March 16, 2001

Loose Ends II

Idle thought:
Would it be cheating to have a whole series of numbered "Loose Ends" entries? Or maybe I should just rename the journal...

Today is the first anniversary of my father's operation.

I saw him yesterday; took him and Stepmom grocery shopping and hung out in their kitchen awhile. He's stable, medically, but the last year and a half has taken a toll on his strength. Still, I doubt I could have asked for a better resolution to the crisis. If I had allowed myself to think beyond *one day at a time*, I probably wouldn't have expected him to survive.

When I think back to that day a year ago, I remember it in the form of video clips. First, in the morning, the family congregating in his room to see him off; waiting for the orderlies; then watching him being wheeled away; after that, going home to force myself to nap because I thought I'd be there all night; returning by myself late in the afternoon; lurking around in the hall near the recovery room, hoping to catch a glimpse of my father and/or the doctor.

The most vivid memory is standing in the hallway (actually a wide walkway between new and old sections of the hospital, lined with chairs and vending machines, which served as a surgery waiting room) listening to the doctor tell me that the operation (for diverticulitis) had been complicated by the discovery of colon cancer. He didn't know the extent of it then, nor the prognosis, and it would be a full month before we learned that it was "probably" all taken out.

I remember huddling up in a chair, trying to cope and taking some comfort in a novel.

And I remember seeing Daddy in the recovery room, conscious and talking but, as it seemed to me, barely alive.

Why am I putting myself through this again? It must be some psychological process; I haven't constantly dwelled on it all day but I did feel compelled to memorialize the occasion here.

On to other topics:

My pharmacist did something that made me think a bit:

I was picking up renewals of two prescriptions, my prozac (antidepressant) and a nasal spray for allergies. This pharmacy is located in a walk-in clinic, and is a real pharmacy not a self-serve one-stop shopping experience. There's a counter and two chairs for waiting. That's it. They have a few non-prescription products but they're behind the counter too.

I use this pharmacy because the prices are competitive and because the pharmacist has a community approach. He makes an effort to form a personal acquaintance with his customers (when I call up it's "Hi Michael, it's Pauline") and provides detailed information with the medications.

I had phoned in the renewals the day before; they found the order and Michael said, quietly because other customers were around, "Your flonase (nasal spray) and the other one?"

The other one.

I don't fault him for being discreet. I fault society for putting value judgements on the need for some medications. Discretion shouldn't be an issue here. There should be no more stigma attached to having depression than having allergies.

Yes, attitudes have become more (much more) enlightened in the last fifty (even twenty) years. When I had difficulties as a teenager, my mother called the family doctor who put me on valium; although I got better in the long run, valium is a depressant which was probably not the treatment of choice.

Several years later during a particularly bad bout (when the university health service doctor did have me on antidepressants) she tried bribery. Function, and I'll buy you a car.

I guess she was at her wits' end but the fact that she didn't know better, the fact that she thought my level of functioning was within my control at the time, was flabbergasting to me, even then. And hurtful, too. My mother was intelligent in some ways but her stubbornness was stronger than her desire to entertain a new idea.

Perhaps antidepressants are over prescribed; perhaps depression is the flavour of the month with regard to diseases; but that's all part of the pendulum swing, and it still hasn't swung far enough if my young pharmacist feels he has to protect my privacy with one medication but not the other.

From the "I knew I had readers but this is ridiculous" department:
This excerpt from today's Inside Politics show on CNN: Judy Woodruff, the anchor, is interviewing two men that I'd never seen nor heard of before:

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both just quickly to make a projection. What do you think's going to happen with McCain-Feingold?

HARSHBARGER: I am cautiously optimistic, because I think.. (blah blah, yadda yadda snipped out).

WOODRUFF: And Larry Makinson?

MAKINSON: I say inertia is the strongest force in Washington, D.C...


Linque Du Jour:   More on Mir

Tourists head for Mir re-entry zone

Well you can't let an event like that go by without making a buck off it, can you?

This is probably the website for that excursion (or if not, a similar trip):

Even if you don't plan to show up to greet Mir in person, there's a wealth of information on the site for space junkies and the mildly interested alike.

And finally, in the "too little too late?" category:

Japan may urge people to stay inside as Mir falls

It says,

Despite reassurances that the controlled plunge of the Mir space station poses no threat to Japan, a public safety official on Friday said the government may urge people to stay indoors to avoid being hit by debris.

I don't know but I don't feel any safer being in my house at the time if burning pieces of debris the size of "a small car" are falling out of the sky.

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