Choice Is Good

19 03 2010

If you can believe everything you read on the internet, March is Women’s History Month, National Frozen Food Month, and National Umbrella Month.

For those groups that wanted some commemoration but couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm for a full month, there is National Procrastination Week, March 1-7 (whoops, I guess we missed it, though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you celebrate it a few weeks late), American Chocolate Week, the third week of March, and Root Canal Awareness Week, March 28-April 3.

And for groups that decided to put all their energy into a single day, there is National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day, March 13 (perfect, since it’s also National Umbrella Month),  International Goof Off Day, March 22 (I hear they don’t have a lot of activities planned), and Weed Appreciation Day, March 28 (this year’s theme, “Salute the Lowly Dandelion”).

Ah, but my internet search has diverted me from my original point.  March is also National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness and Education Month.  (I think they figured if they had the longest title they’d get more attention.)  As a function of my affiliation with the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, I have been tasked with providing informational brochures to doctors’ offices in the area who treat MS patients.

It’s been an interesting, eye-opening experience.

  1. The first office I visited was a large practice in a high rent medical building, lots of marble and wood in the halls. With any big practice I’m aware that it’s potentially the kind of place where I feel I’m being processed rather than treated.
  2. The second office I saw was in a much smaller, older building and had a single doctor on staff.  The sort of place where you can get to know the people, but you have to be careful that your doctor, who might be treating a zillion different neurological illnesses, is up to date on the latest in MS care.
  3. The third office wins the award for most amazing magazine collection in the waiting room. They must have had over a hundred magazines neatly arranged in a big ring around the edge of a circular coffee table.  Just like the men’s necktie display at Macy’s.  They were so closely overlapping that you couldn’t discern any of the titles, but I wouldn’t have dared pick a magazine up anyway, lest the OCD receptionist who set up the display have a cow.
  4. The fourth office was not a generic neurology practice, but focused solely on MS, and was clearly headed by a woman.  The waiting room was big, open, sunny.  Coffee, tea and cold drinks were available.  The receptionist was so friendly–I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her wearing a Miss Congeniality sash.  They had Gameboys for playing and movies for watching if you were there for the infusion center.   It was kind of like a place to hang out, to commune, to lounge, to share.  The whole thing said, “WELCOME.”  Take a load off.  Make yourself comfortable.  Have a chat with a compatriot.  I liked it.
  5. The fifth office was part of an HMO.  Like going to a mall for your health care, one stop shopping.  Visit your neurologist first thing in the morning, then down the hall for your mammogram,  up one flight to get that wart removed, and finish up with a root canal before you head home.  (Check with the dentist to see if you can get a discount on the root canal during Root Canal Awareness Week, March 28-April 3.)
  6. The sixth office…well I actually never found it.  I used the GPS and I used my own brain, the part that still works.  As best either of us could tell, the practice must have been located on the campus of large juvenile reform school.  And judging by the security patrolling the place, I wasn’t too keen on venturing forth.  So I gave that one a pass.

All this got me thinking about my own neurologist.  I’m crazy about him.  Even though he spends a lot of time on the road presenting at various symposiums, during my appointment, I feel like he is 100 percent focused on me and looking out for my best interest.  And I love the fact that there’s a nurse on staff dedicated to MS patients.  It’s a large practice, with some 13 doctors.  The downside is that the front office is about as friendly as a piece of toast.  And the parking at the facility ranges from bad to atrocious.  But as long as I’m happy with the medical care, I’ll tolerate a lot of the accompanying annoyances.

I read about people who hate their neurologist but are stuck because no others are available.  And about people who travel OUTRAGEOUS distances to their MS appointments.  Choice is good.  I consider myself lucky.


Better Luck Next Year

18 01 2010

Darkness has descended once again on my street.

About a third of our residents either don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t decorate for the occasion.

Another third do, but opt for the less is more, traditional holiday decorating schemes.  Heavy on greenery, candles, even fruit. You know, tasteful.

Another third, my husband included, are more interested in wattage.  Lots of lights.  He even mixes his colors and his whites.  (No wonder I don’t let him near the laundry.)  I used to try to get him to commit to one or the other, but my first rule of a happy marriage is “Pick your battles.”  I finally listened to my own advice.  (His preferred decorating scheme is juvenile.  The only modification he’s made since reaching adulthood is to add one of those huge electric-fan-driven blowup Santas.)

So anyway last November as lawns went into winter hiatus, as foliage no longer pleased us with gorgeous autumn color but just looked, well, dead, when the only colors to be seen were those gosh awful winter cabbages that only the true botanical buff plants, we were on the verge of falling into depression.  Then Advent arrived and, when one turned the car onto our street, he was cheered by an assortment of brightly lit houses.

But after the last present was opened and the last champagne bottle was uncorked, people rapidly took the glowing strands down.  And neighbors would have fallen into winter doldrums were it not for OUR HOUSE.

Because we have a tradition that we don’t take the outdoor lights down until the Dallas Cowboys’ season is over.  Some Many years this means nothing; we take them down with everyone else.  On at least one occasion we’ve had them up into February.  This year, we had them up until yesterday.

But they’re packed away now, waiting for next year, just like Tony Romo.

We can also put our Roger Staubach (Cowboys quarterback, 1969-79) ornament, which has been standing watch on the top of the television, back in storage.

Sayonara, ‘Boys.

Merry Christmas, Faithful Reader!

25 12 2009

M arvel at what you’ve accomplished this year.

E njoy watching your favorite Christmas show.  Charlie Brown? The Grinch?

R emember the fun of Christmas as a child.

R elax!

Y ou’re not perfect.  Forgive yourself.


C elebrate the manger birthday.

H elp a stranger.

R elish the magic of the season.

I ndulge in sweet treats that aren’t part of any healthy diet.

S ing Christmas carols—at church, with the car radio, in the shower, wherever.

T ake time to count your blessings.

M ake a road trip to look at holiday lights.

A sk for help—unloading groceries, carrying boxes, clearing the clutter,  whatever.

S leep late.

Snowbound, Part II

23 12 2009

Being snowbound the last weekend before Christmas may have impacted my shopping, but I loathe going to the mall anyway.  And it gave me more time to focus on holiday gift wrapping.  Such as:

Won’t the recipients be surprised when they discover the packaging is a lot more impressive than the actual contents of the packages?

Being trapped at home also provided more time for sprucing up the holiday decor:

I even gave the cat something to look at during meal time:

And, most of my Christmas cards are out now.  This year I created a design based on a delightful co-mingling of two art forms: ancient Japanese origami (Santa Claus) and the decidedly less highbrow twisty paper stuff that I found at the Restore (his sack.)  The result:

The sentiment inside says “Great news!  We heard Santa took you off his Naughty List this year.”