At Christmas, Planning Ahead

December 10, 2018

The woman from the home health-care service commissioned by the hospital was direct: “Have you been depressed?

Me: “No.”

“Have you felt afraid to go home?”

Me: “No, Never.”

“Have you felt like hurting yourself?”

Me: “No!”

“Have you felt suicidal?”

Me: “Again, no!”

I was seriously grinding my teeth by now.  Can you be suicidal and NOT feel like hurting yourself?

I know medical people have to ask these things, and not only of the old gents they visit. For some folks, men, women, old or young, the answer to those questions is yes.

We ended up dropping the service, not because the woman asked these things, but because the service seemed superficial and unnecessary. She changed my bandage, took vital signs, asked about my height and weight. It was a service the hospital high-pressured me into signing up for, assuring me the insurance would get the bill. Groggy from anesthesia, I didn’t argue much, but wondered why bill insurance when I don’t want the service?

img_20180919_1614072751447794346774053187.jpgMy vital signs are strong. Apart from the pain of the cut, which I endured with Percocet. I feel OK; not great, but OK. In three days at home I was done with the drugs. The worst of it, apart from the uncertainty of future treatment, is the mushy institutional sympathy. Before I checked out of the hospital, two therapists confronted me, almost daring me not to be pathetic and helpless. I nodded but changed the subject.

I wore my Santa’s hat when the surgeon came in to talk about the operation.

So what matters to old guys with some health worries? It depends on the season. Right now, we’re getting close to Christmas: the magic night of the birth of the Savior. We’re in the third week of Advent. Yesterday an old friend from our local running group, the THuGs, drove me up to the finish point for a local trail run I had entered before my health problems, just so I could say hello to the runners as they finished. That’s a friend. Nice.

This Saturday we’ll attend the annual THuG Christmas Dinner/White Elephant Gift Exchange (with wives). Last year the dress was turtlenecks, this year, lederhosen.

Throughout the week, friends have stopped by to visit and bring us meals. Then in ten days we’re heading to South Carolina to visit our kids and grandkids. Of course Sandy will have to do all the driving. But—who’s not having fun?

Through all this weirdness, I work at changing the subject. I don’t want to talk about sickness, hospitals, doctors, treatments, drugs. I especially don’t want to exchange stories about sickness, hospitals, etc. Everybody’s got theirs. Outside of the need-to-knows (family) let’s talk about other things.

A friend still working at the parish food pantry where I worked the past three years says the place is disorganized, management is shaky. I miss that work. The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program will kick in its second semester next month, I’ll stay on the substitute list. The need hasn’t gone away.

I still need to get registered for the Surface Navy National Symposium in Arlington in January. I go every year, picking up news for the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine. Great way to get caught up on what Navy leadership is saying about that 355-ship Navy they promised. So far, the Navy won’t be guarding the border. That’s what I hear—so far.

Assuming the Trump stock market crash and recession don’t wreck us financially, we want to get out on the road again, I mean, literally. We’re looking to finish what we started in August: get to Ennis, Mont., which says its population is “900 people, 12 million trout”; where we’ve stayed a few times; then Sturgis, S.D., for next summer’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Also Seattle, to see family; back to Austin, to see Scott and Barb and maybe visit Lukenbach, and Harper, Sandy’s favorite Texas Hill Country place.

Right now I’m looking at getting back to the gym to lose the weight I’ll be gaining with all the good food people are giving me. By spring I want to be running again. When I was working out I didn’t worry about raiding the fridge. Since I’ve been sitting on my butt maybe I should start.












One thought on “At Christmas, Planning Ahead

  1. Hi! I really love that you’ve continued to write this even though you’re no longer on the road trip! This was a thoughtful post that made me laugh, cry, grimace about healthcare and politics and Trump, and appreciate reading your perspective.

    Your grace and attitude (and Sandy’s / Mom’s) during this time is truly an inspiration.

    I’m also excited for you to get back on the road! And back on the trails! AND to see you in a couple of days!

    What’s the name of your running group again? I don’t think most people know what the name stands for.

    Love you!


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