The Summer of Refunds, Odds, and Ends

 

This blog update is overdue and in response to some faithful followers who have been wondering: What’s going on? Is Poksa still boogieing? Did she get her six-figure-pain-and-suffering traffic accident settlement and decided to just keep filling her cup until her number’s up?

I can explain. What happened was, I was too busy trying to get refunds and tying up odds and ends.

The pursuit of refunds began when my Plus One, henceforth referred to as BT, convinced me to plant a fruit salad tree in the front yard of my minimalist manor.  What do I know about fruit salad trees, you ask.  Nothing. I am a retired professional civil engineer whose knowledge of plants was limited to the old cherry tree on the ground near the Albuquerque sewage treatment plant.  It sure bears the sweetest cherries  I have ever tasted.  Anyway the fruit salad tree that I was talked into planting was a tree that had a variety of citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits – already on the branches.  They had been grafted.  I paid $149 for the tree which I fondly named Hugo, (variation of Jugo, Spanish for juice).  Hugo was guaranteed to be a source of my lifetime supply of citrus.  Money back was also guaranteed if Hugo died and is returned to Home Depot within a year of purchase.  BT promised to provide the horticultural services free of charge. In his previous life, he supplied plants to offices and businesses.

Well, in spite of BT’s tender loving horticultural care for and some heart-to-heart conversation with Hugo, it still went kaput.  He blamed the soil, the mites, the root system, a sick palm tree,  everything.  Hugo’s demise broke my heart but the prospect of the refund of my money softened the blow.  So BT dug poor dead Hugo up from the ground, loaded it on my golf cart, and off he drove the three of us to Home Depot for Hugo’s proper funeral and refund of my mullah.

As it turned out, what Home Depot didn’t tell me when I bought the tree was that the refund was going to be in the form of store credit.  Prior to the tree purchase, I had not been a Home Depot store kind of guy.  Now I have to think of a home improvement project to get my money back.

Other purchases with guaranteed money-back return possessed me: a hidden microphone finder that promised more than it could deliver and a door bell video that required more technology than I had imagined.  These purchases happen to little old ladies who live alone and watch a lot of True Crime TV.  By the way, the retirement resort is very safe.

But don’t get me wrong.  I am not of the chicken persuasion.  I am not a bit scared.  As a matter of fact, last year when my little sister was a guest in my manor, she went out with friends and later when she tried to return through the retirement resort gate, the security guard refused to let her in citing a technicality.  Instead he sent a security trainee to my house to get my consent to let the “pretender” guest in. The young clueless man knocked on the door.  I ignored the tapping at first.  Next thing I knew I was seeing the silhouette of a man’s face and the palms of his hands plastered flat on the drapeless glass window, like a scene in a horror movie. What do you want? I yelled. Of course the glass window prevented him and me from hearing each other.  So I rushed to the house front – put on a robe first – opened the door then asked the same question: What do you want? He asked if my sister was trying to gate crash.  I said, She has a pass. Let her in.

The security story ended happily and taught me valuable lessons.  A minimalist manor is good but it needs the minimum required bedroom window curtain for privacy.  Also turn the cellphone on when expecting someone.  The phone serves its purpose that way.

On the health front, it has been uneventful.  I’m not complaining.  Uneventful is good.  All I had was my every-three-months callus scraping from my podiatrist in my primary care physician’s office.  The scraping/buffing always takes less than 30 seconds.  I often wonder how much he collects from Medicare.

On the fronts requiring closure, some good news.

My fight with the insurance company is over.  The case concerned the liquid biopsy after the end of my CO-1686 trial participation.  A year has passed and I never heard from the insurance again after the letter that said, We agree with you.  Thousands of dollars that I did not have to pay and did not want to pay!

The AARP gentleman volunteer lived up to his promise to file my income tax towards the end of summer.  I had to pay a whopping $6.00 to the federal government.  Win some lose some.

The physical therapy for my right shoulder which was injured in the traffic accident the night after the 2017 Christmas is winding down.  The latest MRI showed progress has been made but there is still some inflammation in the traumatized area of the shoulder joint.  Since some important range of motion has returned, the physical therapists are concentrating on strengthening the left shoulder.  By October everybody hopes to settle the price of pain and suffering.

It’s a good thing I take things in stride.

Happy dance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, CT Scan, & Tagrisso

Last month – June – brought exciting events.  June is my cancerversary month – the 6th this year. A few days after posting my 6th cancerversary story, I had my scheduled chest and abdomen CTscans, the kind that requi red me to drink two bottles of the white chalky raspberry-flavored barium shake over a period of 2-1/2 hours. It had been 7 months since the last time I went through those motions.  Then came the CT scan procedure and soon it was over.

After dislodging myself from the CT scan contraption, I thought, Wow, the results better be awesome, after all I had just crowed in my blog update how great I am doing, hopefully boosting the spirits of the afflicted others. The fans who exist only in my imagination would be terribly heartbroken if I post that something horrible is seen in the latest scan images.  I like to fantasize being deeply cared for by wonderful humans other than myself.

The moment of truth came.  My smartphone notified me that Onc Dr Smiley had a message in the Patient Portal.  I went there and there it was: a short paragraph from the happy-faced doctor announcing that he and his family will be off for over a week for their summer vacation.  I quickly glanced at my face in the mirror to look for indications  that I gave a hoot about his family’s whereabouts.  Finding none, I returned to the smartphone. There was another email!  It contained a short paragraph summarizing the radiologist’s good report on my CT scans.

But I wanted to read the full report.  I had this crying need to use the knowledge gained from my web oncology degree.  Use it or lose it, so they say.  I don’t know who they are.

I sent a message to Dr Smiley who was by then in transit with his clan. I said, Kindly post the full radiology report in the Patient’s Portal.  Lo and behold, I had barely hit “send” when his registered nurse phoned me and said that Dr Smiley had asked her to respond to my request. She then proceeded to read the same short paragraph that I read. Like I was illiterate!  Later in the day, under Dr Smiley’s name, the full radiology report appeared in the Patient’s Portal.

So I read the report, word for word, line by line, reading between the lines, periodically asking my distinguished colleague Dr Google for his interpretations.  Long story short, my take: Everything in the chest and abdomen was stable or within normal limits. The tiny nodules too numerous to count still populate the lungs.  Conclusion:  My designer lungs persevere!

There we have it.  Tagrisso has been rocking it for 19 months.

Feel free to ask questions.

 

My Sixth (6th) Cancerversary

 

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Six is Six Anywhere

Yup!  We’re talking about the number six (6) here, as in 3+3, half a dozen, one boxcar of the gaming craps pair.  I wanted to go on and on and bowl you over with my mathematical prowess but I fought the feeling.  Six years is six years in any language and definitely longer than eight months.  This month of June marks the sixth year I have survived adenocarcinoma non-small-cell lung cancer Stage 4.

In the year 2012, I was quietly minding my own business when cancer came knocking at the door of my existence.  Actually, barging in would be more accurate.  First, a tell-tale sign it might barge showed up.  A dry cough harassed me.  I called it allergy, hay fever, asthma, scratchy throat.  The word cancer was not in my vocabulary then.  Long story short, a visit with a Nursing Practitioner that June led to – in quick succession – an x-ray, a CTscan, a PET scan, a biopsy, a lung cancer diagnosis, an aborted surgery, and finally, an oncologist’s prognosis:  Without treatment, 8 months of breathing left in me.  With treatment, 11 months maybe a year.  The news shook me to the core and brought tears to the eyes of the two men in my life at that time.

Being a veteran of conflicts, I simply squared my shoulders after the unpleasant surprise sank in.  I faced the future with aplomb with a view toward fighting.  Since time immemorial I had been fighting.  Over two decades and two continents, I fought for my place in the engineering and construction world. Which meant I also had to fight laziness.  The truth be known, during lulls in the battlefield, my imagination teemed with hammocks in exotic shores where I sipped toddies from glasses with tiny colorful umbrellas.  Carousing in balmy breeze instead of fighting for survival in the workplace

I prepared for the battlefield at hand.  I read as much as I could to learn about lung cancer.  Knowledge of the enemy gave me power over it.  It was my catharsis.  I maintained my sense of humor.  Laughter is also cathartic, excellent for the lungs.  My booming laugh probably unleashed each time intensity 9 tremor to the undesirable characters  in there.  I took chances.  I entered a clinical trial for an experimental drug and wrote a blog about it to entertain myself and share the experience. I covered every event in the trial, both good and bad.  The good ones outdid the bad ones such as the drug-induced diabetes and the consequent loss of appetite.  In time the worst event resolved.  The diabetes disappeared and the appetite returned. Feeding my face again was so exhilarating that it inspired me to post “Stoke That Appetite,” a rip roaring account of my medical marijuana adventure.

Whoohoo! It’s been six years since June 2012. In the span of those six years,  I experienced important family milestones I would have missed had I dropped dead on or before the Onc-proclaimed expiration date.  On the other hand, who knows what exciting happenings I might have missed had I keeled over dead and floated to the other side of the Pearly Gates? Fortunately, everybody – without exception – gets to participate in those events sooner or later, preferably later.

For now I’ll talk about what I know.  I’ll reiterate a couple of developments I’m glad I witnessed after beating the prognosis. I saw my only grandchild, a boy, develop from a 6-year-old kid who was unclear on the concept of rhyming to a gifted pre-teen who’ll one day in the future say earth-shattering things.  I saw my only biological child, a son, a schooled artist and architect, transition professionally from starvation mode to a commercially competitive sculptor.  There’s always hope!

Live, learn, laugh. That’s what I’ve been doing.

Please share your thoughts or ask a question if you like.

 

 

 

 

The Sculptor’s Mother

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The Author and Her Son Thomas, circa 1976….We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m so excited!
I just can’t hide it!

Remember the opening of that popular Pointer Sisters’ song?  I’m going through the emotion right now.  What happened was, my son, a professional artist, was selected as one of three finalists among over a hundred entrants in a sculptors’ competition for “One Per Cent for the Art” in a $6M New Mexico animal care facility.  Then he emerged as the winner!  It was his first attempt.

OMG! I have become an insufferable stage mother.  I now refer to him as my Son the Sculptor with capital letter S.  I can’t decide what to do right now.  Should I buy a sequined gown to wear at the unveiling of the sculpture?  Should I throw a big bash and invite anybody who cares to listen about the art-world-shattering news? I already made a big fat announcement on the retirement resort bus. The decrepit old people just looked at each other bewildered.

My Son the Sculptor has finally arrived as an artist.  The events of the days when he was a struggling new artist are forever etched in my head.  The clearest memory is of his first commercial solo exhibition.

I remember that morning vividly.  I was pacing the kitchen floor frantically in my baby doll lingerie.  Do you have a problem? Asked my concerned late husband Tom, the first in the widowhood series.  He was eating refried pinto beans, bacon and over-easy eggs smothered with red chili.   Yes, I do, I replied emphatically.  Our son’s exhibit formally opens tonight and if he doesn’t sell a single painting, I’d die a couple of hundred deaths.  I need to do something.  He laughed. Don’t worry. I got that covered.  I gave Tim $300 to go to the exhibit, pretend to be an art connoisseur and buy Son’s most expensive framed painting.

We cracked up at the clever scheme. Our unsuspecting son, the starving artist, had just been guaranteed at least one sale and the highest-priced to boot.  I was so relieved by the plan that an unseen force pushed me to plant a smashing wet kiss on Tom’s forehead.  Mwah! You’re a genius, I exclaimed.

At the show, before the guests arrived, I gave our son a piece of advice:  Put a red “SOLD” sticker on your favorite piece so you have a primer, just like the street musician’s see-through tip jar containing his own dollars.  When the guests started to arrive, I smiled sweetly at anyone who made eye contact.  I was wearing a name tag that identified me as Artist’s Mother.  Okay, got it: shameless self-promotion.  An unfamiliar face approached me and struck a conversation: Pleased to meet the artist’s mother.  He shook my hand. I preferred that he kissed it, like my European suitor did when I was a young  hottie engineer in the Philippines. The distinguished looking man continued his line: You must be an artist yourself.  I worked it demurely.  No I’m not an artist.  I’m a civil engineer.  I’m into sewers.

Tim, our designated art buyer, was the fittest-looking of the small-business men with whom we drank libations at the local watering hole after work hours.  Nobody ever built a beer belly on Southern Comfort.  The problem was, Tom forgot to give Tim a crash course on how to act as an art aficionado.  Tim came to the showroom more like a man sent by his wife to buy a loaf of white bread in a grocery store.  He strode in the show room with a sense of urgency, picked the most expensive art piece, and paid for it.  No perusing of the art work, no questions for the proud artist, no idle talk with the artist’s drama mama, nothing.

Our son got wind of the well-meant scheme.  Who wouldn’t after watching Tim’s flop of a performance?  His Southern Comfort breath might also have wafted in the showroom. After the exhibition ended, our son handed the $300 back to his dad.  I can’t accept this, Dad, he said.  What a guy!  He did sell some paintings on his own merits.

Now Son the Sculptor talks about expanding his horizon. He plans to enter national competitions.  Imagine how stressful that would be for the mother.

Fortunately, stress becomes me.  So go ahead. Bring it on.  Share your stage mother (or father) moment. I’m listening.

For those possessed of the time and the inclination to see the winning piece, here is the link https://thomastomlinsonart.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Citizenship

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Senior citizenship has oodles of privileges.  I began to look into all these privileges when I turned 49 many moons ago, long before I became an official senior citizen. Yes, I admit. I have a proclivity to plan way ahead especially when it comes to reaping benefits.  Even these days I read about the senior citizen programs  in other countries just in case a new and improved lifestyle outside the US might enhance my existence in the twilight years.  I love the free first-run movies in air-conditioned theaters for seniors in the Philippines and the free bus rides for seniors in Costa Rica where I’d be bestowed the title “aciudadano de oro.”  It sure sounds important.  In the US each state has interesting generous programs for senior citizens. I’m still hoping to find a state that distributes free string bikinis to qualified senior babes.

One great benefit of the USA senior citizen is the free income tax preparation offered ,by the AARP, a US-based group that focuses on the elderly and how they can continue to live well after retirement.  In the retirement resort where I live, AARP tax preparation volunteers open shop in time to help seniors file their income tax returns no later than April 15th.

Last year, 2017, on the sixth month of my residency in the community, I availed myself of the AARP services.  I went through the motions of setting up an appointment date, gathering the previous year’s income tax return, all the latest income statements from banks, pension funds, and Social Security Administration (SSA), and when it was all said and done, I finally made it front and center of a volunteer.  A senior herself, the volunteer, a Chinese lady whose serious, non-cosmetically-enhanced face screamed “retired bean counter,” studied my personal information as if she was seeing something that required in-depth scrutiny.  You filed a joint return last year? she asked. I answered, Yes I did. She contnued, You are filing a separate return this year?  No, I replied. My husband died last year so I am a widow this year.  Her Chinese eyes opened wide, my Filipino eyes opened even wider.  She said, You might not need to file this year because you are a new widow, but I’m not so sure.  I’ll call my supervisor.  The volunteer sounded excited.  She had no idea how much more excited she got me.  When the supervisor arrived, she looked at a chart of allowable and exempt conditions for new widows then confirmed what I wanted to hear:  You don’t have to file this year, but check again next year.

How about that!  New widowhood has its own privilege.  This year 2018, last year’s next year, I tried to invoke my new-widow income tax non-filer privilege.  I toyed with the notion there might be a chance I could use it every year until I become an old widow.  Wishful thinking warms the aging heart.

No, no, no, you have to file this year, declared this year’s volunteer, a senior citizen male whose silver mustache covering his upper lip matched the silver hair on his head.  And you also should have filed last year.

Oh dear, I gasped.  Now I am a tax evader.  I did my disarming best to get the volunteer to get off the kick of correcting my last year’s non filing and just proceed to this year’s filing.  I succeeded.

But I don’t see your 2017 SSA Statement of Benefits, he declared.  It dawned on me that I had not received my SSA statements in two years.  It’s a good thing I’m retired and a new widow.  I have an excuse for being clueless.  He instructed me: Go to the SSA office now and you’ll be back here in a couple of hours.  I protested: I can’t.  I save the environment from pollution.  I take the bus.  He warned:  Today is AARP’s last day here.

The disarming senior babe went to work.  Then please get me an extension from the IRS, I implored, my rapidly blinking brown eyes drilled on his hazel eyes.  That will give me time to update my personal information on file with the IRS and get replacements for SSA 1099 statements.  He caved in.  He filed electronically for an extension and gave me his card.  See you at the end of summer, he said.

Two days later I was so relieved to get all the SSA requirements done without leaving my minimalist manor:  my personal information updated by phone and my 2017 Statement of Benefits to be replaced through snail mail.  It took 45 minutes, but I had dedicated a whole day for that.  Hey, I’m retired.

Now I can focus on assembling my pool wardrobe for summer and hope this year’s AARP tax volunteer would still be up to the task of helping this poor helpless senior with her income tax filing in August.

Meanwhile……happy dance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Medical Professionals Who Do Bones

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Lefty’s Bruises Are Gone Now But Full Range of Motion Has Not Yet Returned

Okay folks.  Let’s add Orthopedic Surgeon and Physical Therapist to the long list of medical professionals to whom I have been referred since I turned 65, my start in the serious phase of getting old.  The most recent referral however had nothing to do with aging but with a vehicle/pedestrian accident.  I was the pedestrian in that collision.

The traffic accident I survived in December of 2017 sent me to the emergency room  of a trauma hospital. There, a lovely 50ish Asian woman ER physician (Dr ER) had x-rays of my left shoulder – which the Grand Marquis car had hit from the back –  taken to see the extent of the injury.  As soon as the image became available, she projected it on a computer monitor.  My face grimaced at the sight of the junction of my thin arm bone and the left shoulder area.  Skeletons! They form a part of the 206 bones that make up a human adult.

The humerus bone is broken but it is not broken, said Dr ER, beaming. She expounded: The ball of the arm bone that goes into the shoulder socket is broken but it is not shattered or dislocated. No surgery is needed.  The crack will eventually close and heal.  How lucky, I gushed.  DR ER recommended that I find an Orthopedic Surgeon (OS) for follow-up consultation.  The ER doctor’s job is to perform the minimum required care and move the patient out of the ER as quickly as possible to make room for new emergency cases.

The process of getting an OS involved my Primary Care Physician (PCP), who was so glad to get in on the action.  He gets a big kick out of finding what’s medically wrong with me then referring me to a specialist.  This time he referred me to Dr OS, a cheerful red-head middle-aged man.

Dr OS ordered x-rays of my left shoulder and arm then reviewed the images with me.  His verdict echoed Dr ER’s.  This is broken but it is not broken and that is a good thing, Dr OS proclaimed.  But  I’m in pain, I disagreed.  He expounded: The bones will fuse together eventually.  I’ll see you in three weeks.

The next three weeks tested my dexterity.   Bathing, showering, taking off and putting on clothes with one arm were challenging.  I learned new wiggling motions.

I’d heard of the expression “One hand does not know what the other hand is doing.”   I disagreed.   Having my left arm in a sling 24/7, I learned my right hand (Righty) knew exactly what my left hand (Lefty) was doing.  Nothing.  Doing nothing. It just lolled inside a hammock, the shape of the sling. So, Righty, in tandem with my brain, took over quite a bit of responsibilities.  Righty did not have issues about monopolizing the tasks it had once shared with Lefty, as if things had always been that way. What a hero! Of course Lefty was not totally worthless. It lent Righty a hand – pardon the expression. While doing dishes, Lefty propped the plate without pressure on itself, allowing Righty to scrub diligently.  In other words, they had each other’s back – or front. One performed token work, the other the real grunt work.

There were just certain tasks where Righty had to go it alone, like applying deodorant to both underarms. Imagine the contortions Righty had to go through to cover the right armpit.

I learned to orchestrate Lefty and Righty to attract attention for help in depositing household trash in the neighborhood trash bins.  Any able-bodied person who passed by the bin area was fair game.  A certain smile, a timid hello, a little drama by Righty struggling to lift the bin lid – they all did the trick.  The old folks in the retirement resort were genuinely happy to assist the helpless senior babe.

After two months, Dr OS told me, Lose the sling. You don’t need it anymore.  As directed, I stopped wearing the sling.  Friends unaware of the accident and happy to see me often slapped my sore left arm.

Dr OS referred me to a Physical Therapy clinic (PTC) to start the process of loosening up my left shoulder and make way for Lefty to regain full range of motion.

The intent of my first appointment was to determine how much physical therapy would be needed for my situation.  While waiting, I overheard a 40ish Hispanic woman named Michele and a 20-something named Valerie conversing about me.  Valerie asked, Is she the one? She doesn’t look like……(her voice tapered off).  I could not tell if she meant I did not look my age, I did not look like Nancy Kwan, or I did not look like an accident victim.  One tough lady, Michele commented.

During the assessment session I learned more about the physical therapy profession.  I thought everybody who works in a PTC is a physical therapist who bends arms and legs.  As Michele gently massaged my left shoulder, I drummed up a conversation: So did you need a massage background to get this job?  She laughed and said, Actually I’m a doctor.  I felt like a heel.  My turn to laugh.  What do I know? I said.  I am a retired engineer.  I only knew sewers.

Michele explained that in a PTC there are different gradations of physical therapists, ranging from on-the-job trainees to college graduates, but there’s only  one doctor. In that clinic she is the doctor.  I notice she is the only one who can massage me. All others count or time me as I rotate my shoulders, pull pulleys or rubber bands, lift weights with my left hand.

Lefty is still working to regain full range of motion.

I think I’ll put on my string bikini, soak in one of the retirement resort’s five hot whirlpools, and do some serious positive thinking.

Have you or someone you know had a broken shoulder?  How long did it take to go back to normal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osteoporosis

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In the middle of this February, my Smart Phone made a funny sound, alerting me to check on a new voice message.  I listened to the message.  It was from the nurse of my Primary Care Physician (PCP), the doctor whose mission is to find everything medical that is wrong with me. I thought, Now what? Our next consult is scheduled in March.  What does he want from me this early?

I found out soon enough.  The Orthopedic Surgeon (OS) who is attending to my broken left shoulder that resulted from the recent car/pedestrian collision accident, had given his report to PCP.  OS wanted PCP to get me a bone density test. The bone density test result would be a factor in determining the speed of my recovery from the accident in case the attorneys specialized in compensation for pain and suffering ask him.

I told PCP, At your insistence I subjected my bones to a density test very recently.  Why not give OS those results? He answered, That’s different.  The bone density test needed by OS is one taken after your traffic accident.  And I also need a new one to see how the medicine I prescribed to you has affected your osteoporosis.  What medicine? I asked,  beady brown eyes widened.  My reaction took him by surprise.  You didn’t get the pills?  I want to prescribe the latest good drug for your osteoporosis after I prove to your insurance company that the pills I prescribed to you did not work.  Instead of arguing,  I declared the snafu was his fault and we agreed his prescription for osteoporosis fell in the cracks because of all his referrals to the podiatrist, ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, etc, plus orders for flu shot, pneumonia shot, shingles shot etc.  He gave me a prescription again.

I visited my colleague Dr Google and asked him about osteoporosis.  He said it is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

I wondered what kind of osteoporosis I have, if in fact the diagnosis is correct.  I remember the Grand Marquis car in the December 26th vehicle-pedestrian collision accident smacked  my left shoulder from the back, tossed me, and drove my face down on another paved lane.  I thought the impact of the moving car followed by the impact of the rigid pavement were enough to reduce my poor decrepit little body to a small heap of broken bones.  But no.  I shimmied out of the accident scene with a hairline fracture on the slightly dislocated left shoulder requiring no surgery.  What about the brittle bones?  My son thinks years of yoga practice have made me pliable.  I think the fish heads and rice in my diet get the credit.

Okay, whatev.  I’ll add Osteoporosis to the long list of maladies and medical terms that I have researched since turning 65.  It joins the ranks of adenocarcinoma, bunions, cancer, cataracts, colonoscopy, pneumonia, Varicella-Zoster, etc.  Love that last one in the series.  It sounds impressive but it means shingles.  Having experienced all of them and then some, I can proudly crow: Getting old is not for amateurs!

My left shoulder has loosened up and physical therapy continues until my left arm regains its full range of motion.  Then I’ll be able to tie the strings of my bikini swimsuits by myself again.  Meanwhile, I have the retirement resort’s limo pick me up and take me to a scenic area where I walk uphill then downhill then to my favorite sushi place.  This brings back memories of my days in Albuquerque city hall when I was an employed young woman engineer shunned by the exclusive world of male engineers, long before it dawned on them how awesome I was.  The draftsmen and I would eat our sack lunches in the drafting room. For dessert, we’d have Fig Newtons.  At the end of the main course, usually a home-made sandwich, I’d raise my hand with the dessert and exult: “High standard of living!” and we’d all crack up.  My happiness has always come from within.

I’d love to hear what you think.