Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day 29: If you don't count your own blessings, who will?

Photo credit: Reticulated Writer

Did you ever have one of those days that require you to either baste yourself with pity all day, or to grab yourself up by the lapels, give yourself a hard shake and set yourself down inside a new attitude? I know you have. Today was one of those damn days, and even though we all have them, I'm going to tell you about mine.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I've been going to some doctors at the base to clear up a few minor health issues. Today was dermatology day. I got Coraline off to school, got ready to go, and walked out the door with a good half hour before my appointment. Plenty of time. I had my Kindle with me, because I knew I'd be early.

I hit the unlock on my van with my key fob and nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. Must need a new battery, I thought. First time in 14 years, but OK. I used the key and got in, automatically hit the button to lock the van and .... nothing. Put the key in the ignition and turned it .... nothing. Looked at the stupid, easy-to-bump button for the 30 interior lights and it was rocked forward. I'd left the lights on when I came home Saturday night. Probably bumped the button with my purse, and not the first time.

I called my son Drake, woke him up, explained the situation, and he said he'd be right over. I ran through the house and out to the garage for my jumper cables and got everything set up to jump my van. Fifteen minutes later he pulled up. I looked at my phone. Twelve minutes until my appointment. "Just take my car," he said. "Montana is on her way over. We'll jump your van with her car. Go!"

So I did. And I was 10 minutes late for my appointment, which meant I had to wait almost 20 minutes for the doctor on an examining table in one of those backless gowns , because she took the patient who was early ahead of me. Can't blame her.

I had asked for a skin cancer screening, because I'm a redhead and I can be a bit of a hypochondriac -- even though I rarely go to the doctor. I just worry -- so I wanted her to look at a few spots and secretly laugh at me for worrying about my freckles and bumps.

Except she didn't laugh. She was quite serious. And she wants to biopsy a spot on my face next week to see if it's basal cell carcinoma. Out of the 5 spots I showed her, of course it's the one on my face she's worried about.  Sigh. I really wanted to be a hypochondriac.

Next I went to the pharmacy. She'd given me a prescription for a new medicine for a rash around my eyes, and she told me I'd have to ask them to order it for me. When I told the tech, he started laughing a loud, booming fake laugh and said. "Well, that's not the way we do things around here. You don't just walk up and ask me to order you something. We have procedures that have to be followed. This is not the way you do it." He looked at my prescription and continued, "Looks like I'm going to have to have a talk with Lydia about this. Lydia. Lydia. Lydia. You are going to have to learn how we do things here, and this is not the way we do things, Lydia. You need to get with our program, Lydia, and not be sending patients down here talking about special orders, Lydia. You need to learn a lesson, Lydia." And he laughed his fake, booming laugh again.

Now I don't know if you're familiar with the military, but his use of her first name was shockingly inappropriate. Even though he was a no-ranking civilian, he should have known better. And I don't think if he'd looked down and seen that my doctor's name was James or John or David he would have spoken so condescendingly nor would he have used her first name. That pissed me off.

I said, "I'm sure Dr. Smith* thought you would be able to lead me through the proper procedure for getting this prescription." I was not smiling.

He simply grabbed a cordless phone and said, "I'm going to talk to Lydia now and tell her how WE do things here, and it's not the way she does things."

I opened my mouth to say, "Her name is either Dr. Smith or Lt. Col. Smith to you," but he'd already walked away. He talked to 3 other techs, and then reached into a bin on the shelf and pulled out a box, which he then dropped, kicked, and had to pick up. I don't think he made that phone call.

When he came back over to me, I said, "Is that my prescription?" He had to admit it was. I said, "So Lt. Col. Smith wasn't so far off giving me the prescription and asking me to bring it to you?"

"Not this time," he said. "You can have a seat. We'll call you up when it's ready."

I'm so super sensitive right now to sexist slights like that. I really wanted to call him out. And then again, I'd already been waiting for 45 minutes, and I just wanted to get out of there. So I didn't. I waited another 15 minutes, got my prescription and left.

I drove Drake's car to his house to trade for my van. We talked a while. I got into my van and drove home. I was just waiting for the next shitty thing to happen, even though the sun was shining, and the temperature was mild and in the 50's. A beautiful day, and I hadn't even noticed it until 2:00 in the afternoon. And that's when I decided I needed to take inventory on my perspective.

My battery was dead on my good old reliable van, yes, but I don't need a new one. I also had someone I could call who came right over and helped me out. He could have left my van sitting there dead and let me call roadside assistance or jump it with my trickle charger, but he fixed it for me. I am loved.

And as for the impending biopsy, I am hooked into some of the best socialized medicine in the world at one of the best military hospitals. I hope I don't have skin cancer on my face. Of course, I'm freaked out about that. But if I do, I will receive good medical care, and I pay very little for it. I won't have to fill out tons of paperwork or beg for an insurance company to pay for my care.  I am one of the fortunate ones.

As for that asshole at the pharmacy, fuck him. He's a sexist loudmouth, and that's that. At least I don't have to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with him.

After Coraline got home from school, we went out to run some errands. We had to drive out to the suburbs to return some boots I'd bought her that broke the first time she wore them. A 40-minute round trip. But I didn't have to pay postage to send them back, and by the time I got home Amazon had credited my account.

Coraline's school is doing a canned goods drive, and the class that donates the most gets a doughnut party. I don't really want Coraline having doughnut parties at school. They give her a ridiculous amount of sugar there. But I do want her to know generosity. So we made an unplanned stop at Kroger, and I asked her how many she thought she'd bring. "A dozen," she said.

"A dozen! You know you have to carry them on the bus, right?" I said. 

"How much is a dozen again?" she asked.

"Well, I want to take a dozen," she said.

And so we picked out a dozen cans of tuna, broth, soup, fruit, and beans. Because lots of people are hungry, and we are blessed with a big pot of homemade turkey soup in our fridge made from the carcass of our Thanksgiving turkey. So if she wants to haul a dozen cans of food in to school on the bus, a dozen it is.

At the library, I was grateful that we had our choice of thousands of books, CD's, and DVD's. Imagine what that would look like to most people in the world.

2016 has been a difficult year. November has been an especially difficult month, especially for those of us who were sure we were going to see our first woman president .... It's been hard to feel grateful even during this month when we focus on it so much. So many days I have to give myself a shake like I did today, and remind me to appreciate the support and the love I have beneath and around me. It's so easy to get pulled down by .... well, by all the things that pull us down.

November is almost over, but I'm making a vow -- because I think we're headed for a devastating crisis in this country -- that I'm going to hold on to the good things, the loving acts, the generous gifts. And I'm going to fight even harder for what is right and necessary for the safety of my family and friends and even strangers who could be friends.

Damn, I got all preachy there, didn't I? Well, it happens. I needed to see it in writing tonight. I know I'm going to have a pall over my head until I find out the results of that biopsy. And then ... well, I can't see around that curve. So until then, I'm just going to be glad for what I've got, which right now is one almost finished blog post, a nasty woman cocktail, and the dregs of a bag of potato chips. I don't have to get on the scale until morning, so right now, I'm OK.


  1. "He could have left my van sitting there dead and let me call roadside assistance or jump it with my trickle charger."

    Never would have happened. My momma didn't raise me that way ;-)

  2. Sorry you had a difficult day but glad you managed to turn it around mentally! I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face when I was 30. Doc told me there would be more but 27 years later...so far nothing else. There is a scar on my cheek near my jawline -kinda Harry Potterish except it looks like an upside down question mark, not a lightning bolt. I like to think it adds to my badassedness except no one seems to notice.

    1. That's good to know. Mine is just under the outside of my left nostril. I suppose at this stage of the game of life, a scar is simply a sign of survival. Badassedness.

  3. I had the exact same biopsy very recently, it came back as a huge freckle and benign. Your post is awesome. I, too, need some of that optimistic spirit. This week has been a giant ass pain, but you're right - there's good balancing the bad.

    1. Fingers crossed! Mine isn't a freckle, but I would love to get the all clear from the dermatologist. Skin cancer is about the only cancer I really worry about. I hope your ass pains fade as the week fades.