…And This Happened

I had a right knee revision surgery this week. What this means is that my original total knee replacement (which was done last October) started  breaking down, causing pain.  This happens in about two or three total knee replacement surgeries per 250 in any given year.

In cases like mine, the original knee replacement is removed, then replaced with a new one; this one with a longer bottom piece. So far, everything looks great and I already feel much better. I am doing regular physical therapy as I did before, and it’s going well.

In my session yesterday, the young woman working on me remarked that I had a “positive attitude” about all this. I told her that I had had a *wonderful metaphysical teacher who taught me how get and keep a positive outlook on life in general, no matter what circumstances pop up.

We laughed, and agreed that the right people come into our lives at just the right time. This went on to more chat about how, when you learn that you can actually control your emotions, life immediately changes for the better.

Keeping a positive attitude is not hard to learn, either. Basically, you come into it with a willing heart and spirit. The “techniques” begin with something as simple as looking into your mirror every day, and saying “hi, beautiful!”

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it is and it isn’t. People are always surprised at how hard it is initially is to do this; they are too used to seeing flaws and complaining about them. It takes a bit of time to change your negative thinking into positive, but it soon becomes a habit, and we all know how habits can stay with you.

As you follow this simple practice each day, you develop a positive attitude, and then a feeling of self-worth. You start to feel better about yourself, and before long, you understand that you can change your moods from bad to good. You become positive.

Life takes on a new meaning when you realize that you have control over how you look at the world and the things that happen in your life. Of course this new replacement set me on my heels at first.

Was I upset initially about having to go through the process all over again? Of course I was! But things like this happen, and when you learn to just accept and move on, you can face just about anything.

*My teacher was Noreen McDonald in Wolfeboro, NH. Check out her website at http://www.noreenmcdonald.com.



Say It/Believe It

I had a knee replacement last October, and it went perfectly. I had great physical therapy, and I gradually went from a walker, to two canes, then one cane. Soon I was walking well on my own. I knew that it takes just about a full year to feel “normal,” and I was fine with that.

Then I began getting occasional shooting pains down my leg, and it felt like the new knee was clicking. I didn’t think that much of it; I knew that I would have pain now and then.

However, the pain began to get worse, and pretty soon I needed my cane again. I saw my surgeon, and, after some X-rays, he told me that the bottom part of the new knee was coming loose; hence the clicking.

He said that, in the 250 knee replacements he does each year, there are usually two or three people who have this happen. So this means that the original knee replacement has to come out and be replaced with a new one, where the bottom part of it is much longer so it will stay in place.

So, lucky me; I am one of the two or three in 250! After about three minutes of feeling sorry for myself I said, ‘ok–let’s DO it!’

Now, here’s where the interesting part comes in. Generally it takes months to schedule a knee replacement, or, in my case, a knee “revision.” The scheduler looked up at me and said, “I don’t believe this—there is an opening this month. Do you want it?”

I said that yes, I definitely DID want it! She said that this hardly ever happens; that a surgery of this sort can be done so soon. I took this as a lucky omen.

I walked (well, limped) out of there feeling pretty good about it all. This time I know exactly what to expect, I know what the physical therapy will be, and I still have all the exercise handouts from the last operation.

I found that I couldn’t stop smiling about this; I won’t have to limp around for long before I can get this fixed. I keep saying out loud “everything is going to go perfectly; the surgery will go without a hitch, and by summer I’ll be walking without a cane!”

Funny thing: I am usually the first one to complain heartily when things don’t go as planned (make that: ‘when things don’t go MY way’). But after a whole day of saying yes to all this, I feel completely right about going forward. Plus I know how lucky I am to have a surgical date so soon!

I’ve found that after saying something positive out loud, my attitude changes. My mood changes. My brain changes. It all changes because I have changed my attitude from ‘poor me’ to ‘yay, me!’

So, lesson learned: say it and believe it!

Don’t Shame the Sweaty Bettys

Last year at this time, I found out that I had DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) breast cancer. Luckily, after I had a lumpectomy, my mammogram came out clear months later. Although I understand that this can re-occur at any time, I felt I had dodged a bullet. Prior to this, I was taking a homeopathic hormone which reduced my night sweats and hot flashes to nearly nothing. It was heavenly not to be hot all the time, or suddenly break into a dripping sweat–which, by the way, always seemed to happen when  I was around lots of people. There is just no hiding turning instantly soaking wet.

Because of this brush with cancer, I had to stop taking my wonderful hormone therapy and now am officially a Sweaty Betty. I cannot take any kind of hormone for five years, which means that I have and probably will spend most of my time dripping wet. This happens in any type of weather or season (even in the dead of winter), and especially when there is no moving air.

To say that it is embarrassing just skims the surface. I hate it that I have no control over it–I will be fine and dry and than BOOM—soaking, wringing wet. The ends of my hair drip sweat down my face and neck, and I wish that I could just sink out of sight.

I know quite a few women who also must live with this. For now, all we can do is to grin and bear it, or like me, make jokes about it when I want to run and hide my sweaty self. But this is my life for the next five year or so, and like it or not, I am going to be caught blotchy and sweaty from time to time and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.

I carry a paper fan wherever I go, plus lots of cloth handkerchiefs to mop myself off. There are times when I am home that I will just open the freezer door and stick my head in there to cool off. I confess to feeling envious of all those women who can walk around confident that sudden sweat is not on their radar. While I wish them well, I am jealous as hell.

So, the next time you see someone like me walking around dabbing at her face and neck, cheeks bright red and looking as though she would love to be invisible, remember: this is probably something they just can’t help. They are all too aware of what they look like, and staring at them, or worse; commenting about them is hurtful. We wouldn’t laugh or whisper about someone in a wheelchair or someone with a prosthetic leg, would we? Believe me, the SBS (Sweaty Betty Syndrome) is about the least funny thing I can think of.

I once saw an inscription on a tombstone that read, “Where you are now, I once was. Where I am now, you will be.” I used to think it was pretty mean-spirited, but now I apply it differently. I’d love to have a button that reads: “Where you are now, cool and dry, I once was. Where I am now, hot and sweaty, you may be.” No judgement, just fact.

So, to all of you normal ladies out there, enjoy your blessed dryness and cool comfort. To all you fellow Sweaty Bettys out there, I feel for you and I am with you, wet or dry.

The Story of the Strange Veggie Burger

I’ll admit it–I love diners. I love it that they usually have lots of chrome inside and out, that the cooks yell out the finished orders to the waitresses, and that the menu is largely composed of what I call comfort food. You know; macaroni and cheese, savory casseroles, burgers, hot dogs, shepherd’s pie, BBQ, club sandwiches, soups and so on. Then there are the desserts: lofty pies stuffed with apples or berries, cheesecakes, cookies, ice cream, etc. You can lways find something you like to eat, and the service is always good.

The Crankee Yankee and I were headed up to visit my Mom and Dad, and decided to stop for a late lunch at a diner on the way. No chrome or hollering cooks, but still diner-ish on the inside. We went through the menu, and really couldn’t see anything that looked or sounded good. The menu seemed pretty ho-hum, and there was no mac and cheese to be found.

However, there were some specials, one of which was a veggie burger. Although I like veggie burgers, I’ll admit that ordering one at a restaurant of any stripe can be risky. I’ve eaten veggie burgers that were oatmeal or bean-based, ones made chiefly out of chopped mushrooms, and so on. Some are pretty good, others, not so much. But nothing could prepare me for THIS veggie burger.

On the face of it, it looked good; a large patty with what looked like a crunchy coating, with some melted cheese on top. The bun was a brioche type, and there was a side of sliced tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. I took a bite–the first thing that registered in my cerebellum was the texture–mushy. Most veggie burgers have a texture much like a real burger–this one was, well; squishy.

I took a look at the contents–it was mainly peas, carrots and corn, mixed up with what had to be leftover mashed potatoes, then formed into a patty and fried. I have to say that this was a new taste sensation, and not a very good one. I’ve never seen peas, carrots and corn in a veggie burger. Maybe I just haven’t tried enough veggie burgers, but this one was a total loser.

Just in case you wish to make your own veggie burgers that don’t squish in the first mouthful, here is my go-to recipe for mushroom burgers. They are well worth the time it takes to make them, as they are delicious.

Mushroom Veggie Burgers


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. *mushrooms, roughly chopped (combination of crimini, shiitake, and Portobello)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

*I used Portobello

Heat 1 tbsp oil in large saucepan. Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid boils off, and the mushrooms begin to saute.

In large bowl, add mushroom mixture to oats, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to develop the flavors. Shape into patties. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large non-stick skillet, over medium heat. Fry patties, cooking about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Makes four large or six small  burgers.

“We’re Going to Have to Let You Go”

Of all the things you can hear at work, I think that the most disheartening is this phrase: “we’re going to have to let you go.” You’ll notice that they don’t say “you’re fired,” it’s just that they have to “let you go”—as if you’ve been caught by mistake in a fishing net, and now you have to be released back into the wild.

It wouldn’t be such a bad way to leave a job if only someone would tell you what was really behind this ‘letting you go’ thing. Does it actually mean ‘you’re fired’, or not? Does it mean that your work was substandard and no one ever said anything to you about it? Could it mean that your skills aren’t what they should be? Does it mean that all of your good work thus far counts for nothing? If so, what would be so wrong in sharing that information before it gets to the “we’re going to have to let you go” stage?

Here’s the thing: when you don’t know what or if you’ve done wrong, you don’t know how to fix it so that it won’t happen again. You don’t know if someone has complained about you or if they didn’t like your attitude or work ethic, etc. It is just uncomfortable not knowing the real reason why you were “let go.”

Perhaps the powers that be feel that the term “let go” is somehow kinder and less hurtful than a flat “you’re fired.” Whether you are let go or fired, the result is still the same–you are suddenly without a job. That’s bad enough, but worse than that is when the person to whom you report seems to have disappeared on your ‘letting go’ day. Why couldn’t that person simply meet with you for five minutes and tell you the truth about why you are being let go? That would be professional, respectful, and would bring a dignified end to your employment–and leave you remembering your time there favorably.

Hearing “we’re going to have to let you go” blindsides you. Had there been a six month or yearly evaluation of your work performance, you’d have heard if you weren’t doing your job. You would be prepared to step up and do better. But when the end comes without warning, it leaves you feeling unsettled and full of questions  that will never be answered. All those who have suddenly heard “we’re going to have to let you go” will always wonder why it happened.

For all those who are in a position to explain the ubiquitous “we’re going to have to let you go” dismissal, I would respectfully suggest an honest evaluation of past work; what worked and what went south. To do less is unprofessional and reflects unfavorably on the company.





When the Universe Desperately Wants Your Attention

Did you ever notice that, when it’s time for us to move forward or move on and if we don’t initiate it ourselves, the Universe will step in and make the decision for us? If it can’t get our attention in any other way, we will either get sick, have an accident that slows us down, or a life event happens to a family member and they need our help, or we are forced to leave a comfortable situation because ultimately, it wasn’t good for us.

We cannot go forward unless we let go of the past; it’s a case of either having your cake or eating it–you can’t have both. When the Universe needs you to go on to a new phase in your life, you get hints along the way. Oh sure, you can ignore them all you like, but the hints will keep on coming, and in fact get stronger because you need to move forward. If you don’t initiate it yourself, an event will pop up to push you forward, ready or not.

As bad or shocked as you may feel at the time, you will know fairly quickly that you actually needed to move forward. And since you wouldn’t or couldn’t do it yourself, the good old Universe stepped up to help you. When it happens, you are upset–your previously familiar and comfy way of life has been turned upside down and you feel you have no solid footing any longer.

However, ask yourself these questions: have you been working so hard that you have ignored family and friends? Did you get so obsessed with what you were doing that you let important time slip away from you? Did you want to start something new but were afraid to do it? Again–the Universe knows you need a change and that you won’t do it on your own, so–BOOM! The change comes and you’ve got to roll with it.

We humans as a rule hate and fear change. It’s always uncomfortable, and it never seems to come at the “right” time, although when you look back on it, guess what? It actually was the right time. You may or may not believe this, but we are all here for a reason and a purpose. There is only one of us in this world, and we are necessary. You may be thinking, ‘what, little old me? How am I so necessary?’ Trust me, whatever role you came to Earth to play, it IS necessary, and YOU are the only one who can do it.

Remember the blind man that Christ restored to full sight? Many people have said, “oh, that poor man! Blind all his life, and for what? Just so that Christ could perform a miracle?”

But think of the blind man in this way: he played an important part in Christ’s teachings, and was a living example to everyone who observed this miracle. His part in Christ’s life and teachings is now part of the Bible, read by untold thousands of people. This man was chosen to play his part, and because he did, we all remember him, and therefore, remember Christ’s teachings.

The Universe really does want the best for us, even though sometimes we doubt it. Take for example Drew Lynch. He was a runner-up in the finals for America’s Got Talent this year. His story: he was playing softball, and a stray ball hit his throat, causing extensive nerve damage, and he has stuttered ever since. He admitted that he ‘used to be a real jerk,’ and this forced his life into an entirely new direction. It changed him from an arrogant self-involved guy to a sweet, appealing and genuinely funny person whose comedy is not only self-effacing, but hilarious. He has made that stutter work for him, and you never feel bad for him–you just want more comedy from him.

Imagine the set of circumstances that had to be in place to put Drew in this position, AND end up as the first runner-up in America’s Got Talent! This would never have happened if that softball missed him. Imagine that! Or, as I like to say, “no coincidences.”

So pay attention to those whispers (or shouts) from the Universe. It’s NOT kidding–it has your best interests at heart!



Life Change – A New Opportunity

Isn’t it just the way things go; you have a routine you follow each day, you finally have things organized the way you want them, everyone in your life is doing well, and then BOOM! A life change happens, and all things change.

If you are anything like me, your first thought is ‘how annoying! This won’t work with my schedule at all!’ or ‘how am I going to fit this in when I’m so busy?’ or ‘why did this have to happen NOW?’

Think about it—nothing in nature stays the same. Mighty rivers have changed their courses because of one landslide. A volcano erupts, land shifts, sinkholes appear, floods happen, tornadoes can flatten whole towns in minutes. It just how things are.

Unsettling? Definitely. Upsetting? Of course. Life-changing? Yes. Like it or not, we are going to have those times when everything goes, as the Brits say; all pear-shaped. It’s up to us as to how we handle those changes. If we can look at them, upsetting as they may be, we may be able to see the lesson in it. At the time the change happens, we are not expecting it, and we certainly don’t like it that our lives have been shaken up.

But think of it this way: the way we work with these things speak of our mettle and our ability to move with the changes. We know we can’t just sit and moan 24/7 about them–eventually you have to mop up your face and start putting the pieces back together. Once the hubbub and furor dies down, we begin to see the life change for what it really is–a new direction.

Change is uncomfortable; no denying it. It’s just like standing between two doors–you want to grab the doorknob of the new door, but are afraid to take your other hand off the old doorknob. You KNEW the old door, you understood it, you were used to it, you even liked it. You feel you should go forward, but you’re a bit afraid to. So what do you do? Hang on to that old doorknob forever? Or do you take a deep breath, let go and then grab that new doorknob?

If you do, you can now open that new door–c’mon, you’ve been dying to know what’s behind it!


A Surprise: Part 9 – “Jane Says NO”

The other day I went to see my oncologist to see what happens next in this adventure I call “Jane deals with cancer.” My surgeon had told me that I may need radiation and Tamoxifan as a preventive to more cancer. Even with my Stage Zero type (ductal carcinoma in situ), there is always the possibility of the same thing (or worse) happening in the other breast or in the same one in another spot.

So after some research, talk with family and friends, and my own heartfelt convictions, I decided that that I did not want radiation–truly, I don’t believe I need it. If you have ever performed kinesiology (better known as muscle testing) on yourself, you will know that your body will not lie to you. I tested myself several times for both radiation and Tamoxifan (actually my oncologist prescribed another generic version of it, called Letrozole), and got a resounding “NO” each time. Well, folks, that’s good enough for me.

And get this: for those of us without health insurance, this Letrozole costs $224.75 per month! Look, I get it that doctors must prescribe what they feel is the most effective way to treat a disease, ostensibly for the best possible outcome for the patient. That’s their job. That said, I also believe that they are also doing this so that, should the patient refuse the treatment and die because of their refusal, the doctors would not be held accountable.

I am sure that when my oncologist hears about this latest, he may do one of three things: 1) strongly suggest I take the drug, or 2) agree with me and let me wait until I have Medicare next year and can afford it, or 3) pay for the drug himself (huh–as if!!).

So, after saying “no” to both radiation and drugs, I am taking charge of this disease myself. With the occasional walk on the wild side and enjoying naughty things like fried oysters and a shot of tequila, I eat a *diet heavy in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lots of water and lean protein. I do moderate exercise (walking and/or floor exercises) each week, and say positive **affirmations each day. I also practice Reiki and some ***Jin Shin Jyutsu exercises on myself day and night. If I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, I say to myself, “I am going to enjoy a great night’s sleep tonight. If I need to get up in the night, I will go right back to sleep.” In other words, I am setting myself up for the things I want.

I believe with all my heart that we can help cure ourselves, partly by doing the things I have been doing as well as working with a combination of both naturopath and doctor. I also believe that we need to do our own research, and not let fear cloud our judgement. Please know that in the case of a deadly disease you may not have a choice but to follow doctors’ orders, but yet there are ways to augment traditional medicine.

We do have to be our own advocates, and often that isn’t easy. In the past, I have had doctors literally bully me into medicines and procedures I later found I did not need. As with many things in life, we need to be prepared, not scared!

Stay tuned….

*To find out more about dealing with cancer by healthy living, I highly recommend these books: “The China Study,” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, “Perfect Health,” by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and “Whole,” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD with Howard Jacobson, PhD.

**Here’s mine: “I am completely healthy and cancer-free.”

***See http://balanceflow.com/BAjinshinjyutsu/ for more information.


A Surprise – Part 8: Radiation and Tamoxifen

Yesterday I saw my wonderful surgeon who performed my lumpectomy on my right breast. With her was a tall, young and nervous-looking resident who looked slightly nonplussed to see my purple and yellow zeppelin of a breast. She said that the surgery went well and that she did indeed get everything; a huge relief.

However, in women of my age, it is entirely possible for me to get these nasty little rogue ‘I’m-going-to-turn-into-cancer’ cells again, in either breast. So to keep these particular wolves away from my door (or breasts), she recommended a course of radiation and Tamoxifen. I will be meeting with the radiologist early next month, and at that time all things radiation-wise will be discussed. That’s the second stage of this latest event in my life, and I have no idea how long I will have to have radiation. Once that is settled, we will talk Tamoxifen; when to start and so on. My surgeon told me it is usually a five-year regiment. In my case, these extra steps mean that I will be prepared, not scared.

Again, if anyone reading this is about to go through a lumpectomy or similar, please know that you will feel pain for a while. Of course, right after surgery whatever high-octane pain pill they give you is very welcome–but don’t get used to it. I took mine for twelve days, gradually tapering off to where I just took Aleve. There will be little pinchy pains now and then (the Crankee Yankee kindly describes the tiny sharpness of them as ‘tit ferrets,’ which makes me laugh so much that the pain obligingly diminishes), and also deeper throb-y pain from time to time. It isn’t horrible, but it’s there. Don’t be alarmed; it’s normal. Your poor assaulted breast is healing as fast as it can, and you can’t blame it for having grumpy spells.

But the GOOD thing to remember is that ductal carcinoma in situ is officially stage zero cancer! Again, things do happen and something can certainly come out of left field at any time, but for now, for me—I am just plain grateful. If this happens to you, get all the information you can. Find a doctor who, like mine, makes you feel you can trust him/her, one you connect with, one you feel in your bones you can count on to be your advocate. When in doubt, remember to ask your heart–it will not lie to you.

But also do your homework, and learn all you can. If you work with a naturopath as I did, get their opinion and direction on what supplements, etc. to take and what not to take. Get the whole picture, and if you can, take someone along with you who can keep a cool head. I’m not saying that you can’t, but I am saying that you will need help to remember what to ask, write down instructions, and so on.

I will also ask that you do one more thing. Tell loved ones, friends, co-workers, anyone with whom you feel comfortable–tell them what’s going on with you. Accept any love, prayers, Reiki, angel work, energy healing, friendship, etc. that they offer. Their support will help you through this. You have given plenty in your life; know when to take for a change. The time will come for you to stand by someone who is sick and scared, and you will know what to do.

Again, your goal will be to be prepared, not scared!



A Surprise – Part 7, “Know When to Lie Down”

I had surgery (lumpectomy) on June 2 for ductal carcinoma in situ in my right breast, and have been recovering since then. I had an excellent surgeon with whom I felt instantly comfortable, and I worked with my naturopath regarding what *supplements to take during and after surgery and what to avoid until you’ve recovered.

So, nearly two weeks later, I feel I’m on the road to complete recovery. Before the surgery there was a question as to whether I would need follow-up radiation and Tamoxifan; so far, I haven’t heard a word about it, which I am choosing to interpret as a good sign. I will see my surgeon next Wednesday, June 17th, so I will know more then.

Now, that being said, if this ever happens to you, here are some things I’ve learned from this experience:

  • After surgery, there comes a time when you realize that you no longer need those heavy duty pain pills; you can go back to taking **Aleve or whatever works for you. Realize that you will have some ongoing pain, but it will be pain you can manage.
  • Your breast will swell up like a small zeppelin, and will be bruised and tender for a while.
  • You realize that you need more rest than you thought.
  • You realize that you need more help than you thought.
  • You realize that many more people than you thought were worried about you and prayed for you.
  • Even your animals will recognize that you aren’t feeling well and will want to stay near you.
  • The ***people you work with will not necessarily remember or know that you had surgery, nor will they check on you or call or email you–that is, unless they need something from you.
  • Your family will rally around you, ask after you and want to know how they can help.
  • Your body will need far more rest than you thought; lie down often.
  • You will not be able to do many of the things you used to before surgery. Don’t worry–this will pass. For now, do exactly what your body needs.
  • You will need to drink a lot of fluids, especially water. Several cups of green tea per day is helpful (and delicious!) too.
  • Give yourself permission to be lazy, and also give yourself permission to really enjoy the time to be lazy.
  • Do not be a hero–this is your time to rest, recuperate and let others help you. When you allow others to be there for you, it is a gift to them and to you.
  • When people want to pray for you, send you Reiki, send you get well cards, bring a meal over, let them. Someday it will be your turn to help out; right now this is your time to accept help. Again, your acceptance of help is a gift to the giver.
  • Until you are positive that you are ready (and that you are no longer taking those heavy-duty pain pills!), do not drive, operate heavy machinery (or, quite frankly, any kind of machinery except maybe the hair dryer), or make any important decisions.

As always, my reason for sharing this information with you is that if you yourself are about to go through something like this, it may help you to know my experience. This is the really positive part of today’s technology; that we can share experiences with each other, help and encourage each other and lift each other up.

As always, thank you for reading and for your most welcome comments.

*Be sure you check with your doctor and/or naturopath prior to surgery regarding supplements. He/she may recommend (as mine did) Astragalus, an immune support in liquid form that helps with hot flashes if you are taking hormone therapy as I was before surgery. Hormones such as estrogen encourage cancer growth and you do not want that. It was also recommended that I take Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP by Vital Nutrients; “Pectasol Modified Citrus Pectin, 5g”). This is taken before surgery, and at least two weeks following surgery to help prevent any residual cancer from “seeding” into another area. Additionally, I had been taking CAL:MAG Berry liquid (100% citrate minerals with vitamins A, D, K, calcium, magnesium and boron, and DHEA. These two were also stopped prior to surgery.

**When in doubt, always check with your doctor first.

***Just about everyone you work with will be this self-absorbed, and rightly so. Most of the work folk you know are primarily involved in their jobs and their own families, but they are not your friends or your family.  If you are lucky (and I am), you will may made at least one good friend there (I have–thank you, Carol!) who will ask after you and wish you well. This is a rare and wonderful thing, and you are very lucky indeed if you have such a friend.