Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 3 of 4

Recap from parts I and II – At the last minute before my scheduled colonoscopy, I was informed that my preferred gastroenterologist did not accept my Aetna Medicare Advantage plan.  I found an alternative doctor but wondered if he is as good.  I also wondered if my current Medicare Advantage health insurance would serve me in a health crises of major proportions.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

colon SMHCG

Four days before my colonoscopy (a Monday) – The colon prep instructions from Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology have not arrived.  It’s not a big deal since I have the previous instructions from Atlantic Digestive Specialists.  Basically, until my colonoscopy exam this Friday, I am to avoid corn, popcorn, foods with seeds, nuts, and raw vegetables

My usual air popcorn will be put on hold (Hannah never thinks eating that “cardboard” popcorn is palatable anyway.) and I’ll be breakfasting on the blandest of oatmeals since I must forego my blueberries, raisins, almonds, walnuts, and a trio of seeds – flax, sunflower, and chia.  Somehow, I’ll survive quite nicely.  You might be thinking, Dan you are my hero!  Or not.

colon picture of intestines

As Friday approaches, I think that my excellent previous exams of my colon do not preclude the possibility of less encouraging results this time.  People do get colon cancer and are in for the fight of their lives.  That said, it must count for something that I have had three clean results from previous colonoscopies when I was 50, 55, and 60.  Five years ago, I had a few polyps removed but such that it didn’t concern my gastroenterologist enough, so I was cleared to wait five years for my next exam.

Typically, colonoscopies are done every ten years, as Hannah has hers, if there is no family history (which I have since my dad, brother, and sister have had polyps) or previous polyps (which I have had).

I’m not worried, overly concerned, nor supremely confident either.  I look forward to finding out the state of my colon and then dealing with whatever happens.  Worrying about tomorrow steals the joy from today – Barbara Camerson

Three days before (Tuesday) – Not having food with seeds or nuts is really cramping my style.  My daily oatmeal is just mush without my fruit, nuts, and seeds.  I can’t lunch on my usual everything bagel either.  Then, there’s no afternoon popcorn.  Wa-wa-wa.  I just thought someone might care.  I am now aware no one does, and obviously life is pretty good if these are my issues.

colon doc john thompson

Dr. John Thompson

Two days before (Wednesday) – As my gastroenterologist Dr. John Thompson is new to me, I check him out online.  I learn he is 64 and has been in practice for 37 years.  I like experience when someone is probing with a scope through my large intestines.  He has board certifications in gastroenterology and internal medicine.  That checks two more boxes.  He completed a fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine, Gastroenterology.  I am always over-impressed with Ivy League schooling.  So that is a plus.

Day of Fasting the day before (Thursday) – I sleep poorly but am looking forward to the day of fasting to move this process forward.  (You see what I did!)  Let me remind you my colonoscopy prep begins in earnest at 2P today when I begin my first eight ounces of the GoLytely concoction.

colon golytely instructions

While in California, I had heard that the nasty taste of the GoLytely mix can be mitigated if I drink the liquid through a straw.  I’ll give it a shot, but I may just resort to chugging the eight ounces to get it over with.

Today’s diet includes black coffee and lime jello.  But the real action begins at 2P.  Literally!  (more colonoscopy humor).  The brew has been in the fridge overnight because that makes the drink more palatable cold.

Surprisingly, I’m not hungry after an early morning workout at Coastal Fitness gym.  Usually, breakfast is my favorite meal.  I love my bowl of fruit, often cantaloupe, sliced pears, tangerines, and pineapple.  That’s followed by two/thirds of a cup of oatmeal with nuts, seeds, and fruit.  Followed by a Hannah’s biscuit or two with decafe.  It’s true amore!

colon GoLytely jog

Ouch

But I know downing four liters of GoLytely this afternoon and evening is not going to be a piece of cake, perhaps more like a sonic boom.

In Part 4, my colonoscopy drama concludes with a play by play of the magic GoLytely and then the surgical operation itself.  Polyps?

 

 

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Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 2 of 4

Recap of Part I – Five days before my colonoscopy exam, my Medicare insurance coverage has been denied.  I fortunately find an alternative gastroenterologist up the road in Kennebunk, Maine, but he needs my files faxed to them before he can operate.  Click here for Part 1.

The very next day after the denial of coverage (Friday).  I get a call from Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology (SMHCG) saying that my colonoscopy files have been faxed to their offices already!  What could have taken five days, takes one!  I’d be scum if I don’t call Kelly at Atlantic Digestive Specialists to thank her for expediting the delivery of my files.  Today, I am not scum.

Donna at SMHCG sets me up for a colonoscopy appointment for the very next Friday, in just seven days, only three days later than my original appointment!  I have been psyching up for nearly two months for one of the most preventable-of-cancer screenings – the colonoscopy.  Truth to be told, I am looking to get the damn thing over.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you win unexpectedly.

Six days before the newly scheduled appointment (a Saturday) With this reset, I have time to think about the Aetna Medicare Advantage health insurance Hannah and I have.

colon aetna medicare

We have had two separate Medicare plans since we turned 65.  From 2013-2015 we had a high end AARP Medicare supplemental plan.  To save money because we have been quite healthy, we opted in 2016 for the Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, which we currently have.

Fact is, there are some sweet benefits to Medicare Advantage insurance.  We pay no monthly premium.  None.  We get a dental and optometry stipend for yearly check-ups.  We pay $5 for a doctor’s visit and $35 for a specialist within network.  Sounds pretty good, n’est-ce pas?

colon how medicare works

With this Aetna plan, Hannah paid $150 out of $4500 in bills from the ER at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after her fall off the San Ysidro Trail one year ago.  I paid something like $175 of my $14,000 bill from my overnight at York Hospital and subsequent myriad of tests after my recent episode of Transient Global Amnesia.

We cannot pay more than $6000 each for health care in any one calendar year.  And, let me remind you, we pay zero per month to Aetna.

colon social security

Let’s be clear, our Medicare is not free.  Everyone, no matter whether they have a supplemental plan or an advantage plan, pays the federal government something like $140 per month.  If you are on Social Security, as we are, that money is taken directly out of your monthly Social Security check.

There are limitations to a Medicare Advantage plan.  Though our primary care physicians at Kittery Family Practice and the local York Hospital are in-network, we have found that not all local specialists are in-network.  Two and a half years ago with Aetna Medicare Advantage, I found that the dermatologist I had previously used under a regular Medicare supplemental plan would not take my Aetna coverage.  Fortunately, another physician in her office at Northeast Dermatology did and successfully removed a small growth on my cheek.

colon SMHCG

Two days ago, I was informed that my preferred gastroenterologist did not take my Aetna Medicare coverage.  I found an in-network replacement here locally at Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology.  Is SMHCG as good as the doctor I wanted and that had been recommended by a trusted friend?

There is a more expensive alternative to Aetna Medicare Advantage – a Medicare supplemental plan.  This year the AARP Universal Healthcare Supplemental plan would cost us each $225 per month.  That’s more than $5400 for Hannah and me per year whereas Aetna Advantage is zero per month.

colon medicare supplemental

With a top end Medicare Supplemental plan like we had from 2013-2015, we did not need referrals from our primary care physician for specialists.  Basically, every health care provider loved seeing us coming.  I don’t remember a co-pay.  Our Plan F for supplemental insurance was the gold standard.  My previous colonoscopy with a doctor of my choosing was covered without a second thought or additional expense in 2013.

But here’s the bigger question as Hannah and I turn 70, how good would our coverage with Aetna Medicare Advantage be if we had something really serious – say a heart attack, cancer, something we don’t even know that might be going on in our bodies?  Would we be denied top medical providers that are available to others with a Medicare supplemental plan?

A young friend of ours had a breast cancer diagnosis.  She had the choice of Mass General or Dana Farber Cancer Institute, both world class hospitals in Boston, from which to choose for her cancer treatment.  Would I have such an option if I had a similar serious diagnosis?

Calling our Aetna customer service representative, I learn we would not have the choice of either of those hospitals.  Local is not worse, but why would I limit my options when elite hospitals are sixty miles away in Boston?

colon mass general

So, Hannah and I must decide, while we are currently quite healthy, if the extra expense of a Medicare supplemental plan is worth the additional $5400 cost per year.  If necessary, I would want the choice between Mass General and Dana Farber.  Wouldn’t you, if you could afford it?

Part 3 details my mindset and preparation as the colonoscopy draws nigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience  Part 1 of 4

Two men walk into a bar.  One says to the other, I am having a colonoscopy Friday.  The other says, the colonoscopy isn’t bad, it’s the nasty drink beforehand that makes me want to puke.  The first man says, Be a man.  Suck it up.  Use a straw to get around the nasty tasting concoction.  And so, I will use a straw and suck it up!

One week til my colonoscopy (a Tuesday) – Urban legend is correct; the worst part of the colonoscopy is the foul liquid drink that makes my intestines as clean as a whistle.  It’s so nasty that in the past I have wanted to barf.  Five years ago, I took the contemptible brew with lemon Gatorade and now I hate Gatorade.

colon picture of intestines

As a veteran of the colonoscopy, in seven days I will be having my fifth one.  Usually colonoscopies are every ten years, but since my dad, my brother, sister and I have all had polyps, I am on the five year plan.  Despite the invasiveness of the doc’s scope up my rectum, I don’t miss a date with my gastroenterologist.  It’s hard to argue since colonoscopies make colon cancer one of the most preventable cancers known to man and woman.

First, to minimize the noxious taste of the liquid laxative, I have learned from our recent month in California that a straw can bypass some of the taste buds in my tongue.  Certainly, sounds promising.  I’ll report back in seven days.

The colonoscopy itself has never been an issue as I am sedated and wake with no recollection of the sinuous scope with a camera and snippers that has snaked its way through my large intestine.

 

Five days before (Thursday) –Arriving home after indoor pickleball, I have a call from Atlantic Digestive Specialists (ADS), whose Dr. Hyett is going to do my colonoscopy next Tuesday.  It seems that Houston, I have a problem.

colon ADS

Though seven weeks after I set up an appointment for my colonoscopy, ADS informs me that they do not accept my Aetna Medicare Advantage health insurance.  What!  You are telling me this with five days before my procedure!

Calling my Aetna customer service rep, I find that they disagree with ADS and say all nine gastroenterologists of ADS accept my insurance.  ADS begs to differ, and they say, in so many words, you are shit out of luck (a little colonoscopy humor).  I’ll set the scene more visually for you.  ADS is the creek.  I am up it.  As you might have guessed, I have no paddle.

There is no arbitration, no appeal, unless I want to pay the $896 doctor’s fee that may increase if there are polyps or other complications.  I have no choice but to go to Plan B – I get on the horn and call Aetna to find what local gastroenterologists will accept my Medicare insurance.  Fortunately, there is a Dr. Thompson in Kennebunk (24 miles away from York) of the Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology (SMHCG) practice who is in-network and accepts my insurance.

colon SMHCG

SMHCG does have appointments, but they need one little thing – my colonoscopy files from ADS.  Assuming the files will arrive within the month, Donna at SMHCG tentatively schedules me for June 6 at 9A, four bleeping weeks away.  Are you shitting me?  (I couldn’t resist.)  Supportively she adds, we do have earlier appointments, even one next week, but we need the files of your previous colon exams faxed to us.

Calling ADS with urgency in my voice, I learn it’s not all that simple.  I first have to sign a release.  Kelly at ADS says, I can mail you the release.  But in my mind, I know that could take the better part of a week for me to receive it and mail it back.  I have no choice but…

…to jump into my Prius and drive to Somersworth, NH (25 miles from home) where the ADS files are kept.  Without thinking twice, I tell Kelly I am on my way to sign the release.  See you within the hour.  With Hannah shaking her head in disbelief that I want to drive to Somersworth for the files, I am out the door in five minutes for the 30-minute drive.

Once there, I approach the receptionist who explains that any request for files can take up to 30 days.  I explain my sad story and she says you can make an urgent request that may help it be faxed in five days.   I do, and she promises to walk my request to Kelly’s office immediately.  True to her word, she does, as I head out the front door of ADS knowing that I’ve done all I can.

Never thought I’d be so looking forward to the colonoscopy prep with its foul tasting laxative and the procedure itself now that I no longer have a Tuesday appointment.

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

colon aetna medicare

Let’s summarize.  I have learned with a Medicare Advantage health insurance that it is my responsibility to see if an elective procedure is covered and the provider is in-network.  Though the ER visits that Hannah and I have had are routinely covered, planned surgery needs to be in-network.  That’s on me.  I need to know my plan much better.  One of the pitfalls of being so damn healthy is that I rarely use my health insurance.  (Is that what is called a false brag?)

Part 2, follows this story from Somersworth, NH to Kennebunk, ME as I deal with Big Medicine and Big Insurance sparring as they use me as the punching bag.

 

 

 

 

 

Dan and Hannah Have an Angel

When we shop together, Hannah and I can be impatient, not with each other, but with the process of shopping; and not just for the little stuff – I’m talking houses and cars!  We know we should do more research, but… we wouldn’t argue with ones who think that we jump to purchasing decisions way too quickly without a whole lot of forethought.  Even so, that impulsive strategy can work.  Case in point.

March snow 1

Our home in York for the last 36 years

We looked at one house when we moved to New England from Arizona in 1982.  We got lucky as we are still loving our home with all its quirks 36 years later.

Point two.  Just planning to look to see what my 100K mile Hyundai Elantra could get in trade, two hours later, we had bought a shiny new Toyota Prius.  It remains a sweet ride two years later.

Amana our fridge

Gleaming Maytag fridge

On the other hand, one spring Sunday we were checking out State Street Discount for a refrigerator.  A gleaming silver model Maytag with a five-year protection plan caught our eye and blinded us.  Within 45 minutes, it was ours.  It hasn’t been great.  Sure, our milk and beer are cold and the peas stay frozen, but we have dealt with four repairs in five years, fortunately covered by that warranty; all luck that we didn’t deserve.

Lately, our LG high-end, bought-without-much-thought washing machine is giving us trouble.  With its high tech digital display, it electronically counts down from the auto-sensing to the final spin.  But with eight minutes left, the digital display rebounds to 15 minutes in an endless rinse and spin cycle.  As a stop gap measure, we turn off both the machine and the water coming through the hoses.  Then we punch in spin only and our wash becomes passably dry.  It’s not exactly what we paid the big bucks for.

Amana mr appliance

Unfortunately, we did not buy the protection plan for what is now only a three-year-old washing machine!  With no choice, we call our reliable Mr. Appliance repair guy, who has previously done warranty work on our sad refrigerator.

It turns out the technology is not the issue; the washer drum is out of balance and the repair is north of $500.   Even so, it turns out the $95 service call is money well-spent.

Of course, the technician advises us not to put any money into this old machine.  And second, he suggests we buy a basic machine and get rid out of it when it dies, which in this day and age often means just five to eight years, or sometimes three!

Breaking our usual big box store shopping routine (Best Buy, Lowe’s, Target, and Home Depot are in our Seacoast area), weAmana best buy are now 21st century shoppers.  Never leaving the house, I go online looking for a basic name-brand washing machine.  It turns out Best Buy and Home Depot have the same Amana machine for just under $300.  We can get a five-year protection plan for either $75 (Best Buy) or $99 (Home Depot).  We pass on the $30 installation fee since all we have to do is hook up the hoses.  Both places will cart our old machine away for $15 American.  We opt for Best Buy since they won’t charge a delivery fee and the Geek Squad will deal with any problems.

As promised, four days later a 24’ truck arrives in the four-hour afternoon window with two men of muscle.  Angel comes in to see how tight the passage is to our laundry room.  We have already taken the bolts out of the door hinges and also removed the door itself to our laundry room nook.

Amana washer

Our no frills Amana washer

Then Angel returns with his compadre, to lift the old machine up easily with heavy canvas straps as if it were a toaster, and cart it to the waiting truck.  Using the same straps, they bring in the new machine with no digital readouts but dials from the 1950s; this retro look delights me no end.

In less than 15 minutes, the machine is in place for us to hook up the hoses when Angel says, since you have been so nice, I’ll hook up the hoses for you.

amana goes around 5

 

Is that a line?   I like to think not.  If we are honest with ourselves, we are typically decent and appreciative to the people we meet.  We subscribe to the belief that what goes around comes around.  We are, indeed, grateful for the good that comes into our lives and we often show it.

Angel assesses us correctly and takes an extra sixty seconds to help us out by tightening the hoses to our new washer.  Sending him and his buddy off with Hannah’s Monster cookies, we thank Angel for being, well, an angel.

Dan and his Letterman Jacket

COW death cleaning

Of late, Hannah has been into “death cleaning.”  It’s a Swedish concept for seniors to get rid of all the crap that they have accumulated over the years, so their children don’t have to do it when dear ole mom and dad cash in their chips.  By the way, she has renamed it as “deep cleaning.”

During the process, Hannah asks if I still want my College of Wooster letterman’s jacket that she thinks is in the upstairs bedroom closet.  Turns out we gave it away a while back, but its significance is not lost on me during an impressionable time in my life.  Let me explain.

I hated the College of Wooster, which I entered as a freshman in the fall of 1966.

COW map of Woo better

In no particular order, I hated the cold, damp, rainy, snowy, windy Ohio weather from September through May; as an aimless kid, without a clue what the hell I was doing in college, I floundered; the pointlessness and dead-ended-ness of majoring in political science didn’t inspire me; I was a passive receptacle in my lecture-oriented classes, obediently taking notes and barfing them back on the tests; I was just a 20 year old going through the motions because that’s what this son of college grads did; all the while listening to so much Mamas and Papas that my head and soul were filled with California Dreamin’ and escape from the Buckeye State.

COW COW name

Every spring, I wanted to transfer, and finally did, to Arizona State University after my junior year.

To clarify, this situation is all on me.  I wasn’t mature enough to make the necessary choices and just wallowed in blaming the institution and my circumstances.  That said, I did have my moments at Woo.

COW tennis team 1968

College of Wooster tennis team, spring 1968

Of the three best things that happened to me at the College of Wooster, being a part of the tennis team was #2.  I loved being one of the guys.  And that’s the connection to my letterman’s jacket.

When I was applying to colleges as a high school senior, my sole criteria for a school was whether I could make the tennis team.  Tennis was my claim to high school fame and I wanted to continue to serve and volley in college.  Back in the day, the College of Wooster was a small school (Division III now) of 1500 students.   Making the tennis team seemed plausible.

Turns out I was selected for the team.  As one of three freshmen to make the team that had six singles and three doubles teams, I played #4 singles.  I fashioned more wins than losses that first year, but mostly I loved just belonging.

COW tennis 1967

College of Wooster tennis team, spring of 1967 (my freshmen year)

With another freshman, Larry Lindberg (#3), I played the backhand side of the #1 doubles team.  The top teams (Dennison, Wittenberg, and Oberlin) beat us like an old rug, but we held our own v. Muskingum, Baldwin-Wallace, and Hiram.

Our team had training meals before matches in the basement of Kenarden Hall.  Always steak, with a side of potatoes, peas, and rolls with honey.  In the spring of 1967, carbo loading was not a thing yet.

COW TJs

On away matches, we ate early at Wooster, then traveled to another campus in the Ohio Athletic Conference and bonded in the three-seater station wagon the college provided.

Our coach, the Dutchman, Al Van Wie, had a peculiar bit of post-match behavioral modification for us.  If we won, which he associated with us playing well, we went out to for a nice meal at TJs in downtown Wooster.  If we lost, we got fast food burgers.

As athletes around the world know, better players can often bring out the best in one’s game, though one still might lose.  And often we as a team played better v. Dennison or Oberlin and played down to the weaker teams like Hiram.  Still, that calculation was lost on the Dutchman and the pattern of post-match meals never changed.

COW letterman jacket

Letterman jacket similar to my College of Wooster one

At the end of the year at the tennis awards ceremony, any player making the team for the first time and playing more than half the matches, which I had, would earn a black with tan leather sleeve letterman’s jacket, similar to what the football and basketball players wore.

Back in the day, this was about as cool as it got.  Once I had my letterman’s jacket, I was so damn proud but never so delusional that chicks would be flocking my way.

Throughout all the moves I’ve made around the country to Arizona to California back to Arizona, then to New Hampshire and to our current home in Maine, I always kept my Wooster letterman’s jacket.  It never really fit and within years of earning it became out of style.  Even so the accomplishment of earning it meant so much that I couldn’t let it go.

So, College of Wooster wasn’t all bad.  By the way, you might be wondering what were #1 and #3 of the best things about my three dismal years there in Ohio.

COW Mule 2

Jim Francis, my college roommate and high school history teacher who was Idaho Teacher of the Year in 1997!  Yeah Mule!

#3 was my college roommate during my sophomore and junior years, Jim Francis (Mule).  As my best friend during those Ohio years, he taught me a valuable lesson in life that I live to this day.

When I would come back from a date with Hannah Kraai, a drop dead beautiful women’s tennis player, with cookies or brownies that she had made for me, I would just keep them to myself, though I shared a dorm room the size of a walk-in closet with Mule.

COW campaign ad

Successfully elected to the Idaho Falls City Council in 2017

Soon, he had enough of my crap and said how it’d be nice if I shared them with him.  I honestly didn’t think about sharing them with him.  I was so embarrassed; I appreciate his courage to challenge me.

That was the moment that I began my evolution from a scarcity mentality (one of fear of the future so hoarding is necessary) to an abundance mentality (life is filled with good and the more you give the more you get).

By the way, he, too, transferred out of Wooster after our junior year.  First to the University of Utah (he as an Idaho boy), and then for the second semester of our senior year to Arizona State where we were roommates again.

Numero uno?  The one and only Hannah Kraai Rothermel.  We dated strongly during our sophomore year, broke up during our junior year; after which I left for the sunshine of the Grand Canyon State with a broken heart.  After our 1970 graduation, I taught social studies, science, and Spanish in Anaheim, California while she taught elementary physical education in Pittsford, New York, within a few miles of her childhood home of Fairport.

COW Sphinx 1969

Hannah, lower left, as a member of the Sphinx local sorority (c. 1968)

Fortunately, in the fall of 1971, she moved to Arizona to see if we had any magic left.  Turns out we did, and we married on July 1, 1972.

And for that reason, I have a very warm spot for the College of Wooster.

 

Dan is Just a Little Less Self-righteous of Late

Our neighborhood in suburban/rural southern Maine is plagued by leaf blowers.  Let me unload the thesaurus with more appropriate verbs: afflicted, inundated, and overwhelmed.  Without fail, each fall the leaf blowing horde descends on Chases Pond Road, polluting the air with their mechanical blowhards.  For hours!  Their mission?  And they have chosen to accept it, is to blow every last leaf into the next century!  No surprise, it’s always guys.  I’m just saying.

Try sitting outside on our front deck reading the Times (I am not a barbarian.) during this cacophony!  Incessantly high-pitched, these disturbers of the peace mess with our country road calm.  Winter snows are a sweet relief to this disharmony.

Leaf pond

Our front yard facing the vernal pond, 98% free of oak leaves

As an alternative to such mayhem, for the 36 years that Hannah and I have lived on our acre and a half lot on Chases Pond Road, we’ve raked leaves – a tradition as American as apple pie and thinking the other political party is the devil.

It’s a known fact that this country was built on the shoulders of the good people who raked their lawns!  Our home is in the center of a one-time forest with 70’ red and white oaks and beech trees.  When our kids, Molly, Robyn, and Will, were young, they had leaves aplenty for jumping in and splashing about.  A Norman Rockwell childhood to say the least!

Now that the kids have left the nest, Hannah and I, at the spring-like age of 70, continue to rake yellow and brown leaves by the millions.  Damn proud of being American leaf rakers, we buy into the notion that motion is lotion.

Leaf fire pit yard

Our backyard with our fire pit to the left with just a few scraggly leaves

Throughout the month of November, we rake for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.  Not insanely obsessed, we take it slow.  The beauty of our lot in the woods is that we don’t bag a single leaf.  We can just rake our leaves into the woods for nature’s composting.  But…

Lately my right elbow has been acting up after just five minutes of raking.  Over the last three years as a pickleball player, I have been sidelined by bouts of tendinitis.  Ergo, over the last year, 45 to 60 minutes of daily stretching has literally got me back in the game; I don’t want to mess with the joy and athletic challenge I find on the pickleball court.   Today, after five minutes of raking, I say no mas.

Leaf before backyard

Our backyard with winter’s last snow among a sea of leaves that need to be removed

Still, this cruel April we have masses of leaves that we just didn’t get to last fall emerging from the snow.  These soggy leaves will smother our grassy, mossy lawn that grows every type of weed and dandelion known to woman and man.  To rake or not to rake?  That is the question.

As Hannah and I sit over wine one evening in early April, I am ready to introduce the L word – leaf blower.

No reason you might have guessed this about me, but I hate lawn machines.  We do have a lawn mower, but that is serviced by Eldredge Lumber every two years when it just won’t start because of my neglect.  We have no snow blower.  Things just go wrong with machines and I can’t fix them.  Truth be told, I don’t want to even try.

Leaf blower itself

The mighty leaf blower that has tamed our side yard.

But it is time to consider a leaf blower.  A leaf blower!  God, forgive me!  We can buy one, but it seems so wasteful for everyone in the neighborhood to have a leaf blower.  What about a community leaf blower?  We Americans pride ourselves on our independence.  What about our interdependence?  What about waste?  What about the survival of the planet?  All important questions, but I digress.

Though we live within a neighborhood of 25 homes on half acre lots, we are not close socially at all.  A few greetings when we pass, but nothing like the neighborhoods of the good folks in Ithaca, New York.

So, it seems that we’ll just suck it up and buy our own leaf blower.  And then, I realize that our son-in-law Tip has a leaf blower.  Maybe we can rent it or pay for the gas or something to share it.

Texting that suggestion to him, I quickly get his response, what’s ours is yours.  What a guy!  I know Tip hit the lottery marrying our daughter Molly, but she hit a home run herself with Tip.

Leaf D with leaf blower

Dan, who makes oak leaves pay

Tip drops off his leaf blower and I blow leaves and try to ignore my contribution to noise pollution (quite the interior rhyme!).  You see, nowadays I’m just a little less self-righteous when I hear the cacophony of leaf blowers.  A love affair?  Not yet, but we are becoming fast friends.

As I sit out on our front deck with this week’s Sports Illustrated, I hear the sound of a neighbor’s leaf blower, smile, and think, he must have a little tendinitis and needs to use his leaf blower.

You see, I no longer reside in the “Leaf Blower Judgment Zone.”

Leaf H with leaf blower

Hannah shows the pachysandra in her rock garden who’s the boss

 

 

 

Leaf H with leaf blower better