Endings

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We look at the sunset everyday, thinking, “Well, is this all there is?”  Or, “That was great !  Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.”  Or any one of a hundred musings along those lines.

Having made it safely back from my overseas jaunt, I am happy to report that I stayed well, despite being tired.  I am healthy, despite my body’s continued betrayal.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a tired man trapped in this woman’s body.   John Coffey / Stephen King absolutely called my state of mind may years ago, way back in 1984, when I made plans to escape my parochial life and journey to this foreign land of California in the hopes that things would be better.

What I found instead was something I’ve always known.  No matter where you go, you can’t outrun yourself.  Ideas that had me branded as wild in Boston are still the same ideas that have me branded as boring in California.  No matter where you go, the truth will out and you are who you are.  It’s just that simple and that pragmatic.

So, as I contemplate my so called, “golden years”, I can’t help but note that it’s an ending that is taking way too long to arrive.

I’ve done my best to remain busy and out of mischief, but being busy without a purpose is just as tiring as having a purpose.  And, remaining within my budget is very hard, but especially when I am bored and looking to keep busy and out of trouble.

Today’s introspection is courtesy of an Auntie who appears to be trying to do herself in.  Again.  Plus a neighbor whose wife has Alzheimers, and who slipped his supervision and ended up in a care home 3 months or so back.

So many people unhappy with their lives, yet either trying to leave it too soon, or keep it functional long past all reasoning for quality of life.

While I was traveling I was exhausted.  Daily.  But I managed to get up and get moving every day (some days better and more on top of things than other days).  There was no question about my health, or “Is this the big one?” for a health scare in the night.

Instead, everything was on hold for an indefinite period of time while I explored other lives and other realities.  I was alive, and living, vs. trying to find a purpose to get my butt in gear and get on with the business of living.  Every day.  Day after day.

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It was a time away from my life, and I loved it.  And, while I have yet to get my income (matching salary benefit from the insurance company) due in the month of June, I’ve continued to spend money and buy plants and do what I can to stay engaged in life, despite the aggravation that being alive and continuing to fight the good fight brings each day.  Each day I’m short of money and worried about bills and managing priorities.

As the old song says, 🎶 If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing.  Let’s look at the moon and have a ball… 🎶

Every life must have it’s ending.  And, my being aware for most of my 57 years that life is finite, and my life more than others, it just leaves me naval gazing and wishing I could be off dancing some more.

I’ve put down money on a trip to Portland and Vancouver, BC, in the Fall.  Having faith that my money will keep on coming and that I’ll need stuff to do to keep busy if my health remains stable.

I’ve also put money down on a cruise in the Spring, hoping against hope that my Sis will snap out of her mad and find a way to make the family trip for a cousin’s 10 year anniversary next March.

So many different things I’m doing, while also wondering when my ending will hurry up and get here.

I was stuck for an answer earlier today (twice!) when the neighbor who has had to put his wife in a home challenged me on my health and why I wasn’t “healing” my lungs through stem cell treatments.  It was hard not to say, “Look, you just put your wife in a home and are preparing to sell everything to pay for her care while you both fight to keep being able to afford to live.”   Instead, I just had to answer politely that I’m not made of money and that stem cells aren’t the answer.  Yet.  And maybe not ever, if one has to keep on dealing with the pain of the treatment and affording the treatments every six months or so.

Having harvested the tomatoes and bringing them over to a friend to enjoy, I had to stop from snapping at a know-it-all 25 year old who demand to know “how” I knew I was allergic to fruits and vegetables.  (It was all I could do to not grab her by the throat and shove her face in the panties I’d crapped in on Friday, being unable to make it home in time to avoid the heading-for-the-nearest-exit food drama my body insists is its standard).

Having eaten some roast beef that uncooked lettuce touched, and which minute amount of lettuce I didn’t find in my sandwich until more than half way through it, you can trust me to know that my body’s reaction to fruits and vegetables is worsening, and that I “know” my allergic reactions. Nobody wants to live long enough to have to clean up their own crap.  Anyone with sense will avoid anything even remotely likely to provoke an undesurable reaction, never mind one so extreme.

So, I’m sure I had a point to this blog when I started it.  For now, let’s just wrap it up with the knowledge that old age isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and that I’m ready to go when the time comes.  Endings.  They make way for new beginnings.  At least, in my world.

Answers?

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A good friend and favorite blogger, Embeecee,  of “sparksfromaconbustiblemind”, posted answers to another bloggers questions, recently, and since this colors a conversation I’ve been having with myself (post-vacation let-down, and scrambling for money issues kind of pointless thoughts), I figured I’d put off blogging what I was going to write about a little longer, and answer the same questions:

Questions and My Answers below:

https://margosviews.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/july-4-2018/

Thought provoking for Americans, but really these questions could be applied to anyone, any where.  They are questions ‘for our time’ I think.

She writes:  “I don’t have a crystal ball showing what the USA will look like in 20 or 40 or 100 years, but I know the decisions we make today will color, determine, shade and dictate what our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren will see when they are our age.

* * * * * * *

Will they see a nation that offers safety to the homeless?

A)  Unfortunately, America never offered safety to the homeless.  If we go back to 1918, before the New Deal era, there were zero worker protections, homelessness was a byproduct of being brave enough to strike out on your own for new (and hopefully, better) opportunities.  But, none of this was available to women, who were still largely chattels and didn’t even get the right to vote until 1920.

Will they have the right to raise their arms and voices in protest without government retaliation?

A)  There has always been retaliation against the protestors.  One only has to look at the 1960’s to know that raising one’s voice in protest always came with consequences.  It’s a test of individual mettle as to whether or not someone is willing to protest at all.

Will women have control of their bodies?

A)  It’s an illusion to believe that women have EVER had control of our bodies.  While there are some basic rights since the 1970’s protecting a woman’s right to birth control and medical care, of which I truly believe abortion is a medical care choice, her rights have always been limited by her ability to access that control of her body.  Despite employers.  Despite conscientious objector pharmacists, and despite the pilloring of Planned Parenthood as an anti-women, anti-family medical provider.  To-may-toe.  To-mah-toe, as they say.

Will children be assured of safety and care?

A)  Children have NEVER been assured of safety and care. If that were true, there wouldn’t be so many neglected and abused children in the world.

Will minorities be treated equally?

A)  There is still much work to do.  Until mankind recognizes that we are all in this together, and that mistreatment of you equals mistreatment of me, there will always be those individuals who don’t care who they trample to get near the top – and who will use any context (gender, religion, skin color, etc.) to differentiate and descriminate against anyone they deem outside the golden circle of ranked privilege they are trying to attain for themselves.

Will the earth be abundant and fertile, free of toxins spewing and scorching its inhabitants?

A)  One can hope.  But…  as long as there are ignorant people who believe convenience and cost / affordability outweigh inconvenience and sustainability, it’s going to remain an uphill battle,

Will a middle class exist?

A)  Until America sees that Corporations are not people, and that we all deserve a sanitary roof over our heads, food and medical care – regardless of what we do to earn a living – the attacks upon the middle class will continue.  We were at our most prosperous after the New Deal era and World War II, yet we still found reasons to attack the weakest and most vulnerable among us, as well as attacking each other’s economic worth, as a way to undermine each other and the bourgeoise middle class.

Will this span of land be filled with haves and have-nots?

A)  It already is.  While it was better between 1940 and 1980 for parity and opportunities, it’s taken an equally scant 40 years since the 1980’s to undermine all the progress that had been made, and to set a tone of hopelessness among our citizens.

Will the nation be a leader?

A)  It cannot be a leader if it’s a bully, trumping other land’s rights to self-determination.  Cadet Bonespurs expressed wish / lighthearted talk about invading Venezuela points to the fact that our warlike leadership as a nation is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

Will it be an entity beating its chest, taking advantage of whoever and whatever it can?

A)  As long as it’s run by self-motivated, greedy, imperialists, our boorish behavior on the international stage looks likely to continue.  And, as the cost of the future debt we owe our soldiers and veterans people who have paid in advance and for whom we refuse to care for properly in terms of mental health access, PTSD treatment, and income for life for injuries sustained on international battlefields is never paid, I believe we will continue with our thievingg, bullying.

Will they be a people of peace?

A)  Some are.  Unfortunately, peace only works when everyone is willing to respect differences and refuse to fight to the death over nonsense.

Will they be a people of abuse?

A)  Given the examples visible today, we will continue to bully any one or any nation we deem expendible or less viable / worthy.

Will they love who they don’t know?

A)  Sadly, xenophobia appears to be alive and flourishing.

Will they fear who they don’t know?

A)  Sadly, we appear to be a nation of scaredy cats, flinching and reacting to the smallest provocation… even evother guy isnkt trying to be provocative.

Will they be open to the oppressed?

A)  So far, we only seem to care if they look like us.  Sound like us.  Come here with oodles and oodles of cash in their pockets.  I’d like to hope we’d help strangers, but it’s not looking likely.

Will they be exclusive and prejudiced?

A)  So far, it’s 51 / 49 in terms of standing up to the status quo.  I think the prejudicial programs will continue, sadly.

Will white men continue to dictate the rules of society?

A)  I don’t know what I fear more… rich old white men, or the vociferous, us-against-them methods being used to divide us further by labels (ideals) and agendas.

Will women’s voices be heard, respected, heeded?

A)  We heckle everyone.  While men get the mic more often, we appear to be an equal opportunity abuser for holding down anyone interested in challenging the status quo.

Will the United States be united by force, isolated and alone?

A)  Both.  We are united in our passions, but unable to lead ourselves dispite our similarities, because we appear to be demanding Stepford Wife perfection in everyone.  Regardless of the fact that some of the world’s best leaders were drunkards, womanizers, etc., etc., etc.

Will the people rule and govern?

A)  When have we ever.  We govern by consensus, but that only works if everyone participates and agrees to be ruled by the majority.

Will more estrogen rule or more testosterone?

A)  Ugh.  If we make it a male / female issue, we’ve already lost.  It needs to be the best person governing. Period.

Will future generations know freedom as we do today?

A)  Absolutely.  Freedom evolves.

If we don’t speak out will future generations be allowed to do so?

A)  One cannot wait for permission.  One must speak out.  Always.  Whenever one has passion for or against an issue.

In closing, let me say that one must live in hope.  Some believe in a higher power; some do not.  I believe in me and all the good people I meet in the world every day.  Any day I’m alive is a day I’m trying to make things better.  Even in our darkest hours.

To pirate from Embeecee:

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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.