Monthly Archives: September 2022

That’s a negative on the home repairs

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The dryer malfunctioned this week. The repair needed was minor, but we lacked the expertise, proper tools and body flexibility (to get behind the dryer) needed to fix it. We contemplated calling a repair person, but the last time we did that, they laughed a little and told us it might be easier to just buy a new dryer!

As Roy sweated in the tiny space behind the dryer, attempting to affix a hose to the vent that was not agreeing to the attachment, and I stood above, trying to keep him from bumping his head, back, etc. on the shelf above him when he stood up, I suddenly began thinking about “The Long Winter,” a book I am reading with my grandsons.

I know, this seems like a non sequitur from the topic of dryer repairs, but it really does connect. In the book, the Ingalls are struggling without coal, kerosene and flour. Of course, they find that “where there’s a will, there’s a way” for each of those problems and Pa remarks, “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. (Modern conveniences) are good things to have, but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.” (The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Chapter 19)

Now he was talking about railroads, kerosene and coal, but the truth of his statement is still there. My dryer, which is a wonderful thing when I have it, makes me almost helpless when it isn’t functioning correctly. And while the trains are still running around here, they aren’t bringing in any repairmen to fix the problem.

“How is it looking,” I asked, hanging hopefully over the back of the dryer as my husband attempts with only two hands and a lot of cursing, to get things back together.

“I can’t make the thingy fit over the doohickey,” he mutters, his head covered in leaking lint, “and the clamps they use must have been developed on the moon. I’m afraid you may have to do without the dryer.”

“Do without the dryer!” I exclaim in horror. “I’ve got a pile of wet clothes here!”

“Well, take them to the laundromat,” he grumbled, straining to try and force the things to fit together.

“I tried them, they are closed. I can’t just leave these clothes wet!”

In exasperation, he looked up from his work and said the words that could very well end our marriage, “You may have to hang them outside.”

I was speechless. Hang the towels outside???? I have never heard of anything so outrageous. It has been so long since I pulled out the collapsible clothesline, that I’m pretty sure it’s rusted and as for clothespins? I only use those to keep opened bags of chips sealed. I don’t hang clothes out with them!

It’s true, trying to repair household items could lead to the breakdown of our society and everything we hold dear. When the refrigerator broke down a couple of years ago, we were forced to store our cold food in a cooler with ice for over half a day, before we could find a repairman. The worse argument we had in years was over who was going to be brave enough to test the milk to see if it had spoiled!

My automatic floor sweeper gave up the ghost a few months ago, but I kept it plugged into the wall so I wouldn’t have to face the awful truth that it had died and there was no miracle resuscitation that could help it. I didn’t realize how this had affected me until the neighbor child said, “You should really run that vacuum thing, because there is dog hair all over this rug!”

“Don’t you think I know that?” I sobbed into my hankie. “But I just keep hoping that maybe the battery will suddenly charge and my floor sweeper will come back to life and clean the rugs!” That child has not been back to visit since.

Okay, so I’m not particularly resourceful like the Ingalls in compensating for the things that are not working. Modern society has made me helpless in the face of a phone that doesn’t function, or a printer that’s out of ink. I know I need to learn that “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” or else, move to someplace where there are more repairman–is there such a place?

I was thinking about that again this morning when Roy trudged up from the basement with a grim look on his face. “The furnace isn’t working,” he announced. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”

But no! Winter’s coming, and I don’t have Pa Ingalls here to show me how to twist those hay sticks to burn!

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Medical Mysteries

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All right, it’s true. I pick on the medical profession a lot. But I think it’s a fair trade: I pick on them in my realm of writing and they scare the life expectancy out of me in their realm of medical mystery!

Since it is nearly the time of year when I must pick up the phone and voluntarily give myself into their hands for my yearly physical, I think it is a good time for me to list some of the reasons why I don’t like doing this.

The first reason is the time they set up. I call the office and say, “Yes, I would like to schedule my annual checkup with the doctor. Could we possibly set it for sometime in the early morning in a week or two…”

I am cut off at this point by the medical receptionist who begins to fire questions at me like a drill sergeant with a new recruit, “What is your birthdate? Any changes in insurance? Any trips to areas having outbreaks of disease? Are you experiencing new symptoms?” I swear to you, if I told them I needed to see the doctor because I have a spear sticking out of my throat, they would schedule me for 4:30 in the afternoon, three months from that date (minimum) and I should bring a copy of my living will!

The worst part of the visit is, of course, the orders not to drink or eat anything for the 12 hours prior to the appointment. I get why they do this, all right? But jeez, no food or drink AND I have to see the doctor? That is just too much. But, every year, I drag myself in there, feeling like I’m in the desert as I pass water fountains and with my stomach rumbling as I watch the small child next to me eating Cheerios out of a baggie, which look absolutely delicious, especially the ones stuck to his wet and sticky fingers! By the time I actually see the doctor, I’ve got a case of the “hangries” that just won’t quit!

Blood draw is no fun and it’s the first thing they do. The vampire in the lab is waiting with a large needle, ready to do their part and making clever little comments like, “It’s okay, you don’t have to look and I won’t either.” In my fantasies, I grab them by their white coat lapels and snarl, “Don’t mess with me. I almost punched out a three-year-old for a baggie full of week-old Cheerios. One more word from you and I’m going to slap you around this lab and steal the candy bar sticking out of your pocket!”

Finally, finally, FINALLY, they take you into that little cubicle where the doctor will eventually get around to seeing you. They make you step on the scale and then they ask the terrible question, “Do you want to know what you weigh?” If I wanted to know that, I’d join a gym and work out. As it is, I’m operating on the ignorance is bliss theory, so no-I don’t want to know what I weigh. After that, they bombard you with even more questions, “Are you pregnant? (Seriously?) Are you safe at home? (I stepped on a plastic fork and nearly wiped out, does that count?) or, Do you feel like you want to harm yourself? (A little hint, here, if you answer, “Only when I have to answer these questions” they will make you answer a whole new set of questions. Trust me on this one.)

And of course, they take your blood pressure. Here again, I refer to the spear in the neck example. If I came in with that, they would ignore it to begin with and take my blood pressure. And they would say, “Wow, that blood pressure’s a little high.” I have gone into the doctor’s office after a night of pain in my side and throwing up, having pain washing up and down my spine when I moved, a toothpick shoved completely under my toenail…don’t ask, and so dizzy, I was seeing two of the doctor. In each case, they took my blood pressure first and said, “Wow, that blood pressure’s a little high.” As a result, anytime I see a lab coat, my blood pressure shoots straight up!

Of course, any kind of test is fun; the pap smear (women’s answer to the prostate exam), the mammogram and a fun new one I’ve been having called a thyroid check. That’s where they lay you back in a semi-dark room and shove needles in your throat. The tests themselves are bad enough, but that week wait to hear whether you get a passing grade or not is even worse. “Yes, this is the doctor’s office. We are calling to let you know about the results of you recent test. The test was administered on Friday. Please verify your birthdate…” With a woman of my anxiety levels, I want to scream into the phone, “Get to it! Am I going to live or die????” My ideal report would be no more than the day after the test and they would begin the conversation with, “All good, here.” We can straighten anything else out after that. Is this too much to ask?

Now, before everyone thinks I don’t understand the hazards of the medical profession, I will be the first to say that I don’t. And for the record, I appreciate what the medical community does for me. Now that I’ve done my worst for them in my writing, it’s time for them to get me in their little cubicle and do their worst on me!

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