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September, 2009: 2 14 28 30

9/2/09-Wed.-Up about 7 A.M. Accompanied Fran over to the Laundromat for our big load of dirty clothes processing, roughly a month's worth.

Yesterday, began experiencing pain in my left shoulder joint. Arthritis? If so, now the question is how to maintain good strength and ranges of motion despite increasing discomfort?

Did my regular shift yesterday at the library's bargain bookstore. My friend Margie was missing for the second week in a row. I called her, and she said her disabled daughter had had a bad fall and had broken a femur. Surgery was required, and the bone was put back together with hardware. Now it will be difficult to get her strength and function back. Indeed, it may be half a year before she can walk normally again, if ever, and her mom, already in her 70s and not aging well due to depression and other factors, does not know how she will get this mildly retarded woman to recover well. She's also going a little stir crazy because of all the time spent at the hospital instead of doing her volunteer work and other out of the house activities.

I said we could meet one morning next week for a breakfast snack and visit, after Frances and I get back from a mini-family-reunion in Waco, starting Friday and continuing through the Labor Day weekend.

Our physician at Austin Regional Clinic is leaving there and starting a private practice. We must decide whether to stick with him or with ARC.

He wants me to have a colonoscopy. Not looking forward to that, but I suppose it is wise.

Also need a new skin lesion checked out and removed, a process that starts with an appointment next week.

Eye exam (early cataract problems) and flu shot appointments round out the known medical things currently pending before year's end.

Our total nest egg was down about 18% last year due to the economic meltdown in the fall. It fell still further by early March of this year. At one time, we had lost over $300,000 in market value. But we now have much of that back. There are modest profits over our combined cost bases, though we are still around $100,000 lower than at the end of 2007. If we are careful, the retirement portfolio will probably increase further from here and, without major medical problems or lawsuits, likely will see us through the coming years' financial needs. There is even the possibility of significant growth in the assets within a few years, barring another big terrorist attack, economic catastrophe, etc. Managing our assets helps keep me rewardingly occupied.

Fran has a handy nature publication going on sale this month and next in local retail outlets. It is getting her photography noticed, even by more officially recognized experts in the natural world.

9/14/09-Mon.-The family reunion went well, overall, though (not surprisingly) Mom got herself too stressed out and tired and had another of her heart palpitation related spells, that then left her exhausted for a couple days. Alcohol aggravates this condition, which she knows, but she nonetheless often drinks quite a bit and did so again during that long weekend. Well, as I am learning in Alanon (having attended three meetings so far), some things really are not my responsibility or in my control, even if I am concerned and distressed by them.

About a week ago, I had my skin check at the dermatologist's office for this year. Just as last year he had said I needed a biopsy (which turned out to be negative) for possible melanoma, though I thought the tissue in question was just a normal appearing mole that had not changed for some time, so on this occasion, he indicated more places he claimed required biopsies, four in this instance, only two of which I thought were likely justified. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, and presuming her errs on the side of caution, I could not explain to myself why in two prior exams he had not recommended biopsies of some of these sites, which look the same now as they did then and which had earlier also been looked at by my prior dermatologist (who also had not felt biopsies were indicated).

I know our healthcare system rewards doctors and hospitals for doing extra procedures even when they are not medically necessary. I cannot help but think some of that may be going on with this dermatologist. So, after much inner debate about the matter, I researched things fairly well (via checking the ratings and reviews by patients of various dermatologists in Austin and by consulting my insurance company about what is and is not covered in cases like this) and then arranged an appointment to check out my suspect lesions with a new dermatologist (who has received only the highest recommendations from several of his patients) and cancelled this week's biopsies appointment with my till today current dermatologist. It is a relief to have this resolution of the matter. Of course, the new doctor may indicate the same lesions need biopsies, but at least I shall then have a better feeling about it, knowing that even one of the best rated doctors concurs with that necessity. The new appointment is on October 1.

My brother, Pete, with whom I have at times had fairly good and at times strikingly poor rapport, who has had the most unstable history of work and romantic relationships of any of my brothers, has moved back to Austin. He does so with a promotion and a sense of fresh beginnings. I hope and wish him well and, in fact, have arranged for next Sunday a little pot luck supper celebration in his honor among several of our relations here in town.

We have finally begun to have abundant rainfall again, at least temporarily breaking our drought and giving the promise of easier times ahead for our several trees, though we shall almost certainly lose one more of our bigger ones in the weeks or months ahead, too far gone now to make a comeback. Through yesterday, we had received 6-7 inches of rain in the preceding three days. Yes!

I attended my dream group meeting yesterday. It went fairly well, and I found myself less ill at ease about the co-leader role than has been the case before. Good! This was, I believe, my fourth meeting in that capacity.

My friend from dream group, Janet, is briefly back in town. However, our wires have been somewhat crossed and we have not even managed a phone chat, much less seeing each other in person this time. She is extremely busy with tying up various loose ends of her far-flung work, reports on it that are required, maintenance on and inspection of her car, etc. Meanwhile, when we have tried to call each other, we have both run into busy signals with no means of leaving messages, etc. Oh well, when we do get in touch in a more personal way than via e-mails, it will be that much more meaningful.

9/28/09-Mon.-Janet has returned for her work to Brazil. Happily, before her departure we were able to fit in a walk of about an hour and a half one rainy morning down at the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Very cool.

Have received negative reactions from folks in the dream group to info about my Alanon group and activities, negative reactions from a couple relatives about the dream interpretations or group, etc. It seems that people would rather be judgmental than take a fresh look at something, and intelligence is no antidote to prejudicial attitudes. Everywhere one looks, there are mostly ignorant egos inflating themselves with the repetition of half-baked notions.

In the dream group also there is a cleaving to old religious views, an assumption that anyone who is skeptical of simplistic notions of astrology, reincarnation, the efficacy of past life regressions, or the idea that the dream group leader talks regularly to her own personal God is worthy of mild ridicule. I appreciate that group for its social interactions and the dream interpretations themselves, but am ever aggrieved by such distractions, an easy group think fantasy mongering, and a tendency to scapegoat those who do not go along with the accepted dogma.

So, if I am wise, I shall avoid talking with dream group members about certain issues, the same with relatives, etc. It is idealistic and naive to expect others, even in relatively enlightened settings, not to behave in small-minded ways at times. Even in Alanon, there are instances of condescension, efforts by a few to establish themselves as more in control, or there is a catering to those who espouse the popular enthusiasms, as for a tribal interest in the University of Texas football team winning over its rivals, etc.

Similarly, I have noticed time after time that a great deal of self-disclosure is encouraged in dream group, by its leaders, other members, etc., but too often the vulnerability this implies is then used against those who are more open. There is a "Catch-22" here. A fine balance must be maintained between not being genuine enough to gain from the group's insights and being so open that others, not so inclined to be nice, take advantage and become patronizing, bullying, or otherwise disrespectful.

It is important not to be thin-skinned, but also not to just take it when others are belittling of what one is or considers important. Abuse may come from any quarter and, once perceived, need not be tolerated.

Took my car in for a tire rotation, state inspection, and oil change this morning.

Later, Frances and I went to a nearby Mediterranean buffet restaurant we like.

Have been neglecting my full daily meditation regimen over the past 2-3 weeks, but I think this is an unwise "saving." Need to get back to this basic routine.

Have also been relaxed about a reducing diet and sufficient exercise in this interim. I have gained four pounds, about two a week! So, again, the more relaxed approach is not good for me.

9/30/09-Wed.-I seem to have contracted the swine flu that is making the rounds right now. Bummer.

Did a dream interpretation for my nephew-in-law, Abel, over the past three evenings. Once I got into the nitty-gritty somewhat, he has not responded to my e-mails. I'm afraid he may have had a hard time with a few of the observations. (Or he may just be really busy.)

Our rains and cooler weather have generally persisted. Yea!

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