If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers.

walking-on-broken-glass

Walking on Broken Glass, by L. Liwag

Now I Know Where The Term “Frozen Shoulder” Comes From

So I finally made it to my appointment to the orthopedic doctor this morning who told me that contrary to popular belief, I do not have a torn rotator cuff. My rotator cuff is just fine. What I have is in fact a locked or frozen shoulder.

I know. How do these things happen to me? Apparently, this thing has been going on with my shoulder longer than I realized, about 14 months longer.  The good news is that there will be now surgery! The bad news is that now I have to undergo physical therapy.

I have gone through so much damned physical therapy already in my life that I have a very strong aversion to it. In particular, the last person with whom I had to undergo physical therapy talked down to me so much that, had I been in any kind of physical shape to do so, I would have tied her skinny little body into a pretzel. I do not take well to being talked down to—ever. Just ask anyone who has ever tried.

So I agreed to do some (in my mind that some is very limited, as in just enough to learn the exercises to do them at home) PT before going back in six weeks for a recheck.

My real question is this: How can so many people read MRI’s and x-rays so differently?

The Brake Job for the Trooper99isuzutrooper

Seems that my oldest son, when he started to drive my beloved Trooper Izzie, not only did not take care of her insides, he also did not take care of her guts and bolts. By the time we found out that the Trooper needed new front brakes, they were worn down past the rotors. We are talking calipers. So what could have been a fairly inexpensive brake job turned into a very expensive front brake replacement job.

Then, when we asked to have the oil changed while they were at it, we found out just how badly the oil situation was: the oil came out in clumps. Excuse me a moment. I have to take a few moments to recompose myself.

When I had my first car , I made my best guy friend teach me how to change the oil and the spark plugs. And I did it. Before my back became truly bad, I changed the oil in my last red Buick. Then when we got the Trooper, we actually had enough money to pay people to change the oil, so I handed over the responsibility.  I kept telling Eamonn that he needed to learn how to change the oil. His sister regularly changes the oil in her Honda.

But no. He has not the time for such trivial things. Hence we have sludge. So Corey picked up the Trooper, and what had looked like an inexpensive repair had ballooned into a bill nearing $400. Need I bother to tell you that this can be ill-afforded.

Second Missed Doctor’s Appointment

So, we are on our way to my doctor’s appointment with the orthopedic guy on Tuesday (my first rescheduling of the appointment I had missed on Friday—different story) when smoke begins to billow out of the engine. The engine cuts off, and smoke is pouring out.  We are sitting in a lane of traffic with our hazard lights flashing, and the hood is up, and of course, some total a**hole blows his horn at us to move.

pushcarIn my more limber days I would have jumped out of the car and asked him if he wanted us to use the wing options on the car. However, this not being an option, Corey proceeds to try to push the car out of traffic. Luckily, the man in the next lane does stop, but no one jumps to our assistance. We get it to the drive in of the gas station that is thankfully just one lane over, but has an incline. At this point, I realize that I am going to have to push as well. Corey is insisting that I not touch the car, that I just turn the steering wheel, this as the car is beginning to roll down the drive onto him.

One man in a truck slowly gets out after watching us and begins to help Corey, but not until after I have already pushed the car a few feet. I still haven’t told Corey this, but it was push or watch as my husband was flattened by my car, which would place an inordinate amount of guilt on my shoulders that I am not willing to bear. Fortunately, I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday with my back doctor. But that’s another part of the story.

Corey puts some more gas into the Trooper. Goes to the Auto Zone across the street and buys some oil treatment and some gas treatment just in the rare possibility that they might magically make the car stop smoking long enough for us to get home. They don’t. We drive home, and pull the Trooper into the driveway where it has been sitting ever since, and where I notice when I get out that the license plates expired in December of 08.

As with most unbelievable stories in my life, I am making none of this up.

But Why The Trooper, You Ask?

Good question. Normally we would be in the Dodge Ram as that is the auto that Corey drives. However, two days before, which would have been Sunday, when Corey was coming home from the store, he heard a loud pop and then snap and then he coasted the truck into a nearby church parking lot. (We are fortuitous in having nearby lots, at least). The universal joint in the truck had snapped.

So the truck was out of commission while the replacement piece that Corey had bought, which was not quite long enough to fit the truck, was being extended at the welding shop.

Does This Story Get Worse? Why Yes.

Now, there is another part to this story that takes it almost past the point of reality, but we’re going to go there. My mother had to go in on Tuesday to have a sizable piece of squamous skin cancer removed. This procedure is done as an out patient. I was quite freaked out by the very nonchalant way my mother called Monday night and left a voice message that said, “Oh you know that biopsy that they did. It’s cancer, and they are going to remove it tomorrow. But don’t worry.” This is how my mother tortures me for being an inconsiderate daughter.

We stayed on the phone for quite a while as I tried to determine if in fact I did need to drive her to the procedure, but finally, she said that no, it was local, and she did not want me to drive her. I told her that my own doctor’s appointment was going to be quite near hers at the same time so to please take her cell phone with her and turn it on (turn it on is the operative word), and if she felt the least bit uncomfortable, we would leave my own appointment and pick her up. This after several offers to cancel my own appointment and take her to hers.

However, as the Trooper blew up, it’s a good thing that my mother did not need a ride home as we would have been unable to pick her up, but I found out that she was safe at home from my daughter who had just received a telephone call from my mother telling her that all was well.

Is There Actually More?

triggerpoints20graphic
Trigger Point Injection Sites

The next day, I went to my own doctor’s appointment with my back doctor where I had to admit that I was in extreme pain because of the little matter of helping to push the Trooper up an incline, to which my doctor could only stare back at me in amazement. (I’m sure that he was thinking the obvious: “This woman has lost her mind.”) To wit, he gave me 12 trigger injections in my lower, mid and upper back.

We left my back doctor’s office and traveled one street over to pick up the piece for the truck. Now if you have been following this saga closely, your real question should have been, “What were you driving?” (I will leave out the part about the wallets as it’s just too much)

Well, since my mother could not drive on Wednesday, my eldest son got a ride to her house and drove her car back home with many promises to drive her car very carefully, in other words, not like he drives the Trooper.

We picked up the part and went to the church where the Truck was still resting comfortably. I called my mother to see if she needed anything while we were out as I was going to wait for Corey to install the part and not tempt fate any further because I could just see it: I would drive off, and as soon as I did, Corey would need something from the automotive store or would need a tool, and I would have to turn around and go back. No thanks. My mother was fine, and I told her that we would be back with her car fairly soon, at which point the heavens opened and rain started to pour down.

The gods were laughing at us. Ha Ha. Tee Hee. It was not amusing.

About twenty minutes later, Corey finished installing the part, which went fairly well. His coat was soaking wet, but other than that, the truck was driveable. I would have gotten down and kissed the ground if I could bend.

Does Anything Else Bad And/Or Stupid Happen?

That depends. We make it home, drop of my mom’s car to her. Make sure she doesn’t need anything. And as we are driving home, Corey tells me an oh by the way, Eamonn smoked a cigarette in your mom’s car last night when he was driving it home. Perfect, just perfect. If he were two inches from me, and if I had any spare energy, I would loosen my motherly wrath, but as neither of these things exist, he will escape this time, even though at some point my mother will ask the inevitable: “Who was smoking in my car?” She has a nose like Cyrano when it comes to cigarettes.

We both walk in the door. Corey sits down in the chair at my desk. I fall out on the bed, and we both fall sleep. It’s 7 p.m. Brett, the only innocent bystander in this whole fiasco, wonders about dinner. Unfortunately, neither of us are conscience enough to answer. I think that he ate cereal. I made it up to him the next day.

And that, my friends, is another chapter of this is your life and I even left out some things. More later. Peace.

Your Call Will Be Answered In The Order In Which It Was Received

Bureacracy and Me: Not a Good Fit

Being On Hold Does Not a Nice Lola Make

Did you know that Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the U.S.? Did you know that exercising in cold weather has its hazards, like icy patches in the road if you are running? Do you know why I know these little tidbits? Because I stayed on hold an inordinate amount of time today trying to get through to the prescription center with whom my insurance is affiliated. It was wonderful. Every few minutes, a nice woman would come on and tell me that I needed to “please continue to hold as [they] were experience heavy call volume and someone would be with [me] soon.”

operatorI thought that that was terribly nice of her, to speak to each and every person on hold, who, if they were anything like me, were approaching the 20 minute wait time. But I really needed to speak to these people. I needed a new card, and I needed to find out how much longer it was going to take for the processing of the prescriptions that my doctor had called in on December 22. Boy was I in for a surprise, and it wasn’t a good one.

Live human being comes on the line, very nice human, only to tell me that there are no prescriptions in process for me. The last thing she has for me was in September. I patiently explain to her that I was standing next to my doctor when he was telling his assistant who was on the phone with my prescription provider at the time as to what to call in, and that was on December 22, the day of my appointment. Sorry, nice human being, apologizes, but we have nothing for you, and as a matter of fact, you account closed on December 31, so we cannot send you a new card or process any more prescriptions . . .

Long pause on my end . . . I’m sorry . . . what did you say?

Your account closed on December 31.

No, that’s not possible.

Still nice human: I understand, but perhaps you need to check with your provider. You can have them call back, and we can expedite your order.

Fine, through clenched teeth, trying to remember that nice human is only doing her job and has in no way caused this situation. I’ll have someone call you back. I hang up the phone and call my health insurance provider. On hold for about 20 seconds. Live human being, also nice asks for my ID number.

I reply, well that’s going to be hard since my wallet was stolen and my card was in it, and I need a new ID.

neon-fuschia-on-hanging-on-the-telephone
Hanging on the Telephone with Neon Fuschia

Oh, how terrible, says Live human, and asks for my birth date, address, all of the info to confirm I am who I say I am and not some nut job wanting an ID from a health insurance company who happens to know all of my bona fides. Oh, happy birthday early, she chimes.

For a moment I don’t know what she is talking about, and then I remember. Oh crap, another birthday, mine, this month. Shit. Great. Moving along.

She tells me I’ll get the card in about 8 to 10 days. I stump her with my next question: So I do have active coverage then?

Um, yes you do.

So I tell her my plight and ask if she’ll call my prescription provider and verify that I have coverage because I’m out of my migraine medicine, and things are getting critical. She tells me that she would if she could, but she can’t as she can only verify that I have health insurance, and I need to have someone else verify prescription insurance. At this point, I am totally lost because I thought that my prescription coverage was part of my health insurance. Obviously, I am mistaken.

So This Much is True

However, since it was a little past 5 and no one at GW main campus stays a second after 5, so my big plans for taking care of all of this unfinished business are screwed. I hate dealing with this stuff, that’s why I’ve put it off for so many days. I did manage to get Brett’s appointment straightened out, call his doctor’s office to get the letter faxed to his school about his absences, reschedule the orthodontist appointments, and find out that I don’t need an appointment for my stretchy/bendy test at the radiologist’s at the hospital. I know that it’s not called a stretchy/bendy test, that there’s some other name for it, but I figure that’s better than calling it a Gumby test. The point is that I have to stretch and bend and they take x-rays.

So tomorrow, I get to deal with GW Human Resources. I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait. Which is it? Which one is worse? If you can hardly wait, does that mean that you can wait forever? If you can’t hardly wait does it mean that you cannot wait at all? I’m confusing myself. The point is that a telephone call to GW Human Resources is akin to “Once more into the breach,” and I’m sorry dear Henry, but I just don’t have the stamina to go into the breach with you and on to St. Crispin’s Day.

But Wait, There is Good News After All

concretecherub013But there is some good news: It turns out that my picture of Caitlin, the one that I’ve carried around for 20 years, was not in the wallet that was lost/stolen. It was in my smaller card wallet. I don’t remember putting it there, so I never bothered to look. Imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for me to find it there when I was looking through my card case to see if I had perhaps lost my Social Security card as well (I had not). 

Finding that picture means more to me than I can possible put into words. It’s just a simple snapshot of me holding Caitlin; she is wearing a pink dress, and everything looks absolutely normal. That’s what is so wonderful about it. It’s before we knew that she was sick, before the operations, before the PICU, before all of the tubes, the intubation, the vials and vials of blood, the respiratory therapists, the neurosurgeons, the oncologists, the nights spent on vinyl furniture. Before life turned to hell. Life was still normal, and Caitlin was just my baby girl.

But that snapshot is one-of-a-kind. I don’t have the negative. I don’t have a copy. So whoever took my wallet, a belated Merry Christmas to you. I hope you really needed the money. We needed it, but maybe you needed it more. I got back the one thing that I truly missed, the thing that I thought was gone forever. Everything else can be replaced, even if it means staying on the phone forever listening to recordings and fighting with bureaucracies. You cannot take away the one thing that would mean nothing to anyone else.

And with that, I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.