Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today I spent most of the day in the woman cave, working on my application to the UNC gerontology program. It's not a degree, it's a 12 credit certificate that I can take online.

Applying consists of the usual hoop-jumping exercises of higher ed, like writing essays on "why did you choose gerontology" and chasing down every institution you've ever attended for transcripts, and so on. I'm looking to enroll in the gerontology certificate program which is a graduate-level program of just 4 classes, which I will take one at a time due to the cost. I can also get reimbursed fully by my employer if I take just one class at a time. I can't believe it costs $1500 to take one 3 credit class. And that's in-state tuition.

Do I still sound jaded? Totally burned out? Frustrated? Yes. Sometimes, taking another deep breath is the hardest effort of all.

It occurred to me today that perhaps the reason I have been a whirling dervish these past 2 months is that I haven't been running and training. Between the taper and the recovery, I've about lost my mind.

After I felt like my butt was melting into the chair, I decided I had to get out and run, at least do something, just to get the blood flowing. I went out to do a 3 mile loop through the neighborhood and a few blocks from my house I ran into one of my neighbors, for the second time in a week. I hardly know her, and despite living just 2 blocks apart, we never see each other.

When I saw her last week, I was running the dogs and she was walking. I stopped to talk to her, and I noticed a gauze and tegaderm dressing on her chest, peeking out from under her shirt neckline. She had a port placed in her chest. She was just diagnosed with two different, unrelated types of cancer and is about to begin treatment next week. When we last talked, she told me all about it and wasn't sure where she'd be receiving treatment yet, it won't be where I work. But as we talked I told her about different resources available to her. After we went our separate ways it occurred to me that I should have given her my contact information. I didn't know her last name, either, and I wasn't sure which house she lived in.

So today when I saw her out walking, I stopped again, I gave her my phone number and e-mail, and we talked more about what she's going to start next week, and I'm sending her some information that she asked about. It's not going to be easy, but she should do well. Hopefully a year from now she will have moved beyond all of this and will have her life back in a different, but full gear. It won't be the same, ever, she will be changed by the experience. But she is fortunate because it was caught early and the prognosis is about as good as you can have with cancer.

I knew there was a reason why I didn't get out the door until just that moment at 4:30 pm, at a time when I rarely go out to start running.

It's hard to stay focused sometimes on the true meaning and value of what I do when there are so many distractions. I've been way off center, ungrounded and lost in those distractions. Today, at least, I came back to earth. It's important to do that, for the sake of other creatures out there.


mike_hinterberg said...

Only tangentially related, but someone once told me of a geriatric psychiatrist friend who suggest that all personalities converge to one of two possibilities: the crusty, negative old-person type with nothing good to say about anyone that thinks the world is going downhill; and the sweet optimist that accepts and enjoys life. Whether that's oversimplified or not, I occasionally think about it, and I can't help but think that part of it is associated (not sure about the direction of cause-and-effect) with how and where our elderly spend their last years.


On an earlier previous post: as a researcher and software engineer, I'm all for increased utilization of EMR's, standardization, sharing, "meaningful use," and catching up to 1990's technology. But the typical implementation and resources involved -- having a software switchover being a critical path for ALL STAFF (and, effectively, patients) for weeks or months -- is insane and unsustainable. But it's how everyone does it.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Mike, I think the most interesting, and mentally healthy older people I meet in my profession are the ones who have maintained a healthy skepticism and can look at the silly things in life as just what they are- silly- yet they continue to have a positive outlook, accepts that all the silly things are really just dead weight and the real, important things are happiness and quality of life. And re: EMR implementation, yes it IS insane. It will be nice when it's done and all we have to do is learn on the job. That's really the best way to do it- just jump in. All the other hype is what makes it a headache for the majority of the staff.