Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Public Service Announcement from my OB/GYN

Bloggers will blog about the most personal things going on in their lives and just to prove it I’m going to tell you all about an appointment I had this week for “down there”---my first since I turned 65 when I was told I no longer needed them because I didn’t have any of the risk factors for developing the HIV or HPV viruses. The HIV and HPV cells are what the PAP smear looks for because they can turn cancerous. What was the Litmus Test I passed for stopping the PAP smears besides having a birthday? I’d had three clear Pap tests in the previous ten years, did not have multiple sex partners and I wasn’t exposed to the drug, diethylstilbestrol (DES) back in my past to prevent pregnancy complications. None of that stuff has changed since I turned 65, still it’s been weighing on my mind since my friend started chemo treatments for cervical cancer that I’ve been ignoring something “down there” for a year and a half. Not a common sign of cancer but still in the realm of a possibilities and darn embarrassing to discuss with doctors. Okay, this is going to get graphic soon so consider this to be a PSA to all the ladies out there who ignore things you shouldn't and/or you build them up in your mind to be a worst case scenario.

Women gynecologists are sure different than men gynecologists, aren’t they. This was the first female I’ve ever seen for “down there.” Instead of having me wait with my feet in the stirrups, barely covered with a paper gown, ready for a doctor to come in and stick his nose “down there” this female doctor’s nurse had me wait sitting on the end of the exam table in a clothe gown big enough for two of me. When the doctor came in she asked about my sexual history since my last PAP smear, careful to point out that many viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) which are known to cause cervical cancer can be transferred by lips and trading sex toys as well as through coitus. When I heard the word 'coitus' I thought of Sheldon on the Big Band Theory but I never thought I'd hear it used in real life. "Nope, no worries there," I told her. She explained that the results of my PAP smear and a biopsy on something I was guessing were genital warts would be back in two days and she outlined the next steps if they came back positive, negative or one of each. Genital warts can be cancerous, but I was more concerned that getting them removed would be #1 on my list of ‘The Most Embarrassing Things I Did This Summer.’

Oh, she also said if you get those viruses after 65 that they take so long to turn into cancerous cells that a woman would be died of other causes first. In other words---and the following words are mine, not hers---the medical community is willing to let older women die of cervical cancer in her 80s because we have to die from something and those PAP smear tests aren't cost effective for our insurance carriers if we acquire those viruses after 65.

Back to the stirrups... Within seconds of her having me lay back and bare myself “down there” she says, “You don’t have cancer. You don’t have genital warts. You have Cervical Milia. Benign, perfectly harmless stuff that only matters if you’re making your living as a porn star.” I couldn’t see “down there” but over the past year that didn’t stop me from consulting Dr. Google for images. At one point I thought about putting a new meaning to the term 'taking a selfie' so I could see what I could feel. I quickly nixed that idea for fear I’d accidentally send it out in mass to everyone in my address book. When I told the doctor that she said she’s had patients request she take a photo with their phones and she’ll do it with the stipulation that she can personally deleted it after the patient looks at it. I didn’t take the phone photo option so she pulled up some photos on her computer of Eyelid Milia. Apparently you can get them all over your body. They are cyst-like brown or white bumps---often found in clusters---caused when keratin or skin flakes becomes trapped under the skin. They won’t go away and if you go through the trouble, expense and pain of having them removed, they will probably come back.

The doctor didn’t even do the PAP smear because she said it wasn’t necessary, said she’s seen thousands of Cervical Milias and hundreds of Vulva Melanomas---say, what?!---and genital warts and I don't have the latter two. I couldn’t believe it. After fearing that appointment for nearly two months---a year, really---I was walking out without the damn PAP smear? She said if I had the Milia on my face I could start a regiment of micro-exfoliating scrubs to prevent more of them, but where they are located “down there” the only preventative thing I can do is to make sure my underwear isn’t too tight. (Could that be why some ladies like granny panties?) Wearing a pad 24/7 can also contribute to their formation. She could send me to a dermatologist, she said, who specializes in crud “down there” but I passed on that idea because I'm not a porn star who needs to look good "down there" and other than an undertaker and maybe a few people in the medical community before I go in the back door of a funeral parlor, no one is going to be looking “down there” again. 

But now I have another problem: what to title this post so that it doesn’t attract perverts and online escort services. That happens when you put certain words in the title line and first paragraph. I learned that lesson in reverse a long time ago when I took a mini course on how to get your internet content indexed higher in the search engines.

Did you learn anything new from my PSA or did I embarrass myself for nothing?   ©

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Money Pit May Continues and my POMS Movie Review

I’ve already written about Money Pit May when I blogged about the checks I wrote for the veterinarian ($452.42) and a half season of grass cutting ($365.00) and to that I can now add $600.00 to have a tree cut down and a dozen trash saplings removed and the roots ground up. The city also inspected my irrigation system and decided my overflow value wasn’t high enough---it took them 18 years of inspections to decide that?---and the replacement will happen later this week to the tune of $250.00 or face hefty fines. It’s a good thing Money Pit May comes on the heels of April Refund Month. 

All that was in addition to the normal cost of keeping up a house, car, the dog and myself. And did I mention that I went a little wonky buying stuff when the president put tariffs on goods made in China, knowing the prices are going up 25% sooner rather than later? I can’t live without socks and underwear that fit right and won't give me pressure hives, and the kind I like are hard enough to find without two governments having a pissing contest. If I still wore nylon stockings I’d probably be stockpiling them as well. During the Korean War my mom started hoarding nylon stockings because of the silk stockings shortage she went through during WWII. I still have an unopened pair of nylons tucked away in my sock drawer. They don’t take up much room and the memories they invoke are bittersweet.

I also bought an extra solar powered phone charger because all electronics---especially battery related---are going up too. I don’t shop Walmart but they’ve already announced their tariff-driven price increases. I blame my mom for my scared-of-the-trade-war purchases because for decades after WWII she was still making me take zippers and buttons off clothing that were destine for the rag bag. She made a lot of our clothing during the war but finding ways to fastened them was tough, thus the wrap front dresses that were popular for home sewers like her. She even made herself and me two piece bathing suits with a tie front tops. The whole point of this and the previous paragraph is point out that the concept of impeding shortages due to embargoes or other things beyond my control is ingrained deep in my personality.

Speaking of shortages, fun has been is short supply this past month but I tried to put an end to that this week with mixed results. I had plans to go to lunch and to see the movie ‘Poms’ with my Gathering Girls pals. But for the first time in the two plus years since we started going out twice a month all but two of us was absent. One friend was out of town, another was having oral surgery, three were sick and another couldn’t make the time. And so it starts, the beginning of the end to happy little group. The other woman who was left---who I had lunch with before seeing the movie---was new to our group two weeks ago so we were practically strangers. I thought lunch would be awkward but we managed to keep a good conversation going as we compared life experiences. She’s a widow two years out and is at the point where she’s recently sold her house, moved to a condo and it trying to pull her new life together. In widow circles, this stage is often said to be harder than the first year. Everything that needs doing when a spouse dies is done, the raw grief is gone and you have the rest of your life ahead of you to reinvent.

The ‘POMS’ movie was based on a true story and the synopsis for the film at Rotten Tomatoes reads, “POMS is an uplifting comedy about Martha (played by Diane Keaton), a woman who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), Olive (Pam Grier) and Alice (Rhea Perlman), proving that it's never too late to follow your dreams.” They gave the film a two-star rating but they’re notoriously low on ratings of any film that features mostly senior actors. I didn’t expect more than a few laughs from the movie and a kick-in-the butt reminder to make the most of my time and energy so I was not disappointed nor was my "movie mate." The most memorable line: “Look death in the face and tell it to go to hell!” 

The New York Times reviewer was less kind than Rotten Tomatoes when she wrote: “The combined ages of the cheerleaders in “POMS” is well over 500 years, but the movie’s jokes feel even older. An uncomfortable blend of sickness and silliness, this dancing-past-the-graveyard comedy suggests that the many travails of aging can be endured if you only gather enough friends and surrender enough dignity.” Really? Young people can hang out with friends and act less than dignified and that’s okay, but it’s not ‘age appropriate’ if you're in your 70s or 80s? I wanted to know how old that (snobby) reviewer was and I found out she’s 67 which explains a lot---she’s afraid of getting old. Well join the club, lady! The alternative sucks so you might as well gather up your friends and be silly while you still have them. ©

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Hissy-Fit Rant and my Three Day Time Out

It was Saturday morning and I found myself at the Breakfast only Café. I hadn’t been there in a month but I go there often enough that the waitress knows what I want: no straw with my water, cream with my coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffin with one tub of orange marmalade. She probably remembers me because I tip three bucks on the $9.95 bill. Why 30%? Because older women are notoriously stereotyped as being bad tippers and if there is anything I don’t want in life, it’s to be stereotyped based on gender. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I took the gunslingers’ table in the far corner of the room, my back to the wall, where I could see everyone because I’m a voyeur at heart. The annual 15K and 25K races took place in town earlier that morning and the restaurant was busy with people stopping on their way home from running, watching or cheering from the sidelines. I don’t get how and why people from all over the world come to run marathons. Where do they find the time and money for that? A woman at a near-by table was wearing a tee-shirt that read: “I make this shirt look good.” Really? She was coat hanger thin, probably ran to the restaurant from two counties over. I don’t wear message tee-shirts but if I did, I’d want one that said,” Bored women, please talk to me!” 

In this age of mass shootings I don’t understand why there aren’t fist fights over the gunslingers’ table. The people sitting just inside the door would be the first to die if a shooter came in and isn’t it a sad statement on our society that anyone has passing thoughts like this or that on the first day of school teachers have to talk about what to do if an active shooter comes in. How many more mass shootings has to take place before we all stand up and demand that our lawmakers get their noses out of the RNA’s underpants and do something meaningful? Kids shouldn’t have to decide between fight and flight. Heck, no one should! For starters, close the gun show background check loophole. It could be done in a day because back in February the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 but Mitch McConnell won’t let the Senate vote on it. It’s just sitting there, stonewalled like McConnell did with the Merrick Garland up or down vote on Obama’s pick for a Supreme Court Justice and we all know how that ended. Mitch needs to go so we can get someone in there who will let Congress work the way our Founding Fathers intended it to work!  Rant off, well maybe not off but it's put on the back burner.

Monday through Wednesday the body shop had my car tied up to repair the hit-and-run damage to my back bumper and adjacent parts. When I went in for the estimate the guy told me they would arrange for a rental car to meet me at the body shop but when I got there to drop off my car the young Chicky-Poo at the front desk said they hadn’t done it and claimed they never do that. She was about a minute and half older than the socks I was wearing so I stereotyped her as either being incompetent or she just got the job and ‘never’ in her book only goes back a few days. She ended up driving me to the car rental place and she turned out to be a nice kid with a baby still in diapers. But in the future I’ll be keeping notes of all my conversations with service people with names and dates because who would invent a detail like them arranging for a rental car to meet me if the guy hadn’t said it? If your answer is an elderly person on the edge of dementia, don’t say it out loud.

I left the car rental place, drove home, and parked the rental in the garage which fascinated the dog when he found a shiny brilliant blue Ford in the space where my generic gray Trax usually sits. Every time he had to go outside to pee he walked around the Ford, making sure it was still there. On the third day I drove back to the rental place, putting a grand total of 15 miles on the car in three days at the cost of $75 for the optional insurance which in hindsight was stupidest decision I've made in years. When the rental rep was explaining the option he was talking at Ferrari sports car speed and I was processing the information at horse and buggy speed. It only covered the $1,000 deductible left over from what my insurance company would have covered, should I have gotten in an accident with the rental. Yes, the one that sat in my garage for three days. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! The actual rental fee was another $81 paid for by the insurance company. Damn hit and run driver that started this whole chain of events! The body work cost $991.66 and thankfully, the insurance company covered it all but they will probably find a way to up my premiums. Isn’t that how it works?

The month of May has been and will continue to be the Money Pit Month. If I was a drinking woman, I’d drown my sorrows about now. But I’m not so I think I’ll go to Starbucks instead. I’ve been wanting a S’Mores Frappuccino, which is back for the summer by popular demand. Hooray for small blessings!  ©

The quote is attributed to Gloria but I guess she didn't say it. The author is still unknown.