It’s that we are becoming a stupid country. Not “stupid” in the sense that we don’t have brains, but stupid in the sense that we don’t use them. Brains, that is.

I’m having trouble finding this funny. That worries me. If I can’t laugh, how can I keep going? Laughter is the one thing that makes life livable. Take it away, and life will totally suck.

I used to say when comes the revolution, I’ll be on of the first up against the wall. Right now, not only does that seem likely, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. It could save me from trying to try making another appointment with a doctor.

Lately, even watching comedians isn’t funny because the news isn’t funny. It’s tragic, sad, depressing. And getting worse. I no longer think it can’t get worse. I’m positive it will get worse. I try not to think about how it could get worse. I just want it to not get too much worse until after I’m gone.

It would be just our kind of luck for both of us to live to 120.

KUDOS (#FOWC) WITH INDULGENCE (#RDP)

FOWC with Fandango — Kudos
RDP #27 – INDULGENCE

I got a note today telling me that our appointment with the pre-op people on July 9 didn’t appear to exist. UMass has communication problems. No one seems to talk to anyone else around there.

For an entire year, I tried to get an appointment with a medical oncologist for a checkup on my (at that point) relatively recent bout with two different forms of cancer. It never happened.

Every time I got close to the appointment, the doctor’s office called to tell me he had a meeting and I had to reschedule. It happened six times, after which I changed medical plans and went back to a facility that always took care of me.

I never saw the neurologist either. When I got there, they told me I didn’t have an appointment. When I got home, they called me to ask me how come I missed my appointment.

I managed to survive those two experiences, but this is a pre-op for Garry’s cochlear implant. I have no more patience to deal with this nonsense. I don’t know what their issue is, but they need to fix it.

I called everyone and got disconnected. Finally, I called the hospital’s general directory and got someone who connected me to the actual doctor’s office and she said she was sure we had an appointment and connected me with the secretary in the office and she said she was also sure we had an appointment. Which means that there’s nothing more I can do.

Entry

I have no doubt about the skill of the surgeons or the medical abilities of the team, but I am deeply dubious about the hospital’s ability to manage simple communications with each other.

So kudos to me for spending my entire morning calling a hospital, getting disconnected, and continuing to try until I finally got answers which I hope turn out to be the RIGHT answers.

Grant me a small indulgence as I struggle to get what’s left of my temper back under control because this drives me nuts. I figure when you make an appointment and you show up for that appointment, the next thing to follow will be seeing the doctor (or whoever you are supposed to be seeing). Eventually, someone will tell you what — if anything — they have found.

This has not been the case with UMass Memorial and I don’t understand it. I’m still breathing heavily.

Up in the air, Junior Birdmen. Up in the air, upside-down.

TODAY, INCOMING TV CAMERAS – Marilyn Armstrong

Ragtag Prompt # 25 – Precedent

Garry’s getting a cochlear implant. Because this is a life-changing and unprecedented event for him, he volunteered to help UMass with their cochlear implant fundraising endeavors. Although Garry has been retired for a long time, a surprisingly large number of people recognize him and he is a very good speaker. On camera and live.

The cochlear implant groups want to make this technology more widely available and try to help people who need help for hearing problems. The doctor was particularly miffed that Medicare tells people to get hearing tests, but won’t help pay for hearing aids. It’s one of Medicare’s cruel jokes — along with no help for getting your teeth repaired or get eyeglasses or dentures.

That has always baffled me, too. Most of us can scrounge together a hundred bucks for a pair of glasses. On the other hand, $5 to $10,000 for hearing aids is not something most older — or for that matter, younger — people can afford.

So what’s the point of the hearing test? If you know you can’t hear, why bother to make it official when you can’t do anything about it?

That’s hopefully what raising funds will allow. Tomorrow the camera and crew will be here for an interview with Garry, who is totally (obviously) fine with being TV cameras. I get interviewed too because the effect of deafness on a partner is an important part of the project. Except I really am very uncomfortable when cameras roll. Oh well. Anything for a good cause. I think we need a good case with which to be involved. We need to do something good.

I think most people are unaware of how much and how profoundly deafness affects individuals and their relationships. It will be an interesting project.

Because of all this, we had to clean the house. If we are lucky, the weather will be fine and we can shoot outside. Maybe on the deck. Meanwhile, Owen cut the lawn. Garry cleaned the deck. We both cleaned the house. But if we have to shoot in the house, the hysterically barking dogs are likely to make the project kind of difficult.

It’s really Gibbs who is the hysterical barker. If anyone who isn’t Garry or me is in the house, he barks continuously. Endlessly. And very loudly. He looks like a small dog, but he sounds like Great Dane.

I sure do hope we get good weather! I’ve got terrible stage fright about TV cameras and a frenzied, barking dog in the background is not going to help.

WHAT’S STUCK IN MY EAR? – Marilyn Armstrong

“It’s a bit stuffy in here,” I said. “Maybe I should turn on the air conditioner?”

“What’s stuck in my ear?” Garry looked alarmed.

I collapsed and I just couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t even answer him. All I could do was howl. Tears were pouring down my cheeks. “I … ” and then I’d laugh some more. “I mean …” More hysterical laughter.

Eventually, I managed to tell him that the air conditioner was not stuck in his ear and what I’d said was “It’s a bit stuffy in here …”

And that is why he needs that cochlear implant.

The surgery is scheduled for July 20th with pre-op on July 9 and surgical followup August 6. With a lot of audiologist visits in between.

There was no air conditioner stuck in his ear. It’s too big.