Monday, June 22, 2015

The Fly in the Salad

I will be calm.  I will be mistress of myself.

- Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Summer is officially here.   I know this because I spent time last week dealing with things I put off during the months I was teaching, & also because several LSU football players were arrested on Thursday, which is always a sure sign the long, hot summer months have arrived.

At some point during the drive home from the beach (a week-long venture you can read about here), I put Harry Potter down long enough to make a few mental resolutions, namely to tackle (1) my carb intake, (2) the disorganized, cluttered pantry, & (3) the shameful state of my closet.

Considering the items on my to-do list, & the beach luggage I'd yet to finish unpacking, & the summer slothfulness that creeps in as the mercury rises, I can't say I was eager to begin the week.  Sunday afternoon, I watched LSU lose in Omaha, & then early in the week, Donald Trump made his presidential candidacy official, & really, where does a week go from there?  Mine went straight down a steep hill.

On Tuesday, I did tackle the pantry, for the most part.  There are a few issues that still need to be addressed, but I can't resolve them without sitting Trey down & having a serious conversation about the shelf of grill-related items, a shelf buckling under the weight of small appliances that, I assume, Trey once used to cook meat to perfection, & three or four hard plastic containers that house grilling tools like tongs, brushes, etc.  We occasionally grill, but I don't recall ever having so much meat roasting over a fire that we needed three or four people basting & turning it simultaneously.  On the progress front, we're no longer the proud owners of pancake mix that expired in 2010.

I didn't touch my closet last week.  I didn't even have to go in there much, given that I spent most of the week in my brand new lounge pants from Gap.  I had planned to devote much of Thursday to the closet, but that didn't happen, & yes, yes, you'll hear why shortly.

I knew nothing would happen closet-wise on Wednesday.  My most productive hours during the day are usually the two or three hours Henry naps in the afternoon, & on Wednesday I used that time to take a long, quiet shower in preparation for meeting my mom for dinner & then Bible class.  My dad spent a few nights in Omaha last week for work-related stuff (he did make a trip to Rosenblatt to see LSU Thursday night, but it was just a fabulous coincidence that his work travel coincided with the CWS).  I'd planned to take the kids & stay at my mom's Thursday night, but that was bumped to Wednesday night, & so after our Cracker Barrel dinner & church, we all headed to my parents' house, which is where I woke on Thursday, the day of woe.

Thursday morning, I sat & drank my first cup of coffee at my mom's kitchen table.  As many of you likely did, I read what various newspapers & social media had to say about the murders in Charleston.  I'd seen the news break Wednesday night while I was waiting up to do one last blood sugar check.  After breakfast, my mom took the kids to the park while I exercised.  It was cloudy & wasn't too hot yet, but the air was thick & oppressive, so much so that it prompted me to listen to Collective Soul's "Heavy" while I walked (good song, gooood song).

 Drenched in sweat, I drove the kids home, where I was greeted by a big puddle of Sophie the dog's urine.  I drug the kids & our bags inside, cleaned up the urine, & sat down for a minute, maybe two, before Reagan announced she suspected there might be something in Henry's diaper I needed to inspect.  With a clean diaper & a little lunch in his tummy, I put Henry down for his nap & turned my attention to the big plans I had for the remainder of the day.

I wanted to begin phase one of my closet clean-out, namely deciding what I am not keeping (which is a whole other blog post you may be treated to at a later date).  That was my only closet-related goal for Thursday.  I was going to put clothes in trash bags (just clothes; I'm not ready to tackle the shoe issue yet), haul them to my car, take a shower, & maybe, maybe, read a page or two of Harry Potter before Henry awoke.  Once Henry was up, I was going to brown & season taco meat because I planned to make myself a big taco salad to enjoy while watching LSU's baseball game.  Remember, I am cutting carbs, & one of my favorite things to eat (other than a lot of carbs) is a taco salad with meat, shredded iceberg lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, & sour cream.  It is delicious, & there are very few carbs when you cut out the usual suspects like chips & tortillas.  I was going to feed the kids, get them in their pajamas, sit down with my taco salad, & enjoy the baseball game.

Before I continue, you need to know that Trey was not home Thursday night.  Trey was seeing a movie because I'd told him the kids & I would be sleeping at my mom's house Thursday, & so he'd made plans to see Jurassic World with friends, plans I told him to keep despite the kids & I bumping our sleepover up a night.  So, I was home alone with the kids & my big, clean-closet, taco salad dreams.

 My dreams began to slowly unravel about ten minutes after Henry went down for his nap.  My phone rang.  It was Trey letting me know he'd received a call from the medical supply company that ships us Reagan's insulin pump supplies.  So, I called them & there was an issue with our credit card that was fairly easily resolved.  Done & done.  I thought that was my glitch for the afternoon because I am a fool.

Two minutes after I'd spoken with the medical supply folks I got a call from our pharmacist.  Here's the shortest version of this chain of events I can muster: For a year now, the medical supply folks have sent us everything we need, save the insulin, for Reagan's pump, including the test strips that are compatible with her pump's meter/remote.  They send us a three-month supply of everything, Blue Cross covers a good portion of the cost, & it all arrives at my front door in a box. It's a great set-up; people who care for diabetic children need things to be as easy as possible.

Unfortunately, the medical supply folks aren't getting along with the manufacturer of the test strips we use (the only strips that are compatible with her pump meter), so they can't supply us with the strips anymore.  Aware of this new glitch, I'd had Reagan's doctor call in a Rx for her strips.  I'd prefer to have a three-month supply shipped to my doorstep, as opposed to driving to the pharmacy for a one-month supply, but hey, I am flexible.  On Thursday, the pharmacy called to tell me Blue Cross denied coverage for the strips . . . the same strips they covered (in bulk shipments!) for a year without question when shipped to us via the supply company.

The moment the pharmacist uttered the words, "Blue Cross denied . . . ," I abandoned any hope of beginning work on my closet.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent on the phone, & somewhere during phone call three, I let my taco salad dreams go.  I won't go into the details of every phone call, or the time I spent on hold, or the elevator music I now hear in my sleep.  It was a long, long afternoon, & the afternoon's problems bled into Friday morning when, finally, I spoke with a Blue Cross employee who explained to me that we have separate deductibles for prescriptions & medical equipment, & the supply company bills everything as medical equipment, whereas the pharmacy does not.

You'd think the obvious solution would be to have the pharmacy bill the strips as medical equipment, but oh, guess what?!  They can't do that, & apparently no pharmacy anywhere near us can.  Blue Cross had no suggestions for another medical supply company we might use, & so I made twenty more calls liaising between our doctor's office & the pharmacy to rectify the situation, for now.  My hope is that the company that manufactures the strips & the medical supply company can mend fences & resume their collaborative efforts to mail bulk shipments of strips to my doorstep.

Fortunately, Friday ended well.  Trey & I took Reagan to see Inside Out, which is just wonderful.  I cried a little, though admittedly it may've just been some tension oozing out.

We tried to take a picture of our date night.  These were the best we got:

Yes, I turned the flash on, but apparently it doesn't work when you're taking a selfie, & I can see the logic behind that.

Saturday, my mom & I took the kids to see my Papaw.  He'll be eighty-nine in September.  It's always a perspective-shifter to spend an afternoon with a man who's lived through more American history than is taught in schools now. 

He's proud of his tomato plants:

It's June, & I keep seeing pictures of friends' kids heading to summer camp, & my camp days were on my mind last week.  When I was younger I attended church camp every summer.  I loved it, although in retrospect I am aghast at the conditions to which I gleefully subjected myself.  Have you been to Louisiana in June?

Every cabin was assigned a Bible teacher.  One summer, my cabin's Bible teacher presented a lesson to me & the other giggling pre-teen girls in my cabin about Satan & the many ways he attempts to interfere with our walk with Christ.  We were clicking right along, having a deep discussion during which we were all volunteering answers, pinpointing things in our lives - seemingly benign things - that Satan might potentially be using for his purposes.

At the moment our Bible teacher was making a crucial point, a horsefly landed on someone's knee.  The unlucky young lady swatted at it & shrieked & flailed about in horror in that wonderful way pre-teen girls have of handling moments such as this with grace.  Once the furor over the fly had ceased, someone said, "It's Satan," & we all dissolved in giggles, delighting our Bible teacher, naturally.

For the rest of the week, every bug was Satan.  If someone tripped on one of the many tree roots that snake the campgrounds = Satan.  If someone's morning eggs were cold = Satan, obviously temping them to be angry, luring them in to the whiny world of the ungrateful, blinding them to the reality that - - & imagine me saying this in my best twelve-year-old voice - - There are children in Africa who'd love your cold eggs!  If someone was was tired = Satan.  You get the picture.  Guess what we were to our Bible teacher that week?  Satan.

Rarely do I see a fly that that week at camp doesn't cross my mind.  While our Bible teacher may've felt her lesson on Satan's many forms & disguises was a bust, it's one of the few lessons from my many summers at camp that I remember in detail to this day.  There may be a few women in their mid-thirties reading this who recall our youthful shenanigans (& possibly other former campers who despised us because we were so loud, & so giggly, & so annoying).

I swatted flies all day last Thursday.  Every frustration I faced can be traced to Satan.  It sounds dramatic, but it is the truth, & if you train yourself to think this way, it helps you to place blame where it belongs.  Considering I woke up at my parents' house & had nowhere I had to be & planned to laze around the house all day picking through the T-shirts I own until LSU's baseball game began, it was a long, hard day for me.  Satan was holding the apple under my nose all day; I was constantly presented with opportunities to lose my temper, wallow in self-pity, eat my feelings, yell at my kids, yell at strangers on the other end of the phone, etc.  I realize now that I'd resolved at the beginning of the week to exercise self-control in various ways, & Satan rolled up his sleeves & set to work.

Dealing with our insurance company is a struggle for me on many levels.  There's the obvious; it's time-consuming & frustrating because straight answers are rarely forthcoming, & it's never possible to call & talk to one person & resolve the issue.  You're given a menu with options, but by the time the options have all been read, you're confused, or you didn't hear them all because your kids were screaming, & so you start over.  You finally speak with a real person, & then you're put on hold.  You have Comcast; you know the drill.

On top of the usual frustrations, as I sit on hold, waiting to explain to yet another employee that my daughter is diabetic, & she absolutely needs her test strips because I cannot care for her if I don't know what her blood sugar is, & what, short of the hokey pokey, do I have to do to work this out, I am often on the verge of a breakdown, but not the breakdown you might be envisioning.

It is taxing to have to repeat that yes, my daughter is diabetic, & yes, she is four, & yes, she was diagnosed at three & hospitalized repeatedly last year, & yes, blah blah blah . . . with each phone transfer, I tell the same story over & over, & by the time I finally get off the phone, even if I've resolved the issue about which I was calling, I am spent.  I don't understand why it's necessary for me to repeat her birthday & her entire medical history every time I speak with someone new; don't they have computers?

The absolute best, though, are the Blue Cross nurses who, while we've yet to resolve the issue with the test strips, ask me if we need them to send a nurse to the house, or if we need any professional help, which is their diplomatic way of suggesting I'm cracking under the pressure.  And you know, I understand where they're coming from, I really do.  I can see why a diabetic or the parent of a diabetic child might need mental help.  It's an illogical, maddening disease.

I don't go so far as to fax them copies of my degrees, but I try to impress upon them that I appreciate their offer of help, but that, while no math whizz, I am not a moron & I feel I understand how to care for my daughter, which I cannot do without the test strips they're refusing to cover.  Keep your shrink, give me my strips!  Keep your shrink, give me my strips!  It's a little ditty I wrote while I was on hold.  I suspect their purpose is to so thoroughly frustrate me that, after dealing with them, handling the diabetes seems easy.  I was not crazy when I woke up last Thursday morning, but I'll tell you I had a foot on the crazy train by the time the sun set that evening.  Trey stepped out of one frightening world & into another when he returned from his movie Thursday night.

Odd as it may sound, I focused on Satan Thursday.  Reagan's diabetes is Satan's fault.  It is.  Because of sin, our bodies break down, & eventually fail us.  The Charleston shooter?  Satan.  Satan thinks it's fantastic that we're having discussions about guns & the Confederate flag, & while these may be important discussions, Satan wormed his way into that boy's heart, & that young man pulled the trigger repeatedly because of hatred & sin, not because of a flag.

Some people are so entrenched in their amoral philosophy, so afraid to face the horror of the existence of pure evil that they'll cast blame anywhere but where it belongs; they compose a list of scapegoats that they insist need to be addressed if we're to prevent atrocities such as we witnessed last Wednesday evening in the future, as if taking down a flag or passing stricter gun laws will soften the hearts of those infested with hate & prejudice.  As C.S. Lewis said, "You cannot make men good by law, and without good men you cannot have a good society."  

If every good & perfect gift is from above, every one, then don't be fooled into thinking every pain, both physical & emotional, & every frustration is not a manifestation of Satan in one way or another.

I will not allow Reagan's diabetes to interfere with my walk with Christ.  I will not place blame for her disease, or any other struggle I have, be it physical, mental, or emotional, anywhere other than where it belongs, at Satan's feet.  I will not allow daily frustrations, be they with Blue Cross or Comcast or my kids or Trey, to influence the way I speak & act in front of the watchful eyes of my children.  Be angry, but be angry & do not sin.  Satan sends the flies not simply to distract us, but to provoke us.  He's not so much interested in keeping us from reading our Bible or praying for a few hours; his goal is considerably more longterm.  Satan sends the flies to distract, to enrage, to entice us to sin, to rob us of joy, & to steal our soul.

Needless to say, I didn't get to sit & eat my taco salad while watching LSU stay alive in Omaha Thursday evening.  For a variety of reasons, that dream withered & died, but that's okay.  The meat is still good, & taco salad is on this week's menu.  The SEC has a shot at victory in Omaha, & given their dearth of consistent pitching, it's amazing LSU was still standing when it was whittled down to six teams.

This week is shaping up nicely at present.  The book club is in the process of finalizing plans to meet later this week.  Reagan & I are going to the dentist tomorrow, & I am excited.  No really, I mean it.  I kind of love having my teeth cleaned.  Plus, our appointment's in the morning so it'll force me to get up & get moving.  Maybe I'll come home & attempt to begin climbing Closet Mountain, &, if I'm feeling brave, have my taco salad for dinner, sans any flies, be they metaphorical or otherwise.

I hope you have a good week free of flies, & that if they swarm, you hold your ground.


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