Friday, October 29, 2010

NURSE RATCHED SPEAKS

With middle age comes a mid-life crisis for some. For others it means stepping into the wide world of decline when health problems start to raise their ugly little heads. Some people may be blessed with a great genetic make-up, but for those of us who spent our younger years flying by the seat of our pants and teetering on that glorious edge, we find ourselves the products of those years of bad choices, risky lifestyles and life’s excesses. So what do we do? Do we freak-out and quietly fall apart? Or do we do the unthinkable and explore a new world of using pharmaceuticals for actual medicinal reasons? Do we start taking our doctor’s advice as our medical charts start to grow thicker with lab results, surgical reports and progress notes? Those carefree days of recreational use and abuse have now ceased and we stand humbled as our doctor writes each Rx. We stand wondering what side effects might follow hoping that the cost of our healthcare will result in lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, a peaceful sense of well-being and ultimately a longer life.

In the past several years, I’ve learned a lot about the healthcare system as a whole. Most of the following things may be commonsense things that will prompt a quick response of “I knew that”, but often times, we get in a doctor’s office and go blank. Consider this a refresher course or just a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Life is full of choices. Remember that when selecting a doctor! Word of mouth referrals are probably the most helpful in weeding through all the doctors from Dr, Jekyll to Dr. House to Dr. Welby to Dr. Doolittle. Ask your friends, relatives and co-workers who they use. Doctors develop reputations that follow them wherever they go. Your doctor isn’t supposed to be the enemy, so if he or she acts like the enemy, it’s time to find someone new. Nothing says you have to feel entirely uncomfortable for those few minutes while you’re prodded and probed, so why pay for someone who makes you feel like a pin cushion and like just another chart number to be filed away and forgotten about as soon as you leave the building? If you don’t feel good about the person with whom you’ve entrusted your life, then it’s time for a change. And keep changing it until you find someone you like, respect and trust. This person might have to assist you in making some life and death decisions along the way, so it might benefit you to get a doctor who not only knows your name, but knows your history.

After you find the right doctor, my first suggestion is to start making a list of things you want to discuss during each appointment. You spend your hard-earned money to pay for your office visits, so get your money’s worth while you’re there. I’ve found that doing a little homework about my health problems makes it easier to talk to my doctor. The internet is great resource for medical information and misinformation (be careful). Arm yourself with facts and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about new procedures and new medicines. A good doctor will take note of the interest you show as being a signal that you might be more apt to be compliant in any prescribed course of action. Often times, I forget that my doctor isn’t a mind reader and can’t properly diagnose and treat me unless I’m completely candid about my symptoms. Even small details might be crucial in an accurate diagnosis because many illnesses mimic each other in their early stages, so don’t dismiss anything as being insignificant if it consistently bothers you. Let the doctor be the judge of a symptom’s significance.

Next, definitely learn about the drugs that you may have to take for the rest of your life. Find out what the long term effects may be and if periodic lab work will be required to make sure you remain within normal ranges. For instance, those people taking lithium to treat bipolar disorder need to be closely monitored because the difference between an accepted therapeutic level and a toxic level is a very small range. Many cholesterol medicines can cause elevated liver enzymes. Also, ask your doctor about new drugs that may come available in the near future. Trust me, your doctors are constantly courted by many drug reps wanting them to write prescriptions for their drugs. A good doctor knows which drugs work best and will recommend them without hesitation.

For now, this is Nurse Ratched signing off to check her blood sugar, take her meds and eat breakfast.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the exposure to the medical field I've had.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BORN TO BE MILD

As I get older, that edge I once teetered on no longer is an edge. It’s more a quiet stroll amongst the herd with no edge in sight. I can’t begin to tell you my dislike for mellowing with age and although it seems to happen to the best of us, every now and then when that wild hair still tickles, I still listen. Okay, it’s not exactly a wild hair anymore. It’s more like an annoying itch that needs to be scratched.

I have a friend (name excluded to protect the guilty) who definitely understands my need to be "bad" every now and then and indulges me by letting me scratch my itch. Whenever we go see a movie we most always "double-dip". This custom started when we went to see Star Trek. I suppose after watching something that made me think about my misspent youth, I was inspired to scratch the itch by doing a double-dip (the second movie I didn’t pay to see). I walked out of one movie and into another. There definitely are advantages of being an average middle-aged woman. We blend in with the scenery! So as I sat and watched the second movie, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past I did so with a smile on my face. When I realized I was smiling at my own actions and not at anything I was watching, I actually laughed out loud. Age really has mellowed me and that wild hair is so easily sated these days.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful to have gone from being born to be wild to being born to be mild all in one lifetime!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

OHIO OR BUST


Tomorrow (very early), I'm off to see my childhood bestfriend.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for people who knew me long ago and who still can put up with me today!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

THE WORLD AT 55


At 55, we are branded "mature" (at least most of us are). At 55, the world no longer is viewed in terms of black and white. Shades of gray drown out the black and white as we find very few absolutes in life. At this crucial point in our lives, many of us decide to rediscover or reinvent ourselves. For many, this is the first major decision as we travel into the autumn of our years. Why can't this segment of our lives be as colorful as the trees in New England as the become ablaze of colors decorating the landscape? Why can't these years be filled with less regret and more urgency to do all the things we wanted, but never did because life kept getting in the way? Why isn't the light at the end of the tunnel a stronger, brighter beacon guiding us along the way?

At 55, we are no longer invincible and immortal. Many of us are drowning in all the mundane things in which life is filled. We rarely take time to have fun, be happy or treat ourselves to an occasional goodie. At 55, our nest is filled with items of comfort that keep us from venturing outside to explore. Yes, we know we should treat ourselves better, but most of us have spent a lifetime of putting others before our own needs so we are clueless when it comes time to think about ourselves.

I often wonder what would happen if I suddenly let that wild hair that was so much a part of my make up in my younger years loose again. Instead of cave dwelling, what would happen if I squander my time and money and aimlessly wander? Isn't going out in a blaze of glory better than slowly fizzling out? Would living on the edge and flying by the seat of my pants feel any different now than it used to feel? As I watch those around me grow old and die, these at the things I wonder at 55.


Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for each age I've been for with each age comes new realizations and truths.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

THE WORLD AT 18


At 18, we are branded "adults". At 18, the world is still primarily viewed in terms of black and white. Shades of gray come with age and experience. At this crucial point in our lives, many of us decide to forsake higher education by jumping into the real world by becoming gainfully employed (for some this should read painfully employed) or we take the plunge and go for the gusto by pursuing a degree in a field of our own choosing. For many, this is the first major decision we make as an adult. Then we spend the next several years changing our minds and tweaking our goals until we finally get to know ourselves and stop trying to please everyone around us. Others, the "untouchables" who come from various socioeconomic backgrounds actively pursue a career in being parasites and actually find they are rather good at their parasitic endeavors. For them, once a tick, always a tick! The nonparasites among us struggle to stay afloat, to maintain our humble lifestyles and to find periods of actual personal growth without being prompted to do so. The light at the end of the tunnel illuminates a journey towards realizing that we can and will survive in this world without compromising our own values or anyone else’s.

At 18, we still are invincible and immortal. We don’t think of mundane things like life insurance and health insurance. Those things are for people who are firmly rooted in middle age with families and responsibilities. At 18, as we leave the nest, those realities aren’t things our parents enlighten us with. Yes, we are told to go to college so we can get a good job because a good job is required to support a family and a humble lifestyle, but we probably haven’t been told to practice safe sex because a few minutes of pleasure can effect the rest of our lives or to trust in love because the real thing will still be there when we let go. Unfortunately, these are things many of us learn the hard way at the University of Life.

I often wondered what would have happened if I had developed a healthy curiosity in the art of being responsible. Instead of investigating life somewhere over the rainbow, what would have happened if I had taken some of my squandered time and money and invested it in something of value? What would have happened if I had researched affordable health insurance as soon as I was no longer covered as a dependent on my parent’s policy? Would my world have been a different one than the one I chose? Would I have realized that 18 year olds get sick and even die? Would I have looked at my own health with a different attitude? Would I have realized the activities I participated in then might not affect me immediately, but they might catch up with me 20 or 30 years later? Would I have realized that my immorality is a myth and that living on the edge and flying by the seat of my pants would one day be viewed with less enthusiasm or even with a minuscule amount of regret?

Hmmm, I wonder why hindsight is always 20/20…

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel for without it I would never know I was on the right path.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

SILENT LUCIDITY


I awoke with an acute feeling of aloneness…

I laid in the dark trying to shake the feeling, yet every thought; every memory seemed to bring me back to the reality that I am alone. Did I feel frightened? No! Did I feel a quiet desperation tugging at me trying to tell me that NOW is the time to go forward into the unknown? Yes! The recognition and acceptance blanketed me with the belief that there are others quite like me out there feeling as I do. Then a calm came over me lulling me into feeling that by opening myself up again may lead me to a place that feels safe, new and unexplored all in the same breathtaking moment. I fear not! I embrace the journey and go forward into the night…

alone…

searching…

Gratitude statement: Too many nights I've laid awake drowning in vacant thoughts and feelings, but last night I was able to close my eyes and drift back into slumber. For that I am thankful.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, October 08, 2010

FORGIVENESS

When I started looking inside myself, I discovered it takes a stronger person to forgive than it does to remain steadfast on my principles and beliefs. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of inner strength. It takes a stronger person to step outside the misery and angst than it does to drown in the sorrow and pain of the past. When I looked inside, I saw how to be free and how to look past those negative feelings that ate away at my core. When I looked inside, I saw love isn't about being right. It's about being me and allowing others to love me how I really need to be loved. When I looked inside, I saw freedom in the courage to reach out and connect with others. I saw the strength it takes to let my guard down and believe that life really is worth living. I saw that acceptance and forgiveness will move me forward past the pain and towards happiness.

They say "to err is human and to forgive is divine". I guess that makes me extremely human and working towards divinity. Forgiving others is a cinch, but I find forgiving myself, at times, is extremely difficult. I keep telling myself it's okay to make mistakes as long as a I learn from my mistakes. Without mistakes a person can never grow and learn or test the boundaries of having a life worth living. The words of Socrates come to mind. "An unexamined life is not worth living." Furthermore, an unexamined life leads to being imprisoned by the very things which hurt us the most...our own negative dialogue and buying into the fallacy that we are powerless victims of fate who cannot change anything.

I think as I examine my life and the world around me, the answers I seek are evident as long as I keep both my eyes and heart open. The standard I hold for myself has been much different than the standard I hold for others. What I need to do is allow myself to be examined in the same nonjudgmental way I examine others. One thing is
certain! As I move forward, my journey may get a little bumpy along the way, so please fasten your seat belts and put your crash helmet on as a safety precaution. The air bags are fully functional and please remember the driver hasn't lost anyone yet!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the desire to change and for the strength to finally do the right thing.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

After careful deliberation, I have concluded what I really need is a mind blowing first date. Here, I was thinking I needed a creative midlife crisis when all I need is something far less cumbersome. In order to classify this first date as "mind blowing", the experience should follow the parameters below:

1) The first date scenario cannot be anything I would be arrested for unless the person with whom I have the first date will post my bail and pay for a lawyer.

2) The first date cannot be anything life-threatening or permanently disabling, but "screwboos" (injuries from having sex for example, carpet burns, scratch marks, bumps on the head, etc.) are allowed!

3) The first date can be slightly amoral and include up to 3 of the Seven Deadly Sins (name them and the Seven Dwarfs and you might be the man of my dreams) as long as I can take pictures and brag about it afterwards (and of course, write a blog entry).

4) If the first date does involve sex, "eye candy" (tall, handsome and young enough to make me blush) is an acceptable description of the recipient of my affections and fantasy. Blow up dolls and cute midgets are not acceptable substitutes.

Any suggestion for first date scenarios are appreciated and volunteers to blow my mind can sign up here. Candidates must meet certain criteria and be willing to be interrogated by an interviewing committee.(I've learned not to trust my own judgment where men are concerned)

The interviewing committee must consist of at least 5 people I trust (any volunteers???). Candidates will be judged on wit, intelligence and physical appearance. Candidates must submit a certificate of a clean bill of health, a financial statement and a police background check. Candidates with any psychiatric diagnosis will be automatically disqualified. The candidate with the highest score will then be cast in the first date scenario with me. The question is… am I crazy enough to do this? Have I been in time out long enough? I think it's time Mildred came out to play!

Gratitude statement: I'm truly grateful for the twisted sense of humor I have!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.