Posts tagged ‘human interest’

Susi’s Mexican Adventure – Day Two

SMA Rental CourtyardI awake at 5:00 a.m. to the sound distant fireworks and the neighbor’s barking dogs, after eight mostly-uninterrupted hours of replenishing sleep. We loll around a bit, then sit in our sunny courtyard drinking tea as Jack breakfasts on amaranth cookies and oaxaca, the Mexican string cheese, from the corner Oxo store – a sort of south of the border 7-11.

At 11:00, as the temperature climbs to 90˚, we head out for Centro, the downtown district. We’ve been invited to noon brunch by former Minnesota residents we connected with through a mutual acquaintance back home. A chance to ask all the questions I’ve been jotting down over the past few months and get a feel for what they love about this place.

This should be a 20 minute brisk walk, but steep pathways make it tough on Jack’s unaccustomed legs. With frequent rest stops as I march ahead to scout things out, we finally reach the main town square 45 minutes later. Here, the streets are often not labeled; the residences and shops are often not numbered. We ask four different people for help and get four different sets of directions, eventually wandering onto the right block of conjoined structures.

At 12:03, we knock on what we deduce must be the door we are looking for. Success! This is a home different from any I have ever entered. Darker than I expected, in spite of the multiple courtyards; smaller rooms than I expected, because of the multiple courtyards. More of that closed-off feeling that results from the outdoor areas being surrounded by house walls or solid fences.

Our hostess serves a delicious ham and egg, cheese, and vegetable casserole, warm from the oven. And the fruit. Makes a person misty-eyed, senses awakened to the honeyed juices of uber-fresh, perfectly ripened local pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, raspberries.

I pull out my list of questions, some already answered by the five American ex-pats assembled around the table with us: Medicare doesn’t work here, but health care is incredibly inexpensive; utility costs are high, but usage is very low; mail service is utterly unreliable and telephone service only slightly more dependable.

And the deal-breaker question for me: Bullfighting. Repulsed by the thought of living in a country whose national pastime involves animal torture, but also knowing the flaws in my own culture, I might consider sequestering myself in an enclave that has rejected this inhumane practice. Does San Miguel have, as I had heard, a moratorium on bullfighting? No; they do not, our hostess explains with casual lack of concern. The arena is just at the edge of the city. My heart drops, thud, into the pit of my belly. Acid creeps over my tongue. I pop another cube of succulent cantaloupe into my mouth, but the bitter taste remains.

And stray animals. We have seen several malnourished dogs wandering the streets already. Now our hostess introduces us to the two cats they rescued after someone had dumped a litter of kittens, in a bag, in the street. I may forfeit my lovely lunch right here and now. I know this stuff happens, to some extent, everywhere. But there are usually organized efforts to fight it; not so, it seems, in San Miguel de Allende.

In spite of liberal sunscreen application, my neck is burned a sunset pink by the time we’ve made our way to daughter-in-law Esther’s house late afternoon, a stop on our way out to her brother’s ranch for a cookout this evening. Wrong shoes, meandering routes, blistered feet.

Esther’s family compound, a multi-level series of flat-roofed, concrete buildings left to her and her siblings by her parents, begins curbside and extends five-or-six residences deep, one rectangle after another of grey slab walls, floors, ceilings.

We sip cautiously at the tap water offered to us by her brother and his wife, meet numerous children, cousins, friends, and neighbors who move in and out of the area as we walk and talk, discussing possible improvements Esther plans to make to her place.

Eventually, her brother’s pickup truck sputters up curbside to collect us – two in the forward cab; Jack and me, facing each other, in pop-up seats behind the driver; and six or seven people piled into the open bed of the truck. It’s okay, stepson Jason assures me. We do it all the time here.

Still, I am closing my eyes. Nudge me when we get there. But this is too noisy and bumpy a ride to nap through, as the truck rattles and gasps its way, mostly empty milk and juice bottles discharging from under the seats like flipper-powered pinballs in an arcade game at every corner. A spider web windshield crack partially obscures the driver’s line of sight and a piece of transported furniture blocks our view of the truck bed behind us, but the crew in back is having a raucous good time. Closing my eyes again.

The “ranch” is a cactus farm. Today the small concrete-walled, one-room main building holds a dozen females aged six to eighty-six. Smiling, laughing. Slapping out homemade tortillas in quick succession on a huge homemade metal cooking oval over a butane-fueled cook stove. No English here, but many handshakes and warm greetings. More laughter, as we try to mentally register all the new names and faces. Once we leave the building we do not see the “cooks” again.

There is another small unattached concrete building housing a toilet, with a water spigot outside to accommodate hygiene. Esther’s brother leaves to go pick up a second load of attendees, but soon her cell phone rings. He has not made it back to his house before the truck breaks down. The second group will not be coming.

Carne asada on the grill. Roasted nopales cactus leaves and giant spring onions. Warm homemade tortillas. Charred corn on the cob, fresh salsa, barbecued lamb. Semi-chilled beers from the cooler and many jokes about Jason’s acquired appreciation for tequila.

Riding home, we wedge four people into the back seat of some Juan’s tiny 1998 Chrysler Concorde, and I work in some quality prayer time. Back at our rental, and wishing I had learned a bit of Spanish last month as I promised myself I would, I nod off over my book around 10:00, smiling over Esther’s carrying of toilet paper to the “ranch,” and her jests about the bathroom there being a tree, and the leaves, “our Charmin.” It is good to be with family, even if you don’t speak the same language.

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May 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

True Romantics

old booksI was musing here not long ago about the rewards of preserving snippets of the past. Valentine’s Day being a time for sharing the sentimental, and as a sort of post script to that previous piece, I’m sharing another recent experience that left my heart warmed and rewarded.

A few months ago I posted the following ad online:

Early 20th Century Cookbook Collection

Fascinating materials for the food historian or the curious contemporary cook. Eight hardcover books from 1908-1946, plus 14 paperback booklets dated 1906-1950, including 1917’s A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband With Bettina’s Best Recipes; a 1946 edition of Joy of Cooking; a 1950 edition of Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book; the 1944 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book; The New Jell-o Book of Surprises from 1930; Rumford Southern Recipes, and more. Books range from fair to good condition.

This assortment had belonged to my beloved stepmother, but I was running out of room, and none of my stepsisters were interested in these family items.

With nary a nibble from the Craig’s list crowd, I hatched the bright idea of narrowing my audience to a more select group. The term “Home Economics” is apparently as outdated as my association with college campuses, but I managed to locate and contact the Food Science and Nutrition Department through the University of Minnesota’s home page.

The secretary – excuse me – the administrative assistant there referred me to the Department Head who offered to place a blurb in the staff newsletter. When the Department Head himself thought about my offering, he decided to purchase the set for his wife, as part of her Christmas gift last December. “She tells me she really enjoys reading old cookbooks,” he shared. It was an example of what my stepmother would have called synchronicity.

I delivered the books to said professor in ribbon-tied bundles according to size, and then rushed off to finish my own harried Christmas preparations. He was a very nice, soft-spoken fellow. A genteel individual in the classic sense. I was immediately sorry to have rushed through our exchange so quickly, but soon refocused on more positive thoughts of the holiday to come.

Come January, I found myself speculating over how this kind man’s wife might have received his thoughtful and unique gift, worrying just a tad that it might have been a disappointment to one of them, once in hand. The brown-edged covers of the paperback pamphlets were charming, with their marcel-waved, cherry-faced housewives positively elated over the products of their displayed baking efforts, but some were a bit weary with age. Would that have been a detracting feature?

Driven, cat-like, by a raging sense of curiosity, I decided to inquire.

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM I wrote:

Professor:

Good morning. I am the person from whom you purchased the old cook book collection that had come to me through my stepmother and her ancestors. I don’t mean to barge into your busy day, but I have been curious to know if your wife found the assortment to be entertaining and informative, as I did.

A belated happy new year to you and yours.

SAK

At 1:21 on that same date, the professor responded:

She loves them. I will find her at the kitchen table or by the living room fireplace reading them. They are the perfect gift for her. (They have a good home.)
Thank you,

G

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM, I replied:

How delightful. Thank you for taking the time to respond. You are a gracious gentleman, and I was pleased to have the chance to meet you.

To which he further responded:

And I enjoyed meeting a person who is obviously very caring – you did not sell the books to the highest bidder but to a person who would value, enjoy and care for them.

My best wishes,

G

The image of this nice man’s wife poring over with interest the contents of a literary time capsule from generations past that my stepmother had cherished brightened my day. Lit up my week. And his generous comments put to rest any lingering concerns about the decision to give the volumes up.

They indeed have a good home. That, in my mind, is a romantic thought: A loving husband valuing treasures from the past, and being tuned in enough to his wife’s passions that he found her the perfect gift.

A match made in heaven, perhaps. Happy Valentine’s Day, all.

February 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm 3 comments

The Persistence of Memories

bundle of old lettersLast year, for my birthday, a dear, long-time friend sent me three letters I had written to her eons ago. I caught my breath and felt a lump form in my throat when I saw that vaguely familiar loopy adolescent handwriting and the ancient return address. I chuckled out loud over the goofy notation on the backside of one of the envelopes, “To open, insert big toe under flap and wiggle.”

Reading the letters themselves, the words and thoughts of my 14-to-17-year-old self, led me through a whole catalogue of feelings. This was possibly the most meaningful gift I have ever received. A little background:

I am a saver. It’s a compulsion I’ve been trying to rein in, having now disbursed the material belongings for two households with similar inclinations. There’s nothing like plowing through someone else’s inexplicable stashes – used zippers and outdated advice columns anyone? – to make one take the vow. My husband and I are determined not to leave the same massive challenge behind for our survivors. But holding onto things is a tough tendency to reform, with its intensely emotional and deep-planted roots.

To be clear, there are two kinds of motivation for us saver-types. One, the practical if extremist conserve/reuse/recycle mentality; the other, a result of being raised by a thrower, and the sense of grief that the loss of childhood treasures can create. I suffer the double-whammy of being plagued by both impulses, and crushing regret over lost diaries, doll collections, and scrapbooks plagues my psyche to this day.

So my approach to “clearing out” is definitely a cautious one. Over the past decade of trolling through the files of departed loved ones, I have appreciated coming across old correspondence, which either makes a good contribution to the Family History portfolio – another project for another day – or becomes a perfect opportunity to re-gift the original sender by sharing the long-lost sentiments of an earlier day. A note written by a beloved aunt to my mother-in-law when her baby boomer sons were still toddlers; a beautiful letter sent to that same mother-in-law by her soon-to-be daughter-in-law in 1970; actual recordings of the voices of my stepmother’s three grandsons, circa 19774.

When I received my own such offering from a friend who knows me well enough to understand how very much I would value it, my goal of carefully preserving all that which has meaning and sharing it with others was reinforced ten-fold.

I started with my own Christmas card stash, and tossed all the generic messages, saving only the photos and annual letters. That’s one whole grocery bagful to the recycling bin and out of my file drawer.

Next, my own bulging file folders labeled “Personal Correspondence” and “Consumer Correspondence.” Most of the consumer-related stuff can be purged, although you may see a few prime examples of snarky and indignant complaints reprinted here for your entertainment in the future. But the personal communications will be fine-tooth-combed for opportunities to share the delights of a photographically accurate step back in time with others.

Today, a friend’s daughter celebrates her 13th birthday. This child was a mid-life blessing to a loving mom who had finally found her prince, and I remember the day of her baby’s birth with crystal clarity. What I had forgotten was the charming content of emails this mom and I exchanged leading up to her miracle baby’s entrance into the world.

Today I am putting together a folder of chronologically-ordered email exchanges I printed out and filed away at the time. This afternoon, I will deliver this collection to the mom along with her daughter’s birthday gift. The notes are replete with joy and humor and a teensy bit of angst, and they transported me right back to the time and place and state of mind of their origins. They made me smile, they touched my heart, and they recaptured lost moments.

I hope and pray that they will do the same for my good friend, also known as the beautiful Sarah’s mom.

February 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm 2 comments

Every Day in Every Way

walker III was all set to sit down and indulge in another clichéd mini-rant about Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Extremes. A self-indulgent ramble about how, one Wednesday, most of the state is suffering through a 105 degree heat index, and the next Wednesday, record-breaking lows have us all flipping our thermostat switches from “Cool” to “Heat” at night. The Ides of July, I was going to title it.

When I realized how much effort was required to make that topic interesting, again, even as a segue into the more stimulating subject of Minnesota’s weird political climate, I abandoned the idea. My critic’s eye has noted too many published articles that read as if the author were motivated to crank out something, anything, just to get some quick cash coming in for the month. There is no passion or depth to them. Don’t particularly want to join that club, even if there isn’t a paycheck involved.

What then seeped into my mind were thoughts on a very personal undertaking I’ve tackled this week: Operation Saving Mom. Sounds a bit grandiose, I suppose, but I am only ashamed that I didn’t catch on sooner that the lady who lives downstairs, and happens to be my mother-in-law, wasn’t just being her usual “the glass is half-empty,” headstrong little German self about things, she was sinking into depression.

I’ve skidded down that muddy slope in the past myself; it’s the reason I’m so committed to vigorous physical activity to keep my personal supply of endorphins pumped up throughout the day. As soon as Mom K quit watching the news or doing her laundry, I should have recognized the symptoms. But I was too busy being angry with her for rejecting the helpful advice of the savvy, caring geriatrician we finally hooked her up with. For always being back in bed when I went down with the mail or a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies; for not showing any interest in using a prescribed walker to get back on her feet; for nibbling on sweets rather than devouring the juicy turkey meatloaf patty, made just to her tastes.

So she sank, deeper and deeper, into that sickness of spirit that leaves a person not wanting to move and wondering why God is taking so long to call you home. I still can’t believe that I was so blind to the emerging clues. But as I said, I was too busy analyzing the situation, and how I felt about it.

Still, I did invest a lot of prayer in her plight. And as usual, the answer I got was not the one I expected. After a particularly trying day, which had my husband and me racked with frustration over Mom’s surrender to negative thinking, I woke up the next morning to a “duh” moment: She had missed meals and was acting confused. She was probably so weak that she had nothing left to draw on. She needed an intervention, and I had my nose up so close to the window of her life that I couldn’t see it.

You have to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I remember that irrational state of mind very well. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself, if there’s nothing pulling you into the day ahead, why greet morning? Why eat breakfast? Why get dressed? And the less you move around and the more malnourished you are, the faster the downward spiral.

Starting this week, I go down right about when breakfast should take place, and then again to set up lunch, and with the day’s mail, and with dinner. And her beloved son visits and checks her pill dispenser every evening, after he gets home from work.

She is getting out of bed now, because she knows I’ll be knocking on her door. And she is eating the protein-heavy meals I cook and put on a tray in front of her. Scrambled egg and a whole grain waffle square. Open-faced Tuna melt sandwich with grapes on the side. French toast and extra crisp bacon for brunch one lazy, sleep-in day. Pork loin with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. And whole-grain fresh peach cobbler with salted caramel ice cream to satisfy that sweet tooth of hers. While I’m there, I read to her, humorous articles or excerpts from recollections written by her peers, and she relates and discusses them with some interest.

She’s feeling a little better after only a few days of this intensive “TLC therapy.” So am I.

Mom had tried a daily mantra of, “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and stronger.” It’s not, we had to tell her, a magical incantation. It doesn’t work of your heart and will aren’t behind it. A few weeks before the flash of enlightenment that got the belated intervention rolling, I had started regular deliveries of affirmations to replace her limp recitations of the old standby chant. She tells me these little blurbs mean a lot to her, and I think it’s the idea that someone takes the time, as much as it is the messages. But I’m also front-loading those affirmations with gentle nudgings to not shrink from the challenge of keeping life meaningful at 90, and beyond.

So, six days a week, a neon orange half-sheet of text goes down with the daily mail, with the heading, “Every day in every way, God has a purpose for my life,” followed by a few lines of encouragement:

“Each day, I bring glory to God through my example of living my faith.”
“I have children who love me and a church family that cares about me. They look to me for hope and inspiration for their own later years.”
“This world is not my home. But it is a temporary assignment that God wants me to take seriously right up to its very last day.”

The next phase of our Saving Mom project? It’s a quirk of human physiology that expending energy generates more energy. It may take a while for the fire to ignite, but a daily walk that first seems wearying eventually becomes the pilot light that keeps your burners firing throughout the day. The more you do, the more you feel like doing. A human body in motion truly wants to stay in motion. This is a hard sell for Mom, who has been sitting in a chair for months, waiting to feel “better” enough to start moving again. But resort to a cane for stability? Never.

Meanwhile, her muscles atrophy and her gate becomes more and more unsteady. My husband’s mission is to convince her that, with his help, she can get up and about – maybe even out of the house – and regain some mobility. So we snuck out and bought her a walker. Please pray for us!

As for my own attitude adjustment strategy, this is my new daily mantra:

Every day, in every way, God has a purpose for my life….
“And it’s not about me. Everything originated in Him and finds its purpose in Him.”

August 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm 3 comments

Poet Unaware

RH&RYears ago, before she gained national acclaim, I took a writing course from Natalie Goldberg at The Loft in Minneapolis.  One of the concepts she introduced in class was “found poetry.”  As examples she used an old journal entry of her own and a WWI-era letter written by a female relative.  I may not have the details precisely right for that second example – it may have been a WWII-era letter – but what did stick emphatically in my brain is the idea that gems of prose and poetic expression can often be unearthed from unexpected places. 

When my father passed away in 2006, I became sole heir to his office contents.  Dad was not an overtly emotional sort, but apparently he harbored a private reverence for meaningful mementos.  Among his papers were files labeled Personal History, holding his baby album, his high school diploma, and newspaper clippings about family members; a Personal Correspondence folder that includes wonderfully animated – and sometimes illustrated – letters written by my stepmother while they were long-distance dating in the mid-70s; and one manila treasure-trove marked Personal and Professional Letters

This last batch was subtitled, in bright orange marker, Ego.  He hadn’t preserved them because they touched his heart and warmed his cockles.  Oh, no.  Merely because they flattered.  Tucked in among the documents that crossed the line from professional to personal was a memo written in 1963 by Bud Dunham.  Bud was the head honcho in the Detroit office of the firm of consulting psychologists where my father and Bill Meyer, his best friend from graduate school, had worked since graduation – nine years for Dad and ten for Bill M.  

I always liked Bud.  And I liked his family.  We enjoyed so many delightful times with them all at company picnics and holiday gatherings, and even a memorable week at family camp in Pennsylvania, abuzz with horse back riding, tennis, golf, arts and crafts, and even a kid-performed water ballet to wrap things up. 

Still, my childhood memories have frozen in time a clear image of an imposing figure:  athletic and burly; competent, accomplished, authoritative.  Dr. Dunham.  As a kid, I wouldn’t have thought to describe him as warm and fuzzy.  Well, maybe a little fuzzy, with his carpeted chest and that topper of coarse, wavy, salt-and-pepper hair.   But to my younger self, this tall, cigar-chomping bear of masculinity was more tough than tender.  Not the sentimentally gushy type at all.  

Fourteen-year-old me collapsed into tears when my father broke the news that he was being transferred from Michigan to Minnesota to open a Twin Cities branch for the firm, but all around me the adults were handling the announcement with business-like acceptance.  Appearances can be deceiving, of course, and sometimes time reveals that change can also translates to loss.  Even for the most grown-up among us.  

On the day before Christmas, a little over 50 years ago, Bud Dunham settled into his big leather desk chair on a gray, snowy day in a still-thriving downtown Detroit, and hand-wrote the following memo to Dad and Bill M., who had been transferred to Illinois to head up the firm’s Chicago office.  Having discovered this archived copy of it, I will never again think of my father and his former boss in the same simplistic terms. 

#### 

 Rohrer, Hibler & Replogle

Detroit

TO:  Bill Meyer & Bill Williams                                                                                                                                                       DATE:  December 24, 1963

FROM:  Bud Dunham                                                                                                                                                                         RE:  “’Twas the Day Before…”

            Today started out about like any other winter day in Detroit – cold, blustery, traces of snow in the air – a speck of dust in my eye – the elevator girls snapping at the tenants of the Guardian Bldg – the tenants reciprocating – me with 11 evaluations to dictate and two talks to prepare – last-minute shopping to do, with no clear-cut idea about what I’m going to buy – yes, it started out about like any other day-before Christmas. 

            But as the day wore along, I began to realize that it wasn’t the same.  Maybe the fact that Dave is on vacation, Wayne is in Houston, Mildred had already made another date for lunch and I had to eat alone, – maybe this has something to do with my feelings. 

            Anyhow, all at once I realized what it was – you two guys weren’t here for the first time in many years.  I guess this was the first time I really had faced that fact, what with all the turmoil we’ve had since the middle of last summer.  And I’ve got to admit that your departure has left a real void in the Detroit-RHR stable.           

Who was it who said:  “And the moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on,” or words to that effect?  Not that it would help to know who did write it – I still have to find the answer for myself (that’s odd; I was having trouble with only one eye when I started to write this). 

It’s a good thing tomorrow is another day – I’ve had enough of this one!  So I am going to take the automatic elevator when I leave, and try to think of Santa Claus when someone cuts ahead of me in that lousy traffic! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year to both of you and the families. 

### 

Kleenex, anyone?

February 1, 2013 at 4:17 am 4 comments

Now Sings My Soul

Ingram Publishing

Ingram Publishing

I wasn’t planning to publish another post this week, but I just returned from a funeral service for a 52 year old member of my church, a father of two who died of leukemia after a few months of attempted treatments leading to cardiac complications.

I remember with a shudder that I once, in my rebellious younger years, would have sat at such a Christian service with my mind slammed shut, harboring a cold heart and refusing to participate in hymn-singing or prayer recitations.  Turning away, in other words, from the very sustenance that my angry, hungry soul was starved of.  And how I hated weddings back then, with their ritual and scripture readings and rosy expectations.  If I couldn’t avoid one, I would sit in the pew in recoiled posture, like a vampiress confronted with a bouquet of garlic, hawthorne, and wild rose.

When funerals or weddings take place in our humble sanctuary these days, I can’t help but glance around at the faces of the crowd and wonder how many of them are not participating because the words are unfamiliar, and how many are hunched behind a wall of resistance.  My prayer, always, is that the legacy of the departed believer’s faith will soften stony hearts and open narrowed minds to the full peace and comfort to be gained by accepting the balm of God’s Word.

The opening hymn for today’s service says it better than I could ever hope to.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful

who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;

thou wilt find a solace there.

January 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm 2 comments

Good Medicine, Bad Medicine

Like many people, I owe my life to skilled medical practitioners.  Back before there was a quick-fix for the Rh factor issue, I was born fighting for survival as antigens forming within me battled to reject my own blood supply.  Even after a total transfusion, I required an emergency response team at least once before my parents could take me home from the newborn ward.

My husband Jack is similarly indebted to the researchers who discovered insulin as a treatment for Type I diabetes.   We are both extremely grateful for the reprieves we’ve been granted. 

But medicine is like any other field:  It produces competent, caring professionals as well as some less admirable types.  And because of its unparalleled potential to affect our quality of life, society holds the health care industry to the highest standards.  (A miscalculation in surgery certainly trumps a slip-up in toilet installation.)  

Some failures to meet these standards are dismissible as human error, of course.  The ones that cause fear and trembling are rooted in greed, insensitivity, ineptness, or narrow-mindedness – traits one would hope might be sifted out through the arduous process of education and training.  So, while most health care providers serve us well, some others, perhaps, could do better.  I am sure you have stories of your own.  Here are a few of ours. 

We had the same family doctor for our first ten years of marriage.  Dr. Good.  Really.  And was he ever.   He treated my stepchildren with respect; he listened, and applied common sense; he took a conservative approach to minor problems and acted quickly on the major ones.  He was a doctor, not a clinic – as his business card read.  When you called his office, a human being actually answered the telephone. 

By the time Dr. Good was approaching retirement age, he was forced to take on shifts at the emergency room in order to stay afloat.  The giant machine of government programs and mega-clinics and mammoth insurance conglomerates nudged him right out of practice, no doubt earlier than he, or we, would have liked.  Since then its been a kaleidoscope of changing clinics and M.D.s for us. 

There was the megalomaniacal endocrinologist who wanted to micro-manage my husband’s life with no regard for how sending him to the local E.R. for weekly blood checks would disrupt his work schedule and his insulin routine.  There he would sit for an hour or longer, waiting for the staff to get to him as a non-emergency, until his blood sugar had dropped to an comfortable low, throwing his readings off for days.   And this doc insisted on monthly office visits, versus the twice-a year check-ups most of his colleagues recommended. 

When the patient decided he could no longer comply with this overzealous tyrant, the doctor sought revenge on him by giving a bad report to the State License Bureau.  Jack had to renew his driver’s license every six months for many years as a result.  Perhaps Dr. X. could have done better. 

Several years later, at my desperation-inspired insistence, we starting tooling 20 miles across town at least twice a month to an institute that advertised itself as solely committed to diabetes care.  They were right there on the cutting edge; this was all they did and they did it well.  They said so themselves.  A few non-informative meetings with an overweight dietician who couldn’t tell me how many grams of carbohydrates there are in a potato should have been a warning bell.  Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. 

Visit number one to a staff a specialist yielded a prescription for a new type of insulin.  For decades, my husband had taken the same two insulins, one dose of long-lasting morning and evening, for continuous “background” blood sugar control, and a dose of fast-acting before each meal.  Before breakfast, he would combine both insulins in the same syringe.  This was recommended  procedure; it was safe, effective, saved syringes, and meant only one injection instead of two.  Sweet and neat.  

Shortly after he started seeing the experts at the internationally acclaimed diabetes center, he was driving to an appointment with his eye specialist and I was along for the ride.  Half-way there, he started acting strangely.  I had seen this only once, a few weeks earlier at Taco Bell, when he had a blood sugar dip so radical and so sudden that he couldn’t speak, couldn’t even navigate out of his chair.  It had never happened before.  I thought it was a one-time fluke.  

Yet this day, here we are, barreling 65 miles an hour down the freeway, when my husband begins to act as if he doesn’t know where he is, (more…)

June 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm 1 comment

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

Have a taste and see what you think. If you like what we are serving up, please tell your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to stop by for a visit, too.

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May 2019
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© Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.