INTREPID BY ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Intrepid

Intrepid will always be the name of one of Horatio Hornblower’s ships. Somewhere in my 20s, I discovered Horatio Hornblower … and that’s how I learned that there was an actual use for trigonometry! If only they had mentioned this in school, I might have had a clue what I was doing instead of random calculations used to reach an answer that meant absolutely NOTHING to me.

We probably should have named The Duke “Intrepid.” He is quite the intrepid voyager. Except he likes when we come out and let him IN the yard, even though he jumped out. I guess out is easier?

Today I am off to see the wizard, also known as my cardiologist. He’s a new one. I’m trying to finally shake off Boston and get all my physicians lined up locally. Boston made the news the other night as officially (who is the official calculator of such things?) having the worst traffic of any city in the U.S. Not in the world. I think there are quite a few cities in Europe (and how about the traffic in London!) that could compete.

Boston has gotten terrible. When I moved here in 1988, traffic wasn’t great, but you could get from one place to another and generally even park when you got there. Not any more. Not only can it be impossible to get there, but if you do parking will cost the price of feeding two people for a week. Or more.

Bad. Very, very bad.

We spent something like 50 billion dollars to remodel our road and I swear they are worse than they were before we spend more than a decade redoing everything. The thing is, they move things around, but they didn’t make them bigger. Just stuck them underground (cough, cough, cough) or straightened out the crooked pieces.  So we’ve got nice straight bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Boston traffic is only for the intrepid.

We’re away shortly. As we head for UMass, a mere 20 miles away, call us intrepid. Also, please hope they don’t find anything new or interesting.

IF THE SHOE PINCHES, YOU MAY WANT TO KEEP WALKING – Marilyn Armstrong

I just read another post on the power of positive thinking. I was glad to hear one more time how I can conquer pain and make my problems go away by believing they will. Are blessings reserved only for those with a positive attitude? If you don’t smile, will the Powers-That-Be fail to love you?

I don’t think there’s a malevolent deity or evil destiny stalking me or anyone else. Life just is. It’s not omens and portents: it’s stuff that happens.

Positive thinking is not bad.  It’s just that positive thinkers have a way of forgetting how suffering people don’t necessarily want a pep talk. They want to be in less, preferably no, pain. They want love, comfort, and sympathy.

My suggestion? Listen. Find out what they want and do your best to give it to them. Your positivity may cure your problems and you are welcome to use it to make yourself feel better. Just don’t impose it on me or anyone else. Don’t force anyone to smile when they want to cry just so you can feel okay.

I’ve got a few problems that are hard to manage. I have bad days. I want to avoid dragging others down, but I have given up trying to make everyone else feel better by internalizing everything.

It’s unfair to tell people to relax, be happy, smile and that will make everything fine.

It’s not true.

Internalizing pain and sadness increase stress. In the long-term, swallowing your pains makes them worse. Don’t stop hoping or searching for help, but don’t assume that whatever you just read in a book or magazine article is sure to work for you. I personally think “positive thinking” is wildly overrated. No single solution, attitude, or way of thinking will fit most people, much less everyone.

It is said you cannot know anyone until you’ve walked in their moccasins and those moccasins can pinch something fierce.

SIZE MATTERS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE GODZILLA – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #13
“Do you believe that size matters? Please explain your response.”

Yes, it does.
No, it doesn’t.

It matters from a health perspective because not being heavy is healthier than carrying too much weight. You also look better in fashionable clothing. If you have arthritis, bad hips, or a damaged back, less is more.

That’s all the difference it makes. Being fat doesn’t make you a slob, disgusting or any of the words people use to describe fat people. No one is fat from simply overeating. You also need the right genetic structure. I have been so thin it was frightening and I have also been very heavy.

I look better in-between. My brain didn’t change when I gained weight or lost it. The last gain was because of all the medication they gave me when I had cancer that knocked my metabolism through the floor. Now I’m losing a little weight again, so maybe it’s “coming up” again. I don’t worry about it anymore.

When this was taken, I weighed 93 pounds. An XXS was too big for me. I wore a size zero and it was loose. It was not an attractive look.

I wear a lot of loose clothing that will fit me whether I’m fat or thin or whatever. Garry proposed to me when I was at my heaviest after which I lost a lot of weight and then gradually gained more, then lost a lot and then a lot more … and then so much that I was hospitalized. At which point, they removed most of my innards because of the ulcers that were eating my stomach and my small intestines.

So I can’t eat much at all because I don’t have a stomach, despite which I’ve put on 25 pounds and it certainly isn’t from overeating. It’s because I have no metabolism.

Big? Little? The difference? My back feels better when I weigh less. Everything else is the same.

SPORTS: NOT NECESSARILY THE HEALTHIEST ACTIVITY – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Sunday–Gridiron

Unlike baseball, which I enjoy regardless of who is playing, though I admit I prefer seeing our team play when they let us, we aren’t going to discuss how MLB has made it nearly impossible to see one’s home-team without buying a mega cable package or owning season tickets to the sport. That’s another issue which gets a separate cover.

Today is Super Bowl day when the winners of the National and American leagues in football play each other for unbelievably expensive rings and the option of being the talking heads for who knows how many products on television. At least we can still see football on the regular network and not have to pay hundreds of dollars extra to watch our own teams play.

Although most non-football-addicted American think that football is like it used to be 20 years ago, it isn’t. Excessive roughness is a call made constantly on the field. The giant pile-ups of huge guys to destroy the quarter or running back are illegal now. It isn’t like it used to be which I think is very much for the good of the game.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

If you have been not watching football because the last time you saw it was the Disney cartoon starring Goofy, you have missed a lot of the changes that have come to the game. It’s still a rough game because sports are rough. All sports are rough, even the ones that don’t look particularly rough.

Take, for example, baseball. Do you know what pitching hundreds of balls over the course of 160 season game does to an arm? Or even the sliding and running … or that crouching the catcher does … do to a human body?

How about horseback riding? Do you know how many jockeys end their lives in wheelchairs? And how many are killed from falls that no helmet will fix?

Sports are hard on humans. All sports are hard on humans. Even sitting at a computer all day long is rough on parts of your body.

So if your reason for not watching football is that it’s too rough for a mortal humanoid, consider warfare and many of the “easy” sports we all are required to learn in school. Volleyball (tore my ankle up on that one), running (how many knees needed rebuilding after that?), shot-putting, pole vaulting, tennis (does your elbow still work?) … all of which take a serious toll on the person playing it.

English style riding and jumping

I know that we all think it’s healthy that our kids get up and go out in the world enjoy physical activity because that’s healthy, right?  Healthy activity comes at a price. Knees and backs are destroyed and many are never repaired.

Some folks are stronger than others and can withstand the battering better than others. Some can simply take more abuse, but others can take a lot less and don’t know it until it’s too late.

Like me, for example. I fell off a few horses. I didn’t even fall very hard, but I fell right on my butt. Or more to the point, I feel on the base of my spine. After a while — not a long while, either — I couldn’t walk properly anymore. I didn’t stop riding, even after the surgery which should have stopped me.

How about downhill skiers? And hockey and figure skaters?

There IS no sport that does not take a serious and potentially life-threatening toll on the body performing it.

Players have multiple surgeries on shoulders and elbows and spines and knees and get clobbered badly enough to end their life with sports-induced Alzheimer’s disease.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Los Angeles -Chargers at Gillette -Stadium on January 13, 2019, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Don’t be fooled by thinking if something “looks easy” that it is easy. Ballerinas destroy their feet while male dancers crush their spines. The life of a professional dancer is shorter than that of an NFL player. And that’s not even sports. That’s ART.

BOSTON, MA – October 24: Boston Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi catches a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodger’s Brian Dozier during the fifth inning of Game Two of Major League Baseball’s World Series at Fenway Park on October 24, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Christopher Evans)

Does any of this mean we should all stop doing anything risky? Of course not. But we should also be aware that when our kids complain that something is hurting them, to make sure that there’s no serious damage and to get that possible hurting checked by a doctor who actually knows the difference between bruising and serious damage.

I do not even know how many people are twisted into wrecks by middle age from sports they played when they were teenagers.

IT’S JUST A MATTER OF BALANCE – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday: Balance

I have trouble going downstairs. I have problems going up too, but the ones going down are more difficult to manage because they are a matter of balance. And because I am more likely to fall down the stairs than up.

I have fallen up, but I don’t go far. Down, on the other hand, can be an ugly event involving broken bones and bruises that don’t heal for weeks.

If you don’t think this is really narrow, try hauling a bag of groceries up past the lift chair!

The thing is, Garry is also unbalanced, leading me to the not unreasonable (but possibly entirely wrong) conclusion that whatever is bothering me is also bothering him. It’s the downside of relationships. We pass — back and forth –whatever one person has to the other and occasionally have completely pointless discussions of who gave what to who or if it was someone who dropped by.

I’m headachy and hoarse and have laryngitis I can’t get rid of. Not only does it make it hard for Garry to hear me, but laryngitis also makes it hard for me to talk at all. I try anyway, but it doesn’t get me very far.

The new tests reveal the iron deficiency I had in October has gotten worse. Dizziness, imbalance, and a headache are symptomatic of anemia … but are also symptomatic of everything else. Anemia symptoms include chronic tiredness (who isn’t chronically tired?) and insomnia (show me someone my age who sleeps well). It’s all vague symptoms, but at least tests indicate I do have something I should take care of. Anemia isn’t nothing, though I keep acting like it is. Because I don’t want to deal with it.

If I had veins, I wouldn’t mind. It turns out, veins have a variety of uses. Carrying blood from here to there is only one of them.

Garry is distinctly unbalanced. Wobbly. We can’t BOTH be anemic, can we?

Meanwhile, the hospital doesn’t want me in there if I am sick because the Hematology Unit is part of the Oncology Department. They don’t need sick people hanging out with people who already have cancer, a point to which I can relate.

Of course, we were at the lab yesterday. At least three people were coughing. That waiting room is tiny, so you can’t miss someone’s cough droplets. Oh goody.

We do well if no one is sick or if we don’t go any place where sick people hang out. Like the grocery store. Doctors’ offices. Hospitals. Laboratories. All the places you go for health assessment are perfect for picking up something new and exciting.

pinterest.com

I know it’s out of style, but the old days of doctors coming to see sick people probably made sense in terms of keeping the spread of illness down — unless you happened to be the doctor, in which case I have to assume you were always sick with something. So maybe you were the one spreading disease.

Who knows? It’s a mystery, for sure.

So to go — or not to go — to tomorrow’s appointment. I promised the office manager I would call early in the morning and let her know. Neither of us knows whether or not I am actually sick (like with a bacterial or viral ailment) or I’m suffering from a thing for which I need to go see that particular doctor.

It could be a chronic stomach thing which Garry and I have been passing to and fro — or — we each have something completely different and unrelated. Or we are just old and need to spend more time watching television.

No way to know.

New Scissors

You’ll be happy to know that the new pair of scissors — $30 cheaper than the missing ones — have been delivered. The heavy snow they promised for today has turned out to be another day of leaden gray skies and low temperatures with just enough dampness to make your bones ache.

The birds are busy at the feeder, though today it’s all Juncos, Nuthatches, and Chickadees. Nothing exotic. I need to order some of the cheap food again and mix it with more expensive food. A lot of the little birds actually seem to prefer the cheap food which is mostly smaller seeds. Right now, it’s almost entirely big black sunflower seeds that only the bigger birds can eat — woodpeckers, cardinals — and the nuthatches who will eat anything.

Ladderback with Redhead Woodpecker – First photos I’ve gotten of this bird!

I have certainly learned a whole lot about bird feeding patterns. And that only Chickadees leap from the feeder with their wings closed in full diving mode. I laugh hysterically every time I see them fling themselves off a branch or the feeder. I swear the practice seeing how far they can free fall before they need to use their wings.

This, I believe, is what we call “Bird Fun” and does not require strapping on a parachute. It makes me really want to be a bird except for the whole shivering in the outside cold thing.

THE SCISSORS ARE GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Two nights ago, the kitchen scissors disappeared.

I hadn’t used them and Garry is certain he put them where they belonged, which is in the kitchen scissors slot in the wood block where we keep all the knives. He is absolutely positive that he put them there.

I’m never absolutely sure I did or didn’t do anything. As often as not, it’s what I meant to do, but somewhere along the line, I got distracted. I had the item in my hand, but something happened and I went somewhere else — like maybe the bedroom or the bathroom — and I just put the item down. Somewhere. I have no idea where.

But at least I have the sense to never swear I know where I put whatever it was because so many times, it never got there. It went somewhere, but not where it was supposed to go. Garry’s sense of total certainty aggravates me. Because the scissors aren’t there.

They also aren’t anywhere else in the house and we’ve done a pretty thorough search of the premises including bedroom, offices, bathrooms, basement, bedroom — AND the freezer and refrigerator. Don’t laugh. I’ve found all kinds of things in the freezer.

Not just Garry looking, either. This is both of us looking. The thing is, these are kitchen shears and the were expensive. They don’t travel far and in the years we’ve had them (like three years, I think) they’ve never wandered outside the kitchen. I have box cutters that I use for unpacking stuff from Amazon. I actually have three box cutters: two in the kitchen and a third in the basement.

Note the scissors in the front slot. These are now missing.

We will continue looking for the scissors, but wherever they are, they shouldn’t be there. I can’t in all honesty blame this one on the dogs. They don’t have the digits to make the scissors work and anyway, that’s what fangs are for.

The spare scissors from the bedroom now occupy the scissors slot.

It could be those pixies again, but they tend to lift shiny things like jewelry. Earrings. Necklaces. I’m sure they are the ones that put my favorite necklace in the sock drawer of Garry’s dresser because I would never put it there nor would Garry.

I could be sleep-walking again. I have done some very odd things while sound asleep … but even so, what could I possibly have done with them, asleep or not?

At our age, it’s never a good idea to say you are 100% sure you did something because the truth is, maybe we didn’t. I usually blame the pixies or the dogs, depending on whether it’s glittery (pixies) or plastic (dogs) or paper (also dogs).

Assuming sleep-walking wasn’t involved.

The man who absolutely positively put the scissors back in their slot.

I’ll let you know should we ever find the scissors.

On another subject, I’m not feeling well and I’ve got doctors appointments on two different days and I have to get blood tests, too.

I’ll try to fit in writing and picture-taking, but I have a headache so bad my eyeballs hurt. I’ll do the best I can to provide new material, but honestly, I’m feeling not-so-great and it’s hard to be my charming self when my eyeballs hurt.

I was sufficiently sick that Garry opened a cookbook — VOLUNTARILY — and figured out how to cook swordfish with rice (he already knew how to use the rice cooker). It came out perfectly and tasted excellent. I needed a meal. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and I was hungrier than I thought.

I ate it. It was good!

The scissors are still missing. I ordered a much less expensive pair. The other ones might yet reappear in some strange place. Maybe the dogs DID do it.

DON’T EAT THAT! – Marilyn Armstrong

Detrimental to Your Health 

Don’t eat eggs. They’ll kill you with all that cholesterol. No, wait. Eggs have the good cholesterol. Eat eggs. But not hard cheese. Wait! Real cheese is good for you … but not milk. Never milk. Except for those of you with calcium issues.

Calcium pills are better for you. Nope. We just discovered all vitamin pills are worthless. You need to get back to eating real food.

Except for animal fat (but butter is better) and eggs only on Tuesdays in a month that has 31 days or contains an “R” in it.

Everything is bad for you, good for you, dangerous, calamitous, fattening, helps you lose weight. Or will make you fat for sure.

We used to watch television back in a more benign news era and wait for the killer medical news of the day. Everything that would kill you on Monday (if it didn’t destroy your heart, it would probably give you cancer) and might very well be just what you need by Friday.

We concluded all food is detrimental to your health, but only if you eat it. The only possible solution is to not eat. Give up food.

No, wait. You have to eat, right? Damn, just when I thought I’d worked it all out. Okay, eat — but skip the bacon. It’s not detrimental to your health, but it’s really bad for the pigs.