Saturday, October 23, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #382

Nancy White Kelly

There has been so much emphasis in the news this month regarding Alzheimer’s. Jokes abound, but it is a serious disease. Now that I am in the last half of my sixties, slips of memory bother me.

I know a face, but the name disappears. I lie awake at night, sometimes for hours, trying to resurrect a name that I should know well. Details of events, even recent ones, somehow slip into a mysterious black hole in my brain. Am I headed down that Alzheimer’s road?

Leading authorities say that Alzheimer’s begins twenty years before becoming obvious. The same can be said of certain types of cancer. There are slow growing-cancers and those that are so aggressive it takes your breath. A friend recently succumbed to cancer in less than three weeks after diagnosis. He and I were working together on forming a local coin club. Bill seemed to be in vibrant health. In our last phone conversation, I asked what I could do for him. He humbly replied, “Pray for me.” I did, but sometimes our will is not that of the Heavenly Father. None of us are going to make it out of this world alive.

Personality-wise and somewhat in looks, I am very much like my paternal aunt who died of serious dementia a few years ago. She forgot who Buddy was and barely recognized me on my last visit though she was like a second mother while I was a child.

Like many folks of her generation, she smoked most of her life. Her only brother, my father, died at the age of 62. He was a heavy smoker too. Thankfully none of the children are smokers, but we can’t help but wonder about the second-hand smoke we were subjected to long before the effects were known.

Most likely I am just growing older and experiencing normal diminishment of brain cells that transmit thoughts and revives memories. I feel much younger than the calendar says and can still be the life of the party as long as I am home by 8:00. Instead of Alzheimer’s, maybe I have what Buddy refers to as “All-timers.”

While on a road trip last year, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant and resumed their trip. When leaving, the poor woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table. She didn't miss them until they had been driving for about forty minutes.
Adding to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn so they could return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses.

All the way back, the husband became the classic grouchy man. He fussed, complained, and scolded his wife relentlessly during the long return drive.
The more he chided her, the more agitated he became. He would not let up for a single minute.

To the woman’s relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. As the chagrinned wife got out of the car and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses, the old geezer yelled to her, "While you're in there, you might as well get my hat and the credit card."

I do hope my mind lasts as long as my body. I dare not allow my mind to wander anymore. It should not be out on its own. Truthfully, Buddy might not remember to look for me.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #381

Nancy White Kelly

My Mama taught me that proper people don’t discuss their finances in public. I’m not feeling very proper today.

After rocking from Buddy’s very recent root canal to the tune of $1000, we were completely blown off our feet at what happened yesterday.
We have a darling miniature, ten-month-old dachshund with unusual pie-bald coloring. Except for his size, he could be mistaken for a Jersey cow. Patch is such a joy, full of life and kisses.

On Tuesday afternoon Patch came through the doggie door yelping non-stop doggy opera. Buddy held him while I tried to look for the problem. He had about a two inch cut on his side. He wasn’t bleeding badly, but I bundled him up in a beach towel to hold him more comfortably. He was obviously in pain and that pathetic crying drove us to quick action.

Because we were noted as a “walk-in”, our wait to be seen by the closest veterinarian seemed unusually long. We didn’t complain. Patch did. Everybody in the building knew that he was present and not happy.

When our turn came to see the veterinarian, a technician appeared. We were told he would need stitches and should stay over-night for observation. The tech checked off a long list of blood tests which we declined, including the CBC. This wasn’t major surgery, just a clean cut that needed repair.

The vet called that night and reported that the stitching went fine with no complications. We could pick up our “beagle” the next morning.

On the way to the office the following day, I asked Buddy what was his estimate of the bill. He guessed $200, most of which he jokingly said would probably go to the loan principle for that fairly new, post-modern building. I assured Buddy he was wrong. The charges shouldn’t amount to more than $100. After-all, we were only talking about a straight cut and a few stitches.

Buddy doesn’t hear well and stood quietly aside while I took care of business at the counter.

“Are you ready?” the receptionist asked. I should have known that this was a preliminary warning statement.

“Six-hundred and sixty-five dollars and thirty cents,” she said. I repeated what I thought she must have said, “Sixty-five dollars and thirty cents?”

“No, $665.30,” the lady replied nonchalantly as the invoice hummed through the printer. I turned to Buddy in shock and repeated the amount. His response was appropriate.

“What?” he asked. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

When it became clear that we weren’t leaving with Patch until we paid the bill, I wrote out the check. Buddy suggested we leave the dog, but, of course, we couldn’t and wouldn’t do that. Patch wasn’t to blame for this legal robbery. Buddy suggested out loud that wearing a mask was certainly appropriate for the vet.

Patch was as excited to see us as we were to be leaving the scene of what we now refer to as our “665- Aggravated Larceny.” Maybe we watch too many crime shows.

Buddy and I have examined the itemized bill several times. There were eighteen charges, most of which were ridiculously exaggerated and highly over-billed.

For example, “wound debridement: $38.05” and “Wound cleaning, $29.29.” As if that wasn’t redundant enough, there was a related charge of “wound flushing, $14.77.” Four shots were given, each costing about $30 each. There was even a charge for IV fluids with surgery.” Certainly we couldn’t have dehydration during that ten-minute sewing job and a line needed to be available for immediate access in case something went terribly wrong.

The absurd bill continued with charges for “surgical pack autoclave/ postoperative nursing” and “anesthesia monitoring.” Lots of things can happen in ten minutes. What I would have given to have been a fly on the wall.

Back home in familiar surroundings, Patch was his old self by the end of the day.
Us? We are trying not to laugh at the irony of the last line printed on the bill: “Your invoice was discounted as much as possible to reduce financial burden.”

Sorry, Mama. Proper or not, some stories just must be told.