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Sunday, April 24, 2011

(Part 2) Leslie And I Had A Night Without Kids...

... recently, so we decided to try a local restaurant for the first time in quite a while.  Now Lexington Arms Restaurant and Lounge has been serving food to locals since the 1970s.  In fact, the place still looks like 1975 and the only things missing are lava lamps, a couple of beanbags and a cigarette machine at the front door.  The clientele too are generally silver haired and have put in an extra bit of Super Poligrip in celebration of Prime Rib Friday.

Leslie and I looked around and for a moment thought about leaving, but we were already in the door and seated.  We were sort of trapped anyway because as we were being hurriedly whisked to our seats, the waitress had given us the "'s kinda slow tonight" routine, which basically is like saying I need your paltry tip so that my 4 children can eat.  Besides, I do love prime rib.

As I sat buttering my bread, I looked at Leslie and said, "We are our grandparents".  And, at that moment, we really were, sitting there in a totally outdated "lounge", surrounded by groups of chattering retirees.  We were soon all heartily eating our medium rare prime rib, sipping a small glass of wine, munching our bread.  I pictured us also eating congealed aspic salad, some warm prunes and finishing it all off with a cup of decaff, perhaps a small slice of hummingbird cake.

"Did you enjoy your meal, dear?"
"Darned tootin', Sweety, that was one peach of a meal.  Now let's go home and get ready for bed- decaff is kicking in and it's almost half past 8.  If we hurry, we can catch a 60 Minutes rerun."

Another night without kids wasted.  My sciatica was acting up anyway!

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a happy and joyful Easter.  The Greens

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Part 1) Thus Begins...

...several new blogs on Greenbeans concerning Growing Older.  I'm taking on this challenge for a couple of reasons.  The biggest reason being that several of my childhood friends are beginning to look rather... worn.  I use the word "worn" because I'd like to start a movement to actually lose the word "old" as a description of a person.  In my mind, "old" seems to signify that the value of that person is declining and the end is in sight, while "worn" seems more of a description of a favorite pair of tennis shoes- a bit frayed and not as crisp as they once were, but nonetheless worthy of a few more washings and a jog around the neighborhood.

And that's exactly how I feel about my "worn" friends.  They still have great value to me, even in the face of their fading and fraying, sagging and graying minds and bodies.  Through mutual appreciations and sometimes frictions, we have been worn in a way which makes each of us feel very comfortable, the rough edges smoothed by time.  My friendships are now more about reclining and listening rather than posturing and building.  My oldest friends and I built the foundations of these relationships many years ago, and everyone knows that those are the hardest years to weather.  We have eroded in the some of the same ways and  also frayed and frazzled in different areas that somehow compliment the other; that somehow serve to bolster and renew our longtime kinships.

Yes, my friends are in so many ways like my worn and comfortable tennis shoes.  In fact, I think I'll take a few of them for a jog around the my neighborhood.  But please, have the paramedics on speed dial.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Illness Does Not Affect Individuals...

..but rather it also affects all those who love and care for the patient.  While it is true that I have only been a patient a handful of times in my life, I learned first hand the challenges of a patient dealing with a chronic illness.  While some diseases can dramatically shorten a persons life, all diseases will alter the trajectory of a life in big or small ways.  That's true of both the patient and their family.

I was 8 years old when my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  What started then as a strange numbing of half of her body and debilitating days of exhaustion eventually grew into more visible, permanent symptoms of the disease.  The days of watching my mother run or me playing basketball with her in the driveway, slowly ended with the diagnosis of that disease.  Throughout the course of more than 30 years her symptoms have progressed from a slight limp that slowed her down to her daily confinement in a wheelchair.  She remembers much of her life in milestones marked by the loss of abilities or the complications of the disease- the day she could no longer drive; when she could no longer feed herself; the time she fell from her wheelchair and broke both of her legs.

As a patient, she has been poked and prodded, admitted and observed.  Throughout her journey she's received competent care and beautifully delivered compassion.  At times along the way, however, she has also been mismanaged, misdiagnosed and forgotten.  She's been prescribed medicines which worked well to provide a better quality to her life and occasionally has taken medicines in which the benefits did not outweigh the side effects.  In solemn conversations held in sterile examination rooms she's been given probabilities of life expectancy, predictions regarding her limited and shrinking abilities and in some rare instances, hope.

Having seen her live it, I sometimes wonder what I would be like as a patient with a chronic disease.  Would I have the stamina and courage my mother has displayed through the years?  Would I have the same deep-seated faith and hope that she lives by?  I can only hope that I would.  After all, I've learned much from her over the years and she remains the greatest example of how I should face challenges in my life.

As a longtime representative for a pharmaceutical company, I often try to envision the perspective of the patient.  I attempt to look through their lens, modeling my behavior to be honorable to him or to her.  I think that by providing the correct and balanced information to the patient's healthcare provider I can make a dramatic and positive difference in the life of their patient.  And not only the patient's life, but the lives of those who love and care for them.  That's the best kind of job.  They may never know the role that I play, but that's alright.  I know, and that keeps me going.  And the life and hope of my own mother keeps me focused on the most important element of healthcare, the patient.