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!