Tuesday, May 5, 2020

IWSG: Going To The Dogs on Mother's Day


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                      Going To The Dogs On Mother's Day
I woke up with a fright. My wildly overgrown hair looked like I spent a little too much time in the spin cycle, just days before I'd be reunited with my boys for a social distancing walk on Mother's Day.

Unfortunately, all hair and nail salons in Illinois will remain closed until at least the end of May, so I had to find an alternative plan. That's when I read that dog grooming services were now officially open. As I took a good hard look in the mirror at my unruly hair, pale blotchy skin, and overgrown toenails, I decided if it's good enough for the dogs...

I couldn't believe my eyes when I found a highly rated mobile dog grooming service specializing in elderly dogs that would come directly to our apartment building. I scrambled to make an appointment, and found a last minute cancellation.

When I was greeted by the Certified Canine Esthetician clad in a face mask, shield and gloves, she kept looking over my shoulder to see where my dog was. So I explained that I desperately needed her help, as I hadn't seen my boys on my birthday or Passover and was terrified of scaring them off on Mother's Day.

Upon closer examination, she yelled to the Portuguese Water Dog at the other end of the truck, "Sorry Ginger you'll have to wait. This gal clearly needs this more than you do."

First, she put me in a microbubble bath which is strong enough to remove skunk odors, but it was the reduced shedding factor that really sold me. Though we were six feet apart and separated by a clear shower curtain, I scrambled to get dressed, but I could've sworn I heard Ginger gag and giggle.

Next, the groomer brought out the shears to cut my hair. I tried to show her a pre-quarantine photo of when I resembled a human, but she wasn't interested. Then she told me to relax and offered me a cow ear chew to snack on. It wasn't bad.

Afterward, the groomer blowed-dry my hair, but there were no mirrors. As if reading my mind, she said, "You look gorgeous!"

When the groomer set out a water bowl with fresh lemons, I put my hand in to  soak for my manicure. But she quickly took it out of the bowl. "Bad girl! That water is for drinking not playing," she said in a stern voice.

After my shiny new manicure and pedicure, I grabbed my purse to pay the bill; however, the groomer commanded me to "stay" for one additional service. Then she gave me a squirt of minty mouth spray and a dental chew to freshen my breath.

Lastly, the groomer walked me over to a large mirror in the corner of the truck. Sure, I looked like a French Poodle, but I came in pale and pasty and walked out glowing with a shiny new coat.

I couldn't thank her enough and even splurged on a dog toy to reward Ginger for patiently waiting. Though she snarled at me, and tossed it into the microbubble bath, I think Ginger felt bad when it disintegrated before our eyes.

When I walked into our building, a flirty Bulldog kept following me around. At first I was flattered, until I realized that he most likely was attracted to my canine cologne.

Of course, my husband didn't say a word about my kennel clip, though he did compliment me on my minty fresh breath.

The next morning, I awoke refreshed and full of energy. But I couldn't figure out why I was curled up near my hubby at the foot of the bed with a rolled-up newspaper between my teeth.

Have a safe and Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

IWSG: The Quirks of Quarantine


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                              The Quirks of Quarantine

Being under self-quarantine certainly gives a person plenty of time to think, especially during TV commercials. Unfortunately, many of my insights are soon forgotten in the time it takes  to find a pen, wipe it down, and sterilize my desk, counter-top, wall, or husband's back all before realizing I ran out of paper. Of course, my laptop is more efficient, but where's the fun in that?

Sadly, I've gotten used to being in isolation. I wouldn't necessarily call it my new normal, because it's more like my old abnormal. But while others are having trouble abiding with all of the necessary safety precautions, my husband has been enjoying social distancing from me a little too much. 

Though we share a small apartment, Hubby recently sent me an e-card for my birthday. Not only did it save him a trip to the store, it saved him the trouble of being in the same room with me.

Whether walking around the apartment building or venturing outside, I feel like I'm trapped in a Spaghetti Western. If I do happen upon another lone drifter in our deserted hallways, or ghost town sidewalks, it's as if we're about to face-off in a duel or gunfight. We each step back about six feet waiting for one to pass the other. Fortunately, no guns have been drawn, but I've taken to carrying toilet paper rolls as a peace offering.

Though my neighbors used to greet me with a kind word and a smile, everyone is so terrified of catching COVID-19, that they've even begun to avoid eye contact at all costs. Thus far, I haven't heard any evidence of contracting the virus through eye rolls, side-eye, or uncontrollable blinking, but this works to my advantage.

I no longer have to wear make-up, suck in my stomach, or wash my hair on a regular basis. I've considered brushing my teeth as an optional activity, but even that gets old after a few days.

The quarantine has forced me to get reacquainted with my kitchen, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I'm cooking more and eating more, which makes me a prime candidate for gaining the "quarantine 15." 

So I try to walk laps around our tiny apartment in between meals, snacks, desserts and thoughts about any of the above. I'm sure our neighbor below us is thrilled when I'm gracefully trotting around before midnight in a last minute attempt to reach my daily step goal. 

Sadly, I'll probably have to attend PTQD (Post Traumatic Quarantine Disorder) meetings when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

Though I miss my boys terribly, I'm proud of how seriously they're taking COVID-19, and how hard they've been working to help others. Our older son learned to create face masks on his 3-D printer, and offered to give them to us, and his doctor friends since hospitals are in such short supply. Unfortunately, the face masks are not considered hospital grade at this time, but may be helpful to others at risk.

Our younger son has also been providing a useful service by Skyping with clients of all ages to lift their spirits, as well as their gluteus maximus through strength training.

I also miss my brother who in addition to picking up prescriptions and groceries for his neighbors, is frequently offering to run errands for us. But my husband has taken to avoiding crowds by shopping during the early senior hours. Though I tease Hubby a lot, there's no one else I'd rather be quarantined with, and I'm truly grateful for him.

Yesterday, was a good day, as my husband finally tracked down some much needed sanitizing wipes and paper towels. The paper towels might also come in handy to keep the peace in our hallways.

Stay safe and healthy, my friends.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: A Pain In The As...king


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                            A Pain In The As...king

BOLO Alert: My husband has a cough and cold. But it's not an ordinary cough and cold, because my husband has it. What makes it even more horrific is that his endless suffering is just weeks before his knee replacement surgery.

The other night I found Hubby napping in front of the blaring TV, so I turned down the volume. He awoke shortly, changed chairs and turned the volume way up to generously share his program with the majority of neighbors on our floor and the floor below. 

When the phone rang, I had to quarantine myself in our bedroom with the door closed in order to hear the other voice on the line. This  took away from my laundry time, as I would have to enter a dangerous hearing zone that would make even the calmest dogs go absolutely mad. 

After the call ended, I decided to take my life into my own hands by re-entering the mutant hearing zone to find my husband was once again sound asleep. When I told him how the blaring TV was affecting my hearing he replied, "I can't worry about that right now, as I have to focus on my upcoming knee replacement surgery."

The other day, I went to the doctor to be treated for a sore throat, cold and slight cough. Fortunately, I knew right away that it wasn't the Coronavirus, as I was fever-free, but I didn't want to take a chance on being sick for my husband's upcoming surgery.

The nurse was having difficulty swabbing the back of my throat during the strep test, so I offered to grab hold of my tongue while she went in with the swab.

After after several failed attempts, I finally held my tongue down long enough for her to get a culture. When I apologized for being such a difficult patient, the nurse said it wasn't my fault that the lab ran out of tongue depressors. 

Needless to say, I went home with neither prescription nor pride in tact. 

The next day, my husband's cough soared from a one to a two on a scale of 10, so he saw the same NP (nurse practitioner) in our doctors' office. Before he left, I reminded him to tell her that we were both at a children's birthday party where many of the guests later came down with either colds or the flu.  

Then he walked out muttering (in between exaggerated coughs), "Julie, thanks for giving me this generous gift before my surgery."

Apparently, Hubby accomplished a lot more during his office visit. He explained that the NP swabbed him for the flu, and if the results were positive, she would call in a prescription for him and a preventative dosage for me with approval from my kidney transplant doctors. 

I couldn't believe that I wasn't tested for the flu, but my husband was not surprised. According to the NP, I did not have flu-like symptoms. I only had a sore throat, runny nose and slight cough, while Hubby had a terrible cough, runny nose and felt (here's the operative word)...ACHY.

A few expletives later, I offered to pick up some soup, and other favorite items at the deli, along with his pending prescription, but Hubby wanted to go instead. I argued that he was far too sickly to venture out again, but he insisted.

Then the NP called and said he didn't have the flu, but she'd still give him a prescription to make him more comfortable. Now I was really angry. Shouldn't I be at my full strength to take care of her favorite patient after his surgery? 

After throwing back a cool glass of chocolate milk, I calmly offered once again to make a deli and drugstore run, so this poor suffering man could crawl under the covers to begin the healing process. 

Finally, my husband told me the real reason why he needed to run those errands. Apparently, he had a taste for the deli's special tuna salad, but their tomatoes left a lot to be desired. Rather than settle for a less than perfect sandwich, he preferred making an additional stop at an upscale grocery store to personally select an exquisitely firm tomato. Of course, I couldn't be trusted with this important task.

In the end, the NP also prescribed something for me, but it's not strong enough to numb my new pain.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

IWSG: Falling For Each Other


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                              Falling For Each Other

Last month I wrote about how 2020 got off to a rocky start when my husband fell in the shower, and we almost didn't make it to our dear friends' New Year's Eve party. Though the story had a happy ending, I stumbled by taking a lighthearted approach to my husband's accident, causing karma to step in. 

About a week later, Hubby experienced debilitating pain in his right knee, and couldn't walk. In an effort not to wake me, he used a Swiffer handle as a makeshift cane. Then I bought him an actual cane, and we went to an orthopedic doctor the next day. 

The x-ray showed that the arthritis of Hubby's right knee was so severe that his leg was bone on bone. The doctor ordered physical therapy, in addition to continuing pre-shower fall therapy on his right shoulder. 

He also advised him that he'd likely need knee replacement surgery in the near future. We researched surgeons and will be seeing our first choice in mid-February. 

But karma didn't end there. A few days later, despite clear skies, I bundled up in layers, snow boots and my warmest winter coat en route to a hair appointment. I didn't want to take any chances encountering wild winds or slick sidewalks. Then without warning, as I approached the corner before the beauty shop, I gracefully fell face first on an uneven sidewalk. 

A kind stranger apparently witnessed the dreadfully embarrassing incident and offered to help me up, but I slowly managed to get to my feet. I tried to smile with my protruding bloody lip, and thanked her as I limped into the shop. 

Then my wonderful beautician sprang into action by helping me into the chair. I admired her restraint, as I was aghast at my reflection when I saw something resembling a freakish Simpson cartoon character staring back at me.  

Next, I checked to make sure I wasn't missing any teeth while my caring beautician gently dabbed my lip, and bandaged my bloody knee. Then she offered to either drive me home or to the ER. 

But I did exactly what my mom would've done. I ignored my throbbing knee, and stayed for the two hour color highlights appointment. Hey, if I had to go to the hospital, I was darn well going to look my best. My full-service nurse/beautician even drove me home afterward.

Fortunately, my husband's knee was improving, so later that night he lent me the family cane. By this time I was screaming in pain, but he didn't notice any swelling and thought my knee would heal quickly. 

Grateful that I fell on the opposite side of my new kidney, I spent the next few days toughing it out by icing and elevating my knee, in between Nancy Kerrigan "Why me?" rantings. 

A few days later, my husband woke me with a start when his blood pressure sky rocketed to 184/100. I drove him to the ER for a series of tests. 

Fortunately, aside from his blood pressure, his other numbers looked good, and there was no evidence of a heart attack or stroke. 

Relieved that Hubby was out of danger, I asked if the young trauma doctor would look at my knee. He nodded. Then I rolled up my pant leg, and added, "If I was your grandmother, would you recommend having an x-ray?" That went over like a lead balloon which really cheered me up.

The x-ray showed I have a small fracture of my kneecap, so I was outfitted with an immobilizer (brace) which spans from my lower thigh to my upper calf. Thankfully, my husband has been doing well on a low-dose hypertension pill.

When we arrived home that afternoon, we were greeted by our neighbor whose husband is a former orthopedic surgeon. After we told her why I was wearing a brace she reiterated what I already knew, that a fractured kneecap is extremely painful. Then my husband apologized for not taking me more seriously.

We also took a photo of the uneven sidewalk where I fell, and sent it to the city to hopefully prevent future injuries.

Last week Hubby celebrated his birthday, and our wonderful boys took us out for a delicious pre-birthday dinner at an outstanding steak restaurant which really raised our spirits.

On my husband's actual birthday, I wanted to make his favorite fudge brownies, but the mixing bowl is located on a high kitchen shelf. With his painful shoulder(s) and our bad knees, we didn't dare risk climbing up the step stool. Though I offered to make a bakery run, he insisted on finishing the last slice of frozen key lime pie instead.

February 4th marked the three week anniversary of my fall, and when we're not putting our impaired knees together (my left and Hubby's right) to team-up in competitive three-legged races, we can be found casually limping down the sidewalk. 

However, when the disgruntled seniors sideswipe us with their walkers as they forge ahead, my husband is never left behind in a trail of dust. Instead, Hubby can be heard howling in his best raspy Ratso Rizzo voice from Midnight Cowboy, "I'm walkin' here."  

Of course, this just makes me fall for him all over again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG: The New Year That Almost Wasn't


It's time for the first 2020 edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Happy New Year to all! Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                   The New Year That Almost Wasn't

It started like a film noir: Man opens door and gingerly steps into the shower only to unwittingly slip on a sprinkling of sequestered water drops. This could lead to possible paralysis, sudden death, or an extremely embarrassing Facebook photo.

Fortunately, none of those things happened. Instead my husband morphed into Batman mode by holding on for dear life, as he slid down the shower door. 

Consequently, he plummeted on his posterior while straddling the door like a scissors, thus leaving him without a cape or utility belt to cover his secret identity. In retrospect, the photo would've come in handy.

I probably would've pretended not to notice, if our friends' New Year's Eve party wasn't just moments away. This minor inconvenience caused the shower door to come off the track, so Super Hubby had to temporarily lodge it back in to take his shower. 

Let this be a lesson not to put things off until the last minute. Nothing good comes from procrastination. Meanwhile, I was still putting on my makeup, and hoping the potatoes would come out of the oven in time for the party. But this was not about me. 

My husband was about to reach for his towel, when he realized  the shower door was stuck. So I climbed up on my tiptoes to pass it over the glass. 

The more Hubby tried to move the door, the more it came off the track. Suddenly, Naked But Not Afraid was boxed in. We needed to summon Houdini from beyond, but it looked more like a job for the fire department.

The good news was that this was a pleasant distraction from my husband's shoulder and knee pain. "No one has ever suffered more than I have," he moaned over the last several days as we tipped our hats in the hallway.

My husband thought he was destined to spend the night trapped in the shower which led to the five stages of grief: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.

The first stage began when he wrongfully accused me of not squeegeeing the shower floor properly, and I immediately went into denial mode. "I don't know how that water got there. I wiped down every last drop on the floor. This is fake news." 

Not only did my husband refuse to believe anything I said, but he ignored me when I went through the other four stages of grief. After all, he was a captive audience. Finally, when I got to the Acceptance stage, and told him that I forgave him for wearing the wrong shoes to my 25th birthday dinner, I noticed the time.

Then I sprang into action by quickly reminding Hubby about the delicious barbecue skirt steaks that our wonderful New Year's Eve host promised to grill despite the frigid weather. This was just the motivation he needed to plan his getaway. 

My husband summoned all his strength to gradually open the shower door inch by inch until there was barely enough room to make a narrow escape. Next, we finished getting dressed and loaded everything up in the car including a few bags of ice. 

Though we were only 15 minutes late, our host was not happy and texted, "Our guests are all here and dying of thirst cause there's no ice!!!"

Despite the whole shower ordeal, we had a great time ringing in the New Year with our dear friends who even sang and played the guitar after an exquisite dinner.

When we got home I immediately checked on the shower situation and found a few more drops of water on the slippery floor. This didn't make sense, as I took extra care in squeegeeing it before we left. While I was wiping the floor again, the shower head mysteriously began to drip.

I quickly grabbed my husband to prove my innocence once and for all, but he just stared in silence. Then I rambled on about  contacting the maintenance man to fix the shower door, and adding safety features like a non-slip shower floor mat and grab bars to prevent future accidents.

He nodded and muttered under his breath that he hoped I could sleep that night knowing how I almost killed my husband. Then he felt a twinge in his shoulder and a knot in his knee and started moaning again. I guess we know who 2020 is going to be all about.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

IWSG: Thankful To A Gracious Donor For A Healthy Kidney


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

My faithful support team (husband center between boys; brother and trusted adviser on the right)

                        Thankful To A Gracious Donor For A Healthy Kidney

The life changing call came late in August while I was undergoing dialysis treatment. I usually don't answer my phone at dialysis, but I noticed the area code for Madison, Wisconsin, and had a feeling it was important. I tried very hard to keep my hand from shaking, as I tightly gripped the phone.

The woman introduced herself as a transplant coordinator from the University of Wisconsin Hospital. She began by asking me if I ever had a blood transfusion and I answered no.

She explained that I was a match with an anonymous living  donor through a paired kidney exchange program. Though my blood type is B, I qualified because I was A-2 blood sub-type compatible. I was also on the waiting list for three years at a prominent Chicago hospital which never even mentioned this option.

The transplant coordinator added that another patient was ahead of me on the list, but this person had too many antibodies that would likely reject this donor's kidney. I was next on the list and my numbers seemed to match well with the donor. She asked if I'd be interested in coming in for an evaluation in September and if all went well, I'd have the surgery on October 9th.

I was in complete shock, as I couldn't believe my good fortune. Surely someone younger than I deserved the kidney more.  The transplant coordinator tried to put my guilty feelings to rest by simply stating that I was next on the list.

I thanked her several times and tried to fight back the tears. In order to protect the donor's privacy, the transplant coordinator couldn't answer any of my questions other than that he or she  lives somewhere in the United States and the kidney would likely be shipped to the hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. She told me that I could send the donor a thank-you note through the hospital, but it would be up to the donor to contact me. 

After we said goodbye, I just sat in my dialysis chair and continued weeping quietly. I was astounded that after almost two years on dialysis, an exceptionally generous and selfless  humanitarian was willing to donate his or her kidney to save my life. 

Shortly after hearing the news, my brother and husband came to visit me at dialysis and we all were over the moon.

That night we called the boys, and I couldn't stop thanking my older son who convinced me to get on the transplant list at the University of Wisconsin/Madison. If I hadn't taken his advice, I'd probably be years away from a transplant in Chicago, and it was highly unlikely that I'd receive a kidney from a living donor.

The average wait for a kidney transplant in Chicago from a deceased donor is between five and seven years and the outcomes are generally not as good. I asked the boys to hold off on sharing the news with anyone else, as I was being cautiously optimistic and didn't want to jinx the opportunity to receive a healthy kidney.

Four donors and four recipients were involved in this paired kidney exchange. We were familiar with the concept, as about two years ago, my husband graciously offered to be part of a paired kidney exchange at a Chicago hospital.Because he wasn't a match for me, his hope was by donating a kidney to someone else, he would move me up the long transplant waiting list. But after a full day of extensive testing, the transplant doctor deemed him too old to donate a kidney. 

The next step was to go to Madison for a pre-surgical evaluation on September 16, the day after my mom's dedication. I couldn't help feeling that Mom was my guardian angel, as she always told me, "You will get a kidney."

At the evaluation, the transplant team told my husband and me that even though my numbers were excellent and I was a good match, there was always a chance that someone in this paired donor exchange could have a change of heart, or get sick which would postpone the surgery. But we tried our best to remain positive.

We decided to go to Madison the afternoon before the October 9th surgery which was the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday of the year where people atone for their sins with prayer and fasting. This was also a good sign, as Yom Kippur follows Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) which symbolized a fresh start with a healthy new kidney.

I was thrilled to have a great support team accompany me to Madison, as my brother drove up with our boys. My brother also has Polycystic Kidney Disease, (PKD), and underwent a kidney transplant 14 years ago. I think the worst part of any surgery is the fear of the unknown, and thanks to him, I had a better understanding of what to expect, and how to proceed moving forward.

My brother also went to the University of Wisconsin/Madison, so he served as a tour guide. I asked my support team not to hang around the hospital during my surgery, as there's nothing worse than waiting around the hospital on a beautiful day. At first, my husband didn't want to leave, but I insisted and my brother helped convince him that it was the right thing to do. Somehow they still managed to observe the holiday, and didn't eat until after sundown. I also fasted that day.

Fortunately, the surgery was a success, and my new kidney started working right away. While I was waiting in recovery, one of the doctors asked if I wanted a shot in the stomach for pain. I happily accepted and I only needed Tylenol for the first two nights of my four and a half day hospital stay.

The night after the surgery, I was very uncomfortable and couldn't sleep. Finally, I asked the nurse if she'd mind going on a walk with me. We went on our first walk at 2 a.m. and followed up with a second walk at 4 a.m. The walking helped relieve some of my discomfort and it felt good to be productive. I will always be grateful to the caring and compassionate staff.

The hospital held classes each day for the transplant patients. My devoted husband was kind enough to attend each class with me. Classes covered nutrition, medications, how to clean your incision, and follow-up care. There were about six to eight patients in the class, but I was the only one fortunate enough to receive a kidney from a living donor.

It really cheered me up having all my boys including my brother with me at the hospital.  I'm so lucky to have such a supportive and loving family who continue to cheer me on every day. My younger son even taught me some gentle stretching exercises, as the binder I wear to protect my incision causes pressure on my back.

My surgery was on a Wednesday and my talented surgeon discharged me early Sunday evening. He asked me to stay at the hotel and come in as an outpatient for labs and follow-up testing on Monday and Tuesday.

One of the doctors told me what a good patient I was, as my numbers were good and I was getting stronger every day. I really think all the walking helped immensely in my recovery. My husband and I knew every inch of the 6th floor in the hospital, and he still continues to walk with me quite a bit.

He's also helped me organize my medications, and takes copious notes of my weight, temperature and blood pressure every day. When I told my husband how lucky I was to have him, he said he was the lucky one. He joked, "Who else can say my wife has three kidneys?"

Last week we went back to Madison to have my staples removed, and in three weeks we'll return to have my stent taken out. We also walk to the lab twice weekly at my primary care doctor's office, which is conveniently located one block away.

Though it's about a two and a half hour drive to Madison, I couldn't be happier with the sterling staff and quality care that I've received.

I still can't believe that I no longer have to go to dialysis three times a week. I promised the wonderful dialysis nurses, techs and some of the patients that I've grown close to, that I'd come back to visit. But the doctors cautioned me to wait, as my immune system has been compromised and I'm more susceptible to getting sick. I look forward to seeing everyone in the near future, and in the meantime, my incredible brother has been making rounds for me.

I still haven't heard from the gracious anonymous donor who gave me a new lease on life. I will always be grateful to him or her, and will try reaching out again soon. A few people wished me happy birthday on Facebook after they heard about my kidney transplant. Now October 9th is officially my second birthday, as the gift of a new kidney has forever changed my life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

IWSG: Hair Hysteria


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                                      Hair Hysteria

Surrounded by my favorite boys; 8/19

My mom's entire life revolved around her hair. From a young age, she fought by any means necessary to keep her hair from getting wet. Mom was the only one in her high school gym class who was able to talk her way out of taking four years of swimming.

Beginning in her 20s, Mom had weekly beauty shop appointments. She would patiently watch her beautician dry and style her hair. Then she would primp in front of the mirror with a pick until her hair was teased and coiffed to perfection, adding enough hairspray to choke an elephant. Fortunately, her saintly beautician didn't take it personally.

Is hair obsession hereditary? Though I suffered through four years of swimming in high school, I admit to being traumatized by bad hair days. Then fate stepped in.

The night before a haircut appointment last April, I received a text from my beautician informing me that she had a bad case of the flu and wasn't sure when she'd feel well enough to reschedule.

I hate change which is evidenced by the fact that I've had slight variations on the shag hairdo since I turned double digits. 

As much as I adore my beautician of over 20 years, I felt that maybe this would be a good opportunity to finally try something new.

Not only was I able to get into another highly recommended stylist two days later, but she was just steps away from our apartment building.

Our first meeting prompted her to ask, "Why do you have a Carol Brady hairdo?"

Carol Brady was the mom played by Florence Henderson on the popular sitcom The Brady Bunch. Shag hairstyles were all the rage in the 70s and Mrs. Brady was quite a trendsetter. The series ran from 1969-1974.

Though almost 50 years later, this was clearly not a compliment, I was in dire need of a stylist who wasn't afraid of hurting my feelings. Boy I miss my mom!

The beautician explained that I could have a more contemporary look by simply growing out my top layers, while trimming the surrounding longer layers. She styled it straight for the first few haircuts which looked great, but I had trouble working with it. Even using a flat iron didn't help.

When I pleaded with her to bring back my shorter layers which had morphed into wings, she assured me that if I just held out a little longer, my hair would be easier to handle. I told her that she was like having an AA sponsor.

Like any good sponsor, she could relate to my frustrations, as she also has curly hair. I decided to follow her lead and stop fighting the heat and humidity by embracing my curls. I'm happier and my husband's happier, so it's a win-win. 

Now I have the best of both worlds, as my former beautician (who's also a color expert) moved into a shop just blocks away from where we live, so I still see her whenever I need highlights.

Hair obsession doesn't only effect the women in our family. Years ago, a close relative joked that he was a member of the "Balding Men's Club," after one of my sons saw him talking to another balding man, and assumed that all men experiencing hair loss knew each other.

One day after being traumatized by the worst haircut of his life, the close relative ranted to the barber in vivid details about what a terrible job he had done. 

Finally, the barber asked, "If I don't charge you for the haircut, will you promise never to come back to my barbershop again?"