Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bagpipes and jenny lake

If you ask any one in my family, they'll tell you that I'm a hypochondriac.

But I'm not sure why they think this.

When I was a six years old, I had a stomach ache that I complained about and everyone told me to "BE QUIET." (At least that's what I remember).

It was only when I threw up in the swimming pool and my mother put me in to her bed (the only room in the house with an air conditioner) for a nap with my sister Beth - who had just had her wisdom teeth removed - and Beth rolled over and put her arm across my stomach and I started screaming - that someone looked at me.

It turns out my appendix had ruptured.

And turned gangrenous.

I had to have an emergency appendectomy and was in the hospital for weeks. I don't think anyone came to visit me. Except my Aunt Carolyn. She brought me a toy Evil Knievel that I raced up and down the halls on the Children's Floor, from my reclining wheel chair.

I still have the scar. It's an awful thing.

When I was 10 I had to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. Because my mother was working as a nurse and wouldn't be off work for a few hours - my Aunt Grace came with me to the hospital. I remember coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room and feeling terrible. I really thought I was going to die and asked for my mother and a priest.

My recovery nurse grabbed my Aunt Grace, who looks very much like my mom - and said "Here's your mom, honey. Here she is."

That only made it worse because not only did I think I was going to die, I wondered if I was so bad off that I couldn't recognize my own mother?

No one ever listened to me about my ailments. They still don't.

At the moment, Charlie is blowing off my ingrown toenails like it is no big deal ... but I'm soaking them in hydrogen peroxide and rubbing Neosporin all over them twice a day, because I wouldn't be at all surprised if I got sepsis.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that if I was looking straight ahead and diverted my eyes to the left or right, it hurt. So, I kept doing it to see if it went away. When the pain didn't go away and only intensified, I started to worry that there was something seriously wrong.

Like, a tumor.

I told Charlie about my concerns and like always, he blew it off. "Jen, I doubt you have a tumor. Maybe your eye just hurts because you're looking after kids all day long and don't get enough sleep. Have you thought of that?"

No, I didn't think of that. But I highly doubted that looking after kids would make my eyes feel like they were going to fall right out of my head.

A tumor made much more sense.

So instead of going to bed and getting sleep, I stayed up late in to the night worrying that I was on my way out. It made me terribly sad thinking about our little children growing up with out a mother. So sad that I decided I better hurry up and finish my Will. Because if my Google searches yielded any valid information about my eye pain ... there was a very good chance I wasn't going to be here six months from now.

Completing a Will has been on my "To-Do" list ever since the triplets were born. But I'd been putting it off for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I felt like once I got it finished, there would be nothing stopping a meteorite from falling out of the sky and hitting me. Or, an aneurysm from rupturing. It makes perfectly good sense that by not having a Will in place, an invisible force is preventing anything bad from happening.

Second, I didn't have the time. Or rather, any time that I did have - was quickly taken up by things I'd prefer to do. Like - washing the windows inside and out. Or, flossing my teeth.

Third, I didn't want to be sad. I can't think of anything more depressing than making my own final arrangements.

Fourth, All of the information I'd seen about pulling together a Will seemed terribly expensive. One of my friends who had recently had hers finished said that the attorney they hired cost $2,500.00.

So, in a nutshell ... I'd be spending a lot of money on something that would take me a lot of time to complete that I didn't want to do, I'd be crying, and once it was finished - I'd either be crushed under a 4.6-billion year old rock that flew out of orbit from some far away asteroid belt, or drop dead instantly from an aneurysm.

But something about my eye pain made me realize that if something were to happen to me before I had a Will in place - especially if Charlie was to be consumed by a pool shark - there was no information regarding what should happen to our children.

Ultimately, they were my motivation to get something in place.

Researching the internet, I found a website (http://legacywriter.com) that allowed me to complete my entire "Estate Plan" for the bargain basement price of $34.95. Included in my Estate Plan is:
  • Last Will and Testament (this covers the disposition of my remains and any final wishes, it also appoints guardianship for our children, and defines an executor of my estate and family trust);
  • Advanced Health Care / Living Will (this outlines what I want to have happen if I'm in a vegetative state);
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finance (this assigns a person(s) to handle all of my finances);
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (this assigns a person to implement my Advanced Health Care Directive and Living Will).
I also paid an additional $9.95 for an annual subscription. This allows me to go in and make any changes I want to any of the four components of my Estate Plan, without an additional charge.

Now, provided I don't die first, I might decide that it is worth the $2,500.00 to have an Estate Plan professionally prepared by an attorney. But until such time that I find an extra $2,500.00 laying around ... at least I have something in place, now. Because although my eye healed and my doctor also thought that the pain was due to a strained muscle ... what's to say my ingrown toenails don't take me out?

It took me a long time to decide how I want my remains handled. Several years ago, I was convinced I would be cremated. But after Charlie and I were sitting on our patio under neath the space heater last winter and watched a moth get burned alive, we both decided that maybe burial was the better way to go.

Then I couldn't decide where I'd be buried. My father has purchased several plots at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts - and he invited Charlie and I to come rest with him, eternally. But during a recent conversation, Charlie informed me that Sleepy Hollow is too dark and spooky. He'd much prefer to be someplace bright and sunny.

Me too. But then again, I'd much prefer to be ABOVE the ground then BELOW it.

When I was completing my Will, I decided again that I'd be cremated. Because ultimately, I think cremation is more environmentally sound than sticking a casket in a concrete enclosure in the earth. Besides, if I were to die tomorrow, it would be a huge hassle to have my body hauled off to some Funeral Home - fitted for a casket - and then, transported to my final resting spot.

That's a lot that has to happen over a very short period of time as opposed to having my body cremated and ashes returned. No big rush.

Some other things I've specified in my Will include the distribution of my ashes over Jenny Lake in Wyoming, right at the foot of the Grand Tetons.

Because I like options, I indicated that if it's more convenient, I'd be happy sprinkled off Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara. But only during an off-shore breeze.

I also indicated that I'd like a donation made to the San Diego Zoological Society and I want my name on a bench somewhere in the zoo. Preferably not near the flamingos, they are too stinky.

I want bagpipes to play "Amazing Grace" and because I think it is important for people to have a peaceful spot to go and reflect on the one that has passed, I want a headstone at the Santa Barbara cemetery, which is situated on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. This is hands-down one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and happens to be where Charlie's mom is buried.

Last but not least, I want my headstone to read "See, I told you I was sick."

Because if my ingrown toenails don't kill me, I have a rash on my neck that looks suspicious.


  1. No One visited you---I spent nights and days with you. How about being cremated and having your ashes thrown in the Pacific and I will meet you from the Atlantic if that is possible. That way we can travel together and tell stories about our childhood.

  2. I recently took out some extra life insurance for my girls. Shortly after that, I started experiencing mild chest pains. I am sure I am going to keel over from a heart attack any day now. But at least the kids won't be broke. Unless one of my family members decides get their hands on it and blow it on boob jobs or some other such nonsense before the girls are of age.

  3. I have a friend who had ingrown toenails and with the assistance of another person here is what she recomends. Take a tiny piece of cotton and with a tool such as an orange stick place it under the toenail so that it gently lifts it off the pressure point. A TINY piece. She kept the cotton in there, periodically changing it for cleanliness of course and when her nail grew out about two months... it grew out straight and resolved itself.
    Good Luck that is incredibly painful you poor soul!

  4. You forgot to mention the injury you sustained horse back riding, when the horse fell and broke Chris's arm. You whined then too!
    I sat with you all night after that tonsil thing, you rat.

  5. lol at you about your toenails. Seriously I have one and they are alot more painful than people will give you sympathy for arent' they?

    On a side note THANK YOU for that site! I've been putting my will off for 4 years now and I can definitely afford 35 bucks.


  6. This kind of creeped me out. I was just thinking today about how badly we need a will so that our kids don't get sent to some orphanage or something. IS THIS A SIGN? Yikes.

  7. One of many Cuzzins!9/25/07, 11:31 PM

    Hey you...Your Aunt Ann's jalopy car got a flat tire on Rt. 2 on the trip back home to the slums after visiting "little Jenny" in the hospital when her appendix burst. And you only remember Aunt Carolyn coming to visit you? I was there....I even had to give you one of my Barbies as a get well token. I can't believe you have forgotten that. BTW....I also came to see you when you were born....remember? Funny post. LOL!!
    Regina ;)

  8. you absolutely crack me up . . .

  9. 1) This is so funny, the whole thing.

    2) We got will-making software. Then you can update whenever you want for free. I think the "$2,500 through a lawyer" is supposed to be for people with vast estates and complicated situations--but often gets done by people who think they NEED to do that.

    3) HAVE I "updated whenever I want for free"? No. We haven't changed our will since our FIRST BABY was a baby, and that was eight years ago. We've had four more children and bought a house.

    4) For me, the hard part is getting people to witness it.

    5) Also, working on it AT ALL. Or even thinking about it.

    6) Good luck with your tumor and your leprosy!

  10. Hi there,

    I found you through the twins/multiples blog roll at Sarah's!

    I have a dear friend expecting triplets as a first time mom, and she doesn't have a blog, but she is a big blog reader, and she asked me to ask the lovely Internet for some advice on expecting and having multiples. I have two singleton boys, so I only have so much advice to share!

    If you have the time, please stop by! Thank you!
    Anna at Hank and Willie

    P.S. I am so glad I found your blog, your writing is hilarious! And seriously, I've been putting the will off for the same reasons, but will do it now, THANK YOU!

    I'll be back here again!

  11. Great post. Thank you for reminding me... I have the same issues you mentioned about creating a will.

    Must do it!

  12. Jen's Mom- isn't it amazing that the children's memories are completely different? I'm sure you wonder if you were even THERE! Surely a NURSE wouldn't have let her poor daugther's appendix turn into gangrene. (Jen you MUST be a hypo! LOL!)

    I'm totally going to go do that will now. Thanks for the link. What a great idea.

  13. OH...MY...GOD! I got "the" call; "have you read Jen's Blog?"
    I leave your sight for a while and come back to this????

    Fortunately, with your wit you'll be around till your 95! Eating molasses and complaining about the grandchild who won't leave your Damn Cane alone!

    God love ya; so clever and very funny. Oh yeah; and God pls send a few angels to help our wonderful Charlie! (he needs them - a lot of them)

    Much Love, Hugs and Kisses.
    One of your many cuzzins, too! Marg. (HEY REGINA!!!)

    PS I think YOUR relatives are going to have you COMMITTED before your CREMATED!!;) and BTW God Forbid - if something does happen we are all gonna be really ticked! What will we do for entertainment?? :)

  14. i'm soooo rofl at your relatives coming out of the WOODWORK to dispute your memory of the great appendix crisis!

    good luck with the ingrown toenail. i recommend a pedicure ;-)

  15. Kathy from NJ9/26/07, 5:55 PM

    I had appendicitis at age 49. The surgeon explained that the gangrene comes before the rupture - it gets infected, oxygen gets cut off & gangrene results, then burst appendix & if you're really lucky (like me) peritonitis. This was after almost 3 WEEKS of complaining, an ultrasound of the gallbladder and numerous primary uncare visits. The only good thing my primary doctor did (finally! and only after my husband said we would not leave his office until something more was done) was send me to a surgeon at 3 PM on a Friday. CT scan Saturday AM (after he argued with CT dept of hosp who wanted to do it the following week), surgery Saturday PM.

  16. Jen, you are too much!

    Poor Charlie...will you please open 2 bottles of wine tonight and put her to bed with ice packs on her eyes, pillow under her legs/feet, and ear plugs to drown out everything else!

    We did our Wills before Kyle was born to make sure he was well provided for and did not go to "certain" people in case of our dimise.

  17. Oh my gosh, I just laughed SO HARD at the last two lines of your post. I mean, the whole thing was a great read, but those two lines...

    By and by, ingrown toenails are VICIOUS. After my first child, I had the rounds with one ingrown after another. None of the home remedies worked, they were too bad off. And a couple I had to have taken care of by a dr, two different times. Finally I had all 4 sides clipped, or whatever they call it. While, I have unattractive sandal feet, I am VERY comfortable. I highly recommend it. :)

    And your aunt called you a rat. that's funny.