Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let Us Pray . . .

. . .  or scrub the floor, or weed, or, for that matter, walk without looking like a drunk. All impossible. For some reason my knee is killing me and I find it hard to move it. I would like to say it is the result of my ten hours of wallpapering on Saturday (details on Facebook) but my duties for that project were largely sitting down and giving instructions and acting like an over-educated gopher. I belong to the "wait and see what happens" school of medicine. It will either get better or it won't.

Let's hope it does. And soon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Made Someone's Day Magic

My last post was grumpy. I am not grumpy all the time. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I made someone's day magic. MAGIC. Tammy S. was the lucky lady.

Let me explain. I went to a certain department store in search of a new iteration of the garment which the French call "soutien gorge." With or without a hyphen. Eventually I found something marginally acceptable and then set about finding two more. No more to be found, even with the help of the pleasant sales associate. Is that what they call them these days? This delightful woman called another branch and said my soutien gorges would be delivered to my house. Free of charge.

And they were, and carefully tucked away inside was this card. Tammy S. feels the magic every time she packs an order, so I guess it is just not me that made her day, but my two garments (one white, one toasted coconut) certainly contributed to her euphoria.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Plague on all you Apothecaries

I take two medications prescribed by my neurologist. Nasty medications with unpleasant side effects. The Tegretol was particularly bad when I first started to take it, the Neurontin not so bad, but the combination can make life difficult. I will not complain, because I can deal with the problems; not taking them causes a situation with which I cannot deal.

This is not a "please feel sorry for me" entry, but a comment on the stupidity of the people who manufacture or dispense medications,

When I picked up my medications in past months, I received pink pills with brownish  code (Tegretol) and bright yellow shiny lozenges (Neurontin.) My dose was divided between morning and night. Now look what a dose looks like—

There are some people who make jokes about the elderly sorting medications into their pill boxes. Let me join the butt of their jokes. Try distinguishing the pill on  the left (two per day) from the pills on the right (four per day.)  I can see pretty well, but one of my side effects is a lack of focus in the morning.

Something just seems so stupid about this all.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Too Little, Too Late

My brother-in-law was a much beloved country priest. His parishioners showed their affection for him by leaving gifts on his doorstep. These gifts usually consisted of cakes, cookies and pies. Although he would tell us that as a member of a family beset by diabetes he would prefer a stew or pot pie, he never found the courage to announce this firmly to the parish. When he was seriously ill, a few friends came to his house to cook him a birthday dinner. My sister-in-law, who was staying with him, told us this story. Mary Ann was talking with a rather over-weight woman who had taken part in the cooking and sat down to eat with them. The woman piled her plate full with mayonnaise-laced potato salad, creamy sauces and frosted cake. The topic of diabetes came up, and the woman admitted that she suffered from that dangerous and hard to manage condition. Mary Ann asked her how she could eat the type of food that she was currently enjoying and she replied that she had an infusion device inserted beneath her skin so that when her blood level indicated a need for insulin, she could inject insulin—and carry on eating!

Fast forward a few years. Yesterday I was reading the Detroit Free Press section which highlights new or original items for sale, mostly rather expensive knick knacks. My eye was caught by the advertising copy "Just because you are nursing does't mean you can't enjoy a cold one. Milkscreen is an alcohol testing kit for your your breast milk to ensure everything is safe." If you click on the link you will see Kourtney Kardashian endorses it! A Kardashian is trying to tell nursing mothers that if their milk test too high in alcohol they have the choice between rushing out to buy Enfamil, letting the baby cry until the next screening shows a less dangerous reading or letting the baby nurse anyway?

Wrong. It is all so wrong.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Eggs, Oranges and Bombs

Where have I been? We had a couple of groups of visitors and apart from that it has been end of term activities, preparation for summer (which may have finally come), and a hurried attempt to work my way through one of the most interesting books I have come across. I have been paying attention to footnotes and I borrowed through inter-library loan from Central Michigan University a book that turned up in one of the histories of World War II. I can never keep the title straight, but it is, in fact, FEW EGGS AND NO ORANGES, A DIARY showing how Unimportant People in London and Birmingham lived through the war years 1940-1945 (somewhat sic.) Oh, and written in the Notting Hill area of London by VERE HODGSON.

The author, seen here, supplies many useful maps, photographs and historical and biographical information. She herself had been born in Birmingham where she later received a degree in History. She had also taught in the south of England and at the Poggio Imperiale in Florence, where she numbered Mussolini's daughter, Edda, among her pupils. At the time war broke out, Vere Hodgson was engaged in Social Work in London, associated with a Christian Spiritualist movement, though she does not seem much of either. Earlier I was enthralled by a similar diary, Nella Last's War, but that was written in the North of England. I found Few Eggs and No Oranges more moving. It was more familiar territory, although my family did not live in central London, but in the environs. It helped me understand the difficulties my parents had gone through, rationing and shortages, and surely most of all fear not so much for themselves, but for me, born at the beginning of the war, and my brother, born at the end. No part of England was safe from the bombs she so graphically describes, incendiary bombs, V-2's and Doodle Bugs, which fell virtually non-stop for five years. Amazingly, she was not hurt and although she constantly felt the shock waves, she was never the victim of a direct hit. The book is 500 pages long, and it would take that number of pages to tell her story. We had just seen The Monument Men, and what did I read here? "The most exciting news is about the Italian Art Treasures. Major Eric Linklater entered a villa on a ridge a few miles from Florence to look at the city. He saw suddenly an Italian crucifix, . . . gazing around, to his amazement he discovered Botticelli's Primavera stacked against the wall—also numerous pictures  of Fra Lippo Lippi, Cimabue . . . in fact all of the treasures of the Uffizi!"
I loved the way that bombing raids and kipper rations, lack of sheets and death tolls all took equal space, not because she was an unfeeling person, but because it was the only way to carry on. Here she learns about Pearl Harbor.
"Listened to the Midnight News on Sunday, after they told us at 9 p.m. that American Bases in the Pacific had been bombed. Studied the map of the area, found Hawaii, and it looked so far from Japan—but we had forgotten Aircraft Carriers.
Poor dear people in those islands of bliss, sunshine and fruit drinks. They must have had an unpleasant Sunday afternoon."
After every blitz in the vicinity of Notting Hill, she would go out the next day to survey the damage, not from some ghoulish and morbid curiosity, but because government news was not always correct, presumably to lead the Germans astray. In April, 1944 she writes "West Middlesex Hospital at Edmonton was hit." Very close to home, but there was no West Middlesex Hospital. It was North Middlesex Hospital and that was where I was born in December, 1939. My brother was born there on June 8,1944. I remember a family legend that the hospital was hit when my mother was there and my dad couldn't get through on the phone to see if she was safe. Did she go in early because of her high blood pressure? Why didn't we ask questions when my parents were alive?

Happy 70th Birthday, Brian, and I wish you were here to sort out my indentations.