MY STUPID DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — My Stupid Day

Some days, I’m smart. I can feel the smarts buzzing around my head, but this is not one of those days.

Let me start with my first stupidity of the day. I needed a refill on a medication. It said that I’d had 120 of them in the bottle a little more than a month ago and I have 15 now because I don’t always take the full amount I’m allowed. It’s for pain so I can do that.

I called the doctor’s office hoping for something with a refill on it but was told they’ve changed the law, so I can’t get refills anymore. I pointed out it isn’t an opioid. She pointed out “It’s amazing what things people will misuse.”

We both agreed that 120 pill was good for two months, even though I’m supposed to take four of them and it’s only 120 pills — but should be good for two months.

I called the pharmacy and complained I hadn’t gotten enough pills, except when I hung up, I multiplied 4 times 3o and came up with 120 — for ONE month. I should mention the pharmacist didn’t notice the problem either.

Apparently, no one can multiply 4 times 30 and come up with a one month supply of 4 pills a day.


I called back the office and said: “Hey, how much are 4 times 30?”

She sighed. “120. After you hung up, I realized we weren’t quite getting the multiplying thing right.”

I explained that I felt like a moron having just argued this point with the pharmacy. She said that math was never her good subject either. Neither one of us could multiply 4 times 30 and get 120. How depressing is that?

Then I spent a fair amount of time calculating which of two barn jackets — the classic LL Bean or the very not classic Land’s End lined version. I was going to buy it until I realized the LL Bean jacket is much nicer looking coat, but the Land’s End would be more user-friendly given our weather. At which point I also realized — I don’t need a coat. What’s more, I can’t afford one. And also — I have that same LL Bean jacket in my coat closet. Same size, color, style. Just from last year.

Not even at 50% off.

And my hand is killing me because I took my brace off (because I can’t type with it on) and now, I’m back where I was yesterday.

So much for today’s smarts.



Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw!
O make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.

Sir Philip Sidney

I remember when going to sleep was simple. I changed into a nightgown or pajamas. I took off my jewelry. Brushed my hair. Brushed my teeth. Washed face and hands.  Plumped up the pillow, pulled up the covers — and went to sleep. Sometimes, I read for a while … and then fell asleep.

Last night, I went to bed. I did the whole nightgown, hair, wash, brush thing. Of course. Then I adjusted our electric bed trying to find the angle which would give me the least amount of pain in my back while keeping me sufficiently upright to continue to breathe.

I then took the various medications I take before bed — some for blood pressure, others for pain, and one for actual sleep. That was when I realized my rash was acting up. Damn. I put some cortisone cream on it, but that didn’t do it. So I went into the bathroom and used the other, stronger gunk. I stood there for a few minutes waiting for the gunk to dry, then went back to bed.

I realized I couldn’t breathe. I used the daily inhaler. Still couldn’t breath. Used the emergency inhaler — twice. Breathing restored, I realized my eyes were dry enough to feel like I had gravel in them. I found the eye-drops.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch,” I said as the liquid hit the gravel. Garry couldn’t hear me. He had the headphones on and was deep in a western.

I tried another round of eye-drops. “OW!” I yelped. Two rounds of eye-drops later, the gravel had diminished. I realized I needed to do something about my incredibly dry lips. One round of chap-stick. Another round of chap-stick. One more round of chap-stick and by now, I’m wide awake. And my back was killing me.

I found the lidocaine cream. Applied it to my right hip. My left hip. Up and down the spine. Then — again — I waited for the most recent gunk to dry.

By now, a full hour had passed since I put on my nightgown and brushed my teeth. I had been sleepy, but by now, I wasn’t sleepy. Not a bit. I thought wistfully of those long ago days when going to bed was just … going to bed.

Worse, I still had to look forward to the thrill of getting out of bed. Convincing my legs and arms to wake up. Making sure my spine was going to let me stand  up and hopefully, walk.

Eyes – very dry!

The getting up ritual is a whole other thing, starting with around four in the morning when I start readjusting the bed. Because during the night, my spine will congeal into a solid lump of misery. I have to decide what — if any — medication will help. I have to be careful because I can only take a specified amount. If I take meds at four in the morning, I can’t take them later.

You get the idea.

Sometimes, the complexity of going to bed then getting up — first for medication and going back to bed. Next, rearranging the electric bed, trying to go back to sleep, hearing The Duke hit the door, knowing if I don’t get up and give everyone a biscuit he’s going to keep hitting the door until the door breaks or I get up and do the “Good Morning, beloved Dogs” thing.

Nothing is simple. Especially not simplest things.


So, it turns out, Garry’s ongoing “I don’t feel good” was getting worse. I schlepped him to the doctor.

What do you know? He’s allergic to Lisinopril — a blood pressure medication. Now he’s on a short run of Prednisone to bring down the swelling in his face and throat and probably all that interior stuff. Who’d have thought that was the problem? He’s been on this same medication for at least 20 years.

Our bodies are a moving target. Just because a medication has always worked, it doesn’t mean you can’t develop an allergy to it tomorrow. One day, I showed up allergic to penicillin — and this put me on the “NO NO” list for all related “cillins.” This can get quite complicated when I need antibiotics.

Allergy confirmed!

Getting Garry “doctored” was very much the central theme of the day. We actually forgot to do Bonnie’s eyes this morning, something that’s so much a part of our ritual I didn’t think it was possible to forget it.

On the plus side, our usual doctor was not in and Garry discovered the other doctor in the practice is a fan. Watched him for all those year, through all those Boston crises.

So his problem will be cured, he got a lot of attaboys, and it is just as well we didn’t go traveling this week. Go figure, right?


On June 11, 2017, the front page of the New York Times ‘Sunday Styles’ section had an article called “An Anxious Nation.” The article talks about the near epidemic levels of anxiety in our society. For a generation, depression was the poster child for mental illness/psychological malaise.


I have both depression and anxiety disorders. My life changed when the first mass market anti-depressant drug, Prozac, became available to the public. It does wonders for me and alleviates my anxiety based depression. Because of Prozac and other drugs in the same category, I have been able to control my symptoms. I have become a happier, calmer, more upbeat person. My inner life now is positive more often than negative.

But, I’ve always felt ‘different’. There was something about me that most people couldn’t understand or relate to. I learned to edit out my anxious and/or depressive thoughts when talking to people. I didn’t admit many of my fears or worries. I just made myself do what I thought was considered ‘normal’ in a given situation.

I felt great relief when depression came out of the closet, so to speak. A lot was written about it and it became universally recognized and better understood. I didn’t have to anticipate the question “what are you depressed about?” if I told someone I was depressive. Over the years of mainstream depression education, most people ‘get’ that it is an illness in which irrationality can control the sufferer. They can understand and empathize, at least on a superficial, outsider level.

Donald Trump has helped push this condition into the mainstream. Since he’s been President, therapists all over the country are reporting a large increase in the number of people coming in with some form of anxiety! Now it looks like anxiety will have its day in the spotlight. A lot is being written about it and an avalanche of people are admitting that they are afflicted by it.

I feel freer now to be open about my issues, however minor they may be for me nowadays. Now I can tell people that I have serious anxieties about driving to an airport alone. This used to be one of my embarrassing secrets. That kind of anxiety is ‘out there’ today. It’s all over TV sitcoms, other TV shows and movies. Celebrities have talked about having agoraphobia. So now I can admit that I have days when I feel anxious about leaving the house. I can reasonably expect some empathy and understanding of my irrational feelings.

Hopefully more people are recognizing and diagnosing their anxieties and getting help. Medication does a lot for most people, as does Cognitive Therapy. More support groups are popping up online and in the real world. Being able to talk openly and feel support is a big step towards conquering the illness.

It is liberating to know that I am not alone battling my demons. It is comforting to know that many other people have similar issues. Why does that help me? Because the painful sense of stigma is removed. No one, including me, believes it’s my ‘fault’.

The need for secrecy and pretending is removed. I can just deal with my issues in peace. I don’t have to add insult to injury. I don’t have to be anxious about my anxiety!


Ever since I turned 65, my medical care situation has been on a downhill slide. As long as was on MassHealth — Massachusetts Medicaid and the original model for “Obama Care” — I was good. I had all the medication I needed. If I was sick, I went to a doctor. Any doctor.


The day I turned 65, I got tossed off MassHealth. I hoped I was protected because of my disabled status. In theory, I was. But, my government had a better solution. Cheaper. Better for the bottom line. Their bottom line, not mine.

They reclassified me as not disabled and switched me to standard Social Security. The same money, but without the protection. I was all fixed. A medical and fiscal miracle!

Apparently when you turn 65, you are healed of your disabilities. And you can can live on 2/3 less money than you needed mere days before. Poverty is redefined to levels so low you won’t be able to afford maintenance on a refrigerator crate. If only the folks who hold our mortgage and other debts would knock 2/3 off our payments, it would be perfect.


In 2015, for the first time, I fell into the doughnut hole. It was Thanksgiving and suddenly, just like that, I had no more prescription coverage. Merry Christmas!

I’ve been considering using Magical Thinking as my new medical plan.

Magical Thinking is holistic medicine for the hopelessly deluded. I pretend I’m fine and voilà, I’m healed of everything that ailed me. Magical thinking is cheap, efficient and far less stressful than dealing with the problem for real.

It’s almost time for the annual shut down of the government by Republicans opposed to the Affordable Care Act. Beneath the GOP rhetoric, what I hear is “Just die already.” I have to wonder how I wound up here. How we, as a nation, wound up here.


I deserve better. So do you. No one deserves to die for lack of a doctor or medicine.

When — how — did the United States become such a mean-spirited country that would rather close down its government than offer decent, affordable medical care to its citizens?

How did we come to this? Who are we, anyhow?


My son had ADD and ADHD in the 80’s before the diagnosis came into fashion. He was going to an expensive private elementary school in New York City. He was bouncing off the walls and “disrupting” his class.


He spent a lot of time out in the hall, resulting in huge gaps in his basic reading, writing, and arithmetic knowledge … and only exacerbated the situation. Eventually the school called my husband and me into the office and told us our son had a problem. They told us we should get a tutor and a therapist to handle it. They could not (would not) deal with it.

We already had a therapist and didn’t think a tutor was the answer. We decided to move the whole family to our weekend home in a small Connecticut town where the public school system had a Special Ed Department. Shortly after the move to Connecticut, a new therapist diagnosed my son with ADD and ADHD. She put him on Ritalin in its most basic and unrefined form. The drug has come a long way since.

ADHDBlogRitalin was a mixed blessing. It had major side effects and only worked a few hours a day. At least we finally had a diagnosis and knew what was wrong.

The local public school had staff and programs to help my son academically and socially. We were surrounded by caring people who were at least trying to help.

Unfortunately, back then, understanding of ADHD and how to help kids with learning disabilities was very limited. In the end, all they could do was hold his hand and get him through each year. It damaged his self-esteem. He never developed confidence that he could succeed at anything.

We were lucky. We found a college in Vermont. Landmark College is solely for kids with learning problems. There, for the first time, my son was given tools to cope with his issues. He learned ways to work through and around them so he gained a sense of control over himself and his life. He began to function well. The school taught him how to build on each small success.

He learned to tell when he could get things accomplished and when it was a waste of time to try. He learned how to break each task down into manageable steps, to organize his time, work space, and work.

ADD positive attitude concept on cork board

He uses these skills in his job with a hedge fund in New York. He uses them to get the laundry done, to keep his house stocked with essentials.

He’s doing well now, but it saddens me to think how different he might be today if he had learned these coping skills in kindergarten rather than college. He could have skipped years of feeling inadequate, helpless, and hopeless. He might have enjoyed learning, explored other career paths. Above all, he’d feel would have felt better about himself.

Supposedly, schools and parents are better equipped in 2015 than they were thirty years go. Hopefully they have learned to support families and children with learning and behavior issues. I know there are many new drugs, presumably more refined and effective. Hopefully, new approaches to ADD and ADHD are more sophisticated. I hope kids with disabilities are given the tools to take control of themselves and their lives at an early age, before the damage is done.

That’s what I hope. Everyone talks about it, I’m just not sure what the reality is.