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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thanks a Million!

I'm baaaaack. Surgery's over. I'm doing fairly well considering I had a tumor the size of a tennis ball removed from my neck. A million thanks to all my pals around the world, across the country and down the block who warmly touched my life with your support and encouragement. What a difference a few heartfelt words of kindness, love and cheer can make to another human being.

As I recuperate, I've been thinking about all the positive energy, good vibes and prayers I received from old and new friends far and near, not to mention cards, flowers, phone calls, tons of email and Facebook good wishes. Without a doubt, it is nice to be remembered...while you're still living.

Several years ago in a different state, I hung out with a bunch of fun and friendly women. One day, one of the gals tearfully announced to our group that she was afraid that nobody would come to her funeral. She sobbed, "I don't want my children to be embarrassed that nobody thinks enough of me to attend my funeral."  Every one of us was quiet for a minute and then we all admitted that we shared the same concern...that very few people would be at our funeral. Sounds like a silly, frivolous, vain thing to fret about...especially since none of us will be around to count mourners...or lack thereof. But I suspect it might be a universal worry that we all secretly brood about from time to time...especially as we get older. Right then and there all 9 of us raised our wine glasses and solemnly pledged to attend each other's matter what. One for all and all for one...we swore to be there.

Hate to say it but there's no sweet ending to this little anecdote. Our group disbanded. Most of us moved away and we've lost touch. So much for Pinot Grigio-laced funeral fidelity oaths. On the other hand and we've heard this a million is important to remember people while they're still alive and kicking. I try to do this in my own acknowledge individuals who have blessed my world in countless ways with their kindred spirit, their compassion, true-blue friendship, understanding and unselfish nature. These are the kind of folks who've proven they can be absolutely/positively counted on to be there for you in good times and bad.

It's very easy to take for granted all the good people that come your way. I've been burned several times from people I thought I could and should trust. Haven't we all? But I've learned to discern the phonies from the rock solid. As a result, I appreciate and acknowledge even the smallest act of kindness someone does for me. To be honest, whenever anybody does something nice for the likes of an obnoxious, old fossil like me, I am stunned and deeply grateful. Yet, I was surprised, pleasantly several considerate gestures that came from acquaintances I don't even know all that well. It amazes me that people went out of their way to offer expressions of concern during my medical ordeal. Still, the resounding silence of a few who could not be bothered, thunders painfully.

So now...a toast to you my faithful readers, to my dear friends, beautiful children, my sweet husband, some wonderful cousins, new friends and cherished old pals, thoughtful neighbors and my loving 90 year old mother who called long-distance ceaselessly...I am grateful indeed for your support, prayers, inspiration and good cheer.  Margaritas all around! Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Five Wishes

Two more days til I have major surgery and I'm keeping my mind off it by staying busy. Already rearranged the living room...twice. Did a 4 mile hike. Enjoyed a scrumptious "last meal" dinner with my husband at a favorite restaurant (last meal because I won't be able to swallow solid foods for months after the surgery...which is not entirely a bad thing.) Went for a beautiful and leisurely afternoon drive in the sunny and lushly green countryside. Stopped at a roadside custard stand and treated ourselves to a chilled and tasty raspberry custard cone. Framed some recent family photos. Sewed a new pillow for adirondeck chair. Installed extra shelving in the tool room. And finally, I set aside some quiet time for reflection, personal thoughts and...filling out a health care directive. Oh ya...can I knock the fun out of a party or what?

Stick with me here and...doom and gloom aside, I think you may find this interesting. I never even knew exactly what a health care directive was until my husband and I did some research on it. We found something that I think is important to share with all of you because let's face it...ya never know when you're gonna kick the bucket. Many of us have made a "bucket list"...trekking to Macchu Picchu, hang-gliding over the Alps, sailing the Greek Isles, exploring the Grand Canyon or whizzing along a zip-line above a tropical rain forest. But how many of us have  provided written directives about how we wish to be cared for in our final days? Granted, that's not nearly as thrilling as following your guru to an ashram in India or kayaking the Amazon.

But if you think of a health care directive as a greased zip line to a peaceful might find this information worthwhile. We've all heard of the living will. Well, that's been improved upon with what they call a durable power of attorney advanced health care directive. Yet there's another health care directive available today in most states that offers patients and their loved ones a dignified, compassionate and easily understood plan of action that walks people through the steps of how they'd like to be cared for in the event of serious illness or injury.

This document is called the Five Wishes. It allows you to control how you want to be treated if the inevitable happens. It covers your personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes. It was inspired by a fellow who worked in a hospice run by Mother Teresa. I'm not going to delve into all the particulars of the Five Wishes but I strongly recommend you look up information about it online.

The really cool part about the Five Wishes is that it gives you a chance to express your own up-close-and personal thoughts in a clear, friendly, almost conversational manner. And it relieves your loved ones of some degree of stress and worry. It talks about forgiving others, making amends, even organizing your own memorial service. (Did somebody say organize? I'm on it.) It's a down-to-earth way of handling serious and emotional subject matter that most of us would rather avoid. It even provides a section for you to write down how you'd like to be remembered. In the grand scheme of things, it's your opportunity to finally get the last word. As for me, I've had the time of my life.

OK. Enough said. Just thought I'd pass this along as a community service. Til next time, my faithful, kind-hearted, lovely, dear and brilliant readers.

P.S. And just in case my public service post has been a bit too's a little tune to get your feet a tappin'.

Peter Allen - I Go to Rio
Uploaded by GaleMcDonald. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 20, 2010

Killing Time

In a few days, I'll be whisked off for surgery to have Doogie Howser slit open my throat and yank out a big, nasty, blobby, bulging cyst---the size of a lumpy cucumber...that's been wreaking havoc as it slowly strangles my thyroid, vocal chords, tongue and assorted other neck organs which I presume to be kinda vital for a pleasant quality of life.

I had not planned to write about the operation---which for the curious is called a Sistrunk Procedure to remove a thyroglossal duct cyst---because I was scared to death. My surgeon matter-of-factly told me I may lose the use of my vocal chords...permanently. Then he calmly rattled off a few other minor complications that could happen: like finding a malignancy, blood clots, stroke, seizures, choking, thyroid troubles, tongue impairment and for good measure...that pesky old nemesis they call...flat line. 

After much hand-wringing, imagining the worst for months on end and watching ghastly YouTube videos of the surgical procedure over and over and over, I finally decided to stop obsessing about it. It was time to dump my negativity and channel positive resources. You might think I'd invoke something uplifting and inspirational like: Let go and let God or Put it in God's hands. Now don't get me wrong. I do strongly attest to the power of prayer. And believe me, I've weaseled myself onto the prayer lists of a vast multitude of friends and family. So I've got all that good spiritual stuff going for me already.

But when it comes to really taking my mind off worrisome things, the tried and true solution for me is to head to the inner depths of our household closets and...reorganize. The thing is...I'm already a notorious neatnik. I've been that way my entire life. I love order and orderliness. To me it makes perfect sense to keep things well organized because knowing where everything is and being able to find things in a flash---totally simplifies your entire life AND it gives me so much more freedom. Personal time do so many more things. Not only that but putting things in order is relaxing therapy for me. Call me crazy. It is what it is.

As you can well imagine...if you've ever known a super organizational freak...our clothes closets were already organized more brilliantly than Martha Steward on steroids. They were already decluttered, alphabetized, color-coded, super sorted, lined with neat bins and boxes for socks, scarves and lingerie and sported custom shelving to hold shipshape stacks of finely folded shirts and shorts and jeans. I'm sure this sounds quite pathetic and utterly insane to most normal folks. But it works beautifully for us.

So this time, instead of reorganizing again...I decided to purge. I went through all our closets and pulled out stuff that we hadn't used in a year or so. Clothes, outdated computer stuff, cooking utensils that I never use any more, newer books I've already read and didn't like, some tools, several knick knacks, garden implements, a few furniture items. It took me several days to accomplish all this but eventually I ended up with a rather substantial and needless to say tidy pile of household goods. Most of the items were fairly new but seldom or never used. We gave it all away to the Goodwill and our church.

Now my sweet husband and I have even less stuff but more space in the house and more time to do things together. In the process, I stopped dwelling about my upcoming surgery. Only thing is...I have four more days before I go under the knife. Still gotta find things to keep myself occupied otherwise those mesmerizing YouTube surgery videos will be luring me back. Maybe I should reorganize the silverware drawers or restack the toilet paper shelf or rebuild the storage racks in the garage, or......... Sphere: Related Content
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