Monday, September 27, 2010

Cleaning up, one step at a time

In order for things to get better, they have to get worse first.

The thought just came to mind while I was thinking about the way I clean. Afterwards, I realized that it could have a larger meaning.

Anyway, things were definitely in a bad way when I went upstairs to bed and noticed the mess I had made today in my efforts to de-clutter.

I procrastinate about cleaning, then I eye a project, drop everything else and attack it wholeheartedly. But I have to do it in steps, hence the mess.

There are all sorts of piles around the house that I need to address. Most of them belong to a wonderful kid who can self-identify. Pssst. You know who you are. I could wait around until school vacation or I could do it myself. I decided to do it myself.

Today I deconstructed several piles. I first removed the throw-away stuff, put it in a bag and took it to the garage. That was the easy part. The rest involved separating into give-away, stuff to be placed in a child's room and stuff to be stored in a place more appropriate than on a chair or on the floor.

This is more difficult. I put some things onto kids' beds, mostly laundry that had stayed on a chair or keepsakes that had gotten buried. I grew tired of the process when I got to the point of finding better storage places, plus I'm not quite sure where that is. So at the end of the day there are now clusters of stuff around, even more uncharmingly eye-attracting than before.

This is where I came up with my things getting worse before they get better realization.

Tomorrow is another day.

From fall to summer and back again

It's summer in one part of Massachusetts, but it's autumn in another.

I just returned from another lovely weekend in Wellfleet, where the gardens were colorful, the trees were green and the air was warm. Back home in Western Massachusetts, the leaves have begun to change and drift to the ground, and there's a chill in the air.

My friend Deb came with me to Diane and David's house on Cape Cod. (They weren't there, graciously giving us the place for the weekend.) On the drive back, Deb pointed out the difference in the scenery.

We felt like time travelers. I'd have preferred staying in summer, but hey, what can you do?

We had ambled to the Cape on Friday, taking a detour at Chatham to drive through the town and get out at the beach across from the grand old Chatham Bars Inn. The fog drifted in just as a wedding party gathered on a sloping lawn across from the water. To the sound of violin music, the guests, dressed mostly in black, got seated, creating a surreal tableau.

Once in Wellfleet, we managed to squeeze a lot into one-and-a-half days. The weather was mostly sunny, so it was nice for walking on the beach. I thought we might go swimming, but the water in the pond that we went to was already too cold. We toodled around town a little and had two excellent meals there: Dinner at Mac's Seafood and brunch at the Wicked Oyster.

I got up and down the steep steps to the pond and the path down to the beach with no problem.

There was also time for a drive to the bay at sunset and a visit and dinner (at the Lobster Pot) in Provincetown. It was too hectic there, with tourists crowding the streets. (I know, I guess we're tourists too.) It was nice to return to calm Wellfleet.

My re-entry was better than after the last weekend that I was away, but the house still feels strangely empty. At least I didn't feel like crying.

I got Maddie from Jim and Jane's and walked her just as it was getting dark, my feet crunching leaves instead of digging into the sand. I'm sure I'll feel better about fall when we get some of those glorious days, but it was just damp and gray, as is today also. I wasn't too happy about being back.

I launched into one of my little trots, managing to get up a couple of small hills on the Mount Holyoke campus. Then I switched to a brisk (for me) walk. We passed the greenhouse, where not too long ago I fell because my legs were too weak to keep me up.

I reminded myself to be grateful that I was taking big strides now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bike talk, trash talk

I think I mentioned before that I had gotten on Katie's bike, mine being a bit too big.

Since then I have developed a tiny routine. My balance is back, so I get on the bike with more confidence. I go around the corner to a street called Sycamore Knolls and bike the straightaway, then turn onto a small downhill and reverse before the hill gets too steep. It hurts my out-of-shape quads, but I make it without getting off (or falling off).

This evening I took a slightly more hilly route around a loop called Silverwood Terrace. I had been gone most of the day, having a nice lunch and in Northampton with Nancy, a friend from work, and then wandering around town.

By the time I got home, I needed to walk Maddie; we took our usual mile-long spin around the lake. It was a beautiful late summer day. She took her swim, dashed through the woods and then came back when called and got on the leash.

It was getting dark, and I still needed to take the garbage down to the street (that's where I could REALLY use the kids), but I wanted to experience the feeling of the breeze going against my face when I ride the bike.

So off I went. The hill on the new loop is really nothing, but it felt like something. I went into the easiest gear and it was still difficult on my stamina and my legs. I knew it wasn't bad enough to do any harm, so I pushed ahead...and made it!

I'm not sure who I was talking to, but I gave thanks for the bike and for the strength that got me up the mini-hill. It gets dark so quickly now. By the time I approached my house I couldn't see that well. The voice of reason helped me out. Go very slowly. This is where you could fall. Now stop slowly. Get off the bike and walk it across the street.

Jim (my ex-husband) came by yesterday and asked if I wanted him to bring the trash down (it's a pretty long driveway). I thanked him but said there wasn't that much, and anyway, it was a day early.

He had brought his chain saw.

"Are you going to chop me and the dog up into little pieces?" I asked.

Well, actually....

Naturally this was not his plan. I forgot that we had talked about a little problem I have with two old trash barrels that have holes on the bottom. How do you throw out a trash barrel? I figured I could put a sign on it saying, "Take me." Jim had said he could just saw them in half, so that is what he did yesterday, bringing them down to the street even though it was a day early.

He closed some windows that I couldn't budge, lowered the storm windows and asked if I needed anything else done. Then we walked Maddie around the lake. I talked about how much I missed the kids, and he sympathized.

So thanks too for someone who, despite a difficult past, comes through in times of need.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

R & R, followed by a meltdown

I returned yesterday from a fun and relaxing weekend with Margaret.

Our first stop was the Walkway Over the Hudson, in Margaret's hometown, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., also location of my alma mater, Vassar College. A 19th century railroad bridge that underwent a major refurbishment last year, it's a 1.28-mile span with spectacular views of the Hudson River. We walked from Poughkeepsie to the other side, the town of Lloyd, and then back again on a day with blue skies and sun glittering on the water.

Our next stop, and destination for the weekend, was the nearby Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, located in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where we shared a cabin and spent some valuable time together.

As part of a "Rest and Rejuvenation Retreat," I took a Tai Chi workshop, went to a workshop on energy fields and grounding, took a yoga class and went to an event called "An Evening of Poetry and Healing." I stopped in at a hula hoop session; although my body obstinately refused to keep the hoop going (something that came so naturally when I was a kid), I finally got the hang of it. I also had a wonderful foot reflexology/massage session.

I had some time to read and just hang out, so while Margaret was off doing her own thing, I took my book to the cafe, which, unlike the main dining hall, has desserts and sandwiches with meat. It's the kind of place where everyone seems to be reading something about inner harmony or enlightenment or peace and love; I happen to be reading a very opposite book, "The Girl who Played with Fire," the second in the popular trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson. I don't really love the book, but so many people are crazy about the series, I want to find out what it's all about.

I stuffed it in my bag while going to and from the cafe. Yesterday morning as I sat reading it, a woman's voice from behind me said, "How do you like the book?"

I jumped, but when I turned around, I saw that the woman had the same book. She said she had just finished it and enjoyed it thoroughly. We both had a good laugh over our agreement that we didn't feel comfortable reading it there.

There also happened to be tennis courts, and Margaret and I got a chance to hit some balls. I could have done that for hours.

Everything was interesting, but, besides spending time with Margaret, I enjoyed the yoga class most. It was an intermediate class that I almost didn't take, having taken a break from our local intermediate class because I was toppling over so much. I was encouraged to find that most of the poses were more doable than they had been a couple of months ago; I only toppled over once, and it was a gentle fall, not a crash. It inspired me to try my regular intermediate class this week.

I was relaxed after the weekend, but still, it hit me hard that nobody was home when I returned. I knew they wouldn't be, but that didn't make it any easier. Maddie was at our friend Jim and Jane's, so there wasn't even a tail-wagging dog to take the edge off.

I unpacked a little, emptied the refrigerator of nearly-green food and surveyed the remaining contents. The only potential dinner food was an egg, but it had been there so long I threw it out. I wasn't surprised, because I hadn't felt like shopping before I left, but still, I was bummed. Having eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the way home, I wasn't hungry, but I expected I would be later.

I felt the house's emptiness physically, like an ache in my stomach. I started crying. I didn't feel like going shopping with tears running down my face, so I went to a nearby farm stand and bought a tomato. I have no idea what I was going to do with it.

Then I went to get Maddie. Jim and Jane, who are like our aunt and uncle, listened and sympathized. They offered a bed for the night, but I felt better after talking and told them I could go home. They gave me a tupperware container filled with homemade beans and hamburger, potato salad and a beautiful green salad. I came home and walked the dog before the light faded.

While I walked I got a call from Katie, and hearing her voice perked me up.

Back home, I ate the good food and, shortly after, got into bed with my book.

I knew everything would look better in the morning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tennis nut cracks

My visit to Dana-Farber Monday was great.

Dr. Alyea came in talking about tennis, so I knew I was OK. He said he was very pleased with my counts and said that my liver and kidney functions were better, and my potassium and sodium were normal. He dropped my prednisone from 10 mgs. a day to 7.5. The numbers:

WBC: 6.0 (normal = 3.8-9.2)
Hematocrit: 28.8, up from 25 three weeks ago (normal=34.8-43.6)
Platelets: 93 (normal=155-410)

When you look at the normal range, except for the white count I obviously have a ways to go. But I am going in the right direction, which is good. My platelets were up 3 from the last visit. Yippee! I'll take whatever I can get. As a bonus, that number of platelets enables me to get my teeth filled. Sigh.

I headed straight home (OK, I stopped at Starbucks), to catch the U.S. Open men's final, which had been rained out the day before. After some trouble finding the right channel, I saw Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

I had been running around for nearly a week, spending several days with Katie and getting to see Ben. Then I was back home, where it was just me and the dog. I stalled. I wasn't happy. I told myself that I don't have to be happy. I can just sit with the feelings and breathe, and over time I'll get used to it.

Or I can take a tennis lesson, which I did yesterday morning with George, sharing the two hours with a woman named Susan. I always get worse after watching the pros. I notice how their feet are always moving, and how thoroughly they follow through. Not kidding myself that I can be like them, I still try to take something away from watching them. Then I start to think about it too much, which of course is counterproductive.

Sue ran all over the court, like I used to do. I am still trying to get from three steps to four. When it was time to pick up balls, she bounced around. I used my racquet as a cane as I bent over.

George said she is a runner whose tennis game came later.

"Sue is a work-in-progress," he said.

"I guess that makes me a stalled work looking for a jump start," I said. "But we're all works-in-progress, aren't we?"

George agreed that he was too.

I know that, but I when my strokes were off yesterday, I was discouraged. I know what to do, but my body just can't do it. (Hey, sometimes we all say that, even in perfect health.)

George and I hit against Sue, and I asked if he thought I was able to take a turn by myself. "Maybe next time," he said.

It reminded me of when I was lying in my hospital bed, unable to walk, and I looked out into the corridor and watched a patient plod up and down. I asked my nurse if she thought I could do that, and she said, "Sometime soon."

I walked again. I can run and play tennis again.

I told Diane I was upset about my tennis game.

"What, you want to be Rafael Nadal?" she asked.

Diane reminded me that a little more than a year ago, I was being wheeled out of the hospital after nearly dying. "This is what you hoped for, to be complaining about your tennis game," she said.

It's so true. I could use some lessons in patience.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tradition, tradition!

Katie and I had a successful whirlwind trip for Rosh Hashanah to what my friend Danny calls "the old country," i.e. New York City.

A month ago, I couldn't have contemplated such a trip. But this time I felt I had the endurance and strength to do it. So off we went. We started by taking the same Amtrak train to Penn Station, but from different starting points. Katie got on near Brandeis (outside of Boston) and I got the same train in New Haven. I found her easily and we rode together to the city.

Unfortunately, she had forgotten her sneakers and dress shoes and was wearing only dog-chewed flip flops. Cousin Serena, who is about Katie's size and lives two subway stops from Penn Station, came to the rescue. I called her as we approached the station at 8:30 p.m. and she met us at a nearby restaurant with a bag containing the appropriate shoes. We had a quick dinner and a nice visit and then headed up to 1200 Fifth Ave., where we were staying at a friend of our mother's. We've done this periodically since my mother's death in 2006. It's been great to go home again, but complicated because my parents are no longer there.

The next day, in keeping with tradition, we attended services at the 92nd Street Y, where we met up with Ben. When my parents were alive, we crowded around a back table at a Greek coffee shop down the street along with our cousin Joanne, her husband Alan and whomever else had come to services.

But it was out of business, so we walked uptown to the Three Guys coffee shop. Tradition modified but continued. My mother loved Three Guys. She joked that while some customers are known at fancy restaurants, she liked being a regular at Three Guys, where they always knew her name (and her order).

I talked to Diane, David and Joe and wished them a Happy New Year – and Joe a happy 21st birthday. (Joe's school, Bates, is in Maine, too far for him to make the trip. Diane, meanwhile, spent the day with David's side of the family.)

We used to have dinner with my father's side of the family at my cousin Betsy and Michael's house. I don't see them that much, but I like seeing them and maintaining family ties, so this year we had dinner with them at their apartment in Queens, where we had a good time catching up...and eating a delicious meal complete with my grandmother's honey cake (made by Betsy).

We said the prayers over the round challah (no sharp edges, for a smooth New Year), which we ate with honey (more sweetness), and of course we drank that good Jewish red wine.

Friday was for free time; Katie jogged, and I trotted, around the reservoir in Central Park, another of my haunts when growing up and when we visit. In the afternoon we headed down to the Museum of Modern Art, where we were unnerved by the sound of shouting coming from the atrium. It stopped and started, sounding like people taking turns being flogged or killed.

As you headed upstairs, you could look down below and see what was happening: People took turns walking up to a microphone and screaming. The main exhibit on Matisse was sold out for the day, so we wandered around and then watched the people screaming. We discovered that it was the conception of Yoko Ono, who wrote that she wanted people to scream into the wind in honor of the oppressed who had no voice. We preferred another Yoko Ono project, a "wish tree" in the courtyard. People wrote wishes on tags provided by the museum and then tied them on the nearly-bare tree where the white tags waved in the breeze like leaves.

Many were in other languages. Most of those we could read were for peace, health and happiness. Some were cute ones from kids: I hope fifth grade will be good, etc. I attached my own wish, and then off we went, heading across town to meet relatives from my mother's side of the family.

We ate at one of our favorite French restaurants, where we sat outside in the balmy evening. We see them frequently and always enjoy the time. We fell into an easy conversation, providing each other with updates and just talking about this and that.

Next day (Saturday) we met my high school friend, Margie, for a quick breakfast, then went down to Penn Station and got a train to New Haven, where Jim picked us up. Went home for the rest of that day and evening, and then today, Katie and I drove to Brandeis. I dropped her off and came to Newton, where I am now. Tomorrow I have a check-up at Dana-Farber.

Diane and I watched some of the U.S. Open; they showed a replay of a semifinal from yesterday because the men's final was rained out today. I kept falling asleep. A thought flashed through my head: Maybe the reason I'm sleepy is that something is terribly wrong. Quick correction: I spent three days going up stairs, down stairs, up streets, down streets, going to services (standing up, sitting down), going to restaurants, catching trains, going to a museum, around the reservoir...and even into another borough!

Sorry if this reads like a shallow travelogue. I have skimmed over the history, emotion and meaning of the Rosh Hashanah service and over the wonders of the treasures we saw at the MOMA: works by Seurat, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Monet and others.

Obviously there is more to say about each stop, but I mainly wanted to give a picture of the ground covered, the importance of continuing traditions even as they evolve, and the sustenance provided by family and friends who are just like family.

I'm glad I did it, but I'm pretty beat.

My appointment tomorrow is noon. You never know what that means. Could be 1 or later. Could also make me fall off my seat by actually being noon. My wishes for the day are to get a good report and to get in and out on time to get home (two-hour drive) to watch the men's final, scheduled for 4.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

As the ball bounces

"I still like the feeling of the ball off my strings.
I just don't like the feeling of my body on the pavement."

I woke up the other day to an interview on NPR.

Through a haze, I heard the interviewer ask his guest whether he still plays tennis. Answer: His wife occasionally talks him into going out and hitting the ball.

"So you have Steffi Graff for a sparring partner," the interviewer, Steve Inskeep, said.

Oh, it's Andre Aggassi, I realized, waking up a little more. The next thing Agassi said made me laugh (and actually got me out of bed).

It's the quote above, which I'll repeat, because I like it and identify with it so much:

"I still like the feeling of the ball off my strings. I just don't like the feeling of my body on the pavement."

Inskeep was interviewing the tennis star and two-time U.S. Open Champion in connection with the Open, which is taking place now. Agassi, who retired in 2006, was there signing the newly-released paperback edition of his autobiography, "Open."

Having recently been very fall-prone, I so identified with that quote. Even before my most recent spate of balance problems and resulting falls, I'd fallen on the court because I couldn't keep away even though I probably shouldn't have been hitting.

My most "famous" one occurred a few days before I was due to return to the hospital for another round of chemotherapy during my first bout with leukemia. I had been back home gaining strength, and the day before re-admission, I played doubles.

I was aware of the Hickman tucked into my sports bra, so I tried hard not to do anything stupid that might cause me to fall and somehow damage the catheter. One of my opponents (no naming names, and it wasn't his fault) hit a shot just out of my reach, and I lunged for it...and felt myself beginning to fall. I fought the fall (never do that...gotta roll with it) and fell hard on my shoulder.

It hurt like hell. They got me ice and took me to the hospital, where a commotion ensued around me because I wore a mask and gloves and was bald and probably didn't look so great. It turned out I had no broken bones, but my shoulder was separated. They gave me a sling and said it would heal.

Once I was admitted to Brigham and Women's, my doctor shook his head at me. As it turned out, my shoulder hurt more than anything they did to me. For a permanent reminder, a piece of bone juts out from my right shoulder. I can move to make it come and go, which I have sometimes done to make Katie squeal. (Mean Mom.)

In any case, I love that quote from Agassi.

I sure hate the feeling of my body on the pavement.

And it sure feels great to feel the ball off my strings.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The kids are all gone

Joe left for his senior year at Bates yesterday.

He was the last one out the door.

Pardon me for being melodramatic. He was the last one out the door for the summer.

With Katie having left for Brandeis two weeks ago, it's really empty nest time for me.

I know, they'll be back soon. Plus I'll be with Katie for four days starting Wednesday when we meet in New York. I'll see Ben there. And Joe will return for his October break. Still, I miss them.

I've been alone in the house before, but this feels like a different kind of alone. I felt it as soon as Joe left. For more than 20 years, my days have been arranged in some way around children. Now they won't be. At some point I'll appreciate the freedom, I'm sure. But for a while I'm going to have to struggle through an adjustment period.

The pluses are obvious, starting with less mess all over the place. This morning I read on the living room couch in the sun, the dog beside me. Then I stretched out and took a quick nap. So? It was hard to do that before; piles of laundry often claimed all the space. Also, there is no longer an obstacle course around the couch. The hockey equipment, which jutted out from under the piano, was gone, as were the stray sneakers, and sometimes even discarded socks, that I kept reminding people to pick up.

I'm planning some big de-clutter projects, which I already started to work on, a bit at a time. I went for a longer bike ride and a longer walk with more so-called running built in. Last night I saw "Eat, Pray, Love" with two friends named Deb. We went out after for a snack and a drink.

Since I hardly drink at all, I got a little tipsy. Neighborhood Deb (Sharp) walked me to the door and called later to see if I had safely made it up to bed.

I might feel alone, but I'm not.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Goodbye physical therapy, hello bike

I am now the proud recipient of a diploma from physical therapy.

Yes, I graduated yesterday. Rob, my physical therapist, re-evaluated me and said I had achieved four of my six goals, the most important being balance.

(Hmmmm. Sounds kinda like a C+.)

I failed miserably on my arm strength, which is understandable given that my left arm still hurts from my last fall and also because we didn't really focus on my arms. At home I have been trying to regain some arm strength by lifting weights, but I took a break after my fall. I am trying to get back into it, although I don't want to do any motions that make the arm hurt.

Quad strength is the other area that I didn't pass, although he did mark me down as "making progress." I think the prednisone has a lot to do with this.

I liked my twice-weekly visits to physical therapy. It provided structure to my days. Also the therapists were nice, the music was good, I got to use the exercise equipment, and we played fun games.

Now I have to do it on my own. As most people know, it's hard to stick with a home routine. Sigh.

To shift gears a bit (sorry about the pun), Rob also said he thought it was safe for me to get on my bike again. I went home all excited and put air in my tires. I decided to first practice getting on and off. I couldn't lift my leg high enough to get on. I was frustrated.

I switched to Katie's bike, which is a little smaller. That one worked better.

When they talk about our "re-birthday" after transplant, they aren't kidding. I'm like a little kid on the bike. I teetered around the driveway, first pushing along with one foot at a time. I was scared to hop on. I need another fall like a fish needs a bicycle.

Finally I gathered my courage and wobbled up and down the driveway a few times. I wondered briefly, "Can you forget how to ride a bike?"

I guess you can't. I turned left at the end of the driveway and then left again down the next street, Sycamore Knolls, which branches into three directions, each with a hill. I turned around before it got hilly, impressing myself by staying on the bike at the turn.

I could tell that my legs haven't totally recovered, because even that small ride was hard on my thighs.

But I got a small taste of that wonderful feeling when you're cycling at a decent clip.

As a kid I biked fast on the boardwalk in Atlantic Beach, doing little tricks that made my mother squirm. When I rode without touching the handlebar, I waved at her while she sat on a bench for my command performance.

Yesterday I couldn't shout, "Look, Ma, no hands!"

But I could say to my son, "Look, Joe, I did it!"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am thankful because...

I went to see my friend Rose to get a new pair of Massachusetts Academy of Ballet sweatpants. The sweatpants say M.A.B., short for the school that she and her husband, Charles, own.

While we sat on her porch and talked, she mentioned a suggestion she saw in a magazine: Every day, write down five things that make you thankful. We all know about the benefits of counting your blessings every day, and it's something that I try to do (except when I feel really really crummy), but for the idea of writing them down grabbed my attention. I suggested we exchange our lists.

When you need to write these blessings down, you spend some time thinking about them, which takes over from time spent ruminating or worrying. Here's mine from yesterday:

1. Fresh local peaches
2: Dancing with the sprinkler, accompanied by a butterfly
(Trying to position the sprinkler without getting totally soaked)
3: Joe getting me a piece of pizza with mozzarella, basil and tomato
4: Katie sounding happy at Brandeis
5: The fact that I will see Ben next week...and
6. Yesterday's lunch by her pond with Rose!

Today's list started well:

1. Having enough hair to get a hair cut yesterday.
(I've done this many times before, but it still gives me a kick.)
2. Walking to the coffee shop in the Mount Holyoke library and getting a free cappuccino and blueberry scone based on my collection of receipts showing how much I spent this summer, then sitting outside at a table and sharing pieces of the scone with Maddie.
3. we will take a slight detour and come back to #3, which will have the "Thankful for" part as an antidote to the "I'm upset about" preface.

Today, the dentist made me cry. Through no fault of my own, I hadn't gone since 2007, when I relapsed. My platelets were never high enough to go to the dentist; at 90, they're still low, but they're at a safe level for getting a cleaning and checkup. (One time in the hospital when my platelets were plunging, I flossed my teeth and was a bloody mess.)

The hygenist took some x-rays midway and then finished cleaning my teeth. She said I didn't look bad. Still, she said, I needed to make an appointment with the dentist to formulate a treatment plan. Huh? I bumped into him on my way out. We've always had a good rapport, often laughing and discussing politics while he works on my teeth.

Today he was somber. "It's not your fault, but you need a lot of work," he said. He told me it was probably from the chemo. And then there was the length of time between appointments.

"I thought there were just a few cavities," I said. He answered that there were more than a few. Plus I probably need a couple of root canals, and I might lose some teeth. We had this conversation while I made my next appointment for Friday to get started on the cavities.

"You're making me upset!" I said. I thought he might lighten up a little and throw me a few words of encouragement, but he wasn't going to sugar-coat it, so to speak. He just shook his head, said "See you Friday," and strode off.

One root canal costs about $950, the receptionist said. My insurance has a $500 cap for dental.

Like on top of everything else, I need to spend thousands of dollars on dental work and have multiple root canals and maybe lose some teeth. I like my teeth.

I drove home, went into the air-conditioned den where Joe was (it's been in the upper 90s and even hit 101 yesterday), and cried. Maybe I overreacted, but this comes at a time when I'm dealing with Katie having gone to school last Sunday and Joe leaving tomorrow.

So back to the list, number 3, 4 and 5 read something like this. I am thankful because:
3. Despite having gotten bad news from the frowning dentist, I'm still alive and otherwise doing well.
4. If I go broke, I can always live in my sister's basement (ha ha).
5. I have a son who listens to me cry and calms me down, then eats leftover Chinese food with me and makes me laugh.

I talked to Katie later and told her about my teeth.

She sympathized and then said,

"They fixed your blood. They can fix your teeth."

To quote my father, the late great Al Gordon, for the umpteenth time,

Good clear thinking.