Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Life in the Stress Lane


Have you ever felt like you’re collecting stress, one petty pebble at a time? A pile of pebbles adds up and I’m not sure how much more I can take. For example, my cell phone wouldn’t turn on after charging. We’ve lived decades without one so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Solution: take it to the cell phone repair place and throw money at the problem. Okay, I did that. In the meantime the dog groomer told me that Levi has a golf ball sized tumor on the inside of his back leg that wasn’t there six weeks ago when he was last bathed and beautified. Went right home, called the vet and was told to call on my cell from the parking lot when I arrive for the appointment. Oh, great! First World problem meet the pandemic rules of engagement.

Next pebble: I left the post office after dropping a letter in their outside box and while I waited for the pickup truck in front of me to turn onto the street, I could see an accident about to happen. And it did. The truck had those humongous tires that puts the driver up high in the air and just as he was pulling out he hit a woman on a bike who shot out in front of him. She was coming down the sidewalk and she never slowed down or stopped at the corner or even tried to make eye contact with the driver before pedaling her way into the accident. Anyone who’s been in one of those jacked-up pickup trucks knows there’s quite a blind spot in front. I blame them both and while she didn’t get hurt as badly as the back of her bike, it was stressful to watch. Waiting for the aftermath to unfold made me late for an appointment with my bank’s investment broker and I had to reschedule. Ya I know, ho-hum more First World problems.

Pebble number four: I have an issue going on with my arm and I’ve had to wait four weeks to get into see my bone doctor. September 8th can't come fast enough. I’ve mentioned before that I had elbow surgery two decades ago and a year ago it was giving me a lot of pain. When the doctor x-rayed it he found out that the screws have backed out and one is floating around and the end of a one bone is not attached to anything. Not wanting to go through more surgery he told me what not to do to keep the pain at bay. Not lifting anything above my waist and keeping my elbow tucked in close to my side when I do pick anything up has worked well until all of sudden my arm started giving me needles-and-pins feelings whenever I type and my arm often feels like dead weight that alternates with feeling like I’ve got a blood pressure monitor squeezing me. I have a high tolerance for pain but the constant weirdness is driving me nuts. I’m not sure if I’d label this a First World problem but I just wish it could go away with a bonk on the head from a good fairy's magic wand. 

Then there’s the pandemic that adds surprises (and not in a good way) to our lives like going to the dollar store and running into a cashier who was wearing her mask on her chin. We have a mandatory mask law in place in our state and this is an anti-maskers protest move that keeps them from getting fired or fined. All it did for me is tense me up wondering if someone in line would challenge her selfishness for not covering her nose and mouth. A little stress pebble from a woman with rocks instead of brains in her head. I got the last laugh, though, because the receipt gives a link to rate your visit and for the first time ever, I went online and filled out one of those forms.

More pebbles of stress are coming at me from the political election crap/conventions heating up. I just want it all to go away as easily as drinking a tall glass of icy, cold water could make a mirage go way if one were crossing the Jordan Desert with a camera crew remaking Lawrence of Arabia. Whoa! Where did that thought come from...but aren’t movies great? We get the danger, the romance and the allure of far-away places without breaking a sweat. Like my fascination with being a CIA agent/spy which is only attractive as a career choice if I could take a stunt double with me while I save the world. Is that too much to ask? I’m digressing again but know this: if I ever get dementia I'm going to have fun living inside my head.

Back to pebbles of stress, did I mention wasps are busy as I type building a nest under the shingles of my house and that my yard is creeping me out? Everywhere I look poison ivy is growing. Why? I don’t need more jobs on my list of things to do. I feel like I’m juggling too many balls in the air and they’re all about to fall because I’ve lost interest in everything except when can I buy ingredients to make s’mores? And trust me, I'm reaching far back into my past to be lusting after those as comfort food. What next will I crave? Gerber's Sweet Potatoes and Peas? That's what I get, I suppose, for banning ice cream, cake and cookies from the house. 

The bottom line? Where do I go to find some gratitude that my First World problems are just pebbles compared to the boulders that others in Third World countries face? Where do I go to get an attitude adjustment? My problems are petty but the more stress pebbles that get thrown into my metaphorical pond the more I wonder if I’ll need a surfboard to navigate the ripples as they seemingly grow higher and higher. ©


48 comments:

  1. "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.
    ---Muhammad Ali"

    Way too many for you right now. Take care.

    I'm glad you could tell the dollar store about the checker. That can help a lot. I only go to our grocery store and doctors and dentists, which are very good about it. It makes a huge difference.

    Take care.

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    1. There is so much hatred expressed against our governor for her mandatory mask law...threats to her life, recall petitions, yard signs hating on her and people going ballistic if challenged to put on their masks that it isn't fun running errands like it used to be. Our state is doing good controlling the virus because of her but some would rather dying a hard death admit that. Too many poeople in Red counties don't even believe the virus is real which is really stupid because it's world-wide, not just "made up" here to make Trump look bad as they think.

      Love the quote! Thanks for sharing that.

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  2. How about this for stress: living for days fearing that Hurricane Laura's going to land on your doorstep while you tie up boats, board up windows, help get animals out of town, and make the decision whether or not to evacuate? Then, after the storm goes east, you find that portions of your neighboring state, including some of your friends, have been stripped clean of everything they owned: houses, boats, businesses?

    I know that life's irritations, annoyances, and real problems (like Levi's tumor -- I hope it's nothing serious) can build up and cause real concern, but just now, I'd be more than willing to make a trade -- even if you throw in the poison ivy!

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    1. I know, I know I don't have to look to third world countries to find stressful situations far worse than mine...floods, fires, hurricanes and loved ones dying of covid-19. And trust me when I say it does stress me out that I've reached my quota of petty annoyances when there are so many worse things going on in the world. But like all of us I can only write about what I know and experience.

      Stay safe, everyone dealing with Mother Nature's wrath.

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  3. I know what you mean. I realize rationally that my problems are pebbles in the whole scheme of things BUT emotionally I feel overwhelmed by all the pebbles sometimes finding each one to be a boulder. There's a kind of cognitive dissonance that happens because of this awareness, and it tires me out.

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    1. Exactly, they tire you out and especially now when we don't get any real breaks for months on end from the universal stresses that everyone is experiencing. I've been numbed out for a couple of weeks now, not accomplishing much.

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  4. I understand, Jean. And while there will always be others dealing with far more life and death, serious issues, these are yours, and they're nerve-wracking. YOU have to live them, get through them, and find yourself, somehow, on the other side.

    It sounds like you need a break of some kind, whether it be physical activity, a creative outlet, or simply a long drive. Maybe you can make contact with a Gathering Girl or two and have an impromptu BYO lunch at a park? My sister always goes to the lakeshore and watches the waves beat themselves up on the rocks when she's stressed.

    At any rate, I get it. And you don't need to diminish (or let anyone else diminish) your feelings or your stresses. They are yours and you're the one living them.

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    1. Thank you for saying that.

      Going to Lake Michigan to watch the waves lap the sand was my husband and my favorite stress relievers. I can't tell you how many times we take off at midnight with our sleeping bags and would sleep on the beach. Best way ever to wake up in the morning.

      Writing has always been a stress reliever for me so having an arm that goes needles-and-pins when I do really bugs me.

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  5. I get it..these things are just harder to deal with when you’re older and alone. And they seem to come in groups.
    And I get Shoreacres point as well. I have a leak in my roof that’s suppose to be fixed next week. It’s been over a month, so I worry about what kind of damage lurks underneath. So I tell myself, don’t be ridiculous and think of all the people who lost their entire home and belongings in California.
    There are huge problems in the world and it seems to be never ending, not to mention politics and this virus. Then there are the little personal ones that affect us all from time to time.
    I do feel the overriding wait to move into your new home is one of those things always on your mind. For me that would be huge. Take care. Hope Levi is ok.

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    1. Yes, the move is a major stress point hanging over my head, hoping the virus doesn't slow down the building again or hinder the sale of my house. Seeing my banker did relieve a little bid of my stress that was weighing on me because he tells me I will be able to quality for a home equity loan to bridge the time between when I need to pay for the new unit and when my house sells. Just have to make sure I apply 2-3 months ahead. Knowledge is power.

      A leak would worry the heck out of me, too.

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  6. Oh wow. You have had a tough time. I hope both you and Levi can get your medical problems addressed successfully soon.

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    1. Levi got a biopsy and it came back as non-cancerous. I was visualizing him having to get his leg cut off. For now, they aren't going to do anything about it unless it gets bigger and start bothering him more than it does now. It's making him sit different and they told me to expect more of them. Some dogs get them more than others.

      When I see my doctor, I'm hoping for a shot to kill the nerve and last year he suggested an electrical treatment of some kind for pain but I'm not sure that will still be an option now I have new, wider spread symptoms.

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  7. Know what you mean. Each pebble is not all that serious but when you get a pocket full, you find yourself listing awkwardly to one side. Also with the pandemic looming, each pebble has added weight.
    Think you ought to get that loose screw taken out though before it does serious damage floating.

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    1. It should be interesting to see a new x-ray of where/if that screw has migrated. I would be open to having it removed but I'm not open to having my elbow rebuilt, if I can avoid it for a year. That's a really long surgery and recovery with lots of physical therapy which would be so much easier after I get resettled and have transportation options. I had Don to help me the first time. Gotta wait and see. When I got my bone density test a few months ago the doctor said I have a crushed reverberate that is responsible for my feet going pins-and-needles when I lay down so in the back of my mind I'm wondering if there's a chance of that causing my arm problem instead of the wandering screws. Waiting so long for an appointment is giving me too much time to think.

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  8. Do make sure that it is the screws. Having tingling feeling in your arms alternating with having our arm feel like a blood pressure cuff on it is a symptom of at least one unrelated thing with which I have personal experience.

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    1. Wish you had said what that other thing is! I've also had shoulder joint surgery on that arm and am hearing a clicking in that joint so I know of one other thing. Figured the bone doctor was the place to start figuring it out.

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    2. Sorry, not getting notifications! That woukd also be one of the signs of a tis or mini stroke as one whose had em.

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    3. I should have thought of that. But I really don't think the needles-and-pins and other sensations are from a TIS or mini stroke because they are situational meaning I can connect certain movements with the symptoms coming.

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  9. So, Jean, in an attempt to add some humor, there really is a screw loose? Ditto to what Arkansas Patty responded. Take care and trust that this, too, shall pass.

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    1. LOL, humor of saying I a screw loose has not gone unnoticed.

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  10. Oh my gosh! That's TOO MANY pebbles. It doesn't matter if they are First World problems, they produce the same amount of stress as a Third World issue affects those people. A LOT! It's time to go watch the waves!

    Tough times don't last. Tough People do.

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    1. Writing about what's going on in my life is how I deal with things/stress...find answers if there are any or acceptance, etc., etc.. work out details with a little help from my blogger friends.

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  11. I have to stop trying to comment from my phone. It disappears and I'm never sure if it went to a good place or got lost on the way.
    But Wow! You've had a lot going on,and not in a good way. I'm most concerned about your arm and Levi's tumor. At least you weren't asked to be a witness to the accident. How bazaar was that? It's scary to see something happening and be helpless to stop it. Speaking of which - politics. I will be so glad when this long, slow train reaches the station, and we can all disembark - hopefully in one piece - and put that nasty trip behind us.
    Take care. I'm glad you were able to get appointments for both of you guys.

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    1. I can't do anything on my phone. Those buttons are too tiny and I get taken to places I don't want to go.

      I gave the driver my email address in case he needed it. She couldn't ride her bike away but she was DAMN lucky she wasn't dead under one of those huge tires.

      Levi got a biopsy and it was a fatty tumor. They gave me a choice to wait and see and I didn't want to worry about him, watching for other symptoms to show up.

      Me too on the train getting to the station.

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  12. Jean:
    you got too many pebbles to worry about right now & in your shoe which does make climbing mountain harder, hope & pray everything settle down sooner in your life. you are so funny, & have good way of looking at life's stressful situation

    Asha

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    1. Thank you!

      You've actually been reading my blogs longer than anyone else in the world---since I stared back on the stroke support site. So you know that when I'm stressed is when I look for humor, thankfully sometimes I actually am able to find it.

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  13. At some point all those pebbles turn into a dead weight and get inground into a person making them hard to remove and lighten the losd of life

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    1. I'm trying to throw them away as quickly as pick them up but it doesn't always work that way does it. 'Dead weight' is a good description.

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  14. Oh, did this resonate! I, too, have been having that feeling lately of too many balls in the air. (When I was an academic department chair, I used to tell people, "I'm a very competent three-ball juggler, but I've got six balls in the air. I'm juggling as fast as I can, but I keep dropping things. Sorry!") In my case, the combination of trying to plan a Zoom memorial service for a friend who died earlier in the summer and fall-ish weather that makes me suddenly aware of everything I need to get done before winter has jacked up the stress levels.
    I've stopped saying anything to store staff that aren't wearing their masks properly, but I do try to find a polite way to let the manager know that I won't be back to their store until the pandemic ends because I don't feel safe there. I think the lesson has finally come home to some of the doubters in Maine after a super-spreader event related to a wedding three weeks ago. The wedding was in a rural town in Trump country that hadn't had any cases (although in a county with community transmission), and the wedding violated all the rules by having a larger-than-allowed number of guests at an indoor reception where no one kept their distance from one another or wore masks. The day after the wedding, one guest started to feel sick and eventually tested positive for COVID, which meant that person had been contagious at the wedding. By two weeks after the wedding, half the guests had tested positive, but before they knew they knew they were infected, they had all been out and about in the community doing their usual things and going to work. They infected as many additional people as the people infected at the wedding, and one of those people died. (This person didn't even go to the wedding, just had the bad luck of being related to someone who did.) One of the wedding guests unknowingly passed the virus on to her mother, who then infected another daughter who came to visit; that daughter works at a nursing home, and she infected both other staff and patients there. One of the wedding guests works as a correctional officer at a jail more than 200 miles away from where the wedding was held, and as of today there are 54 confirmed infections at the jail -- all this from one group of people not taking the virus seriously.

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    1. Wow, that case really kept the contract tracers busy! Those kinds of stories need to get out there.

      Confronting someone about not wearing a mask can get you killed...happened here 3 times and the grocery story I go to actually hired bounders to man the doors when our mask order first went into effect. I totally blame Trump for setting a bad example his supporters. He's got several super spreader rallies planned over the next few weeks. We've got a long while to go before the virus is under control.

      You've got such a big yard, I hope we have a long fall so you can get all your plants ready for winter.

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    2. The really horrible thing trump is doing now is saying people with no symptoms EVEN if they’ve been exposed, don’t need to be tested and his new medical man (hand picked lackey) is pushing this too. So they can become super spreaders.

      And I read an article that this QAnon conspiracy business is spreading to Germany and other countries.

      The world has gone literally insane and in our country, this can be traced back to Trump. I hold him completely responsible for all the current problems in our country...oh don’t get me started.

      I’m in Florida and we have the mask refusers here and the partial wearers as well. I stay home as much as I can.

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    3. It's scary how quickly people can believe outlandish conspiracies even when presented with the truth. I too blame Trump for growing that field of quacks. It's amazing how many hand picked lackeys he has found but the latest about not needing to test could is the most outrageous.

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  15. When my daughter was about twelve, she had a bad couple of days. On the next day when something went wrong, she turned to me and said "And don't tell me it's character building, I've had my character built enough for right now.".

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    1. Ohmygod, does that bring back memories. My mom used to say that too and my brother to this day has been known to tell me that. Hope I remember your daughter's comeback for the next time I hear it. That's priceless. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. It's always the small stuff that I tend to go to pieces about while bearing up under the weightier issues that I can't have the luxury of a meltdown about. So I completely understand the minor things triggering exaggerated responses, it happens to me all of the time, especially those improperly wearing or not wearing Masks! It jumps out at me like WTF and why do we have to tolerate any of it? Hope Levi's problem turns out to be minor, our Old Cat isn't acting/looking normal so I think she may be at end of life, she is behaving like an animal with dementia and digestive issues. I think that would also explain her pissing issue in the house, which she's never done before, but if incontinence is setting in, well... poor old thing.

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    1. Boy is this ever true: "...minor things triggering exaggerated responses..." I remember when my dad was in his last months and I was so stressed trying to share-care of him along with my other responsibility and I had a total meltdown over breaking the lead in my pencil. Cried SO hard it wasn't funny. Poor, sweet Don thought I really was crying over the pencil and typical man said, "Don't cry. I can fix this!" To be fair I thought I was crying about the pencil too, but I'd finally reached my limit of things that had gone wrong.

      Levi got a biopsy and it was a fatty tumor, vet says to expect more because he's at "that age." Still might have to get removed if it starts bothering him too much because its right in his groin. It's hard to watch old pets age before our eyes, isn't it.

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  17. Even though my city & region, Auckland in New Zealand went topsy curvy a few weeks ago and is hopefully coming topside again - some of my "little pebbles" are righting themselves for me personally...and I'm starting to like "my new normal"

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    1. New Zealand gets a lot of great press here in the States for the way you all are handling the pandemic. Glad to know a new normal can be something to look forward to.

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  18. I'm sorry to hear about your elbow. Sounds like it will definitely put a crimp in your getting things ready for the move. I think the Pandemic is also affecting my ability to cope. I feel like a person in an asylum wearing a straight jacket trying to break loose. I keep wondering if this too shall pass.

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    1. The elbow sure puts a strain on my body and my brain along with all the "normal" stuff that the pandemic and election is doing to us all. I like your straight jacket analogy. It will pass but we have to be prepared to play the long game. Nothing going on has an easy solution for our nation.

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  19. Dear Jean, as with nearly everyone who left a comment, I, too, have some pebbles, and I so understand your frustration. I find that I'm sobbing inside. (I don't cry easily--never have--but inside I can feel the chambers of my heart filling with tears.)

    As to what I tend to do--I read. Well, I no longer hold a book (which might be hard with you given the arm/elbow problem--which sounds awful to me). But I listen to the library audio books on my iPad. I just discovered a new author whom you--a "wish I could be a CIA agent!"--might enjoy. The main character is Lucas Page, an astrophysicist who teaches at Columbia and whose brain is wired for geometry and seeing patterns. The FBI calls him in for consulting on cases that are perplexing them. The author--Robert Pobi--has only 2 books in this series but he puts in the mind of Page such cynical thoughts that I just chuckle because they are thoughts I've had about technology and our culture but I've never voiced the thoughts. It's amazing that the author can keep me liking the main character despite his constant cynicism. I'm thinking you might like these books. They need to be read in order: 1) City of Windows. 2) Under Pressure. Peace.

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    1. Thank you so much for the book recommendation! Sounds good. I put it on my Amazon Wish list. I've been reading so much of my time away, I think it's my way of avoiding life as we know it right now.

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  20. It’s OK, we are all allowed to bemoan our fate occasionally. You have a few pebbles to count at the moment but you know they are not going to weigh you down for ever. There are very few people who get away with the world’s (and their own) problems for now, they must be totally unimaginative and brain dead. Particularly when it comes to politics.

    Have you got a place where you can chuck some real pebbles? Chuck them and imagine that with each one you are chucking one of your bugbears for real and for good.

    But I’d get that arm looked at pronto.

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    1. Actually, I do have a place where I can skip some stones into a river. That's a great idea. I've already lighten my metaphorical load of peddles that I wrote about up above...the dog and the accident are behind me and I have an appointment lined up with my bone doctor on the 9th. No point in seeing anyone else in the meantime because he's the specialist I'd end up with anyway. I've been to him often enough that I don't need to get a referral from a med station or family practice to book him. It really bothers me so I'm counting the days.

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  21. One of my stresses is realizing how far I fall behind in my reading and how sad and embarrassed I am that your blog posts are in the backlog. It's not that I'm so busy..my brain just can't seem to concentrate so I procrastinate and I think that's stress-related too! So, yes, stress. I have not read any of the other comments (see concentration problem above) so I may be redundant here, but that whole "first world problem" trope is starting to get to me a little whenever I hear it. YES! I KNOW! Things can be and ARE worse for others less fortunate. I'm the first one to acknowledge my privilege when I get to feeling sorry for myself. That said, our problems, stresses, concerns, griefs, troubles, whatever, are valid! We happen to live in the first world, so our troubles are of this world. It's OK. I choose not to add existential guilt to the list of my woes. I know what's worthy of a temporary pity party and what's the real deal, no matter where we live. 1) Your arm is the real deal. Seems like those symptoms should gain you quicker entry to a doctor! 2) Real deal: Levi. What did you find out? 3. Real deal: Accumulated stress -- not good for mental or physical health. Get your parasympathetic nervous system online with some deep belly breathing when you feel yourself ramping up with stress. Long inhale, longer exhale. Several times. As needed. Also Gerber's Sweet Potatoes and Peas is hilarious! Take care, my friend.

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    1. Levi got a biopsy and he has a fatty tumor and unless it starts to really bother him they won't remove it for now. They said he will probably get more and they rather not put him under for just one.

      My bone doctor is off somewhere in a third world country working for doctors without borders for his vacation. He, my eye doctor and foot doctor all have been doing that for years. They must have a great recruiter here in town. It wouldn't do me any good to see someone else about my arm because he's a specialist surgeon who gets all the hard cases and he's been following my arm for almost two years now...

      The bees have me worried, they are at the bottom of the shingles where it's nearly impossible to spray up inside and they are right near my front door. And I'm allergic to bees. I've killed six with spray and I go outside with a long sleeved shirt with a high collar and eye goggles when I go out to spray.

      I will add the deep breathing to my half hour sun sitting that I've added to my life late every afternoon. Thanks for reminding of how important that is.

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  22. OK. I lost my very long, somewhat ranty comment (so probably a good thing). Let me make it short and sweet. Levi is an important, critical problem and I hope, hope they can find a good, easy to manage treatment or better still, a benign lump. I would be frantic. Breathe. And second -- it's illegal in Michigan for adult cyclists to ride on a sidewalk. The woman was at fault. I'm glad she's not hurt but if you're going to ride a bike, learn the rules. Don't start me on the convention....

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    1. Levi tumor did turn out to be benign and won't get removed at this point in time. Vet said he'll probably get more.

      I'm glad you weighed in the on the cyclist. I KNOW you know the laws. I was pretty sure it was illegal what she did but I didn't want to post that without being 100% sure. After finding out she didn't get hurt bad, it made me mad what she did because it scared the heck out of the young man how close he came to running over her. Her bike went down and she got bruised up but was lucky to walk away with just a mangled back of her bike.

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