April 16, 2013

Still Breathing

Did you ever have one of those sorts of days when you knew beyond doubt that life was out to get you? Me either. If I did, though, it might resemble the weeks I’ve been living through.

I’m being pulled in a lot of different directions right now, which is making things just as close to impossible to write anything as they can get.

I’ve started a physical fitness program with the help of the Walking for Fun website. I’m virtually walking the Chemin Le Puy trail in France. In the last month I’ve walked almost sixteen miles. I average about half a mile a day, but that’s half a mile more than I was walking before, so it’s a great improvement for me. Mom walks with me at night when it’s late enough for the mosquitoes to have gone to bed.

Dad is still working on healing his decubitus. (That’s a pressure wound, or in the common cant, a bedsore.) Part of the problem is that diabetics heal very, very slowly. What this means for me as his medical coordinator is that he has more people trying to work with him to see it, more appointments that have to be scheduled, and more rides to those appointments arranged. To make matters more complicated, his primary doctor has a problem in her office with getting paperwork processed in a reasonable amount of time, and we are therefore searching for another doctor who can handle all of Dad’s challenges, who takes his insurance, and who is taking new patients.

Mom is getting ready to retire after eighteen years of service to her current employer, and some thirty-six years of full time work throughout her lifetime, most of it as a single mother and primary supporter of the household. It often takes her a while to absorb all of the information that is dished out at high speed in various retirement meetings, and the opportunity to ask questions is often gone before they are thought of. My brain is always looking for the catch, though, and I’m a bit quicker to spot the need to have a particular question asked. I’m not saying that she’s mentally impaired in any way, mind you, just that our brains work differently. She tends to gather all of the facts and absorb them before asking questions, while I come up with questions before I have all the facts in hand. That makes us a good team!

Her pending retirement means I get to go with her to the various meetings and help make arrangements and decisions that will affect her finances for the rest of her life. It also means that a serious effort has to be expended to make her home office ready to work in, which would include filing approximately sixteen boxes of papers.

Last Monday (the 8th), while we were on our way to a retirement meeting (this one with her current employer), we were sitting in the left-most non-turning lane at a stoplight and started to smell smoke. Then we started to see it. It was coming from beneath our car’s hood. The light turned green and we dove across three lanes of traffic and into a parking lot, where we switched off the car immediately. It was smoke, not steam.

We opened the hood. A Hispanic gentlemen dressed in the t-shirt and jeans uniform of the day-laborer who had been waiting at the bus stop came running over to the car and practically pushed us out of the way. He was afraid we were going to open the radiator cap. I told him I knew better than that. He still refused to let me anywhere near the car, but told me that he was a mechanic who had once built the monster truck “Gravedigger”. I disbelieve that claim because a mechanic of the caliber to work on that truck would not be hanging out at a bus stop during regular working hours – he’d be working somewhere, even if he was not still with that race team. Additionally, no mechanic of that caliber would tell me he wanted my glass of ice cubes to pour onto the engine part that was smoking.

I refused to give him the ice, so he took a bottle of water from another man who had come over to the car, and poured it on some part, even though I was yelling at him not to touch our car. Twit.

In the end, we got rid of the volunteer “mechanic”, and managed to get a ride to the meeting (we were on time) and back to Mom’s workplace. My brother-in-law, who is a real mechanic, checked the engine over and we got it to the workshop of the mechanic we pay to work on the car. The air conditioning motor is dead, and it was an electrical almost-fire that caused all the smoke. However, we stopped the fire from bursting into flames when we shut off the car’s engine. The car will take more money to fix it than we are willing to put into it. We’re now borrowing my sister’s car, and working on getting together the money to buy a new-to-us used car that will hopefully last us a good many years.

Remember those sixteen boxes of filing? I spent a goodly chunk of today going through them looking for the title to the car. Found it, too, but not until the end of the day and the very end of the boxes, of course.

All is well, or will soon be well…and in the meantime, I’m still working like mad to get caught up on my homework, redesign my website from scratch, and squeeze out a few hours to work on my writing association’s website and get enough sleep to function each day. Yes, I know…good luck!