This morning, my sister called me at the office @ 7 a.m.
She never calls me at the office that early, and I knew something must have happened.
She told me that our Granddad was a the hospital, that he had suffered a mild stroke last night that had impacted his language center in the brain and that he was unable to speak (besides a few simple words). He otherwise seems to be doing fine, he has no physical or mental impairments (my sister says he’s visibly upset that he cannot communicate), but he’ll be staying at the hospital for a few days and they’ll do some more tests.
My sister and I both feel kind of bad that we had been complaining a little bit that my Granddad had been calling us all the time. We understood that he was probably lonely and just wanted to talk for a short while, but with our own busy lives (my sister being pregnant, having a toddler and working full time) and the time difference for me, it just didn’t feel doable to talk to him every day.
Today I feel crushed, because I am 6000 miles away and the only way to communicate with him would be by phone and right now, I can’t even call him. And the doctors didn’t know as of today if his ability to talk can ever be fully restored. Irony much?
I mean, what if he doesn’t recover and won’t be able to communicate much anymore? What if he suffers another stroke? I still have so many questions to ask him; questions that for one reason or another I never asked when I had the opportunity.
My Granddad is 87 years old. He was doing pretty well. Considering his age, he had no mentionable health problems (besides some back pain stemming from lifelong false posture caused by a leg amputation in WWII).
He was still living on his own, in his own house and he was still driving his car (which, admittedly was something that my family was trying to prevent for quite some time now) and he seemed mentally and physically “fit” for his age, generally speaking.
I subconsciously knew that the possibility of something happening to him had to be expected at any given time. Still, when it happens over night like that, it leaves you behind in shock and disbelief.
This morning I was hit with one of the meanest headaches that I’ve ever had – a side effect of a certain female monthly event that hits me every once in a while (sorry for the TMI).
It felt like I had some screws being tightened on my brain, making it ready to pop. Pair that with some abdominal cramps, backache, and heaviness of the legs and you’ll understand why I was ready to pull the blanket over my head and just sleep the day away.
I called emailed in sick.
I never call in sick. I mean, you just cannot call in sick for a effin’ headache in this country. I am really not an oversensitive person and I do believe that sometimes you should just get over yourself and go to work. However, it’s kind of disturbing to me that for example in spite of a back injury, my boss has been coming to work on painkillers for the last, .. oh just 10 months or so.
And I am staying home with ‘just’ a headache (and some minor other pains). What’s wrong with me?
No, actually, I seriously ask you: What’s wrong with you?
Why are you coming to work when you should be staying home, letting heal whatever needs healing?
I can’t for the live of me understand why being sick is – obviously – considered something that you can “plan in advance” (what with the numbered sick days per year).
It strikes me – and my European mind – as odd that people that are sick or not feeling well are not encouraged to fully recover before they come back to work.
I seriously contemplated a) if I should just get over it and go to work and b) if this was a legitimate reason to stay at home. This is what a few years in this country will do to you.
Then my European part of the brain took over and told me: Hell yes, this is a reason to stay home. How productive do you think you’re going to be today? Are you going to waste your employer’s time and money by showing up at work feeling completely miserable and achieving close to nothing during this work day? You don’t have many days off as it is (ok, I had yesterday off and that was nice, but I was planning to make up for it by working tomorrow, which I’m still planning to do! And anyway, who could have known that I was going to feel so horrible today – as aforementioned, you can’t plan when you’re going to feel sick), so just take this day for yourself and get some rest.
Believe me, I am the last person on this planet that would call (pre)menstrual symptoms a sickness, but I dare all of you who never had (P)MS to ridicule the pain and agony that can go along with the monthly hormonal changes.
I just couldn’t go to work today. And I shouldn’t feel bad for staying at home. I honestly think my boss should stay at home, too. His back will only get better if he gives it some rest (and maybe some physical therapy), not if he moves around all day just masking the pain with the painkillers.
Don’t you agree?
In Germany, you can take up to 6 weeks (that is, 30 days) of sick time per year, before your salary is being impacted (not cut!). This means you’ll be paid your full salary for the 6 weeks that you’re sick. Your health insurance picks up 70% of your salary, if you’re sick for longer than the 6 weeks.
I mean, seriously. What a relief. This alone makes me want to move back to Germany immediately. The last thing you want (or should) worry about when you’re seriously sick (besides getting well) is how you’re going to pay for rent, food, and such, let alone the medical bills that will inevitably pile up in your mailbox.
I am sorry, I am going off on a tangent here (and as you might have guessed, I could write about my bother with the US health care system all day)… how did I get here again? Oh yes, my (P)MS… my “petty” splitting headache.
I am feeling slightly better by now, thanks for asking.
I just know, I needed this day off and I won’t let anybody tell me that I can’t stay at home when I feel miserable like that. Period.
Remember my post about my most recent dispute with the Postal Service?
Yeah, so I followed up with a letter to the Consumer Advocate’s Office in order to ask for an exception for a late acceptance of an International Inquiry request.
I received a letter back, stating that they would not be able to grant my request, because the package that is lost now contained things that I was not supposed to send to Germany and that it was the responsibility of the customer to comply with Customs rules of foreign countries.
a) What does the content of the package have anything to do with the fact that they freakin’ lost my package and that they don’t want to pay for the insurance amount that I purchased?
b) I did inquire about the legitimacy of sending what I sent, but the policies were not really clear (and what I sent was prescprition-free), so the final sentence convinced me that I was just going to give it a try: ” In case of any doubts as to the permissibility of the importation of medicine the competent medicine control authorities shall be consulted. Medicine which is prohibited entry shall be either destroyed or must be re- exported . ”
The Custom people decided to re-export it (which I can prove with a statement of theirs).
One of the last sentences of the Consumer Advocate Office’s letter said that their “office is the final level of postal authority concerning international claim appeals”, which translates to me into “there’s nobody else higher up that you could write to, so you’d better give up right now”.
But as you might already guess correctly: they’re barking up the wrong tree. I am not easily intimidated like that.
If I hadn’t inquired about my package over and over and over again at the post office, now that would be a completely different story. But I did inquire and I wasn’t given the correct information from the beginning.
So I sent a letter back, making clear that I was not going to accept their decision and that I thought it to be outrageous how they treat their paying customers!
If they don’t want to pay the insured amount – fine! Then they should find my package, or at least, initiate an International inquiry as a first step – since it was THEIR fault that I didn’t request the inquiry in time.
I haven’t heard anything back in two weeks. I think they’re trying to ignore me now.
Sorry for being so blunt, but I feel like nothing else but swearing today. I am just so done with bad news.
Another girl I know (over the Internet) was diagnosed with cancer yesterday.
It just scares the crap out of me that I know 6 people already, all around my age or younger, who’ve been diagnosed with some sort of cancer in the last three to four years. What the hell?
Is this just random “bad luck” or is it just getting more common for young, healthy people to be diagnosed with cancer?
I know, the prognoses these days are much better than, say, 30 years ago, but I just can’t get over the fact that so many young people have to deal with this disease.
The one case that hits closest to home: My best friend in Germany was diagnosed with a brain tumor last October. I had just seen her a month prior, she looked beautiful and healthy and there was nothing wrong with her. If it hadn’t been for some other minor jaw pain which led to her having a CAT scan done at the beginning of October, they wouldn’t even have found the sucker that had taken up residence on her frontal lobe. It’s just so scary that she didn’t even have any pain/symptoms at all, which, on the other hand, is good because it means that they caught it early, before it could compromise any functions handled by that part of the brain.
I didn’t talk about it here because I wanted to respect my friend’s privacy. To be honest, I didn’t even feel ready to talk about it. I am just constantly amazed at how she handles the whole situation, how strong and positive she is.
She had surgery a couple of weeks after the diagnosis. They couldn’t get rid off all the cells, but at least the tumor was operable. The procedure was an awake brain surgery, also known as brain mapping which is used to identify which areas of the brain control vision, language and body movement.
I know it sounds rather unbelievable and, actually, unimaginable, but the procedure itself is pretty amazing, to be frank.
At the beginning of the surgery, she was sedated as in any common surgery, for the surgeon to open her skull to expose the brain tumor. Then she was awakened and asked to perform routine tasks, such as identifying pictures, moving his or her hand, counting or answering questions. Precisely guided by computer images and her responses, the neurosurgeon then removed as much of the damaged brain tissue as possible, ensuring that only the pathologic areas of the brain were removed and the healthy tissue was left intact.
Yeah, didn’t I tell you? It’s pretty amazing.
She recovered from the surgery just fine and now has a week of chemo every month, somewhat indefinitely. They can’t tell her if or when the cancerous cells will be gone. There is no prognosis from here on out. For all she knows, she might have to live with this tumor for the rest of her life, with maintenance visits to the doctor every couple of months.
Despite the helplessness I feel by being hundreds thousands of miles away and not being able to be much of a support for her right now (besides talking on the phone and sending the occasional care package), I know she’s surrounded and supported by the most wonderful people, her family and other friends. It makes me feel relieved and thankful for all the great people in her life.
Even though this is a tough situation to face, she’s not bitter or angry, in fact, she’s the most positive person I know. I don’t know if I could carry myself this way, if I was in her situation. She puts things in perspective for me, and that can be pretty damn necessary sometimes.
This is slowly but surely becoming a nightmare of a relationship, to be honest. I am really quite fed up with the postal service in general…. even though I rely so heavily on it what with all my letter writing. My patience with them has shrunk down to a minimum, though.
Last year in March (I know, you must be going “What? Over 12 months ago?”) I sent a package to my Dad. The package got held up by the German Customs people and they informed my Dad that they had a package for him that they couldn’t deliver, because it contained items that were not supposed to get shipped to Germany.
Ok. I get it. I screwed up. I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t allowed to send what was in the package. My mistake. So the Customs people told my Dad they would simply return it. Great.
Well, you can already guess. I’ve never received the package back. As it happened, we moved in April, so I was patient at first because I was expecting delays of the return due to our mail forwarding from our old address. On the other hand, I knew that my old roommate would have let me know, if there had been any mail for me.
Dear Victoria (Secret),
you know we’ve had a somewhat bumpy relationship all along, even though I liked you and I gave you another chance over and over and over again, while you kept disappointing me every single time.
You claim to have a bra for every size of woman, but to be honest, you don’t have to offer much for me. Does that make me deviate from the norm? Maybe. It definitely means that you have to improve on your bra lines. This is ridiculous.
And what’s up with your latest email messages, trying to convince me that you have the “Perfect One” for me now?
You sent this email to me a gazillion times and finally I gave in last night to come and see if you really meant to make peace! You even hired Heidi Klum to leave an impression with me and hey, you almost had me there.
But let me say it plain and clear: even your “Perfect One” is NOT EFFIN’ PERFECT, do you hear me?!
I am sick and tired of your false promises.
Ok, I’ll admit that for the first time in… oh, YEARS!… I did find one of your bra styles somewhat satisfying. But you should have a whole array of bras in my size that fit me! And not just a simple plain T-shirt bra, thank you very much. What about the very nice, fancy-schmanzy bra with all the embroidery? Why doesn’t that one come in my size?
Don’t contact me again until you really have something to offer.
It’ll take quite a bit of effort on your part for me to come back and actually try one of your bras again.