I’m not me when I’m cranky

Thanks to all who have volunteered to take over nagging J. for me. She was thrilled to learn there will be no lapse in the endless well-meaning harassment directed toward her.

Today I am writing to you from my new headquarters at the hospital, where as we speak I am having first platelets and then red blood cells infused into a vein in my right hand. Dr. Blood Lite arranged these transfusions upon reviewing my blood counts this week. Needless to say, they weren’t so hot.

Another week, another transfusion or two. I am hoping that once my newly started performance-enhancing drugs kick in, my need for red blood cells may diminish, at least for a little while. I can only hope. But my dropping platelets are another problem.

If a lab test result is out of whack, it may be too high (as indicated by an H) or too low (L). Hs and Ls sprinkle my lab results every time I’m tested. This week I hit the critical (C) range for my platelets for the first time. This drop called for a significant change in symptom management.

First, I will be stopping one of my chemotherapies, the nonessential one that was initiated solely to help me feel better. This chemotherapy, like many others, suppresses blood cell production. Since I’m having enough trouble making my own blood cells as it is, I don’t need my drugs to suppress my production even more.

Rather, I need a way to promote my platelet production specifically, and that’s where steroids come in. In my 54 years, I have managed to avoid being on steroids except for brief periods, but Dr. Blood Lite informed me that they have helped people like me create platelets. I have two options: either I endure the aversive side effects of steroids or I bleed out. Which would you choose?

Why have I thrown a tantrum whenever a doctor has tried to suggest steroids in the past? Because steroids are drugs no one wants to be on. They can make people chubby and moody–of course I’ll get moody if I get chubby!–and they can challenge sleep.¬†The potential mood changes range from euphoria to irritability. I’m praying for the euphoria.

Over longer periods, steroids can affect bone density, but I don’t much care about my bones breaking anymore. Why worry about long-term health concerns if I’m only going to be here over the short term?

Steroids may also suppress my immune functioning, rendering me more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but viral infections are more challenging. Shingles anyone? For this reason, I will concurrently be starting anti-viral medication, which, thankfully, is easily tolerated.

Maybe I should consider the potential positive effects. With a bit of weight lifting, I could look like this:

Picture of back of woman flexing on steroids

I’d need anabolic steroids, not corticosteroids, you say? Alas.

So I was thinking, if you want to get together, we should probably do it sooner rather than later. I may not be pleasant company once the corticosteroids kick in, and I’d hate to subject you to irritable me. As J. can attest, I’m not me when I’m cranky. If I am a grump when we do get together, remember that I warned you. ūüôā

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Yet another Jewish delicacy: hamantaschen

Triangular baked goods with two fillings called hamantaschen

You may not be aware that this week, Jews celebrated Purim, the happiest holiday in the Jewish calendar. I too might have forgotten without diligent prompting from the better Jews around me. You haven’t heard of Purim? The story, in short, is of good conquering evil. No wonder we celebrate.

Haman is the evil one. He happens to wear a three-cornered hat, which prompted a special-for-Purim baked good called hamantaschen, traditionally filled with jam or dried fruits or poppy seeds or nuts. These days, some adventurous bakers catering to their grandchildren and middle-aged nieces fill theirs with with speculoos spread or sour gummy bears.

One of the Purim traditions is not only to bake these delicious treats but to deliver them to loved ones. The special delivery is known as shalach manos.

Imagine my surprise when I received an unexpected package from my dear doting aunt on Wednesday. I wondered why she would be sending me something since I would see her  in Toronto the following week when J. and I visited. I ripped open the envelope to discover it was filled with freshly baked hamentaschen, which she orchestrated to arrive on Purim.

These hamantaschen came in handy yesterday as I was sitting for almost 3 hours receiving my last iron infusion. What does one do while wedded to an IV for hours except to eat? I had had trouble dragging myself out of bed that morning, so J. had made me a lunch with a salad and a variety of treats so I would not starve. Thank goodness she remembered to pack me a special speculoos-filled hamantasch.

But wait, it doesn’t end there. Thanks to the multicultural curriculum at a local preschool, a friend’s daughter learned all about Purim this week. Armed with this knowledge, her mother, Ms. Artisan Baker, baked a special batch of date-orange hamantaschen for her Jewish friend (that would be me).

I’m not sure if Ms. Baker was aware of shalach manos, but she participated in the tradition nonetheless.¬†Imagine my surprise when J. came back from walking the dog yesterday holding a container of hamantaschen still warm from the oven, procured from Ms. Baker while she was on her special delivery.

I was amazed by Ms. Baker’s wares, especially since they were her first attempt.¬†She must have weeded through the various heated debates amongst Jewish bakers about the recipe for the perfect hamantasch. There are doughs that are shortbread like and those that are softer and more pliable. Then there are no end of fillings. There are strong opinions about how to fold the dough so the filling does not leak out during the baking. Somehow Ms. Baker reviewed all this hamentasch lore and came up with a recipe rivalling that of my experienced aunt. And Ms. Baker is not even Jewish!

Within two days, I was the recipient of two batches of special treats baked and delivered with love. How lucky I am to have two people (three if I count the excellent lunch J. packed me) gracing me with shalach manos. Consider this one of the many benefits of being Jewish. I highly recommend my religion. The baked goods are simply a bonus.

One injection and my Olympic aspirations are over

Man shelving books from cart at library

Have you been watching the Olympics on television? Go Canada go! I haven’t been watching much since I have other pressing matters to attend to, such as improving my quality of life. That’s the term commonly used with end-stage patients like me. My quality of life could use some improvements of late, I admit.

I’ve been noticing an increase in my number of couch days. Couch days are those days when I am largely horizontal, and often napping, except when I move to the table to eat or head to the potty to…I’ll spare you the details. I’m not fond of couch days; I have a lot left to do in my remaining time.

I will be undergoing two specific interventions with the specific aim of decreasing my lethargy. Later this afternoon, while you are preparing a romantic dinner for two, I’ll be at the hospital receiving an IV iron infusion. I’ve been taking oral iron supplements for a few years already, but since my hemoglobin has started dropping, the doctor is calling in the big guns.

But wait, there’s more. I will also soon be starting on injections of synthetic erythropoietin. EPO, as you might know it, is a hormone produced by the kidneys that increases red blood cell production.

As helpful as this intervention will be for me, EPO does have a bad reputation. The higher red blood cell counts prevent fatigue, thereby enhancing the performance of endurance athletes. For that reason, athletes are banned if they’re caught artificially raising their EPO levels. Thereafter, they are allowed to compete only with the Olympic Athletes of Russia.

As soon as I receive my first EPO injection, I will be classified as a doper, and will become ineligible for the Canadian Olympic Team. What sport do I compete in, you ask? Well, none that are officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee yet. But I can think of several special talents that, were they recognized, would make me a gold-medal competitor.

Imagine an Olympic competition for library geeks, assessing mastery of the Dewey Decimal system. (Melvil Dewey is my idol.) Watch me shelve a huge stack of books in record time with my eyes closed! Doesn’t that sound like high-level sport to you?

How about my ability to dirty every single mixing bowl in my kitchen each time I bake one measly batch of cookies? Bet you can’t do that. One-bowl brownies? Who are you kidding?

Then there are my stellar grammar skills. Anyone can ace a spelling bee, but how about a grammar bee? Give me your subjunctives, conjunctives, and presumptives (I know, that’s not a grammar word, but it sounded good there). Not to sound arrogant, but I think I’d be a shoe-in for a medal. Whoops! Did I just dangle a participle? If need be, I’ll simply bribe the judges.

As you can see, my dreams of an Olympic medal are soon to be dashed. Even if I weren’t about to become a doper, the IOC does not yet recognize my unusual gifts. Oh, who cares? An Olympic medal was never on my bucket-less list anyhow.

A Hanukah Miracle

Two reindeer visiting with people on sidewalk

This time of year, everyone focuses on the Christmas miracle. So what if a baby was born of a virgin? There are many other miracles happening all around us. Take the miracle of Hanukah: the Maccabees lit the smidgen of oil found in the desecrated Temple and it lasted for 8 days! If that’s not a miracle, what is? Who’s the wondrous one who thought of making coins out of chocolate? Yet another Hanukah miracle.

Then there are the many local miracles that happen this time of year. Imagine being a visitor at our local children’s hospital this week, only to look out a window and spy four local real live reindeer walking by. Nifty.

J. has been a busy little elf this past while performing Christmas miracles in support of the children at the hospital. She helped Santa dole out gifts to the inpatients, and sold gifts at a gala in support of the hospital. If she asked you, after purchasing your $250 ticket to attend this gala, “Would you like to buy a $40 gift for a child who will be hospitalized over Christmas?” Only a scrooge would say no.

Last Sunday she co-opted our special friend to volunteer with her at the Teddy Bear Toss, an annual Calgary Hitmen hockey game. Each year, attendees throw teddy bears onto the ice following the first Calgary Hitmen goal. The bears (or other stuffies, including two dreidels that J. saw) then need to be sorted into bags to be distributed to the children at 60 recipient agencies, including the hospital.

Our special friend is always dressed to the nines whenever she goes out, so let’s call her Ms. Glam. After hours of sorting stuffies, Ms. Glam realized she had lost the precious watch she had worn to complement her outfit that day. The watch was a beloved Christmas gift from her adoring husband last year. By the time she realized her wrist was bare, the watch could have been anywhere, including the garbage or amongst the bags of 24,605 stuffies. She figured it was lost forever. She accepted that perhaps she hadn’t made the best choice of accessories that day. She was not happy.

J. emailed her volunteer coordinator, described the lost watch as best she could, and figured that would probably be the end of it. J. firmly believes that, however unlikely the outcome, she always has to ask. Had the watch been found and J. had not alerted her coordinator to the loss, how could it ever make its way back to Ms. Glam?

Miracle of miracles, J. received notice last night. “I think we’ve found the missing watch.” An employee at one of the stuffie-recipient agencies found the watch when she unpacked a bag, and let someone know who let someone know who…you know how this story ends.

Ms. Glam couldn’t believe her luck. She’d thought it so unlikely that the watch would be returned that she had already replaced it. This afternoon, Ms. Glam is returning her purchase since it turns out she doesn’t need a new watch after all.

So be sure to ask, even if the outcome is unlikely, and then don’t give up hope. And don’t forget that people are basically good at heart. You already knew that, but the occasional reminder won’t hurt. Oh, and leave your special watch at home if you’ll be sorting stuffies.

A story without a fairy tale ending

Cover of Hunger by Roxane Gay

As the year nears its end, I become excited about the publication of the Top 100 book lists. One book on every list I’ve seen is¬†Hunger: A memoir of my body¬†by Roxane Gay. When I am a grown-up writer, I want to be Roxane Gay. (Sorry Gabrielle Zevin, you’ve been usurped for now. I still love¬†The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, though.) If you’re interested in reading¬†Hunger, know that it’s not an easy book to get through. The author bares all in her writing.

I hadn’t known of her previously, but Roxane Gay is a respected author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is also morbidly obese in what she justly calls a fat-phobic society. She was gang raped at age 12, after which she gained weight to keep herself physically and sexually safe from others. Dr. Gay views herself as a victim rather than a survivor of her rape, and acknowledges she has not healed from the trauma. She suggests people stop judging the obese without knowing their story, and realize that fat [her word] people have other attributes too.

Dr. Gay, who has a Ph.D. in technical writing and is currently a professor at Purdue University, acknowledges years of self-loathing, challenged relationships, and discomfort in her own body. Her frankness about her life is both uncomfortable and enlightening. She described the profound effects of an emotionally abusive relationship in a way that still haunts me.

She¬†speaks of the all-too-frequent judgement and the difficult situations that she experiences. Strangers censure what she places in her grocery cart and deride her as she walks down the street. Well-meaning friends patronize her by sharing their insights about food, nutrition, and weight loss. Professional colleagues cannot hide their surprise when, after corresponding on line, they first encounter her in her physical glory. Imagine realizing you’ve been provided a chair for a reading that will not comfortably support your body, and worrying the whole time that that chair could break.

This book helped me to imagine what being obese would feel like in a society where thinness equals beauty. Is anyone truly above judging people based on their outward appearances? I know I’m not.

Near the end of the book, Dr. Gay described an ankle break that resulted in a hospital stay, and her community of support’s unexpected rallying around her. Despite all her self-loathing, she realized how many people love her and would miss her if something were to happen to her. I was reminded of how moved I was by my own troops’ tremendous support of both me and J. when I was deathly ill in the ICU. I also recall how much I appreciated the teary hugs I received when I was finally sent home. I too felt that I would have been missed had I not survived.

I can’t say reading this book will be fun, but you too could scratch an insightful read off your Top 100 list. Like me, you may find that Dr. Gay’s insights stay with you. When I’m next on an airplane and the fattest person walking down the aisle takes the seat next to me, I’ll think about this book, and I’ll make as much room as I can. Do unto others and all….

Believing something doesn’t make it true

I don’t really believe in anniversary reactions. I’m referring to the emotional upheaval people may experience around the time of year of a previous traumatic event. If you were in a terrifying car crash in the fall, you may become more nervous about driving around that time, for example. These reactions may sometimes reflect post-traumatic stress disorder.

Whether or not I believe in anniversary reactions, I seem to be having one. I was out of sorts last week and my sleep became disrupted (tired J. can confirm that), yet I had no idea why. You’d probably expect me to figure it out because I’m a psychologist, but I didn’t.

I hadn’t made the connection with what was happening five years ago at this time. Remember my height of attention seeking when I almost died? The whole period is a blur, but September 27 stands out in my mind. On that day, I was moved from the ICU to a private hospital room. I have three distinct memories from that day.

On the wall by every hospital bed, there is a white board with the patient’s name, the patient’s nurse, the admitting physician, and the date. I recall looking at the white board in my room and being sure that the date was wrong. It was September 20th, not the 27th, I thought. When my liver was failing, my brain fared poorly too. My grip on reality was tenuous at best. I was confused and disoriented and hallucinating. No wonder I didn’t know the date.

Later that day, for the first time in weeks, I witnessed how much my body had changed over my hospital stay. (The ICU doesn’t have a lot of mirrors, for obvious reasons.) My legs and arms were spindly from weight loss, and my skin was yellow with jaundice. I was unrecognizable. In that moment, I realized how sick I’d been.

My anxiety peaked that night. In one day, I went from having a nurse assigned solely to my care, her desk positioned so she could see me at all times, to a secluded hospital room with only occasional monitoring. I was sure I would die in this room and no one would realize it for hours. I was a wee bit anxious.

I hadn’t been aware I was thinking about that period of time, but while I wasn’t sleeping one night, I made the connection. My anniversary reaction snuck up on me unexpectedly. I may have to reconsider my belief in the whole phenomenon.

Five years ago, as I regained awareness, I was hit by how close I’d come to death. Did I ever address how scary that realization must have been? I can’t recall. And even if I did deal with it at the time, sometimes such intense emotions resurface when you least expect them. Or maybe I should reconsider this whole anniversary thing and accept my reaction as predictable.

I feel a bit better already. Last night I even slept. Today’s anniversary is truly celebratory: on October 2, 2012, I was finally discharged from the hospital to recuperate at home. Had you seen me then, you wouldn’t have thought I’d still be alive today, but here I am. I can only thank God for that.

Person in hospital bed, staff saying,

Calling all impatient toddlers

I have bad news. I left the muffins out again for Mr. RAK, this time on our landing, but he didn’t come. He must have been spreading his good cheer to another neighbour, which is great. Upon realizing he was not coming, J. promptly put the muffins in the freezer, where they remain untouched. Anyone want a decent banana chocolate chip muffin? Let me know.

More than enough about that. Let’s move on to great news.

Since retiring, J. has been applying for volunteer opportunities far and wide. She readily jumps into one-time stints, including as PALS special events I cannot do, but she wanted a steady commitment of her own, preferably with kids. Kids love J.

Last year J. applied to the local children’s hospital, and was dismayed when there were no volunteer openings there. Because persistence is one of her middle names, along with punctual and efficient, J. applied a second time, got an interview, and, finally, a placement. She will be hanging out in the inpatient toddler playroom every Tuesday afternoon.

To prepare her for her duties, she practiced with a friend’s infant on the weekend. For four hours, this little tyke was all smiles. J. changed diapers flawlessly, and was a master with that baby’s bottle. That stint was only a warm up, since there won’t be any dirty diapers or bottles during her shifts with toddlers. There will only be unbridled fun in a well-outfitted playroom.

When we told our friend, who is sharper than any tack I know, about J.’s assignment, she asked, “Aren’t all toddlers impatient?” Well yes, Dr. Sharp, they are indeed, and I would be too if I were stuck in hospital. J. is the perfect playmate for them. She has no end of creative ideas, she can roll with the punches, and she’s fun. She can’t help it. She’ll make them relax and giggle and forget their worries, whether they want to or not. And she’ll probably make them clean up after themselves before they leave.

Last week, J. spent her first shift hanging out with the one toddler who was available for playtime, a little girl J. described as a bit shy. No wonder. This youngster hadn’t been in hospital long, and the disruption of a hospital stay, including sleeping away from home, must have been stressful. She was improving every day and was headed home soon. Before she left, she had time to play with J. Thank goodness, since J. would have been heartbroken if no one wanted to play with her on her first day.

I’m not sure who had more fun, J. or her little playmate. They spent most of their time shopping at the make-believe grocery store, until the girl suddenly realized she had to go. She told J., “I have to pee.” J. responded, “Well then, let’s go find the washroom.” To J.’s surprise, as they approached the playroom door, this shy one put her hand out for J. to hold.

Not all J.’s stories will be happy ones, yet I know there will be many sweet moments like this one. I can’t wait to hear what happened today. I know the kids will have fun. I hope J. does too.

 

Child's pretend groceries in two baskets

 

Why remove my tongue from my cheek? I like it there.

Very large needle

I had a long day yesterday, which I’m now going to review in excessive detail. Consider yourself warned.

Yesterday Dr. As-Yet-Nameless sent me to the urgent care clinic to address my ailing finger once and for all. Following my teeny weeny ultrasound, Dr. AYN tried to treat the infection with antibiotics, which failed, so a more intrusive approach was called for. Needless to say, I wasn’t so excited about prospect.

I commonly suffer from performance anxiety in triage. Rating my current pain as a 2 out of 10 would lead any triager to wonder why I came. I neglected to clarify that at one point the pain was a 10, and that the medication that is stopping my finger from returning to a 10 has resulted in my dramatic weight loss over the past month. I should have mentioned that, before I disappeared into nothingness, I needed action taken pronto. I understand why I was placed in the wait-forever line. I wasn’t in searing pain, I could easily skip lunch, and the problem would still be there whenever the doctor saw me.

When the doctor entered my room, I learned that she considered the barbaric procedure I sought elective. When I think “elective” I naively think “breast implants” or “facelift” or “liposuction”. (Perhaps the surgery I should get to remove my tongue from its permanent lodging inside my cheek would also be elective.) After considerable internet research, I learned that “elective” does include those procedures that are sought out and paid for, but more broadly includes any procedure that is not deemed emergent. I’m sure you knew that already.

The doctor and I may have differed on whether my procedure was elective. To me, what she needed to do to me needed to be done promptly. It wasn’t a tummy tuck! (I’ve always wanted a tummy tuck, but where would the surgeon tuck my ginormous spleen?) My finger needed to be dealt with before the infection spread to my bone (although at that point she’d likely agree it was emergent). If I could have done it myself, I would have.

I am assertive with doctors. If I am at odds with something they say, I tell them. That very day, I questioned Dr. AYN’s directive that I attend the clinic rather than waiting for her to refer me to a specialist, but she insisted.

There was no point in quibbling with Dr. Annoyed-With-Me over the definition of “elective” because, within minutes, elective or emergent, she’d be performing a barbaric procedure on me. Why anger her before she started causing me pain? She’d already proven she wasn’t the coddling type.

Procedure now done, I still wonder whether I could have handled myself differently. Was Dr. AWM punishing me for Dr. AYN’s misjudgement? Should I have protested Dr. AYN’s plan more vociferously? Was I at fault? Does it matter? It’s over, and my finger is really sore. And, Dr. AWM is referring me to a specialist to finish the job she started. Oh, I can’t wait!

In the spirit of volunteerism, would anyone like to attend that appointment in my place? I’ll gladly loan you my photo-less health care card. I guess you’d need to borrow my finger as well, though. That could be more complicated. Forget it.

The pinnacle of PALShood

People often think our city is defined by the annual Calgary Stampede, that everyone spends the week at the Stampede grounds to watch chuck wagon races. ¬†I used to attend Stampede occasionally, but stopped going after a traumatic experience there eons ago. I stupidly ate a corn dog and then hopped on a very twisty turny upside-downey ride, somehow forgetting that I suffered from motion sickness. Since then, I rarely visit the grounds, although I’ve heard, in addition to the adorable baby pigs, there are cooking demos and food offerings besides deep-fried Oreos. Now I’m reconsidering.

You’ll be surprised to hear, then, that when PALS called for volunteers to participate in a special Stampede parade this year, Jelly and I volunteered excitedly. “Pick us! Pick us!” I wrote, closing with a seasonal “Yee-ha!” I’m sure Jelly would love nothing more than to be in a parade, surrounded by hoards of adoring fans cheering and waving.

But this was not THE Stampede parade, the one that closes roads downtown for hours as 150,000 people line the streets watching endless floats and horses and marching bands pass. No, this was a special shorter Stampede parade held annually at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for those children who might not otherwise be able to participate. PALS has marched in this parade for the past 10 years.

Then came the local heat wave. Sadly, the dogs were not allowed to march this year because the steaming asphalt would have fried their delicate paws. That meant all we could do was hang out in the shade and accept endless loving from adoring children and their parents for three whole hours. It was a sacrifice, but someone had to do it.

Many young visitors swung by before the parade, petting the dogs and vibrating with the overstimulation. Loving parents snapped many a photo. What I did not realize was that, after the parade, all of the people who had been marching, along with those who’d been watching, would make their way over to hang out. The marching band, after a short break, reassembled nearby for another rousing song or two. The horses ventured within metres of the dogs and assembled briefly on the adjoining lawn before trotting off. There were princesses and Star Wars characters and mascots galore, there were lots of trucks, both with sirens and without. Even a few helicopters dropped in.

Sure, I shed a few. Even happy sick kids made me sad. No child should have to hang out at this wonderful hospital, ever. I teared up when I saw the chairs set up for the oncology kids, set well apart from the potentially infectious crowds. When I saw a cheery policeman waving up at the building, and realized he was acknowledging the children too sick to leave the hospital right now, I was a goner. Thank goodness Jelly had brought Kleenex.

How did my little PAL cope with the hubbub around her? She found a patch of grass in the hot sun, laid down, and napped. Occasionally she raised her head, but she was largely oblivious to the endless children petting her. Thankfully, they didn’t seem to care.

They say that being a love sponge is exhausting. Jelly is living, and sleeping, proof.

Jelly the Basset Hound with front legs up laying back on grass

The real cost of extended health care benefits

It’s been over two months since J. left her real job. This job provided¬†J. with a regular paycheque and benefits, including those for extended health care. We probably got our money’s worth from those benefits, and not only because of¬†my expensive medications. J. appreciates the occasional massage, and we both go to the dentist regularly.

I figured once J. lost her benefits, we’d immediately¬†purchase a private health plan. We’ve even budgeted for the cost. As it stands, my drugs are mostly covered regardless¬†by my private¬†drug-specific¬†plan, which I’ve had for years. Otherwise, we remain uncovered. We’re trying to assess whether private health benefits, however affordable, are worth the cost. Feel free to¬†weigh in.

If I go to the dentist for a cleaning every six months, the cleaning would cost¬†less than the fees for six months of¬†benefits. On the other hand, if I knock out a tooth during one of my klutzy¬†falls, or I need another root canal, I’ll be¬†paying a hefty bill out of pocket. Is this risk worth taking?

Ambulance on roadA plan would also cover the cost of¬†an¬†ambulance. I did call 9-1-1¬†once when I was doubled over in escalating pain. Within a few minutes, the paramedics were¬†inserting¬†an IV and I was mainlining¬†morphine. Then we set off on¬†the most circuitous route possible, and¬†it wasn’t my place to¬†redirect¬†the driver to the hospital. Every minute felt like¬†forever.¬†Had J.¬†driven me to the hospital, as she has all other times I’ve gone, and I’d waited¬†for¬†triage¬†writhing¬†in¬†pain, I would likely have been seen faster, assuming I passed the whiner¬†test. I’ve decided that if I were to¬†need an ambulance in the future, I’d gladly pay the going rate of $385.

Then there’s limited coverage for the allied health professionals. If I have an ache or pain, I’m worried about cancer, not scheduling¬†physiotherapy. By the time I rule out cancer, I trust my¬†pain will have dissipated.

Sadly, massage is out too. J.’s massage therapist sounds like a miracle worker, but I’d be bruised all over¬†if I let her use her¬†deep-tissue technique¬†on me.¬†Even J. comes home black and blue yet oddly grateful sometimes.

Don’t forget the¬†paltry coverage for a psychologist. The¬†therapist I now rarely see¬†is a skilled Ph.D.-level clinician, but because she is not a psychologist, she’s not covered. That benefit does not benefit me.

J., of course, is fit as a forty year old¬†and is banking on not needing health coverage¬†ever. She’ll pay for the rare¬†drug the doctor prescribes, she’ll get her perfect teeth cleaned once a year, and, knowing her, she’ll drive herself to the ER if ever¬†she needs emergent care. Also,¬†her next¬†few¬†massages are free thanks to¬†a thoughtful gift certificate for¬†The Bruiser from yours truly.

I¬†may have cornucopia of expensive drugs, but¬†beyond that, my medical expenditures are surprisingly low. (Our generous government may beg to differ.) For now, we will¬†monitor our health-related expenses. When I slip¬†on an icy sidewalk and knock out my front¬†teeth, I imagine I’ll change my tune.¬†Or maybe not. Who needs front teeth?

boy smiling without front tooth