Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Me = Fine

I called my doctor's office first thing this morning. The receptionist promised me, rather aloofly, I felt, that I'd hear from her before 3:00. "Tell her I'll be sitting by the phone," I said. "She'll call you back between patients," was the reply. "Thanks," said I, waiting until after I'd hung up to add, "Bitch."

My doctor called me back within 10 minutes. "Oh, Gal, I'm so sorry!" she said, and at first I thought she was telling me my mammogram revealed something severe and dire.

It wasn't that, at all. "You're fine, you're just fine," was her next sentence. "When I saw you were my first call this morning, I checked your file and I think I know what happened."

She explained that her nurse yesterday was not her regular nurse. Elena didn't check to see that I gave my consent for voice mail messages to be left at my home number. My doctor apologized profusely for scaring me over nothing.

I was so relieved, I wasn't even angry. And really, when you think about it, Elena the Nurse was really just trying to respect my privacy. It was an honest and well-intentioned mistake. One that scared the living shit out of me and cost me a night's sleep, but a mistake nevertheless.

I am so grateful, I forgive everyone everything ... except Yoko Ono. I'm still pissed at Yoko.

I worked from home

I slept about 15 minutes Monday night. I was too scared about my mammogram to relax and surrender to sleep. As I was preparing for work Tuesday, the thought of going in with this hanging over me ... and dealing with my coworker's continual hand-wringing about her father and my boss' agita about his son ... and it just didn't seem fair or right. So I left a voicemail, explaining that I had to coordinate some tests and didn't feel like doing it out in the open so I'd be working from home.

I did. I checked my office email off and on all day. I got a new assignment, agreed to a Thursday afternoon presentation, and wrote the manuscript. I also took a long nap and went to Walgreen's, where I used my AARP discount and saved 20%.

I have to go in tomorrow. I just do, because it's my job and it's a job I want to keep. But I get so weighed down by my coworker's non-stop obsession with her father's new relationship -- which is, I admit, wildly inappropriate so soon after her mother's death. And I get so weighed down by my boss' dramatic relationship with his adult son -- which is, I admit, important and sad and perhaps unsolvable. I am not diminishing their pain.

Their pain is inescapable in the open seating atmosphere. It weighs on me. It's not fair, and today I needed to concentrate on me.

I Miss My Mommy

I'm having a hard, sleepless night. When I got home from work tonight, I saw I had a message. From my doctor's office. Her nurse wanted to discuss my Saturday morning mammogram with me.

I haven't ever received a call like this. Previously, in 2009, I received a letter recommending additional screening because of "abnormalities," and that completely freaked me out. Turned out then I had "microcalcifications," which are nothing to worry about. But in 2009, I was still in my 50s. I'm now 60. As we age, we are at a higher risk of breast cancer.

I called my oldest friend. Not only because she's my oldest friend, but because she spent more than two decades working with doctors and knows about this stuff. She never picked up. She never called back. I know she's dealing with her own formidable issues, but I also know she looks at her phone because she always wants her kids to be able to reach her. So she looked at it, saw it was me, and decided to screen me out. That hurts.

Then I called my friend Henry. He did text me, hours later, to see if I was OK. He had been in the theater and had turned his phone off. I just wanted him to comfort me a little, to distract me. There was no reason to call him back that late.

That's why I miss my mom. She always picked up and she loved to talk on the phone. She would have talked me through this.

Oh well, tomorrow morning I call the doctor's office, and we'll see what happens from there. Pray for me.

2017 Giving

While watching This Is Us, I organized all my 2017 receipts for my tax preparer. I gave to 28 charities in all, and here are my Top 10, the ones I donated to the most. This list feels like a snapshot of what's important to me right now.

My church

Tree House Animal Foundation -- a cageless, no-kill cat adoption center


Harmony House for Cats -- One of Chicago's smaller shelters, and it's struggling

Feeding America -- A national organization devoted to helping those in need

My local food pantry -- In addition to dropping off canned goods, I've begun donating cash.  When they shop, a $1 goes much further than when I'm at the grocery store.

Planned Parenthood -- With Trump in the White House, it's more important than ever to support women's health and freedom

Toys for Tots

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation -- Just because I can't afford to go back doesn't mean others shouldn't enjoy/learn

Fried's Cat Shelter -- One of my uncle's favorite causes. I generally try to keep my animal welfare donations local, and Fried's is in Indiana, but whenever I want to remember my late uncle, I make a contribution. Also, they, like other animal shelters, have been struggling lately, so I'm glad I have a chance to give them a shout out.

The couple you see in this photo are Hans and Lucille Fried. They escaped Nazi Germany and immigrated to the US in 1939. Upon their retirement, they sold their house, bought an old motel, and turned it into a shelter for cats. Why is this the way they chose to spend their golden years? Because they never got over what they saw in the land of their birth. I will let the late Hans Fried put it in his own words: