I’m Not a Patient Patient

Shannon Kernaghan Im-not-a-patient-400 I’m Not a Patient Patient Challenge Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Risk

I admire my current doctor and her no-nonsense approach to my body when I haul it into her clinic for my annual check. Her quiet inspection is appreciated because any gasps, giggles or “hmms” would make me nervous.

Despite scheduling an appointment weeks in advance, I’m tolerant of the required wait time. As for the magazines, some are outdated and dog-eared.

While taking furtive glances at other long faces who share my delay, I contemplate the person who assigned the phrase “waiting room.” He/she is a genius because never did two words better describe both process and surroundings. This same brain obviously invented the word “patient,” as in who you are and how you must behave while waiting.

My only objection involves the patient gown. Did I say gown? Paper towel is more accurate. In the past, it was tough enough to sit shivering in a shapeless, backless cotton smock. At some point the shift was made to paper, which is not surprising in our budget-crunching society.

“Take everything off and use that to cover up,” the doctor’s assistant said before she closed the door.

“Cover up with what?” But she was gone and it was just me and my square of paper, neatly folded on the end of the examining table. This wasn’t a gown, this was a large serviette. I was to cover up and maintain a shred of naked dignity. When I tried to arrange myself underneath, I felt like a paper cut-out doll. And if I didn’t stay still, my serviette would slip to the floor.

Although the instruction was to take everything off, I drew the line at socks and glasses.  What if the fire alarm suddenly rings? I’ll need socks to keep my feet warm and glasses to see where I’m running. Anyone gripping a flammable paper towel should stay away from direct flames.

And knock on wood that my doctor doesn’t find anything wrong with me. On second thought, don’t bother knocking on wood. During your next doctor’s visit, you’ll be wearing a tree in the form of a paper towel. Gently rub a corner of it for the same superstitious results.

As for those vintage magazines in the waiting room, I have a suggestion: convert them into cover-ups. They’d be thicker than the cover-ups I’ve been given. More importantly, patients will have something to read while they endure that second near-naked wait for the doctor to arrive.

Did you know that Trump won the US election? Good thing I went for a check-up!

My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Adventure Challenge Family Relationship Risk Travel

 

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS.

Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins

Shannon Kernaghan halloween_17-400 Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins Childhood Culture Family Food Friendship Humor Parties Risk

 

I can’t understand the rationale behind applying special Halloween make-up and then dunking your head in a tub of communal water, all for the prize of grabbing an apple. I need more incentive.

When I was a kid, apples were not my friend on Halloween. People who handed out chocolate bars? Now those were folks forever etched in my heart. The larger the bar, the more respect they wielded in the neighborhood.

Besides apples shunned by us sugar-loving kids, pumpkins are also given a bad rap on October 31. Sure, they’re respected over Thanksgiving when they sacrifice their lives for our pumpkin pies, but come Halloween we develop short memories. Instead of revering them, we cut, scoop and hack away, defacing pumpkins into leering jack-o’-lanterns. Then, we let them shrivel to unrecognizable pulps before tossing them into a compost bin or the next trash pick-up. Talk about ‘dissing an innocent gourd.

Know who else gets a bad rap? Teenagers. The rumor that floated through school at Halloween was the same every year: “Look out for those AWFUL teenagers! As soon as they spot you walking with a full bag, they’ll steal your candy!”

Sure, teenagers are notorious for egging windows and trimming trees with toilet tissue, but not all of them are evil. During one childhood Halloween, I almost made it home after a fruitful trick-or-treating mission. After saying goodbye to my friends, I looked over my shoulder for those awful teenagers. I was a mere six doors from home when the unthinkable happened: my bag of treats – weighed down by apples – tore and spilled my candy onto the street! Horrified, I ran home crying.

Before I could explain the tear-choked tragedy to my mother, our doorbell rang.

“Gee, that’s a grown-up looking trick-or-treater,” Mom said after peering through the window. She opened the door to one of those awful teenagers. He’d taken off his jacket and gathered my candy. Since he watched me run home, he followed.

My mom whispered that I should give him a reward for his kindness, so I surrendered several of my most-coveted chocolate bars.

From then, I wasn’t frightened by teenagers on Halloween. Instead, I’ve developed a fear of dentists because in addition to collecting candy, I garnered a few cavities that year.

If you’re still brave enough (read: crazy) to bob for apples at your Halloween party, insist on going first. The last contestants in line have a tough time breaking through the oil slick of grease paint on the water’s surface. And don’t invite me unless you plan to bob for something good, like diamonds or a plane ticket to Honolulu. For that I’ll smudge my make-up.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN to teenagers everywhere. I’m thrilled if you’re reading my post. That means you’re not out egging our car.

You Throw Salt, I’ll Knock on Wood

Shannon Kernaghan skull-e1507756491922 You Throw Salt, I’ll Knock on Wood Culture Humor Memories Relationship Risk

 

Friday the 13th is one unlucky day for women. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that women have a higher than 60% risk of dying in traffic accidents on Friday the 13th compared with other Fridays. For men, bless their less superstitious stars, Friday the 13th is just another day, with a mere 2% risk of not making it past midnight.

If you have an irrational fear of Friday the 13th, add this title to your playlist: paraskevidekatriaphobia. A milder condition is triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. If you suffer from both, throw a few grains of salt over your left shoulder. Next, crawl back into bed, on the right side if you’re SUPER superstitious.

I wonder if there’s a condition for fear of long and unpronounceable fears. If so, I’ve got dibs on that one.

Friday the 13th doesn’t make me anxious, although I understand the obsession. All of the focus spent worrying about events that could happen and attempts that might fail is distracting. Take my quirks: I can bash out work on the computer when left alone. But if anyone watches over my shoulder, I start to think about the keys and suddenly I make mistakes and forget how to type.

Same goes for playing piano. I spent years tickling the plastics in the privacy of my family home. Since I performed in only a handful of compulsory recitals, no one besides my piano teacher watched me play. And the old dear, in her early hundreds, regularly dozed off mid-song, so her attention didn’t count for much.

The problem resurfaced every June, that traumatic month when I took my Royal Conservatory of Music exam. Before this intimidating stranger, I had mere minutes to showcase a year’s worth of practicing and memorizing.

While waiting to hear my name called, my hands shook uncontrollably. When it was time to take my place at the bench, the keys looked foreign. I’d stare but middle C evaded me. When did I learn how to play piano? . . . Mommy!

I’d begin a song, race through a few bars to hurry the suffering, and then forget what notes came next. My song book would be retrieved and I’d lose points. Those countless hours spent memorizing music flew out the window faster than a Kardashian marriage.

To bolster my nerve, I should have brought along a lucky charm, like those athletes convinced they need their lucky underwear or let their beards grow. (Note to self: no more facial depilation before my next exam, which should be an eye exam so I can find those pesky whiskers.)

My present-day certainty? In an age of dwindling forests, it’s becoming harder to knock on wood for luck. Polymer laminates will never offer the same protective thrill.

Maybe Friday the 13th is unlucky for women because we spend too much time worrying about being unlucky. Calling all women: let’s ignore the calendar and stop being superstitious. But just in case I’m wrong, keep the salt shaker handy. And don’t break any mirrors.

What’s YOUR common or crazy superstition?

A Simple Life? Good Luck with That!

Shannon Kernaghan Simple-Life-400 A Simple Life? Good Luck with That! Deception Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Risk

 

I choose a simple, uncomplicated life. The proof is in my medicine cabinet. That is, you won’t find much in the way of treasure. But you will find a bottle of skin lotion. Whether or not the promise of fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin will come true, I smear my face morning and night with this fragrance-free potion.

Recently, I decided to bump up my anti-aging regime by purchasing night cream from the same line, to firm my skin while I sleep. Unless there’s concrete as a base, I’m unconvinced that anything pink and slippery is tough enough to do the trick. But then as well as being simple, I’m hopeful.

What impressed me was the plastic applicator. For the $15 bottle I’d finished, my fingers were sufficient; for the $30 jar, suddenly I need a tiny tool.

The moment I applied the cream, my eyes started to burn. What was I thinking?  This version wasn’t fragrance-free and yet I slathered myself without a care. Sadly, my skin didn’t hear the message of hopefulness. Instead, it revolted. My nose plugged and within minutes, I had the rumblings of a headache. Face washing didn’t help. The goop obviously contains those advertised fast-absorbing properties.

The only chance to rectify my loss (and rationalize a wasted purchase) was with a quick and polite HOLD THE PERFUME note to the manufacturer. I wanted them to know that their faithful consumer questions the need for so much fragrance, and because of it, I can’t use their product.

Within two weeks I received a letter with a reference number: “We are concerned about your recent experience and will share your suggestions with our Product Development and Marketing Team.”

Then a check arrived for $30. That was nice; someone was responding to my three-paragraph gripe, even though I didn’t ask for a refund or include my receipt.

A week letter, another letter arrived and this time from an office in Ohio. They wanted me to fill out an Eye Incident Report on a Product Safety Surveillance form.

Incident? Surveillance?

The questionnaire’s tone was serious: how did the incident happen? Which eye was involved? What treatment was given? Was the eye rinsed and for how long? The form was so lengthy that my wrinkles were getting wrinkles and I was afraid to send it back. What’s next, a team of lawyers at my door? A news crew with mics extended?

Forget spreading fake news. Now I’m more selective about sharing a simple suggestion.

Next steps? I’m about to cross my fingers and throw salt over my shoulder for luck. I don’t want to risk hurting myself. Imagine the paperwork.

Bear Facts on Bikinis

Shannon Kernaghan Bare-Facts-on-Bikinis-8-e1497811785676 Bear Facts on Bikinis Culture Humor Lifestyle Risk Travel

 

Some believe that life imitates art. For me, life imitates news. I read a piece on the myriad of distractions that drivers face on today’s roads.

Any number of activities, both inside the vehicle and out, can cause a distraction. Some may be difficult to predict or control, such as an event along the roadside or a loose object moving inside the car.

I once watched a woman wearing a string bikini and strappy high heels ride her bicycle down Edmonton’s busy Whyte Avenue. If based on the number of rubbernecking cars that crawled dead slow to get a better gander, she was a definite distraction.

Unpredictability is key. Take your screaming baby in the back seat, or the bear that appeared before my father while heading home from the lake. Had Dad been texting or multitasking, there could have been a fatality. Actually there was – the poor bear – but it was either collide with Smoky or get creamed by the fast-moving stream of Sunday traffic behind us.

Another word of advice: if you’re a bear, please don’t lounge on the highway at dusk. If you need a ride, stick out your paw on the side of the road. Or consider a Commuter Pass with Greyhound.

Sure, some distractions you can’t anticipate, but there are others that drivers choose. It’s these choices that leave me clenching my jaw, everything from selecting music, interacting with passengers, making or receiving phone calls to studying the GPS.

To find an article on distracted driving was apropos. I’d just arrived home after witnessing a parade of distracted drivers while stopped at a red light with my husband.

Turning vehicles had the right of way, which gave me time to watch as they maneuvered the turn. None was doing the dreaded texting or phoning, although one man laughed uproariously, with his head thrown back and his eyes pinched shut. The next dude turned his car but stared at something over his shoulder.

Vehicle number three’s driver fought with a food wrapper and the woman following adjusted her scarf in the mirror. The final man to make the light was looking down and digging at something in his lap.

Very few traveling the roads today have lives so vital that they can’t pull over and park for a few minutes. Can’t they at least wait for a red light before eating that drippy fajita or mining their lap for gold? No wonder there are accidents!

Imagine an idyllic world where people simply drive the highways without distraction, eyes front and hands at ten and two on the wheel? That’s the artwork I want to create for my living room, with emphasis on “living.” And I’ll remember to sketch in the poor bear who gave his/her life – along with our car’s front end – so we could enjoy a beach day.

Ten-4, rubber ducky.

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