I am reminded of a comic strip I saw in the daily paper, where a dog chasing his tail finally caught it. The cartoon dog made a great exclamation of delight as a result. The following cell pictured him in exactly the same place, tail still in mouth, the Sun having gone down and the Moon high in the dark night sky. The “thought” bubble over his head said “NOW what do I do?”.
For more than a moment, I could relate to that after reading the highly anticipated correspondence from the bureaucrats regarding an SSI claim. Then again, I had a funny feeling about how it would turn out. The claim was made at the encouragement and suggestion of the medical insurance company through the Department of Public Welfare. They provided an advocate to expedite the process, in fact. The claim was put in just prior to the triple bypass procedure that ultimately and wisely I decided against.
By way of cross-indexing all all of my medical records against their criteria, it was determined that I was fully able to return to the work I had done most of my adult life. They were very clear about this as fact, further saying that my condition had improved to the point that I should be able to re-enter the work force at this age and continue where I left off as if nothing had happened.
What may be the classic irony and circular logic is this fact:
Had I undergone the bypass surgery, the probability of becoming qualified as disabled up to the normal SSA age of retirement claim would have been upward from 80% positive.
I am confident that this is a fact. Everyone I have spoken to that is familiar with the system backs this up. In my dealings with every involved agency over the past few years, I am not the least bit surprised. I’ll be most happy to be rid of it all finally and hopefully. If I can find a job at this point, that is.
The phrase has been uttered countless times- “We all have our moments.” Indeed we do. Most moments are fleeting things. Some have more gravity attached to them. Lately I’ve had moments where I can understand the feelings of hopelessness that, at least in part, may have led to my friend taking of her own life earlier this year. At certain moments I can relate. But only for a moment. One thing that helps to keep me out of the abyss is the fact that I do not have the added layers of long term clinical depression and bipolar disorder that she did. From my own point of view, I’m thankful for that on a daily basis.
The last time I saw her, we were having dinner in honor of her 60th birthday. She wasn’t liking aging one iota. In fact, it was terrifying to her. I am recalling that much of the conversation was centered around getting and keeping a job at our age. There was much consternation over financial issues closing in. She seemed to be feeling more than a bit trapped, and could not understand how I was downsizing my needs progressively in stages without being miserable in the process.
There have been moments of misery and despair in my most recent of job searches. So many opportunities are out of range by way of age alone. Add to that the current and seemingly endless bad state of the economy, and what you have is a recipe for hopelessness. It can creep up and get you if you don’t see it coming. In a moment.
At several points in my career I was employed by a man of tremendous practical wisdom. He was a consulting engineer with the soul of an artist… a poet… or a musician, and the hard savvy of an accountant. Not that it made him all that much of a good business man… to the contrary, his business was legend in design circles as being something of a functional train wreck. But he loved his work as well as those near to him. And he loved life and the art of living. He would say the most profound things on occasion.
One that sticks in my mind right now was this:
“If a deal sounds too good to be true, then you can pretty much figure that it is just that.”
My younger brother, after years of battling stage 3 lung cancer, was transferred from my sister’s home to the hospice center so they could work out his pain management program. This needed to be done in a controlled environment. To me, that was an obvious conclusion. We discussed this at length via Internet chat. In the process, he went “dark” for a day or two, but re-emerged with a vengeance. Somehow he had found the will and the way to get back online from within the facility. All full of “piss and vinegar” (read: remarkable enthusiasm/ USMC bravado), he was all fired up and desperately awaiting going “home”. So many things on his mind. So many things on mine as well…
The big news was that he was being chauffeur driven back from the hospice facility to my sister’s place. Such exceptional treatment. Very special indeed. Good Lord! He had the vitality of a man fully one-third his age for a moment there. He was on some kind of personal mission regarding a furniture purchase for my sister’s home. We shared seemingly endless Internet searches for this item. It was great fun in what I felt an odd way. The abject focus of it was nothing short of amazing.
By all accounts, this focus was realized at the store and he concluded his “mission” with great enthusiasm and fanatical attention to detail. The pain management program was working! Or so it seemed.
Hours later I got the call from my brother-in-law. He was taken back to the hospice center.
It was too good to be true…
…and that stay was thankfully short lived. Ken departed this world peacefully in his sleep the following morning.
I am reminded of a political cartoon I saw back when in the OP/ED section of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It depicted a caricature of then President Ronald Reagan sprinkling Marines into an over-boiling stove-top pot labeled “World Problems”, wearing a woman’s kitchen apron. I thought the apron was a nice touch. The Marines are always the first to go into any conflict. Always on the ready- anywhere- any time, regardless of circumstance or political climate. They go undaunted and get the job done. A breed apart. They are just wired that way.
My younger brother is a veteran Marine reservist from the Vietnam era. In typical fashion for him, when he went to register for the draft at the county seat, he simply went right across the street and signed up at the USMC recruiting office. When he got back home he explain that not feeling particularly lucky that day regarding his draft chances, he might as well go for a sure thing and join up with the best. Lately he has been fighting the battle of his life in Stage 3 lung cancer. In conversation, I tell people that he has had enough chemotherapy to kill me and whoever I tell it to, whether that be a single person or a group. In typical Marine fashion, he has appropriately named his tumor “Ivan”. He’s just wired that way.
Ivan is winning the war, from the standpoint of his medical team. Enter the hospice program…
The hospice folks arranged a visit from a retired US Air Force officer to present him with gifts of gratitude for service including a pin, flag and framed certificate of thanks. His response to me sounded mildly bewildered: “No one has ever THANKED me before.” That and a regulation salute. He is quite proud of being able to muster that. Remarkable.
Hospice people are the marines of system health care, if you ask me. The role of hospice care is highly misunderstood in this culture. They do the job nobody wants to and face patients’ war on mortality with grace, providing dignity. A breed apart. I’d like to find that cartoon and change the faces and captions. They sprinkled him with something very special…
They are just wired that way.
STEM CELLS FIX HEART 5 YEARS AGO.
The above link is a post from my friend’s blog on adult stem cell (ASC) therapy. He works very hard at promoting awareness of ASC in the United States. I am happy to say that after I filled out a questionnaire I was promptly contacted by a leading ASC center as being a candidate for these therapies. I will know more once I gather all requested information from my cardiologist and primary care provider and get some blood labs done at my clinic and forward it to them.
Beyond that it is a question of money- which I simply do not have. I am however hopeful I will be able to figure something out in that regard, somehow, some way. Having no insurance is not an issue in this- these procedures are not done nor covered here at this time. Whatever the cost, I do know that it will be far less than what was planned with high risk surgery. And far more effective.
She is indeed accustomed to hours in hair, make-up and costuming devoted to a relative minute of actual performance. I should think so. She’s been putting on stage make-up since she began at the ballet at the age of four. And all manner of complicated costumes. My daughter. Runway model… add that to singer, lyricist, dancer and alternative photo model.
This was a part of her epic birthday celebration, as I’ve reflected upon in earlier posts (“Birthday Party” and “Birthday Party- Part Deux (The Dance)”). And a booking. Many of the other girls walked too quickly or appeared a bit nervous. But not Devin. She knew what the job to be done was all about- to show off the outfit. And she did it with absolute poise and confidence. Magnificent!
Days later she reached out in a Facebook status update about how she was feeling quite down after several days of awesome experience. This struck a chord with me. I know all too well the letdown that one feels after seemingly endless preparation followed by a great show. Then the sinking feeling that it is over- back to the ordinary, with the uneasy uncertainty that the euphoria will ever happen again. I’ve experienced that same feeling many, many times in the music world. I responded with a comment of understanding, encouragement and hope.
A comment response to that was left by her husband. More to the point, he thought, was the realization that she was tied down by local promoters and “artists” who never seem to get past the point of self-service- ergo they remain local. This struck a chord with me as well. Possibly a larger one. In my career I never seemed to make the right connections to make my work be what some people would consider “successful”. But the work remains.
Dedicating one’s life to the arts is a difficult choice and an even more difficult road to follow. It’s just as tough to do on top of a “day job“. I hope she can make those connections that will allow her talents to truly blossom. I don’t see any signs of her ever stopping. Game on.