Smallpox is the first and only human disease that was declared eradicated on a global scale. Also, with the breakthroughs made while eradicating smallpox and a number of other creative solutions, we are now really close to making a few more diseases a thing of the past.
“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.
What household chore do you absolutely enjoy doing? (can be indoor or outdoor)
I don’t really enjoy household chores. I get a certain satisfaction from getting stuff done, but enjoying it? Not really. I’m just glad when it’s finished. Probably the best I can do with this is feeling pleased that something which needed doing got done. I won’t have to worry about it at least, not until the next time it needs doing.
Back when I had a spine that bent, I used to enjoy gardening, but these days, it’s more work and less fun. I still love the flowers, though. Even though it hurts.
Create a sentence with the words “neon green” and train.”
The neon green train roared across the Providence-Worcester bridge in Uxbridge.
Everyone stared, rubbed their eyes, then — being New Englanders — said “Well, that was different” and moved on. You can’t surprise people in this region. We’ve seen it all.
Other than your cell phone what can you always be found with?
A camera. Actually, you may not find the cell phone (though it’s usually somewhere in my purse, but not turned on), but there are cameras everywhere.
If I’m in the house, computers too. I have too many cameras and I love them all. Each one is unique and special in its own way.
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
Garry finally got to talk to the doctor who is going to do his cochlear implant and now things are moving forward. I think sometime before summer ends, the surgery. It’s kind of a miracle because it will be the first time in his life that Garry will be able to truly hear.
Then the long process of tuning up and learning the sounds and waiting for his brain to make it sound “normal.” Apparently, at some point for no known reason, your brain will turn the mechanical sounds you get from the implant and make them sound normal, like they used to sound when you could hear.
Why does it happen? No one knows, though many people have made good guesses. The brain is an amazing tool.
When does the complexity exceed the nature of the problem to the point where someone would really rather die than have to deal with all that “stuff”?
For example — it’s dinnertime but the shrimp isn’t defrosted and you can’t cook the potatoes because you ran out of onions. Home fries without onions? Are you mad? Or, it’s Thanksgiving and the oven won’t turn on. How are you going to make that big bird? Turkey stew? Seriously?
But those things are simple when compared to medicine, doctors, hospitals, and tests.
Life is a mess of complications and complexities and misunderstandings. I told you that, but you heard something else. You told me everything, but I forgot what you said — or even that you said it.
The older I get, the more simple I want life to be. I want appointments at a time when I can reasonably get to them, not at 7:30 in the morning following an hour and a half drive. There are some tests they insist on medically that are so complicated, I think I’d rather just die.
My favorite was the one where they wanted to examine my brain. It had taken weeks to even get the appointment. I got there, they’d lost the appointment. They made me a new one, but this one was so complicated, I was grateful when it came around and I had the flu and couldn’t go. Be there — in Worcester — at 6 in the morning. Get tested. Wait two hours for another part of the test. Wait until a doctor is available.
I said “Why can’t I just talk to a doctor and explain what happened? Maybe none of these tests are necessary?”
“The doctor insists,” she said.
“Au contraire,” I murmured because I was the patient and I insisted I be allowed to talk to the doctor before testing starts. In the end, I didn’t take any tests. I was sure I didn’t need them. They were procedural rather than diagnostic. Expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant — and more than likely — useless.
Whatever is wrong with my brain, so shall it remain. I really would rather die. Sad, but true.
Too complicated. Call me crazy, but I think we should be able to talk to the doctor before they order a lot of complicated tests. Sometimes, you don’t need the tests. If no one talks to you, how do they know what you need?
The world is complicated, at least half the time because everyone is doing what someone else told them to do … and no one is listening to anyone at all.
I think of myself as a strong, healthy person. When I think about it at all. I’ve had periods in my life when I wasn’t healthy, but that was way in the past. Healthy is my reality now. I’m not athletic, but I can do what I want, when I want to. At least I could until four months ago.
Suddenly I started getting stiffness and pain that would come and go randomly. Then the episodes started getting longer and the stiffness and pain were accompanied by weakness and fatigue. Now I get these several times a week at random times and for varying durations.
The weird part is that on days when I don’t have symptoms, I’m absolutely fine. Totally normal. No sign of any problem whatever. This is making me psychizophrenic.
I went to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Poly Rheumatic and Fibromyalgia. I’ve been put on medication. But apparently these conditions get better very slowly. I’ve read and been told that a year is not uncommon to suffer before you go back to normal.
I’m going for a second opinion.
But in the meantime, my life has been turned upside down. It’s hard to plan anything because I never know how I’ll feel on any given day or night.
Did I mention that I can’t take much Ibuprofen for the pain? And unfortunately, that is the only thing that helps me weather my episodes. I donated a kidney to my son so I have to be very protective of the one I have left. Anti-inflammatories, like Ibuprofen, are bad for the kidneys. So I can only use them very sparingly. This means that I’m screwed.
So I’m left in this nether world between healthy sometimes and debilitated the rest of the time. It’s doing a number on me psychologically. On bad days, I feel old and decrepit. No energy and no motivation. Then I bounce back to my chipper, active self. But even then, I know that my good health is not going to last long.
This experience has emphasized for me the interconnections between body and mind. When my body is healthy, my mind can stay upbeat and positive. When my body is struggling, so does my mind.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about people who live with chronic pain and/or discomfort from a wide variety of medical conditions. I have a new respect for people who manage to deal with permanent disabilities or illnesses and still manage to lead fulfilling lives and maintain positive attitudes. I’m not sure if I could do it. I’m struggling with sporadic issues I’ve had for only four months!
If this is going to go on for seven or eight more months, I’m going to have to put my big girl panties on and get my psych back in fighting mode. I’m going to have to power through the bad days and make the best of the good days. Do what I can when I can and accept what I can’t do when I can’t. This is my version of the serenity prayer. I hope it works for me.
A lot has been written about dieting and body image. What interests me is how we develop our body image in childhood and how this image haunts us through life.
Here’s an innocuous example. I’m short. Very short. I’m less than 5’1” tall. So it would be reasonable to assume that “short” would be part of my innate body image. But it’s not. I’m constantly surprised when I stand next to normal sized people and realize how much bigger they are than I am. I believe this is because I grew early and stopped growing early.
Therefore, in my formative years, I was one of the taller kids in the class. When we lined up by size in first grade, I was near the back of the line next to a girl named Liz. Liz grew to be about 5’8” tall. I barely noticed as the years went by and everyone else continued to grow and I didn’t. It didn’t hit me until one day, in sixth grade, I realized that I was at the front of the line next to my peanut sized friend, Cathy. How did that happen? As a result, I’ve never thought of myself as small. I’m still bemused when people comment on how tiny I am.
My mother illustrates the more pernicious affects of childhood perceptions. She was adorable as a child but had a thick, black uni-brow. Insensitive parents and family members referred to her as “the ugly one”, in Yiddish. At the age of 13, she blossomed into a true beauty. This is not just an adoring daughter talking.
My mother was scheduled to go to Hollywood in the 1940’s for a screen test. She didn’t go because she got a severe case of Rheumatic fever that permanently damaged her heart. But throughout her adult life, no matter how many people told her how beautiful she was, her image of herself was always as the ugly duckling. She always felt totally inadequate physically.
When I was growing up, my insecure mom overemphasized the importance of looks to me. This made me very self-conscious about my appearance. She often told me that she didn’t understand how women who were not thin and beautiful ever got husbands.
It’s no wonder that it was only in my 50’s that I felt confident to go out of the house without makeup on – ever! Even to the supermarket. I always wore makeup at home as well, even when I was alone with my husband, until recently with husband number two.
It’s liberating to be able to finally feel acceptable without cosmetic enhancement.
I believe that the self-image that is imprinted on us early in life stays with us forever. Extended therapy can improve the situation and strengthen the ego.
I think that it’s crucial for parents to make sure that their kids leave home with a positive body image. Too much emphasis is placed on physical appearance early on. So too many children, including me, grow up thinking that being beautiful is synonymous with being accepted, valued and loved.
We all need to feel comfortable in our own skin, whether we’re good looking in a conventional way or not; whether we’re skinny or “big-boned”, or whether we’re male or female. Neither of my children have serious body issues. I’m not sure if that is because of me or in spite of me.
Personally, I wish I could “do-over” my childhood and de-emphasize the physical. Maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much of my life as obsessed with looking “good” all the time.
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