Were the Good Old Days all Good?



Leslie Goes Boom

A Mixed Bag of Memories

By Leslie Handler

Remember Dippity Do? It was awesome. You put this gel-type substance on your wet hair, set it in wire curlers, let it dry, and when you removed the curlers you had stiff, perfect curls that when brushed out, created a lovely, soft, shiny curl to your hair. I miss Dippity Do. I googled it recently. The good news, is that you can still buy it. The bad news is that they proudly advertise that it doesn’t make your hair stiff anymore, as if that’s a good thing. Brushing that stiffness out, is what made it the perfect product. They just don’t make stuff like they used to.

Nothing is made to last anymore. Remember the TV repairman? Now, if your TV is broken, you just buy a new one. Everything is “throw it away and buy new.” Our clothes get thrown out if they need a repair. But remember the sewing box? We all had one. It always included a needle and thread, scissors, a tape measure, some spare buttons, snaps, and elastic. We actually repaired our wearables. Now, lady’s clothes are made with such thin fabric, it’s commonly accepted that not only will they not last long, but we will also have to wear a camisole under almost anything we buy to make up for the thin see-through fabric used in our ready to wear.

I can remember the time before we had 20 loyalty cards attached to our key chains. Back then, instead of giving you a coupon to buy more stuff with your loyalty card, they actually gave you something for your loyalty. We received every drinking glass in our house for free from the local gas station, and our dishes came from the neighborhood grocery store. You got a new glass with every fill up; a new plate every time you spent a few bucks at the grocery store until you had a full set of dishes.

And who can forget S&H Green Stamps? Nowadays you can only find them in the attics and basements of those of us old enough to remember what they were. We find them, we hold them, we hesitate to throw away a book completely filled with stamps, but in the end, we toss them aside like everything else today.

I recently had a neighbor giving away old National Geographic magazines. They weren’t in mint condition but they were in very good condition. Some of them dated as far back as the 1920s. I took a few hundred off his hands from the ‘20s through the ‘70s. They aren’t worth enough to ship if you were to sell them, so they’ll just collect dust on my shelves giving me the enjoyment of seeing them until I someday move them to my attic or basement giving someone the job of reminiscing and then tossing them.

Heck, even I don’t last. I go to bed earlier, and my parts are wearing out as well. Some of us can still get replacement parts as our old ones wear out, but mine are still original. Gee, I hope they keep replacing parts when I need them. Otherwise I too might end up in the trash if I break something. They’ll just go out and buy a new clone of me.

With all these fond memories of things that used to last and bring us joy, it took a recent movie to bring me back down to reality. A few months ago, I went to see the movie Hidden Figures. It gave me a little reality check as to all the things that happened “back in the day.” One of my earliest memories was walking into a Sears store with my mom and learning about the signs above the water fountains that said “whites only” and “colored.”

I remember when you could still go to lunch at Woolworth’s counter…well, some of us could. I remember playing a board game called “mystery date game.” One player always got the “dud.” I guess we weren’t teaching much inclusion back then.

I can remember how cool we kids thought it was to get a box of “cigarette” candy and look like the grown-ups, and I remember occasional school days when we had to “duck and cover.” How awesome to give your kids air raid drills in school. I had fond memories of commercials with Bill Cosby that just seemed so cute when they tried to sell me Jell-O pudding pops. We all know how that story ended.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the good old days weren’t always so good. They were kind of a mixed bag. I choose to try to look at things more positively and consider how far we’ve come. Even though in my lifetime alone we’ve gone from vinyl, to tape, to CD, to digital, I choose to follow the old Blockbuster video rental mantra: “Be kind, rewind.” If we’d just all remember kindness for the next ones to come, I think we’ll all be able to remember the good old days.

Let’s chat.  What fond, or not so fond, memories do you have?

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Opioids And Me

Published: Newsworksr, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

At first, I just felt very anxious, but anxiety soon led to physical shaking. My stomach felt like someone who weighed 300 pounds was standing on it. I lay on my bed in the fetal position and tried to be still.

Then I kicked the covers over and over and over again. I was swimming in a pool of sweat. A few minutes later, I was freezing, and I pulled the covers up around my neck to keep out the cold. I tossed my body back and forth. I just couldn’t lie still.

The next thing I knew, I felt like I was on a boat, rocking up and down. I went back to the fetal position, rocking, rocking, rocking.

This went on for about four days.

On the fifth day, most of the uncontrollable movement stopped, but I still felt like my body was moving. When I lay still, I could finally fall asleep. When I woke up, I felt extremely depressed and just wanted to go back to sleep.

After about six days, I could finally dress, but I felt like I could leave the house for no more than an hour at a time. It took almost two months for the depression to lift.

This is what withdrawal from opioid addiction looks like.

I have had years of cancer and many surgeries. By this time, the pain had gotten so bad that morphine no longer helped. Dilauded no longer helped. The pain management doctor gave me Fentanyl. I was on high doses for over a year. When I finally felt better and told the doctor I wanted to get off the medicine, she refused to write me another prescription for any kind of painkiller. She actually forced me to go through withdrawal cold turkey.

I tried to find a new pain management doctor, but hers was the only group within an hour’s drive.

Six months later, the cancer was back. Another surgery, more pain meds, more Fentanyl. This time, I had experience. I went for my monthly appointment and told the doctor I was still in a lot of pain. I renewed my prescription and weaned myself off the medication over the next month without withdrawal. I never saw that doctor again.

Since that time, I’ve moved to a new state. I’ve had many more recurrences and many more experiences with pain meds. Perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones. I hate the stuff. It doesn’t make me high. It does help with the pain, but it also robs me of my life. I can’t always think clearly, I need naps in the middle of the day, and I sleep at least 10 hours a night when I’m on it.

I’m in the process of weaning off of Fentanyl for the third time in my life, not because I have an addiction, but because I keep having surgeries in the same place, and I need the medicine to help me tolerate the pain. After the first 10 surgeries, I stopped counting.

Insurance is a nightmare. Nowadays, the Fentanyl only comes as a transdermal patch. If I want to wean myself from it, I can’t just tear the patches in half. The dosage just doesn’t absorb into the body that way. I was on 75 milligrams for the past year, so the doctor wrote a month’s supply of 50s, and I did just fine. The next month he wrote a script for two boxes of 25 milligrams and two boxes of 12 milligrams, but my insurance company denied them, saying they would fill only one or the other.

I explained to them that I was weaning myself off of the meds by taking one 25 and one 12 at the same time for a few days, then only one 25 for a few days, then one 12 for a few days, and then by the end of the month, I’d be off the medication completely, but this plan simply had no place in their computers to allow approval.

So I had to take 37s for an entire month, then 25s for an entire month. Next month, I’ll have the doctor write me a script for 12s, and then I’ll finally be done with the stuff. It will have taken me four months to wean off of a medication I could have weaned off of in a month, and it will cost them four times more for me to do it!

The next time, I’ll be even more prepared. (And no, I’m not being a pessimist. The cancer has been coming back regularly for 20 years. It’s not likely to suddenly go away.) I’ll do this by myself once again, and I’ll do it in a month’s time.

Now I can’t tell you just how I did it, but I have a stash at home of several different doses. It’s a shame that I have to rig the system a bit to do this, but it’s also a shame that some doctors and most insurance companies just don’t get it. Not all rules fit all scenarios.

But like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. I hate the stuff and can’t wait to get off of it. With all the obstacles to getting off of opioids, it’s no wonder we have an epidemic on our hands.

I will have to go back on the stuff at some point in my future. I say bring it on. But now that I’ve healed, I have the experience, the wisdom, and the will — and the stash! — to get off in one month and be done. Lucky me!

As for the cancer, I’m still standing. After 20 years of it, I’m still here. Lucky, lucky me.

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Wait, Didn’t We Just Put Away Our Halloween Costumes?

Well, ok, Thanksgiving is right on time this year.  We don’t have to deal with Thanksgivakah, and I can fully finish my pumpkin pie before considering Latkes.

Although Chanukah is  late this year, early, or right on time, depending on how you look at it, I did hear my very first Christmas song on the radio just yesterday.

Therefore, I feel I totally have the right to de-stress any pre-stress of the holidays, by fully offering free advertising to all friends and family who need this gift either for themselves or their dear ones.

Enjoy, and may your high last for a full eight nights (that or an $18 donation to the dog charity of your choice).



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