Dec 23 2008

A CHRISTMAS TALE FOR 2008

Published by joan under Uncategorized

It all started innocently enough …. a trip to the dentist in early January.  We’ve all been there. Never one to like frequent x-rays, I finally consented to indulge the dentist and sure enough, it was just in time.  My first cap, one I had for more than two decades, had started to show some problems underneath it.  Unable to come up with a better plan, after all, who likes to throw hundreds of dollars around for new caps, I reluctantly agreed to let the dentist do her bidding and repair the tooth.  It should have been routine from then on, but given the fit of the replacement cap seemed off, we decided I should give it a try before it was permanently sealed.  Good plan …. bad results.

Shortly thereafter, my son and I drove my eldest daughter back to college in Rochester, New York. Perhaps it was the chewing gum I had used against the dentist’s advice, to keep me occupied during the long ride while my eldest daughter and my son slept, and then casually threw out the car window.  More likely, I surmised, it was the mini-supplement combo I had proudly mastered swallowing in tandem, “to keep me healthy,” because on my way home, that spot in my mouth felt mysteriously odd.   Was the tooth missing? “Yes indeed” said the dentist.  And sure enough, about one week and one challenging rescue mission later, the “tooth” was found.  Hurray!!!  With scrubbing and sanitizing at the dentist’s office, I wouldn’t have to replace the $1000 cap of gold and porcelain. Wasn’t I fortunate?  I would get that answer six months later.

Winter continued in typical Chicago fashion ….snow, cold, ice, then cold, ice, snow, then ice, cold, snow.  You get the idea, especially you Chicagoans.  No, winter wasn’t all bad this past year.  That is, until I decided to get my car washed “all over.”  Pleased that I  got to stand in a warm walkway as my car rolled by, I thought it was wise to push a special button that cleaned under the car.  After all, it was probably caked with salt under there. So push away I did, gave the guys a big tip for drying off my car so thoroughly, and off I drove to my office.  And there I stayed because when I went to my car to go home, no door would open.  Of course the obvious solution was to get de-icer and the car would cooperate again.  Not this time. Not one of the four doors of my CRV would open, no matter what anyone tried.   There was a solution, though.  I would not be stuck.  I could go in through the hatchback, climb over the back seat, and slide, feet first, onto the front passenger seat, then maneuver over the console into the driver’s seat.  Surely I only had to do that one day, let my car sit in the garage, and the doors would open the next day.

No, they would not.  Nor did they for the next day.  Nor for the day after that.  We have two cars and use both of them constantly.  I have to get around the city to visit my older adult clients and those with disabilities, as does my husband, who has been working alongside me for years, using the other car.  After I mastered the art of that first climb, the rest came easier, until the day I got my coat stuck in the hatchback door as I was closing it.  Unable to open the door, and stuck in the “trunk,” I finally wriggled out of my coat, across the various seats, into the driver’s seat, and got on my way, cold but free. After that, I didn’t mind when neighbors walking by my garage door saw me climbing out of the back of the car, or professional colleagues in the community saw me climbing into the car.  I just waved at them.

Adventures continued this past year when a bathroom flooded in our tenants’ unit, necessitating we not use our drains for several days.  We could use the water, but no drains.  That did us no good.  Who could guarantee no one would mistakenly run some water or dump some undesirable liquid down the pipes on the heads of the plumbers?  Perhaps prescient about the economic crises and looming recession, I thought we should tough it out.  Again we thought it would only be for one day, but one day stretched into a few.  Fortunately, we were prepared!  Experience from camping through the years and having two barrel-sized coolers along with several gallons of water stored for an emergency were all we needed.  Surely the water we had would be enough.  And why not use it?  Wasn’t this an emergency?  Time to give our emergency system a “dry” run (no pun intended.)  We could use one barrel for hot water, one barrel for cold.  And since it was warm enough out, we could even put the barrels on top of the deck railing, by the flowers, then sit down on the floor of the deck off our dining room in relative privacy, and take a swimming suit shower.  I did and it was refreshing.

Some adventures were fun and didn’t involve mishaps this past year, although one in particular could have. Over Memorial Day weekend, my mother (83), my youngest daughter (16), my son (13) and I (no age listed upon request) took a weekend trip to Starved Rock.  On the second day, we went to Mathiessen State Park, and discovered a charming stream filled with large boulders forming a moderately demanding walkway down the creek. Everyone was tackling it and not wanting to be left behind, we forged ahead, with my mom as enthused as the rest.  I didn’t worry.  After all, she had walked about 10 miles the day before, up and down, and through caverns and gullies.  So off we went.   I would go first, grab one of her arms, and one of the kids would follow, in case she needed a push from behind.  Occasionally my mom did the hands and knees, but she never faltered and no one following cared about the slower pace.

All went well until I looked up and saw a narrow, twenty to thirty foot dirt ridge which my son had just crossed.  What I hadn’t noticed was we were the only people still on the path. On one side, the narrow ridge dropped straight down into a gully, about 80 feet.  On the other was a rocky overhang with no place to grab.  When I saw it, my gut reaction was “Oh my….I am afraid of heights.  Don’t even think about it.  Go first and quickly, before you change my mind, to check it out.  Now go!”  As I rushed past my mom and my youngest daughter, and scurried across the ledge, my mom shouted out to my youngest daughter, though I didn’t hear it, “What about us?”  By that time, my son was off and running, and I certainly couldn’t leave him, nor was I about to go back across that ledge.  But neither could my youngest daughter and Mom cross it safely.  We had just climbed over boulder after boulder, with me serving as my Mom’s ballast.  Could my youngest daughter rise to the occasion?  Could she help my mom return to safety?  Would our adventure turn into misadventure?

This time, we were rescued by the mischievous one.  As I shouted back to Mom and my youngest daughter, “Don’t cross, it isn’t safe,” my son called out “There’s a stairway just a ways back.”  And that’s where all the people had gone.

Back home, it was time to find out why I had a strange tender spot near my newly repaired tooth. If I had questioned the wisdom of the repair, six months and one root canal later, the second on that tooth in it’s multi-decade lifespan, I finally had a reason to do so.  Apparently, there had been an infection festering for months.  Wonder what that was from?

As the year unfolded, September came upon us. My eldest daughter was back at the University of Rochester, for her junior year, my youngest daughter was at Von Steuben, for her junior year, and mu son was at Near North Montessori in eight grade, as my husband and I prepared for accreditation at Kin Care.  We thought our only hurdles were getting through accreditation and finding/getting Matthew admitted to the right high school….and surely there would be no more misadventures.  But no, we were wrong.

September 15 was the date, to be exact.  It was a Saturday, and Chicago was to experience it’s greatest rainfall on record.  My youngest daughter had an appointment in the Northern suburbs, and we had a number of errands to run (14 to be exact), so we put on flip-flops, and after her appointment, did one after the other as we worked our way south, priding ourselves on our efficiency.  At the second to last, my youngest daughter was tired of it all, so she waited in the car, as I completed my task.  Leaving the store late in the afternoon, anxious to get home, and aware my youngest daughter had been waiting in the car, I hurried along the sidewalk.  Upon encountering a family walking a bit slowly, it seemed wise to pass them by going into the street to get around the crowd.  As I passed them, it probably didn’t help that I was sight-seeing a bit at this unusual family where the women were all balding and the men had full heads of hair.  That’s the last thing I remember before I found myself sprawled on the concrete.  The family walked on by.  Another man asked me if I was ok.  I said “yes.”  But I lied.  Nonetheless, I hobbled to the car, drove to my last stop, parked in handicapped parking, finished my shopping and went home.

The big toe, right foot was broken…. about the worst toe break the foot surgeon had ever seen, Snapped in half like a twig when it hit the side of the concrete sidewalk.  Then came the surgery and an external pin sticking out the tip of my toe.  No driving for five weeks. I walked a lot.  I talked on the phone a lot.  I got my work done.  Accreditation came out great.  Then came the day I got the pin removed.  A week later, approval to wear shoes.  I couldn’t wait!  The only problem was, nothing would fit.  Between scar tissue and swelling, it would be months before it would get back to normal. Winter was again approaching.  What was I to do?  Perhaps I’d borrow my husband’s shoes for the winter.

Again, my son came to the rescue, in his indirect sort of way.  By this time, the economic crisis was full-blown and he was in need of basketball shoes. So, as he was looking around the store, I looked over the sale table trying to find something for him to wear.  That’s when I saw them. There they were — brown, suede, slip-on clogs.  A size and a half bigger than my usual size, I slipped them on. And they fit that foot!  “I had shoes” I shouted to the world. And I was thankful.

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Sep 12 2007

First Blog

Published by joan under dd

This blogging stuff is new to me.  It will be interesting to see how it evolves as I am a private person of many thoughts.  Now everyone can see what they are.

 This is demanding, draining work.  I just took a call from Michael Madigan’s office, asking me if I’d like to  give a five minute talk about how Governor Blagoavich’s cut of  critical spending for developmental disabilities services to get the State of Illinois budget passed has or will hurt us.  I just may do it.  I run an agency.  I understand budget problems.  I also know we couldn’t do what we do if key people here were not donating their services.   Quality costs money.  It frustrates me that for funding purposes, we get lumped with all the other agencies that provide CILA  services, and there is no consideration given to quality of an agency’s services.  There should be financial incentives built into the funding process for good outcomes.  Reward agencies financially for good performance. 

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