Sunday, April 25, 2010

Definitely Demented.....

A friend sent this to me in an email today. I flunked; woefully. Conclusion: I'm demented.

How about you?


Our Yearly Dementia Test:

It's that time of year for us to take our annual senior citizen test. 
Exercise of the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles. As we grow older, it's important to keep mentally alert. If you don't use it, you lose it!

The spaces below are so you don't see the answers until you've made your answer.

OK, relax, clear your mind and begin.

1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: 'bread.' If you said 'toast' give up now and do something else.. 
Try not to hurt yourself.

2. Say 'silk' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water.

If you said 'milk,' don't attempt the next question. Your brain is over-stressed and may even overheat. Content yourself with reading a more appropriate literature such as Auto World.

However, if you said 'water', proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red bricks and a blue house is made from blue bricks and a pink house is made from pink bricks and a black house is made from black bricks, what is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass.

If you said 'green bricks,' why are you still reading these??? 
If you said 'glass,' go on to Question 4. 

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany ). Anyway, during the flight, two engines fail. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of 'no man's land' between East Germany and West Germany ... Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany , West Germany ,

Or no man's land'?

Answer: You don't bury survivors. 
If you said ANYTHING else, you're a dunce and you must stop. If you said, 'You don't bury survivors', proceed to the next question. 

5. Without using a calculator - You are driving a bus from London to

Milford Haven in Wales . In London , 17 people get on the bus.
In Reading , 6 people get off the bus and 9 people get on.
In Swindon, 2 people get off and 4 get on.
In Cardiff , 11 people get off and 16 people get on.
In Swansea , 3 people get off and 5 people get on.
In Carmathen, 6 people get off and 3 get on.
You then arrive at Milford Haven ..

Without scrolling back to review, how old is the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud! 
Don't you remember your own age? It was YOU driving the bus!!

I hope you do better than I did but rest assured; 95 percent of adults get these questions wrong!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gotta Get In To Derby Attire

Poster designed by Linda Le Kinff for the 2010 Kentucky Derby

"Well, I never....."

I've learned again (and again) that calling oneself a Texan is not the same thing as calling oneself a Southerner. I've had my head in the sand (sadly) about the huge fashion statement inherent in the annual Kentucky Derby. Until today, I had no idea what Kentucky Derby hats and fashion in general were all about but I do now.

One might say that whether Texan, Southerner, or "other", everyone knows about the Kentucky Derby fashion statement. Ignorance of this is likely reflective of a fundamental brain lesion of some sort. "Where've you been all your life, sister?"

Which brings me to the reason for all this in the first place: My good friend's son is getting married in late May and Denny and I are attending the wedding in Florida. The rehearsal dinner will have, as my friend indicated in her email, "a Kentucky Derby theme". A what? What does that mean?, I wondered.

My knowledge of the Kentucky Derby was woefully limited to buzz words like Churchill Downs, horse racing, Louisville, and the Triple Crown. I didn't even know that the mint julep is the official drink of the event but now that I do, I want one. Now. Where have I been for 55 years? Thank goodness for ready information. The Internet is a wonderful thing when you realize that drawing breath well into six decades still leaves major gaps in knowledge that other people take for granted. Sigh.

A little research has me up to speed, especially with regard to fashion; it's all about the dress and the hat apparently. I'd better get cracking and hit up the mall. I did buy a really cool pair of shoes today, similar to these lovelies but far less expensive. I'll start with the base (feet) and work up from there over the coming weeks. A hat won't travel well in the suitcase but maybe I'll just wear it on the plane. I can say, "I'm in Derby mode, daahling."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Laryngitis Silences Only the Voice

The fading voice came on like gang busters yesterday while at work. A slight rasp progressed rapidly to no voice save a whisper. No power coming from these vocal cords and not a thing to be done about it except surrender. Sure, I've had a cold the last couple of days but no symptoms that would keep me from the tasks at hand; certainly not from my paying job. Unwritten rule: never call in sick. Doctors don't get sick. Not true but most of us act like dumb heroes where relatively minor personal illness is concerned.

By the end of the day, my patients were expressing concern for me. Finally the big picture sunk through my thick skull; being around others with whatever viral nastiness was afflicting me was probably not a great idea even with the hand washing routine that rubs my skin into desert dryness on a regular basis. I could have worn a mask and continued working, I guess.

Overnight, during my sleeplessness bereft by headache, low grade fever, chilliness, and achy muscles, it was clear that seeing 10 patients today in clinic would definitely NOT be in their best interest nor in mine. Much as I hate to languish at home and think about appointments canceled at the last minute, it had to be. I have to reassure myself that this (calling in sick) is unusual for me. I work with migraines, back aches, tired body and soul and trudge forward. Very few things keep me home when I've committed to being there, to showing up.

What have I done today at home? I've rested my voice. No choice there.

I've played Bananagrams on Facebook. I've checked and written emails. Listened to music. Taken in nutrition (sort of). My head hurts too badly to read a book so I think the next plan is to bust out my current audio book, The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee, another tale of World War II and the aftermath and listen, just listen the hours away.

I hope my voice is usable by tomorrow. Even if it's not, I'll probably pretend like it is and get back in there. "Oh, I've got a bad case of allergies. I apologize for my voice."

Tell me I'm a fool to not stay home when I'm ill. Or, tell me to get my arse back to work. Tell me the truth because honestly, I don't know anything right now. All I know is that laryngitis silences only the voice. The mind, the eyes, the ears, the hunger, the pain, the restlessness all go marching on.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Proud of My Friend....

To save lives, she had to save her own first.

The link above will take you to an article and short video featuring my good friend and colleague, Brenda Pate who lives in Tampa, Florida and works as a physician assistant at Moffitt Cancer Center. The subject is a deeply troublesome topic, domestic violence. I'm so proud of what she's doing to shine more light on this subject. This is a societal problem with deep roots. Exposing the problem is crucial. Click on the video screen at the upper right hand side of the link to see/hear what Brenda has to say.

On ABC this Friday night (April 23), a prime time special airs on the topic of Domestic Violence. We should be watching, learning and reacting.

Thank you Brenda for your honesty and your hard work.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wedding Photos, Frames, Albums

I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes from tackling tasks that have been on the "to do" list for a long, long time. To wit: figuring how to pick from over 700 photos taken at Chris and Heather's wedding, deciding on what size prints, and how to display some and archive others in albums. They've been married almost 6 months and it's time to get on this.

I absolutely love Aaron Brother's Art and Framing. I could spend hours in there; combing through the frames in all sizes and designs, the photo albums, the framed artwork on the wall. I found my inspiration last weekend and with a bit of help from Walgreen's photo shop offering one amazing deal on prints, my project, Wedding Pictures, launched very successfully. I'm pleased.

I've filled two albums with 4 x 6 photos and have plans for larger prints which will slip into a couple of collage displays (3 large photos in each) to hang on the wall. I finally discovered why I was stressing over this whole process; too many great shots and how to decide??? Now that I've made smaller prints of 175 pictures for a steal, deciding on what to put in the larger wall frames seems super easy.

What a wonderful experience; paging through photographs brings it all back.

Happy (near) 6 month Anniversary H and C! We love you!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

While on the Subject of Ducks....

Isn't it curious that when we're on one subject, like say....Duck Crossing, something else comes along that fits in perfectly? This photo came in an email about the upcoming Boston Marathon. The photo was taken by David Paul Ohmer. The sculpture of the mother and eight chicks, created by Nancy Schon can be found in the Boston Public Gardens. The sculpture was inspired by the children's picture book, Make Way For Ducklings by Robert Mcloskey. Sweet ducks these......

Even sweeter is this story of the downtown Spokane banker who helped rescue baby ducks from a window ledge and lead mama and chicks to water. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Duck Crossing

This isn't the clearest of photographs; I snapped this shot from the driver's seat of my car the other day on the way to work in Federal Way. I love this sign; brings a smile to my face every time I drive by. Funny thing though, I've never seen any ducks (or geese?) anywhere in the vicinity. I'll have to keep a more watchful eye.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Congratulations Laura!

Congratulations to my amazing daughter on landing a job today! Your hard work, countless interviews, emails, and networking paid off. Yeah!

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation from college.

Congratulations on your plans, hopes and dreams!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Despite my love of reading, when it comes to the tome, I'm put off. No matter how intriguing, I try and get just so far, give up, and put the book back on the shelf. One avid reader I know once remarked, "I love long books; more bang for the buck." Not so for me. Much like movies, I prefer the 2 hour show, not the 3 plus hour saga.

And yet, there are so many good books that I want to read that qualify as the dreaded tome, something more than five or six hundred pages by my definition.

Last week I went on a James Jones jag after reading his daughter Kaylie's memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me. These works of Mr. Jones are classics I said to myself; I best read them. And besides, the focus (the 1940's, WWW II) holds some undefined passion for me right now. I ordered From Here to Eternity having no idea how long it might be. 850 pages. Ouch.

The problem is.....I'm rather a slow reader, easily distracted by other activities and rarely give myself big chunks of time to be still and just read. The tome becomes a huge undertaking that usurps shorter books in the queue. Hence, I've collected a pile of tomes that scream out "read me, read me or forever hold your peace".

Here they are in no specific order:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (817 pages)
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (983 pages)
World Without End by Ken Follett (1014 pages....shudder)
Underworld by Don DeLilo (827 pages)
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (603 pages)
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (723 pages)

Add to the list From Here to Eternity and Thin Red Line by James Jones and I'm drowning in pages.

Thank goodness these books aren't required reading for a class; I'd need to vanish from civilization for a couple of months. Either that or become a speed reader or get so involved in the tale(s) that the pages turn more quickly than expected.

The one tome I'll never tackle is Moby Dick although I admire my husband's tenacity, slogging through this book and impressing not only me but my parents back in the day. He read Moby Dick while visiting Aruba in 1977 when I took him home to "meet the parents" before we were married. My mother was so impressed that years later she gifted him with a special leather bound edition of this Melville tome. Ha!

How do you manage to read tomes? I'm looking for insights!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Married 69 Years

Mom and Dad have been married 69 years today; they tied the knot on April 12, 1941. This is their wedding photograph. Mom told me today that her suit was light pink and her hat navy blue to match Dad's suit. She wore an orchid corsage. Quite a handsome couple.

Today I brought them lunch from Thai Star, their favorite Thai restaurant. Later in the afternoon, the adult family home threw a party for them with a celebratory cake featuring their wedding photo. Pretty cool. Why wait for their 70th to roll around? Who can ever say it will? I think it was a great idea to party it up big today. Mom and Dad enjoyed the fanfare surrounded by their housemates, caregivers and family.

Panang broccoli

Photo cake

The bride and groom...

Serving the cake...

Hands joined over
the knife....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Too Shall Pass....

Leonardo Da Vinci drawing

Revelation: This misery called frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis, aka pain in the ass shoulder pain follows a timetable all its own. Although there are interventions that may help, there is no telling whether or not they will work. I should have paid more attention to the knowing shake of the head and deep sigh that accompanied the orthopedist's explanation of the diagnosis, as if he'd surrendered to a chronic condition for which no quick cure exists.

What started in the left shoulder a year ago is still troublesome for me after cumulative hours of stretching, 2 injections, multiple physical therapy sessions, massage, and now acupuncture treatments not to mention heat packs and ibuprofen. However, there is gradual improvement towards less pain. Two steps forward and one back make for a slow journey.

As if preordained, the right shoulder begins the inevitable cycle of inflammation, pain, restriction of movement. Mimicking its mate to the left, separated by 12 months.

Funny condition, this. Hardly a disease since apparently it self cures on its own timetable. An affliction. I suspect there is little that I'm doing to accelerate the healing process by all the interventions I've pursued. Once my acupuncture treatments are finished, I'm going to let the right shoulder "do its thing" and serve as the control shoulder to prove to myself that this mysterious affliction is one of those annoyances for which we say..."This too shall pass."

When it damn well pleases.....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Interpreter vs Translator

Work was steady and at times frenetic today. Fridays can be eerily quiet but most of the time, I find Friday's busier than expected. I saw two patients in clinic today accompanied by interpreters. One was a Russian interpreter, the other Vietnamese. Both were excellent and I complemented and thanked them for their help.

A while back I made the mistake of saying to a patient, "Oh, you've brought a translator. Great!". It Certainly makes my job easier although the office visits are longer as we wait for the words on both sides of the communication coin to be presented in a language we understand.

In this case, the interpreter(I think he was Russian) was quick to correct me...."Doctor, I'm an interpreter, not a translator." I remember being a little annoyed, thinking to myself.....who cares? Let's just get the job done. But I kept my mouth shut.

He was correct and probably most everyone knows this but I didn't until I looked it up. I like the way Kirk Mahoney explains this in his blog Better Communication for Smart People.

The noun “interpreter” should be used when one specifically is referring to something spoken.

The primary definition of the noun “translator” is someone who translates written text from one language to another. The primary definition of the noun “interpreter” is someone who provides an oral interpretation between speakers who speak different languages. In other words, “translator” is for written language, whereas “interpreter” is for spoken language."

OK. I get it now. An interpreter can make or break an encounter with a patient who speaks a language different than mine. I never quite know if what I've advised is conveyed accurately or if I'm really "hearing" my patient's complaints and concerns. Just another challenge for the day, I guess.

So, now I know; these good people who facilitate communication in the exam room are not not translators, they are interpreters.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Fell Asleep Watching The Buddha

For weeks I've saved the page torn from one of Mom's magazines advertising a PBS show airing on Wednesday night April 7, 2010. The Buddha: His Life, His Journey, His Awakening. Don't forget to watch I'd remind myself whenever I caught a glance of the torn page on my dresser. Don't forget.

I didn't forget. I got showered and in to bed, turned on the TV and started to watch. Great program. Two hours. Shortly into the second hour, just as the secrets to banishing suffering forever were about to unfold, I drifted off into a blissful sleep, awakening with about 10 minutes left in the show.

This morning I complained to Denny, "I fell asleep during The Buddha."

"Well", he remarked, "he gave you peaceful sleep."

Sigh. He's right. That sleep that comes when you're trying so hard not to let it overtake you, when you're trying to stay connected (usually to the TV), is sweet. Very sweet.

The good news is: the web site has a replay feature and I can watch it again. This time, I'll stay awake. Awake? That's the goal, apparently.

Monday, April 5, 2010

From Here to Eternity

A third of the way through Kaylie Jones's memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, I figured out I've a great (new) interest in the years just before and during WW II. Several weeks ago The Postmistress , a fictional account of life on both sides of the Atlantic in 1941 by Sarah Blake, mesmerized me. Jones's memoir shines a light on her very famous father, James Jones, who wrote such classics as From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line, both about WW II, soldiers, heroism, and the often tragic unfolding of life.

This morning, I watched From Here to Eternity, the movie from 1953, and was drawn in very quickly. Great acting and fabulous stars; who can resist Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed, and Deborah Kerr? The movie, a tamed down version of the book, published in 1951, was nominated for more Academy Awards than Gone with the Wind and ended up winning eight. The movie is "on demand" on Netflix so you can watch it right on your computer screen. I did and was thoroughly delighted.

I'm not quite sure from whence my recent fascination with WW II comes. I'm typically not too interested in war stories or movies. Guess I'll just let this interest take me wherever it may. I ordered used copies of these two famous books of Mr. James Jones from Powell's Bookstore today. I'll be interested to see how the screenwriter of From Here to Eternity, cleaned up Jones's words (some, it seems, were fairly scandalous by early post war standards) for the silver screen.

The beach scene with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr was very cool by the way.....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Images of Our Easter 2010

The Hosts and Laura

The newlywed's fine china in use for the first time!

Table for eight

Double stuffed potatoes

Smoked Turkey

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Carrot Salad

Playing Bananagrams

Virginia's blooming cactus flower just in time for Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Black Jelly Beans and Tulips

You either love them (because you love licorice) or you turn away from them like the jelly beans. These beans can be found by the bag only around Easter in the candy aisle of the drugstore. I haven't ever seen other flavors singled out and packaged like this before. If there were, I'd definitely buy a bag of the purples (my favorite). Black beans are low on my list but my Mom and my husband love them. I bought a bag along with some sweet stuff I like last week. The bag of black beans and a fresh bunch of colorful tulips will be my Easter gift to Mom and Dad later today. That and the visit, which they'll appreciate even more I suspect.

I won't see Mom and Dad on Easter Day. Unlike last year when we had a big family gathering to commemorate Easter as well as their wedding anniversary, this year Denny and I are driving to Gig Harbor to share a meal with Heather and Chris. I hope my visit, the black beans and the flowers are "enough" for Mom and Dad this year. It'll have to do.....

Happy Easter everyone!

Mother-Daughter Bonding

The 45 minutes I spent this morning, jangled awake by the voice of my daughter complaining of a sore throat ("It's strep, Mom"), were actually quite lovely. Wonderful bonding time even if I was grumpy about being awakened too early and forced to listen to concerns that could have waited. Sigh.

After the inspection of her throat with a flashlight, suggesting 2 aspirin (best if you just bite and chew them dear as they have a nice anesthetic effect on the throat), and rummaging through the medicine chest for the Cepacol lozenges, we spent some nice time talking as she lay beside me in the bed. Denny had been up and on to the day's tasks of early preparations for the smoked turkey and baked beans planned for tomorrow's Easter lunch.

Laugh we did. Laughter is the balm (and the bomb) that soothes the soul, I'm absolutely convinced.

I ended up sharing with her some old (and very true) stories related to how I decided to become a doctor. She never knew; fancy that. Also, the story of how I was hospitalized during the 8th month of my pregnancy with her. She never knew this either. I made the stories funny even though they were serious at the time.

All mention of the sore throat vanished and by the time she was summoned into action by her I phone, she allowed as how she was feeling "much better".

I love mother-daughter bonding time. Unpredictable in timing. Indelibly sweet. Joyful always.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

She Made it Home

My, oh my, but that Toyota Corolla and the four girls inside made the journey across Washington state in good time tonight. They left Spokane around 5 PM and Laura and her friend pulled up in front of the house about 10:15 PM. In between they'd driven the 295 miles plus a stop in Bellevue to pick up a fish tank (don't ask) and two other stops to drop off the girls at their local destinations.

We're expecting a big time "spring storm" to blow through later tonight with snow in the mountain passes, up to a foot or more. Lots of wind too. I'm glad they journeyed ahead of the wave as I like to say. Laura said the conditions at Snoqualmie pass weren't too bad.

But, she did have to add the following just to make me kiss the ground behind her feet.....

"My windshield wipers don't work at all, Mom. I could barely see the road."