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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"When I'm 64" My birthday in Shangri-la of Armenia.

"When I'm 64" is a song by the Beatles.  I wonder what made them to create that song when they were only in their 20s.  Whatever the reason, today the song relates to me, because "I'm 64."

Yes, much to my surprise, I'm a senior citizen. I wonder when did the clock turned over and I reached my third act. Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware.  Up until my late 40s, I was stuck in my twenties.  But as 50s rolled along, there was a game change. Although I couldn't believe the advancement of the years, little by little I felt my real age.  

Being a senior citizen carries many wonderful perks which I didn't know about them.  Old age has brought me freedom to follow my heart.  And oh boy am I following my heart?  Yes!  Ballroom dancing, painting classes, travels and most important I have time to devote to writing.

Generally my Birthdays came and went without much ado.   But when I realized that I'm nearing 60 I made a point to begin to celebrate my birthdays in a special way.  To welcome the Big six-o, I went on a limb.  I coordinated a reunion with our high school friends from Tehran.  Believe it or not, about 60 friends showed up.  Some travelled as far as East Coast.  We gathered at an Armenian restaurant in Glendale.  The next day with a few of our closer friends went for a two nights stay to San Diego.  

At 61 I welcomed my first grandson in New York.  62 was in Rome.  63 in Catalina Island, using the Catalina Express free birthday pass.  And when the 64 came along, I was in Armenia and my daughter surprised me by an overnight trip to Dilidjan, a small resort town about one and half hour north of Yerevan. 

I call Dilidjan the Shangri-la of Armenia.  I felt that when for the first time I visited there.  We were traveling as a group. It was the second day we had arrived in Armenia and I was still jet-lagged.  The bus-tour took us from Yerevan to Lake Sevan and from there to Dilidjan.  It was my first trip to Armenia.

When we left lake Sevan, I was tired and the motion of the bus put me to sleep. 
I was dozing off in the bus and when I opened my eyes, I truly felt that we had entered the Shangrila.  The landscape had changed from arid dry to lush verdant.  I had never been to anywhere with such green rolling hills.  A landscape unlike any other I'd seen enveloped me.  It was breathtaking a jaw dropping experience.

I must admit that I didn't know about the geography of Armenia since it was my first visit to Armenia.  I thought Armenia had a dry and mountainous climate, which it has.  I was not aware that the tiny country had diverse climate zones.

From the bus I noticed that on the edges of the road, the village boys and girls were selling head bands made from fresh wild flowers. The bus stopped and the boys and girls with their ragged appearances circled around the bus door.  

Most everybody without questioning the price, bought those pretty wreaths with ribbons hanging from behind.  It felt magical.  Then and there I felt in love with the beauty of Dilidjan, which until that moment didn't know it evenexisted.  The experience left me with a lasting impression.  

My birthday is in late October.  To be in Dilidjan during that part of the year when the leaves change color and watch the glorious "Golden Fall" as they call it, was a great joy.  In addition having my daughter to myself for a whole day was a real treat.  This was the last week of my stay in Armenia.

My daughter and her husband had moved a year before to Armenia.  Her work and their social life didn't leave enough time for hanging out together while I was there for three months. 

We stayed at a boutique type lodge overlooking the forest with a tranquil setting.  The hotel offered wifi and we could use it to connect by Skype to the rest of the family in Glendale.  A simple trip, created a sweet memory.  Thanks Tina for a special day

When I got the AARP invitation in the mail before my 50th birthday, seemed not real. Whoa...AARP, that's the "old people's" club, 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

My Cataract Surgery Taught Me a Lesson.

My cataract surgery 

Who me?  I had a huge shock when a year ago during an eye exam, my doctor said that I have cataract. It seemed surreal that I should be in need of a cataract surgery when I'm 65.  My mom,  my dad, my father in law, my mother in law and almost anyone I knew had cataract surgery in their 80s. 

Last year when my Medicare kicked in, I opted to sign up with an HMO, in another word I chose a medical group and I had to see doctors within that specific group. I checked their assigned eye surgeons and with little research I decided to go with Dr. Karine Gabrielian. And it was a great choice.

By the time the date of my surgery arrived I had reached my annoyance threshold. Reading and writing had become a chore. I could not see the road well at night and everything looked hazy. I was counting days to have the surgery.  

Since I was not supposed to drive a car after the surgery, on the morning of the surgery, I took "Lyft" which is a taxi service operated from an app on my cellphone.  It cost me $3 and I paid $2 tip. What could I've asked for more.

From the whole process I learned that a surgery center is as important as a the surgeon. I had been to that surgery center for my colonoscopy and I already knew in what professional manner the center operates. 

The staff were helpful, caring and pleasant.  I was admitted at 9 o'clock.  They gave me a hospital garb to wear over my cloths. I liked that because I was cold. Then a nurse brought me a warmed blanket.  I liked that too. Another nurse checked my vital signs. The anesthetist told me that she was going to sedate me and I will be half awake. Her calm and soft spoken words put me on ease. The last thing I remember it was that I was wheeled into the operating room and then I heard someone telling me it's over.  I didn't feel a thing.

After the surgery my daughter picked me up and we went to my home.  We had lunch and when she left, I collapsed on the sofa and took a long nap. The rest of the day went easy.  I watched some TV, I talked on the phone and tried hard not to go near the computer. 

This surgery thought me a lesson.  I learned how our mind can deceive us. 

Usually I stay up late. But since I was tired that night I went to bed early.  Then something unexpected happened.  I woke up during the night to go to the bathroom and accidentally I hit my bandaged eye to the edge of the half open door.  It didn't hurt, but the thought of it brought so much anxiety that I felt a pounding pain in my eye.  The worry consumed me.  I had to take a sleeping peel to go back to sleep.  

The following morning the pain persisted and it became worse. At first when I closed my eyes the pain stopped but later it didn't go away even when I closed my eyes.  I called few people I knew that had cataract surgery and no one said that they had experienced any pain. I called the doctor's office and they said "just come for the follow up exam." I already had an appointment.

As soon as the doctor opened the bandage on my eye, the pain disappeared.  What? It was an induced pain.  It was created in my mind.  I asked the doctor how could it be. She didn't have an answer.  This proved how human mind can lie.

The first thing I noticed with my new eye was the bright office floor. I was amazed at the improved quality of colors and the visual clarity.  I went outside and the sky looked so blue and everything was shining.