Category Archives: Arthritis

Only Child explores senior living past and present

Only Child and Mom mid 1960s

My late mother had a saying – “you can’t win no how.” Which sounds negative, but when you look at how people’s lives pan out, Mom maybe had a point. Especially as her life was cut short  by a brain aneurysm at age 63. She was also somewhat crippled by arthritis and scleroderma. All this happened after my dad died of cancer at 66.

Perhaps I should consider her somewhat lucky that she didn’t live longer to have to deal with more bad things happening in her life. At the time of her death she and I shared an apartment. However, I was engaged and the wedding ceremony and reception were already booked – the latter by Mom herself. She was scared to live alone and pondered whether she should spend six months (late spring to early fall) annually at her younger sister’s on the farm. Maybe not a good choice as Mom fell on the doorstep outside my aunt’s farmhouse. This was a new house and these entrance steps numbered two.  It was the damn arthritis.

The damn arthritis really was what killed her. It made her fall off the vanity dresser chair  (in her bedroom) onto the wooden floor and bang her head. She got headaches but thought they were because of her eyes – maybe new glasses – and she had an ophthalmologist’s appointment in mid-September.

She went into a coma overnight the end of July and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite surgery, she never woke up and died five days later.

When I look at my life compared to hers, I begin to wonder. First, about her saying “You can’t win no how.”

I certainly am not going through my senior years without a fight despite my health issues of diminishing eyesight in my left eye and getting worse, a digestive disorder, living on low income, and  having to deal with more problems than well – let’s just say that the phrase about God not giving anyone any more crosses than they can bear is a myth.

As a child,  I was meek, mild and shy  and didn’t really get my courage legs until in my 30s. My writing and being a single parent then forced me to change. It grew gradually. But I have one trait ,which I think comes from my Dad – I am a stubborn senior and God or somebody help those who make my life miserable. On the other hand those who are good to me and help and treat me well, I try to do the same for and to them. “Do onto others as they do onto you” is more my saying than “you can’t win no how.”

Perhaps besides the stubborneess, my saving graces are my writing, my garden, my son and his girlfriend, my cousins,  close friends, reading (despite the bad eye) and even watching favourite TV shows, and walking. A keen interest in life and a desire to see justice done doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if I could just find time to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What is your story – along these lines?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

My son, Martin, me, and Juni by my garden

 

 

 

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Filed under Arthritis, Assertiveness, Health, Mother, Only child, Seniors

Only Child give kudos to Hudson’s Bay optical dept.

Only Child and son Martin - glasses run in this family

Only Child and son Martin – glasses run in this family

One of the few, maybe the only corporate entity I have dealt with lately, who has been exceptional in customer service is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s optical department. So, today, I’ll tell this story and leave the start of dissing the companies and organizations who are and have been maligning the phrase “customer service” to future blog posts.

Like my mother and father before me, I have been wearing glasses all my adult life. When I reached my 21st birthday (back in the grey ages), I was suffering from a constant headache. My mother was in the hospital for tests for her severe arthritis, so I was worried about that, so much so that I barely ate anything and lost a lot of weight. The other three ladies sharing a room with Mom suggested I go across the street to the optical company and get my eyes tested. So, scared, I did. I made sure I told them I didn’t want drops in my eyes because back then the drops left you temporarily sight challenged. I had first experience with this when my then fiance had his eyes tested and I had to literally lead him back to work because he had trouble seeing – except for pink elephants.

That optical company was not Hudson’s Bay. Over the years I have switched optometrists and opticians, depending on service and depending on where I lived. Last December, when my annual eye tests at my optometrist’s showed I needed new glasses, right away, I decided to go to the Hudson’s Bay Optical at their Bloor/Yonge Streets store in Toronto. I had gone to Sears the past four years and although their optical service was good, Sears management in its infinite wisdom decided to close their big downtown Toronto store. No way was I going to (and fro) the optical department in the Sears store in a mall in North Toronto – too far and too many transit changes for return visits.

So, I switched to Hudson’s Bay optical and I’m glad I did. Here is my story as I sent it to their customer service department.

This is praise for all the opticians at The Bay optical on the lower level at the Bloor/Yonge Store. I don’t have their names but they have been very courteous and helpful from when I brought in my eye prescription last December to last month and Wednesday when I had a problem with the frames on my prescription sunglasses.

 

Very helpful in helping me choose my glasses in December, even making sure the receipt was dated then (well, I did pay by credit card then) instead of early January when the glasses were ready (the date for tax purposes).

 

Early September when the arm of my sunglasses fell off – first when I called and said I couldn’t find my receipt and the optician said not to worry, we have you in the system so just come in. I did find the receipt anyway so brought it in.

 

Great service – even though the glasses frames were no longer being made I was told if none were still in stock I would still only pay the $20 (percentage not covered by the warranty for the price of replacement frames) because that wasn’t my fault that they didn’t carry the line anymore). They even glued the arm back on for the time being as I was going on holidays in a few days.

 

This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) I decided to get the frames replaced or whatever was necessary to be done. Again I couldn’t find the receipt, phoned again and was again reassured I was in the system so come right in. This time I did not find the receipt. The optician said that there was still brown frames (I had black originally) for my sun glasses. I tried that on and decided to take it. Only had to wait about 10 minutes for the lenses to be put in the new frame. And the optician, at my request, even wrote out a replacement receipt for the original order.

 

Now that’s customer service. I would like this put into each of the opticians’ personnel file.

 

A satisfied customer.

 

Now onto dealing with the idiots from other companies who have screwed things up for me. Next week, I plan to write about one of them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Consumer action, Eye gkasses eye tests, Family, Hudson Bay Company, Mom and Dad, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Sears

Only Child takes the middle road

Only Child's late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

Only Child’s late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

As a child I used to go for the happy medium in any crisis, problem, etc. I’ve since learned that I did so because I wanted to please everybody and not get into hot water. It didn’t always work.

Today, I often hit the middle road but the reason has evolved. Sometimes this sitting on the fence is the only way to go when it comes to your health or dealing with pushy people – clients or friends and family.

My late mom taught me well. Julia Langevin could often be tactless but sometimes she showed a streak in diplomacy. The Bully, the “girlfriend” I grew up with (to age 11) would alienate some of my other friends on the block. But one of The Bully’s younger sisters would have none of that. She would come over to play with me and we would do girl stuff with our dolls (yes, back in the grey ages, little girls played with dolls). On one of these occasions my mom let me continue playing with her even though I was supposed to come in and help with the dishes.

“You need to have one friend,” she said afterwards. “That’s why I let you play instead of calling you in to dry the dishes.”

Today, with all the conflicting research in heath matters often the only way to go is along the middle road. Take the issue with calcium supplements versus heart attack risk. The latest research shows that taking calcium supplements can be a risk to heart attacks, so the preference is to get your calcium from food – calcium-fortified orange juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and only take supplements if you have a bone disease risk. What is a person to do if you are allergic to dairy (I’m not, that I know of) or if like me, you have malabsorption issues in your digestive system? Mine is partly caused by IBS but also by just getting old. Many people are going to run into the latter situation.

Do we have to choose between various arthritic conditions and heart attack risk? No.

Take the middle road. One of these studies (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/24/calcium-supplements-heart-risk) provides the pros and cons and other medical experts say that as long as your daily calcium intake is under 2,000 mg. you should be okay. I’m keeping my daily supplement dose just under 1,000 and hoping some of the dairy, etc. will actually get into my system. However, I am still back up to my 4500 UIs a day for Vitamin D now that the grey days of winter have settled in. I don’t want a repeat of my arthritic-like pains in my leg bone from last winter.

And my pesky clients, especially those who try for freebies long after the contract work is done and paid for? I follow the Julia Langevin method – be diplomatic. Let them know what’s what but do it nicely. Sometimes I have to wait a couple of days to answer their email so I don’t rush in and vent.

Check out more information on these calcium-heart disease studies at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/calcium-supplements-linked-heart-attack-risk/story?id=16413252#.UMdgYqyUzFx

And check out my guest blog post (coming up December 15, 2012) on Type M for Murder at http://typem4murder.blogspot.ca/
An author friend, Shane Joseph, will be featured on Wattpad on Dec 14th at http://www.wattpad.com/8704102-lest-they-be-forgotten-foreword

Don’t forget my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Digestive disorder, Health, Heart Disease, Middle, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child deciphers New Year’s resolutions

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

I learned a couple of startling things when compiling my New  Year’s resolutions on Sunday. Over the last few years I’ve developed an interest in weather forecasts and in the last month of 2011, in consumer advocacy and problem solving. The other revelation, which also occurred when emailing a friend, was the bond between money and health.

Oh! Oh! Does that mean I have to add these two interests into an already full plan? I can’t see me as a meteorologist (maybe in another incarnation) but the consumer advocacy one bears considering. So does the bond between money and health because this connection has followed me for more years than I care to remember…maybe even back to my growing-up days when my late mom who was such a super budget-financial caretaker, also had health concerns – first my dad’s several bouts with cancer (plus an ulcer and a minor heart attack), then, her own arthritis after Dad died. By that time, Mom had returned to work as a typist for an insurance company, then had to switch to proof-reader when her arthritic fingers got in her job’s way. She was off for a few weeks because the arthritis had spread to a foot and an ankle. I remember coming home from my business school class and finding two of her employers (former colleagues years before I came along) and the conversation was disturbing. As I write in my memoir:

She [Mom] is on a mini-leave of absence, when one day I walk into the house and find two strange men with her in the living room. They’re both sitting on the chesterfield, one on either side of its designed split. Mom is in the pink chair by the bookcase as if the World Books standing guard behind can lift her up beyond the swollen foot propped on a footstool. The conversation stops and the two men stare at me with blank smiles on their faces.

“This is Peter McLaren* and this is John Vardis* from Surety Insurance*.” My Mom points to each. “This is my daughter, Sharon.”

“Hello,” I say as I sit down in the chair under the window.

The men say, “Hello,” and nod, and then McLaren continues the conversation.

“Julia,” he says. “I know you are a valuable employee but we need to know if you are coming back to work.”

“I don’t like to say it, but I have to,” Vardis says. “It might be better if you retired now.” He addresses the mantle.

“Let’s not be hasty, John,” McLaren says, and then looks Mom right in the eye. “Julia, do you think you will be able to come back?”

“I don’t know.” Mom’s voice is wispy and little girlish.

I just sit, grinning and gripping the arms of the chair. I don’t even have the courage to wish one of the men would shuffle around in the chesterfield so it would move at the split. That might jolt them, although into what I don’t know.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

*Names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Perhaps the “jolt” today for me and everyone else is to consider what is most important in our life and what we can do about it this year. If I don’t want to continue the “family curse” on Mom’s side of the family, I need to consider my health. And like my Mom, money is so connected with my health. Without good health I cannot work; without money I cannot do all I need to do for my health. Anyone who thinks government health insurance will look after all health issues, think again. Anyone who signs up for private health insurance and thinks that will solve the issue, think again. Most of these private health insurance plans cover no more than 80 percent and have a payout cap. Options are a la carte, making monthly premiums high. Is it better to pay the piper in premiums or pay the piper up front for each health treatment, supplement, etc.? If you have a partner with a health plan from his or her employment (usually partially funded by the employer), you might be better off with the private health plan…for now. If you are an only person like me, especially self-employed, maybe not.

You decide.

For the money end, I’m looking into several options, once considered controversial, but becoming more common as we aging boomers near retirement and find out it’s not all Florida, Mexico, Arizona and easy-living. Depending on your age, you might want to consider applying for Canada Pension Plan payments before you turn 65 (in Canada. Starting this year, you can still work and apply and receive CPP, as well as continue to pay into the plan). You might also want to consider cashing in some of your RRSPs (if you have any), downsizing your residence, etc.

My point is, consider these issues (rather than the usual lose weight and exercise ones, although they are also worthy). We aren’t getting any younger and sometimes thinking outside the box can work.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Canada Pension Plan, Goals, Health, Health Insurance, Money, New year's resolutions, Only child memoir, RRSPs, Sharon Crawford