Wednesday, December 9, 2009

These Days

Happy Birthday, Shep!!

December 8, 2006. I am born.

My beloved grandson James Shepard made his way into our lives on December 8 in 2006.

The staff at the hospital kept referring to him as a towhead, but Kate and James had never heard that old-fashioned expression and, to their great distress, thought he was being called a “conehead”. That took a little explaining.

When we got there, my sweet, hours old boy looked into my eyes and I got this amazing photo.

And here he is today.

He is ALL boy. Chatting with his other nana last night I mentioned I was knitting him a hat for Christmas. He heard this as he flew by us and, without missing a beat or pausing he declared, “I don’t want a hat.”

Alrighty then.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you, Shep.

The Body Human

Well, if it’s post-op, I must be blowing up like the Michelin Man. And sure enough, I am.

And if it’s post-op, I must have cellulitis in aforementioned swollen legs. Check.

And because the pain of a shoulder replacement could never be enough, edematous, infected legs, with skin stretched practically to the breaking point, must be incredibly painful to walk on. Check again.

And even though I haven’t had a cold in about 20 years, I must be getting one now. Check.

Add a stomach virus for grins and giggles. Check.

So I am a tad miserably self pitying uncomfortable.

I am incredibly lucky this go round to have a marvelous health team and all of them are on top of these crap symptoms. Unfortunately, the treatment is usually pretty crap too, but what are you going to do? One hundred and sixty milligrams of lasix might cause someone to pee forty times a day, but it might also help prevent heart failure.

Dr. B., my regular doctor, is every word you can come up with that is synonymous with kind. I knew the reason for every obnoxious medication he had to add to my already obnoxious regimen. But he made a gentle little case for each one because he is so respectful and so generous with his time, subtly reminding me he is not out to deliberately torture me.

So What Else Is New?

I am actually disappointed that I was not able to be cleared to go back to work yesterday.

I am filling the idle hours with puking and blowing my nose reading and knitting. My friends had twins last week and I am knitting them hats. The babies, not the parents.

Because my sleep schedule is off kilter right now, I do most of my knitting in the middle of the night. I needed to check the size of the hat I was working on, but was reluctant to drag myself up to the attic and search for a dolly to fit it on to. Then my eye rested on this:

Not that I did, mind you. But it was tempting.

I once read a suggestion that for a baby hat, a grapefruit is a good size check. I would not recommend this. You will never look at a grapefruit or a baby quite the same way again.

So here is the first hat:

And the second will have a pink lambie. Fun to do.


Sunday, November 22, 2009


The day before my surgery last week I shared my unfounded and irrational panic with all of you. Of course it was very real to me at that time. Because that’s what I do. I take true reality, put it away, faaar, faaar away, and roll out unwarranted and ridiculous fears. Let’s face it, it is much more entertaining to revel in dread then to be reasonable and mature. Maturity is highly overrated.

However, something amazing happened. I, a poster child for bad attitude and neurotic overreaction, was presented with miracle after miracle, just gift after gift, over and over again.

All my kids called me in the days before, telling me they loved me and then simply making me laugh with funny stories. They are so great, so much fun.

My daughter Mary Kate brought me to the surgicenter the morning of the surgery. I was a bundle of fear and anger and self pity. Fear over this irrevocable step of having my bone replaced. Anger and self pity that I was facing yet another really challenging and painful situation. Enough already!, I was thinking. And the loss of control had me completely freaked out. I just felt as though I could not take one more indignity, exposure, embarrassment.

But the amazing thing that happened Monday morning was that one by one each professional I met calmed me incrementally with kindness, respect and implications of complete autonomy.

I was given option after reasonable option. If I half jokingly had suggested that I perform the surgery myself, they probably would have at least paused and pretended to consider it. Oh…um….that’s right, I did suggest it. Completely seriously. And Dr. K., the anesthesiologist, treated my proposal as if it was an everyday request, not the most insane thing he had ever heard.

This was not that awful, phony-fake-niceness that costs nothing and, ultimately, means nothing. This was genuine. This was concern for my comfort. Empathy for my obvious anxiety.

Because I was addled with drugs and insanity, I cannot remember everyone’s name. Suzanne I remember, because she has been my nurse the three times that I’ve been there. Suzanne strikes me as a person who would be blast to have a martini or five with, just a fun, fun person. Angela I’ve had twice. So sweet. I think it was Angela who accidentally told me how much I weighed in a pre-surgery call, but, after two days of weeping and about 100,000 mg. of Xanax, I have forgiven her. Even though I can’t remember everyone’s names, I can see their faces and will always remember how amazing they were.

Considerate, pleasant, warm, funny, every nurse was patiently reassuring in every regard. I was embarrassed that my MS-weak legs could not help transfer my fat self from the gurney to the operating table, but they practically gave me three cheers, continually telling me how great I was doing. Or at least that is how it felt.

For many reasons that I will spare you of right now, I have a particular aversion to my body being exposed to strangers. I hesitantly, in a whisper, brought this up to one of the nurses. She earnestly assured me they took great pride and went to great lengths to maintain a patient’s dignity and privacy. And even though I discover upon waking that my right breast is COVERED with betadine, I’m totally buying it. No exposure there, nope, none at all. I am certain they turned off the lights, closed their eyes and daubed in the dark.

The nurse anesthetist was so, so soothing preparing me to go under. While blasting me with oxygen before putting me out and intubating me she said several times, “Ok, are you ready to go on vacation?” Here would be my only tiny criticism. I WASN’T READY!! Nobody had said anything about a vacation! I wasn’t packed. I hadn’t even picked a destination. Did I want to go to London or Prague? I had been promising to visit my friend Manju in Mumbai. Wait, wait I can’t decide…klunk.

I wake up in PACU, more blessings. Almost no pain. Totally patient focused. Solicitous. Professional. It is discovered my shoulder ice pump been has leaking and I am soaked to the skin with ice water. A coordinated dance organizes to get me, someone with limited balance and mobility to begin with, dried, cleaned and changed as quickly as possible. I am seamlessly transferred to a geri-chair and wheeled to the bathroom. Now, naturally, I have to go. One nurse whips off my knickers with the skill and speed of my high school boyfriend. Stands at the ready outside the door with all my dry things. And within minutes I am dressed, warm, and sipping ginger ale as if nothing in the world had ever happened.

I am definitely groggy and believe I am somewhat hallucinatory, because I think I have heard one of the nurses say “Her priest is here.” But that is not possible. For one thing, there are other several other patients there, so it could be someone else. For another, David is incredibly busy. Since we hired him over five years ago, with the mandate of growing the parish, he has literally not stopped for one minute. To the extent that we get worried about him overdoing it. He is so dedicated and has done such a spectacular job our previously empty pews are now packed. He doesn’t have the time to wander around Monmouth County for little old me when there are far more important things for him to do.

However, I am incorrect. David has indeed come to the surgicenter. I am still in surgery, so he stays in the waiting room and holds me in prayer. They let him know when I am done and that I am well, but he cannot come to the PACU. He is on his way to a meeting in New York, but he leaves a loving message.

So this is another blessing. In addition to all the cards and calls I have received from fellow parishioners over the previous weeks, there are all of you, as well. New friends, old friends, acquaintances, readers of my blog. My aunts, my sister, my beloved therapist, my other physicians. Providing e-mails, phone calls, messages on Facebook, offers of prayers, loving thoughts, reassurances.

If there was a package one could buy that said “Super Deluxe Hopeful, Encouraging and Positive Surgery Survival Kit”, these, all of the above, are all the things that would be in it.

Finally, there has been Dr. Wonderful himself. After the initial nightmarish search for care when I first fell, I am so lucky that he was put in my path. There is no doubt in my mind I have received the best medical care possible from this gifted surgeon. There was never a time that Dr. W. was not respectful, patient and compassionate. He took me seriously and he treated my relentless pain seriously. He was attentive yet genuine, a truly caring person. And his Administrative Assistant is a sincere reflection of his values. Maryanne is pleasant and fun to chat with but utterly professional. All my pre and post-op care was in place without me having to do a thing. Over this past 20 months every phone call was returned promptly, every question answered considerately.

There is no positive side to an injury like the one I sustained. There are no silver linings. That whole ‘if life gives you lemons then make lemonade’? Bullshit. If life gives you lemons then you have too many lemons. I don’t even like lemonade.

It is lovely to have my wonderful friendships validated. To discover there are marvelous people out there in the world. But you can get that without having your arm sliced open multiple times.

In the end, I have no words of wisdom, simply praise and gratitude for all the good that surrounded me and continues to sustain me. I have had this plaque hanging over my bed for years and I do believe it.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Broken Shoulder, My Breasts and John Lithgow (There Is a Connection. Really.)

When I tripped over a string of lights on my patio on March 29, 2008, I hit the cement like a meteor striking the earth. In scientific terms that can be an ELE, an extinction level event. And, not to be too dramatic, that is practically is what it was for life as I had known it up to then.

Yeah, not too dramatic. lol

I had never broken a bone before, but knew the instant I hit the ground that something really, really bad had happened to my arm. The sensation was almost electrical, what I would imagine it would feel like to have lightening strike. The pain was unspeakable.

At the Emergency Room, they told me my arm was broken. What they didn’t tell me was the head of my arm bone, essentially the bottom half of my shoulder, had shattered into four pieces. And, truly, my life has not been the same since.

After a fruitless four day search for someone to take care of me, I found Dr. Wonderful. He was so great, in so many ways. I had my first operation since I was a child, actually almost exactly 50 years earlier. I was patched together in an effort to preserve the bone. And it might have worked. Except for Multiple Sclerosis.

The MS, the theory is going, has kept my arm from healing properly. The result has been relentless pain and little use of my arm since the day I fell. A second surgery was done to clean up the scar tissue that had developed, in the hope of calming everything down once and for all.

No such luck.

I am heading into my third shoulder surgery and will have part of the joint replaced. The theory this time is by taking away the source of the pain, my damaged bone, the pain will be relieved.

Instead of getting easier, this surgery stuff is getting harder and I am practically certifiable with anxiety at this point. I have watched the You Tube shoulder replacement film so many times, I could do the surgery myself. I am contemplating asking them to let me stay awake, just to make sure they are all doing everything they should.

I watched one training film for the surgery where the anesthetized female patient was COMPLETELY EXPOSED from the waist up the whole while her surgeon was talking to the camera. Bastard. So now I am obsessing about my 55 year old boobs, which nursed four children for a total of ten years, that they will be flopping over the sides of the operating table and resting on my surgeon’s shoes. For all to see and trip over.

Not fun. Well, not for me at any rate.

The surgery is done with the patient in a sitting up position. Apparently I had a little airway trouble during the last operation (a little airway trouble=I was unable to breathe), so I had to be intubated, a tube was put down my throat to make sure I didn’t suffocate.

More not fun. Although I suppose suffocating isn’t so spiffy either.

Can you tell yet that I don't want to do this?

I am trying to focus on the possibility that following this operation, I could be without pain for the first time in 20 months. Focusing on the fact that I love and trust Dr. Wonderful. Focusing on how truly kind and professional the staff is at the surgery center. Focusing on how it could be worse and there could be no options for me at all, that shoulder replacement is a miracle of modern medicine. Focusing on...

Wait!!!! Who am I kidding?!?! I’m a neurotic Drama Queen with major modesty and control issues. THAT’S ALL I CAN FOCUS ON!!! AAAAGGGHHH!!!

My bare breasts will be drooping from here to Kalamazoo and I won’t be able to do anything about it! I won’t be in charge! I won’t be calling the shots! I won’t even be freaking awake!

I have no tidy way to end this little rant. I am praying not so much that the surgery goes well, although that would be awfully nice. More than anything when I get there tomorrow morning at six a.m., I don’t want to make a complete fool of myself and totally lose it or something. Cause that’s how I’m feeling. You know, sort of like John Lithgow on the plane in The Twilight Zone.

Not to be John Lithgow. That would be my prayer.

For e-mail readers (c’mon, watch it, it’s funny!):


Friday, November 13, 2009

A Quietly Remarkable Man

My beloved grandfather, James Edwin Bennett, was born on this day in 1904 in Port Chester, New York.

His parents were young but his father was already a successful plumbing contractor with a business in Manhattan. Grandpa had a younger sister, Victoria. But his mother died giving birth to his brother Joseph. He was six at the time. Within the next year, Victoria died of diphtheria. My grandfather told me his father never recovered from those losses, although he did marry again and had four more children.

They ended up moving to the townhouse where my great grandfather’s business was based on East 65th Street. They were prosperous and happy.

My grandmother emigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1923 and met my grandfather a few years later (although he always told us, with a wink, that he met her at the boat with her first pair of shoes; she did not find this amusing). She told me she was working as a nanny for a wealthy family in Connecticut. My grandfather was at the estate on a job with his father and he threw a snowball at her. They were married in 1930.

But with the Depression, large building jobs disappeared and, gradually, with them went my great grandfather’s business. My grandfather took the most secure job you could get in those days and became a New York City policeman.

His step-mother passed away after a long illness and he ended up supporting his father, his youngest siblings and his own new family.

He told stories of that time with humor and nostalgia, never complaining, never implying that going from relative wealth to relative impoverishment was a devastating fall. Or that watching his father drink himself to death was a crushing tragedy.

I was the second grandchild, the first girl, indeed the only girl for the next fourteen years, in a family that teemed with boy cousins. And my grandfather frankly adored me in his quiet, understated way. It wasn’t until I was older I realized what a gift that had been. My self-centered little self took it for granted.

I spent much time with my grandparents as a child. My grandfather would take me with him everywhere.

We went to the park almost every day. Granted, it was usually after my grandmother snapped from some chore “Edwin! Take that child to the park!” And he would, cheerfully, holding my hand, pushing me endlessly on the swings.

We lived in northern Manhattan. If he was driving downtown, I would hop up and down in the car. “The boats, Grandpa, the boats!” And, although I know now it had to be out of the way sometimes, he would dutifully take Twelfth Avenue, where in the 1950’s you would see prow after prow of cargo ships and cruise ships. I don’t know why I found it so thrilling, but he always accommodated me.

In those days there were still many cobbled streets in Manhattan. Again, I would hop up and down on the front seat, “Grandpa, could we take the bumpy roads?” And he would wind his way through Manhattan driving on all the cobble streets he knew. As a native New Yorker, and someone who loved the city, he knew where they all were.

I had an accident when I was four and lost my right eye. My aunt has told me that she knew something was terribly wrong when she got home from school and my grandfather was not at work. He worked the 3 to 11 shift his entire career. And he was crying. She said she never saw him cry except for that moment. It breaks my heart that my grandfather wept for me.

We named our second son James for my grandfather. After my husband died, Grandpa never failed to tell me how much he admired me, how strong and brave I was raising four children on my own. I didn’t feel strong and brave, but his words, his love were a gift.

As the years passed, my grandfather aged, but both my grandparents stayed strong and independent until their early 90’s, when they agreed to move in with my aunt. They were frail by that time and my grandfather, tall, handsome, so, so smart, was increasingly struggling with dementia.

Every time I visited him, he acted overjoyed to see me, even when he couldn’t pull up my name anymore. He would shake his head sadly and say “I’ve become terribly stupid.” I would hold his hand and simply say “You are not stupid, you’re just having a bad day.” He would perk up, but he knew the truth.

However, he was clever to the end. In the ER, several days before he died, the doctor was doing a quick mental status assessment. The president at the time was Bill Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal had been in full swing over the previous year. The doctor asked my elegant, die-hard Republican grandfather if he knew who the president was. Grandpa paused and pondered. He finally said slowly, “Well doctor, his name is eluding me at the moment. But I can tell you he is very disreputable fellow.” The doctor was delighted by his response. “There is nothing wrong with you, Mr. Bennett!” he sweetly said.

My grandfather’s fragile, loving, generous heart failed on April 29, 1999, just days after my grandparent’s 69 wedding anniversary.

I know my siblings and my cousins can all tell similar stories of his affection, caring and sense of fun. We were so, so lucky. I still miss him and think of him every day. He provided me with so much love, it sustains me still. Happy birthday, Grandpa. Till we meet again.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Day to Forget

Yikes, did I ever hate yesterday!!! Because it seems everyone in North America hated me.

Innocent little me.

For me, pride ALWAYS goeth before a fall. And do I learn &/or remember this? No, of course not.

I was inordinately proud of my little article on Dr. Kevin’s wonderful web site. So, naturally, every single commenter wiped the floor with me. Told me I should be ashamed of myself. Called me a bureaucrat. And thought worse, I am certain.

My Much Despised Article

Ow. I was just trying to be helpful.

Then, because I am an idiot, I did something else really dumb. I expressed my opinion in a comment on an article in our local paper’s website.

Now you have to know something about the majority of people who leave comments on this site. Rather than use words, I will just give you a visual.

Just add frothing at the mouth and you will have the complete picture.

There could be an article about rescuing a kitten from a tree and they would have horrible, terrifying things to say. So just imagine the reaction when I expressed my objection to capital punishment.

To say there was vitriol does not even begin to cover it. I am certain if they knew where to find me, I would have been subject to execution myself. And my little dog too.

For your reading pleasure, if you are really a glutton for punishment:

Asbury Park Press

I guess I don't have to tell you which one I am.

Only I could enrage both ends of the intelligence spectrum in one day.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Odds and Ends (more odds than ends)

Yes, I have changed my blog design yet again. I really thought the last layout was too busy and I actually…um…hated it. If you liked it, I hope I haven’t insulted you. But I think this is a lot cleaner and easier to read.

Back to the Dating Game

I discovered there was yet another element I never realized I had to specify: NO MARRIED MEN!!!

I had been chatting with a very nice guy. About the sixth message and he says “I want to be honest and tell you I’m married. But it is a sort of sexless marriage.”

Sort of sexless?!?! SORT OF?!?!

So I added an Addendum to my profile:

I never realized I was so picky before, but after about 70 contacts, I realize I have to add a few more specifics:

* No married men
* I do not like NASCAR in any way, shape or form
* No married men
* Please don't smoke
* No married men
* Please be younger than my father
* No married men
* You might have noticed I said I like books. I said I would like YOU to like books. The word 'book' is in my screen name. If you are not a big book person, we will have nothing in common.
* No married men
* I will not ask you for your picture. You can send it if you want, but who you are is more important. I will send mine after a few conversations if I think we are a good fit. If you ask for it before we've exchanged a single word, bub-bye.

After I added this, I received sheepish e-mails from THREE OTHER GUYS that had been corresponding with me admitting they too were married but being on a singles dating site was ok with their wives. However since I expressed that a relationship with a married man was OUT OF THE QUESTION they just wanted to say goodbye.

Gee whiz. That’s all I can say. And it takes a lot to render me speechless.


I have another article coming up in Dr. Kevin Pho’s blog. He calls it a blog, but it is really more like an online magazine. He does a great job presenting information that is timely and thought provoking, from all different perspectives, physicians, nurses, patients and other health care workers. When you have time, check him out,

In addition to editing this terrific site and speaking all over the country about social media as applied to health care, Dr. Pho is a general practitioner in New Hampshire. I asked him last week how he possibly managed it all. He laughed and said he didn’t sleep much. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he is like twelve.

More Writing

In approximately four hours it will be November 1 and I will again be part of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month (

The idea behind the project is to have a novel written by December 1. A 50,000 word novel. I have no ideas, characters, or plot. Last year I signed up and did not write a single word.

This ought to be interesting.

Sad and Pathetic

While writing this post, sitting in bed with my laptop, I dozed off. Eight thirty at night, and I can’t keep my eyes open. And while I dozed, I dreamt about…bobby pins. Nothing magical or mystical or interesting. I simply was looking for bobby pins and when I found them started to put my hair up.

I’m surprised I didn’t dream about something really exotic, like mopping the kitchen floor or scrubbing the toilet. Maybe that’s next! Ooooh, I can’t wait to get back to sleep.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Dating Game

I try to find things that are at least semi-interesting to write about and have not had any such thing in the past two weeks.

No Bruce.

No police.

Very mundane.

Except for one little thing.

My dear friend Christine did force me at gunpoint to join an online dating service. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a gun, as she does not own one. Maybe it was a carrot. Or just a wagging finger. At any rate I reluctantly acquiesced. I figured I would write a profile that would instantly turn people off with its snarkiness and my problem (wanting to be left alone until Prince Charming, fully self-actualized, miraculously appears at my door) would be solved.

So this is my profile:

Me: job, house, kids, dog, cats, grandson, books, knitting, writer. Oh, yeah, and MS.

You: job, kind, courteous, books, laughs at my jokes, has never been in prison or a mental hospital. Knitting is optional. Did I mention laughs at my jokes?

The result? I am up to my neck in men.

Who knew they had a sense of humor? Or maybe couldn’t read at all?

After receiving a few replies, I realized I had neglected to add a few crucial parameters besides prison and the looney bin. I know I am not exactly a prize. But at the risk of appearing to be a picky cow, this would be them:

• No one over 85. (Yes indeed, I did get an e-mail from an 86 year old gentleman in Queens, NY. I don’t think I would travel to Queens to date anyone, never mind a man that is THIRTY ONE YEARS OLDER THAN ME.)

• While we’re at it, no one within five years of my father’s age. Never mind, make that within ten years of my father’s age. Actually NO ONE ON MEDICARE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

• No one with a mullet and a goatee. Sorry fellas. It’s just too Ozarks for me.

• No one who repeats they are a NASCAR fan more than once in their profile. Like ten times in one case. Actually, no NASCAR fans.

• No one who is wearing a Confederate cap in their profile picture. Actually, no Civil War re-enactors. Especially one who is fighting on the wrong side.

• No one who has more words misspelled than spelled correctly. One typo is just, well, a typo, no biggie. “i would like to talk to an openminded woman who can figure how to get in touch with me ohay” is simply frightening. “Ohay”? Is he Buckwheat? Is it a mysterious dating code I am not familiar with? Do I want to work that hard at figuring it out?

• No one whose profile picture shows him posing with a Las Vegas showgirl in full regalia. Not that there is anything wrong with that per se. It just is a teensy clue we are not going to have a whole lot in common.

• No one who writes in their profile “No picture, no deal.” No problem. So shallow, no deal. Asshole.

What really amazes me are the responses I have received where these 50-something guys claim they boat, sail, canoe, kayak, fish, hunt, horseback ride, ski, snow-board, snorkel, scuba dive, water ski, jet ski, and Other. I do not even want to contemplate what other is.

My profile implies I love books, I am looking for someone who loves books, the word ‘book’ is in my screen name, yet not one of them cites reading or books as an interest.


But not all is lost. Regular readers of my blog will know about my house issues. So I have a date this afternoon.

With a carpenter. big grin Pictures, Images and Photos


Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To Wegmans

At 3:30 Friday afternoon (yesterday), I was almost done with my work day. We needed paper towels, I needed some air, so I pulled on my sneakers and…the next thing I knew I was in Giants Stadium thrilling to Bruce and the E Street Band, the last concert ever in that arena.

Shocked Smiley Pictures, Images and Photos

How that happen?!?!

Well, I’ll tell you.

First, to fully appreciate how unlikely this event was, you have to know about me and spontaneity. I don’t have any. I have to think and think and think and think about doing something before I actually…think some more about doing it. Hey, the unconsidered life is not worth living. I know better than Socrates? I think not.

I plan. And consider. And consider the plan. I consider what emergencies could happen. And I plan for them. I consider how much it will cost. And I plan for that. I consider what could go wrong. And I plan for that. (For those of you who are NOT neurotic obsessives, yes there IS a difference between emergencies and things going wrong. Sheesh, good thing we crackpot insightful ones have your backs!)

I plan when to leave. And then re-think it. Consider leaving earlier and those contingencies or leaving later and those ominous implications. I consider the route. I consider the schedule. I consider cramming something into every single second so we don’t waste any of the experience. Relax, just play it by ear, you say? I already can’t breathe just hearing those words.

So at 3:31 p.m. when Mary Kate and I had an opportunity to go to Bruce’s last Giant Stadium concert, occurring in a mere four hours, I froze with indecision. For ten seconds. Then I threw us into hyperdrive. Sent Mary Kate to get sandwiches and wine. Hopped in the shower. Finished notes I was writing for work. Didn’t even check the weather! We were on the road by 5:00 p.m.

Smiley family driving Pictures, Images and Photos

We were at the Meadowlands by 6:00. Tailgated in the parking lot. Looked at each other incredulously that we had done this on the spur of the moment, words that are not even in my vocabulary.

The one slight glitch was the tickets were for regular seats. I could not bring a wheelchair or the power chair. Fuck it! I went any way. Used a cane and really, really struggled. But the staff was great and helpful. They had go-carts to drive people who needed help to their destination. It was still SO hard to get up and down those stairs, but it was completely, hands down, without question, absolutely worth it.

Because it turned out that I was at the best concert I ever saw.

The seats were great. The weather was perfect. And Bruce was in rare form. Relaxed, funny, clowning around, nostalgic, and knocking himself out to please the audience.

We took pictures with abandon. Another departure for me. Every ticket says ‘No Cameras’. I went to Catholic school for 16 years. If there is one thing I do, it is follow the rules make sure I don’t get caught breaking the rules. Usually I take pictures surreptitiously, looking something like Maxwell Smart using his pen camera. Last night, we made no attempt to hide anything, getting pictures AND videos.

Everyone was in a great mood. The music was perfect. Max didn’t look as though he was going to go into cardiac arrest. And Patti was here. So good to see her.

Here is a slide show I put together of our pictures. And a clip of Bruce singing. He finished with Jersey Girl, the last song ever to be sung in that stadium. A fitting end.

Slideshow: A Great Concert

Jersey Girl

With the last notes, the rain began. And it was over.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Add a Splash of Indignation

Ok , before I respond to all you WONDERFUL commenters to my last post (I love you, I love you, I love you!!) I have to tell you I JUST got off the phone with Dr. Trepidation.

I wanted him to know I WOKE THE FUCK UP, but in the nicest way possible. So I had a cunning plan. For those of you who are not Blackadder fans, it was a clever ruse.

I called and sweetly, innocently asked what exactly did I have since I WOKE THE FUCK UP and don't want to WAKE THE FUCK UP when I am having the head of my humerus sawed off next week. He didn't bat an eyelash or say I'm sorry or really, that's awful or ANYTHING. He just sounded a little peevish and brusquely told me the meds he used for the light sedation. It was light alright, as in practically non-existent and I paid $250 to feel, and remember feeling, my tooth being ripped out of my head.

I am so frustrated I feel like crying. I am such a wuss for not confronting him and telling him that it was unacceptable, one of the most upsetting things that I ever experienced and I paid hundreds of dollars for something I didn’t get.

My daughter says I am being unreasonable, I’m never happy, I find something to complain about for everything and that he’s a busy dentist who doesn’t have time for babies like me.

Who, me? Photobucket

I feel like the total of $650 for 10 minutes was more than enough money to make time for a baby like me.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dentists and Other Strangers

How did I get this life? Could I have another one please? One where I am thinner, prettier and have better teeth?

With two weeks to go before my surgery, even though I've had months, my phobic self finally called the dentist to look at my broken tooth.

It was not pretty.

We’ll call him Dr. Alarm. For starters, I think he hated me. When he asked me when I broke the tooth, I lied and said a month ago because I was so mortified. He was concerned about my health history to an embarrassing extent. I felt as though I had one foot in the grave. I had suspected I had an infection, which he confirmed like this: "For someone like you, who is immunocompromised, walking around with an infection like that is the equivalent to holding a gun to your head." He was almost hysterical and said it was the utmost emergency and danger.

Don't you hate it when people mince words?

He also confirmed something else I suspected: the tooth could not be salvaged. He said it was such an emergency that he called an oral surgeon to see if they could get me in immediately. They could.

The oral surgeon, we’ll call him Dr. Trepidation, was very nice. But he was pretty grim too. Danger, death, danger, septicemia, danger, death, death, death. And some more death. With extra death on top.

Dr. T. offered to pull it right then and there. But I want to be O-U-T and there was no one to drive me home, so I rescheduled for the next day when Death and my daughter could come with me.

I was not looking forward to this experience but was being as stoic as possible, reminding myself it would be over soon and then I would have nothing to deal with except blood, swelling, severe pain and a missing tooth. You know, nothing too terrible.

And I was right. It was not as bad as I expected.

It was a thousand times worse.

I've been to oral surgeons before to have extractions and they have always worked out ok. I have gone to sleep and woken up when it was over.

But I started to feel misgivings when Dr. Trepidation stood on my right side and leaned over me at an angle to put the IV in my left arm. He gave a push of something and, clunk, out I went. AND WOKE UP TO HIM PULLING MY TOOTH OUT!! I was competely befuddled, so I was horrified to hear myself moan VERY loudly. Even being numb, it really, really hurt.

I didn't say anything before I left, mostly because my mouth was stuffed with gauze. But now (because I am a mental case), it just keeps running through my mind. The ferocious yank, my not unreasonable reaction, then oblivion again. When the damage had already been done, when I had experienced the very thing I had not wanted to.


At any rate it is over now and I had even more fun coming up that night.

In the middle of the night, Mary Kate came downstairs to say she had heard someone walking in the alley between my house and my neighbor’s. The path is made of stones and she could hear footsteps crunching in the rocks. We both listened for about ten minutes and, hearing nothing, went back to bed. Just as I was about to drift off, I heard the stones crunching and then my garden gate, which squeaks, was opened.

When I heard steps on the patio, I called the police. The dispatcher asked me if I wanted to speak to the officers when they came. I looked down at my pajamas and could feel my hair going in 6,000 directions and said "Oh, no that's ok." Five minutes later, the policeman is knocking at my door. Jesus, didn't he get the 'don't talk to' message?!?! I couldn't find my glasses, which meant I couldn't find my robe which meant I had to put a coat on to answer the door. Try to look nonchalant and credible when you are standing in your living room at 3 am in pajamas and a winter coat.

Is it my imagination or are cops just getting younger and cuter?!? Or am I simply a dirty old lady?

They never did find anyone, but they were very thorough. And I never did go back to sleep. I was the only one among my colleagues who started working that day at 4 a.m.

It could happen:


Update: Great news. My friend Joe finally had his surgery and is doing well. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, but keep them coming if you can, he’s not completely out of the woods yet.

Check out his blog here.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The concert last week was the best of his I have ever been to. Twenty nine songs over three and a half hours. The last concerts ever before they tear down Giants Stadium.

He looks awesome. Although Max looked like he was going to keel over any second. The Big Man is such a classic. And Little Steven just cracks me up with the faces he makes. They were in rare form and, except for poor Max, looked like they were having a blast.

I know we did in the audience (even though it was FREEZING!!).

During Dancing in the Dark, he pulled a lady up onto the stage. It wasn’t quite Courtney Cox, but she seemed like a good sport and Bruce danced and chatted with her for probably close to five minutes. And then gave her the sweetest kiss on the cheek.

We were on the floor, which was so much fun. They had a raised platform for people with assistive devices, so I didn’t get squashed like a bug.

Here are some piccies:


"Does this wheelchair make me look fat?"

The Main Event:

And here is a clip of the night itself that we were there, and the song Bruce wrote for for the end of an era:

(For e-mail readers: clip )

Thanks Bruce!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

As Time Goes By

Three day weekend for me because…it's coming up on my birthday! I have added some pictures of me, before I got old-ish. Although I still look almost exactly the same. Really. I do. Alright, maybe not exactly the same, but I still have a head, two arms and two legs. So there is a definite resemblance.

Yep, on Monday I turn fifty cough cough cough years old. And to think, I don’t feel a day over ninety! lol Or act a day over twelve. lol

My girls, two of my dearest friends and I are going to celebrate this weekend at my favorite restaurant, Moonstruck, in Asbury Park. Next weekend my son and daughter -in-law have invited me to their house for brunch. So it will be at least a week of birthday fun!

I love my birthday!


I seem to be heading into a stage of my life when things are cycling around again. Long term friends, fantastic people, who had drifted away through time and busy lives, have been put right in front of me. Almost like birthday presents. It makes me nostalgic for the time that is past.

Several dear friends have reconnected through the internet, including my two oldest friends from growing up in New York. It is a joy to have them part of my everyday life again and the power of this medium never ceases to amaze me.

One friend, S. (I haven’t asked her if I could print her name, so I want to respect her privacy) actually just lives around the corner from me. When I could still walk around the neighborhood, we would run into each other, stand there yakking for a half an hour, swear we had to get together…and then never did.

S. is an ebullient professor of languages, smart, kind, funny and simply a joy to spend time with. I have thought of her so often, remembering when we were both pregnant with our now 23 year old daughters. How we saw each other routinely at mother’s get-togethers. Most poignant of all is thinking about the wonderful times we spent with our mutual, beloved friend Sheila, who we lost to cancer a mind-boggling 18 years ago. It seems as though it was just hours ago we all were sitting together over tea, so much love there, and so much laughter.

Well, out of the blue S. called me two weeks ago. It was the loveliest surprise. We had lunch together on her screened in porch, right on the lake. It was blissful, as though that corridor of years between then and now had simply evaporated. She has been put back in my life for some unknown reason and I am so grateful. I don’t even want to contemplate why. I just want to be thankful for the fact of it.

I have another friend I have not seen in many years. L. was one of the closest people I ever had in my life. We were movie partners, walking partners, laughing partners. Our families were practically blended. But through one thing or another we fell out of touch. For more than ten years.

At the supermarket the other day, Mary Kate and I were making one last pass through, remembered we needed canned cat food. There was a couple standing in front of the display and I was trying to look past them to get the best buy, when it registered. It was L. and her husband. It is remarkable to me that we live so close, yet this was the first time I ran into her. We hugged and she said the most beautiful thing: “I think of you every day.” I am so humbled by that. Who am I to be so important to someone that they think of me every day?

They had to run. They were taking care of a sick friend. They are always taking care of a sick friend. Taking care of people is a lifestyle for them. But we promised we’d call. And I will. Because, again, I believe L. was literally put in front of me for some reason. One of us must need the other. Or maybe we both need each other. Or perhaps the universe just wants us to laugh together again.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Week That Could Have Been Worse

Because I had a crappy week, I almost did a whole Kafka thing to start this post, about waking up to discover I was a bug, blah, blah blah.

But I realized, as this is my life, I am certain to have even worse weeks in the future, like getting arrested or something. Oh wait, that’s already happened too (I’ll tell you another time). So I’ll save The Metamorphisis for then. It was a tad melodramatic. A giant cockroach. ha ha ha ha Sigh.

This week it felt like everything I touched either broke, got dropped or went wrong. But don't worry. I'll have so much fun writing about it I will end up not minding a bit. :)

My work week, under pressure for hundreds of deliverables, was almost a total wash because I couldn’t access the remote system to my office for three days. Tick, tick, tick….I will probably be working all weekend to make up the work.

Tysabri infusion totally knocked me off my pins this month. I slept for 14 hours straight afterwards.


Car wreck and insurance issues. Grrrrrr!!!!

Gas company issues. Grrrrrrrr!!!

Mortgage payment issues. Grrrrrrrrr!!!! Although this one was mildly amusing. Two calls received from the mortgage company. That’s odd. I check online bill pay. Yep, mortgage is paid. I call to check on the problem. I tap in my account number as asked by the automatic system and a sweet little recording tells me everything I already know, how much I paid and when I paid it. And an arrears of $7000. I literally dropped the phone. I started pressing ‘O’ like mad to get a human being. And I got ‘John’.

John had a definite accent, but I couldn’t place it. I started blabbering .

Me: $7000! BLAAAH!!!! $7000! BLAAH!!!! $7000?!?!?!
John: Oh well, thank you Mrs. Cooper, I will ask you to please not worry about that.
John: No, thank you Mrs. Cooper, this is nothing to worry about.
Me: BLAAH!!!
John: No, really thank you Mrs. Cooper, this is not a problem. This was a mistake in the recording.
John: Well yes, thank you Mrs. Cooper, I can understand your anxiety about this unfortunate situation, however this is an error which you are not to be concerned about.
Me: Blah?
John: Yes, thank Mrs. Cooper, this was a mistake.
Me: blah?
John: Yes, so thank you, I offer my apologies for the nervousness you experienced.

And at that point I was almost coherent again.

John: However, thank you Mrs. Cooper…


Poor John was experiencing more anxiety and nervousness than I was.

John: …thank you, I am so sorry to tell you this and there is no reason to be upset however there is a $4.02 discrepancy in the statement we sent you and the actual amount that is owed. So we can accept an electronic payment for this $4.02 and as a courtesy we will waive the usual $12.50 fee.
Me: $12BLAAAH50?!?!
John: Oh no!! No! Thank you Mrs. Cooper it is waived, waived, it will not be charged to you.
Me: blah?

It took ten minutes of repetition before he got all my bank numbers because of a very subtle language barrier. Finally I said:

Me: So John, where are you located?
John: Ah Mrs. Cooper, thank you for asking that. Our corporate office is in Iowa.
Me: But you’re not in Iowa, John, are you?
John: Ah, thank you Mrs. Cooper…heh, heh… he laughed nervously…thank you, but we are not authorized to disclose that information.
Me: But it is not Iowa, is it? Or even the United States? Or even this continent, is it?
John: heh heh Thank you Mrs. Cooper, I am sorry, but thank you we are not permitted to disclose that information. heh heh
Me: Ok, well, thank you John
John: Oh, thank you Mrs. Cooper. Have I satisfactorily resolved all of you issues?
Me: Yes, thank you John.

Except for where in the world is GMAC Customer Service. Hmmmm.


It wasn’t an entirely sucky week, as I did have an appointment with Dr. Wonderful. Except I had meant to change it but forgot and remembered, while I was in the shower, 45 minutes before I was due there.

I couldn’t not go now.

As if I'd miss an opportunity to get more narcotics. Um, I mean as if I’d miss an opportunity to scope out his adorable self.

So I desperately raced to get ready and burst out the door, ten minutes late, with wet hair and panting like a dog. So off I trotted.

He looked wonderful, as usual. Treated me so nicely, as usual. Listened and totally got it about my pain as usual. And then proposed another surgery. As usual? Oy.

He is recommending a partial shoulder replacement to relieve the pain. So as I am writing this, I am watching a shoulder replacement surgery online on OR Live. So far my favorite parts have been the mallet, the drill and the buckets of blood being sucked out of the gaping wound.

Because I am shallow and immature, my true absolutely favorite part was the huge expanse of bare skin showing on the male patient exactly where my breast would be. Call me crazy, but I just don’t feel like having my boob hanging out in front of a bunch of strangers for several hours. Who knows what kind of bad habits it could pick up? hee hee That was just a little boob joke.

But honestly, would you want any of your naughty bits on display for everyone? While you weren’t even awake to hold it up or make excuses for it? Sigh.

So that was my week. In a tribute to Dr. W. I was going to treat you to the bloody, hammering, drilling shoulder video, but I decided to go in a different direction. No blood, lots of beard. lol

For e-mail readers:

Is it me or does that audience look kind of…anemic? Who doesn’t rock to ZZ Top?


An update on Joe: still waiting for his surgery due to complications. I was very sympathetic. I said:

Oh for fuck sake!!!! This is ridiculous. Are they waiting for you to
die of old age so they don't have to operate at all?!?!

It is ruining my Angel of Mercy timetable because I have to have another surgery too, so I have limited time where I can stand by your bedside wringing my hands and looking like Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary's.

I was really looking forward to that too. :( They are spoiling everything.

An update on the Behemoth: I love it!!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

A nice relaxing weekend after a super stressful work week.

My friend Joe’s surgery was postponed, hard on him and his family on one hand, but a good opportunity for him to gain some strength over these three days.

The Behemoth and I are getting along.

My parent's celebrated their 56 wedding anniversary on Saturday. They were married on September 5, 1953 at St. Elizabeth's Church in Washington Heights, Manhattan. I came along the following September :).

Our local paper on line has a web site for moms. They had two ‘Caption This’ contests this weekend. I LOVE Caption This contests. How often are you actually encouraged to be a total wise ass. Although none of those other sweet moms even approached my level of wise-assness.

My suggested captions :

"When Mary's mother saw The Face for the 50th time that day, it helpfully reminded her she had to stop at the liquor store on the way home."


"You're just making it up that you're not really my mother!!!"


"You ARE NOT putting me up for adoption!"

The other picture is dead scary:

There's only one possible caption for this picture!

"It was at that moment that little Stephen King first conceived a rudimentary plot for "It" in his head. Along with sundry other murderous thoughts."

I went to our last beach Mass of the season last night. Such a delight. I am so grateful to live at the ocean. And I saw several friends that I have really missed.

I made banana strawberry scones for breakfast this morning and wished I could have shared them with so many of you.

I have so many fantastic, loving, funny and smart blogging friends I wish I could enjoy a cup of tea with in person!

This will be another overdrive work week. I have to reschedule an appointment with Dr. Wonderful because I just can’t take the time. I am not sure what to even ask him anymore. My right arm is essentially useless. The pain is constant. PT makes the pain worse and when the pain gets worse the MS gets worse. It is hard to believe this is the best it will ever get. But if it is, I want to know it and move on.

I have my monthly Tysabri infusion this week too. Can’t reschedule that.

Finally, here is my sweet, constant companion, Isabella.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!


Friday, September 4, 2009

An Extraordinary Crotchety Character

There are a lot of characters in the blogging world, which makes it a little scary but mostly fun. So many fascinating people, funny and smart. Warm and thoughtful. Friends all over the world you would never know if it wasn't for your blog.

There aren’t many that are as big a character as my good friend Crotchety Old Man. Crotchety is cranky, natch, politically incorrect, can be vulgar, hates Bruce Springsteen and makes fun of LOL Cats (which is the funniest thing in the universe, helllllo!!!). And he tells fart jokes. All this takes place on his blog, Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars.

If you read his blog you will discover all the above. You will also discover he can be hilarious. He is indefatigable, until recently writing a post every single day. He holds a weekly ‘Caption This’ contest, posting an outrageous photo to which dozens of people offer uproarious captions. He was voted “Humor Blogger of the Year” last year. Crotchety has a long-suffering wife who is the gracious butt of much humor. Example: He treated her to an ergonomic snow shovel by way of a thoughtful gift. Hey, he was concerned about her back.

Reading his blog further you discover more about Crotchety, also known as Joe. He writes three other blogs. “The Joy of Toast.” Esoteric, yes, but toast is good. “Yankee Fans Forever.” Pretty self explanatory and fun. Then there is “Diabetes Destroys.” And at this you discover that Crotchety has been suffering with this insidious disease for a long time. Reading “Yells at Cars” you would never would have known it, but our guy is very sick indeed.

When I first realized it, I was humbled by his matter-of-factness. There is no self pity, no whining. Just getting on with it. I had been carrying on about my own chronic illness, because of course I am the only person in the world with one, and I saw Joe’s other blog. I e-mailed him and told him how sorry and embarrassed I was that I had been so self-centered. Relax, he said, it’s all good.

As this past year has gone on, there was no way to prevent his illness from slipping into “Yells at Cars”, because he was simply so sick. But he kept going. To the extent that when he had to call 911 to get him to the hospital, he posted first to let us all know. And ended up making a funny story out of it.

So all this is pretty cool all by itself. Such a testament to a strong spirit and a loving, if exasperated, wife. But more than anything this is a great story because of the huge heart this Crotchety Old Man tries to hide from the world.

I have really struggled over the past few years since being diagnosed with MS. It drags me down and I go into hibernation mode. Joe, who I have never met, seems to have a sixth sense when I am in a bad place. If I was out of commission for too long I always got an e-mail or a note on my blog. Just a few words. Never anything sappy or sentimental. All the more moving for its simplicity. “You ok?” “What’s going on kiddo?” “Get back to writing soon” and, always, “Glad to see you back”. His down-to-earth concern was so touching, it never failed to get me moving again, even if just in baby steps.

As I write this, Joe is gravely ill with renal failure. He is facing a serious surgery tonight, dangerous for someone as sick as he is. I called him last night and he really was too weak to talk much, which made my heart hurt. So the marvelous Mrs. C. got on the phone and within seconds we were gibbering away as if we had know each other our whole lives. And what do you know, she’s a Springsteen fan!!! I think that caused Joe to roll over in his hospital bed.

So I am praying for Joe, Mrs. C and their children tonight. That Joe will get through the surgery safely. That his suffering will be eased. That he will get the best care possible from his providers. And that his family will feel peace and confidence as they wait.

Check out Joe’s blog, Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars, and please send good, healing thoughts his way that he will be back making us laugh before we know it.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Long HOT Summer

Phew! That was a drawn out break. It was a loooonnnngggg month.

It is so good to be back here writing. My summer was miserable, as the heat really exacerbated my MS and all the other obnoxious complications I’ve had since my surgery in May. I don’t want to completely bore you, so here it is the abridged version in 100 words or less:

Hot. Ow. Pain. MS. Sweat. Working. Hot again. Resting. More sweat. Ugh. Ow. Ow ow ow. MS. Pain. Working. Groan. Resting. Hot. Ow. OWWWW. Hot again?!?! Working. Hot. Ow ow ow. Can’t sleep. Resting. Whimper. Working. It hurts, it hurts. Cry. Working. Resting. Swollen legs. Cellulitis. Useless arm. MS. Hot. Short of breath. Hot. Weak. Hot. In such pain. Hot. Sweating. Hot. Working. Resting. Dizzy. Hot. Oh my goodness…is that a cool breeze…?

And it was! It has been so cool for the past few days that I am positively giddy with relief. I feel SO much better.

I hate the summer. :(


Uh oh, accident!

While I snoozed from a snootful of Benadryl one afternoon, getting my IV MS medicine at the oncologist’s office, a car was plummeting south on Route 35, not paying a bit of attention to what was in front of him. By the time he saw the light was red it was too late to stop in the pouring rain. Therefore, at about 35 miles an hour, practically standing on the brakes, he plowed into the back of my little silver Mazda with my daughter at the wheel. She was pushed into the intersection, where thankfully no one was coming. She was shaken but otherwise fine.

However, my car was wrecked. boo hoo hoo So I had to get a car. I was not prepared to get a car. The little nest egg that I had just accumulated suddenly became the only thing between me and walking everywhere. Which I can’t do any way.

A new car was out of the question for now. Ugh, but are there many worse things than buying a used car?!?! Especially when you aren’t ready to and the only money you have is considered a laughable pittance in the car world.

The first few days I couldn't even think about buying a car. Literally. Couldn't even wrap my brain around it. But by the fourth day I just gritted my teeth, rented a car and went on the hunt.

You would be amazed at the number of little old ladies and men there are out there who are turning in cars they only drove to church on Sunday. I kid you not. However, based on the mileage, the churches were apparently in Argentina.

One car I looked at appeared to have taken part in the demolition derby, with gouges, cracks and dents in the body and ripped, filthy carpet inside. I looked at it wordlessly. The salesman gave me a big grin and said “Doesn’t it look great?!?”

I opened the back door of one promising vehicle to discover a cascade of what appeared to be blood dried onto the inside. I asked the salesman if he had ever seen “Pulp Fiction”. He chuckled nervously and stuttered “Uh, heh heh, that’s not blood.” Bub-bye.

Finally I found a clean SUV, in a retirement community. It looked good, sounded good, none of the wrong lights were on, everything appears to work and when I asked if I could think about it over night, the owner knocked a few hundred dollars off the price. Sold! The only problem is, I am terrified of my new car.

I got an SUV so my wheelchair will be able to fit in the back. Going from a little Mazda to an SUV is culture shock. The gas pedal is more sensitive than my old car, so I lurch and heave down the street. I feel as though I am driving a tractor trailer.

I know I will get used to it and I am grateful to have it. Some friends have suggested naming the car. I think that is an excellent idea.

So here it is, the Behemoth XL. lol Together, we will take over the world.



No, your eyes do not deceive you. I once again have redecorated my blog space, this time to go with the season. I know, I know, it is very girly. But hey, I AM a girl after all! Sheesh. You should have seen what I put together first. You would have been puking up flowers for a year. (Here is the link for those of you who get my posts in e-mail: )



I hope all you amazing, generous people are all well and happy!!! I did have some lovely moments in my summer despite feeling so sick. I am lucky to have wonderful friends. So many of them over these weeks took the time to send me a card or come by or invite me over. I truly treasured every second with each of them.

The affection and concern I received really made me think. Over the next few weeks, I am going to write about some of the remarkable people who have touched my life in many fabulous ways. They are quietly good and they deserve for the world to know about them and what a difference they have made for me and many others.

That’s it! Glad to be back!