Sunday, February 28, 2010

Muddy Waters

I live in a wonderful old house, built approximately in 1930.

Everyone loves it, it is charming and rambling and sunny and welcoming. I adore it, every unique, Craftsman architectural detail. But holy mackerel, is it ever a lot of work. Eighty year old things just are constantly breaking, falling off, falling down or simply sagging. But I figure it just goes with owning an older home.

For example, about once a year I have to have roots snaked out of my sewer line. I feel as though it is a small place to pay for my gorgeous maple, but it is a pain.

In January I used a new plumbing company we’ll call the Incompetent Wankers. The Incompetent Wanker who did the job January 27 left a receipt stating he had pulled out “a lot of roots” (so articulate) and added the promising note “30 day warranty”.

I love a Wanker who can stand behind his work.

However they also charged twice as much as I had ever paid, so I decided not to use them again.

At any rate, four days ago water began to accumulate in my basement. What do I know about plumbing? I assumed my sump pump was broken. The water rose and rose. I called several plumbers who said it sounded like too big a job for them. My friend Peter came over to assess the situation. By now there was a foot of water and my boiler and hot water heater were out.

He found that the sewer pipe that had been snaked just three weeks earlier was completely, totally blocked. And, he added, it was absolutely because the job had not been done properly. He (a repairman) said he would do it, but I had paid them so much money and it was their responsibility, they really needed to come and fix everything.

I called the Incompetent Wankers and they, with ill grace, sent out someone to snake it out again. Sure enough, once that was done the water was gone over night, leaving God awful mess. But I was still without heat because there had been too much water for anyone to repair the boiler before.

I had hunkered down by my fireplace, just putting on log after log to keep warm. Barely warm. There was a blizzard roaring outside.

Friday morning, with the water gone, I called the Incompetent Wankers to come relight my boiler. They sent two guys who walked in my house with a major attitude and it was all downhill after that.

I was, as I always am, nice when they arrived. One of these guys had been the one snaking the pipe the night before and he had to wade through the foot of icy sewer water (although why a plumber answering a call to a flooded basement didn't have waders on I will never know). While he was down there I was standing at the top of the stairs wringing my hands in absolute agony for him. I offered him tea, towels, clean things to change into (which I didn't have but I would have crossed that bridge when I came to it). He knew I was a nice normal person and he acted like one too.

But once his fellow goon got started on Friday, he joined right in. You know, I think that was one of the most upsetting parts of the whole experience.

The other guy started by accusing me of neglecting my sewer system and stated the flood was my fault. He was actually yelling at me. Now I am 5’3” tall, I’m a widow who lives by myself and I have Multiple Sclerosis, so I walk with a cane or walker. I’m not a threatening person. This guy was so unbelievably rude I finally said to him “Don’t you dare speak to me like that.” His response? “Fuck you lady. You want us to fix your boiler then don’t you talk to ME like that.”

Remember I said it was all downhill after that? Well now it sped downhill faster than an Olympic skier.

“Get out you! Just get out. Your co-worker can do the work but I want you out of my house!”

He laughed in my face. “$199 to fix the furnace.” I said “Absolutely not, you people caused this damage and I am not paying you anything.” “Ok, we’re outta here.” He declared, punctuating his statement with “You crazy bitch.”  (An aside: It has occurred to me that I should have kept my mouth shut, let them fix it and then just put a stop payment on the check and advise them why.  But then I wouldn't have had the rest of this entertaining post!!)

By this time I actually had chest pain and was weeping. I was SO cold!!!  They slammed the storm door as they left and I absolutely snapped. I raced (yes folks, raced, me who can barely walk; it is amazing what adrenaline can do) ahead of them in the snow wearing no coat and with nothing but slippers on my feet.  Well, I had clothes on too.  But there was no way I was going to let them go without fixing my boiler.

So…I planted myself in front of their truck and said, through hiccupping sobs, I wasn’t budging until my boiler was fixed.

Crazy bitch? They had no idea what a crazy bitch even was until they pushed me over the edge.

They called the owner on their phones. I called the owner on my phone. Now I have to interject these people have trucks with huge smiley faces on them. Their motto is “Same day service with a smile”. When I spoke with the owner I anticipated some level of customer service.

His response to me: he called me crazy too. And an ‘abnormal person’. OK, granted, I was sitting on the bumper of one of his trucks crying hysterically. I called my son and he raced over. He was conciliatory, trying to work things out, but they gave him the same attitude. They threatened to call the police. I offered to call for them. The owner on the phone, his voice dripping with venom, said “I am going to report you to the health department for unsafe living conditions [that they had caused]. With my connections I am going to fix it so you will be paying fines until you are 100 years old.” I was speechless.

I knew I couldn’t bear being cold for one more minute. I also knew I would not be able to find another plumber that day with the snowstorm. So I folded. I said “Whatever, I’ll pay, just fix my boiler.” But now they said I had to pay cash. And it would be $600. Six hundred dollars in cash. Which I didn’t have.

They had won. I got off the truck and leaned against my fence, crying in the snow. My son once again tried to reason with them, but the Incompetent Wankers took off, driving so fast they fishtailed as they rounded the corner.

My wonderful son put his arms around me and I just cried and cried. Because on top of everything, I was laid off on Thursday. This was all too much.

My phone rang at that point and it was my friend Peter again. I told him what had happened. He said he would be over in ten minutes and he would fix my boiler.

And he did. With a part the cost less than $50.

For a giggle, in honor of my son’s bravery and support:

E-mail readers:

And Now I’m Unemployed

I know that organizations are simply panting to hire 55 year old women with Multiple Sclerosis, so I’m sure I will be fine. I base that on the fact the last time I was laid off I was out of work for ten months and almost lost my house and my mind. I’m really looking forward to reliving that experience.

I am trying to not be negative. For example, I still have gas, so I can always stick my head in the oven. See, the power of positive thinking. Massive quantities of vodka and xanax are also extremely comforting.

My friends have rallied around me in a way that truly humbles me. They are absolutely holding me up at a time I cannot do so myself. Through these nightmarish few days my phone has not stopped ringing with offers of moral support and places to stay until I had heat again. My Facebook page has been inundated with messages of encouragement and prayers. My friend Jane (The Witty Ways of A Wayward Wife) actually called me from England to see if I was alright.

I can only ask God to bless them all for their compassion and love.

But I have to warn them not to get too close. I think God hates me and I don’t want them to catch any of His wrath.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

And Around and Around and Around and Around….

Despite three surgeries, including, ultimately, a replacement, my shoulder has caused me unceasing, breathtaking pain since I fell, in March of 2008.

My orthopedic surgeon, my neurologist and my physical therapist have all been caring, supportive, and have offered as many potential solutions as they could. The pain management specialist was a Useless Wanker, but you already knew that. The steroids helped for a blissful few weeks, but the pain is creeping back.

We are all pretty much at the end of our ropes with frustration (except for the Useless Wanker, who didn't give a rat's ass). But now there is no consensus on what is causing the pain, which should have been relieved by the replacement.

The orthopedist says it is neurological. Go to the pain management specialist.

The pain management specialist (Useless Wanker!) says it is neurological. Go to the neurologist.

The neurologist says it is orthopedic. Go to the orthopedist.

I am going in circles.


(And mind that you don't cross me or you'll end up in my blog as a Useless Wanker. lol)


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nourish Turns Two

What a ride it has been!!

I started Nourish with the idea of creating a support group for losing weight.

Instead, I have gained an additional 50 pounds. Maybe I should have started a support group to gain weight.

I was soooo earnest and serious when I started out. My son was getting married in a few months and I was going to the gym almost every day. I was swimming, blissfully. I could backstroke in laps for an hour without pause, gliding through the water, meditating and praying as I went. It felt so good.

Then came…The Fall.

Breaking my shoulder has been a life altering event in so many ways. But I have to say one good thing about it was how that experience changed the direction of my blog.

Writing about it was cathartic, but more than that it began to engage me with my readers in a whole new way. I became more personal, more irreverent and, I believe, more fun. I met people through my writing who related, who sympathized or who simply enjoyed my wacky stories. Some of these people have become dear friends. Meeting people with every new post has been a delight. It is such a thrill to hear from people and know you have touched them in some way.

The writing itself has been pure joy. Sure there are times I am dry as a bone, don’t have an original thought in my head, never mind an amusing one, and I feel like an utter failure. Struggling with depression, the Celtic Curse, can take away language for weeks. But when I can get started on something and it keeps going, and it gets funnier, or more poignant, and I know it is working, that my words will move someone, nothing in the world is better.

I have written my whole life, knew that was what I was supposed to do, that was my skill and my calling, but I made excuse after excuse not to pursue it. It’s not practical. I could never make a living. I’m not good enough. I am too busy raising my family and then, supporting my family. I believe I put all these obstacles in my way because deep down I felt I did not deserve to be what I was born to be.

Two years ago I wrote:

We are all struggling with issues of health or weight or self-image. This is the place to share successes and defeats, struggles and triumphs, even little ones. Share ideas, tips, be cheerleaders for each other.

That is exactly what has occurred here. Although I originally had a different objective, the friendships, the insights, the love I have received from writing this blog have ultimately been so true to the title. My heart and spirit have been nourished by you all.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This is My Blog on Drugs

Anyone reading my post yesterday I’m sure came away with raised eyebrows and perhaps scratching their heads, especially regular readers.

It is quite possibly the most embarrassing mess of typos I ever produced and I put it out on the Internet for the entire world to see.

I was sick over the weekend and something as simple as having a virus caused MS to come galloping back with a vengeance. I wasn’t even going to mention it here in the blog because it is simply too tiresome. However, the medications I take for all the different symptoms can, how should I put it? Hmmmm. I know… render me addled and illiterate. And that is just what occurred.

There was scary grammar and frightening (or absent) punctuation. There were misspelled words and sentences that made no sense. It was…pretty bad.

I was able to edit the blog post on line, but the e-mail version is forever. So I apologize to those of you that I left shaking your heads in horrified disbelief (hee hee, I love hyperbole). Next time I will be more careful with my editing. As in, I will actually do some.

But vote here for Wheelchair Kamikaze anyway!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Blog Awards

Robert Wilensky is a distinguished professor of subjects so complicated I have no idea how to even describe them. At any rate, he is well known for the quote, "We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."

We have all seen unreadable schlock out there. But what blows me away is the fact that if you wade through the bad, you will find absolute gems.

One such gem is my friend Marc’s blog Wheelchair Kamikaze. Marc is funny, erudite and a visual artist, as demonstrated by his photography. Marc also has Primary Progressive MS, which has worn him down physically and emotionally. PPMS is a more debilitating and more advanced stage of MS. Through all his challenges, he’s a mensch and I just love him and his wonderful, wonderful wife.

I would strongly urge you to take a peek at Marc’s blog for sheer pleasure. He is witty and poignant and some of his Wheelchair Kamikaze death-defying films are hilarious.

Marc’s blog has also been nominated for an award as the Best Patient Weblog of 2009, sponsored by This award is prestigious and an honor, so I would love to see him win. He deserves it for the general excellence of his blog content, the writing, photography and films.

Voting can be done at this link:


If you scroll down you will find the category.

All the nominated weblogs look great, but I do have a few personal favorites.

The Blog That at Manhattan by Dr. Peggy is a fun site that combines both wry and serious observations about food, life in New York City and the practice of medicine. Her recipes are amazing. And, through her posts and comments, she strikes me to be a great doctor.

Musings of a Distractible Mind is a great blog I recently discovered. The author, Dr. Rob, is very, very funny. But he can be serious as well and provides a wealth of information about working with your doctor. I love Dr. Rob! He picked my blog post as his favorite in a recent Grand Rounds. What could be not to love? Sigh.

Unfortunately, Dr. Peggy and Dr. Rob are positioned against each other in the category of Best Medical Weblog. I don’t know how people can decide. They are both awesome.

And finally there is the gentle and sometimes harrowing blog of an Emergency Room physician. His words positively glow off the page when he talks about his family, especially his late mother. It is beautiful. He is also a compassionate physician who displays nothing but respect for his patients, even the most difficult ones. I know he would be thrilled to find StorytellERdoc (he is under best Literary Medical Weblog.) a winner.

Thanks if you vote and thanks any way if you even think about voting. The polls are open until February 14. You don’t have to go anywhere, you can vote right in your pj’s at your computer.

I want to say may the best blog win, but since they are all great that is just too hard. But DO vote for Wheelchair Kamikaze if you can, because he is my dear friend and a brilliant thinker.


Friday, February 5, 2010


I owe my readers an apology. It seems I have been inadvertently scaring the pants off of people, or just plain irritating them, by blasting Bruce Springsteen singing Born to Run.

When we went to his last concert in October, I did this fun slide show of our pictures, backed it up with Born to Run and posted it. I loved watching it, because I relived what a blast that night was each time.

Unfortunately, for many people, the music bursts out with no warning within a few seconds of pulling up my blog. SO obnoxious!!! It was supposed to only play if you clicked on it. My friend Christine told me it scared the bejesus out of her every time she went on. But I didn’t believe her. I mean I thought it was just a quirk in her computer.

Then I received a lovely, complimentary e-mail from a reader. At the end she graciously asks if she could adjust the music I have behind my blog.

But I don’t have any music behind my…uh oh.

So I apologize for being a blogger with bad manners, even though it wasn’t intended. I changed the slideshow into a link, so that should solve the problem (although it really is worth watching). Thanks for sticking with me even though I innocently broke the rules and annoyed the hell out of you.

Even Bruce agrees.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grand Rounds

Grand Rounds is a weekly compilation of the best medical blogs. It is hosted by a different person each week, and they usually organize the submissions into some kind of theme. It is read by thousands of healthcare professionals and patients across the country.

This week’s Grand Rounds is hosted by the irrepressible Dr. Rob, a primary care physician, who writes Musings of a Distractible Mind. His blog reveals him to be a compassionate, funny doctor who takes his work very seriously.

Now Grand Rounds are hardly what you would call dour, but they usually are pretty staid. Enter Dr. Rob, on Groundhog’s Day, and you have one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. And that is not sucking up. Because Dr. Rob already chose my blog post about Jacqueline du Pré as his favorite for this week!!!!!! AAAGGGHHH!!!!!

He likes me. He really likes me.

I am completely flattered and totally blown away. What means the most to me is that here is a doctor who gets it. He has empathy for his patient’s pain. What a gift that is.

I asked him to marry me, but I haven’t heard back yet.

So, thanks Dr.Rob!

Here is this week's Grand Rounds. There is some wonderful reading there:

Musings of a Distractible Mind


Monday, February 1, 2010

Kate McGarrigle

I know it's been a few weeks, but I am sitting here listening to the McGarrigle's and just feeling so sad at her loss. And feeling so bad for her family. Rufus posted beautiful things about his mother on his website. It made me cry.

I actually think her memorial service is today.

I have loved the McGarrigle Sisters since I first heard them in 1975, when I was 21. Kate's death makes me feel so old and mortal, instead of the way I felt at 21, invincible, with thousands of years ahead of me.

For e-mail readers: