It’s impossible to open those damn produce bags!
How to stay (relatively) sane during #covid crisis.
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Passover is the time of year when we Jews celebrate the Exodus from Egypt. We were slaves and then became free people. That’s pretty monumental and it took a lot of wandering, a lot of soul searching and a lot of self-doubt. There were those who yearned to go back to Egypt, because that was as least a known world, a familiar fate. Sure it was awful. But like a prisoner who recommits a crime on the eve of his parole, three hots and a cot can be pretty inviting when you’re contemplating a life of self awareness, choice and independent thinking.
We are supposed to tell the story of Passover to our children. Well, we do that — annually. By now, you’d think they’d pretty much have it down pat. But here we go, we’re gonna tell it …again and again and again. Why is that? What is to be gleaned in the story this year, this telling?
I think I might have an answer. I think this year, with all that has transpired within my world, I think maybe I finally get this Passover story. Freedom is a double edged sword. Freedom brings joy and lightness. It also brings self doubt, fear, even anguish.
This year we have found ourselves free from the constraints of a harsh, abusive work relationship. Becoming free was painful. We suffered intense betrayals, deep anguish and still find ourselves walking the halls in the wee hours of the night because self doubt and worry keep us from restful sleep. We wonder how we will survive on our own, without the punishing security we’d grown used to. How will we take care of our children? How will we maintain our standing in the community?
Freedom doesn’t come easily. It is terrifying. I’ve always wondered how my Jewish ancestors would have been anything but overjoyed as they raced away from Pharaoh and the shackles that enslaved them for decades. Yet here we stand, naked, unprotected from the elements, and we are afraid.
We spent less time preparing for Passover this year. In the scheme of things, Passover prep had to take a back seat. We are too busy struggling to get back on our feet, find solid ground and begin to remake our lives as free people. I feel guilty about my lack of focus this year. But the truth is, the rituals, the foods, the seder, they all seems less important right now. Because I get it. I get why we do all of it. We have been “gifted” with an opportunity to feel the truth of an Exodus from slavery. That’s why we eat special foods, say special prayers and thank G-d for the opportunity to experience freedom.
I think I could skip all the rituals entirely this year. But we wont. We have family to celebrate our new found freedom with. We have children to whom we must continue to tell the story. We have each other, sometimes frightened, sometimes boldly empowered, and together we will journey forward through the uncertainty and fear.
We step into a new world of freedom, choice and self direction this year. We graciously acknowledge the family and friendships that have stood by our side through our imprisonment and propped up our spirits as we reluctantly fled from our captors.
With freedom comes responsibility; the burden to live well, to offer the best of who we are to everyone we meet, to appreciate each and every kindness afforded us. And so to all of you whose kind words, thoughtful deeds and deep love and support have strengthened and sustained us this Passover season, we thank you for making our path easier to navigate and our road more clearly defined.
We admit that the uncertainty remains scary and unsettling. But like our ancestors, going back is not a choice. We must keep our eyes focused ahead, our hearts open and our faith deeply in tact. For it is only with clear vision, love and trust, that we will emerge at the border of a promised land and will retain the insight, courage and readiness to venture into it as free souls who understand the perils of slavery and appreciate the power of liberty.
Shit happens. It’s one of those proverbial laws of nature. Given that, I’m not so sure why it always seems to knock us for a loop when it comes to pass. The truth is that we craft our lives in ways we think will allow us to bypass the shit nature inevitably is going to splatter all over us. Until we can’t. Until one day you meet the shit storm of your life and it confronts you, collides with you, commands your attention. And when that happens, you’re almost always naked, or wearing your crummiest pajamas and no make-up. But shit is not something you can ignore. There’s no room for denial on the day the facade crumbles. No euphemistic way to steer clear of the storm that threatens to destroy you and decimate your home and family.
I had a friend who used to say, “The only way through stuff like this is…through stuff like this. There’s no plane you can take to rise above it, no speeding locomotive through the beautiful countryside, not even a Vespa.” You have to walk your path, wherever it leads. I guess that’s the scariest part. Once you realize that all the planning, precision and platitudes aren’t worth a hill of beans, you can’t ever go back to the myth that you’re in control of your own destiny.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it doesn’t matter how you play the game. It matters — a lot. But sometimes the rules change and you didn’t get a say in it. At that point, you can sit on the bench and opt out of playing altogether. But the better options seems to me to be to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, resolve to memorize the new handbook and go at life with a renewed vigor and determination to win that’ll prove to the world who you really are and just what you’re made of.
So forgive me for sparing the details in this little diatribe. Suffice to know that we are regrouping, huddled tightly together as a family, and preparing to face the challenges and uncertainties of life’s fickle finger with bold, fearless persistence, tenacity and commitment.
It’s an adventure. As one of our newly proclaimed villains used to say, “We asked for a roller coaster. Life’s never going to be boring.”
With heartfelt gratitude to all for the love, support and positive energy.
I am thoroughly dumbstruck. I was just informed by our mail-order prescription drug company that I do not have the rights, under newly amended HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws to manage my 13 year old son’s prescriptions. This information was dumped on me after two hours of tech support idiocy as I attempted to set up an on-line account to streamline the process of ordering prescription refills for my family. Please note the irony here.
After finally being told that it would take 3 to 5 more business days to get the online account up and working, I decided to end the call before I dismantled the phone and furiously ingested its portable batteries. Then I remembered one more thing. I said,
“Well, can you at least tell me how to connect my son’s account with mine so that I can manage his prescription refills?”
“That depends,” the heavily accented voice on the other end of the phone stated.
“On…?” I took the bait.
“On how old he is,” she answered
“He just turned 13.”
“Oh, well then no. You cannot manage his account without his direct written permission.”
“But he doesn’t have an account. He’s 13.”
“Well, he will have to set up his own account and then he can order his own prescriptions.”
“But he doesn’t have a credit card. He has no way to pay for them. Wait a minute, is this a gag? You’re just joking with me because I sound like I’m about to lose it, right?”
“No ma’am. Once a child is 13, the new HIPAA laws require the child to give written permission to a parental caregiver to have access to any of their prescription drug information.”
“That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Who made that law? Seriously. I really want to know. Because it obviously wasn’t someone with a 13 year old child. Because my kid is a great kid. He’s responsible, practical, thoughtful. But, I can pretty much guarantee that left to his own devices, the last thing he’s gonna be focused on is ordering his allergy meds on a monthly basis.”
“Well, if he chooses to set up his own account and grants caregiver access to you then you will be allowed to order his medications.”
At this point, I excused myself and hung up, knowing that no good could come from my continued attempts to reason with the ridiculous automaton voice on the other end.
Let me be clear here. My 13 year old son requires my assistance to oversee and manage his pharmaceutical needs. And there’s no way I’m going to allow him (or his brother in 3 years) to do it themselves. Call me a helicopter parent, but setting 13 year old kids free to access their own stash of pharmaceuticals sounds like a pretty big recipe for large scale disaster. Am I missing something here?
So back off HIPAA. I’m the sheriff in this town. My kid takes the meds I buy him based on his doctor’s recommendation and I am not about to let a 13 year old boy make his own health care decisions without my express consent and input.
I just have one question. The new Obamacare laws allow kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they reach 26, even if they’re married and not living at home. HIPAA insists that 13 year old minors manage their meds on their own. So which is it, are we raising 13 year old adults or 26 year old children?
Okay, so I broke down and went to a Chiropractor. Now I’ve been to Chiropractors before. In fact, I believe they do good work and can heal certain muscular, joint and alignment issues. But after my husband’s constant barrage of scientific studies citing all kinds of devastating chiropractic mishaps, I’d pretty much sworn off them entirely.
Until last week, when my writing partner practically insisted I go see his Chiropractor or else stop bitching about my constant back pain. I succumbed to the not so subtle peer pressure and made the appointment.
The Doctor had asked me to bring my MRI films, X-rays of my back, and any doctors’ records I might have about my herniated disc (L5 S1 in case you were wondering.) This sent me into a slight panic since I am, without doubt, the least organized woman on the planet. I spent the next two days dismantling my house in search of those damn films and records.
Miraculously, I found a thick, overstuffed manilla folder labeled “Healthcare – Debra” crammed into my disorderly file cabinet. A cursory perusal of the folder showed various films, radiology reports, and several detailed drawings of recommended physical therapy exercises. I proudly tucked the folder into my tote and headed out apprehensively to meet the bone-cracking doctor.
After a lengthy interview, during which Doctor John, as he’s called, took a lengthy history from me and explained why chiropractic care could help me enormously, he asked to see the films. I happily complied and turned over the entire packet.
He paged through the documents carefully, offering a few compulsory, “mmm hmms,” and nodding thoughtfully. Then he pulled out the stack of films and began to inspect them one by one. I admit that his befuddled look was slightly alarming to me. I worried that perhaps he’d discovered something even more serious as he examined the magnetic images of my spine. Too fearful to ask, I simply sat, perched on the edge of my chair, awaiting his assessment.
He held up the final film, looked at me directly and said with a delivery as deadpan as Bob Newhart’s, “Thank you for bringing me your mammogram pictures. But I don’t think they’re going to be terribly helpful in relieving your back pain.”
I was mortified. OMG, how did I do that? What an idiot! He offered a few comic, yet tasteful comments about how we women always seem to work our mammary glands into any situation. But even his lighthearted, affable tone couldn’t minimize my embarrassment. After a while, I did regain my composure and we moved through the exam and treatment uneventfully.
I like this Doctor. I do. And I’m going back. Despite the fact that I’m certain to be the butt of humor at his next Chiropractic convention, and will forevermore be shorthanded in the office as the “breast lady.” I suppose it could be worse. I could have brought him a colonoscopy report.
I know times are tough. I know Doctors have been given the shaft. They’re getting squeezed by the government. They’re getting paid less and less by insurance companies. Patients are suing them over mis-diagnosed hang nails. It’s not easy. Believe me, with a husband in the biz, I see the problems within the healthcare industry on a daily basis.
But still, this is ridiculous. Doctors need to suck it up, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Showing your sensitivity and exposing your insecurities may be the ticket for dudes on the prowl, but it’s not an attractive physician feature. So I’m sorry if you docs out there are feeling insecure, but don’t be so obvious about it.
I do realize that people are flaky and often forget about appointments. I think that confirmation calls are a fine way to insure your schedule stays on track and doesn’t end up with holes the size of the Grand Canyon. But what’s with requiring patients to call back and confirm that they received the confirmation call and will actually be at the scheduled appointment? It’s a pain of colossal proportion and I resent it immensely.
I used to joke that my dentist had abandonment issues because he was the only one I knew who participated in this silly double confirmation call policy. I found it annoying albeit slightly amusing. But the practice has caught on and it seems that everyone from the kids’ orthodontist to the chiropractor is requiring patients to call back after receiving their reminder call to reconfirm their intention to show up at their appointment. Really?
It’s kind of like sending a thank you note to a bride for her thoughtful note of acknowledgement over the Lenox place-setting you sent her. It’s like an endless, interminable cycle. And honestly, I don’t have time to call back every friggin’ doctor my kids have appointments with. Look, I took the time to make the appointment. I’m a responsible adult. Have a little faith in me, for gosh sakes.
I know that life is tenable. Relationships are fleeting. Disappointment hurts. But, you can’t live your life worrying that everyone in it is going to let you down. It’s just not…healthy. This kind of cloying neediness is unattractive and I’m telling you, it’s gonna drive people away in the long run.
Trust that you are important and that people will show up at their scheduled appointment times . Believe in your own internal value. You don’t need this kind of redundant external reinforcement. Your good enough. You’re smart enough. And gosh darnit, people like you.