When life doesn't go according to plan...
Change is the only constant.
Back in the good old days, I used to be someone with a five year plan. I knew where I was going, or at least I was naive enough to think that I did. Older and somewhat wiser now, I've come to realize that no one knows what life has in store for us or what's around the next curve in the road. Today's February 1. It's the day that I had promised myself that I would start catching up with everything that I've let slide during January. I would read my friends' blogs, answer emails and sort through the pile of paperwork on my desk. What a silly notion. As if I could predict the future!
Instead of hugging our daughter goodbye at Charles de Gaulle Airport as planned, I spent the morning leaving rambling, and possibly incoherent, messages on the answering machines of several home health care nurses in an effort to find someone who could change Sara's post-surgical bandages.
February 2 (It's a new day). Since my time at the computer was cut short yesterday and I've forgotten where I was going with the above post, I'll just quickly say that Sara had some unexpected surgery last week. As the surgeon explained during the initial consultation, it was an inconvenient but absolutely necessary procedure that she had to have as soon as possible. Faced with the choice between having surgery in the USA or France, she decided to have it here because the insurance policy that she had through her university had stopped at the end of December. Before Sara even knew that she had to have surgery, she made numerous calls to insurance companies in New York to get a new policy but quickly realized that she's in a Catch-22 situation: it's virtually impossible to get reasonably priced insurance in the States if you're not already insured. Thus, she became one of the 48.6 million Americans without insurance. To put that in some sort of meaningful context, that's more than the entire population of Canada (35 million).
To add even more emotional complexity to the story, Sara had been invited to join a research cruise in the Caribbean. When the trip was suddenly cancelled because the boat was sold, she was sad that she wouldn't spend the month of February collecting coral samples near the islands of St. Thomas and Aruba. Her disappointment disappeared when she received another email from her former advisor the morning after her surgery asking her to join a research team at her dream destination, Palau. Unfortunately, Sara's excitement at seeing some of the world's most spectacular coral reefs firsthand only lasted about half an hour, right up until the moment when her surgeon said that she won't be able to dive for 6 weeks.
So, here we are on February 2 and unsure when Sara will be able to return to New York because her post-surgery care is more complicated than we had initially realized. The good news is that she may be able to join the research team in Palau at a later date and that she'll have to come back to Paris in a couple of months...for more surgery (to avoid confusion, this part falls in the "bad news" category!).
As Sara rests and recovers, we've been watching movies that lift our spirits, including The Sessions. Based on the real life story of a sex therapist who helps a man in an iron lung lose his virginity, Helen Hunt and John Hawkes give outstanding performances in this poignant and sensitive film. While the subject matter may not appeal to everyone, it made us look more positively at our own lives and left us with smiles on our faces. Please let me know if you have any other movie suggestions, otherwise I may be forced to watch the rest of The Twilight Saga!
Wishing Sara all the best for a speedy recovery.ReplyDelete
Thank you! Sara's on the mend and feeling better - both physically and emotionally.Delete
Oh, MK....no words are enough. Prayers and thoughts being sent from here. I do hope to meet Sara if she is there in April. Love to you all.ReplyDelete
As for finding a home health nurse, if you were only here my agency would be there STAT at your beck and call.... OR they would have ME to answer to!
Your patients are so lucky to have you, Nancy! Fortunately, we found a place where we can have Sara's bandages changed and it's only a 3-5 minute walk from our apartment.Delete
"The plan" is for Sara to return to NYC in about a week and then she'll have to come back to Paris for her second surgery, possibly in April. I hope that she has the opportunity to finally meet you, especially because she already feels as if she knows you!
So sorry to hear about Sara's troubles but I am sure it is a comfort for both of you to be in the same place at such a trying time. I'm working on that health insurance thing....ReplyDelete
Thank goodness that we have people like you in DC, Anne, otherwise I would be very discouraged. If a young and generally healthy person like Sara can have such a hard time getting affordable insurance, it's hard to imagine what other people must have to go through. Also, medical care is so expensive in the USA that it can quickly wipe out someone's savings if they self pay. It reminds me of the people I talked with during the "Occupy Boston" movement who said that they became homeless after paying for a family members medical bills.Delete
I wish you lots of strength and fortitude as you deal with this very pressing issue!
Sending your daughter lots of healing thoughts and wishes that she gets to Palau in the near future. What wonderful dreams and ambitions she has!ReplyDelete
Yup, we never really know what life is bringing us day by day and the best any of us can do is roll with it as best we can. Sounds like you are doing just that ~ being there for Sara and helping her through this time. The blogs, e-mails and paperwork will still be there. :)
Many thanks for your healing thoughts and wishes, Jo!Delete
Even though it hasn't happened, I keep hoping that some magical paper fairy will visit my desk while I'm sleeping and take care of all the paperwork. Until then, I keep reminding myself of Scarlett O'Hara's famous words, "I'll think about that tomorrow."
I also join in sending Sara positive thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery. I had the privilege of meeting your lovely daughter and know how much she was looking forward to the research trip.ReplyDelete
How true are your thoughts that life does not always go according to our plans. I have learned this the hard way through my life with all it's twists and turns and become philosophical. . I smile at the young go getters with their five year plans and road maps, because life sometimes has a funny way off getting in the way. We never know what is round the corner and we never know what is meant to be.
There may be some reason why Sara has been prevented from going on this trip and has to stay in Paris for a while. Only time will tell. Maybe something better will come along, Who knows.
...and maybe there will be something else that you are meant to do, other than catching up on reading friends blogs, catching up on emails and looking at the pile of paperwork.
As always, Denise, I appreciate your words of wisdom. Because of your life experiences, I've always felt that you understand the vagaries of life and have grown tremendously as a person because of them. That's why you and your blog are so special to me!Delete
I agree that there's probably a reason why Sara is in Paris right now rather than on a tropical island diving for coral. Since we'll only know after the fact, I'm just enjoying our unplanned time together.
Boy.....no so much fun...but...it will get better...wish I was closer I would be happy to change her dressing....ReplyDelete
How about the Forsyte saga....brilliantly done..long...two seasons....Wives and daughters..also wonderful...the buccaneers...also great...Year in Provence...
Get well soon!!!
You're spot on with the movie recommendations! We've seen (and loved) all of them except Year in Provence. It's now on our list of films to watch. Thanks for the suggestion - a mini mental escape to warmer climes is just what we need!Delete
Poor Sara! :(ReplyDelete
I know. :( But she felt much better after talking with you. Thanks for being such a good friend!Delete
Sara is in my loving thoughts and prayers for a quick and comfortable recovery. I must say, I laughed when I read "five year plan". Our family motto (thanks to Bryan's Army career) is Semper Gumby, always flexible. It is February and I do not know where I will be living in July...again. But, I do know that we have a Paris trip booked for March, so life is good!!ReplyDelete
Semper Gumby - that's going to be our new family motto...just don't tell our neighbors in Annapolis!Delete
I hope that you find out soon where you'll be living in July - for me it's the waiting and wondering that's always the most difficult. With February already here, life must be feeling very good. You'll be back in Paris before you know it!
Dear Mary Kay, my thoughts and prayers are with Sara too. I was just thinking this morning, before I read your post, how life can change in a moment. We have to hold everything lightly. Oh so hard. As Sara recovers, I hope you two enjoy this time (although I'm sure the healing process is not very enjoyable).ReplyDelete
The movie that came to mind is one that never fails to put a smile on my face: Enchanted April. Have you two seen it yet? I finally bought it because I was renting it so much. Joan Plowright is one of the stars. The scenery is beautiful, as it moves from England to Italy. If I think of any others, I send another comment.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Karene! The bittersweet part of growing older is that we start to fully realize how fragile life is - and as you say, we have to hold everything lightly and appreciate our time together.Delete
We haven't seen Enchanted April. Coincidentally, it's one that is on Sara's Netflex list of recommended movies, which goes to show that it's exactly the sort of film that we enjoy watching. Thanks for telling us about it!
Please pass our regards along to Sara, Mary Kay, with best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.ReplyDelete
As video chicken soup, Mike and I strongly recommend a viewing diet that includes the outstanding series "Tales of the City", chronicling the adventures of one young Mary Ann Singleton, a recently dislocated Midwesterner, and her encounters with the (especially) eccentric San Francisco of the 1970s. I suspect you'll fall in love with the colorful characters, as we did (e.g a newly-minted Laura Linney as Mary Ann), and the plot lines have some terrific and hilarious twists. Hope you can find it.
We're going to check out The Sessions and some of other great recommendations of Miss Holly and Karene above. Very best wishes.
Video chicken soup - I've never thought of it in those terms before but it's the perfect description for what we need.Delete
Fortunately, I was able to find "Tales of the City" on YouTube. Sara and I started watching the first episode but were interrupted when Stephane proposed that we watch French films while he's at home and American films while he's at work. Now that it's Monday, we'll be able to find out what happens next with Laura Linney's character.
While we liked both of the French films that we watched this weekend, I would highly recommend "Le prénom" ("What's in a Name"). The dialogue was a bit fast paced for me to keep up with all of the time but it's a very good movie full of French nuances and humor.
I can't remember if you've seen Best Exotic Marigold Hotel--my favorite movie from last year, I want to see it again. And I loved A Royal Affair, the Danish film. And An Education from a few years back. I've been hankering to see DIVA again, the great French thriller from the early 80s. I watched a clip on YouTube recently and it just looks so good. Watch DIVA if you haven't before.ReplyDelete
My best wishes to Sara for a full and speedy recovery. And I wish you steady hands and a steely heart as you play nurse.
Thanks to you, I have seen the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! I even purchased it so that I can watch it again and again. After seeing something that you posted on FB, we tried to see A Royal Affair when it came out here in December but just missed it. I'll have to see if it's available yet on itunes or Netflex.Delete
I watched Diva way back when it first came out and one of the scenes, where the guy is reaching for the light switch and falls down a shaft, is forever burned in my memory. Thanks for reminding me about this great movie. I don't think that Sara has seen it yet and it's one that she would enjoy.
Steady hands and a steely heart are exactly what I need. Sara's surgery isn't in the most delicate of places!
Hi Mary Kay and thumbs-up to this philosophical post! I think I know how you're feeling and I fully agree with you that life in general is unpredictable and not everything goes according to our plans. Which is ok, I guess. Nevertheless, I hope and wish that Sara gets well soon enough to reclaim her dreams and do the things that are important to her. In the meantime, I'm sure you're going to be a perfect companion for her and the two of you can use this downtime to catch up on movies, books, stories, good food, etc.ReplyDelete
As you well know, I've always been very much into planning - but the older I get the more I realize that living from day to day, acting spontaneously, taking the things as they come, has also a very positive side. THE SECRET (not by Rhonda Byrne) is the perfect proof for this new-found wisdom... :-)
What is THE SECRET?! It seems that I'm going to have to call you again to try to coerce the information out of you! What time do you normally drink your glass of wine in the evening? ;) Or maybe we should chat via Skype.Delete
Speaking of being spontaneous, maybe you should hop on a train to Paris or we should meet somewhere in between in the very near future. I can't wait to find out what THE SECRET is!
I thought of another one--Groundhog Day--in honor of today in the U.S. :)ReplyDelete
And I agree with Joseph, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a great movie.
Thanks for suggesting Groundhog Day! We missed the opportunity to watch it on Feb 2 because Stephane asked that we watch French movies while he was at home.Delete
Hi, Mary Kay, I'm so sorry to hear about Sara. Health is truly our most precious gift. I do hope she'll be better soon. I've never had a 5-year plan, but I learnt a long time ago that just when you think things are going well, something comes along to upset the apple cart. And with children, it's almost as if, as soon as one of them gets over a problem, the next one begins! When she's better, I certainly hope she'll find another field trip to make up for the ones she's missed out on.ReplyDelete
Bravo for you for not having a 5-year plan! It's something that was so instilled in me that I almost feel guilty for no longer having one.Delete
When our children were small, I always thought that things would get easier as they got older. I've come to realize that isn't the case because I'll always be their mother. And as you said, it seems that there's always something that upsets the apple cart. It makes me wish that I had been more understanding and appreciative of what I put my own mother through!
Hi Mary Kay. Sorry to hear the news about Sara, and hope she makes a full recovery soon. The one bright spot is that she is with you, though! As to movies, I recently enjoyed "The Quartet" which has Maggie Smith in it, and I know you like her. It is also Dustin Hoffman's debut as a director. Best wishes, GM xReplyDelete
We don't like Maggie Smith - we love her! In fact, that's what Sara and I say after almost every episode of Downton Abbey. Thanks for telling us about "The Quartet". I just checked and it will premiere in France on May 1!Delete
Oh I forgot the films. Another vote for My best Exotic Marigold hotel, although I am not sure it would be that interesting for a young person When I saw it at the cinema everybody was over 60!ReplyDelete
Currently my favourite programmes on TV, that I am sure you could rent box sets of. are.
"Borgen"...Danish subtitled drama about a woman Prime minister how her political career affects her private life.
" Call the midwife." ....beautiful stories woven around a group of midwives and the women they serve, living in the East end of London in the 1950's. Don't be put off by the midwife theme. This is social history makes me cry every time especially the Xmas special
"Inspector Montelbano"...Quirky detective series about a policeman on the Isle of Sicily. .
Loved the last James Bond film.
and of course Downton Abbey.
Thanks for all of the excellent suggestions, Denise. I'm particularly interested in "Call the Midwife" specifically because of the midwife theme! I'll ask Sara to check if she can find these programs online.Delete
As a side note, both of our children and all of their friends really liked "My Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", although our son did admit that he originally went to see it by mistake.
Please tell Sara I am thinking of her and hope she has a steady recovery. Three recent movies I would recommend are The Intouchables, Summer Hours (both French) and Moonrise Kingdom which is hilarious. Perfect for anyone who has been to summer camp.
Love to you all,
Intouchables is on Stephane's list of movies that he wants Sara to watch! Thanks for telling us about Summer Hours (if Juliette Binoche is in it, it has to be good!) and Moonrise Kingdom.Delete
If you haven't seen them already, we really enjoyed "Les femmes du 6ème étage" (The Women of the 6th Floor) and "Le prénom" (What's in a Name).
Wishing Sara a speedy recovery both now and after the second surgery. How disappointing that the cards fell like this.ReplyDelete
Fingers crossed she'll be on a boat in Palau before too long.
And....scary numbers too about medical insurance and those without in the US. It makes us appreciate France and the care that is provided everyone here.
Thanks, Carina! Sara's fingers are also crossed that she'll be on a boat somewhere soon!Delete
The number of uninsured people in the USA came as a shock to me - I checked with a few different sources because I couldn't believe it at first. We feel really fortunate to have access to such good healthcare in France. Even though Sara isn't covered here, her medical care is still a lot cheaper than it would be in the USA.
First of all, my best wishes to Sara for a quick and painless recovery.ReplyDelete
And second, the health "business" (it is nothing but a freaking money making business) in this country (USA) is disgusting! It's just pure GREED. Where else do you see doctors driving Rolls Royces and living like kings in multimillion dollar mansions? It all comes down to the money.
Right before Sara had her surgery, we had a discussion with one of her friends whose boyfriend is currently in med school. She said that her boyfriend has mentioned the sense of entitlement that many of the med school students have. It's a shame that rather than go into the medical profession to help people that many of them see it as a way to get rich. A couple of my nieces are doctors in Switzerland and they have a completely different attitude, thank goodness!Delete
Oh dear, thinking of Sara and wishing her all the best for a quick recovery and that things work out for the research trip. On the bright side, I'm sure you're spoiling her!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Gwan! You're right - she is getting spoiled. I even gave her a facial yesterday!Delete
I'm so sorry to read this. Having any procedure is nerve-wracking for the both the patient and the parent. I'm wishing her a quick recovery and am sending positive thoughts!
Keep treating her to lovely things like facials (jealous!!), cozy movie days and lots of mommy love. That sounds like a perfect way to spend an icy month of February. : ) Get well soon, Sara.
I am late to the party here, Mary Kay, but am sending all good thoughts across the Atlantic. Hope we get to see you all soon. Keep an eye on Boston -- we're about to be buried in snow!ReplyDelete