living her best life…#26

As often happens in our lives, there can be hiccups along the way.

Recently, Pat had such a day…

News in Hawaii is that Kaiser-Hawaii employees are on strike!

My nurse had assured me that she would be here for me this week, and she was. Because Kaiser was short-staffed I had to wait a bit. In spite of that, Tara was as attentive as ever.

Additional blankets were ordered but because of shortages on all the floors, only a few were obtained. 

Brad said the cafeteria was closed.

I don’t know exactly who’s on strike but I guess it includes medical assistants, cafeteria workers, and lab techs/nurses who administer the blood tests…as well as the guys who do the laundry.

Some smaller clinics are closed altogether this week.

Supposedly, the strike should only last a week. However it might continue to occur intermittently thereafter.

 On Monday I had a blood test, and today I went in for chemotherapy treatment. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any problems because of the strike.

I hope all other patients are getting the care they require. From what I could see while I was there for my treatment, everyone seemed to be receiving what they needed.

When I entered the room,  I sat next to a man who was already undergoing treatment. He was still there when I left.

On the other side of him was a woman who was in for her first treatment. She had family with her. I overheard the nurse explain what would take place, assuring the patient, as I had been, that she would be fine. Then the pharmacist, Richard, arrived to explain what drugs she would receive and how they would be administered. I remember how he’d done that for me on my first day.

Then there was another woman who was in for her last session. She sat and knitted while having her treatment. The nurses thanked her for the manapua…a bun filled with shredded, barbecued pork. A Chinese delicacy she’d brought them on previous occasions. The woman hugged them all when she left, saying she’d return to visit…but not to stay!

That woman inspired me even though it’s still early in my treatment. I wanted to reach out to reassure the woman who was just beginning…or perhaps her daughter.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to strike up a conversation with fellow patients.

Or maybe not.

It’s such a personal, anxious and scary thing for me. I’m sure it must be for the others as well.

While finishing up my treatment, Tara and I were laughing about something. The woman’s daughter…if, in fact, that’s who she was…glanced my way, smiling. I hope my conversation and laughter helped allay her fears…at least a little bit.

I’ll sign off now so I can go and eat something.

By the way…I gained 2 pounds! Yoohoo!!! Never thought I’d be celebrating that.

…we’ll talk again soon…

…love you all…always.

………pat.

 

 

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a year without fear…part 2 (read part 1 first)

 
Always Postpone Meetings with Time-Wasting Morons

Image via Wikipedia

So here’s how Scott Adams, Dilbert‘s creator, set about “turning over a new leaf.”

     As 2011 approached, I wondered what would happen if, for the next 12 months, I said yes to any opportunity that was new or dangerous or embarrassing or unwise. I decided to find out.
     Shelly quickly embraced my new attitude and booked us on a trip to Costa Rica. That country has a huge population of monkeys and no military whatsoever–an obvious recipe for disaster. But my immediate problem was surviving Shelly’s idea of fun. This, as it turned out, included zip lining (less scary than it looked), an ATV trek through a dangerous and muddy jungle (nearly lost a leg) and, finally, a whitewater excursion down a canyon river in the rain forest.
     I should pause here to explain that though I have many rational fears in life–all the usual stuff–I have only one special fear: drowning. So for me, whitewater rafting pins the needle on the fear-o-meter. But this was my year to face my fears. I was all in.
     The first sign of trouble came when the more experienced of the two guides said that Shelly would be with him in his two-person kayak and I would ride with the new guy. This worried me because most reports of accidental deaths include the words “and then the new guy….” The second red flag appeared as the guide explained that when we hit the rapids through the waterfalls, we civilians should hold our oars above our heads and let the guides do the steering. My follow-up question went something like this: “Waterfalls?”
     Things went smoothly for Shelly and her expert river guide. I watched them slalom down an S-shaped, 12-foot drop. Shelly might have said something like “Wheeee!”
    My experience differed. My guide (the new guy) steered my half of the kayak directly into the huge rock at the top of the water hazard. My next memory involves being at the bottom of a Costa Rican river wondering which direction was up and holding my breath while I waited for my life-preserver to sort things out–which it did. Somehow, my guide and I got back into the kayak, only to repeat the scenario at another rocky waterfall five minutes later. If you think this sort of thing gets more fun on the second try, you might be a bad guesser.
     Our guides brought the kayaks to a resting area midway through the excursion. I crawled to shore like a rat that had been trapped in a washing machine. You know how people say you shouldn’t drink the local water in some places? Well, apparently you should also avoid snorting a gallon of bacteria-laden Costa Rican river water. I woke up the next morning hosting an exotic-microbe cage match in my stomach followed by an hour-long trip over winding jungle roads to the airport for home. I’ll summarize the two weeks that followed as “not good.” On the plus side, I didn’t gain weight on that vacation.
     So far, my strategy of being more adventurous was producing mixed results. My life seemed richer and more interesting–but it also involved a lot more groaning, clutching my sides and intermittently praying for death.
     It was time to dial back the risk-taking a notch. For our next adventure, I insisted on something more civilized. Shelly picked Hawaii. The most dangerous thing I tried there was swimming in the ocean, which I’ve heard on good authority is full of sharks. People who seemed to know what they were talking about said that the sharks leave you alone unless you swim at the wrong time of day and look like a seal. I hoped that the sharks in our area could tell time, and I did my best impression of someone who was very definitely not a seal. Apparently, I pulled it off.
     My friend Steve taught me how to cook a gourmet Mexican meal. He also taught me that when the executive chef says, “Wear gloves when you cut the hot chili peppers,” that’s more of a requirement than a suggestion. I spent the next four hours in agony while experimenting with the cooling properties of mayonnaise, milk and vinegar. I also learned that in a situation like that, when the executive chef says, “If you need to use the bathroom, take the bagel tongs with you because I’m not helping,” he isn’t joking.
     I had better luck with my evening of salsa dancing in San Francisco, in a neighborhood that was apparently zoned for salsa, murdering, carjacking and hate crimes. Our plan was to get there in time for the free group lesson, then to use our new skills to dance the night away.
     We arrived late, and the lesson was half over. But that didn’t matter because it was clear that not one of the husbands or boyfriends trying to follow along was getting it. It looked like a parking lot scene from a bad zombie movie. By the time the club opened for dancing, dozens of impressively unattractive single men appeared from some sort of crack in the space-time continuum. They were salsa nerds who knew they would be the only skilled male dancers in the place, and they had their pick of the ladies. I pushed Shelly toward the first salsa nerd who came our way and said, “Go nuts. I’ll be over there.”
     I also took up golf this year because I figured that it would be a good challenge. So far, the only problem is that in every foursome, there’s always one jerk who gives me a hard time for wearing a helmet.
    
My year of Living Dangerously is now drawing to a close. It turns out that some people handle adventure better than others. Shelly and her relatives, for example, are good at navigating through dangerous and unfamiliar situations like fearless gazelles. I’m more like a zebra with a limp who wonders why the other zebras are edging away from him at the watering hole. But now I’m a zebra with better stories, at least until I become lion food. I’m happy about everything I tried, and I’m happy about all the things that I plan to try in the next 90 or so years of my life.
     My advice for the coming year is that before you say no to an adventure, make sure it’s you talking and not the woodchuck who bent the front fork of your motorcycle. You won’t enjoy every new adventure, but I promise that you will enjoy being the person who said yes.  

 (Wall Street Journal, 12/31/11-1/1/12)

 
…it’s for sure adams and i…are made of the same stuff…pock, pock, pock  …said the scared chicken as she laid her egg…in the pan on top of the warm stove…where she went…to escape the icy rain…

…adams…dilbert…and me………hugmamma.

Cover of "The Year of Living Dangerously&...

Cover of The Year of Living Dangerously

a year without fear…

Dilbert (character)

Image via Wikipedia

…written by the creator of the cartoon character Dilbert…Scott Adams…and reprinted in its entirety below.

WHEN I WAS 15, a woodchuck that lived in a rock-strewn field in upstate New York taught me a valuable lesson about risk assessment. He was like an accidental Yoda, and I’ve thought about him often over the past year–which I’ve dubbed My Year of Living Dangerously.
     The woodchuck taught me to approach life cautiously–perhaps too cautiously. As I coasted into the second half of my life, I decided that it was time to unlearn the woodchuck’s lesson and loosen up, take some risks, face my fears and enjoy the fullness of life. Perhaps you have a woodchuck of your own that you need to shake off. Maybe 2012 will be your year.
     Here’s what happened: One summer, long ago, I was barreling through a field at about 25 miles an hour on my ancient Bridgestone motorcycle when the front tire decided to visit the foyer of a woodchuck’s underground lair. I’m not sure if anyone else in the world noticed, but while I was airborne, time slowed down for a few seconds.
     In the first stage of my flight, while I was still facing toward the sweet, sweet Earth, I noticed that there were many large rocks in the direction that gravity preferred. As my flight continued, I reminded myself that I’m not an adventurer. Some people are born to take one physical risk after another. They thrive on the adrenaline rush. I’m not one of those people. When my body feels adrenaline, it means that I just did something extraordinarily stupid. This was one of those times.
     About three-quarters into my aerial rotation, I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and personal savior, just to improve my odds. And I made a promise to myself that, if I lived, I would follow in the footsteps of my ancestors and lead a timid life, far from danger’s reach. As far as I know, there has never been a hero in my bloodline–not one soldier, police officer or fireman. I don’t know what that implies about my genes, but I’ve never lost a game of hide-and-seek where I was the hider.
     By pure luck, or maybe because of my just-in-time religious conversion, I landed flat on my back in a rock-free patch of dirt. I was wearing a helmet and had no lasting injuries. But for about a week I could taste my brain. It had a cashew flavor.
     From that day on, I kept my promise to myself and avoided all unnecessary physical risks. My strategy got easier when I became a syndicated cartoonist; I told anyone who would listen that I couldn’t risk injuring my drawing hand.
     My danger-avoidance lifestyle worked, and I enjoyed a long string of injury-free years. But I always had a nagging feeling that I was missing out. How can you know if the chance you didn’t take was the one that would have enriched your life versus, for example, something that would have ended up with you chewing your own arm off to escape? Enrichment and arm-gnawing look roughly the same when viewed from the start.
     My low-risk strategy got more complicated when I met Shelly, the woman I would marry. Shelly comes from a family of adventurers. In the final months of World War II, when her grandfather was 19 and the oldest surviving officer in his unit, he got the order to liberate a POW camp. So he did what anyone would do in that situation: He crashed a Nazi staff car into the front gate at high-speed while his men laid down suppressing fire. I asked him if he was scared. He said, “Nah. Wasn’t my time.”
     The whole family is like that. They lack the fear gene, and they like doing new things no matter how good the old things are. Compounding this situation, they mate with people who are just as fearless. If you eavesdropped on a typical holiday gathering, you might hear the following snippets of conversation:
     “The Taliban were all over that area, but our helicopter only got shot up once.”
     “It didn’t hurt too much until the doctor scraped off the top layer of my skin to get the pebbles out.”
     “The second round hit me as I dove into the truck. I guess we shouldn’t have gone to that bar.”
     I noticed that all of Shelly’s relatives seem to be living life to the fullest. Did my brush with a woodchuck-related death in my formative years make me too cautious to enjoy life?
     Experts say that people need to try new challenges to keep their minds sharp. That’s especially important in my case because I plan on living to 140, and I don’t want to spend my last 60 years trying to find the TV remote.
     As 2011 approached, I wondered what would happen if, for the next 12 months, I said yes to any opportunity that was new or dangerous or embarrassing or unwise. I decided to find out.

If this whets your appetite for more…

…settle in for…part 2…

………hugmamma.  😉 

365 photo challenge: decline

i decline to be interviewed…..photographed…..or bothered in any way…..shape…..or form…..not now…..not ever……………………………got that?!?

pretty please?…..with cheese on top?…..how about some juicy chicken tidbits?…..awww come on…..just one itty bitty smile?……………..hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: ocean

rather be looking down from my lofty perch, than sitting in a tiny boat on the vast expanse of open ocean …………………………………………..hugmamma.

a sign of things to come?

A close friend sent me the following in an email. She introduced it with the words “This is  weird!” It is a coincidence, but eerie nonetheless. How the latter part of the message works, “Go figure!” as she said. Any ideas?

OMG…”This year we will experience 4 unusual dates…1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11…NOW go figure this out…take the last 2 digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be this year and it will EQUAL, 111.”

doodoodoodoodoodoodoodoodoodoo…hugmamma.

“aloha,” the meaning

I don’t claim to speak for all Hawaiians, only myself and perhaps a handful of others I know who may share my sentiments. The uproar over a mosque being built near Ground Zero seems to be growing the ever-widening gap among people, in our country and abroad, but particularly here in America. Republicans and Democrats have always been on sparring terms, but added to the mix now are the “Tea-Party” supporters with Sarah Palin seemingly at the helm. An uneasy coexistence among us began when the streamers and champagne glasses were tossed out, after President Obama’s inaugural. Did civility and tolerance get thrown in the trash as well?

Wanting and needing to live a healthy life going forward, for my sake and that of my husband’s and daughter’s, it’s been essential that I adopt a more compassionate, positive outlook toward myself, and others. Diseases, like Alzheimer’s breed on negativity. I’m certain, as survivors of cancer would agree, that dwelling upon the bad aspects of the disease doesn’t help in the fight against and may, in fact, promote its spread. So why would we want to encourage more vitriol amongst ourselves, families, friends, neighbors,co-workers,communities and fellow-worshippers of the same Being whom we all believe as benevolent? Might we not share that same benevolence with our fellow-men and women?

Opponents of both views  in the brouhaha over mosques being built on U.S. soil seem unwilling to share the land, let alone compassion ( “a feeling of sympathy for another’s misfortune” according to Webster) towards one another. Yesterday’s Journal cited several ongoing conflicts around the country. In Temecula, California “Local officials will consider in November plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley for a 25,000-square-foot mosque.” Pastor William Rench of Calvary Baptist Church, potentially neighboring the proposed mosque, is concerned about extremist sentiments expressed by one American Islamic leader.  The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, plans to build a new mosque and school. Darrel Whaley “A local pastor at Kingdom Ministries Worship Center…has spoken at county meetings against plans for the mosque and recreational facilities.” Meanwhile plans have been approved to build a mosque in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. President of the Islamic Society of Sheboygan, Imam Mohammad Hamad says “The issue here is not the issue of a religious building, it is an issue of the Constitution.” A supporter Reverend Gregory S. Whelton, pastor at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sheboygan felt President Obama’s controversial remarks “articulated the same issues of religious tolerance that were at stake here.”

Since Lincoln’s stand against racial prejudice, which cost too much in the loss of human lives, our country has struggled to rid itself of the taint of human degradation, slavery. But it seems to be our lot on earth never to achieve equality for we always keep our hearts and minds closed to others, who are unlike ourselves. Perhaps we fear they will take what we have, leaving us nothing. 

I struggle too, I’m not above the fray. But for the sake of our children and their children, it’s my sincerest hope that we continue fighting for equality of ideas, beliefs, cultures. Politics, it seems, carries the day suffocating our values, our humanity.

Tourists and others comment on the “Aloha spirit” among Hawaiians. It is spoken of as a beneficent state of mind. For the most part, it is. Native Hawaiians under the rule of King Kamehameha wanted for nothing. He owned the land, and the people were granted its use for their daily needs. I think because of this, Hawaiians are not hoarders by nature. Unfortunately this inherent openness toward sharing the wealth and beauty of the islands has enabled others to historically take whatever they wanted, leaving the natives very little to share of their inheritance.

Despite their own dilemma most Hawaiians continue to welcome visitors to their Paradise, the thought being we all need one another to survive. So they continue to share the thunderous waterfalls, the white sand beaches, the warm waters of the blue Pacific, the green canopies of local foliage, the migrating humpbacks and other wildlife that still abounds, the hula dancers telling stories with their hands, their eyes, and melodic voices rising on soft breezes evoking reminiscences of Hawaii’s past, wonderment at Hawaii’s present, and promises of Hawaii’s future.

Hawaiians are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of others, they  would just prefer that everyone get along. There’s an old saying my mom use to pass along when some wrong was righted “No mo pilikea.” We knew then there would be “no more trouble,” “no more worries.”

that’s what I wish for us all…hugmamma.

no more pain, only friends

Saw one of my favorite people, for what had been one of my least favorite appointments,… seeing the dentist. Dr. Quickstad and his staff have allayed whatever fears my teeth and I had about hands poking around inside my mouth. To say they are considerate is an understatement. Never have I been queried more about my well-being during a dental visit. But they are so efficient and capable, that they needn’t worry. 

My first experience having my teeth looked at was the summer before entering 6th grade. Our family was too poor to afford such luxuries as repairing what we already had. We could only take care of our daily needs; the future would have to wait until we hit the lottery (nonexistent in those days). I’m not certain whether it was a nagging toothache or the desire to look better when I smiled. I had skipped 5th grade, going from 4th into 6th. I wanted to “measure up” to older students who would be my peers. But knowing myself as I do, my mom probably dragged me, “kicking and screaming” to the dentist because of the hammering ache from a tooth.

As it turned out I didn’t know pain until I sat in the chair of a middle-aged, Chinese dentist wearing wire-rimmed eyeglasses. The framed certificate hanging on the wall across from where I sat, probably indicated where he’d trained. All I remember is hearing someone say that he’d been an army dentist. He went on to demonstrate on me, how he’d worked on strong, military guys. I should’ve enlisted after the treatment I received.

The dentist was kindly, but formal and stiff. From his demeanor I understood that he didn’t stand for nonsense. Not that I would cause any; I didn’t want him to get carried away with his drill or needles.  I don’t remember there being an assistant, but there might have been. I can only remember watching the dentist’s every move, with eyes like a hawk’s.

Over the course of many months, the dentist worked a miracle. Badly decayed teeth were removed or filled with silver. The improvement gave me the self-confidence to open my mouth without hesitation, smiling, laughing, grinning, speaking. But I must admit the path to my new look was sheer agony.

Novocaine was administered with a needle that looked like it was meant for a horse. And there was no numbing the area beforehand. As the dentist stuck the huge needle into my gums, administering the sedative, I pressed my head as far back into the headrest as it would go; it would’ve gone further if it could have. I was only anesthetized for extractions, fillings were done “cold turkey.” The drilling felt like a jack hammer inside my head. When it hit a nerve, it took all my self-control not to want to kick somebody, anybody. But as a Catholic school student, I was expected to suffer in silence, and I did. 

I came to like and admire the middle-aged, Chinese dentist, wearing wire-rimmed glasses. He discounted my fee because of our financial situation. My mom always paid what she could each time, $5 in cash. I felt proud when I handed over the money; for a moment I didn’t feel so poor.

My first dental experience ended happily, but it didn’t negate my fear of dentists. So throughout the years, I’ve not attended to my teeth as I should have. Somehow that chore always fell to the bottom of my list of things to do. But I did make certain that my daughter’s teeth were always looked after. I didn’t want her suffering, physically, mentally and emotionally, as I had. Her teeth are gorgeous, thanks to braces.

At 61 I’ve found Dr. Quickstad who, with his staff, has made dental appointments more like…visits with friends. They’re ensuring that through the remaining decades of my life, I continue to bite, chew, swallow, and smile, grin and laugh with all my pretty teeth showing.

no more pain, only friends…hugmamma.