London Calling

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Well, I made it.  London, at last !

Despite my fears.

Despite the last 2 years of legal threats.

Despite the challenges of travel, including having my business class departure-only airline tickets cancelled without notice from anyone.

I made it to London after emptying my emergency stash of money in my bank account, and making traveling without a safety net my reality. (Scary, but I’m making it work).

I’m wide awake at 3am London time, having had a wonderful and exhausting time at Stonehenge and Bath today, and falling asleep right after dinner.  *That* is the reality of leaving home and one’s comfort zone.

Weird hours.

Wide awake AND exhausted at the same time.  Starving and surviving on rice krispy bars and water (as the food does NOT agree with me – even the hot dogs).

But here, capable, and curious about all that history has to offer.

On my tour today from London to Lacock to Stonehenge and Bath, it was the words of Pablo Neruda (spied on a plaque in passing) that struck me the most:

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This journey has brought me the joys of seeing Dick Francis’s world of misty fields and pastures brought to life from his racing mystery stories:

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To sharing an adventure with a very dear friend and bringing her the joy of getting in among the stones at Stonehenge:

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Running around and marveling at all the cozy Cotswold stone cottages and their lovely gardens, one could not help but feel that that the triumphs and tragedies of WWII and D-Day, Or WWI and Armistice Day happened just days past.

 

 

Red poppies were in bloom everywhere, reminding me of how much was lost in 1918 during WWI.

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…only to be repeated again in WWII and beyond.

Here live the ghosts of Man’s inhumanity to Man, along with some of his most inspiring creations made by Man to glorify a belief in a higher power, and a calling to each soul to be more to the world than a beast of burden; a brute, determined to destroy rather than create.

 

 

 

I could feel my Mother’s love all around me.  Daisies everywhere I looked (her favorite flower), and grave upon grave of strong women, buried with the children they loved and lost too young.  So many cemetaries we visited during my childhood vacations, as she struggled to come to terms with the death of my younger brother, Jimmy, who came into this world in hope and perfection, only to leave us all in 3 short days.  A SIDS mystery from which we both never recovered.

 

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Life, death, passion and endurance everywhere I looked.  So much beauty, pagentry, and the indellible mystery of how a land will keep renewing itself and its people.

I can’t wait to see what the upcoming days bring to this adventure.

 

 

Brain Health Registry

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I’ve been involved in tracking my own brain health (as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimers / Dementia) since I moved my Aunt in with me in 2010.

While Auntie only stayed with me a year total, I’ve kept up with my participation in the brain health study as Alzheimers / Dementia runs in the family.

The medical agencies involved in this particular study are organizations that I believe are pretty cutting-edge, especially since I rely on Stanford for most of my own care.  I also relied on their assessments of my Aunt’s health to aid her in getting back on her feet despite her overall level of disability.

BHR Participants

While I have not been diagnosed with any particular brain malady, I was pro-active in doing my research to know that having COPD may compromise my brain health.  Having brain health issues in my family tree (I count 6 possible tags on my maternal side of the family – purple tags in the chart below), I believe it’s better to be aware and dealing with the possibilities that medication may help me stay in my right mind longer than if I ignore it all and do nothing.

6 incidents of dementia as of 2018

Add in the likelihood of dementia complications due to the COPD and underlying bodily inflammation, and it’s important to stay on top of worst-case scenarios in order to remain healthy.

Not sure where I’m going with this particular posting, however, I updated my brain testing this morning with the study, and was amazed at how poorly I feel I did.  Especially since I otherwise feel fine.

I also just checked my fitbit stats, and I didn’t sleep particularly poorly last night (and I’m showing an hour’s improvement over my longer term average of 5.5 hours per 24 hour period).

Sleep Log thru Sat Morning 19MAY18

Whatever’s going on, I’m feeling good today.

Working on the trip log books for adding notes while we travel.  (Mine will also contain some genealogy reminders, since we’re traveling through many places where my ancestors came from, and I may have an opportunity to learn more about my family history).

Bernard Family Tree

Tonight is P!nK, and I’m hopeful that I won’t get tired during the concert.  I’ll get my breakfast and meds shortly (now that it’s almost 1pm, as I’m still sticking with the daily fasting schedule to try and control my diabetes / tiredness).  As soon as I’m done with eating and meds, it will probably be nap time and then time to hit the road.  I so cannot wait to see if P!nk is as good in concert as she is on her albums.

Whatever you’re doing, I hope you’re having a good day.

Confusion

And anger related to such confusion.

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I am in year three (3) of my full time battle with COPD.  While I don’t begin year 4 until October 1st, I am very aware of an increased level of irritability.  While that worries me from a manners viewpoint, I do pretty well controlling my temper when I’m face to face with someone.

Some part of my mother’s training exists in the back of my brain, urging diplomacy and silence when I find myself confused and irritable.

I am not so able to recognize a loss of control within me, when dealing with folks on the phone.  I go from zero to maddened in a snap, and I find it terrifying that my confusion leads to an immediate loss of control of my temper.

Having to deal with USAA, the insurance company from hell, to get my car repaired recently reminded me that I’m losing it in crazy way.

I began working with my own insurance company, and USAA back in November 2017, after being rear ended by their insured.  We were on vacation with a friend in town, and then dealing with another Christmas break, so the first 2 months of delay in getting my car repaired were partially my fault, even though I had the initial estimate done and submitted to my own insurance carrier in early December.

The problem, as I see it, is in how the repair efforts proceeded, once my insurance company bowed out (because the repairs were less than my $500 deductible), and I had to deal with re-doing everything to jump through hoops via USAA’s coverage preferences.

First, they wanted me to change repair shops, and have the car re-evaluated.

Next, they wanted me to use non-OEM parts.

Then, they were arguing with me about scheduling the repair, arguing that they wouldn’t provide rental car coverage until the necessary parts were delivered to the repair shop for the most efficient timing of the repair vs. rental car needs.

And, finally, they had a whole bunch of rigamarole to tell me about not covering “gas, mileage, or insurance” on my repair vehicle, causing irritation and confusion over their officially-droned declarations.

I would start off fine in talking to these folks, dreading making the call, and putting off dealing with them as long as possible, while also trying to get them to hurry up and schedule / authorize / pay for the repair.

Every phone call had me hanging up in a fine old temper about something stupid and (I thought) nonsensical, they intoned seriously to me – the fine-point, rapid fire statement at the end of every call.

However, it didn’t reach a definable point until last week, when I was trying to arrange for scheduling the repair this week, and I ended up losing my temper with both the USAA Agent and the rental car agent.

I know COPD causes memory issues, something that’s especially scary to me due to the alzheimers / dementia already running through our family tree.  But, to finally be able to define a situation where I can (sort of) step back and look at my own behavior to try and figure out the trigger mechanism for my temper, it seems like I am going backwards in evolution, to a time where I would just react against authority and melt down.

In this case, my trigger was the “legalese” warning I got at the end of both phone calls that set me off.

For staying with my own insurance company’s recommended repair shop, I had to listen to a bunch of nonsense warranty refusal claims about what risks I ran if I didn’t use USAA’s preferred shop.  (Thinking about their dire warnings cost me about two (2) weeks of time, mulling over their admonitions, before I went ahead with what I wanted to do – stay with the original repair shop my insurance recommended).

For the recent rental, their legalese dire warnings about not paying for gas, mileage or insurance took me out of myself into an irrational world where I was certain I was being cheated by this cheap insurance company.  It also took me about 3 days following arrangement of the rental to realize the I ALWAYS HAVE TO PAY THOSE EXPENSES MYSELF, ANYWAY.

You would think my brain would have kicked in immediately to remind me of my recent car rental in Las Vegas, and remind me that I always pay for “consumables” such as that.  But, nope.  Nada.  Not a glimmer of rational thought on my end.

Losing my mind when my blood oxygen saturation level appears to be at 96-98% pretty steadily scares me.

I remember being a kid, butting my head against authority all the time, and being unable to understand and accept reasonable restrictions without a meltdown and major fight.

This similarity of confusion over nonsense that later proves to be irrelevant is really getting on my last nerve.  As is my inability to think and move quickly, confident in the rightness of my decisions.

I tried to sign up for medical supplemental insurance at the end of April, and thought I’d done it correctly.  Homework Hysteria goes into some of my thoughts following more than an hour spent on the phone, trying to understand why this sign up for medical coverage was such an issue.

However well the phone call went, I got paperwork to complete that makes me think I am unable to be approved due to my COPD condition, yet I have been unwilling to get back on the phone and talk to these people because the phone and my confusion with double-speak of the fine print have become such an issue.

So, rather than complete the paperwork, I paid another two (2) months ahead on my COBRA coverage, which Aetna is trying to roll back.  Apparently, my brain thinks the devil I know and hate is better than taking on a new bureaucratic devil to know and hate.

The paperwork sits on my coffee table, and every day is a new chance to take on ‘the man’ and resolve the issue.  But do I???  Nope.  I have to sit and stew about it awhile longer, so it’s easier to part with $1,300 for May and June coverage than it is to try and take the bull by the horns and resolve the problem.

Confusion is the worst part (so far) about having COPD.  I thought the choking and strangling was the worst, in terms of fighting to breathe, but can honestly say that losing my mind and control of my fate is right up there in its nightmare inducing powers for preparing to go on despite any challenges being faced.

Counting the days

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Five days and counting ! Got all stressed out last night as my “check engine” light began showing on my dashboard, as my “check oil” light was also playing peekaboo, and yet I have another 150 miles before my oil change is due.

Started stressing out about driving to the show with an unreliable car (it’s only 5.5 years old ! I don’t wanna new car!) so I followed my hunch to pull into the gas station and check the oil. BONE DRY !

Of course, this liberated woman was very frustrated to find that I was too weak to unscrew the danged oil cap (What the heck?!?!??? When did that nonsense happen?!??). But, after 10 minutes of trying, and buying 2 quarts of oil, a nice young man pulled up next to me to run into the store, and was kind enough to twist off the cap when I got off my high horse long enough to ask for help. Side note: The book case that’s too heavy for me to move is still standing in my driveway as I’m still “thinking” about asking for help moving that up the stairs. Haven’t yet overcome my frustration enough to ask for help on that issue yet, either. Arghhhh!).

Anyway, since when is it now the new normal for the check engine light (a useless, vague prompt if I ever saw one) to come on BEFORE the check oil light, but especially when it’s the engine oil that clearly needs attention?!!

No answers here, but filling the oil tank with three (3) quarts of oil appears to have resolved the problem.

Did a round trip of 30 miles to get the oil well spread throughout the engine, and picked up a pepparoni pizza for dinner as my reward for trusting my instincts and getting off my high horse long enough to ask for help.

It’s only Tuesday morning, and I’m wiped out and need another nap, pronto. Sheesh.

On a good note, though (and knocking on lots of wood so that I don’t jinx myself), I am so looking forward to seeing P!nk this Saturday night. Hopefully, there will be no more surprise expenses with my Kia Soul.

 

Resentment.

Petty resentment.

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I bought a bookcase today.

A simple, used, wooden bookcase that will solve some of my storage issues for the office, while allowing the stained glass lamp I purchased to rest on the top shelf, gently lighting the room.

All good, until…  I find out it was sold by the Vice President and his wife (he’s part of the Board of Directors that I’m on for the homeowners association of this senior mobile home park).

All good, until…  I realize that he’s going to help me lift it and put it into my car.

All good, until…  I get it home and realize that I’m weak as a kitten and can’t do more than wrestle it out of my car with the help of my business partner (a 74 year old woman).

So, it stands in the driveway until I can either:

– Get out of my own way and ask for help, or

– Have enough energy to wrestle it up the stairs so that I can then bounce it corner to corner to manage the weight and get it down the tiny hallway into the back bedroom.

Heaven forbid that me, a Liberated Woman, get gracefully to the point where I can ask for help.

And, you can bet that I very much resent the fact that men get better looking and don’t lose their strength so quickly as they age.  Yes, I’m being petty, as I realize that I have an underlying condition.  But !

COPD Weaker Muscles

Even with the results of a recent COPD.net poll in front of me, showing that I am not alone in suffering muscle weakness, I still can’t bring myself to back down and ask for help.  Even when it’s offered (as Brad offered).

As the P!nk song says, “I’m a hazard to myself”.

I’m trying to get better and get out of my own way, but the battle to fight the rearing of one’s ego is quite a war to fight.  Pride.  Independence.  Dependency.  Helplessness.  So many mixed emotions, and it’s all wrapped up in my Liberated Woman self-image.

No answers here, but I’m working on fixing this particular stumbling block and learning to accept that which I cannot change.

Judgy, Much ?

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The shite hit the fan last night, and I’m relieved.

C called to check up on her dog to see when I was bringing it to her, and I confessed that I wasn’t.  I confessed also that I’d talked to Georgia, the care home’s owner, knew the dog wasn’t allowed or welcome, and had started to make other arrangements to surrender the dog as C had failed to use the last 60+ days (not forgetting the additional 60 days eviction notice period) to figure out a plan, and I was done waiting.

Needless to say, she had a meltdown, and we both said some harsh things that needed to be said.

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The upshot was that C was sure I’d schemed to kill her dog the entire time, she never should have let me take her, yada, yada, yada, and had nothing but excuses and demands for why this situation wasn’t her fault, and why I was untrustworthy.

This is very ugly and feels so much like the time that my other then-suicidal friend’s husband wouldn’t commit her to force B to get the help she needed, that I know I’m right in forcing this matter.  At this point, there appears to be no other way for this to end but in tragedy, and especially if the situation doesn’t change with regard to the circumstances at hand.

So, I reminded her about the dog being grossly under weight, with a raging eye infection, and being blind – all things that C was too self-involved to notice.  I reminded her that she’s had a total of 120+ days to come up with some sort of plan, and that her dogs are like children, needing care EVERY day, and that they can’t wait for her to feel better or be “ready”.   They can’t go hungry because she can’t afford to care for them EVERY day.  The dogs have rights, too, as they are lives and not just extensions of her.  Cruel, but honest.

Judgy, much?

C has threatened to come on Sunday to pick up the dog (yay, problem solved for me !   boo, problem not fixed for the dog to protect it from future neglect !)

C also tried to get me to promise NOT to surrender the dog…  No way.  She’d already missed two prior deadlines, and it takes time to rehome / surrender an animal.

So, the phone tree was going crazy last night as I called to warn her other friends about the hysteria fest coming their  way (V for tranportation to possibly get C here and back.  M who has the other (healthier) neglected dog.  D, who took the dog while I was in Vegas, but who claimed that she couldn’t keep the dog under any circumstances, as her husband had put his foot down, but who now says she can take the dog as an outdoor-only animal, which C hasn’t allowed up to this point).

Now we wait and see what will happen.  If C doesn’t get the dog, or allow D to take it, I’ve started the surrendering process with the humane society, who will also be given C’s current address and contact information, and THEY can be the ones to make the final call regarding its quality of life and disposition.

It will be about $250 to surrender the dog and board her for a few days, if the Humane Society agrees to accept Keri Jo, but that appears to be the only way I can legally handle disposal of C’s “property” and not be up on charges myself for illegally handing off the dog to a person, service or fate to which C does not consent.

Life still sucks right now for being the bad guy, but this appears to be the best choice available among sucky choices since nothing else has been able to resolve this problem since the eviction notice started this inevitable disaster in December.

4+ months of drama, and I can only hope for the best outcome for the dog, as I’ve given up on C.  So sad.

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On a happier note, Brian Lageose’s Bonnywood Manor really made me smile today.  If you haven’t seen his, “15 Smarmy Things To Say ”, check it out.  So funny !