Category Archives: medical

In case of emergency

I’m in the midst of my annual array of wellness visits.  You know, the semi-annual dental hygienist appointment, my mammogram, a check in with the endocrinologist, a general physical.   I appreciate these practitioners and medical experts in my life for the peace of mind they provide that I am healthy.

I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that the physician’s assistant, who I’ve seen for the past three years, can’t be a day over thirty and has no firsthand knowledge of what I can expect from menopause.  That’s fine, I can read about that topic on my own.  The two-part experience of having my breast compressed and then covered with goop and wanded over, is an embarrassing indignity I can live with for the sake of early detection and my dental visit has been made far more comfortable with some topical stuff on my sensitive teeth.  All good.

No, the issue I have with each of these visits is with a simple consistent question on the intake form: Emergency Contact.  I don’t really have one.  Now, please, I have lots of contacts in my phone.  There are plenty of people I can call for various things – to meet for a drink, to take a run, to give one of the boys a ride home from a game.  But, there isn’t a single person who is close enough to me, physically and emotionally, to call if something really bad happens.

I don’t have a parent.  Or a spouse.  My only sibling lives 2+ hours away and my teenaged children wouldn’t be appropriate recipients of a dreadful call about me, their mom.  So, who to call?  I can’t put myself down, right?

I guess the 411 on my own 911 is this – I’d better not get hurt, sick or in an accident.  The thought of having no one to call is almost enough to make me sick.

See?  Being independent and single isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, after all.

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Filed under aging, cancer, medical

Defining Luxury

Someone needs to explain to my children that spending two weeks at the beach every summer is a luxury, not something to be taken for granted. It’s always been important to me that the boys have traditions in their lives, certain experiences that provide a constant thread throughout their childhoods.  Cape Cod vacations have been a part of their summers literally for their entire lives.  While there, we always eat at the Lobster Pot, we listen to the same song as we cross the bridge in Bourne, there is ice cream nearly every day.  It’s what we do.

But, something seems to have backfired.   Their attitude is in danger of morphing into entitlement – is this how that happens?  Somehow they’ve gotten the impression that everyone spends two weeks frolicking in the Atlantic each and every year.  All of the preparations, the shopping and stocking up on tequila chips and granola bars, the packing of the linens, the beach toys, the clothing…the arrangements for the house and our dog while we’re away…the bikes…they’ve gotten the impression that everything will managed. By me, apparently.  And, of course, I will take care of them and all the necessary details involved with making us all comfortable for two weeks in a place or two not our home.  It’s what I do.

I work two jobs to be able to afford a two week vacation in Cape Cod.  This is a luxury. Which brings me to healthcare…I am firmly of the belief that every one in this country should be able to have access to medical care.   Getting sick and requiring medical attention is a completely different set of circumstances. It is a necessity.  I’ve been without health insurance and it is a bad place to be, certainly about as unlike a vacation at the beach as I can imagine. 

I understand that we all have issues with how our taxes are spent – I personally wish we spent as much money on education and the well being of our citizens as we do on war, but shouldn’t everyone be able to bring their sick children to a doctor? If I lost my job, a possibility in these economic times when districts are eliminating positions left and right, my biggest fear would be healthcare. As someone who has already had cancer twice, as well as weird heart issues (obviously, a precise medical term), I can’t imagine health insurers would be willingly lining up to give me coverage. What do you think? I don’t know as much about Obamacare as I probably should, but it seems like a starting point as our country considers the health and well being of our citizens. To me, it seems a positive indication that someone cares about a basic and essential need in a civilized society. I think I might spend some time at the beach talking to the boys about how lucky we are to have two weeks at the beach. And health insurance every day.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, Happy Hour, medical, musings, politics, Summer

Are you my mother? And who’s my daddy?

image: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com
It’s been a weird weekend…I kind of hit the wall on a number of levels, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, hit the wall  with numerous body parts.  Truth be told, I probably used my head the most.  I had so many options available to me; concerts, and old friends, and art and strawberries, yet I kind of shrugged it all off.  Unlike many decisions in life, I didn’t get that immediate tingling sensation that confirms many of my choices.  I’m thinking maybe I’m a bit numb.  Summer vacation can’t come soon enough.

Despite feeling less than great (I’m about to pop my 3rd Aleve in 2 days!) I’ve maintained my commitment to running 20 miles this week and it has been a struggle.  The music hasn’t been quite right, and even if it were perfect, my right glute is screaming louder than any song playing.  Not tremendously fun or satisfying.

On my run Friday, I passed two elder(ly?) women walking.  They were on the opposite side of the street and I was wearing contacts, which don’t do all they should to improve my vision.  I was taken aback by one of the women – she looked like my mother.  I think.  The last time I spoke to my mother in person was when she attempted a “scar-off” to prove that her heart surgery was way worse than my cancer surgery could have ever been.  Ok, you win and what have we proven?  That you have a heart and I can cut malignant things from my life and prosper? Fine.

Well, it is a little disconcerting to not be certain whether a person is, or is not, your parent. You’d think this would be a familiar sensation for me, growing up as I did wondering if every single man with a brogue was my father, but it was still weird.  I had a familiar train of thought ride through my head.  What will it be like when she’s gone?  Will I stop seeing her everywhere the way I stopped imagining every Irishman to be my father once I knew he was gone?

I’m getting ready to be a stay at home mom for 10 weeks and I plan to slow down, enjoy my boys and try really hard to make sure that they always know who their parents are, two people who love them dearly.

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Filed under aging, Boys, cancer, Exercise, family, medical, moms, musings, relationships, running, stress, Summer

Incredibly well adjusted

The first time I went to a chiropractor I was in a bad way.  Although I can’t recall the exact nature of my complaint, I’m sure it originated in my lower back because that was where things used to hurt.  I remember being a bit hesitant about having my back “cracked” and feeling awkward about the process. I was skeptical about what the results would be, too. I mean, after all, it wasn’t real medicine, right?

Lee Masterson, at Delmar Chiropractic at 204 Delaware Avenue, has been my go to guy since the practice opened in 1999, the year my middle son was born.  I was committed to having a natural childbirth experience and felt that it was important that my body be in alignment to facilitate this process. What I hadn’t correctly anticipated was my need for regular adjusting post-birth.  I can’t imagine I was alone in “bumping” my hip out to provide the perfect straddle spot to support my infant, yet my body took it personally.  And revolted.  
One of the things I most appreciate about Lee is his respect for the integrity of the body.  He works in concert with my spine, my muscles and my lifestyle to help me maintain my good health.  During the years when I struggled with back discomfort, he taught me to recognize and address my body’s complaints and I feel much more confident in my ability to assess my state of wellness.  I make it a habit, particularly these days as I approach 20 miles of running per week, to check my posture and eyeball the levelness of my shoulder and hips.  When things don’t feel or look right, I call Lee’s office and arrange for a maintenance appointment.
I’m really fortunate to have health insurance which covers chiropractic care and a visit costs only a co-pay.  My oldest son as a toddler had an issue with a slightly inverted foot and Lee saw him for $3 a visit, his age at the time.  How’s that for commitment to your practice?  On occasion over the years, I’ve seen other providers in the DC office and I have been consistently impressed by the care I’ve received. I certainly can’t claim to be completely balanced in a life filled with boys, work and exercise, but I can say with complete confidence that my skeleton at least is very well adjusted.

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Filed under Exercise, favorites, medical, Recommendations

Domestic violence or how I got a black eye from cleaning the bathtub

After my recent week away, I felt compelled to accomplish some household chores over the weekend.  Now, you know I believe that nothing says welcome home like clean sheets, but you may not know that I have a fondness for taking baths.  In a clean bathtub, naturally.  

Seeing as how I’m the only person who has ever cleaned either of the two bathrooms in my house, I got right on that task Saturday morning.  I even utilized all of my favorite tools – scrubbing bubbles, abrasive cleanser, window cleaner…When I stepped into that shower a short while later it was clean.  Unfortunately, I stepped in with a little too much haste and immediately lost my footing, slamming my face on the top of a shampoo bottle to stop my fall.  Ouch – it really hurt!  And not just because it was the cheap inexpensive Suave brand stuff.  I’ve accepted that the Fekkai would have caused the same pain, right?
I’m not really good in medical situations, so I avoided looking at the damage(s) until I was safely out of the shower.  And dressed.  There was blood, but not too much and I didn’t think there was a need for medical attention, or even ice.  (I hate the way ice feels – give me a heating pad any day.)  I posted a picture on Facebook in the hopes that I could immediately subtract 579 from the grand total of times I would need to tell the story of my injury, but it has led to an interesting week.
Some observations from having a black eye… I often forgot that I had a glaringly obvious injury, at least until I noticed someone awkwardly staring at my face.  Once that happened, I immediately launched into my story, tossing in a joke about “walking into a door” and how I “wasn’t going to date Chris Brown ever again.”  The situation usually was smoothed over after a giggle or two, but there definitely was a residual sense, call it a bruise if you’d like, of discomfort. The Rihanna/Chris Brown bad romance brings me to my next observation, but it’s one you should be making about me.  
At the risk of protesting too much, do I strike (ha!) you as the kind of woman someone who would ever tolerate abuse*?  When have I ever permitted anyone – male or female, to take unfair advantage of me?  Please.  Just because I reveal my bruises doesn’t mean I have more of them than anybody else. 

*When I was 19 I was involved with an asshole a guy who slapped me across my face. Once. I have friends who were physically abused by their partners and I am completely sympathetic to the realities of domestic violence. It isn’t a joke to me, but I also know from experience that I did not, and would not, allow anyone to physically abuse me. I hope that those who are victims find the means to seek help. Here’s a resource for those in NYS.

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Filed under Albany, medical, musings, relationships

Unassured

Last week I got a postcard in the mail touting a program my insurance company, I mean Health Plan, offers. There’s some sort of rewards program that I can opt into earning points towards gift cards and other discounts if I register and then log my healthy choices. I went on line and registered already imagining how I would spend my “money” buying more running clothes. After I selected my user name and password, I prepared to begin logging all those runs and sculpting classes. Except…my brand new login and password didn’t work. Hmmm. So I requested a new one. Which also didn’t work. At this point, the process was proving to be more detrimental than beneficial to my health so I abandoned the task, for now.

Two days later I received a letter from CDPHP thanking me for enrolling in the program. Or, to be accurate, I received THREE identical letters all dated 2/9/12 saying exactly the same thing. Really??? I couldn’t help but recall that each time my union made concessions to the contract we had agreed to, I watched my health insurance premiums continue to increase. I understand that companies are people and all, but why aren’t these businesses being asked to toe the fiscal line? Is the company that is sending out an identical letter 3 times to me doing more effective, important work than the professionals teaching our children? I don’t mind doing my part and I’m a practical person. I get it. My problem is that I’m sick of having to justify my existence professionally annually. As if being a librarian didn’t already come with its own lack of educational street cred.

The governor has demanded a change to teacher evaluations and I’m now supposed to be rated on the same rubric as a classroom teacher. Which means that 40% of my annual performance should be based upon standardized tests. Thinking back on your time as a student (or what you have observed) do you recall taking any exams or filling in bubble sheets in the LMC? How about during your time in the guidance office or while in P.E.? Exactly.

From what I understand, folks are upset about the benefits teachers now possess, things like our “part time” status, excessive retirements and practically free insurance premiums. For the record, I didn’t ask to discontinue contributing a mandatory percentage of my salary to my retirement. That decision was made by someone else, probably a financial expert. And, incidentally, I opened a 403B immediately after becoming “vested,” to continue saving for my retirement, because I’m not, nor have I ever, asked for something for nothing.

I’ve invested – in my education, my profession and my future. Guess I’ll just continue making healthy choices for myself and not count on my health insurance plan or my government to reward me for my efforts.

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Filed under Librarians, medical, musings, politics, Rant, Schools

Saying thank you

image from thank-you-site.com
How and when do you express appreciation? In an age of electronic and digital communication (are these the same??) are you inclined to say thank you with a phone call or perhaps an email or text? Does a simple and sincere face-to-face “thanks” suffice?

I recently read something about this book and it got me thinking about how meaningful an unexpected written thank you note can be to a person. And I believe that unexpected is the key word in that sentence. We’re not talking here about the forced thank you notes children must write prior to being allowed to enjoy a present, or that obligatory wedding or shower gift acknowledgment. What I’m referring to is inherently more meaningful – a thoughtfully written note which communicates appreciation for an act of kindness, a generosity or a professional service. You want examples? How about three…

In the fall of 2010 I had corrective surgery on my separated shoulder. This cycling injury had become progressively more uncomfortable and I had arrived at the last resort – surgery. My doctor, Max Alley, did a fantastic job with the procedure. From his willingness to operate with a local anesthesia to the ultimate positive outcome, the surgery was an absolute success and I regained my ability to enjoy physical activities, most especially cross-country skiing. So I sent him a little note of appreciation. And – guess what happened? He responded in kind sending me a thank you note for my note!  As I said to him in my note, I hope to never see him again, but if I do our connection will be more personal, which I think, is pretty cool.
A few weeks ago I had an errand at the newly renovated Albany County Courthouse.  I was cutting it close on time and became extremely frustrated due to the locked doors at the main entrance on Eagle Street coupled with the complete lack of signage indicating how to get the heck in the building.  I literally had to go to another building and inquire where the entrance was (on the east side of the courthouse.  You’re welcome.)  and, when I finally made my way to the office I needed, I was told that I was too late in the afternoon (Friday, naturally) to get done what I had practically maimed myself (extreme exaggeration) to accomplish.  I was not pleasant to the woman at the desk and I think know I spoke to her in an unnecessarily brusque fashion.  She very calmly and competently defused me with her tone of voice and reasonable demeanor.  I ultimately left my documents with her because she offered to keep them on her desk and attend to my matter first thing Monday morning.  After I left, I felt awful about the manner in which I had behaved, so I wrote a letter to her boss, Albany County clerk, Thomas Clingan to commend her for her professionalism.  I was most pleasantly surprised to receive a response directly from him thanking me for my note and expressing the appreciation of his staff for my notice of their hard work.  Nice, right?
And my third example?  Let’s just say it involved a winning 50/50 raffle ticket with a substantial prize – maybe $2000+.  And maybe the winner of that prize independently elected to donate $1000 of that prize to the family who the lottery originally benefited, while keeping $1000 as a contribution to a fund for a special upcoming family event and making three smaller donations to other worthwhile charities.  And, perhaps, the donor never received the slightest acknowledgment of her generosity.  (At least not from the largest beneficiary – the other 3 donations were accepted with appreciation.)  Nope – not a phone call nor a note were ever received.  Granted, one shouldn’t be motivated to give by the expectation of appreciation, but I honestly can’t imagine ever cashing that check before expressing my gratitude.  Can you?
Maybe I should send them one more gift?  Perhaps a copy of this post would be appropriate? Nah, I’ll just continue on my own path of appreciation because what you put out there does eventually come back.  Thankfully.

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Filed under Albany, ideas, medical, musings, Recommendations