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A Very Merry Christmas

When snowflakes start to tumble
In their first and merry flight,
IT fills my heart with wonder
For it is a lovely sight.”
“The First Snowfall,” by LaVerne Larson

Hubby and I thought that last Sunday’s first snowfall of the year would make our landscape beautiful. This storm was actually very pretty except for the shiny surface on almost everything that was a coating of ice and for the temperature that was so cold the ice never melted, About noontime, Hubby decided that he would walk over to Stop & Shop to buy the Sunday papers. I told you last week that he slipped and fell, tearing a hole in his flannel-lined Dickie pants and that I. then called the Mayor’s Hotline and asked if someone could salt or sand our little street because it was a sheet of ice.

The next day, the street still hadn’t been sanded or salted. Daughter Susan had to run an errand. When she left her parking spot, a Murphy-School parent pulled his van into the spot Sue had just left. About 3:30 p.m., Sue went out to move her car down in front of her home. She slipped and fell, face first, onto the icy street. She came crying into our house, her lip bloodied. “Something is wrong with my teeth,” she said. I could see that one front tooth was definitely chipped. The other front tooth was also chipped, but I didn’t see that then. I immediately called our dentist and the secretary said to have Sue come right down to the office. “Mom, my arms and hands are sore. I’ll have to go to Carney’s ER after the dentist.”

Hubby and Sue went off to the dentist. I had to stay at home. Our furnace was malfunctioning and there was no heat in our house. The repairman was due late in the afternoon, and he came just about 5 p.m. He was a terrific guy. I told him that my husband was taking our daughter to the dentist and then to the local hospital’s emergency room because she had fallen on our icy street. I apologized to the man, telling him I knew nothing about furnaces. “Crank both thermostats up to 80 degrees,” he said.” That I knew how to do. “Don’t worry. I’ll get your furnace working properly.”

He found two empty pails in the cellar and bled some of the pipes. I found the biggest and best flashlight we had and sat on the cellar stairs with it in case he needed more light. He put in a couple of new parts, including a circulator. He kept feeling the pipes to make sure that hot water was circulating to each of the three zones. God bless him; he had fixed the furnace. I thanked him profusely because he was so nice. As he was leaving our home, Hubby and daughter Sue were getting out of Hubby’s car. Hubby also thanked the repair man. I didn’t see this, but Sue told me that Hubby fell again as he was trying to get her out of the car without her falling.

he house was beginning to get warm as Sue started telling me what happened. There was no more damage than the two chipped front teeth. Thank goodness. The dentist would be able to bond them. The results at the Carney were a little bit different. Sue had a broken left elbow and two sprained wrists. The physician assistant first took off Sue’s rings in case her fingers had swollen, put splints on both wrists, a sling on her broken elbow, and gave her the name of an orthopedic doctor in Quincy. Sue was able to get an appointment two days after the accident. Hubby had to drive her to the doctor, who confirmed the findings of the “P.A.” at Carney.

Sue is doing fairly well. She could not break an egg the other morning and scramble it, so Dad came to her rescue. The dental crew had told her to eat “soft” foods for a little while. I asked if she needed any wash or dishes done, but she said, “No thanks. The hardest thing is to put on a pair of pants on the left side.” Her cat “Tia” is keeping her eye on Sue as she rests from her ordeal, sitting right next to Sue when she is on the sofa.

On Wed., Dec. 11, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I were at Carney Hospital for the quarterly Senior Dinner. The December dinner is always very pleasant because it is the one closest to most festive holiday, Christmas. Our friends Margaret Buckley and Joyce McNeil joined us at our table. We are usually entertained very well at this dinner. Bill Howland, the director of Marketing and Communication for the hospital, welcomed us to the dinner. Sr. Paula Tinlin read a Christmas Blessing poem to us. Carney’s Barbara Couzens, the manager of Community Relations and Patient Advocacy, told us that the date for the next Senior Supper was March. 12, 2014.

That evening’s meal, at $5 per person, was a salad, baked chicken, rice, carrots, broccoli, and a tasty roll. For dessert, there were petit fours and cookies. While we were eating, the president of the hospital, Andy Davis, said a few words. He then came around to each table to greet those attending.

The speaker for the evening was Dr. Alexander Griffin, a new arrival at Carney and a native of New Zealand. He deals with adult medicine and is an infectious-diseases specialist. Dr. Griffin said he knows that some people are afraid of getting the flu from the shots themselves. He still urged everyone to get the shot although he conceded that it is not always effective. The shot also does not prevent people from getting colds. If a person with a cold still feels sick after two weeks, he should be checked for pneumonia. He also told us that if a person has a pain in his chest and feels weak, these could also be signs of pneumonia. If you think you have pneumonia, get to a doctor as quickly as possible.

Dr. Griffin then turned his talk to shingles, a very painful disease. He wanted us to know that shingles, which is caused by the chicken pox virus, travels along the nervous system (such as around the waist) and causes a rash. If you have shingles around your eyes, like my friend Bob did, you could possibly become blind. Shingles causes damage that may never go away, and it causes bumps that stay only on the inside of your body. The shingles vaccine decreases the chance of your getting the disease by 60 percent. Even if you have already had the shingles, you should still get the vaccine. When asked about the tetanus injection, Dr. Griffin said that we need one every 10 years. The pertussis vaccine is a wise choice to get because it gives protection to the person and even to the kids and grandkids. Dr. Griffin then spoke again about the flu shots. He said that some are made from eggs, so those allergic to eggs can get a shot made from other variations. He agreed that anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are good to use if you are exposed to bacteria.

Dr. Griffin really taught me a lot with the next section of his talk, “Animal Bites and Scratches.” If you get a cat bite or scratch that breaks the skin, you are 80 to 90 percent apt to get an infection and will need antibiotics. If you are bitten by a dog, you are 30 percent apt to get an infection. If you happen to be bitten by a deer tick, 25 percent of you are apt to get Lyme Disease. A rash will develop around the tick bite. If you are bitten by a stray dog or a bat, you will need a series of rabies’ shots. When the docyor was finished, people still asked him quite a few questions. We all appreciated his very clear and informative talk and gave him a big round of applause.

Then Dave Delaney came to the microphone. He was our Christmas entertainment. Dave told us that he came right from Ireland. He knew some American carols but would intersperse those with Irish songs. We knew one of the titles of the Irish songs, which were, for the most part, mostly lively. The title we knew was “Ashoken Farewell,” which turned out to be a pretty waltz. The American songs were “Jingle Bells,” “O Holy Night,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Hark, the Herald Angel Sings.” We all joined him in singing the American songs. By the way, daughter Sue was one of the winners of the raffle. She can come to the March dinner free.

There are always a number of the hospital staff who help serve the Senior Supper. We thank Sr. Paula Tinlin, pal Bob Anglin, Ann Hart, Bill Howland, Barbara Couzens, Scott Trip, Luann Gecewicz, and Kathy Heffernan. We thank them all for be so attentive to our needs. Be sure that you put the date, March 12, for the next Senior Supper on your 2014 calendar.

We need at least two more weeks before Christmas to get everything done. Thank goodness I have a supply of New Year’s cards. We now only put up a small tree. Hubby loves to do that. Over the holidays, we will be making several batches of potato salad. Usually I just cook the potatoes. With Sue’s damaged arms, I guess I’ll be mixing them into the salad, also. Oh well!

My family and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weinachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Prettige Kerstdagen, Glaedig Jul, Mele Kalikimaka, Zalig Kerstgeest; Chuc Mung, Giang Sinh, and Nollaig Shona!