I still don’t have melanoma

I was going to title this post “I still don’t have melanoma … or a job,” but I decided to focus here on the positive, at least to start. Health-wise, not much has happened since January. My last scans were clear and I am now on a schedule of having my scans every four months instead of every three. If this keeps up for a year, I’ll go every six month, then after five years, just annual scans. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that before. I haven’t posted in almost two months so I may be repeating myself here. If that is so, I apologize.

So, yes, health-wise, I’m doing very well. Lynn gifted me with a fitness-tracker/smart-watch for Christmas, primarily to display the blood glucose readings from my CGM, but the side effect has been that it has encouraged me to be more active. I love side effects that don’t send me to the E.R. I’ve been doing a lot of walking and I feel better than I have in a couple of years. Of course, I have more time for walking now, but I’ll get to that later. The key take-away here is that I feel good physically and that I’m beginning to believe that two of my goals for last year my actually be doable this year.

Last year, as you may recall, I set myself goals to run a 5K and to hike Mt. Monadnock. With the weather getting warmer and my fitness getting stronger, I might actually get out and start training for those two goals. I figure I’ll tackle the mountain first. From what I read, it’s not Mt. Everest, but it does take about 4-5 hours to hike to the summit and back and part of the trail near the top is steep and rocky, so good shoes, food and plenty of water are recommended. From the summit, the view stretches for many miles on a clear day with a panorama that takes in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In the fall, the autumn foliage is in full display but that’s also when the mountain gets the most crowded. Right now I’m thinking May or early June, before it gets too hot. As for the 5K, I want to start training soon, but that also requires good shoes. What was it Thoreau said, “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes“? I don’t know if that also included new shoes.

As you may also recall from my last post, I was laid off from my job in January. I’m still looking, but not having a lot of success. It’s frustrating. Financially and mentally, I’m not ready to retire now. I was planning to work at least until full retirement age, if not slightly beyond and add to the old nest egg. If I don’t find something soon, we may have to start drawing on that nest egg. I’ve been doing what I can to find employment — I’ve increased the distance that I’m willing to commute, I’ve been flexible about the kinds of jobs that I’m applying to and I’ve contacted past coworkers for leads. I’ve been on a couple of interviews, but I wonder if my age is working against me. I had one interviewer ask me pointedly if I thought a person could be over-qualified for a job. I wonder if over-qualified was just code for too old. I also wonder if I would have been asked that question if I was twenty years younger. As someone told me, age discrimination is a thing. You can’t prove it, but it’s real.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time taking online training courses to brush up on old skills and to learn new skills. I’m not sure if that helps any. It’s hard to really learn something unless you actually do it every day, but I figure some of the new stuff is sinking in, and the old stuff is coming back to the fore. I had one interview where I was asked technical questions that I should have remembered the answers to but it’s been so long, I just drew blanks on some of them. I know I could do these jobs but trying to prove you can in an interview isn’t always so easy. I think that a hiring manager looks at a 63 year-old job applicant and thinks, “I don’t have time for this guy to come up to speed. He might not live that long.” And they don’t even know that I’m a diabetic cancer survivor!

I have another phone interview tomorrow. It’s a contract job, temp to perm, so it won’t solve my health insurance needs until if and when I go permanent. In the meantime I’m paying $1200/month for COBRA. I would love to get that monkey off my back, at least until I’m old enough for Medicare, although it will be almost ten years before Lynn would be eligible. Her current job doesn’t offer health insurance, or much else other than flexibility to take time off for my medical appointments. To say that we’re both a little stressed over this situation would be an understatement. We each deal with this stress in our own way.

One thing that we have now to distract us somewhat from that stress (or two things) are two new chickens. You can see one of them here in the photo on Lynn’s arm. That’s Jilly, the hen, and her partner is Jacques. They’re both seramas, the smallest breed of chicken. Jilly is smaller than a pigeon and Jacques is a bit larger. We’re keeping them in the house. Most people keep them as house pets (in cages like parakeets, although seramas, like all chickens, are flightless). Housing is a challenge right now. We currently have them in a guinea pig cage, but we think they might need more room. Jilly is laying soft-shelled eggs, which isn’t good for her or the eggs, which we think might be due to the cramped living quarters. We’ve been looking at rabbit hutches and other small animal enclosures, but we haven’t found anything so far that will fit in the space that we have and be easy to clean and be comfortable quarters for Jilly and Jacques. This has also been frustrating. We’re afraid that if we don’t resolve this soon that Jilly’s health will suffer. We don’t want that because we’ve started to get attached to her. Seramas have great personalities and they’re starting to get attached to us, or at least the treats that we give them.

One of the things that I wanted to talk about is gratitude. With all the stuff that has been going on, it has been hard, for me at least, to remember to practice gratitude. I am extremely grateful for all that I have, but I don’t often show it, talk about it, or write about it. Lynn reminds me about that and she is absolutely correct. I am grateful for everything and everyone. Whenever I get feeling down and my thoughts start going to dark places, I need to remember all that I have, everyone I care for and all those that care for me, as well as all the people I don’t know and have never met who have made my melanoma recovery possible. Thank you!

I think that will be a subject for an upcoming blog post. See you then.

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