Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yes, here it is Christmas day and 33C here. I just finished making 98% raspberry jam (I had to add a couple of strawberries and a few boysenberries to make the 5 cups of fruit called for). I am all alone and have done no Christmas preparations since I continued to be sick until this week, and even now I get tired even more easily than I used to. My dear MIL is coming down tomorrow afternoon for the weekend so I'll have some company for a few days. Everyone else seems to have retreated into their families so I am left to my Internet family.

Book reports: How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman was fascinating and I raced through it while recuperating. It's not about bad doctors per se although he has personal experience with a string of surgeons that may ring a bell with some people. It's more a case of why doctors fall into diagnostic ruts, why too many tests can be a bad thing, why some doctors are better at patient care than others. I've had experience with surgeons who were very bad at patient care; my eye surgeon was brilliant but not a people person. Once I figured that out I knew how to get my voice heard. My first knee surgeon didn't perform the procedure he told me he was going to, and, then when I didn't recover "properly", confessed that he was better with hands than knees. But the failure of tests to do what the patient expects or to give more information than can be really valuable is interesting, especially for someone contemplating knee replacement.

BBBB: In Confident Hope of a Miracle by Neil Hanson, subtitled "the true story of the Spanish Armada." Despite its 600+ pages, it was quite interesting and tells a very different story than the one most of us remember (if anything) about the fate of the Spanish Armada. There were massive delays and incompetence on both sides, financial penny-pinching or outright lack of funds, bad weather, poor ship design, bad tactics, not to mention that the Armada was supposed to lead the way for an invasion of England from the Netherlands. I always wondered why all the silver that came into Spain from the New World seemed to vanish without effect. Philip II spent vast amounts of it on this plan to eradicate Protestantism from Europe and have it become a completely Catholic continent. He believed that God had chosen him to do this, so it would happen. His own military leaders tried to point out the holes in his plan but he refused to listen because he knew God would help him. Thousands died at sea or on the coast of Ireland carrying out this belief.

The other thing that has been on my mind which I am not ready to talk about is my future as a widow in Australia. This year with its long trip in the States and its long lonely sickness and holiday make me wonder what I'm doing here. But nothing can be accomplished by stewing now because it's all a moot point until I can retire which still lies 5 years in the future. My financial status and the fate of the American economy will have a much stronger bearing in the issue than missing the smell of a real Christmas tree and the taste of eggnog with family.

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