Friday, May 27, 2011

My Week Away From It All

As I think I mentioned, I got back on Sunday from visiting my best friend and her family.  She had been having a tough week and actually had a meltdown at the clinic about her son's situation about two days before I arrived.

So my visit was well-timed.

Here was her week in review, prior to my arrival.  Bear in mind, an MRI is a stressful thing for her, because there's always the possibility that it will show that her son's brain cancer has spread, in spite of the radiation and chemo.  He's living on borrowed time, in many ways, and we're all painfully aware of that.

She called to ask if she needed to give her son Ativan before the MRI, and the nurse told her, "Well, you certainly know your son better than we do.  Why are you asking us?!"

Then, someone from the billing department called and when my friend said "Hello?", the woman said, "Okay, is there anyone in your household who speaks English?"

My friend's husband is from Mexico, so their last name is Hispanic.  My friend, however, was born in VT and raised in upstate NY.  She has no accent whatsoever, gringa. 

Then, the insurance company didn't like the fact that the oncologist had adjusted her son's dose of chemotherapy (because he'd put on weight--which is actually a good thing), so they kept sending the wrong medication amounts.  They did this three times, so she ended up out $100. as a result of that and spent two days and three phone calls (each about 45 minutes in duration) stressing out that she wouldn't have the dosage in time to give it to him on schedule.

Meanwhile, the bills are all screwed up.  They arrive almost daily, to the tune of thousands of dollars, of course, and they are never correct.  Each incorrect bill requires a phone call to someone and a re-explanation of the mistake--once you reach an actual human being, that is.

You have to cross your fingers you get someone who can fix the problem, or if you do get someone who can fix the problem, you have to cross your fingers that they will.

Then, when they arrived at the clinic for her son's appointment prior to his MRI, everyone was in a meeting, so there was no one to do his blood counts and get him ready for the MRI.

This was when she lost it.  I mean, really--who can blame her?

I asked her if she dropped any F-Bombs on anyone, and to her credit, she didn't.  I told her that, although the law probably varies from state to state, this means that, by NJ standards, all she did was have a "loud conversation."

I think it was pretty loud, though, because when I went with her to the next appointment at the clinic, the office manager looked a little worried, particularly when she saw me.

I have no idea why.  I am nothing if not sweetness and light.

They do seem to be trying to help her out a bit more now.  I chimed in (how could I not?) about some of what was happening in terms of the bills and the prescriptions, because my friend is the type to just try to quietly deal with things all on her own.

She's not likely to stagger into a room yelling, "What in the HELL is going on here?!  I swear to GOD if someone doesn't help me RIGHT THIS SECOND, I'm gonna friggin' LOSE it."

So that's where I come in.  But in this case, I didn't have to have a full-blown freak-out, which was nice.  I just quietly told them that I didn't think they were fully appreciating the level of stress she was under, having a child this sick and two other children at home, plus bills and doctors and well, life.

So I hope I helped.  We also went to the animal shelter to see about adopting a cat and I offered my best advice on that subject: I suggested we back the minivan up to the door and simply take all 100 or so of them with us.

About the only decision that was reached was that I should not be taken along on the next trip to the shelter.

In the car on the way home from one of our outings, my friend's middle son suddenly notified his five-year-old sister, "Hey, I think you're growing a little mustache."

As she stared at him, appalled, and worriedly fingered her upper lip, he told her, "Oh, don't worry.  I think Missy [my nickname--it's a long story] has one too.  Here, let me check."

As he leaned forward to rub my upper lip, I alerted him to the fact that this was NOT the way to win favor with the ladies.

Meanwhile, his little sister very much enjoyed pulling my shirt off of my shoulder to expose a bra strap.  She was appalled, though, when I crouched down in low-cut jeans, even though I SWEAR no butt crack was ever exposed. (I always do a crouch-test before I buy pants.)

Nevertheless, she rushed up to me, giggling, to pull my shirt down and my pants up.  She also insisted at various points that I was "a stinky little thing," but her brother put an end to that debate by finally leaning over and sniffing me.

To my great relief, he told me, "No, it's okay, you don't stink."

So that was my week away from it all.  On the drive home, I had the pleasure of listening to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" on the radio and I've had the song in my head ever since.

While I'm not personally interested in marriage, I think her point is nevertheless well-taken.

♪♫ "Wo oh ooh oh oh ooh oh oh ooh oh oh oh..."♫

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."