I've Landed!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Turning Away

Taking two years of classes on aging was a great thing for me.  It added so much to my knowledge as a nurse.

Well into the program, I hit a glitch.
One whole semester was on Death and Dying and I almost turned away and bagged the program.
I'm sorry.
I like you, maybe even love you, but I certainly don't want to spend 3 months learning how to help you die!  Ahhhhhh!!

But.....I did show up for the first day of class, resigned to a bad bad bad 3 months of focusing on your eventual death.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was!

"Oh, this class is not about other people's death!  This class is about your OWN death.  That is all we are going to focus on....YOUR  death."

Excuse me?

And the professor was not kidding.

I became physically ill, but I didn't want anybody to suspect me of also being mentally ill so I did not bolt, but stayed.  It was a "pride" thing...fool the masses...pretend to be "ok".  But aim for low profile.
D- is a grade that would work for me.

I barely heard the words, "Looking at our own death is like looking at the sun.  We cannot look at it straight on, because death, like the sun, burns too bright.  We look at it obliquely."

Or even turn away.

First assignment:   Draw Yourself Dead

Next class we had to bring in our art work.

On a white sheet of typing paper ...in gray pencil...I had drawn me in a casket.  My casket only needed buggy wheels to resemble a pram completely.  I had the half-hood up.  My blankie covered me right up to my tiny face and  my cap covered my hair.  I did draw me with long eyelashes and I have no idea why I would think I had long eyelashes in death since I have not been blessed in life with lash-babe eyes!  But there they were!  Long lashes softened & beautified my closed eyes.

Our professor had a field day, a fun time, making fun of us.
Hey, I wasn't the only one with a sickly dead picture of myself!

After most of us were sufficiently humiliated, he allowed Kassie to show-case her picture, since she had brought an Easel with her and a Huge Flip Chart!  I kid you not.

Kassie walked up front, established herself as leagues ahead of the rest of us and displayed her art work.    We sat there silent and stunned seeing a huge picture in full color, a casket prepared for a queen, a dead woman, Kassie, with flowing tresses (she was as generous drawing her hair as I was generous drawing my eyelashes!), a dress that revealed arms, hands, legs, feet (no shoes).  If that wasn't enough, she had bagged the flower idea and used balloons.  Lots of balloons.  A party surrounded her dead body!
Turns out Kassie was a hospice nurse at one time in her early career and she had already "gone, where no man dares to go".

Learning not to turn away was a very very very hard thing to learn for some of us.
Nay, for all of us.

Slowly I began to glance at my own death.  Out of the corner of my eye.

Slowly I began to understand why we turn away from looking at people who are limping toward death....or why we look away from reminders of mortality...why we may avoid funerals, or why we fill our days with anything that will keep us from seeing and thinking.

Drawing myself dead was just the beginning of sinking into the abyss on a scaffold to have a peek out of the corner of my eye.....a peek that became more and more and more........ less terrifying.

I am better now at not dismissing and distancing the elderly of whom I am one! 

Stay with me for the brief ride and you will be blessed.

Enough for today,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Just How Badly Do You Want That Pill?

I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals.

I'm a nurse, I thought about becoming a pharmacist, and I really wanted to be a teacher.  These three interests have come together to make me a very informed consumer when it comes to medications, and an outspoken critic of bad and missing information given to consumers of meds......many of whom are seniors.

When I was 21, already an RN with a career, I suddenly developed thrombophlebitis in both legs.  I was sent off duty to bedrest & my excellent physician ordered the medication Butazolidin Alka for me. Within two days I was having wierd attacks of chills.  Being a nurse I screamed for help immediately.  My excellent doctor came to my home and immediately stopped the new brand-name medication, drew a vial of blood from my arm and left.  It turned out I had a life-threatening side-effect of Butazoldin Alka: hemolytic anemia.  My red blood cells were rupturing.

I was one of the lucky ones.  Withdrawing the medication saved my life (though I required treatment for the anemia).  Some other consumers across the nation were not so lucky.  For some people the hemolysis of red blood cells did not stop even when the medication was withdrawn, and death ensued.

Eventually, Butazolidin Alka was taken off the market.  Remember, when I took it, it was on the market.  Thank you, Drug Company, for all those "comprehensive" test studies before you sold it to me!!!  Can't tell you how great it was being one of your unsuspecting uninformed human guinea pigs.....and paying you money for the "privilege".

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, complications from prescription medication use is the 4th Leading Cause of Death in the USA.

In  2006 a report by Dr. Gary Lull revealed nearly 800,000 Americans die every year as the result of medicine made by pharmaceutical companies.
That same year, 2006, the pharmaceutical industry was listed as the #1 most profitable industry in Fortune 500 !!!!!!!!

We teach our kids to "Just Say No To Drugs".

That is excellent advice to us, too.

It is possible to say "No, thank you," to a physician.  Especially to things like statins.  Our grandparents never took a statin and probably ate hogs for breakfast.....and most of our grandparents did not drop  dead from high cholesterol.  Yes, eventually they died, but no pharmaceutical company got rich on their fears.

Take a walk.

Consider leaving the statins alone.

Remember Baycol ( a statin by Bayor)?  In the four years it was on the market (1997 -  2001) it caused 100,000 deaths.

My excellent physician and I have an agreement:  I only accept prescriptions for generic meds.   Brand name drugs lose their patent after 12 years and become relatively cheaper generics.  By that time, hundreds of thousands of guinea-pig-people have consumed the brand name medication.....and we get a better picture of which meds need withdrawn from the market due to causing deaths, liver failure, kidney failure, deafness, blindness, psychotic break-downs, suicides.....on and on and on.  And which are safe.  And which get BLACK BOX WARNINGS.
Fen-Phen was taken off the market after 24 years,
Vioxx was taken off after 6 years.....

....heck, even Heroin used to be approved by the FDA....opps all the patientsl got addicted!  Let's take back our approval!........oh, let's arrest those people who peddle the stuff now that we don't approve it!

"FDA Approved" means very little.

I am not saying never take meds prescribed by an excellent physician.
I am just saying, be informed and look out for yourself.
Don't be afraid to ask for more education and explanation....or even ask for time to think about it while you bone up on it yourself before deciding yes or no.

Just how badly do I want that pill?

"What will happen to me if I do NOT take this pill?"
"Is there something I can do to help my health other than take this pill?"
"Is there a cheaper version or cheap relative of this pill if I must have this kind of medication?"
"If I must take it, would a lower dose be effective?"

Be captain of your ship.

New, "brand name" is great in clothes, risky in medications.  Sure, if I am already dying and an experiment is needed, go ahead with the experiment of a brand new "cadillac" medication on me.
Other than that, give me the cheaper safer version about which much is already known.

Riverwatch, RN

PS       I always take my blood pressure pill....always.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What To Do On a Rainy Day

One reason, I think, that we become more interested in the Hereafter as we age is because of the increase in rainy days on the landscape I call the twilight zone of life (where I have landed
....not having died young).

We assume there are NO rainy days in the Hereafter.....and so we may find ourselves a bit more interested in That Landscape.

Just like the last month of pregnancy is a long long long time, so is the sojourn onto the twilight zone of life.  So please stop dwelling on the Hereafter!  (I was speaking to myself, so don't get miffed.)

Heck, it is common to spend a fourth of our lives on this new landscape in the zone, so we cannot panic!  Good grief, this could be the best time of our whole life as we meet new people whom we seem to have known all our lives...as we learn new skills (having had to jettison our old skills).....as we travel.......as we greet, help, notice, and praise the rising generation.

But the increase in rainy days is no joke, so I thought I should share another gift from my classes on aging:

One of the most important things I can do in the twilight zone is continue to make goals.
But my goal setting needs to change.  No more 10 or 20 year plans to scare me to death!!!!
Now......... perhaps starting at 65 years of age or earlier........ I need to do 5 year goals......5 year plans.....and each year do a new 5 year plan as I push through this stretch ahead of me.  
Heck, even if I were to have a terminal disease, I could  reasonably look forward to 5 more years.

On the next rainy day, we could spend some time thinking about our goals for the next 5 years.
That will keep us busy!
We should write them down.
That will make us effective!

We do not want to waste the gift of time we have been given.

Thanks for being old.  I do not want to be the only human to age.
I frankly need you to eventually fall to pieces, too. I'm falling to pieces for you!

As my cousin said, "After 50 it is just patch, patch, patch."

Get those patches. Hang around.

Don't take off with goals unfinished!  

Enjoying the sunrise on the desert,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Favorite

Many people have a favorite uncle.......and ours just died.
All of us in my family agree that he was and is our favorite.

What made him so honored within the family?
He wasn't the most playful, or the funniest.
He wasn't the most handsome.
He didn't mince words and he always called a spade a spade.

What made him our favorite was he was the most HELPFUL.

My uncle had an uncanny way of seeing the needs of individuals within his own family, within his extended family, within his neighborhood and within the larger community.  Saying little, he went about serving others, even bringing needy people into his home, and since he did carpenter work as a hobby, people benefited from his eyes that saw your needs and his heart that cared.

He just died, on his 98th birthday.

A couple of years ago he went out to his tractor to "get busy".....and forgot how to start it, maybe even what it was for.  But he was cared for in his declining years by loving family....who cried when he died.

My aunt picked out this poem for his memorial:

   Miss Me- But Let Me Go 
When I come to the end of the road, 
and the sun has set for me;
I want no rites in a gloom filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free.

Miss me a little-but not too long,
And not with your head bowed low;
Remember the love that we once shared;
Miss me-but let me go

For this is a journey we all must take,
and each must go alone;
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart, 
Go to the friends we know;
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me-but let me go.

Since my uncle was so old, and since many friends and family members had already died, it was decided to just do graveside services. 
  Over two hundred and fifty people showed up to honor him.

Wishing I could have been there,
under the rain clouds,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One of the Last Instincts

Thank you for the clamor to hear more about when I almost throttled a grandchild......and about my UFO experience.

I think I will do the "throttle expo" first, since I must try to clear my reputation....or at least let you know you are no better than I am, being human and all.   You aren't a hybrid, are you?

The event took place  in a parking lot.....and let's not call me old, though old I am....but let us call me diseased, chronically diseased.

I don't have ADHD (but I sure am related to a lot of folks who do!), and when I was young......strike that!.....when I was well I could run after those little streaks of willfulness and carry them back to where they belong.
Those days are gone.  If I must modify a child's behavior, I have to "reason"....or something , because my arms go skiwampus  on me and give out on me and I am not into the physical contests.  Just cannot do it.
So when my grandchild ran out into traffic and wouldn't listen to reason......throttling came to mind and almost happened!  I truly reacted!

Don't blame me and judge me harshly!  The instinct to throttle another person lurks within us all.
I know this because I was a Critical Care Nurse and I have experience with basic human instincts (which are more complex than simple reflexes).
One busy day in ICU I was leaning over a human wreck to suction her airway.  She seemed comatose, but SUDDENLY her long bony fingers grabbed my neck.
     "My god!"   I was so startled I swore as I jumped back, loosening her mighty grip.  I repented immediately of my language.
     But I cannot tell you how stunned I was.  She seemed a whisp of a being, almost corpse-like....skinny pale sticks for legs, almost no hair on her head, sunken stomach, old (is it ok if I say old?) and so very ill.  Hooked up to lines and whirligigs. None of which she wanted, I bet.  What we do to old people is sometimes beyond the pale.   (I mean, what happens to us is sometimes beyond the pale.)

  So because of all my ICU experience, I know that I can still throttle someone!!  Wreck that I am, I retain a certain ability to grab somebody by the throat!  Especially if it is not pre-planned,but instinctual.  It doesn't take brains, much of a neuro system, much of a muscular system, adequate nutrition, practice or much of anything. 
 Perhaps it may be a left-over vestigial instinct of our ancestor's jungle days?
     "Go for the throat!"
Judging from what I have seen as a nurse, it is one of the last instincts to go.
     You must admit, watching a child swing through traffic is enough to cause you to drop dead in your tracks!  Thus the survival instinct of going for the  throat.  You are in danger.  And guess who put you there?

My grandchild was in danger, not just from traffic but from me, but somehow survived.  It's not like a kid with ADHD is gonna stay put in the middle of traffic, but only dash through it weaving in and out, laughing.

The instinct to throttle arises suddenly......and wears off slowly.

Grateful my grandchild lives today,
Riverwatch, RN

Monday, October 15, 2012

Descents, Free Falls and Falling Flat

     Ahh, fearless Felix, Austrian daredevil, only 43, knows nothing about the twilight zone landscape he may land on someday!!!
     Our descent, his eventual descent, is nothing like his supersonic free fall.  You must admit that, no matter how much you may have tumbled this past year.
     I must refrain from calling Felix a fool, because God has told me not to call other people fools.  That commandment is a bit hard for me, so I always try to include myself in any slip of calling humans stupid.

     So, let's agree Felix is not stupid.  I dare not call him a fool.  So I will just have the grace to say I think Felix the Great has just given the green light to an upgraded First Class on commercial flights, most likely American Airlines flights.
     Just think of it.  You will be able to pay another little Extra Fee and get a pressurized suit that self deploys in the event your airplane suddenly blows apart.  Mother Earth's gravity will bring you home!  And since you are up-to-date on The News (being a First Classer and all) you will know to stick out one of your arms if you start to spin while free falling.  If that doesn't work, put that arm down and stick out the other arm and surely you will stop spinning and fall like a decent chap or chick.  Gravity will be your friend and bring you down to where you can deploy your  parachute to argue with Gravity a bit until you gently touchdown on land or belly flop onto the ocean.  I'm curious.  Do you think you would have paid the Extra Fee for a life boat?

     The one bad thing about the pressurized suit (made in China) is under some circumstances other than a crack-apart-plane (made in the USA), it can self deploy.  Like if your seat (made in the USA) on the plane suddenly loses it moorings and goes skidding down the aisle.
Boom!  You are ten times bigger and trapped.

Now tell me again how vastly different China is from the USA?
Oh, yes, VASTLY geographically vaster, VASTLY more  amounts of citizens (far more people in their standing army than inhabit the entire USA!!!! and we are trying desperately to keep people out of our great country and keep birthrates down), VASTLY more gigantic economy, the most musical language on earth, and more control over their VAST amounts of peoples than we would ever tolerate, our country having being settled by social rebels and social fringe,  & Freedom of Religion rebels.......right over top of stubborn Indians!!!  Don't get me wrong.  I am part Indian and I would never tolerate the fences of Asia, either.  I am not lauding China.  Only wondering why we aren't more impressed. ...and less stupid about China.

     Yeh,  heck, calling people stupid or foolish is politically incorrect or even pre-hellish.  My former daughter-in-law, who used to be funny when she was still in the family, had us all laughing one day when she said, "There's no fixing stupid."  How we all laughed thinking she meant you.
     Now in retrospect I cannot help wondering, Do you suppose she was talking about us?
     One time when their marriage was still intact and we were all still speaking to one another, I decided I needed to take a stance on my own behalf to keep this particular daughter-in-law in check.  I decided I could get away with it in a crowd ....never ever alone.....so I practiced up for the next big family dinner.
     At the right moment, I said to her, "Honeybunch," (that's what my mom always called me when she was maneuvering to win big) "Honeybunch, there is something I need you to do for me.  I don't handle being made fun of very well, so you have just got to quit making fun of me."
     The family crowd was respectful waiting for her response.  She looked me over from head to toe, slowly, coolly and gently, and then she said, "I would, River, but you just give me so much material to work with."
     The crowd erupted in applause and laughter.
     I've been dead in the water ever since.  I wouldn't exactly call it a supersonic free fall, but a belly flop is a belly flop no matter at what speed you hit the water.

Well, here's some bad news about old (hey, it can't all be good!).  We do, all of us, lose physical strength.  We are weaker and more vulnerable with every passing year.  If we fight, we lose.
Even in the battle of the wits, we can be bested by the young crowd.
Our only consolation is in knowing what's coming down the pike for them.

Secretly smiling, (just kiddin', just kiddin')

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The ER Staff......My favorite!

I have to tell you, the ER Staff have always been my favorite people in any hospital where I have worked.  They are the front-line health care providers, the life flight personnel risking their lives in helicopters, the transport team, the  PODP's ("possible organ-donation" Pointers).

Now that I am old and likely to need them sometime, I'm glad I know how skilled and caring they are.

I trust them completely.  

I would trust them with my life in any emergency.

I have never been an ER nurse (not enough nerve).  But I have hung-out in the ER as a nurse a lot, helping a little, basking in the red hot glow of drama, avoiding the ever present containers of one kind or another of their food treats.  (ER staff seem to never go to meals...in fact I am not sure they even pee!  That is how ON-DUTY they are!)

I love these people!

One day I was just sitting there at the long counter in the ER, unneeded, watching the river of rapidity flowing by me.  I decided to do a secret audit just to occupy my mind.

Secret audits are not allowed.  Any hospital audit, to be valid, has to be trumpeted ahead of time and performed in broad daylight.  Heck, when the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Facilities makes their visit to AUDIT a hospital, plenty of WARNING is given and they do NOT show up at 2am!
This WARNING allows the hospital to dust off the policy manuals or make sure every computer is actually working that provides access to on-line policies, etc, and it provides time for crash courses for nurses who look confused, indeed are confused.

The WARNING allows time for harried hospital Big Wigs to zip through the hospital personally looking for any outdated medication or infant formula........an exercise that increases the Big Wigs' stomach pain next day when the REAL auditors easily find outdated medication and formula!!  (Yes, we couldn't help but wonder if those auditors did show up at 2am to plant outdated medications and infant formulas!   However, in retrospect, having now been honed in terror threats, I no longer think the AUDIT people sneak in with their outdated vials to trip us up.  I now totally believe it is always an "insider" job! And since it is never targeted to innocent people but only to Administration "Make 'em sweat!", I do not believe it is terrorists....but rather insider stealth revolutionaries.   At any rate, an insider job.)

The WARNING allows the hospital to pull out their best staff for show&tell, and more importantly to hide the "Joe Biden" doctors with their motor mouths, expansive gestures and honest-malarkey-attitudes.
A Doc Martin would be ok, since his disdain is so strong he cannot even verbalize it.
It is that verbalization that brings 'em down.
Who cares what you think as long as you keep your mouth shut
and hopefully a smile on your lips.
Warm handshakes are allowed.  That's it.

My little secret audit was nothing like that, so right off you know this audit wasn't "valid".
But it was sure as heck revealing.
I had just read in an infection control journal about a VALID hand-washing audit done in a big NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) east of where I was.  The bottom line: a disaster in compliance.
Highly educated, clinically competent physicians, nurse, techs, therapists..received a TOTAL FAILURE on  their individual and collective hand washing scores.  However, the article pointed out that though they did wash and wash and wash,  to be "in compliance with policy and good practice" they would have had to wash their collective hands over 6000 (six thousand) times in 12 hours.   Case closed.  

So.......I am watching my favorite ER staff.  Three outstanding AND good looking physicians credentialed in Emergency Medicine, four RN's, all Trauma Certified, Advanced Life Support Certified, Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certified.  There was an ER Tech who was appropriately educated.  There was a Housekeeper who tripsied in and trapesied out, a Security Guard who appeared and disappeared magically from time to time.   There was a clerk but I did not count her.  And there was Riverwatch, sitting on my butt wasting time, using patient dollars, doing nothing.  What do you expect from administration?  Nothing less.

My little secret audit of my own creation was to count how many times our ER staff washed their hands.  I only had a half hour to "kill"....so it would be like a "little snapshot" of practice.
In the half hour I monitored, we had two bloody traumas come in, a one year old baby girl with RSV, a heart attack victim, a sprained ankle, maybe broken, and 3 or 4 "whiners".  (Gosh, but we hypochondriacs get a bad rap!).
I was seated where I could see every sink.  Well, I couldn't see the hopper but I assumed nobody would wash there!  Of course I couldn't see the sink in the bathroom, but I could see if any staff used that bathroom and none did.  You cannot work ER unless you are the MASTER  of your bowels and bladder!......& your stomach, your nerves, your emotions, your itches, ...in short you must be master of your universe to even enter such an arena as the ER!
You are NOT expected to control your dripping sweat.
     Thus, I was sitting at the desk....a "guest", if you will.  I am not real in control of my mind & body which is why I am a Control Freak and a Hypochondriac.   Control Freaks who try to work Emergency Care crash and burn in the ER.  Always having to pee or something.
Hypochondriacs crash and burn everywhere, never dying, always whining.  Clogging the medical system wherever we light down.
  Can I just say something about hypochondriacs?  We do get sick and we do die....so run those tests!  You never know when we are for real.  Heck, WE never know when we are for real!

But I digress.  Our little patient with RSV was contagious.  But she was just so cute that the nurse assigned to her picked her up and held her close.  No, no infection control gown.  Much to the mom's delight, her little darling was trotted all around the ER, being passed from RN to RN to MD to MD to Tech, etc......all got the joy of holding her!  Except me.  I said "No thank you" and I withheld my lecture on Infection Control  saving the tale for when I  retired. Besides, you "mess up" an audit if you lecture during it, changing behavior (or NOT!).
The loving staff held her for her breathing treatments....showed her off to the heart attack victim, and especially to the whiner patients.
Nope, no infection control gowns.  Nope, no hand washing.  The staff were suddenly super busy now with those two traumas.
Finally I saw a  hand washing sink being used!  By two ambulance personnel.  They were washing a bloody back-board, and then both scrubbed their arms up to their elbows.  I was so happy!
However, those ambulance people weren't our staff.
I erased the X's.

My half hour was almost over and there had been no hand washing.
Plenty of glove changing.  No hand washing.

Then I spied Corby.  Not his real name of course since all names are changed to protect the guilty.  Corby was in the Med Room washing the sticky off his hands, the remnants of the glazed donut still sticking to the corners of his mouth.  No, he did not wash before eating.
I decided right then and there that every patient heading to the ER should stop on the way and buy a box of sticky donuts for the staff.  It's an infection control thing.
In a half hour of drama, Corby got the one and only star.  Sort of a "Lance Armstrong" award.

Next day I meandered into the ER.  It wasn't busy.  I sat down beside the best-of-the-best doctor who was busy doing paperwork.
     "Can I ask you something?"  I ventured.
     "Sure", he said, never pausing or looking up.
     "All the staff down here make fun of the Center for Disease Control.  Do you  think the CDC just hypes HIV and it really isn't that important?"
     He lifted his head, gave me a tired but contemptuous look and said, "If I even THOUGHT about HIV  I wouldn't be working in an Emergency Department."
     He threw down his pen and walked away, obviously ticked off that I had caused him to think of HIV.

     See why I love those ER people?  Not only are they masters of their own universe, they are so interested in saving you and me that they do little to safeguard themselves.

     It doesn't get any better than that.

     Except on the cross.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012



 "There are people who pray for eternal life and don't know what to do on a rainy day."

 "There are people who pray for eternal life because they think the rainy days will be behind them in that life."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"I'm old, too, but I am not like THAT son-of-a-bitch!"

I have always known parking lots are the most hazardous places in the city.  Abductions, rapes, infidelity sex, car wrecks, murders,   marital fights, sleep-overs, thefts, child handovers between ex-spouses, skateboard races, little birds searching for crumbs, big birds screeching meanly for the same crumbs, girlfriends meeting for urgent secret gossip, drug deals, child abuse...all those things and more happen in parking lots.
There is parking lot after parking lot after parking lot scattered throughout the city.  You drive by: it looks calm.  Little do you realize what activities are taking place there!

The closest I ever came to throttling a child was in a parking lot!  No joke.  Eighteen years raising Milo taught me nothing.  When a "push comes to a shove", no skills. I was ready to throttle a grandchild!  Only the thought that there might be camera coverage around the parking lot stayed my hand.  I did not want to be on the evening news.

We are all being recorded constantly.  If you didn't pick that information up from the Bible, or the "all seeing eye" cleverly placed on buildings and dollar bills, or from noticing the cameras above the Green-Yellow-Red lights, surely you watch the news enough to know about all those smart-phones with their video capability to capture even your conversation!
Even my cheap little tracfone can photograph you without your permission or without your knowledge.

So last week I was in a parking lot in my car thinking about our recent class on WHEN TO GIVE UP YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE. I hadn't exited from my car before I spied a man in trouble.  I thought, That old man needs help!....when I should have thought, That man is ill and needs help!

He was stumbling to his truck, having great difficulty.
I would have helped him but I was in the middle of a crisis myself.  I was rearranging my blouse.  I had spilled my diet coke float (now THERE'S an oxymoron!) on the front of my blouse.  I had taken off my little jacket and taken my arms out of my blouse and was trying to whisk it around backwards when I saw the ill man.

(I was on the lookout for cops and spies since I don't think you're allowed to change clothes in public and since my car does not have tinted windows (oh, the woes of the poor), I was more or less on display in public.)

By the time I got my back-wards but "clean" blouse adjusted, my jacket back on, my earrings and hair readjusted, the  ill old man had managed to climb into the cab of his very dented up brown truck and had backed into a car, busting out its lights, narrowly missed another car and was slowly maneuvering out of the lot.  He got away.
     I got out of my car since I was a witness (and now dressed decently).  I found there was a second witness, a man who was extremely upset.

     "He drove off!  That bastard!" shouted the male witness.

     Still not up to professional nursing speed, I said, "I don't think he even knew he hit that car.  He is old and sick."  (I can't believe I threw in "old", and I bet you are disappointed in me.  Walk the talk, Riverwatch!)

     "Old!!??  I'm old, too, but I am not like THAT son-of-a-bitch!  I'm 90 and I don't go around acting like a jackass!  I have 4 stents in my heart!  That bastard needs hit in the head with a two by four and if I had one, I would do it!"
     By then the store manager had come out to the parking lot.
 I said, "He's sick."
     And I wasn't just talking about the hit and "run" guy.

     I slunk away, unwilling to be a witness even though I was well dressed.

     So ......remember:  giving up a drivers license is mostly voluntary in a lot of states.  A cop cannot take it.  The DMV can take it, especially if a doc reports a person's diagnosis and behavior....but doctors do not like being cops. Not much reporting takes place.
     Here is my advice to us all:  be careful.
     We may get hit by a truck or a two by four.....by licensed diseased drivers!  In a parking lot!

     In the meantime, have yourself a yummy diet coke float........  while you are not driving...unless you do NOT wear bifocals and can still multi-task!....in which case, pick up that cell phone, too.  I bet you can steer with your elbows!

Remember to always carry a change of clothes.  (That is what a concerned friend said to me one messy day....and it is good advice.)  Remember 100 years ago when our moms told us to wear clean underwear in case we were in a car wreck?  Now that some of us are wrecks, living-breathing-wrecks, it is not the undies thing anymore.
Dang it, it is the whole ensemble thing we have to worry about!
For goodness sakes, get your car windows tinted!
If you are rich and already have tinted windows, donate funds to the Window Tinting for Seniors foundation.

Leave the two by four at home,

Monday, October 1, 2012

"I don't act like this on the freeway."

I tell you, as soon as you pick a subject to blog about, the living stories pop up all around you!

     The shopping cart was not only parked in the middle of the aisle, it was skiwampus, blocking my way completely.
I leaned against my own shopping cart.  The old man in charge of the wayward shopping cart was good looking enough that I thought how glad I was that I was driving my cart under my own steam, wearing matching earrings....and I was tired enough to be patient. 
     I had almost, almost, sunk to my lowest level of humiliation and climbed aboard a shopping scooter this shopping trip.  I just couldn't allow myself to do it, in spite of the fact that I have evolved from feeling sorry for scooter riders to feeling jealous.  I do suffer with the sin of a teeny bit of pride (hence the matching earrings), but I am beginning to even lust after wheel chairs!  What is happening to me? 
     I tell you, the research freakies should stop focusing on trying to make us artificially beautiful and start researching in earnest how to make personal cloaking devices.  I tell you true, they would make a fortune.  I would have been on a scooter if only I could have cloaked myself! !  Many other things I would do if I had a cloaking device.  You would also, I bet.  I bet whoever makes a personal cloaking device first will be a trillionaire  (and we all now have some warp-of-an-idea of what a trillion actually is).
     But I digress.  The old man had his shirt tucked in and I tell you that ranks a man in the same manner matching earrings rank a woman.  It is not as good as a cloaking device, but it does scream "I am not demented!"   
     I decided to wait patiently for as long as it took for the old man to figure out the labels.  There was only water and soda pop on the aisle, but he was laboring over the labels.  Finally he looked up startled to see me watching.   
     "Oh!  I am so sorry," he said. "I don't act like this on the freeway."

     I started to laugh.  I had a come-back swirling slowly in my head but I couldn't speak it.  "I will never know," I wanted to say, "because I just made a command decision to never travel the freeway again!"  
Stifling my laugh and come-back, I smiled and silently pushed on by the old man, barely clipping the end-display with my cart.  Dang it!  Have you noticed how they jet those displays out into the aisle?  Shame on them.

The cop who came to talk to our group recently about when is it time to give up the driver's license, talked a lot about preserving a driver's license and hanging onto it as long as we are not dangerous.
     By the time we turn in the old license and have to hoof it everywhere.....well, by that time the old hooves might not be working so well.  So hang on to the license as long as feasible.

Here are some things we can do to make our license, or privilege, last a longer time:

Avoid driving at night, dawn, or dusk
Drive only to familiar locations
Avoid driving long distances
Avoid freeways
Avoid rush hour traffic
Leave plenty of time to get where we are going
Don't drive alone
Certainly don't drink! We are probably already a bit impaired and have less tolerance to drugs and alcohol.
Be aware of the side effects of any medication we take that might affect judgement and alertness
Start asking for rides and using public transportation so we get used to that mode of mobility  (not a bad idea for young folks, also)

But if the only choice for a relief driver is a teenager,
feel free to chose to drive!
The statistics are on our side, even dusk to dawn.

       One more bit of evidence that we are better going down than they are rising.

I appreciate your visit,