Don’t Fight The Good Fight


Do you remember the old song that had the lyrics: “I fought the law and the law won”….

Well, I sort of feel like this…not exactly that I have been fighting the law, but a similar looming entity in America that, to me at least, now just feels like a gigantic monster that no longer has the capabilities, abilities or desire to do what it originally was set up to do.

Can you guess?? It’s health care. For months now I have been trying to schedule a routine mammogram and have been getting nowhere. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I have been lead down the dark alleyways of jargon, insurance codes, doctor referrals (or refusals to do so), authorization and the inability of one organization to speak to another –therefore leaving me, the patient, in the middle….

….With no idea what anyone is talking about. I’m in the unfortunate situation of being on Obamacare (or not, depending on how you see this), so the waters become very murky;more shady than usual. No doctors take it where I live, so most everywhere I go is an out-of-pocket expense.  I have it mostly for my one medication. But my understanding was that a routine mammo was covered…. So, I was determined to GET it covered!

After fighting with my doctor, and central scheduling, then trying Planned Parenthood, then central scheduling again, then speaking with Blue Cross at least three times and getting three different stories (all of this over and over)…. and this all after having three appointments scheduled and canceled over a period of months—I decided enough.

Healthcare? I was losing my mind. This all was causing me so much stress; I couldn’t sleep. I’ve had a concern too and really needed this mammo yet was getting nowhere! Only two people I spoke to on this entire messed up journey were actually sympathetic. Most either could barely speak English or just read off a script, and contradicted each other. One I actually spoke to her manager to compliment her because I had to talk to her so many times; she at least seemed to care.

So finally, I made a decision because I could see the fight was leading me to a dead-end and draining me of energy. It would be yet another out-of-pocket expense… I would just have to pay for the thing myself. And miraculously I had an appointment the next day!

I guess the moral of the story is that they wear you down until you succumb. Maybe this is part of the plan now. Read the small print…. If they can drive you crazy and stress you out bad enough over enough years, maybe you will die sooner.

So anyway, I fought the healthcare system and I lost bad….

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Little Thoughts


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When thoughts start to clutter my mind now, especially ones that take me away from the present, this is my new mantra:

I am here now; I am alive; I am healthy; I am grateful.

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“Extended bliss is boredom of the existential kind.” from the book NutShell  By Ian McEwan.

Hospice


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Had my training for becoming a Hospice Volunteer today. It was incredibly organized and informative. They don’t mess around–a bit different from the Soup Kitchen, I must say. Of course, it’s a whole different ball of wax. They depend on Medicare/Medicade  funding, so must tow the line, even when it comes to volunteers. We are dealing with patients, so have to follow the same guidelines that any healthcare providers do.

Luckily, having spent so many years in the business, I’m familiar with most of it–and how to deal with death and dying, and families, but it was great to get a brush up and hear their take on things.

The group was pretty big, with kids from high school right up to senior citizens. There was even another female paramedic! Only two males though, as the group was mostly women. It seemed like a really good bunch of folks willing to do a whole range of jobs. I wish I was more talented, so I could provide special things, like singing or music, but hopefully I will give something in my own way.

Once all my paperwork, tests etc. pass, then I’ll be clear to go around with a mentor and finally begin my own work with the patients. Some have no family of their own, but some just need extra. Many (most they said) have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease so might not recognize us from week to week. But that’s fine. As long as we can provide comfort of some sort.

I have some ideas of what I can do. And I’m honored to share this sacred part of someone’s life. To help give someone a good death is important. That transition can be so difficult, we must try the best we can to make it as easy as possible. For everyone: the patient and the family.

And so I step into this realm once again and take this journey with them, hopefully with something to offer.

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Happy Birthday Mom 


It has not been an easy year but this amazing woman reached this incredible milestone with the strength and dignity I’ve always admired in her. Facing tough setbacks in her nearly perfect health, she was undaunted by the changes in her. Her ever positive outlook on life has kept her moving and healing, but mostly is an inspiration to all of those who know her.

From the time I was small she taught me that I could be anything I wanted, something I have passed on to my daughters. Her help has allowed me to figure out my path and feel a sense of security. 

This time living near my Mother has been a blessing after spending  so many years apart. She has given me more than I can really express. And really without her decision so many years ago, when she knew adopting a little girl was something she needed to do, I’m not sure where I would be today. 

Happy 90th Mama. I love you. 

Poem: The Artist 


Turning inside out 

exposing raw reality buried 

under layers of hidden sinew

meant to stay tucked 

the quiet fist of crazy

crouched behind daylight 

They dragged it out

in slanted moments 

It came at times 

unwilling 

and others 

leaping out of its den

But once loose

It pleased Pandora 

and never would return 

Now free to torment 

its fire burns beauty 

until the brilliance 

dies out

Saving Me


Many years ago I did something that most think was to help someone else, but it was really to help me. It was actually not a selfless move to save a part of the world, but to save a part of me.

The journey began when I decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I am adopted as some of you may recall. It was not an easy journey, as I had criteria that made constraints that other people adopting might not have through their paths. It was my goal to stay within the US and to maintain birth order (my husband at the time and I had a 3-year-old), so when approaching an adoption agency, they showed us the ‘blue book’ of the “waiting children”–it appeared as though this might be impossible. Either we would have to take on siblings of 4 or teenagers. Neither of these situations seemed fair to my daughter.

But then the social worker mentioned foster care: the backdoor to adoption. At that time, 51% of foster children got adopted by their foster parents. It seemed like a reasonable plan to me, especially since I was a stay at home Mom anyway.

I won’t go through it all, because this is not what this post is about. Suffice to say, we became foster parents, eventually to a 2-year-old girl: mentally challenged, but high functioning, emotionally rocked by her first 2 years and HIV positive.

That toddler is now my 25-year-old daughter and she just had my first grandchild today–a little boy.

It has been a rocky road all along. My 3-year-old (now almost 28) has had a rough relationship with her, which has worsened as an adult. The birth daughter that came after her, has a distant, but OK relationship. And this daughter’s life has been one challenge after another. While her health is way better than anyone would have predicted (they figured she wouldn’t live past 9 years old), she has met with prejudice, job losses, school bullies and lots of tears.

She has been with her partner for many years, a young man who is also mentally challenged, more so than she. When she announced her pregnancy, we were all pretty upset. They are poor, with no jobs, living in abject poverty. While we help, there is only so much you can help those who often do not believe they need it.There was great concern for the welfare of a baby coming into these circumstances.

But she was determined, and her determination has always been one of her greatest (and sometimes most frustrating) attributes.
So today he was born. The doctors have taken every precaution, and so has she, that this baby be born HIV free. My daughter has tried very hard to take care of herself and many around her have been helping to get her hooked up with the proper services so there will be the best possible outcome down the road.

It is so easy to be negative, but success can’t happen unless we believe it is possible. Sometimes I think that she never thought much about her HIV and just figured she would live a normal life, so she has. And I understand her desire for baby, someone who belongs to her through genes, looks like her and comes from her. I get it when no-one else in my family may understand this–because we both have that connection, that mutual disconnect from our birth heritage.

So on this day, I will celebrate her decision and her new baby, my grand-baby. Because her adoption wasn’t about fixing her, it was to rescue a part of me.

Lost In The Forest


There are times when it feels like it takes all my effort to keep the beast at bay. We each have our own beasts: financial burdens, relationship woes, weight issues, an illness, family problems, an addiction–the list is endless. My beast has been hiding in the bushes probably my whole life, blending in and camouflaged by the surrounding landscape. That landscape has been partly the creation of my own mind and parts of my life that simply lay hidden beneath the surface, like a creature that lives below the surface of the earth.

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For many years I have lived my life with this beast only in my peripheral vision; it was often a silent marauder coming to me, slipping in and out of dreams and reality. But I was young, strong and mostly unaware. Life was a whirlwind of distractions: that carousel spinning, making me dizzy so I mostly didn’t notice this strange visitor who crossed my path.

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When it did happen though, my heart became larger in my chest and I could feel it thudding in the front of my chest. My head felt heavy and my temples hurt…the room might tilt, if only for a moment, and reality would feel different. I knew something was closing in. It felt the air getting less and it was hard to breathe.

But the moment would pass. The world would return to normal (as normal is it can be) and I would forget, tuck it back into the recesses– the folds of my memory.

Now I am older and the habitat in which the beast dwells is thinning. Maybe climate change has effected that forest too, or maybe I am chopping the trees down myself? It seems I can sense this thing is coming closer; there is more clarity in which I feel its breath. I am familiar with the scent and know when it might be approaching at times. But there are still those unexpected moments when it creeps up on me and takes me by surprise, and I feel that weight again sitting on my chest. If I listen hard enough, then, I might hear the low growl of its voice telling me to beware…

It might be near, very near now, but what it wants, I still do not know. Why it hunts me is a mystery. And try as I may, ridding myself of it remains a secret lost within the darkness of the forest.

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Under Cover 


Sometimes I feel utterly exposed, as though I sit naked revealing parts of myself that are better left under cover. Although as I’ve gotten older these times have gotten fewer and seem to happen more when I am dreaming. Then things come to light that make me realize just how much is churning around in my psyche. Maybe that’s why my stomach feels full of a giant twisted rubber band lately. In the past everything just spewed forth so not much was left to stew inside like some over ripe batch of sourdough.

Now I’m often gripped with clutching need to stay hidden, camouflaged amidst my own natural habitat so no one can find me. There are moments of quiet anxiety of venturing forth, facing humanity and acting like one of them. Maybe I can stay hidden and pretend I’m not.

Either way, at some point I must go out. Stark naked or fully camouflaged, I eventually must take my fluttering heart to the streets. But what anyone sees will never be what is really before them, because I no longer know how to display my true plumage. So instead I will let them make their best guess at who I might be and continue to figure it out myself.