Sunday, December 03, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me -- In Retrospect -- Part Two

I am in touch with my oldest friend at least once a week, sometimes more. I wish we talked on the phone more, but she often doesn't pick up. I guess that should have been my first clue.

I just wasn't prepared. Until I saw her in the lobby of the New York, New York casino, I had no idea how badly she was doing. Yes, I knew she was out of work, an unexpected career setback which is hard to handle and difficult to surmount at age 61. But I really didn't think it was so bad. She moved 2000 miles from Chicagoland to Southern California to be with her cousin. Her cousin has always had an in-laws suite at her home (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) and now it's vacant. What's better than actually living with her cousin? I thought on some level this would make her happy. A 24/7 slumber party with her favorite relative! Yea! But her life is so much more complicated than that.

She has serious health problems. There's arthritis in her knee, that makes it impossible for her to walk distances. Just navigating LAX to catch her plane put too much stress on the knee. At one point, on The Strip, she sat on a bench and watched as I crossed the street to check out the attractions on the other side. Granted, it was a four-lane street. But still. She honestly didn't feel she could cross it in the time allotted. She needs injections in the knee but without a job, she doesn't have adequate health insurance, so she gets by on Vicodin. Let's not even consider the long-term ramifications of that.

Which leads me to her teeth. They are discolored, and the spacing is uneven. I didn't want to ask her about them ("Hey! What's up with your teeth?" didn't seem like a supportive thing to say) but she must be aware of them. I wonder if the Vicodin she's taking for her knee isn't masking the pain from her teeth. For some reason, she's always been a bit of a dentalphobe. Plus, she hasn't had dental insurance in quite some time. But aside from the hygiene and health issues, I worry about the impact this can have on her job hunt. She's a pretty woman -- very Marie Osmond -- with a light and lilting voice. But she's overweight and now this with her teeth. I wonder what impression she leaves in job interviews.

And her depression is still evident. I know I'm not the easiest person to be around -- I can be too chirpy and high energy, I can be too opinionated -- and I treasure her for putting up with me. But I found it frustrating to travel with her because she just quit answering her phone. Between her plane landing and her arrival at the hotel, I had no idea where she was, or why it was taking her more than an hour to arrive. (Turns out she took the shuttle and it made a lot of stops.) When her adult kids called or texted, she stopped what she was doing and answered right away. So I know it was just me.

She can't make up her mind about anything. When I checked into the hotel on Tuesday, I asked about late check out. My friend's flight would be leaving until 8:00 PM on Friday, we had to relinquish the room at 11:00 AM, and what was she going to do all day? The concierge gave me a tiered deal -- $20 till 1:00 PM and $30 till 3:00. I mentioned to my friend that she should take. After all, she would probably spend $30 on coffee while waiting for her late flight. (I was leaving at 8:00 AM.) I told her what I was told: to get this deal, we had to let them know right away. I asked her about it twice on Tuesday, twice on Wednesday, finally after I asked her again on Thursday she made up her mind, but they hotel could no longer accommodate us.

She can't get up in the morning. To be ready to leave the room by 11:00 was a trial for her. I know it's meds she's taking, but it struck me as so sad. And, between Tuesday night and Friday morning, when I left, she took one shower. I don't think that's normal or healthy. (Though she might have showered on Friday after I left.) And again, how is this going to translate to a new job?

I'm afraid for her. I can't wait for her to move in with her cousin, so she'll be under the watchful eye of someone who loves her. She's a wonderful person -- funny and generous and smart. I understand that with her health issues, life is hard for her. But she is so important to me. I need her. She is my touchstone. I wish I knew how to make life easier for her.

And I don't like the mirror she holds up to me. Look at me. Job problems of my own. Financial problems of my own. Weight problems of my own. Now I'm 60, too.

Must remember to make an appointment with the dentist and break out those Crest White Strips!


  1. I hope your friend can feel how much you love her, it sounds like there is overwhelming transition going on in her life.

  2. Your friend sounds like she is seriously depressed, and I know from experience she needs to get off the Vicodin. It only helps so long. I was on it for four years and stopped it in March. The pain didn't change significantly but my thinking sure cleared up. Plus I was able to do something before 11 a.m. If you can convince her to make that one change it might help. Unfortunately she needs to come off of it slowly and probably with a doctor's assistance. I did it myself in steps and it wasn't hard, so it can be done, but you also have to want to do it. Good for you for caring and standing by her.