hiatus

My word! The last time I posted, it was the middle of summer, July 31st! Perhaps the cooler weather will prompt me to return to this blog.

A lot happened in that time, mostly management of my mother’s and my financial and insurance business, something I don’t want to relive.

At this point, I don’t think I have insurance coverage. I’ve become one of those unfortunates who fall under the status “has pre-existing condition”. It’s a big ‘un, too. Wegener’s granulomatosis. Not on the Nebraska Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool list of pre-existing conditions they cover.

Well, there is one form of vascular disease- WG is a vascular disease- on the list, but it relates of arterial issues arising from smoking. Wegener’s granulomatosis isn’t that. Smoking!? And what about these other “pre-existing conditions”? Alcoholism. Attempted suicide. Cancer survivor.

I’m here to tell you, if you are going to have a pre-existing condition in THIS country, the United States of America, it better not be an orphan disease!

“I’m here to tell you…”

That expression crept into my awareness after I first came down with Wegener’s granulomatosis in March or April 2003. Surviving that initial flare, surviving treatment with Cytoxan and Prednisone (the standard treatment for severe cases then and largely now, and known among weggies as the “Toxic cocktail”), that phrase took on new meaning and life.

“I am here to tell you,” I’d say. It wasn’t a given before. I was near death, with lungs and kidneys under assault by my own immune system. “I’m here to tell you,” I’d say. And I meant it!

I. Am. Here. To. Tell. You! I am here to tell you that America’s healthcare system is failing me just now, its insurance side at least, and I hope and pray that my health holds out until the Republican- and insurance company-opposed healthcare reforms phase in or I reach the age where Medicare kicks in, if that will do the trick.

I’m waiting now for a call or an e-mail from BCBS’s local agent to let me know if I am “in” or I am “out”.

If I am “in”, I get to pay too much for less insurance than I had under my company, then COBRA, plans. And be grateful to a healthcare system that values dollars over people, rich people over poor, the advantaged over the disadvantaged, umm… I hear violins!

[“Can Jimmy Stewart return from heaven and play me in the tragic movie I’m playing in my mind. Yes? Oh, good!”]

If I am “out”, I probably will survive. I’ll even set money aside for a rainy day when my body’s auto-immune system runs amok, again, as probability tells me it most likely will before I die of it or its complications.

[I must get to work on that obituary and funeral arrangements. I’m a veteran, so should qualify for a burial by Uncle Sam in the new veteran’s cemetery built on top of an old prairie dog town where I used to watch burrowing owl chicks feed on grasshoppers brought to them by their parents. I’ll like that!]

These will be days of uncertainty, but not days bereft of hope. My faith in God, tempered by this terrible illness, is key to that. That and the fact that God in His infinite wisdom had the good sense to create cats, of which I have one very amusing and companionable specimen, Louie.

I’m here to tell you, that’s Louie in the photo in the super hero suit he’ll wear when he rescues me from this quagmire! Good kitty!

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forgotten promises

We all do it. Make a promise, then forget it.

That’s OK, I suppose, among very good friends, friends who overlook transgressions those outside the circle regard as hopelessly impossible circumstances, a reason for judgment, a sure fire cause for cessation of the acquaintance. People!

What, then, if the promise is a Lenten promise, one, in essence, to God?

That’s where I am just now. If you go back to the start of these blogs, you see one that has to do with patience with others whose driving habits DRIVE YOU CRAZY.

The stupid cows! You know who you are! You drive 20 in a 35 mph zone! You signal turns by applying your brakes! OR you signal two clicks of your turn signal before you turn, but I’ve been waiting a HEN (my late father’s all-pupose cleaned-up curse world, bless his soul!) LONG time for you to cross the intersection so I can turn onto the road where you drive. Get the point? If I knew you were turning right on my street, I could turn right on your street. Traffic would move efficiently, smoothly, at the speed it would move if YOU WEREN’T A STUPID COW! Or SOB. Or, well names that are imaginative and deny you your humanity.

The conclusion I drew, in that earlier blog, was that I’d achieved a level of maturity where I realized the driving behaviors of others- the ones that didn’t kill or maim me, at least- didn’t make much difference in time it took to drive from one side of the small town where I live to the other, so I just grinned and didn’t let these behaviors bother me any more.

Almost a year later, however, I realized that not only did the driving behaviors no longer bother me any more, they sure as hell didn’t bother me any LESS, you STUPID SLUT COW! Use that turn signal. It came standard with the pickup. Yeah! Drive the speed limit. Pu-leeze!! SLUT COW!

What happened?

I do not know. So I made examination of the hate and discontent with other drivers my Lenten challenge. It worked, after three solid years, on grudges. Lent is the start of the process for me, the trial run, the promises made time, the prayerful examination of myself in a Christian context time. Tedious to you non-Christians, I know, but this is one of those things we flog ourselves about, if we use the time more constructively than “I will give up televison”- or “I will give up chocolates”-variety of Lenten challenge.

During Lent, those forty days, I examine myself prayerfully, devise means to extricate myself from a private hell, make myself more presentable to our Heavenly Father when the time comes. “Jesus was sacrificed on a cross for you, so how did you adjust your life to reflect you understanding of his sacrifice for you?

…AND THE OTHER F’ing SLUT COWS!

No, no, NO! He loves you regardless of your lame efforts to walk with Jesus. Even those you call slut cows. We all are his children. Yeah. Even the slut cows. Yep! Them, too.

It’s going to be a long Lent this year. So far I’ve failed miserably to address this afflication. Perhaps Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will shame me into a serious effort: I am very moved by these two days in the liturgical calendar.

I don’t know. If you are inclined, please pray for me. I need healing.

Thank you.

Weggieboy

volunteerism- how to pay up what you owe

My mother and father spent tens of hundreds of hours in volunteer activities that benefited the community where they lived most of their lives.

So engrained was their habit of volunteerism, their grave marker includes this saying: “Service to others is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Carved in stone! Both were active volunteers in the church. But there is an extreme example of volunteerism: My mother taught water safety classes and adapted aquatics for 60 years as a Red Cross Volunteer. The only thing that involved her attention as long was her marriage, which lasted 71 years, until my father died November 4, 2008.  So grateful was the community that the City Council past a resolution  to name the bath house at the new swimming pool after her, an honor rarely given to living people who don’t first fork over a million or so dollars! On the plaque bolted to the front of the bath house: “Service to others is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Cast in brass!

"Service to others is the price we pay for the space we occupy." Barely seen, the family motto of service to others is carved into the stone of my parent’s gravemarker as well. Place your cursor on the photo….

There’s a pattern there, and a challenge. I am my parents’ child. I live in the community where their good works stand as testament to their character. It is a small town, where I rarely have a day that someone doesn’t say, for example, “Oh, your mother taught me to swim!” Or “Your mother and father helped tile this fellowship hall.” Or, well, you get the idea!

Until they went into the care center half a block north of my apartment, I helped my parents as they became less and less able to take care of their needs. I planted gardens, a great joy, as you can guess if you read the blog before this one. I scooped snow. That had to be a great labor of love, I tell you, because I hated, hated, hated every scoop I pushed off the walk and drive! I mowed grass. I hated that until I bought a push mower. That allowed me to mow in the early, cool morning, bare footed. I raked fall leaves. Those I returned to the garden. I loved improving the soil that way. By the time we had to leave the house, the garden soil was so loose, you could turn it with a little effort and a garden fork. This service to others counts, I suppose, though doesn’t it fall more under “familial duty”? I think so.

I retired January 30, 2009. Now is the time for me to pay the price for the space I occupy!

patience- when does it happen?

You know the joke: I want patience…now!

I confess to being one of those people for whom that joke isn’t funny. It’s one of those characteristics by which old friends know me: I’m impatient! Yet, I’ve lived a lifetime without patience, so what’s the rush for change ? I mean, there are indications something’s happened to me as I age.

I used to be one of those people who believed the car in front of me always drove 15-20kph slower than posted speed, and the car to my rear always tried to ram me by driving too fast. I, of course, was driving properly, at the ideal speed for road conditions.

 The driver in front I proclaimed a “*&^%$#?”, the one behind I proclaimed a “*^*%$@#!”  I used appropriate hand signs to underscore their driving and character deficiencies, while I screamed the specific charges out loud.

These days, I leave out the hand signs, and everyone who offends me with stupid driving is, simply, “You slut cow!” No blood pressure cuff needed now. I live in a small town, have short commutes, and slow drivers cost me seconds of time, no big deal, and fast drivers, I let pass, all the better to save them a stroke or heart attack. 

It isn’t a matter of patience. It’s a matter of maturity. Umm. “Slut cow” is an insider joke, so it counts as a laugh, not a deprecation! What is a slut cow anyway!? I don’t know, but it makes me laugh!