August 31, 2016
Thanks to my barking dogs, I met another Jeeper this afternoon. He was smoking a cigar and chewing tobacco at the same time. His teeth are the color of tobacco – no surprise there. If they were dentures perhaps Shirley McLaine could channel Martha Raye to help him out, but alas they are real. Teeth are the first thing I notice about someone. When I took the dogs to Petco in Missoula to get them groomed last month, the groomer had crystal meth teeth. I was a little worried about leaving the dogs with her, but she was very nice and not at all tweaky. Maybe she had bad teeth genetically, or maybe she'd been poor all her life and couldn't afford prophylactic dental care. Both of those explanations made me feel sad for her and better about leaving the dogs. They were perfectly groomed when I picked them up – perhaps the best grooming job they'd ever had.
The day the dogs were groomed, Kim, Kate and I went to the Triple Creek Ranch in Darby to have lunch. It's a Relaix & Chateau property which combines extreme pampering with extreme activities, if one is so inclined. There were a few obnoxious 212-ers staying there just so they could brag to their friends about having done so. That makes them worse than us because we were only having lunch there just to brag to our friends about having done so. Lunch was $28 pre-fixe for three courses and complimentary wine. Kate and I restrained ourselves from abusing the “free” wine, only because we each had an a la carte Bloody Mary as an appetizer. We walked around the property before lunch then went to the front desk to make various inquiries. As a result, one of the staff took us on a tour which was different from our own, apparently "off-limits," excursion. She said the one-bedroom cabins are around $900/person/night, all-inclusive – all inclusive, that is, of the extreme activities – and, that most people stay three or four nights.
The first full day Kim, Kate and I were in Polson, Montana we took a private flight around the area – the Kerr Dam, the National Bison Range, the Mission Mountains and Flathead Lake. I had arranged the trip when I was previously in Polson, and the pilot suggested we lead off our stay at Flathead Lake with his flight because it would be a good surveying tool. He was right about that, and the flight was fabulous. When we deplaned we drove clockwise around the lake. We went to a winery at ten-thirty and did a tasting, then we had lunch at a micro-brewery, both of which the pilot recommended. He was right about them, too. We continued to Big Fork and Kate fell in love with it. I had been there twice before, so I knew she'd like it. We continued south along the eastern shore to Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge. We escorted ourselves around the property and then I went to the front desk to inquire about accommodations. Reservations are made one year in advance for one week at a time. It's all-inclusive (save the liquor of choice which you provide), and about $4,000/person/week. Someday when Extended Stay America isn't my upper price limit for accommodations, I will stay there the week after I stay at Triple Creek.
The tobacco-stained Jeeper chatted with me alone for a bit. He had interrupted my pre-departure-black-tank-flushing-toy-put-away routine by going to the trash and alarming the dogs. He said he'd seen me around and hadn't had a chance to meet me. We were joined shortly thereafter by Tom and his wife Phyllis who were on their way to the "Colorado Family Happy Hour." The Jeeper prefers golf these days to Jeeping having driven every road around here many times. Mid-brag, the Jeeper's timer went off: he was flushing his black tank, too. When he returned, I was invited to join the "Colorado Family Happy Hour" crowd for dinner at a barbecue restaurant, but I declined because they were leaving at five forty-five. I explained that I had eaten lunch at two, and that I typically ate dinner at eight. Truthfully, I was hungry because I ate lunch at twelve-thirty, but his spitting had killed whatever appetite I had. Yuck. The Jeeper asked me if anyone had taken me Jeeping, and I said no. He then went on to tell me that his Class A is 45 feet, and that he used to pull a Jeep AND a trailer with a motorcycle which made him 85 feet overall. He said that he was illegal in every state. He's a cowboy – a “Marlboro Man” of sorts. Guess what killed the Marlboro Man? Yuck.
I called Progressive which will dispatch Safelite to my parents' house on the morning I requested to drill and fill the crack in my windshield. If that works, I will incur no expense; if it doesn't, and the windshield needs to be replaced, I'm out of pocket $1,000. I called yet another shop in my parents' town to do BOB’s inspection. Yes, the shop can do it, but I have to call the week before to book the appointment. So, the good news is that if I have to replace the windshield (which Safelite can't do), I won't have trouble rescheduling the inspection appointment; the bad news is that I'm trying to schedule a trip immediately thereafter and who knows when I can get the new windshield. Uncertainty is certainly inconvenient!
When I left Glenwood Springs last week, I drove through Grand Junction so I could have blood drawn to manage a minor chronic disease. The technician told me that my provider should have the results the following day. My PCP left the practice last summer, so her PA has been taking care of me. I like the PA better than the PCP. Today is the last day of my coverage by UnitedHealthCare, no results were posted to my portal, and I had not heard from the PA. I called my PA’s office this morning, and I was told that outside lab work doesn't post to the portal. I then learned that the lab in Grand Junction didn't send the results. I explained my situation: I'm traveling, my insurance changes tomorrow, I want a 90-day prescription, etc. Several hours later, I called a second time and I went through this with another employee in my PA’s office. I called a third time and left another plaintiff message. My PA called me at the end of her day: she had the results, she would call in the script, and I would need to retest in October.
I have Graves' Disease: it is an autoimmune disease which causes the thyroid to become hyperactive. On the night before my 27th birthday, I had plans to have dinner with a friend. On my birthday, I had a date for lunch with one guy, and a date with a different guy for dinner. My friend canceled my pre-birthday dinner, so I ordered pizza from one of those "famous" joints on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My roommate was out that night. I ate my pizza alone (which was fine), but by ten I didn't feel very well. By the time he came home I had been vomiting for a while. He called an uncle who is a doctor, and he suspected I had food poisoning. My roommate called a cab, and took me to Mt. Sinai Hospital. The cab ride was hellacious, challenging my stomach at every turn. When you walk into the ER in a GSW (gunshot wound) hospital, you are a low priority. So, I sat in the waiting room with the chronic diabetics as the ambulance patients continuously bumped me down in priority. After vomiting for several hours in the ER restroom, my roommate yelled at a nurse who took my vitals: they were finally bad enough to warrant attention.
A month later I still felt funny: I would get winded walking up steps although I was fit; I would wake from sleep with a pulse of 130; and, I ate a pound of bacon in 12 hours because I was always hungry. I had been given an anti-emetic and IV to rehydrate me while at the hospital, and the consensus was that food poisoning was the likely culprit, so there was no likely connection between that incident and what I was currently experiencing. That January, after four weeks of bitching to a friend, I had a consultation with his nonagenarian general practitioner. The doctor asked me some questions, poked and prodded, drew some blood (himself), and concluded that I have Graves' Disease. Two months later, I was treated with radioactive iodine which my thyroid absorbed in a suicide mission. Over the next two months I gained 20 pounds as I became hypothyroid, and it is the fattest I've ever been. Once my thyroid was pronounced dead, my endocrinologist put me on a replacement hormone. I was stable for 22 years until menopause.
Menopause, peri-menopause, post-menopause! Menopause is defined as the one-year mark after the last period. Peri-menopause is defined as the pre-game. Post-menopause is defined as the post-game. So, by reasons of deduction, menopause is a one day event which no one can pinpoint. I had a hysterectomy (ovaries and tubes are intact) three days before I turned 42. It turned out that I had Stage I adenocarcinoma. I found that out three weeks later in a letter saying: "Congratulations, you had cancer!" Menstruation was artificially interrupted for me, but my ovaries don't know that. I never had that marker of "last period" to define my transition from peri- to menopausal, so I just refer to myself as menopausal and the healthcare professionals say peri-menopausal I suppose that when I'm sixty or seventy and refer to myself as menopausal they'll say I’m post-menopausal. Tomayto, tomahto: let’s call the whole thing off.
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Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.