Monthly Archives: May 2021

Those humbling moments

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I rely heavily on my calendar for all appointments in life. It generally works pretty well: I make appointments, I write them in the calendar and that way, I never miss things, right? There is one more step that would make this procedure run smoothly…checking the calendar each day! That is where I fall down!

I was thinking that very thing this week when I got home from a re-scheduled therapy appointment (because I forgot the original) and had a message on my telephone from my hairdresser, because while I was at the re-scheduled therapy appointment, I in fact, had a hair appointment! It’s very humbling when you realize just how many things you have forgotten, but when you can actually remember to write it down in the calendar, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and check that calendar and read it every day!

Now, I know what you are thinking: “Oh, the old girl is just losing it. The brain pan has sprung a leak.” Unfortunately, this is not an old age development. I have had difficulty maintaining my social calendar for years. I will make an appointment to have lunch with someone and then get so engrossed in a book or some writing or just an old episode of “Murder, She Wrote,” and the leave the poor person wondering if I didn’t show because I was in a car wreck or had a heart attack or something!

I have left dentists with no teeth to rap their instruments on and vets with no animals to vaccinate. The eye doctors have been left with no one to read their charts and coffee dates with no one to share their caffeine clouds. I always mean well and it seems so often that while I have the day right, I have the time wrong. And if I have the time right, I’m either a week early or a week late.

I like the businesses which ring you up the day before to give you a heads-up that you have an appointment. They do this because of people like me who have left them hanging too often in the past. If they can’t get a hold of me personally, they leave a message, “This is the dentist’s office, calling to remind you that you have an appointment at 10:30 TOMORROW. Now, that’s 10:30…in the morning…tomorrow morning. That’s the day after today and the time is just an hour and a half before lunch. Got it?”

My leaving the therapist hanging and then standing up the hairdresser was not the end of this week of humbling moments and irritated people. I managed to stand up my grandsons as well.

My daughter, knowing her mother’s failing, said to me, “Now, tomorrow you will be reading with the boys at 1:00, right?” “You bet,” I answered, and gave it no more thought as I went on a short road trip for the day instead. No more thought, that is, until she sent me a text message the next day at 1:00, to ask if I was planning to go on Facetime to read with the boys.

I did finally catch up with my grandsons later in the evening and while the younger one was inclined to overlook my lapse in appointment keeping, his older brother, ready for bed and crabby, was less beneficent. They accepted my apology, but clearly, they don’t trust the old girl to remember too well.

“I’m so sorry,” I told them. “Next week, I’ll be on for sure on Sunday, and we’ll be able to read.”

“Okay,” responded the older one, “just remember, that’s at 1:00!”

Now, all I need is someone to call me on Sunday at 12:45 to make sure I’m ready to go. I can get a different dentist is my current one drops me for nonappearance. It would be a lot harder to replace the grandsons!

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In the maw of the monster

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For those of you who think my title is a little too dramatic, I apologize, but I assure you, having an MRI (don’t ask me exactly what that stands for), was a bizarre experience. I now have some idea how Jonah may have felt in the belly of that whale!

Several months of having an arm, shoulder and neck present me with night after night of no sleep, it was finally decided that I needed to have an MRI, which is a fancy way for medical people to get a look at the inside of your muscles without actually cutting you open. I am definitely for that procedure, but that was before I got a look at one of those MRI machines.

I suffer from claustrophobia. I mean, BAD claustrophobia. I am so claustrophobic that I can only shut the bathroom door in a crowded house. I shower with one of the sliding glass doors slightly open. I annoy my co-teachers because I have a loud mouth and I am unable to shut my classroom door without becoming twitchy. I took one look at that machine, large and round, containing one small opening where they proposed to shovel me in like a baker inserting a loaf of bread in the oven and I hyperventilated from the picture!

On the questionnaire, they ask: Are you claustrophobic? I answered, “I invented claustrophobia and I have been perfecting it for years.” They assured me that they could give me medication to help me relax. I assured them that in order to get me relaxed enough to go in there, it would be necessary for them to apply a sledgehammer forcibly to the back of my head!

In the end, they decided it might be easiest to put me in what they refer to as an “open” MRI machine. Now I am here to tell you that this machine was preferable to the closed one, but when I walked in the room, it still kind of resembled a giant whale with its mouth wide open, and with a convenient chair for me to sit in while it swallowed me!

Even so, I sat in the chair and they strapped me in. Then, they instructed me to place my arms in such a way that my shoulders were as narrow as they could be made. This is because that chair is on a motorized track and it moved into the heart of the machine and sandwiched me neatly between two giant walls. And when I say sandwiched, I mean a TIGHT sandwich. There wasn’t even room for lettuce and tomato! My head was placed in a brace and held into place by some pegs against my forehead.

If I looked anything as panicky as I felt, I am sure they expected me to bolt any second. The attendant, attempting to make my experience as easy as possible, said, “I’ll turn on the television. You will be able to see it from here.” He did so, and I could look out of the whale’s mouth and see the television. Then he said, “I’ll need to have you take off your glasses and any oral partials.” It didn’t matter that I didn’t have all my teeth, but without the glasses, the television was a confused blur! So much for distraction.

Never fear, though. He had another idea. “I’ll just put on some music for you.” He did so, but midway into the Beatles crooning, “It’s been a hard day’s night,” they fired up the machine. Anyone who has ever had an MRI knows that that is the loudest noise in the world and it greatly resembles the noise a jackhammer makes while breaking up cement! No television, no music, all I could do was sit there and listen to the dulcet tones of a machine that sounded like it would begin breaking me up at any minute.

In addition to the headache that this engenders, I had to deal with the no movement issues. And when they say no movement, they mean, NO movement! Before he began, he said, “Do not swallow, cough, sneeze or breath too deeply.” Once someone tells you not to do these things, it’s amazing how badly you want to.

While I was trying not to swallow, sneeze, cough or hyperventilate (causing me to breath too deeply) I also struggled with my feet. I may have neglected to mention that in addition to moving you backwards into the whale’s mouth, they also raise you up and tilt you back. It’s okay, though, they give you a little footrest, so your feet don’t dangle. Except the footrest was too short for my legs, so I was left with the choice of letting my feet dangle anyway, or pushing my knees up into an uncomfortable position which eventually, caused my legs to shake with the strain, and–you guessed it–made me MOVE!

Of course, I survived the “Jonah and the Whale Ride”, as I like to call it and the images they got when I wasn’t swallowing, coughing, sneezing or breathing too deeply have shown what has been causing my misery for the last few months. I will be glad to begin correcting the problems and I look forward to the day when I no longer have these issues, so it may be that being in the “maw of the monster,” was the luckiest thing I could have done!

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