Archive for November, 2017

Bigger Chairs & Skinny Needles

Nurse Taking Blood Samples from Patient 590

 

I have been extremely healthy my whole life. No operations or major illnesses. No broken bones. No need to see my doctor more than annually. Lately, however, I have had to make my way through the maze of medical testing at several different hospitals.

The first thing that amazed me was seeing these very large, comfy chairs, matching the other smaller comfy chairs, in all of the waiting rooms. I could sit on it alone and “spread out” with plenty of room for my purse, phone, and other paraphernalia. However, knowing that the chair was designed for a “larger” person, wouldn’t sitting on it be akin to parking in a handicapped spot, even if there were no “larger” people in the waiting room? Sometimes, the other chairs would be filled, and I viewed that chair being the same as when I drive around and around the mall looking for a non-existent parking space, only to be enticed by the many empty handicapped parking spots in the front of the building. Assuming this case was completely different, I boldly sat in the big chair and fluffed my coat out as though to appear “larger”.

The other thing noticed was that the needles used to draw blood are much thinner and less painful than I remember. A pleasant nurse explained that they have been making them as thin as possible so as to make the blood test more comfortable for the patient. However, before they draw blood, the chair on which the patient sits now has a barrier pulled down in the front of it, ostensibly to make it more comfortable to rest one’s arm. I giggled in my mind that it was there to keep me from jumping up and running away, but I behaved myself and sat still for the experience.

Going for x-rays was a cold experience, literally. Wearing the requisite Johnny, I would lie down on a table that felt like it came from the home of the people in “The Last Alaskans”, which hubby and I watch. Stark, raving icy! They did give me a little lead blanky to cover my “woman parts”, not to warm me up but to preserve my baby making ability. (The train left long ago on worrying about that!) They told me not to move while they took the x-ray, but it can be assumed that my shivering made the x-ray a little blurrier than it was supposed to be!

The most annoying thing is that doctors are now affiliated with certain hospitals. No longer can I conveniently go to Kent for my testing, but need to go to the hospital with which that particular doctor is a member. This can make it mighty inconvenient when the three doctors I have gone to have been associated with different hospitals: Roger Williams, Miriam and RI Hospital, and never the ‘twain shall meet. I need to physically obtain the tests done at one hospital to bring to the doctor who works at another because the hospitals do not communicate with each other. (Whatever happened to Patient Centered Medical Care?) Which brings me to the observation that the Medical Records unit is usually in the basement; the dark, reminiscent of horror movies, lower level. It is always surprising that the people who work there are very pleasant and accommodating, allaying my judgment of the placement of their office.

I have dutifully played the medical roulette game and hopefully my exploration of different options for medical testing is over. I never again want to struggle with the ethical choice of sitting in the “large” chair or not. It’s just too much pressure!

*****

To read about our hilarious and warm relationship, or to read about the success of my 5 children with disabilities, please purchase my book, The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane

 

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Made it Easy on Myself

Clipart-christmas-presents-ribbons-2

A secret was all mine until the news media this year touted it as a “thing”. Years ago, my teenage children would brave the cold and sit outside of Target or Best Buy at 2:00 am on the night of Thanksgiving, waiting for the stores to open early on “Black Friday”. Comradeship galore, they would toast with pumpkin spice Dunkin Donuts coffee, share cookies and sit snuggled under extra blankets in rickety, old, webbed camp chairs. It was an annual social occasion not to be missed. I distinctly remember my son joyously coming home with a television at a 75% discount from Best Buy. (No, it was not a present. He chose to keep it to himself, but the savings was still impressive!) He and his friends chose to shop on Black Friday to get the best price reductions, and no number of aggressive, pushy shoppers or hours long lines to the cash register were going to deter them. Personally, I knew that the same bargains were available on-line, even items that were limited in number in the stores. If a store had a super duper extra inexpensive price and only a few of the items available for purchase, the news would broadcast the pushes, shoves and trampling of shoppers to get to the few treasures available, until the stores wised up and started to pass out numbers outside to those waiting line. However, every Black Friday I could quietly and daintily order these same items all with the push of a button; “add to cart”. I would sit happily at my computer, sipping spiced tea, and gleefully order all of the preselected items, the best from the best at the cheapest of the cheapest, advertised in the Thanksgiving newspaper. This past Black Friday was no different, except for the fact I was no longer a clever pioneer, just part of the general public, ordering on-line, as highlighted by the news.

Christmas is always a hectic time of year, especially with children. We have a very large family of five children and four grandchildren. Each of hubby’s sister and brothers has children of his/her own, and, as we have aged, great- nieces and great-nephews have joined the fold. That is what makes Black Friday a big, fun economic puzzle, searching amidst the bargains for a present for each person. Shopping for Christmas used to be spread out over the entire month of December, and I would often purchase a gift forgetting something different had already been bought. By buying everything on the same day, it was easy to keep track, and even easier to guarantee each item was at its lowest price. Whoopee! Diet coke, popped corn, and Christmas Carols, soon replaced morning tea as my shopping continued in earnest. In the spirit of the holiday, good presents were ordered on that day instead of spending a month trying to find “the best”. (I learned a long time ago that my perception of the best might not necessarily be the best to the gift receiver, so I lightened up on myself.)

At the end of the day, my credit card was put away and my tired typing fingers rested. Pleased with my purchases, I smiled to myself with success. Wrapping paper and name tags sit by the front door so each gift can be wrapped as it arrives and placed in a spare room.

As I sit here, heart aglow with cheer for the coming holidays, my advice is simple; be kind to yourself, whatever holiday you practice. “Perfection” is a stressful state of mind. Good is good, and be confident in that. Relax. After all, holidays are meant to be enjoyed!

Remembering Mom

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A memorial service to honor our deceased family and friends was held last week. I often think of my mom, but never with such a sustained respect as last week. Lighting a memorial candle and watching the wick spring to life with fire made me think of HER life, and all the wonderful things she had done, always with a smile on her face and never with a complaint. Tears slid down my cheeks and were wiped away silently, inconspicuously. How is it that after all of these years her memory can still cause such emotion?

In her honor, I decided to treat myself to a day at the mall. I hadn’t been in a while because, unlike when I was younger and had children to buy for, my own wardrobe was overflowing with clothes and I had nothing to shop for. Or so I thought.

Entering the mall, decorated for Christmas with festive frills and lights, the atmosphere welcomed me, and I felt a spring in my step and cheer in my heart, just as if my mom were by my side as in “olden times.” I meandered into Macy’s, being the first store I came to, looking for the magnificent bargains like mom and I did. We had a knack for finding something spectacular at a deeply discounted price, and this trip was no different. Humming to myself as I browsed the numerous sales rack, my radar led me to the 50% off the 50% off discounted price. My kind of sale! There were many awesome clothes from which to choose, and soon I was purchasing a blue and green sweater for only $4.49. Pleased with my purchase, (something comfy to wear in the winter,) I smiled brightly leaving the store, feeling like the Cheshire Cat.

It was after noon and my stomach led me to the food court. I couldn’t help but buy myself some General Tsao’s chicken, our favorite meal. The ironic part was, my mother always told me she would “have just a little bit of mine” instead of getting her own order. I resented this at the time because I would always walk away unsatiated. Then, I sneakily learned to order double the chicken so she could still share my order without realizing more chicken had been added. She was happy because she wanted to be frugal for lunch and not spend any money, and I was happy because she was happy! On this date in the mall, it made me a little sad that I didn’t need to order extra chicken, but I did think of her as I wolfed down the meal, smiling between bites in her memory.

I walked by Bath and Body Works, a store into which I had to drag her. According to her morals, a bar of soap was the best thing to wash with, so why waste money on frivolities? It was difficult to convince her that the Sweet Pea or Vanilla Cinnamon scents were relaxing for me, and I would feel so much sweeter after using them in the bath. So, I only took her in when I had a coupon and there was a deeply discount sale. Trying to get her to take a bottle to try, she always gave it back and said she was fine, thank you, soap did the job just as well. On this date, I purchased several new holiday body washes, and I didn’t even have a coupon!

Walking slowly by the stores window-shopping, the tinkling of the piano keys was heard from the middle of the mall. Coincidentally, the pianist was playing live music, and I sat to listen. If my mom had been with me, she would have swayed to the music, and sung the words to the old songs. Often, she would got up and dance enthusiastically. Most children may have been mortified if their parent did that, but my mom was not just ANY parent, she was special in so many ways. She exuded joy, and if that joy inspired her to get up and dance, then so be it. It was that joy that inspired my life so dramatically, and continues to let me appreciate seeing the sunbeams streaming brightly through the clouds and the love when my grandchildren come running to me for a kiss and a hug. It is the kind of joy that makes your heart tingly and the sides of your mouth turn into a smile. I was so fortunate to have had her inspiration.

*****

To read about our hilarious and warm relationship, or to read about the success of my 5 children with disabilities, please purchase my book, The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane

 

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