HOW SHARP ARE YOU?

Renee and I are learning to play bridge and I’ve got to tell you, at 71 years old, it’s no easy task.  While on an everyday basis, I feel mentally sharp, I know I’m not as sharp as I used to be.

Prior to my DBS (deep brain stimulator) implantation, I had to take a battery of tests designed to elucidate just how sharp my brain is and what losses, if any, I’ve suffered. Over the years, I sent hundreds of patients for NeuroPsych testing, oblivious to how anxiety provoking the testing was but fully aware of how depressing the results could be.

Taking the test was certainly accompanied by anxiety. I was used to prepping for a test and then “acing” it.  I couldn’t prep for this test nor did I “ace” it.   I showed subtle cognitive losses consistent with Parkinson’s and my age.  Flash forward to today and the harsh reality of learning bridge.

Bridge has lots of rules, point scales and conventions (made up of predetermined actions) to be remembered and, frankly, I’m having trouble remembering all of them. Sure, I’ll eventually learn to play bridge, but in doing so, I’m forced to face my mental losses and deal with the depression associated with those losses.

Hopefully, by forcing my brain to learn new tasks, I can lower or reverse future losses.  I’ll never get used to making mistakes, but I’ll make them, nonetheless.  At least mistakes in a card game are not lethal. 

Your health tip for today is: Exercise your mind.  Play Bridge, Maj Jong, Wordle Crossword puzzles, etc. If you are not as sharp as you should be, see your doc.  There are treatable forms of dementia.

Here’s today’s joke:  Three old ladies are sitting around a table playing bridge and bragging about their sons…

“My Freddie,” said Margaret, “Everyone should be so lucky to have a son like my Freddie. Once a week he brings me a huge bouquet of flowers, he’s constantly bringing me out to restaurants to eat.  If I so much as hint that I want something the next morning, it’s on my doorstep.”

“That’s very nice about your Freddie”, says Gertrude. “But with all due respect, when I think about the way my Sammy takes care of me, it just can’t compare. Every morning as soon as I wake up, he greets me with bacon and freshly brewed coffee. Every lunch he comes over and cooks me a gourmet lunch, and every supper he brings me to his house for supper, he truly treats me like a queen.”

“WELL!” Says Barbara, “I don’t want to make any of you feel bad or anything, but wait until you hear about my Harry, twice a week he pays someone $200 an hour just so he can lie on their couch and talk to them, and who do you think he speaks about at those prices? asks Barbara with a big excited double chin smile, “I’ll tell you who he speaks about! ALL HE SPEAKS ABOUT IS ME!”

DIGNITY

How much is your dignity worth?  How much money would it take to help you forget a day of abuse and anxiety?  Apparently, United Airlines values my dignity at $100!

Yep, an hour after my blog was posted, a representative of UAL called to discuss my experience and to offer a travel voucher for my troubles.  My initial reaction was to say, “No thanks.”  My curiosity got the better of me and I gave the representative my email address.  The phone call ended with the representative promising to review what happened with the “vendor” and alert the appropriate personnel in Houston and Charlotte.

Shortly thereafter, my $100 voucher arrived by email.  United’s less than generous offer clearly answered my question.  My dignity is devalued at $100 by UAL.  It also raised new questions.  Is UAL going to contact the other members of my party who suffered through a days’ worth of emotional distress with me?  Is UAL going to reimburse my wife for having to wheel me through Charlotte’s airport?  What about those poor souls who sat in the “dumping grounds for the handicapped”?  Did someone eventually help them? Are they still sitting there? Is their dignity also worth $100?

My suggestion is to treat everyone as if they were precious.  They are! Having the appropriate equipment to assist the handicapped should be a priority.  I can’t believe that a company that can fly planes coast to coast can’t have an adequate number of wheelchairs and attendants waiting for arriving planes.  A person’s dignity is priceless.  If you are going to offer travel voucher, perhaps you could offer a round trip voucher on which you intend to highlight the improvements UAL has made in caring for the handicapped.

Meanwhile, your gate agent in Houston and the young lady pushing one of my friend’s wheelchairs deserve recognition for excellence in performing their jobs.  Perhaps you can spend $100 dollars on them as a way of saying thanks.

While being handicapped makes me more fragile and dependent on others, it does not make me any less human!  In the future, handle your handicapped customers with care!

UNITED’S DUMPING GROUND FOR THE DISABLED

Let me start by telling you that I’m angry.  I’m angry because I’m disabled and I’m angry because United Airlines made me realize just how disabled and helpless I truly am.  Before I go any further, I want you to know that there are lots of good people (including some United employees) who stepped in to offer help!  While United was busy destroying my faith in man, others bolstered it.

My story starts in Puerto Vallarta at the international airport.  My Parkinson’s has worsened making walking any distance either difficult or impossible.  On Saturday, I couldn’t walk.  Despite the fact that I had notified United Airlines, they did not have an appropriate wheelchair or the means to move me around the terminal..  Eventually, I forced my body into a child’s wheelchair and was taken to the holding area where I was told to relinquish my wheelchair and wait.  Imagine my surprise when I was told I was told the gate was 50 yards away and that we would be taking a bus to the plane and walking up an old-fashioned set of stairs to board the plane.  Making matters worse, the men’s room was 50 yards in the opposite direction; and being an old man, the men’s room was every bit as important as the gate.

By the grace of God, I made it to the men’s room and onto the plane without a major incidence.  I was exhausted but happy to be on my way home.  The real trouble started in Houston.  We had booked a direct flight to Charlotte but United cancelled it.  We were left with landing in Houston, clearing customs, going through security again for which we had 90 minutes between flights.  On getting off the airplane in Houston, we were shocked to find that there was one wheelchair and about 15 people needing one.  The gate agent assured us that the wheelchairs were coming shortly but he could not say what “shortly” meant.  As it turned out, “shortly” meant 20 minutes, leaving us 70 minutes to clear customs, rebook our luggage, catch the train to terminal C and board the next flight.

Here’s where things get bad.  We, the disabled, were taken to a holding area where about 20 elders sat in chairs along the wall, awaiting help. It was a pitiful. My neighbors and I were told to find a chair and wait.  I refused!  I was not going to give up my seat on the transport vehicle I had eventually been placed in.  Several agents approached me and instructed me to get in a chair and I again refused.  Had I gotten into one of the chairs in the Dumping Area for the Disabled, I might still be in Houston today!

Finally, we started moving towards Customs.  I felt bad for the disabled persons we left behind, but as the say, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” Now, my chair is being pushed by a young man who showed all the signs of doing too many drugs.  He would stop, then go, then stop.  He mumbled incessantly about not being stupid despite what his fellow employees said.  He lost the rest of my group and most importantly, my wife.  I’ve never felt so helpless.  Airport wheelchairs are not like regular wheelchairs and cannot be self-propelled.  When my attendant walked away, I was stuck.

We made it through Customs and back into security.  Due to my deep brain simulator, I had to go through a pat down.  Best total body massage I’ve had in a long time! I hope the agent was as embarrassed as I was as he groped my crotch.  I explained to him that my weapon hadn’t been loaded or cocked in years. 

I arrived at the gate and the plane was still there.  My wife showed up shortly afterwards.  United Airlines knew how many wheelchairs they needed.  They just didn’t care.  They knew who had connecting flights, they just didn’t care.  They knew who needed assistance getting on the plane, they just didn’t want to pay for a jetway.  They knew how long it takes to clear customs, go back through security, and catch the train to the next terminal. They didn’t care.

What they need to know and understand is the psychological damage their carelessness causes.  In their hands, the disabled end up dumped in the” dumping area for the disabled”, helpless, and alone. Awaiting help that may or may not come in time to get them home.

United Airlines has come a long way from the days of flying “the friendly skies” to dumping on the disabled.  They should be ashamed and act quickly to improve their treatment of the disabled.

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter