Friday, July 31, 2015

Going to meet my granddaughter

Wake up every hour starting at 2 a.m.

5 a.m. – Lie in bed checking my iPhone for personalized 30th birthday presents for Ben.

5:20 – Check Facebook. Re-read the comments about photo of Meghan and baby Nell. Feel loved.

Mom, me, Grammie, Diane at the Store
6 a.m. – Get up and take out remaining items in suitcase from New York trip. Put them on the floor to deal with later.

6:15 – Come downstairs. Listen to the birds.

6:18 – Check the pile of bills. Note that one is due Aug. 3 and that means Monday. Resolve to pay the bill.

6:31 – Remember that my grandmother's birthday would be tomorrow. Happy birthday Lillian Lewin!
A warm, loving woman with a beautiful smile. Feel the connectivity through the years. From her to my mother to me to Ben to Nell.

Without her, none of us.

7 a.m. – Do a little yoga.

7:26 – Dissolve five Exjade pills in water and chug it. Use the 30 minutes of nausea until I'm allowed to eat to go to Tailgate and buy some milk. Add a scone.

7:50 – Channel my mother. Pick flowers from the garden to bring to the hospital. Put them in a birthday bag.

8:15 – Make the coffee, make an egg, and wonder why when I got up so early I still am running late.

8:36 – Finish writing this.

8:44 – Dash upstairs to make myself presentable.

8:55 – Go out the door to get in car, drive to Enfield and meet Jim there, then pick up Katie who will drive from Boston to a designated spot outside of Hartford, then proceed to Norwalk to the hospital and hold my granddaughter!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Theater in New York, baby in Connecticut

It's been a week already since I last posted, and I was going to write about how three days running around New York with Katie took my mind off medical procedures and doctor's appointments, how much fun we had seeing "Cymbeline" at Shakespeare in the Park under the stars at the Delacorte Theater and waiting in line for three hours for the free tickets, how fabulous to see "Hamilton" on Broadway and see Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonathan Groff at the stage door, and how interesting to explore the lower east side where we stayed at an airbnb, and how great to see our cousins and Aunt Marge and Bill and run on a pathway next to the East River, and how much fun to take Katie out for her birthday dinner at Sardis and to realize later that by spending nothing on the Shakespeare tickets and getting the lower priced $77 mezzanine tickets at the Richard Rogers Theater, we ended up spending an average of about $38 each for two New York shows, both coincidentally produced by Joseph Papp's Public Theater.

But it seemed like it took the early part of the week to get re-organized, plus a ridiculous amount of time spent on technical problems with both my computer and printer, and then last evening Ben texted that he and Meghan were on their way to the hospital, and then early this morning he called to say that at 1:11 a.m. this morning, my grand-daughter, Nell Catherine Doody, arrived weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces.

I wanted to go down to the hospital in Norwalk today, but I had ECP in Boston, and since I am now doing only one day a week, I couldn't skip it.

I'm going to save the photos until tomorrow when it's my turn to hold her.

Thank you to everyone who sent their congratulations when I shared Ben's photo of beautiful mother and baby, and to Julie Hoffman Klein, who knew my parents and who wrote, "Your parents are looking down on you with lots of pride and happiness today."

They loved being grandparents; I know I will love being a grandmother.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Report from Boston, the mostly good and the bad

Dr. Alyea took one look at me on my visit Monday and said, "You're getting a lot of sun."

This was not a compliment as in the old days of, "You have such a great tan."

He said I will keep my dermatologists busy if I don't protect my skin better and suggested that if I play tennis outside I cover up from head to toe and wear the highest possible level of sunscreen.

So yesterday at George's clinic at the Canoe Club I wore a sun protection long-sleeved shirt and exercise pants to below my knees plus my usual baseball cap. I got so sweaty that I created my own little sauna. If I had wanted to lose weight, this would have done the trick. Also I went later than usual, and I probably should have left early, but the end is where we finally get to play after all of our drills and it is difficult to leave then.

Otherwise my visit was good. Dr. Alyea said that since my skin has improved I can reduce my ECP from twice a week to once a week...for 12 more weeks!

The Ride continues to be a problem. I filed a complaint yesterday, but I don't know if that will help.
I use two services, Veterans to Diane's in Newton and National Express to Margaret's in Needham.

It would take too long to go through the whole fiasco, but I will just say that the right service, National Express, came to Margaret's – where I was staying – at 6 a.m., the wrong time for a ride that I had canceled because the physician's assistant told me there would be no benefit in coming the second day. I had rebooked for 11 a.m.

The wrong service, Veteran's, went to Diane's at the right time, 11 a.m., to get me back to Dana-Farber for my noon ride home, and they don't go to Needham, so I was stuck.

Extremely frustrated and frankly near tears, I called a dispatcher who said she saw no record of the later ride that I had requested and she would look into it. But she never called back. For all they cared, I could still be sitting there, as could a truly disabled person who uses the service.

Luckily Margaret's husband Nick was there to drove me in.

I felt bad about inconveniencing him, but we had a nice chat on the way to Dana-Farber, and the driver taking me back to South Hadley was on time, and we had an interesting talk about his stage of life, which is that of a young person like many of the others doing the driving to make some money while they figure out what to do. We talked about the pros and cons of various trades, such as electrician. The time passed, and I took a little nap.

The driver last week was a hoot. He asked what he could do on his own in the area after dropping me off, and I suggested Northampton and told him how to get there.

Minutes later the face of a young woman appeared on his cell phone.

"Get off Tinder," I said from the back seat.

"How do you know about Tinder?" he asked.

I told him that even though I am old(er), I still know a thing or two.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Of waterworks, Gatorade spills and a Cape escape

You may or may not have noticed that the blog has taken a break.

This is due to a series of technical and emotional difficulties that began last week when I watched Joe pack up to move out after four years of living at home.

It is ALL GOOD, and he is not going far, just to Fairfield County, and I knew it would come shortly after his master's graduation from UMass, but still watching it happen underlined what I already knew – that he has taken care of me as much as I have taken care of him, literally picking me up off the ground and going with me to the emergency room on multiple occasions.

The waterworks started with something that I can laugh about and cry about at the same time.

Me: "I just bought you your last bag of baby carrots," accompanied by tears.

Joe: "Mom, you can buy them for me again."

But once I started, it was hard to stop, and I didn't want him to see me, but he did, and we had a good conversation where we brought up the theme from the movie we had both just seen, "Inside Out," in which sadness must be accepted as a part of life.

It was well into the afternoon on this moving out day last week when I got a call from a man with an Indian accent who said that he was from Microsoft and he had information about my computer being hacked. He he said he could show me that it was being hacked in Australia and Morocco and I would need to buy a something from him to protect against these hackers. So I asked him his name and his telephone number and said I would call him back. I forget the whole number, but it was area code 302 something, and as soon as I put it in google I saw that it was a scam from various numbers in the 302 area code offering debt relief, anti-virus protection, and all sorts of other things...for a price.

(The comments that came up after I put the number in provided comic relief, such as one person reporting that he said to the caller, "Your mother would be ashamed of you," and another saying, "Maybe Donald Trump can stop these calls, because nobody else can.'")

Absorbed by this, and not paying attention to anything else, I knocked a bottle of Gatorade mixed with water onto my Macbook Air, ruining basically everything but the keyboard and frame.

Sunset on the bay
In a panic I called Apple and learned that the genius bar takes walk-ins on a first come, first served basis, so the next day I was the first one there at 10 a.m. The geniuses must also be trained in counseling, because the one who helped me said he sees it frequently, with people watering their plants over their computer or spilling coffee.

I left it there and signed off on paying an arm and a leg to get a new hard drive. Luckily I had all my important work on a flash drive.

The same day I met Katie in Boston after my photopheresis, and just seeing her brightened my mood.  From there we took off for four nights at the Cape, staying in a cute bed and breakfast in Eastham. The sun- and fun-filled days included the ocean and the bay, the pond and the bike path (three successful rides!), Provincetown dinner and stroll, and sunset at Sunken Meadow Beach, where the small group of spectators applaud as the globe sinks behind the horizon.

Then, alas, it was back home Monday to deal with the mess that I left behind in my whirlwind departure and to unpack the bags that I had accumulated over the mini-vacation and to get used to the Joe-less house.

That night I played in a match in Holyoke with the summer team I am on, the Paper Dolls. Despite the heat and humidity, it was great tennis.

You can't be sad all the time.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The ride getting smoother

My driver was super nice yesterday, waiting for me with no complaint even though once again the ECP ran longer than expected.

When the nurse tells me I am in photoactivate, it's a sign that I'm near the end, kind of like when you are approaching the Palmer exit on the MassPike on the ride west from Boston and you know you're near to home. Photoactivate – the part where my while cells get a sunburn – comes after six cycles of removing and returning blood and collecting white cells each time. It's not quite over then because they still have to take your blood pressure and remove the needle and wrap your arm up.

In any case, the nice driver took me to Brighton to a great tapas restaurant, Tasca, making me feel like we were back in Spain, except that the hour, around 7 p.m., would have been unheard of in Spain, where if you got to a restaurant before 9 it was unfashionably early.

By now you have guessed that the driver was Katie, and I am so glad she's back in Massachusetts. She took me to Diane and David's house, where I spent the night and then got picked up by The Ride to go to Dana-Farber so the prescription transport car service could take me back home, a little hop  skipping and jumping because they will only deliver me to and pick me up from Dana-Farber.

I was afraid it was going to be another case of a no-show because at 9:30 a.m. the service that was supposed to pick me up was nowhere to be seen. Every time I called the main office I pressed everything they said only to get disconnected at the end. About 10 a.m. the driver finally arrived,  saying he was lost because many of them from the various services can't figure out that the entrance to 450 Brookline Ave. is actually on Jimmy Fund Way even though the signs point that way. Also he said he called me about 10 times, but he had called my home number even though I told them repeatedly told them to use my cell. I need to take the home number off. As some people in the younger generation might say, "Serves you right for keeping your landline."

Things are moving along well in several directions. I was waiting to hear from The Ride eligibility center to see if I could continue using its services even though standing up and sitting down, turning in a circle and walking across the parking lot was so easy I feared they would kick me off. When I got the large envelope I knew it was good news, just as it is in college admissions. They cleared me through 2018. I hope I don't have to use it that long.

I am only scheduled for procedures through the end of July. At that point Dr. Alyea will re-evaluate my skin to determine if I can decrease my visits. I am happy to report that I have noticed some changes. I saw the areas of hardened and thickened skin and the swelling in my hands, but I didn't feel any impediment to movement until I saw the improvement and realized the effects in hindsight.

I have mostly seen this in yoga. Sometimes I feel so inflexible that I want to say, "Oil me." It is mostly my joints, but I see now that my skin has played a role. I told my yoga teacher, Justine, that my movements feel more fluid, and she said she noticed right away that when she did an adjustment to a posture my arms and shoulders had much more give.

Despite all the hassles, something that I didn't want to do has turned out to be for the best.