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Saturday Posts . . .

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5 appointments . . .

This is a true story about an ongoing struggle to get me to keep an appointment at the VA clinic I go to.

Beginning at the end of last October, I had an appointment to be seen in a specialty clinic. The appointment was on a Monday morning, and beginning the previous Friday we started getting severe heavy rainfall that continued all weekend. When I went to keep my appointment, the clinic had been flooded, and all appointments had been canceled.

The VA sent me a secure message through MyHealtheVet.com to reschedule, with several optional appointment times to choose from. I chose the one that worked best for us, and sent a reply accepting it.

When the day came, there was extremely heavy wind, with a high chance of severe weather. I didn’t think our car could handle the conditions, given that we needed to travel at least 45 minutes each way at highway speeds (55-60 mph) with the high winds. So, I sent a secure message asking to reschedule. We agreed on a new date, which would be attempt number 3 to get me into the clinic.

A few days before attempt number 3 was to happen, my wife and I were exposed to strep throat, and needed to quarantine to protect others. So I sent a secure message explaining the situation and asking for a further extension. After a few messages back and forth, we agreed on a new date.

Then, a few days before attempt number 4, my wife had to go to the local ER. We thought that she was having asthma problems, but it was diagnosed as Covid-19. So we had to isolate ourselves for 2 weeks, and I had to ask for another reschedule.

The most recent appointment was yesterday – but because of extreme weather in Fayetteville, AR, all of the satellite offices of the Fayetteville VA healthcare system were closed, and the VA asked me to reschedule.

I’ve sent them a message asking when the next available appointments are that we can choose from, but at this rate, I have no idea when I’m going to be able to keep an appointment. It almost feels like the universe itself is trying to keep me away from there.

What’s wrong? . . .

Once upon a time I could hold my breath for up to 6 minutes underwater. I panicked several professional life guards by diving off of the high dive at our local swimming pool and sitting on the bottom of the pool until they freaked out and dove in to “rescue” me. I thought it was quite a fun game, at the time.

I could get dismissed from school at 1530 hrs (the normal time) and start jogging, going from Lebo, to Emporia, (both in Kansas, USA) and get there before my mom got off from work at 1700 hrs. It was a 22 mile run, and I was still in high school.

When my physical conditioning coach convinced the school board to buy a “Universal Gym” I set records for leg presses and bench presses. I was the only person in my school who could leg press more than 4x his own weight.

And when my home team competed in baseball, I was one of three persons on the team who could consistently knock that baseball out of the park for a home run.

So, why is it that 45 years later I can’t even take out our trash without getting winded? I’m in serious pain all day, every day. The pain even compromises my ability to sleep.

My brother-in-law accuses me of being lazy. He thinks I should be sucking down pain meds and continuing to go to work. Never mind the fact that I’d already been doing that for 10 years before he joined the US Army and became my (philosophical) brother in uniform. It didn’t even matter that years later his younger sister would choose me to be her husband.

In some ways, I was better off with my first wife’s family. The only person in that family who didn’t like me was her father. But, that relationship didn’t survive, and eventually I met my second wife. The one who’s older brother thinks I’m lazy.

Here’s the weird part – he admits that he thinks his own mother (my mother-in-law) is either crazy or has dementia. Even so, he accepts her counsel on whether or not I’m a good partner for his sister. Never mind the fact that I was already an Army veteran before he enlisted., or that his mother was married twice, and both marriages together didn’t survive for 25 years. Never mind the fact that he himself has never managed a marriage that lasted more than 15 years. Still – his sister and I have been a couple for nearly 24 years, and in 1.5 years will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.

Brand Partnering . . .

I understand the reasoning behind brand partnering. One strong brand partners with another in an effort to reach out to a demographic audience that they haven’t really connected with. However, as I recently discovered, it can backfire.

I finally managed to get through the supply chain limits to get a new X-box Series X. I bought it through Best Buy, and they shipped it directly to my home. Unpacking it and getting it set up (using the cables from my PS3) wasn’t much of a challenge, except for the physical activity of doing it.

But, I couldn’t activate it. There were only 3 ways to get the activation code – I needed either a smart phone, a Google account, or an Amazon account. I don’t have any of them. So, after much cussing and berating of the corporations of America, I did my best to repack the X-box and sent it back to Best Buy for a full refund.

Many Apologies . . .

I must apologize for missing both last Saturday’s Post, but also not posting anything about New Year. The Wednesday before January 1st, my wife started having respiratory distress, and as the days passed, it became more pronounced.

When I got out of bed on January 1st, she was in severer distress, and I told her to go to the local ER. It was 6pm. She went, and at about 9pm (all local time) she informed me over the phone that she’d been positively diagnosed with Covid-19. We don’t know how she was exposed to it, but she was released from the hospital, and was given an array of prescriptions.

Since my focus has been on taking care of my wife, I missed both the Saturday Post this past weekend, but also didn’t post anything for New Year’s Day. That’s fine, since I didn’t have anything about resolutions or otherwise profound thoughts to share.

Because of her diagnosis, my wife and I are in isolation for the next 2 weeks. I expect a full recovery for her, and so far I am not having any trouble that I can attribute to that infection.

Happy Birthday . . .

Every year on this day, I hope to remember to do something special for my wonderful wife. Today is her birthday, and because it’s sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when she was growing up she never actually got a personal birthday recognition. Her birthday was always part of the Christmas event, and every present she got was part of both.

Ever since we connected, I’ve tried to make her birthday a special, individual occasion. This year when I asked her what she wanted to do, she had no answer except to spend the day in leisure and relax. So, to mark her birthday, I’m writing this blog.

To my wife, I have this to say:

Sweetheart, in the nearly 24 years that we’ve known each other, I have known nobody like you. You have my back better than any of the Army personnel I ever served with. Love does not need to be earned, but even if it did you’d have earned it 1,000 times over. You are my soul mate, now and for the rest of my life. Happy birthday my partner in everything.

Mailbox Blues . . .

Once upon a time, there was a mailbox that was required by the United States Postal Service to be relocated from a nice safe location to a place that was supposed to be safe for the Postal Service delivery driver.

In the first year after it was moved, it was demolished by drive-by vandals twice. After the second vandalism, the owners of the property replaced it with a 2×2 square foot brick tower to enclose the mailbox.

Yes, I’m talking about the mailbox on the home my wife and I own.

Very early Monday morning, while I was trying to recover from a series of storms that kept me awake when I should have been sleeping, I answered a phone call. It was from the local police department, informing me that a patrol officer in a marked police car had fallen asleep at the wheel while driving by our residence. She demolished our mailbox, and left debris scattered all over the southern part of our property.

The brick tower that enclosed our mailbox was built 11 years ago. It cost us $500 USD at the time, and was built by someone who had just won a national brick mason’s competition. Now, we’re having to negotiate with the USPS to get deliveries until we get the mailbox replaced. The city was quick to admit all fault in the incident, and I was contacted by the city’s insurance agent the same day with a claim number, but trying to find anyone to replace the destroyed mailbox tower is proving a challenge.

The owner of the masonry company that built the original tower is now a state legislator, and doesn’t answer his business phone very often. The other 2 masons in this area are unknown to us, and so both are a gamble on what quality we’d get.

Whatever happens, we need to get the mailbox tower replaced as quickly as we can. Fortunately, the city’s insurance agent seems to be fully onboard with taking whatever estimate we get and just paying it.