1halffull's Blog

Aging Sucks
February 23, 2012, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Aging, Change, Healthcare, Life, Over reaction

Aging sucks.


Because as you age, people who are not in your age bracket see you as less vital. They suddenly think you’re now unable to chew your own food, that you drive 20 in a 50 MPH zone and that you should stay in after dark.  You don’t dare become ill and need hospitalization because that’s where a real downturn in your life takes place.

I’ve seen it time and again with older friends who, even though they are more lively and interesting than most of the younger people we know, become invisible once they get into a hospital situation.  Doctors and nurses no longer speak directly to them about their conditions.  Caregivers immediately presume that the children now have custody of the parents.  Our friends have been overlooked and treated by the caregivers as though they are nothing but old sacks of bones lying in a hospital bed.  What kind of ‘care’ is that?

The kids are no less guilty in propagating this myth.  They often come on the scene thinking it’s their place to mind their parent’s business.  I know one family who, once their mom broke her hip, decided that meant she needed to be railroaded into doing whatever they decided was best for her.  Yes, a broken hip required surgery and rehab.  But it didn’t affect their mom’s mind nor her ability to go back to real life once she was healed.  The kids have become paranoid over their mom’s safety to the point that they’re trying to railroad her into an assisted living facility.

Unfortunately, they have created a situation where this once strong-willed woman, now questions her every thought.  She speaks and a son says ‘Mom, you shouldn’t say that.’ She wonders if they’re right and she’s wrong – all the time.  Every move toward reclaiming her life, sends the kids into further paranoia.  Faster and faster she’s losing her grip on autonomy.  Thank you kids.

Who is actually on her side?  And who really understands what she’s thinking, how she’s functioning, what she wants?

The family just doesn’t get it:  they think their mom lost her right to live at home when she broke her hip. How dare she!  They no longer see her as a viable human being.  Now she’s become someone they have to put somewhere so she’ll be ‘safe’.  Everyone’s so busy with their own lives, the only room left for her is at the assisted living facility.  Worry over; case closed.  Peachy.

The woman she was has gone missing, hidden by the wants, desires, needs of everyone else.  Unfortunately for her, internally she’s still a viable, thinking adult who wants to live her life in a way pleasing to herself.  It would be so much easier if she was out of her mind, but she’s not.

It’s unfortunate that the kids can’t take a step back from their own paranoia.  Really and truly, no matter what the kids think, this is not all about THEM! Just like this woman could not protect these kids from every single, negative life event, neither can they protect their mom.  Unlike her realization that the kids had to go through things that she couldn’t prevent, these kids refuse to realize that it’s her right to do the same.  Maybe what she really needs to be able to thrive again is for the family to lift the net of paranoia and give her a real chance to show she can still do it all in her own way.  Maybe handing her back her original freedom is what she really needs to be able to get back to normal.

Who knows what could work?  But I wish they’d give her more of an opportunity to regain herself before they dump her in some facility just so they can have peace of mind.


Self Made Man? No Such Thing
February 1, 2012, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Change, Jobs, Life | Tags:

I recently heard a commentary on someone that the reporter called ‘a self made man’.

The statement gave me pause.  What exactly would a ‘self made’ man look like?

First of all – I guess he’d have to be kind of like the big bang theory – out of nowhere and nothing (well maybe that one atom that we’re not sure where it even came from), he’d appear. Not created by any beings, having no parents who would contribute to his looks, his mental capacities, his abilities.  A possible blob of disconnected matter, not resembling anything currently recognizable. Nurturing and nourishing himself through life; unaided by teachers, uninfluenced by those around him. Surviving by sure wit under what?  A bridge?  A rock?

Einstein and family

And out of that ‘nothingness’ we’d get who?  Albert Einstein?  Donald Trump?  Hitler?  Nietsche?

I’m thinking more like the Geico Neanderthal – if even that.

Backing up the truck: of course a ‘self made’ man has to come from parents – even if only birth parents who send him straight to an orphanage.  As such, he does come with a particular set of genes that may be more ambitious than someone else’s; a brain that is inherently more memorable with a higher IQ.  A potential for creativity or business or invention and innovation are already built in as are a level of drive and desire to succeed.  Work ethic is also helpful and most often engrained by parents.

Even though a ‘self made’ man wants to believe that everything he does is singularly his choice, he will have been influenced by everyone who comes through his life.  Further, the state of his surroundings – culture, economy, politics, religion or lack thereof – and his responses to them – will contribute to the success or failure of his every choice.

Faith based or not, there’s a likelihood that he will meet up with people along the way who may pray for him or those who will just wish him well.  Alongside of those will be people who may also wish him ill.  We can’t scientifically prove or disprove that these things affect the outcomes of what we do, but since this is my blog, we’ll presume it does, as least as much (possibly more) as human interactions affect us.

Even someone who starts with virtually nothing outside of himself may have all he needs internally to become someone to whom the world will ascribe greatness – that, too, is most often subjective, much like modern art!

There are some men who have used all they were born with to become successful, even uber successful.  But to be honest, there are no truly ‘self made’ men; they all have someone on the way up that they need to thank.

Biscuits, Milk and Gravy?
April 11, 2010, 12:35 am
Filed under: Biscuit World, Food, Humor, Life, Memories, Waffle House

Today was a beautiful day.  Sun shining, flowers blooming, trees in full bud.  A gorgeous day.

We headed out to buy ‘biscuits, milk and gravy’ as my husband said. 

“Gravy?” I questioned?  “Are you thinking we should go to Waffle House?” I continued. 

“Not really. Why?” he volleyed back.

“Because, you just said we were going out to go buy biscuits, milk and gravy,” I responded. 

He chuckled, shaking his head at what he’d said.  “No, I meant dog biscuits, milk and juice.” 

We laughed, then he asked if I wanted to go any place first.  I elected Kohl’s as I’m still looking for a dress to wear to our nephew’s wedding next week.  Plus, we needed to get cat food and litter for Mr. Finicky and the pet store is in the vicinity.  It didn’t hurt that Waffle House was on the way.  All the talk of biscuits and gravy had given me a taste for it, but I didn’t want to be obvious, so I figured I’d wait to see if Dan would get the same idea.

As we got closer, suddenly he said, ‘Well, hey.  Do you want to get a waffle?” 

I know it’s called Waffle House, but after all that talk of biscuits and gravy, how could he even think I’d be looking for a waffle?  “Actually, I was thinking biscuits and gravy after all that talk earlier.”  So we pulled in, each of us with our own ideas for what Waffle House might provide us.

Suddenly it brought back a goofy event also involving, well almost anyway, biscuits. 

Back in 1989 my brother-in-law decided to get married in his home in North Carolina.  I won’t bore you with all the details of that very interesting event, although if I did, you seriously wouldn’t believe it!  I’ll just get right down to the biscuit part. 

We were on our way home.  I was driving our van with my sister-in-law riding shot gun through the hills of West Virginia.  Dan and her husband were in front of us driving with the kids.  That part was quite happy for Judi and me.  Anyway, we decided we wanted something to eat.  In particular, I wanted ice cream.  We were getting close to Charleston and began looking for a place to stop when I spied signs for Biscuit World.  The moment I saw it, I knew that Dan would be drawn to it if I didn’t do something to take control of the situation.  I began to apply the pedal to the metal and sped ahead of him. 

“What are you doing?” asked Judi.  “You must be going 85 miles and hour!” 

“87.  But who’s counting?” I responded.

“But why are you going so fast?  Are you trying to kill us?”

“No, I’m not trying to kill us.  I’m trying to find someplace that sells ice cream before Dan has a chance to head off to Biscuit World!” I exclaimed.  “If we don’t find someplace fast, we’ll find ourselves eating biscuits and grits instead of ice cream with hot fudge.”

We did manage to outrun him and missed out entirely on Biscuit World.  Of course, all involved looked like they’d gone through a wind tunnel thanks to my preference for speed.

Today’s adventure to Waffle House got us both what we wanted but only after Dan nearly didn’t get a waffle, because the waitress forgot to turn in his order.  Instead, he ended up getting two for the price of one because the waitress felt bad for messing up. 

We both enjoyed the meal and no one looked like they’d been through a wind tunnel when we were done.

The Surprises of Life…
April 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Change, Dad, Friends, God, Happiness, Humor, Jesus, Kids, Legacy, Life, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents, Travel

For the average person, there are very few really big events that take place in our lives.  You’re born – but you probably don’t remember that.  You learn to walk – don’t remember that either.  Your first day at school – maybe.  Your first visit from the tooth fairy – yep, pretty sure you remember that.

 The first date…the first kiss….the first ‘real’ boyfriend.  High school graduation then college.  Getting engaged then the big (or small) wedding day.  The birth of your first child, and every child after that.  The death of your mom, then your dad; your grandmas and grandpas if you were fortunate to know them at all.  There goes your favorite aunt and suddenly you’re so much older than you’d have thought you could get when you were 20.

 For me, most of that happened in the first 30 years.  It was a lot to pack in there.  They were all a big deal at the time….some remain a big deal in my heart, my head, even now.

 Someone once said that it’s the little things that sneak up and grab a hold of you.  They were right.

 Some of my ‘little things’ include, in random order….

 Going fishing with my dad and catching more fish than him.  He let me.  I loved the lake.  Still do.

 My friend deciding that I wouldn’t be able to deal with a club meeting when I got home after my dad’s death.  She put herself in my place and took care of it so I didn’t have to.  A little, but thoughtful thing.

 My dad poking his head into my room, handing me a $20 bill as he told me that he knew all I’d been doing around the house to help out.  Demonstrated appreciation that meant so much to me under the circumstances.

 Aunt Betty who invited me to visit her in the summers and allowed me to see myself as a valuable person like few others did.

 Learning that my friend Avis daily sang ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ in the final weeks of her life.  I’d always hoped she would.

 Playing a game of ‘keep the car moving till the light turns green’ when taking kids home from church – it’s a fun game – you should try it.

 Having a mother-in-law who patiently listened over the years, didn’t butt in, and has spent hours on the phone with me, talking about anything and nothing.  If we were running the world, it would be a much better place.  Thanks, mom.

 Going to the beach with the whole clan; all the kids playing together; sunburns radiating.  Sea creatures scurrying out of the bucket of sand while one child screamed and the others all laughed.

 My sister-in-law and I in the ocean – without our contacts in – screaming at ‘jaws’ coming for us then laughing our faces off when we finally could tell they were just shadows.  Another time laughing ourselves silly so hard in the card section that a man ‘just had to come see why we were so hysterical’.  “There are two sides to every divorce” the outside of the card said.  “Yours and the s— head’s.” (not my words – but how we howled and promptly sent it to a sibling who may still have it today)!

 Two little faces pressed against the window waving and calling ‘bye mommy’ as I’d pull out of the driveway on my way to somewhere else.

 The surprise 40th birthday party my husband gave me where I was totally surprised.

 The kids so excited to sleep in the van the night before a vacation started.

 All the Christmas videos we made that could be Christmas any year except for the changes in sizes, hairdos, glasses and voices.

 Howling at the moon from the causeway with my daughter.

 Taking my son for his first tattoo.

 Oh, the list goes on and on and is my way of saying, let the little things grab on to you and you hold on tight to them.  In the end, they’re really the only things that matter.

Sharing The Upper Hand
March 18, 2010, 12:50 am
Filed under: battle of the sexes, Change, God, Life, Respect for women

There’s so much power mongering these days.  There’s hardly a place you can go or a facet of life where you won’t find someone trying to wield power over another individual or group.

While you’d think that the supposed liberation of women over the last 40 years would have leveled the playing field between men and women, on a regular daily basis you will find that not to be true.  The reality is that many men are still hung up on dominating and controlling the women around them.  There are some who just ALWAYS have to have the upper hand.

I’m so fortunate:  My husband is not one of those men.  While he’s not a pushover, he’s also not someone who has to dominate nor always have the upper hand over me.  While he trusts in God, he doesn’t use the ‘wives must submit to their husbands’ scriptures in a way that presumes I should have very little or no say in our lives.

He works with women in his business life but never seems to feel the need to assert himself in such a way as to make them feel inferior.  Sure, he may get annoyed sometimes with their behavior, as he does with other men’s behavior, but he never takes it upon himself to denigrate them or make them feel like second class citizens.

In the church, where there can be an even greater tendency to try to put women in some supposed lowly female ‘place’, he is kind and values what the women have to say in the areas that he co-serves with them.  When he listens, he does so with an open mind and ability to help them know that he has heard and understands their point of view.  He doesn’t automatically presume that ‘because he’s a man’ he automatically knows best.  Nor does he behave in such a manner that they are made to feel as though their input doesn’t really count.  They are treated as equals whose input is incorporated into the overall plans.

I really like that about him.  He’s figured out that receiving many ideas from many people, men or women, usually gives a better quality to the discussion.  He knows that broader input builds trust and makes for better group interactions overall.

He and his cohorts don’t limit themselves by invoking some ‘men are the heads’ credo in an attempt to keep women in the pantry ‘where they belong.’  They’re actually evolved enough to be secure in who they are, without need to shout down any woman who they fear might have a better insight than they do.  They don’t insist on their way or the highway because they know this isn’t any way to navigate successfully and peacefully through the narrows of relationship building.  And isn’t that what life should really be about – relationship building?

So, the next time you think it’s all about having the upper hand, take a tip from my husband by opening your heart and mind to what the other person is really saying.  Let go of your prejudices and learn to understand that their input can be possibly even more valuable than your closed mind.  Maybe just once, open your ears and put your hands in your lap.

You’ve got cancer. What’s next?
February 20, 2010, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Cancer, Healthcare, Life, Uncategorized

Let’s talk about cancer.

I think we can all agree on this idea:  Pretty much, it sucks.

If I may, I’d like to share some practical information so that, just in case you find yourself sitting in a doctor’s office and he says to you or  someone you love, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer”, this information will pop into your mind.  It’s meant to help you at a time when you may not be able to think clearly.  

It’s important to know these things ahead of time so that when you are faced with such a diagnosis you won’t allow yourself to be caught up in the terror of the moment and get treatments that ultimately may not have been appropriate for your condition.  Just like when you build a house, you start with a foundation before you put on the roof, so you must lay a plan for a solid treatment foundation to optimize your chances for remission/cure before you embark on carrying out the plan.

First of all, the moment you hear the word cancer – whether it’s yours or the person you love most in the world – I guarantee you won’t hear anything after that word.  Life will stop in that moment as the word cancer goes bouncing around in your head as though it’s a superball.  Typically, while your world has just suddenly flipped upside down, the doctor’s hasn’t so he’ll keep talking.  He’ll be saying things like percentage of cure, you need more tests, you’ll see a surgeon or an oncologist or both.  Pretty much what you’ll hear is your brain screaming at you “You have CANCER” over and over again.  You’ll try to focus, but all’s you’ll hear outside yourself is ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’

The office staff will either want to make appointments for you or they’ll give you cards with names on them of people you should see and talk to.  Given how you’re feeling in this moment, you’ll feel this horrible sense of urgency like you not only want all that information, you want to be able to walk out of this office into the treatment center and get this thing out of you RIGHT NOW!  It’s understandable and a very normal reaction.

That’s why you need to read this next part carefully:  unless you’re in an end stage or have an extremely aggressive cancer, it can wait for a week. 

Why would you wait for a week?

First, you need to digest the fact that you have cancer.  You need for your brain to unfreeze from that first statement:  You have cancer.  You need to be able to restart your heart, take in some air and express your thoughts and feelings first.  What you don’t need is to be rushed into a bunch of procedures that may or may not be right for your personal condition.

If there are more tests that need to be done, begin to have them done.  In the meantime, do your homework.  There is no one better to manage your case than an educated you!  That being said, it is also good to find a family member or friend who cares for you enough to invoke some common sense and good judgement on your behalf.  They need to be your listener and advocate.  This means that they will go to appointments with you and take accurate notes so you’ll be able to review what you heard after the appointment. 

Next you should find out the following:

1.  What is the specific name of my cancer?  Where is it located exactly?

2.  What hospitals and physicians are specializing in my form of cancer?  Where are they located? 

3.  Can I get an appointment with one of them after all my testing is done for an evaluation specific to my case and the cancer that I have?

4.  What are my best treatment options?  Would the specialist prescribe my treatment and work with a local doctor so I could receive my treatment locally?

Once you have as much information as you can get, make a list of additional questions that you wish to ask each doctor.  Let them know at the beginning of your appointment that you have the questions and you aren’t leaving till all are answered. 

A good physician or specialist is one who is going to want you to be completely engaged in your treatment program.  Run away as fast as you can from anyone who will not answer your questions or who tells you not to worry, he’ll be the one to make those decisions. 

Remember these two things: 

1.  While the doctor is (theoretically) the one with the knowledge and experience, the life he’s messing with belongs to you.  It is your right to get the information you ask for. 

2.  You hired him to work with you.  You’re providing his paycheck and you can fire him anytime you wish.  There are many other doctors out there who will be willing to work with you and receive that paycheck!

Finally, remember that there are alternative, complementary medicines that you can also tap into to help enhance traditional medicine’s approach.  A good resource for these can be found through the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

I hope you never hear the words “You have cancer.”  But if you do, remember what you’ve read here.  May it serve you well.

What is it about Thursday?
February 12, 2010, 6:20 am
Filed under: Happiness, Humor, Jobs, Life, Work

If it’s Thursday night, it must be Friday morning!

Make sense to you?  If it does, then you must be suffering the same ‘malady’ as am I!

About a month ago, Thursday dawned in a happy manner – with the realization that tomorrow was Friday which would be followed by Saturday, a day without formal, outside-the-house work.  So I went to work that Thursday with a spring in my step and a hum in my mind, happy to be in the midst of Thursday.

When I got home from Thursday, it was like I’d been shot with the glitter of a rainbow.  I made ‘real’ dinner – as opposed to those fake ones made up of either left overs or stuff from cans – breezed through the evening to my favorite show at 10 – Burn Notice – then found that I didn’t even want to go to bed yet.  So I fooled around on the computer, watched more TV, goofed off in the bathroom then landed on the couch to lull myself to sleep with TVLand’s favorite show:  Roseanne.

When the buzzer went off signaling Friday morning, I was glad to greet it!  It was FRIDAY! which could only mean that tomorrow was Saturday, the day I didn’t have to go to work.  What a great day!  What fun I’d had….for once.

Unfortunately, Friday night found me snoring on the couch by 9:30.  I didn’t care!  It was worth the price to have had Wonderful Thursday!

Then there was lovely Saturday and Perfect Sunday followed by, you guessed it, Ugly Monday.  Mondays are often difficult where I work.  You walk in and rather than take off your coat and have a few minutes to settle in, you’re hit with who didn’t show up, what has to be picked up, whose project needs to be started up – you know, the usual first day of the work week stuff.  Suddenly you find yourself thinking about the other end of the week and wondering when it’s coming?

Next it was Tuesday, then Wednesday.  Before I knew what was going on, it was Thursday.  ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL THURSDAY.  Ahhhhhh…….

Again, I woke up so happy to be at the beginning of Thursday.  What a wonderful day.

Just like the week before, the day breezed by.  There was another real meal, some friendly competition on the Wii, some computer time, the 10 p.m. TV show.  Then there was no sleep!  Who needs sleep?  It’s Thursday after all, that lovely day that precedes Friday – again.

What makes it seem even more wonderful is that I’ve been giving in to my body clock on these Thursday night romps.  You see, while some people’s bodies are programmed to arise from their beds by 6 a.m., mine is not programmed that way.  When others want to chat their way from the edge of night to the bright of day, I want to snuggle under the covers sleeping until I might naturally awake about 10 a.m.  When some are crawling into bed at 10 p.m., I would adore staying up every night until 2 a.m.  My body lives for those days.

So, that’s what’s been taking place on Thursdays.  It’s such a luxury, dare I say even a thrill to indulge myself in staying up on lovely Thursday, anticipating Wonderful Friday.  My body feels happier and so do I!

So, what about Thursday?  It’s just the very happy day before Wonderful Friday, the best day of the week!