Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Funky Town

I have to say that despite the fact that summer seems to have arrived, the sun is shining, and I just returned from a fun little trip to Toronto. Despite the fact that I'm well, and happy with my life. Not to mention happily retired with no real financial worries... and no exams to mark, a situation which fills me with gratitude every January and June. Still, despite all this, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. 


pink wild roses amid greenery and blue sky
I'm in a funk despite waking up to this every morning.
Partly it's just the wear and tear of day-to-day life. I found my trip to New Brunswick last month stressful. And since I've been back it seems that on the home front all sorts of little things have been going wrong. Small stuff, like my new washing machine hasn't been working properly. Then my printer stopped working. Then my desk top PC started acting up. I had to take it for repair, and for two weeks I've been blogging on my i-pad mini which is a pain in the neck... literally. And now it seems to be performing poorly. I've googled articles on how to fix it and have done all they suggest, and everything else I can think of, but I'll have to take it into the Apple store... when I get my big computer back. You see? All small stuff. But somehow I don't seem to have my normal level of resilience to weather the small stuff. I'm usually calm in the face of frustration. Just not lately. 

Other things that should have gone well, have not been doing so. Three weeks ago Hubby received in the mail his approval from our supplemental health insurance carrier to change one of his heart medications from the generic to the brand-name. He's been suffering side effects and his cardiologist changed his medication in hopes of alleviating them. Drugs for seniors are covered by the provincial government in Ontario, but only for the generic, most cost effective, formulations. Our supplementary health insurance would pick up the difference in cost, which is considerable, but we had to jump through a few hoops to get it approved. And we were relieved when he received his letter and could finally get that prescription filled. 

Ha. Or so we thought. I'm not going to go into a long-winded explanation here, let's just say that things did not go as planned. And since I'm better than he is at methodical analysis, careful reading of fine print, and then patient discussion of same... I made the phone calls to track down what was what and why. Five phone calls to our insurance provider, four to the drugstore, over three weeks, each call resulting in my finding the "answer," and Hubby returning to the drugstore, to be told each time that the insurance company had given the pharmacist the exact same reason for not covering his prescription. And finally, on Monday, I tracked down the problem, and the solution. Which it seems everyone knew all along, except us, and which no one told us. Not one person in all of those phone calls. The insurance people said the drugstore should have told us and vice versa. And everyone I spoke to seemed to think that it was not their job to actually help us solve the problem... just their job to tell us exactly, and only, what they were and were not allowed to do for us. And that is what really, really bugs me. No one anticipates that the person they are "helping" might not be as conversant with the details of their job as they are.  Still, Hubby has the new medication now, so that's good. Yah.

In the meantime, a few days before my much anticipated trip to Toronto, my vertigo, which I battled a number of years ago, came back with force. My head pounded, and I was dizzy, staggering about, feeling bobble-headed, as my sister describes it, as if I'm balancing a huge, lead-filled balloon on top of my neck. I saw our doctor; Hubby had to drive me. I'm fine. And the dizziness abated mostly, in a day or two, except for one bout at the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit caused by all the visual stimuli and the repeated head turning. So the dizziness is mostly gone, but the accompanying headache still lingers. Sinus issues, we assume. Allergies and pollen-filled breezes the problem, I'm sure. But it's making me cranky, and more impatient than usual. And at times a bit shouty, even, and then teary. Sigh. Poor Hubby.

Then the night before I left for Toronto, I received an enormous, and surprising, phone bill for the time period covering my visit to New Brunswick. I won't bore you with the detail, but I will say that after we purchased our new i-phone a few months ago, I spoke to three separate people making sure I knew exactly what my plan covered, and what it didn't. We are newbie i-phone users, and we didn't want to be caught unawares by a huge bill when we were in South America. Sigh. It seems I didn't ask any of the three people I spoke to at Rogers the right questions, or ask them to define their terms. Until the other night, when a lovely young man at the Rogers help line got an earful. As I said, I've been a bit shouty. I'm happy to say that he did feel it was his job to fill me in thoroughly and try to get some of the huge bill reimbursed. And he added long-distance coverage to my plan at no extra cost. So thanks for that, Jesse. 

Then Tuesday I received the call that my PC was back from repair. I was so relieved, and drove to pick it up right away. It would be just like a new computer, I was told. Back home, I plugged it in, connected all the stuff that needed connecting, and turned it on. And sat there. Mystified. WTF. And then, instead of doing what I would normally have done, fiddling around, trying to figure things out, patiently downloading and searching out desk-top short-cuts for all the programs that were no longer there... I just picked up the phone. Then I picked up the computer and marched it back to Best Buy. "Please restore everything the way it was when I brought it in," I said. "Yes, I know now that this is what you meant when you said it would look like a new computer. I understand you didn't know what programs I had on it once it had been wiped. Yes, I see that. But this is not what my computer looked like when I first brought it home after I bought it. And that is what I need it to look like. I don't have the time or the patience to fiddle around to install everything. Here is a list of what I need. Yes. Tomorrow will be fine." I'm pleased to say that I was not shouty. Maybe a bit shirty... but not shouty. 

I'm also pleased to say that I wasn't shouty with the restaurant where a friend and I hosted a retirement dinner last night for another friend. Where I made a reservation weeks ago for their private room, and was asked to call back a few days before the party with exact numbers. And when I called to tell them we would be twenty-four people was told (for the first time, I might add) that they could not accommodate more than twenty. And then was forced to listen to the owner whinge that large groups are so troublesome this time of year. "You have to understand our position," she said. Well, actually, I don't. But I listened because I'd never find a place three days before the party, and I really, really wanted her to squeeze us in wherever she could. 

So you see, what with things not working out as planned, and things just plain not working, and what with incorrect information, or insufficient information, or just plain old obstreperousness from the people who are supposed to be helping... not to mention feeling a little unwell... I've been in a bit of a funk. As I said. 

And it sort of culminated in a rather fraught moment the other day. I was on my exercise bike and Hubby came down to the basement and said, "Suz. What do you think we should do about dinner?" And I replied... or barked actually... "I DON"T KNOW... OKAY?" And then he said, "Are you going to cry?" And I said, "Yes." And then I did. Sigh. Poor Hubby. 

I think that somewhere in all of this I had reached the limit of my problem solving ability. And problem solving is usually my forté. I was reminded of my friend Julie with whom I taught for years. When we were having a stressful week, she'd always say: "This is one of those weeks when we're going to have to dig deep." I had dug deeply and reached the bottom of the pit, I guess. I was also reminded of an interview I heard on CBC radio a while ago. About the idea that we all have a limited amount of decision making ability. And sometimes during a very busy, very decision-y day, we use all that ability up. And that's why people make poor decisions at the end of a stressful day. Decision fatigue. It's a thing. You can read a very interesting article in the New York Times on that here

But, you know, all this problem-solving, decison-making is just day to day living in our modern world. I get that. Our very privileged first-world world. Where we filter through multiple layers of "please hold" and "press 8 for whatever" before we reach a person who is unable or unwilling to help us. Where we have to know all about what we are trying to get help with before we can get the right help. Where it seems we had better be armed with lots of information, and researched detail before we do most anything. And where it seems so rare to find someone who feels their job is to put themselves out for others. To really help. 

That part bothers me most.  

woman in jeans, tank and cardigan, pointing finger assertively
"Now you listen to me, young man."

The shot above was taken just before I left to march my computer back to Best Buy. Almost make-up-less, and loaded for bear. So to speak. Not willing to take you-know-what off anybody, nor to put up with any "you have to understand our position" bull. The poor young man who served me was really nice and helpful after all. 

Ha. Did he dare be otherwise? 




So what's got you in a funk these days, my friends? Do you ever feel unaccountably low on problem-solving, decision-making resources? Having to dig deep just to get through the week? Please tell me it's not just me.







44 comments:

  1. Well done you writing it all down so I don't feel like it only happens to me! And hope you start feeling calmer soon.

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    1. Thanks. I'm much calmer after all that writing:)

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  2. This sounds so much like my life at the moment... but I love this quote.

    "Any idiot can face a crisis; it's this day-to-day living that wears you out."
    Anton Chekhov

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    1. Oh, what a perfect quote! Thanks for that.

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  3. Nope, it's not just you. I sometimes feel like I have to learn the fundamentals of someone else's profession just so I can communicate to them how far off track they are in their job, if that makes sense. Except then I'm supposed to pay them! I'm sure if this kind of waste were factored into gross national productivity we'd be in trouble. The good thing is, after this low you are due for a high spell.

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    1. I hate that it seems we have to go into battle for even the smallest thing. That wears me out.

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  4. Wonderful post and so true. Can't help connecting your comment about first world problems. Health insurance, computers, phone bills etc. Did our very basic ancestors have these problems I wonder, with their very basic lives? Have we made things far too complicated? Hope your dizzy spells improve, that certainly won't help your funk. B x

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    1. Not sure about our ancestors way, way back.. but I think I can remember a time when people seemed to have pride in a job well done..even if they were just answering the phone.

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  5. First -sympathies , & especially to your poor hubby who has to have a hanky ready at all times it seems . Why do these things happen all together ? We jog along nicely for ages , then wham . It's the tech stuff that gets me tattered . I can't seem to take in too much tech stuff - I don't think that section of my brain works very well . At my age I should have learnt most of what I need to know & sit dispensing wise advice , but no , new technology is constant & we have to race along trying to keep up . Don't get me wrong , I love the internet & my iPad & the world it has opened up for me but I wish it would slow down now . My hubby is pretty good when I'm struggling but I worry that one day I will be sitting in the dark unable to work all the super duper kit around me .
    Wendy in York

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    1. It's the constant change that doesn't really improve things that bugs me. Like the fact that the i-phone 7 is actually not as good as the i-phone 6... I read that somewhere:)

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  6. I can totally relate. Your dealings with the insurance company/medication happen in the US too, despite what our Republican politicians try to tell us. It's no longer enough, for some drugs, for our provider to prescribe something. It can take two weeks to run the prescription through the insurance. And your other frustrations are all too familiar to me as well. I send you hugs and commiseration.

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. Here in Ontario seniors have it pretty good. But when we do have to deal with an insurance company... it's always complicated.

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  7. I am in the UK and am currently moving my mother from her house to a new flat close to us. I have spent the last three weeks on the phone to various people trying to organise the many many aspects of this move. From banks to health care officials to removal companies to utility companies and I am slowly loosing the will to live! So many layers to get through to actually talk to someone who knows what they are talking about! I sympathise with you ......when one thing goes wrong others always follow all at the same time. Glad I am not alone in thinking that it's us callers who do most of the work and figuring out the best way to do things without any real "help" from those who should be able to explain things much better than they do, and maybe be a bit more interested in the service they are providing. Occasionally you get a gem who will help and goes the extra mile but many are less then interested.I hope you feel better soon.......

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    1. Oh jeeze... I don't envy you all that. I should be sending you hugs:)

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  8. Yes, I have those stretches. I always say I'm in a bad field. The constant phoning and little irritations seem to be overwhelming after a while. All I can say is hang in there. Any annoying health issues make it all worse for me, especially a headache. Hope it's better soon!

    I laughed at your hubby's question re: dinner. In our house, it's "Do you have a plan for dinner?" I don't know why, but that question just sends me over the wall lately. Most days I do, but when I don't, I feel unnecessarily defensive. (His solution is to order in or go out, which I don't like to do a lot for health/monetary/inconvenience reasons.) Since I recognize it, I'm trying to be less irritated. Some days go better than others.
    --Laurel

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    1. I try too, to not be cranky, or short-tempered... but it's making the decisions that I hate. My Hubby is the opposite... he hates to eat out. But he does do a lot of the cooking, so I'm not complaining... at least about that:)

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  9. I can relate to your experiences with people who are SUPPOSED to help be less than forthcoming with support. I have been on the receiving end of this and my tolerance for substandard service by people who don't seem to care is way, way less than it used to be. A simple "BTW...(helpful info)" is so lacking. Before I retired as a Physical Therapist Assistant, I went to working only weekends and was appalled at how many people said to me "Thanks for explaining that" or "I didn't know that" and "Why didn't anyone tell me?". I'm convinced it has to do with ageism.

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    1. I hate to sound like a whiner about all of this... but it seems every week either Hubby or I come home with a new tale of someone who doesn't know their job or doesn't care to do it thoroughly.

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  10. Thank you for sharing! I took our car up to the Cities, a 3 plus hour round trip last week only to not have the parts and the tech get sick and leave and have to go up 2 days this week! My husband did help as the traffic is so bad! I was dreading another trip. My computer probably needs updating, but I agree with the others that commented that the tech stuff overwhelms me and insurance and medications can be a full time business. Yes, first world problems, but wonder, like Coastal Ripples, about how our ancestors dealt with things or did they have to? I understand the shouty and teary feelings. Hormones? Oh, I read A Man called Ove, and just sobbed when it ended! That is not normally me. I am blaming hormones. Truly, thank you for sharing and hope you are feeling better and life gets less annoying.

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    1. Well...at 61 I can't blame hormones... just a build up of frustration and exasperation. And dare I say it, a lack of empathy for the client.

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  11. Hugs and symphaties-
    I love Chekhov-the small things could wear one out completelly,and when they are in a row.....
    And life consists of small things
    I hope that your vertigo and headache is gone. Did you check your cervical spine and carotides arteries? And I assume you did consult the otorhynologist?
    I'm so sorry for your troubles with the health insurance bureaucracy-here is pretty similar situation,even worse,I'm afraid
    And phone and mobile operators.....they make me crazy all the time.
    This was -not week,not month,but the year of dip digging for me. And,after all the big issues, the small,literally insignificant things and people, who are not doing their job properly,could make me cry (or swear),it depends
    But,you look great and,beside the dinner plans,unbreakable
    The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest aka Dottoressa

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    1. Ha! Making the most of your hornet exploits I see! ;-)

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    2. Oh dear... what hornet's nest did you kick? And more importantly, did you get stung?

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    3. I'm ok now-I get stung three times (upper arm),luckily my constant corticosteroid therapy helped a little,for the start,before other medications were administered
      They made the nest in the tool cottage roof in our orchard (not under,in the roof,I didn't know and couldn't see what could it be),and I had to check what's going on :-)
      Hope that you are feeling good
      Take care
      D.

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  12. Thank you very much for this post. I can relate to your experiences as I have had some challenges myself lately (unexpected health issue for husband, causing a cancellation -postpone of our UK trip).
    I totally agree that you have to know their job so you can help them perform it, or at least advise them when required....sheeesh.
    The NYT article was illuminating and thanks for expanding my vocabulary with a new word, obstreperousness!
    You probably already know this but just incase, my friend suffers from vertigo too and she goes to a physio therapist and has her inner ear crystals reset by some head manipulations. I am not sure if all physios do this or some have a specialty in that procedure.
    I really appreciated this post, again Merci.
    Suz from Vancouver

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    1. I did know about the calcium chip in the inner ear... but thanks for mentioning it, Suz. Those head manipulations, called Epley's Maneuver, worked for me last time, but not this. I'm now beginning to think it was just stress, because it seems to have abated on its own.

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  13. I feel your frustration. When the simplest thing becomes the most difficult it makes the days challenging.

    Your comment about supper on the bike made me laugh in recognition. That feeling of being so overwhelmed that it seems like the only response is to yell and then cry. It's not a fun place to be.

    I hope your vertigo has gotten better. I've suffered with that and found it utterly debilitating. I couldn't do anything and the nausea was horrendous. I had to sleep with one leg on the floor.

    I've been trying to deal with a pinched nerve in my neck/back since November of last year. Just when I thought some progress was finally being made I seem to have thrown out something new this morning while trying to do some work in the garden.

    I agree with Melanie...this would be the time to go and buy some lottery tickets. You are due for a good win on so many levels.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Sorry about your neck/back. And working on the computer doesn't help that either. My neck problems were exasperated by marking papers for so many years, then I retired and started blogging... I'm a slow learner:)
      P.S. Lottery tickets may be a good idea.

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  14. I do sympathise. Totally understand your frustration. Hate dealing with tech issues and bureaucracy. Very time consuming and wearing. Love the Chekov quote in comments above. I'm sure your former students would recognise the expression in the last picture! Hope writing it all down has helped. Iris

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    1. Ha. I'm sure my former students would recognize that look. I used to call it my mother's look. Guess I've made it my own.

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  15. So sorry about the vertigo......I know it all too well, and for me it seems to be associated with hearing loss, so if you notice that on top of everything else people are mumbling do have that checked as well! And the computer problems, and the insurance issues..... AND I totally agree on the decision making fatigue - my approach there has been to announce that I am not going to be responsible for anything else today, or this month, or whatever. Doesn't work, of course, but very satisfying.

    ceci

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    1. I must try that... the announcement thing. Not sure it would work in my house either:)

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  16. Late to the party, can only agree and commiserate and send you strength and sympathy. Take care! Don't make any big decisions! xo

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    1. Ha. No big decisions. Not even about dinner:)

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  17. I absolutely sympathize. I know those situations, and the consecuences too (nausea, vertigo, crying bouts, shouting...) My solution is to delegate some problems to my son (Decisions over dinner, e.g. I am quite willing to cook as long as he decides what it is to be. And all computer troubles are handed on straight to him.)
    I know the feeling of dealing with people who do not know or do not care about their job and it often makes me mad. But in the end I nomally get what I want or what I am entitled to. And I know this is because I can make myself clear and refuse to be bullied. It is a class and age thing, and having been a teacher also helps sometimes. (Who can say "now you listen to me, young man" the way we can?)But what then makes me almost desperate is the thought of all those people who are treated exactly the same way and do not have the ressources I have and end up cheated out of their rights.

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    1. Good point, Eleonore. Being a classroom teacher makes us unafraid of approaching situations with authority. But many people just get trampled in the process of trying to get what they deserve.

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  18. I am so with you. I'll just deal with one of your problems,Insurance. I dealt with one company and got every question answered incorrectly for months. Absolutely crazy making. I had to have anothr insurance company get involved to work out the craziness. You deserve to be as frustrated and angry as you are. I read this and it made me crazy.

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    1. Bureaucracy...always makes me crazy.

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  19. I loved reading your post, it was a lot to deal with in a short period of time. Hope your funk dissipates soon perhaps with a good book. It might be the weather here in the GTA,but I've been unpredictable this week too. Probably hormones, but I am 60!

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I was just saying to my husband the other day...now that I can't blame my funk on stress from work, or menopause... I must look for something else:)

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  20. Thank you for this post. It's nice to know that I am not the only one who suffers and from reading the comments there are quite a few of us! I say that life is often feast or famine, whether it be lovely things or those unlovely things that you wrote about. Your experiences with medical matters is particularly frustrating as it shouldn't be that difficult should it? I feel sorry for those people who are not articulate and/or have the patience to pursue these issues. Often the secret is knowing the right questions to ask but it is always easy to be wise afterwards.

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    1. Oh... it's so easy to be wise afterwards. The other day when I was with friends, the comment "I guess you needed to ask better questions," was proffered. Sigh. Yep. That's true. But how the heck do we know which questions to ask sometimes. I was pretty thoroughly versed in what I was talking about and I still didn't ask the right questions. It's no wonder that some people just give up in the face of bureaucratic obstreperousness. Thought I'd take the opportunity to use that word again:)

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  21. Yes. No, you are not alone. A couple of years ago I spent months like this. It seemed that every day something went wrong, broke or simply stopped functioning. In the end I totted up the list: it came to 17 things breaking, from son's arm to the bloody iron. My brakes went twice when driving. My tooth broke. My crown broke. It almost broke me. I am sure it was the universe saying: stop. You have to stop trying to make things right. Sometimes, you are not in charge. Stuff happens and you have to learn to ride it. I cried and yelled so much that year that I thought I would lose my poor old mind. But...it passed. And this will pass for you now you have realised that the time to stop sorting out is here. Courage!

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    1. Oh dear, your year sounds much more dreadful than my month... not to mention much longer.

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.