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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mission Improbable Trip

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for full coffee thermos and mulch!

I have never been on a church mission trip. As the mother of eight children, I suspect we were the object of most missions. I'm not sure I wasn't the object of this mission trip this time. I could just hear the planning committee.

"You know she's got these two little children and school is almost out."

"Yes, and at her age we need to get her away for a few days."

"Yes. Our real mission is to save the children but we will tell her it is a mission trip to help sort and pack supplies for flood victims at our distribution depot."

I was invited. There were two women going that I had known for at least thirty years and they were always lots of fun. Dr. Hubby only had a few questions.

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know".

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know."

"What time will you be back?"
"I don't know."

"OK, I'll handle things here."

I have to admit I was also thinking of that long hot summer approaching when I would have to spend endless hours serving as backyard life guard and WWIII mediator as the children began re-establishing their territorial borders.

Yes, I would go.

When I arrived at the church to leave for our trip, I found myself in the car with two women I had known only for a short time and one I did not know…or didn't know that I knew…or knew but had forgotten I knew. To be on the safe side I just did not introduce myself.

Now, I know it is hard to believe, but I am a very shy person. "I never met a stranger I didn't like" only works if you are able to speak to that stranger and carry on a conversation. I opted for Mark Twain's advice "Better to keep your mouth closed and thought a fool, then to open it and remove all doubt." I would be a good listener.

It was a good choice as I had no idea what they were talking about. They discussed favorite recipes; I listened. They discussed master gardening techniques. I listened. They commented on every bush, flower, and weed on the side of the highway calling them by their biological name and allocating them to the proper category, phylum, and location at Lowes. I listened. They discussed diets, nutrition, and exercise. I listened. At that point I was wishing I had consumed a gallon of coffee before leaving so I could contribute to the conversation with "When is the next rest stop?" but I hadn't.

To their credit they tried to include me in the conversation.

"I bet those kids keep you busy," said one.


"Do you garden?" asked another.


"Are you enjoying being retired?" inquired the maybe-stranger- maybe-not person driving.

"I don't know."

"Oh, look at those thornius yellow bivoscrotum bivalve phyla-silly-us roses. Those would look so pretty in your yard (referring to the person in the front seat). You know they have cross pollinated those knocked out roses and now there's the double bloom that tolerates more extreme climate conditions…" And it went downhill from there.

When we stopped for lunch eight hours later, someone from the other car asked if anyone was ready to trade cars. ME!!!

When I got into my comfort zone car, a longtime friend asked "So how did it go?" I told them I didn't say anything; I just listened. I did not think that statement was cause for riotous laughter, but it did. I told them they talked about cooking (more laughter), diets (continued laughter) and at great length about knocked up roses they got at Lowes which I guess is the home for unwed and promiscuous roses. More laughter.

By this time the car was rocking from side to side as the occupants gasped for air. I could see the confused expressions of the occupants in the first car. Later that evening I overheard the maybe-stranger-maybe-not person ask if I was always this quiet and reserved which caused much spewing of coke through the noses of my old friends. "Just wait till she gets warmed up!" they warned.

I did warm up. My roommate that night was the maybe-stranger-maybe-not person. I relaxed when I discovered that I really hadn't met her before. I also realized that she suffered from the same condition my others friends have. They unexpectedly lapse into some kind of coma around 2 a.m. in the middle of one of my stories.

On the way home we stopped every fifteen minutes. I was passed back and forth like a hot potato. "We've enjoyed Jody for the last 22.8 miles. It's your turn now…my ears hurt."

One of the ladies I had ridden with during my "quiet period" asked "What happened to Jody? She was so quiet before". My old friend explained. "You have to understand, Jody only speaks six-year-old and nine-year-old. Real conversation with live adults is limited to her computer. When she finally gets her jaw and brain coordinated, she has to talk very fast and a lot before she returns home and enters the 'cone of silence". "Well, I think our next mission should be to get her among adult humans more often."

I agree. Maybe I'll go to Lowes and get some knocked up roses to plant.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Eyes Have It!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for 400 strength readers

No, this is not about son's eyeball flipping around. This is about my eyes and I haven't rolled my eyes around in my head since I was a teenager. This is about my recent eye exam.

My first eye exam took place when I was a junior in high school and the only reason I went to the eye doctor then was because I kept typing the same line over and over (I am a very fast typist so I don't read what I type as I am sure you are aware if you have read more than one of my blogs.) With that problem corrected, I didn't go back for about twenty years; then every ten years, five years, and now in the latter half century every six months it seems.

This time I was screened for glaucoma. I think one of the technicians, probably a former student that failed my class, must have seen me practicing my curb jumping and told the secretary to send me a card suggesting an appointment and screening for severe peripheral vision defects. I put on the one-eyed pirate mask and proceeded to click a button every time I saw a flash or as the techie suggested "Every time you think you see a flash." So is this a mental test or an eye test?

This was followed by, as the techie, said "Eyeball pressure check". I think the kid must have worked summers at a tire store. This was followed by the Sesame Street portion of the exam. "Is it better this way? Or that way? Better #1 or #2? Better #3 or #4?" I wanted to say "Better without the yellow numbing junk you squirted in my eye and the Star Wars Intergalactic light explosions I was subjected to earlier" but I didn't. I just said "One, two, two, one, no difference."

This was followed by a half hour wait to see the doctor. I tried to watch the educational DVD that was playing but all I could see were purple dots dancing across the screen.

Finally I saw the doctor. He hummed, hum? Oh, hum! and then declared me fine. I then asked "What about the double vision I have after reading a paperback book?" "Hum?" He looked at my chart, raised his eyebrows and said "At your age, I would suggest stronger readers and maybe these eye drops."

I was feeling pretty good about the results of the exam and miffed about the "at your age" remark until he added, still scrutinizing my chart, "You know, you don't look your age. You look at the most 55." That last remark, while flattering, didn't exactly instill confidence in his ability to see. I left thinking to myself, he needs to make an appointment with Darth Vader, the tire guy, and the Sesame Street drop out if he thinks I look 55!"

Oh well, six months and I get to do all this again. Hope it doesn't change to every three months.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eyes Right, Sort of!

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to purchase Ray Charles glasses

In addition to all the other fun I have around here, I also take care of our forty year old son after a car wreck twelve years ago left him brain damaged and with only one eye. We built him an apartment about twenty-five yards from our house and he is semi- self-sufficient as long as I give him his medication, do his housecleaning, laundry, driving, and grocery shopping.

He has always been able to remove his prosthetic eye, clean it, and put it back in by himself for which I am grateful. Occasionally the eyeball flips around and he shows up at my backdoor with only the white of one eyeball showing with the pupil facing due west. The children think that is really cool and the best ever Halloween costume. I’ve gotten used to it and have learned not to scream out loud…as much.

With changes in his medication lately, he is able to remember more and remember it for a bit longer. He still gets confused and time for the most part doesn’t exist. Still when I reminded him the other morning to remove his eye and clean it, he did, sometime late that afternoon. This time, however, he could not get the eye back in. He tried, and tried, and tried, and tried. I suggested he just leave it out for a day or two and then try again.

I covered the empty eye socket with a patch and told the children he was pretending to be a pirate. Three days later, he still could not get the eye repositioned in the socket. I tried to tell him the initials on the eye are supposed to be at the top but he was sure I was wrong.

My son is a veteran. Dealing with the VA is much like dealing with a brain injury. The brain is there, just not much going on at times. In other words, it is a typical government agency. I phoned the VA hospital only to get a recording.

“If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, hang up and dial 1-800- 8930-23-5610-82-820-6531; that’s 1-800-HOPE-IT-WON’T-BE-TOO-LATE.

For other options listen to our menu as numbers, extensions, location of the nearest MD, country of origin, and our physical location have changed.

To renew a prescription press #2, enter your social security number, the number of the prescription you want renewed, and your current condition…prone, vertical, comatose.

To speak to a nurse, press #3 and take a number.

To speak to a live person, refer back to #3.

To make an appointment press #4, then enter the month, date, year and in what century you would like the appointment, two numbers for month, two numbers for date, four numbers for the year and Roman numerals for century.

To repeat this menu in Swahili, press #5, Burmese #6, Spanish #7, Arabic #8, Russian #9.

For braille press #10.

If you are hearing impaired and cannot hear this menu, press #1.

To repeat this menu press #405-8200-33258 followed by your last four and current blood pressure reading.”

Finally a sympathetic telephone operator, in this case a live person, suggested I bring him to the Urgent Care portion of the ER. An hour and a half and 93 miles later, we quickly found a seat in the waiting room where we stayed for two hours.

The ER doctor took one look at my son and sent us to the eye clinic, the one I had been trying to reach when we were told to come to the ER.

Fortunately there was no one in the waiting room when we got there. Unfortunately there was a big discussion between the three doctors about, I assume, who was low man on the totem pole and had to stay and see my son.

A fourth doctor who must have drawn the short straw saw us immediately. He patiently cleaned out my son’s eye socket. Not knowing if the doctor had read the chart and knew that my son was brain injured, I tactfully told the doctor that the first prosthesis had the initials at the top, but my son is of the opinion that the initials on this prosthesis were at the bottom.

“Is your name Melvin Harrison?” the doctor asked.
“No,” said my son.
“Your initials aren’t MH?”
“Then the initials go at the top, H.W."

With eye ball in place and not rolling around, I took H.W., the son formerly known as M.H. home. I think I’ll have him leave his prosthetic eye in and just have him open his eye lid while he is in the shower… sort of a car wash for the eye. Beats a day at the VA.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Senior curb Jumping Reaches New Heights

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for helmets, harnesses, and tire re-alignment

I can drive. I can. In fact, I’ve been doing it for quite a number of years. I can stop, pass, and even turn, as long as it is to the left. Right turns give me a bit of a problem. If I were driving an English car, this would not be the case; however, I drove an American car and my right turns have never been quite right. I think I may be left-brained.

Today I seem to be suffering from right-turn-itis more than usual. After picking up the six-year-old from school I had to travel to the next school to pick up the nine-year-old which necessitated a right turn. Possibly due to the strong winds we have been having, I managed to bump over the curb as I made my right turn. This resulted in a small spill of Sunny D the six-year-old was attempting to drink, a mini volcanic eruption from my morning cup of coffee still sitting in the cup holder, and squeals of delight from the dare devil in the back.

After picking up the nine-year-old I had to make another right turn as we headed home. This time the eye glasses bounced out of the dash compartment onto the floorboard and the nine-year-old said “That’s once.” “No, that’s twice”, corrected the six-year-old and they both giggled and snickered.

At home I dropped off the six-year-old, had the nine-year-old change into her ballet clothes and we left for class. We made a quick detour to check out the gymnastics schedule. This was a left, left, a wide turn to the right, drive, drive, and then a turn to the left into the parking lot. We got the schedules and started to leave.

I do not know why parking lots to not allow sufficient room to negotiate proper turns. It doesn’t require that much more cement. Right, bump-bump, glasses again to the floor, young hands quickly grasping the door handles amidst “Whoppee” and we were off to ballet class and from the back seat I heard “That’s three.”

As I was passing Mickey D’s, I heard the Mocha Frappe siren calling. I tried to resist but it was a left hand turn and I had no will power remaining. I think it got bumped out at the gym.
I had forgotten the drive-through required a right hand turn. Bump bump, and bumpity-bump, the back tires were involved this time. Knowing that my curb jumping was going to be reported to hubby, I decided to diffuse the situation immediately.

“My goodness, I seem to be hitting a lot of curbs today; how many was that?” I asked nonchalantly.
“You mean in the past two hours?”
“Five,” replied the nine-year-old, “but that’s only since I’ve been in the car. This morning…”
“Of course this car is a bit wider than what I have been used to.”
“You’ve been driving this car ever since I can remember.”
“Yes, but the curbs haven’t always been where they are now.”
“You mean you’ve completely knocked out a whole curb before?”
“Ok, here we are and it’s a left turn.”
“Do you want me to keep counting as you pull away? That’s going to be a right turn, you know.”
“Hurry, you don’t want to be late for your class.”

As I left the ballet studio, I could feel her eyes watching so I made a wide turn to the left and took a short scenic trip down the dead-end street. Luckily there was a circle drive at the end which curved to the left.

My husband is constantly having my tires re-aligned. I told him it was just part of the learning curve; I only recently started senior curb jumping.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Salute to Fat, Something We Can All Get Behind

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for Crestor

Continuing with my “Salute To” series, I have chosen to salute fat, that most maligned of all body products. Info-commercials and regular commercials abound with FAT reducing pills, rubs, drinks, and wraps. Exercise contraptions of torture, recently released by the CIA and, FBI from Quantico, are now offered for sale with an eighteen year easy finance program available. Cables, pulleys, inclined pains, and rotating saucers are touted to give you washboard abs, a stronger core, firmly toned upper arms, and reduced body fat not to mention weekly visits to your chiropractor. Provided you have very good eyes and an 8x 12 foot TV screen, you can just make out “coupled with a 200 calorie starvation diet and your personal on-site former wrestling champion consultant”.

Fat makes the taste buds happy. Fat is necessary. Whales would freeze in the Arctic waters without it. Early man would have found himself in the dark without bowls of fat to burn. Potatoes would be used for library paste without a sufficient amount of butter. Fat is to humans what a fur coat is to people in Florida. It makes a statement. It says “I have this and I’m going to keep it whether it’s needed or not.”

Fat has been the bad guy; number one on the most unwanted list. The truth is fat has kept many a person from receiving debilitating injuries from a fall. Without that ample seat cushion of fat, many adults would find themselves in the emergency room with something other than a very large bruise. People with insufficient padding suffer more broken bones.

Statistics show that an abundance of body fat has enabled pirates marooned on a desert island to survive longer than their low fat counterparts. It also offers more protection to vital organs and bones when being attacked by a man or woman eating tiger. If you are worth your weight in gold, wouldn’t extra fat be preferable?

Fat has enriched our vocabulary and writing. Who can forget “Fat cat. Fat lip? Fat chance! Fat bank account.” Or their cousins “Padded expense account, padded cell, and padded seat.”
Fat has been honored by the great artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Cherubs are always pictured as chubby and happy. Nudes are portrayed has having been well fed over the years with that ample figure type highly valued. Twiggy, Barbie and Brook Shields would never have made it as models in those days. No stick figures for the world’s greatest artists.

So here is to Fat! May it keep us warm in winter, protect us when falling, and provide food for us when marooned with pirates. Thank you for flavoring our food, our literature, our language, and our art. Oh, and for inspiring this piece!