Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exercising My Brain

I was in pharmaceutical sales for over 20 years. I loved it. One of the things I missed most when I left was talking about studies and clinical trials. I loved going into a doctors office and have the doctor say to me, “Did you see that *** study in New England?” All my geekiness would surface and we would have a talk about it because of course I had read the study too.

Left me tell you outside of the pharmaceutical/medical world, conversations like these just don’t happen.  A clinical study data released was for me like knowing a big sale was going to start on your favorite shoes!

I love the work I do now with my company. We are successful and have been in business for 8 years but last year I was having the 7-year itch. To scratch it I enrolled in an online course to become a medical coder. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done! My brain cells were not just exercised they were put into Olympian training. For 5 months I spent 6 hours a day everyday studying.

I mentioned the course was on line which I had to adapt to.  I could email questions and get encouragements but I found this type of study lonely. There was reading, practice exams, workbook exams and final exams for every chapter. The exams were timed too. 2 hours was given for every chapter exam and it took me every bit of the 2 hours to complete the exams.

The intensity aside, the course was really interesting to me. A medical coder takes the diagnosis and the treatments from the doctor and translates it into codes that then can be billed to insurance and or collected for data.

There are codes for diseases, injuries, conditions, syndromes, and for wellness. The trick and it is almost like a mystery finding the clues, is to code correctly. The correct code means anyone, a hospital doctor, you personal doctor, or your insurance can look at the codes and know exactly why you visited the ER or doctor.

I wanted to exercise my brain and challenge myself, and I achieved it. It was a very difficult course of study. The final exam to become certified was 6 hours long! I passed and I am certified. At age 60 I have learned a new skill set.

Have you ever taken a course just for the brain exercise, or for the intellectual challenge?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Sequence of Life's Stages

Childhood friendships
Teenage romances
College experiences
First jobs
First marriages
Long-term relationships
Career advancements
Second marriages
Death of parents
Midlife career changes
Midlife life changes
Grand parenthood
Health issues
Death of friends
Terminal diagnosis
Preparing for death

All of us go through many of these stages in some sort of order.

We all hope to outlive our parents and our children outlive us. Sadly sometimes this doesn’t happen.

We hope to be ready for the stages of our lives but sometimes we have to adjust. Sometimes a stage that should be decades away pops up sooner.

When my Mother was in her mid 80’s she stopped going to funerals. So many friends were dying she could go to a funeral every week and understandably it was depressing her. My Dad who died at 86 outlived many of his friends and played golf with his “B” friends because all his “A” golf buddies were dead.  

I assumed I would approach similar situations decades from now.
Unfortunately I have had friends and family out of sequence become ill and die.

My heart is heavy. Is it just that life happens? What philosophy do you use to cope with a change in the stages in life?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vacationing at Friends' or Family Homes

Summer means vacations. If you live or have a home in a desirable vacation area it is THAT TIME OF YEAR!

Do you know what I am talking about? Friends and relates may be looking to mooch or crash with you this summer.

Here are my guidelines:
1.     No more than 4 days and 3 nights total.
2.     No pets.
3.     No unknown traveling buddy that comes with.
4.     No use of a car, rentals are available.
5.     If you are taking a red eye home you will be dropped off at 9 PM.
Likewise if you are taking a really early flight, there are cabs or public transportation.

Do these guidelines seem strident? I am opening up my house and extending hospitality. I want family and friends to visit but I work. I run a business. Come Thursday and leave Tuesday and we can all have lots of fun. Really we can!

Of course there are exceptions. In my case, my sister has a very small footprint so she can stay longer. Some other guests, 3-4 days is the limit. A weekend is truly enough for some other guests who have large footprints.

Then there are guests who try to force their way, into your home and they are turned back. This becomes awkward but in my experience it is well worth a few minutes of awkwardness and firmness than staying 3 days holed up in your bedroom. Just saying…

So what makes a good houseguest, and what am I talking about large and small footprints? Here is how a guest can have small footprints:
1.They blend in well with your routine.
2. They give you options on what they want to do.
3. They contain their belongings to their room.
4. They help out.
5. They are appreciative of the time spent together.

Here are traits of big footprint guests:
1.They have a routine that you must adjust to. A good example, they run 5 miles every morning and an early start can’t occur until they get their run in.
2. They have no plans but don’t want to do any of your choices.
3. Their shoes, coats and clothes are all over the house.
4. They mistake your home for a B&B.
5. They just want to crash at your house because they can’t afford a ‘real’ vacation.

Have you turned away guests? How have your experiences been?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I know I am OLD but I may be ELDERLY too!

The evening news reported that an ELDERLY woman was found dead in a Macy’s restroom. She died the night before and was not discovered until the next day.
The reporter went on to say the name of the ELDERLY woman was being withheld to notify next of kin.  This elderly woman appeared to die from natural causes and she was 61 YEARS OLD!!

I would report this story very differently.
1.     Omit the restroom reference. I would only say found at Macy’s.
2.     I would NEVER call a 61-year-old woman ELDERLY!

I did a very informal poll of my friends and we all agree on several points:
1. Never use the restroom at Macy’s, find a Nordstrom.
2. 61 is not ELDERLY!!

I retold this story at a birthday party of a good friend. She was turning 61. Her 3 adult children were present and although they laughed at our outrage of being called ELDERLY, they made overtones of “Not you Mom, not you Haralee”. They are really good kids.
Most likely she is 61!
My husband, also 61, thinks my outrage is funny. He wants to be called ELDERLY because he thinks that will give him some respect, being an ELDER. It is an interesting perspective but I really can’t embrace it. To me OLD comes first than ELDERLY.  Maybe it is the other way around?

So what age are you OLD, and when are you ELDERLY, and when are you GERIATIC and when are you ANCIENT?