Thursday, May 28, 2015


Part IV of Opportune By Design

Shortly after Jackie was released from Thurgood's employ for having irretrievably desecrated both the kosher peanut butter machine and the employee restroom, Otto was busted for tax evasion. Regretfully, he'd always paid Big Wendy under the table, so her name wasn't actually anywhere on his books. Oops. So much for mea culpa, tua culpa. Seeing as how Otto'd be chillaxing in Club Fed for at least the next three years, she went ahead and got herself new job keeping the books for Dr. Suck-chin Dongbang, a Korean urologist.

Dr. Dongbang seemed nice enough for a Buddhist, although Big Wendy suspected he'd barbecue his own dog in a New York minute. Several months after she started working for him, Candace, his switch-hitting surgical technician, walked off the job during a particularly arduous penile enhancement, quite literally leaving Dr. Dongbang holding his own dick as well as the ginormous one he'd just fashioned.

Violet nearly lost her shit when she found out Jackie was living on the dole. Almost. Thanks to those daily milk and molasses enemas she was so partial to, her rectum was about as empty as her soul. In Violet's mind, the only thing worse in life than pecans or small children was a homeless slacker. It was with great reluctance that she allowed Jackie to move back home, especially since she'd converted his bedroom into a cash-in-advance colon hydrotherapy studio where she gleefully irrigated toxic poop shoots on her days off. Considering Birmingham's recent influx of yuppie granolasexuals, all of whom had irritable bowels, she could hardly keep up with the demand.

Jackie's plans for his immediate future involved planting his flatulent ass in front of the TV. Needless to say, Violet wasn't about to have him jizzing all over her good furniture, molesting her CPR* manikins, and scaring her intestinally-challenged customers away, so she started bringing Couch Potato to work with her. She'd quit traveling a while back and was now working as an operating room scrub nurse.

Operating rooms are notorious for attracting personality disorders from across all healthcare disciplines, and Violet was certainly no exception. Just as Hillary's special kind of mayhem was uniquely indigenous to her, so was the barely contained chaos within Violet's OR.** It was like the wild west pretending to be civilized.

Instead of outlaws and gunslingers, there were surgeons throwing tantrums and hurling instruments, arguing with each other over whose case was more urgent while yelling at the anesthesiologist on call for keeping their patients alive, scrub nurses terrorizing medical students who'd violated the sterile field, sleep-deprived surgical interns who looked disinterested, comatose residents holding retractors, hungover techs closing incisions, scalpels that were never quite sharp enough, scissors that couldn't cut paper, circulators incessantly badmouthing the recovery room staff, endless elective add ons, perpetually faulty equipment, and excruciatingly slow turnovers. The only thing everyone agreed on was that when something went wrong, it was probably anesthesia's fault.

Well, lo and behold, the moment Jackie first lumbered into the OR, his shit came together. Colpo di fulmine, as Tony the Italian OR pharmacist would say. Lightning struck, and it was love at first sight. So many interesting bodily fluids and toys, not to mention the partially concealed nudity and rotating parade of foxy anesthesia nurses.

On Violet's dime, Jackie enrolled in a local community college surgical technician program. Nine months later, he graduated sorta cum laude. Big Wendy always did have a soft spot for Jackie, so when she heard from bubblegutted Miss Dolly that he'd just earned his certificate, she recruited him to help dissect Dr. Dongbang's dicks.

Part I: Opportune By Design
Part II: Proclivity
Part III: Transgression

*CPR=cardiopulmonary resuscitation
**OR=operating room
artwork by W.P. Mazur, M.D.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Part III of Opportune By Design

Being a Priester and all, albeit a distantly related one, Violet's disdain for pecans was viewed by her odious spawn as an egregious aberration. Why, Jackie had nothing but mad love for nuts of all kinds, particularly the pair corralled within his feculent plum-smugglers, suspended beneath the ever-tumescent pork sword he polished habitually. He really elevated the art of holding the sausage hostage to a whole new level.

Unfortunately, the kosher peanut butter grinder at Thurgood Peebles' natural grocery was as attractive to a then-pubescent Jackie Priester as it was for Birmingham's orthodox Jew crowd, so much so that he went and got himself a job there. Grinding and extrusion were amongst his favorite things and warm peanut butter sure did make for some sweet lube. Now spooging was finger-lickin' good. Given that Jackie's only real parental figure had been Smelly Mrs. Kelly, Thurgood quickly became his hero.

Thurgood wasn't a Jew, but according to Miss Dolly Sasser over at The Primitive Sovereign Free Will Fellowship of Evangelical Righteous Redemption, he'd been living in sin with that Jewess harlot, Sharon Nussbaum, since sometime in the late 70s. "Fornicators," she'd mutter under her breath while perusing the aisles inside Thurgood's. But Thurgood Peebles' Wicked Den of Transgression was the only store in town that stocked Exquisite Exit, her favorite laxative, so although by shopping there she was knowingly violating 1 Corinthians 5:9 in which the Apostle Paul had made it abundantly clear that she should not be consorting with sexually immoral people, Miss Dolly was able to rationalize that the suffering she'd experience from unmitigated constipation did indeed necessitate her patronage, thereby making her a martyr instead of a sinner. Absolved by her own generous self-sacrifice and occasional bouts of molten diarrhea, she trusted Christ would abide.

Sharon's parents were peanut farmers in Sumter County, Georgia. Upon learning of the growing demand for kosher-certified peanuts in the South after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, they'd emigrated from a kibbutz in Israel and bought a farm near Plains. Sharon and Thurgood met while working the concession stand at the Pleasant Valley nudist colony close to Dawsonville. Except for the hairy mole on her right tit and his uncircumcised schlong, they were both perfect 10s. Oh, and Thurgood also happened to be black, which greatly upset Sharon's parents at first, but once he agreed to ritual circumcision, they seemed OK with him banging their daughter. They even helped finance his grocery store and supplied the kosher peanuts when he and Sharon decided to move to Birmingham.

Raw peanuts in the shell don't require special certification, but shelled ones do. Depending on what type of Jew you happened to be, you might or might not be allowed to partake of peanuts or peanut butter at Passover. Thurgood was sure of one thing, though: most orthodox Jews in Birmingham did consume peanuts and peanut butter at some point during the year. So, the peanut butter machine was kind of a big deal because back then, there was no such thing as freshly ground kosher peanut butter and furthermore, kids in those days didn't have allergies to peanuts, gluten, eggs, yeast, dairy, tap water, refined sugar, food dyes, air, and high fructose corn syrup like they do now.

Jackie's main task was to keep that machine lubricated, an easy undertaking for even the most dimwitted of greaseball wankers. The small quantities of peanut butter yielded during the lubrication process ensured a never-ending supply of piece grease which emboldened Jackie to baste the ham even while he was on the clock. One afternoon, Thurgood summoned Jackie, who was busy beating off in the bathroom, to execute a new task. "Boy, I need you to fill up this here hopper with some a them special peanuts that's been sanctified by Rabbi Feldman, " he instructed. "They's marked 'U' with a li'l circle 'round it." In his self-coitus interruptus daze, Jackie mistook a rat turd for the symbol Thurgood had specified, hypnotized by the rhythmic crinkling of the bag as an avalanche of iniquitous peanuts tumbled into the hopper.

Part I: Opportune By Design
Part II: Proclivity

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Part II of Opportune By Design

Jackie Priester was the bastard son of Miss Violet Priester, a traveling nurse who strongly believed in the unproven health benefits of daily milk and molasses enemas, and Otto Hoffhein, an equally depraved Austrian ex-pat and small appliance salesman with a proclivity for Little Debbies and the cache of used sanitary napkins he'd clandestinely pilfered from Big Wendy, his corpulent eternally-menstruating bookkeeper.

During one of their cannabis-fueled outdoor games of naked tag, Big Wendy went bucknutty on Otto after he'd given her a good Barbasol foaming and then tried to escape by jumping over a hedgerow. She gave chase, leaping into the air and levitating momentarily like a deranged zeppelin before plummeting at warp speed atop his outstretched leg at precisely the moment he'd finished negotiating the hedge, crushing his right knee so badly that he now walked with a permanent limp, his right leg having been surgically rendered shorter than the left.

Nevertheless, Otto remained optimistically opportunistic. Despite his dysfunctional relationship with Big Wendy, he chose to focus on its only positive aspect, namely unlimited access to her discarded Kotex pads. Quite frankly, he found them irresistible. He sequestered them safely amidst expired Star Crunches and Oatmeal Creme Pies in the bottom drawer of an inconspicuous file cabinet. On payday afternoons, Otto would fondle the besmirched pads in bare-handed admiration, dutifully replenishing those that had lost their whang with fresh sticky ones he'd retrieved from the feminine hygiene disposal bin located in the employee restroom.

Otto and Violet often left Jackie in the care of their housekeeper, Mrs. Kelly, a frumpy chain-smoker who sported a mouthful of rotten teeth and occasionally stole hams from the deep freezer out in their garage. There was one morning when Jackie awakened to find Mrs. Kelly passed out in his bed. The stale air surrounding her smelt of cabbage and poop breath, but he had a solution for that. He'd always enjoyed the crisp, invigorating scent and pleasant hallucinations provided by the orange Glade Mrs. Kelly kept in the upstairs bathroom. It erased all traces of her from olfaction. On that particular morning, Jackie inhaled so much of it that he emptied the can. When he encountered her standing at the foot of the stairwell, screeching at him to come down for breakfast, he calmly informed her, "Mrs. Kelly, you have a hole in your head."

Violet was distantly related to the pecan-peddling Priesters of Fort Deposit, Alabama. The only thing she cared for less than pecans was small children. She'd met Otto while shopping for a hotplate in his downtown Birmingham appliance shop, just across the street from her nursing school dormitory. They secretly met twice for coffee in a neighboring town. After their third encounter, Violet permitted Otto to fuck her up the ass, partly because he'd reported a severe allergy to latex, but mostly due to the fact that Violet really did despise kids. There was also Nurse Grimley to consider. Because of that old battleaxe, their rendezvous had to be kept on the QT.

Nurse Grimley, a priggish prude who dually functioned as nursing advisor and house mother, ruled the dorms with an iron fist, strictly forbidding her students to masturbate or entertain male visitors under any circumstances. She discouraged dating entirely until the end of the last semester. According to her, any infraction--especially of a sexual nature--was grounds for immediate dismissal. Given Violet's predilection for rectal stimulation, Otto's sensitivity to latex, and Nurse Grimley's zero tolerance policy on gravidity, she determined that cornholing was the most reasonable contraceptive option for satisfying both her carnal impulses and her desire to graduate.

Part I: Opportune By Design
Part III: Transgression

Friday, May 22, 2015

Opportune By Design

                                                              Part I

Like one of Samuel Rumph's prized heirloom Elberta peaches, Hillary was also a Macon County native, only she reeked of a special kind of mayhem that was uniquely indigenous to her. She gave the best blow jobs in Montezuma for just $25 a pop.

Tonight was no different than any other night over at Junior's Flim Flam Room, except Hillary wasn't quite caught up getting her drink on. Rock solid booze buzzes were a prerequisite for fellatio, especially considering the smelly jackasses who frequented that joint. She shuddered, thinking of Jackie Priester and his farty shit-britches. Gawd, he stunk to high heaven. She suspected he was well aware of his vile funk because he always paid her double. Sighing heavily, she redirected her attention to the nearly empty bottle in front of her. One more shot of Jack Daniels, and she'd be good to go.

Hillary's sturdy frame easily accommodated a few extra pounds of whiskey legacy weight, and despite all of her vices, she'd never touched a cigarette, so she still looked pretty good for a broad who'd just turned thirty-six. She really didn't look a day over 32. Regardless of the weather in middle Georgia, her attire never changed: tight skirt, even tighter shirt, no bra, no panties. Oddly enough, that ease of access afforded her a sense of clarity and control. The sweetness of her round face and mess of dirty blonde curls were doll-like, offsetting her overall crudeness. She was at once an eyesore and a sight for sore eyes.

Pete Overholt was the frontman for Lazy Swamp Ambush, Junior's southern blues-rock house band. He sat at the bar, nursing his store bought bottle of mineral water, waiting for the rest of the crew to show up for load in and contemplating Hillary, who was already three sheets to the wind and giving fat Jackie an over-the-pants in a dark corner near the rear exit. Raised to be a proper Montezuman Mennonite, Pete was now an outlaw, an excommunicated ex-husband, still wrestling with the fresh anarchy of his nascent identity. Hillary provided a welcome distraction.

Barely visible in dusky silhouette, Jackie's eyes rolled heavenward as Hillary kneaded his dank junk, her free hand preoccupied with an astonishingly elaborate ritual swiping of lip gloss. The dim red glow coming from the exit sign highlighted her ample décolletage. Fleshy and indignant, her left boob had a habit of working its way out of the flimsy halter top that was struggling to hold it captive, simultaneously alluring and revolting like milk you know damn well is spoiled but you go ahead and taste of it anyway.

Although he'd partaken of Hillary's reasonably priced services on several occasions, Pete couldn't recall if she had a last name. Had he just never thought to ask? Watching Hillary in action, he quickly concluded that both her wardrobe and anonymity were opportune by design, easily forgotten indelible misfortunes, less an oversight than an intentional convenience.

Part II: Proclivity
Part III: Transgression

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Special Just for Me

Me & Chester, contemplating the medicinal value of these 'shrooms.
Did you know that springtime weather actually has medicinal properties? I'm emerging from a very serious and humbling bout of influenza, trying to regain my former level of physical strength after losing about 8 or 9 pounds, and still struggling with the aftermath of being treated with antibiotics for a secondary bacterial sinus infection, bronchitis, and laryngitis. This is the sickest I've been since the night my boys were born at 32 weeks because I had full on Listeria sepsis. Whew! In the process I've discovered that Atlanta's beautiful sunny blue skies and crisp morning air are the best remedy for lifting my spirits. It's as if each day since my illness is being served up by Mother Nature, special just for me. Even the rainy days are spectacular. Maybe I'm more acutely aware of Nature's offerings right now because of having recently been so sick. Regardless, I've certainly enjoyed being active outside, taking in all the amazingly colorful and fragrant blooms.

Birds do it, bees do it. Apparently, lady bugs do it, too.
Yesterday, I think I must have walked about 7 or 8 miles. After breakfast with Spartacus at Radial Café, I walked over to Chester's house, about half a mile down the road. Chester has very short legs and I'm a fast walker, so we sort of had to find our mutual pace. He knows pretty much every nook and cranny of Kirkwood, and our walk turned into more of an exploration. We ended up in the Kirkwood Urban Forest, which was marshy and swamp-like after the previous day's torrential rain. Both of us got quite dirty and muddy. We saw billowy white puffball shrubs, tiny purple ice flowers, canopies of lavender wisteria, strangely knotted tree trunks, and these two ladybugs getting it on. As we walked, we talked about so many things. The topics we covered went from mental illness to our relationships with our parents to parenting adult children, and ended with a discussion of what it means to be empathetic. In the meantime, Spartacus texted to say he was picking up some sandwiches at the neighborhood deli. I asked him to please pick up a turkey reuben on rye for Chester and a green veggie wrap with sriracha veganaise for me. Yum!

What a day for a daydream, custom-made for these daydreamin' boys.
Famished and a little sweaty after our long morning of exploration and conversation, Chester and I high-tailed it back to my house for a picnic lunch in the park. While waiting for Spartacus, Chester and I sipped cold cucumber mint water, munched on grapes, and continued our conversation. He is excited about a new lady friend, and I couldn't be happier for him. She lives out of state, in the town where they both grew up, and he's going to be visiting her soon. Hopefully, she'll come down here and I'll get to meet her in person. 

Spartacus arrived with the sandwiches, a bag of blue corn chips, and some cold drinks. I packed those into a cooler, along with the rest of the grapes and some lemon hummus, grabbed a big blanket, and we all walked down to the park across the street to enjoy our little feast. I found a shady spot for us to sit, but after lunch, we decided the shade was a little too cool. So, Chester pulled our blanket beneath the gently shining sun and a lazily soaring hawk, and we stretched ourselves out for a post-prandial nap. It was positively heavenly.

As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, the day before yesterday was one massive thunderstorm. In the evening, the rain was so bad that the Atlanta airport was closed to all incoming flights, which meant that our dinner plans with my friend, Bryan, who was flying in from Chicago for a weekend conference, were off because his plane was diverted to Birmingham. Quel dommage! 

Jerney & Mom, staying dry inside the aquarium
Earlier that morning, my mom and my niece, Jerney, made the perilous trek from Acworth to Atlanta so we could visit the Georgia Aquarium. It started out a little rough. Because of the storms, Mom's drive had been treacherous and slow, and we were over an hour late for our scheduled ticket time. We'd forgotten about the fact that this week was spring break. Needless to say, the aquarium was literally a sardine can, packed full of throngs of people, making it difficult to navigate and quite anxiety-producing to boot. Mom's had bilateral knee replacements and now walks with a cane.  I was surprised that there really wasn't any decent handicapped parking close to the facility, so Mom did a lot more walking than she's used to. Getting a wheelchair would have been an option, but the place was so crowded and frenetic, we decided to see a few exhibits, and then return to my neighborhood for a quiet lunch. Initally, Jerney wasn't enthralled with the idea of anything other than fast food. But, by the time we got to the little café, the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to peek out from the clouds, so we got a table outside. I'm pleased to report that Jerney ate every bite of her grilled cheese sandwich. 

I've thought a lot about my mom since then. For the past several years now, her life has revolved around the care of this sweet little girl because my brother, Jerney's father, has been in and out of prison. Jerney adores her grandma and is extremely attached to her. In many ways, my mom has been the only real constant in her life. She is definitely Jerney's primary source of stability. Mom doesn't have to do the things she's done for Jerney, my brother, or Jerney's mother. I think it's what she wants to do, and maybe also what she feels she needs to do. Personally, I think she qualifies for sainthood. 

My mom, the first love of my life (L: me, center, my sister, Emi)
Last weekend, which happened to be Easter, Mom expressed feeling disappointed that she hadn't been invited by any of us for Easter dinner. Because Spartacus and I aren't religious, we don't celebrate Easter. In fact, I had completely forgotten that it was Easter. In her email, Mom said she needs to feel special sometimes. In other words, she needs to be reminded of it. This is something I don't really struggle with in life, because my sense of feeling special is internally generated as opposed to coming from an external source. Anyway, after observing Mom and Jerney during our time together on Friday, admiring how tenderly and spontaneously she kissed Jerney's head and bare shoulder, it was very clear to me just how special she is. I remember Mom's kisses, too, and how I reveled in her undivided attention. I wish she could fully realize the impact she's made, but I can certainly help in reminding her. She was, and still is, the first love of my life, special just for me. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Freedom, My Ass!

It isn't just Texas that's crazy,  Mr. Hastings.
Just as Alcee Hastings, that Florida congressman who recently (and quite awesomely, I might add) messed directly with Texas by referring to it in a House Rules Committee meeting as "a crazy state," I'd argue that anyone who thinks our current profit-driven, multiple insurance payer system of American healthcare is working well is equally crazy.

Hell, it's worse than crazy or inefficient: it's downright uncivilized. Such blasphemy, coming from an American physician, right?

Fear not, though, I'm not going to bore you with my opinions on why the good old US of A would be far better off with a single-payer system like Canada, France, or the UK, you know those uncivilized countries that actually provide universal healthcare coverage for their citizens, paid for through the tax base (which is something we could easily implement if American medicine wasn't all about the $). Oops, I just said and totally meant that. Guess that makes me a socialist, LOL.

But seriously, anyone who can't admit we've got some glaring problems to fix has clearly never had to care for a sick family member.

Me and my handsome rock star sons.
Those of you who know me or have read my blog know that my twin sons both suffer from cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that affects primarily the lungs and pancreas, the median life expectancy for which is currently around 40 years of age. Daily treatment for this disease consists of multiple inhaled and oral medications, inhaled and intravenous antibiotics, chest physiotherapy, a nutritionally dense high calorie diet, exercise, and hospitalization for pulmonary exacerbations. In other words, treatment ain't cheap or easy. Their medications alone cost thousands of dollars each month, an expense which is mostly covered by our insurance.

Fortunately, we're insured through my husband's employer, who pays 100% of all employee's premiums and provides significant reimbursement for our deductibles. That's all well and good, but what's going to happen when Nick and Rory turn 26 and can no longer be covered by our insurance? Patriotic Americans proudly refer to our country as the land of the free. Here's a question for ya. How free a society are we when job and career choices for so many of us, including my musician sons, are limited by whether or not we can afford insurance coverage?

Yep, that's my unretouched ass.
Freedom, my ass! Let me tell you a little story about how it's taken nearly a year for Humana, our insurer, to approve a standard of care chest physiotherapy device for my sons.

Our journey begins in early spring of 2014. That's when we first learned of the Afflovest, a completely self-contained, battery-operated chest physiotherapy vest which permits unrestricted freedom of ambulation whilst one is actively using it. What an amazing technological breakthrough!

Given that Nick and Rory have spent years of their lives, tethered to an older model vest and a chair for at least an hour per day, the Afflovest presented a real quality of life-enhancing opportunity. Being able to do other things during chest physiotherapy, like walking, eating, and grooming, not to mention the fact that the Afflovest can be used and charged in a car, would permit a little more time for restorative sleep, convenience while traveling and camping, and improved compliance with treatments. Wait a minute...eating while doing treatments? That would be amazeballs, given that the old vests routinely made Nick and Rory vomit if used within 2 hours following a meal.

After reading rave reviews of the Afflovest on other CFer's blogs, I checked to see if the device was covered under our Humana plan. Although it was covered, the only Afflovest provider in our region was considered out-of network. According to Humana, the provider would have to waive its out-of-network reimbursement. Why Humana couldn't have just designated the only regional provider for Afflovests as in-network is beyond me.

Nick's instrumental angry tweet
Anyhow, I contacted Scott, the Afflovest rep, and was delighted to learn that the waiver had been approved. I figured it'd all be downhill from there. In late spring, Nick and Rory's pulmonologist and respiratory therapist submitted a request for the Afflovests, the first of many. Humana repeatedly denied these requests, asserting that the Afflovest was a convenience, not a necessity, as well as being a duplicate device.

I gotta be honest...this kind of crap makes my blood boil. The people denying such claims aren't physicians; they're uneducated flunkies, armed with algorithms. Maybe a little negative publicity would help things along? #inhumana #unethical, #humanasucks, anyone?

Having recently discovered that large companies really do pay attention to their Twitter feeds, I launched an angry tweet campaign against Humana. At first, it was like magic! One minute I'd be tweeting my health insurance-related discontent, and the next, a very apologetic customer service would contact me, promising to thoroughly review and investigate our case. In the meantime, Nick and Rory's pulmonologist and respiratory therapist forwarded letters of medical necessity to Humana on their behalf. Confidence was high, but dwindled as each successive interaction hit the brick wall of rejection. Three weeks before Christmas, I was about to throw in the tweet towel. And then, Nick--who rarely even uses Twitter--chirped up and tweeted his rage against the healthcare machine. This time, Humana listened.

Spartacus & Jerney, toasting Christmas with green juice.
A Humana customer service rep contacted me, advising me to construct a letter of appeal that would "tug at the reviewer's heartstrings" and assuring me that no further documentation or letters of medical necessity would be needed. Say whaaat? This struck me as odd, especially coming from someone employed by Humana. He basically spoon-fed me every detail I needed to include in my letter, from addressing quality of life issues to the specific problems Nick and Rory encounter with their current vests to reminding Humana of its advertised goals to provide patient-centered care and improve community health by 20 percent by 2020. Naturally, I was in the midst of holiday shopping madness at IKEA during this conversation. I'm sure everyone in lighting and textiles heard me groaning at the very thought of having to compose such a letter.

On December 20, I sent my thoughtfully composed, evidence-based letter--complete with research references to support my position that the Afflovest is a necessity, not a convenience--to Humana via certified mail. It wasn't an easy letter to write, especially paragraphs like this that most parents can't imagine having to draft:

Optimal lung function in cystic fibrosis doesn’t just impact quality of life, it factors significantly into quantity of life. In other words, initiating therapy with the Afflovest means my sons would no longer have to choose between quality of life and quantity of life: they’d be afforded a fighting chance for enhancing both. 

The Afflovests are here!!!!
On January 5, I received a call from Scott. After so many prior disappointments, I was afraid to answer. "Humana has approved the vests," he said. My heart literally skipped a beat, and I was overcome by a rush of accomplishment and relief: a palpable decompression. Needless to say, Nick and Rory were equally thrilled with the news. 

Since the vests were on back order, we had to wait about a month for them to ship out. One thing CF teaches you is patience. I mean, we've spent the boys' lifetime, waiting for better treatment and hoping for a cure, so what's a month in the scheme of things, right?

Last Wednesday, as I was driving home from work, I got a text message from Rory, who works at The UPS Store. There was a photo of some boxes. I was like, "Huh, why is he taking photos of boxes at work?" The text box that followed read: "vests." Duh! I'd totally forgotten that we'd specified the vests should be shipped to his workplace since no one at our houses would be home to sign for them.

And there it was, in living color, the bright blue and yellow vest we'd fought so hard for.

Rory, rockin' his Afflovest.

This morning, the first thing I saw on Facebook was Rory's status update: "The new Afflovest rocks!" Then, I noticed that Nick had messaged me late last night, telling me, "The Afflovest is so cool. It's like freedom!"

Ah, yes, freedom...

Clearly, Nick and Rory don't take their freedom for granted. Being liberated from their clunky and restrictive old vests has got to feel pretty damn liberating.

But, the hands of time keep moving forward. Soon, they'll be 26 and too old to remain on our insurance plan. That'll be another battle for another day, and believe me, I'm prepared to go to war for them.

In the land of the free, being a musician and having health care coverage shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but unfortunately, they are.

So, until some real freedom happens, and by that I mean single-payer, publicly funded, universal health coverage for all American citizens, I'll proudly just keep baring my unpatriotic lily-white ass.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Spontaneity or life out of balance?
So, in case you haven't noticed, I've been TBTB (Too Busy To Blog) lately. Those are definitely four words I never thought I'd hear myself say, especially that cringe-inducing B word: busy. Unlike the majority of the rest of the world, I don't harbor mad love for the chronically busy. Personally, I find them transparent, boring, and predictable. When every aspect of your day's been planned down to the last detail, it really doesn't leave much room for spontaneity. And that's not very appealing to a free spirit like me.

My three year blogaversary has just passed. When I started blogging, my life was seriously koyaanisqatsi. Despite the fact that I'm a physician, I've never been one of those who lives to work. Work doesn't define me, and though it didn't back then, I'd allowed it to consume nearly every moment of my time because I felt I had no choice in the matter. Working to live didn't seem like an option. The gravid incongruity of my free spirit vs chronically busy situation finally got my attention, and fortunately, spontaneity won out.

Initially, blogging provided a much-needed outlet, a serious means of catharsis. It gradually evolved into what it is today, a fun way to connect with other people all over the world. For the first few months, I blogged every day. When Spartacus and I moved back to Atlanta from Rome, GA, it dropped down to every other day, then once a week. After I started working again, this time only three days a week, I found that once a month sufficed.

Working to live, not living to work
The last couple of months have been a blur. I'm transitioning into my new job by covering interventional pain clinic several days a month, so I've pretty much been back to working full-time. Shifting from anesthesia to pain medicine is accompanied by a significant learning curve, necessitating a fair amount of independent study. It's a bit like being in residency again. My current job finishes at the end of December, and in January, I'll be working four days a week instead of three. Can't argue with that. So, these major changes in my professional life, as well as the long-awaited closing on my house last month, have occupied a big chunk of my time. And I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. 2014 has been a tough year for lots of reasons I won't go into, which is why I'm glad I'm an optimist. Optimism is just as legitimate a reality as pessimism is. It's a matter of distinguishing what you do and don't have control over and rolling with it. Being adaptable and flexible, instead of schedule-driven. That's the beauty of spontaneity. There's always a workaround.

The stuff that matters...
Similarly to how my blogposts have naturally occurred a little less frequently over time, I too have been attenuating. And I'm not referring to the fact that Spartacus and I now have only one mortgage, instead of three. I'm talking about my attitude, how I deal with stress. I've learned not to take things personally. I've quit taking myself and others so seriously. I introspect less and do what I want more. I'm pretty good at living in the moment and following my heart without worry, regret, or expectation. Most importantly, I've realized that my happiness is my decision. Making a few small adjustments in perspective has allowed me to dial down my emotional responses, appreciate just how noncatastrophic most problems really are, and conserve my energy for the stuff that really matters. Three years ago, I would have thought being TBTB was a sure sign of failure. It's actually just a sign that I'm AALL (alive and loving life).