Category Archives: health

Five Easy Clues That You’re Growing Up, and Up

A somewhat scary thing happened to me recently. As I slid into the passenger seat of my friend’s car one evening, micro-tiny, super-bright, golden-colored lightning bolts suddenly started flashing at the edge of my field of vision. At first, I figured that her car was doing something slick and fancy.

“Do your car’s lights have a kind of strobe-y thing that they do at night?”

She assured me they didn’t. The flashing became persistent, about every ten seconds or so. Being a concerned friend, she suggested that I call the ophthalmologist right away. I caught him just as he was leaving his office.

“Come in at nine tomorrow morning,” he said. “If your vision gets bad, go straight to the emergency room.”

We promptly added martinis to our plans for the Continue reading Five Easy Clues That You’re Growing Up, and Up

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Mohair Sweaters: Fashion Statement, Medieval Hairshirt or Terrorist Plot?

Last month, I went to Amsterdam on an annual business trip. Mid-November in North Sea countries usually means cold rain or damp blustery days. It’s pretty chilly there, (even for a cold-hardened, former Midwesterner), setting up perfect conditions for sweater shopping.

This year, mohair seemed to be everywhere. Amsterdam was wrapped in the stuff.

“You’d have to be stoned (a reasonable possibility in Holland) or clueless to miss the message: if you’re on-trend, you’d better be in an earth-toned longish, bulky-knit mohair blend sweater.”

I endorse shopping while straight, having made a few serious purchase mistakes in the past when not-entirely-alert. It was easy to succumb to the pull of Euro-style. Sweater-y shops were on every street. Continue reading Mohair Sweaters: Fashion Statement, Medieval Hairshirt or Terrorist Plot?

One Last Thanksgiving Burp

If the United States devolves into a theocracy, Thanksgiving would surely be its central rite.

It’s a few days after the holiday. Reading this morning’s newspapers (I prefer to dribble my coffee and spew muffin crumbs on the papers instead of on my wireless keyboard), I couldn’t help but notice the hand-wringing over two topics that are also part of our national liturgy: overeating and football. Continue reading One Last Thanksgiving Burp

We’re Alive Until We’re Not

I don’t usually write posts of this length, but once I started, I had to keep on writing. This is dedicated to the unique gentleman who allowed me to share the last 18 months of his life. I will carry his memory forward with me. And here’s a loving shout-out to the dedicated staff at “famous 4A,” the hospice unit where I volunteer.  Please share this with anyone who doubts the value of hospice care.  Hospice offers a gift of time to those who chose this experience at the end of their lives.


Mr. S and I met eighteen months ago when he moved to the hospice where I work as a volunteer. At the time, he was a robust man whose appearance was initially intimidating. His pointedly-arched, bristly white eyebrows; piercing blue eyes; white hair swept back from his receding hairline…revealing a brow and forehead whose shape indicated that a sharp mind was operating within.

Those first days, he kept the door to his room closed, but thanks to the glass paneled top-half of the door, I could see him sitting by the wide window, looking out at the main entrance and driveways of the hospital, watching the comings and goings of people, the assortment of vehicles (buses, vans, ambulances, passenger cars, pick-up trucks, motorcycles, scooters and wheelchairs), and the landscape of hospital grounds and rolling hills beyond.

Continue reading We’re Alive Until We’re Not

No More “Girl-on-Top”

Lately, I’ve been running half-marathons. In the past, my running was pretty much limited to airports – getting to the gate before the plane’s door shut. I got started nearly two years ago, when my husband and I signed up to train and run with Team RMH, a fund-raising team to benefit the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. In November, 2008, I ran my first “half” at Pacific Grove. It was great fun, and I marveled that I could go this distance simply by training pretty moderately but consistently. It’s kind of a lazy-girl’s way of running, without risk of overtraining or getting injured.

Six weeks later, I decided to do another big run. It was just for fun, and I was in high spirits, feeling buff.  A supporter of Muffy Vanderbear’s assertion that “Life is one big dress up party” I spiffed up at LuLuLemon, buying upbeat, fast-looking running shorts and a comfy tank top.

Race day came; it was overcast (good!) and muggy (not so good), but I pushed through. The run was well worth the luscious grape Popsicle that I was handed along with the finisher’s medal. A few weeks later, an email arrived from the “official photographer” of the event. I eagerly found the proofs of my finish and was amazed to find what seemed to be an unusually good action shot. Never mind that the “proof banner” obstructed part of my body. I looked appropriately sweaty, the running costume looked fresh and lively, I had an honest smile on my face and my legs and arms looked like they were still in comfortable motion after going the 13.1 Feeling proud and bullish, I ordered several prints. Hell, I was looking good, and why wouldn’t my family and friends want a nice 5×7 of my hero shot?

A few days ago, the big white envelope arrived. I eagerly tore it open and pulled out the prints. My jaw dropped open. My eyes widened. What happened to my left leg? Was someone playing a cruel Photoshop joke on me? Whose leg was attached to my body?? What WAS that thing, and where did it come from? The old Sesame Street bit, “one of these things is not like the others,” came to mind… my arms and the other leg looked pretty much as they had when I started the run at 7:00 a.m. But that “other thing” sure didn’t look like the rest of me. The stacks of material in a fabric store crossed my imagination, too – why did my leg look strangely like a bolt of finely-crinkled crepe? Or was it Silly Putty?

One of these things is not like the other..

Shock trumped revulsion. Disbelief. Self-loathing. The pain-o-meter got worse when I also realized I’d paid exactly one hundred times more than the prints were worth if they’d been ordered through Walgreens or KodakGallery. I’d been had, willingly. All this, for a picture that could have come from  “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”

Plan 9

Lessons learned:

  • Pride indeed comes before the fall.
  • Gravity is a Truth; my body is a testament.
  • Aging skin is not really attractive, even if you’re in great shape.
  • Mirrors don’t show everything.
  • Spandex and Lycra are our friends.
  • Beware what’s hiding under the “proof banner.”
  • Don’t order large prints. The icky things look bigger, too.

One more crepe-y, drape-y insight: some things just aren’t so pretty anymore.  No more girl-on-top.