Hoarsefrog’s Weblog

The lump in lumpectomy sank into my throat, not once but twice. Where did this millimeter intruder come from to to invade a breast and interrupt my family’s equilibrium?

Privacy vanished. She has breast cancer. Left side. Right side too?

Lumpectomy is a surgical strike. a journey alone with companions.

Statistics mount: medicine’s lore, the physician’s clinical comfort, the radiologists’s picture, the pathologist’s slide. Waiting in the office, waiting for the lab, waiting for reports dictating the next move of a shock wave that never wavers.

Bright and grim moments blend into humor. Will a few laughs kill the tumor?

Bone scan, cat scan, pet scan, here a scan, there a scan, everywhere a scan.

The verdict is in, the edict given.

                 Lop it off.

Her bust busted, her bosom bombed like a torn crater in a foreign land.

The ruling comes: The cancer’s gone, all erased. There’s only a XX% chance it will return.

                               And life lingers in the waiting room.

No , no more waiting. Life does not wait. Life surges and follows the urges as the family blends a new fabric, the fabric of faith.       

 

I wrote this essay in 2003 when my wife had breast cancer. I endured the vigil of the waiting room by drafitng this article which was cherised by family and friends.

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     I feel naked without a business card to give as a miniature billboard announcing my profession. My card is a condensed resume showing ways to contact me.

     I collect business cards which I place in an 8/12 x by ll three ring binder showing  various colors, logos and companies. I put the cards in a sheet protector which has 10 slots for business cards which I bought at Staples. I display magnetic business cards on cookie sheets.

     Business cards say, “here I am. I am important. I am here to serve you.” They contribute to my self-esteem. So far I’ve had 11 business cards. I created a generic card for use at business expo’s which I throw  into fish bowls exhibitors provide for prize winners. In ten years I have won a camera, a masssage, a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, a health club membership and a bouqet of flowrs.

     Business cards first appeared as visiting cards during the reign of Louis XIV of France. Visitors wrote their signatures, promisorry notes and messages on these cards. They became  greeting cards. In 17th century London trade cards served as the newspaper of the time. During the 18th century copperplate engravings were popular.  In 1850 Abraham Lincoln distributed his business card introducing himself as an attorney. 20th century monotone cards progressed to color.

     I will add to my collection businesss cards from other countries and other languages.

     As a retiree I don’t have a business card anymore but I don’t feel naked without a card as before.

     In the past two years I have progressively experienced memory problems. The first ocassion was forgetting how to pump gas and asking for assistance from the convenience store clerk. Once the gas was pumped I forgot how to use my ATM card so my wife had to help me later. I began having trouble reconciling my checkbook. I also began to get lost while driving away from home. I got a cell phone to be in touch with my family to get directions.

     These cascading events were frightening and after consulting with two neurologists and having an MRI they concluded that I have “early dementia” also known as Mild Cognitive Impairment. (MCI). This is more than normal Age Associated Memory Impairment (AAMI.) I was prescribed Namenda. Fortunately, with a lot of higher education (two master’s degrees) I have what is called a lot of cognitive reserve.

     My doctor suggested that I start a blog as a way to exercise my brain. My first blog decision was to choose a name. I could use my given name, a nick name or a pseudonym. I chose a pseudonym to retain privacy because in my professional life I was a public figure doing public speaking with my picture occasionally in the newspaper so I had very little privacy. My family was under scrutiny. Now as a retiree I enjoy being hoarsefrog. I have nothing to hide except for a few unnamed skeletons in my closet.

     I have learned some ways to cope with my memory problems. I bought a talking calculator at Amazon for $21.00. It’s a remarkable tool for for helping me to reconcile my checkbook. I hear immediately if I have entered the wrong#. I love it. And it doesn’t talk back to me. It’s very well behaved.

     I purchased two word games to play off line. One is Bookworm at Popcap.com and Scrabble at Yahoo games. Each one cost $19.95 and well worth it. The Scrabble game keeps score and has eight skill levels.These games provide me with top notch work outs for my brain.

     A peaceful brain exercise is coloring with gel pens and Prismacolor pencils. I spend hours coloring. I choose colors and textures and this is creative. Some coloring book companies are Mindware.com, edupressinc.com, bellerophonbooks.com and doverpublications.com. like to share my discoveries.

     These activities have become more valuable for me because I recently hit a bus and have voluntarily stopped driving because I don’t want to injure myself or others.

     I chose wordpress as my blog host because of its excellent support team, versatility and a large theme library. Starting a blog is just what the doctor ordered and I’m glad he did.

     With this autobiographical sketch I remain:

                                                  The man without a face

     Disassociated Press…this raggedy e-mail was found in a DC dumpster by a homeless banker who tried to sell it on eBay unsuccessfully. It’s dated August 12, 2008, well before Obama announced Joe Biden as his VP choice. The CSI team could not identify the author who remains anonymous. This e-mail has been laminated and will be up for bidding at an annual Chicago auction on November 5, 2008. It’s value is estimated to be about two million dollars. The content of this obscure e-mail is:

     “I just got an e-mail from Barack Obama asking me to be his runnnng mate for a large # of reasons as follows:

I carry the evangelical vote.

I model the faith based initiative.

I appeal to older women.  

I bring the wisdom of being 65+

I’m not a yes man.

I don’t befriend gangsters or loony pastors.

I know poverty.

I’m not along the elite.

I’m an attack dog.

I’m tactful.

I know how many homes I own.

I carry MA, PA and MN.

I’ve had foreign affairs. I dated a Canadian girl in college.

I can manage the Clintons by including them in a Methodist huddle. Hillary has her own prayer group and much much more…

I have until midnight to accept or decline this request.

What should I do?”

Obviously this person was not Obama’s first choice. Or was it?

     Hello. My name is Hoarsefrog and I am a compulsive meeting attender. (Hello Hoarsefrog!)

     I attended my first meeting when I was twelve to plan a car wash to raise money for my church youth group. This was the beginning of my life as a meetings  junkie.

     Throughout college I attended meetings. I thought it was part of becoming sophisticated. I went to a Swiss Family Robinson reunion and fell out of a tree house. The meeing continued without me. What an insult!

     One problem with meetings is that you can be elected to an office. Another hassle is the agenda. Who has the agenda? When discovered, it is not followed. The minutes foul up the meeting. When read they need to be corrected leaving the secretary in tears.

     Evening meetings are difficult. There is little time to eat, attend PTA, church, board and athletic meetings that end in time to sleep and get up in the morning for the meeting of the Early Rise and Shine club.

     The best meeting I ever attended was when a deaf dog wanderd in and I growled at him and he barked at me. This started a howl of laughter.

     Then I found Meetings Anonymous. It was a snowy night and the meeeting of Fathers Against Dumb drivers (FADD) was cancelled. I saw a light in the building and heard a group chanting “I am powerless over meetings.”

     I went to the meeting and Leo said he went to three meetings a day until he got a sponsor and attended one meeting a day. Sarah said she survived twenty days without a meeting and the group applauded. George slipped and went to meetings three days in a row. Dwight declared  that a meeting addict could start over by misssing one meeting at a time.

     I was asked to make a list of all the peopleI I neglected by going to meetings. My list filled two notebooks.

     I returned the following night and was asked to make amends to everyone I harmed by going to meetings. This was painful. It’s hard to kick a three meetings a day habit.

     I got a sponsor. I called Mary and told her I was tempted to go the the April Fool’s Day Planning Committee meeting. She asked me what I would gain by by going to the meeting. I said, “Well, not much but a headache.” Mary asked me what I would gain by not going to the meeting. I said, “!’d have my llfe back. I could see my family and friends, read a book, go to a play and relax.” MA has one principle wich is to stop going to meetings including gatherings of Meetings Anonymous.

     When tonight’s meeting is over, I’m outa here!

     I cried when my elementary school burned down. I loved school so much. I was in the blue bird reading class (the best) and a champion checker player in the third grade.The entire grades 1-6 were bussed to another school not as nice as the destroyed one. A few days later we were allowed to return to the ashes to sift through them to see if anything survived the fire.

     I cried my way through the smell of days old smoke and left over grey sandlike soot. Then I saw the corner of a red pencil box half buried in the cinders. Yes, to my childhood joy it was my unmelted red pencil box with pencils and an eraser in it.

     I loved school so much that after high school graduation I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. I’ve never stopped learning. I love going to seminars, workshops and retreats. Heaven for me will include seminars with opportunities to ask questions of biblical characters, especially Job.

     As a retiree I still find new ways for personal growth. I discovered virtualuniversity.org where a student can earn continuing educations credits or audit up to three five week courses for $18.00. What a bargain!

     And this school can’t burn down.

     I am a retiree. I thrive at 65 and was frisky at 60 and I will be heavenly at 70. My interests  include educational and medical topics  with some humor thrown in. This my first blog and I wish to reflect on my life as well as provide opinions about what is going on in the world.

     My first marriage ended after five years. My second marriage is in its 29th year. My wife and I have two amazing daughters. My oldest daughter is in grad school. My youngest is a high school junior.

     My favorite movies are Milllionaire Baby, Mystic River and the Note Book starring James Garner (this one made me cry.) I like all novels by Jonathan Kellerman. I am an avid reader of Consumer Reports, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Living Bible. Hagar the Horrible and the Wizard of Id are my favorite cartoons.

     I was born in Boston Massachusetts and educated in the greater Boston area. I no longer live in Boston.

     To learn more about me see the Fiery Red Pencil Box post.

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