Monthly Archives: January 2015

Failure to Prepare

I never know where I might find inspiration for this blog.  Today, it was reading an interview in the AARP Bulletin with basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  The journalist asked about the best advice Abdul-Jabbar had received from his college coach and his reply was that the coach would say:  “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

How often do we go through life on auto-pilot, never really planning or preparing for things, and expecting that we’ll manage any bumps in the road without much interruption or attention.  We go through regular morning routines getting ready for work or school without really thinking about the breakfast we’re skipping, or the clothes we’re choosing, or the last-minute lunch items we’re snatching from the refrigerator.    We live in a “grab and go” kind of society now where convenience and immediacy are paramount to taking time to consider options or preferences.

I don’t imagine life will slow down much for many of us. Instead, we could slow down a little. Consider the options. Be able to recognize opportunities, then plan and prepare for things that will save us time and anguish in the future.  Even the simplest preparations can help.

For instance, I’ve found that if I take just a few minutes before going to bed to choose my work outfit for the next day, getting dressed the next morning goes more smoothly and takes less time.  I don’t waste precious morning minutes ironing a pair of slacks because I prepared and did it the night before.  I don’t have to take time figuring out which scarf or necklace goes best with the sweater because I chose accessories before going to bed.

When I make breakfast for Jim and me on a slower-paced weekend morning, I take the time to make extra servings so that we have leftovers for at least two more healthy breakfasts during the week.  This preparation saves us from grabbing carb-heavy bagels or skipping breakfast altogether on those more hectic workday mornings.

These two simple preparations give Jim and me the opportunity to enjoy spending some morning time together over a healthy breakfast before jumping into our separate workdays.  We get a healthier start to our day because we’re able to take a few extra minutes to be together, share a laugh, and ease into our fast-paced jobs.

This same preparation technique can be applied to the tougher topics in life, including make preparations and plans for our older age, declining health, and end of life.  No one has to make all the preparations at once if we starting talking when we’re relatively healthy.

Not making plans, though, may force people we love into a “grab and go” mindset – grabbing the first treatment/procedure offered and making decisions without the benefit of your thoughts and conversations.

Caring Choices believes in the art of preparation and planning.  When we fail to prepare, our loved ones will be living with the failure.  Let’s not burden people we care about with feelings of guilt over “wrong” decisions.  Conversations are the best way to share your plans with family and friends.  You might begin over a slow-paced weekend breakfast!

© 2015 Caring Choices



Recent contemplation of the meaning of this word had prompted me in choosing it to represent my New Year 2015. I had no idea how immediate the consequence of this decision would be upon me.

As early as New Year’s Eve I had already been fighting a lingering headache all day at work; on the 1st day of this year I woke with additional symptoms of a slight sore throat and a dry painful cough. The next day I called and requested what past experiences had shown effective treatment of Bronchitis. Following the physician’s advice, I started a new medication for treatment of the flu called Tamiflu. By Sunday my whole chest cavity was raked with severe pain at every frequent cough along with a colorful array of drainage from sinus and lungs. After evaluation at the Walk-In Clinic, I was started on a short course antibiotic, steroid taper, and powerful cough suppressant/pain reliever liquid to promote sleep which, by this time, I had only maybe 10 hours since the New Year began. I would not be back to work until at least the 7th.

Over the next few days my symptoms began to lessen in some areas and worsen or appear in others. My cough improved by becoming less frequent and painful, but on Tuesday morning I awoke with the back of my throat red, swollen, and very painful. One other time, in recent months, I had had this experience with the research indicating it could possibly have resulted from very loud prolonged snoring. Guilty as charged! So after another day of more awkward than problematic swallowing effort I noticed the swelling had been replaced by white irregular patches on the two main areas of involvement. This prompted another call to the doctor in request of medication for thrush.  After antibiotics, inhaled and oral steroids and the stress of days with no sleep my request made enough sense to everyone for me to get a one-time dose of Fluconazole. So with the rest of the week off from work and a new medication, on Thursday one day and one week after my story began I felt like things were finally taking a turn for the better.

Saturday the 10th I returned to the Walk-In clinic once more due to the increasing painful nature of the unresolved white patches in my throat and a feeling of intense fatigue with the effort to attempt anything beyond walking from here to there. Initial swab test confirmed as negative with cultures pending a call today. Another new medication added with little relief from its numbing anti-inflammatory coating intent. My excuse from work states that I am to return tomorrow.

Presenting the factual symptomatic history above has not accurately informed my readers of the interwoven emotional, psychological, and financial implications this has had on my wife and me. Pain during and currently is almost constant; the loss of sleep has been taxing and considering the assumed viral nature of this malady has likely prolonged its tenacity. Under other circumstances, what would have been a welcome respite from the routine of work responsibility had, in fact, now become a hurdle that must be overcome with no real reasonable “downtime” with which to recover from this attack on my immune system.

Finding the “Strength” to get out of bed every day, facing the known and unknown pain, hardships and challenges of everyday life is often sometimes more than anyone of us can bear. In the past nearly two weeks I have been through a multitude of changes in my physical endurance and emotional state of mind. I have researched all of the possible fantastical and nonsensical considerations for why I have been feeling like this. I have also realized that I have also been surrounded with a nurturing and loving atmosphere of which there would be no hope in life without. I have been able to show my weakness, express my deepest fears and grandest emotions. No matter what the outcome. I had someone to listen.

Caring Choices exists for the very reason this blog topic does. We are not standing apart from life but walking with you. We are facing the same demands of responsibility for ownership of our destiny as everyone else. We see moral courage in action around us every day in our lives, at home, at work, and in our communities. We witness these acts of strength of will to face the pitfalls of daily life despite disease and injury. We share in the unified attempts to relieve suffering at every opportunity. We encourage everyone to openly discuss your fears, concerns and hopes with your loved ones so that they too may aide you when you might find yourself at times without strength.

(c) 2015 Caring Choices

Handling the Elephant in the Room

You’ve probably heard the idiom “elephant in the room” at least once in your lifetime.  People use that phrase to describe something that is (1) an obvious problem which remains unaddressed or (2) a topic that no one wants to discuss.  We believe that the specter of DEATH is certainly at the top of those lists even though we will all face death many times in our lifetimes.  Jim and I have experienced the deaths of our grandparents, parents, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, a sister, a niece, and hundreds of hospice patients and/or nursing home residents.   We have drawn on our combined experiences with our family members and people we’ve aided through hospice to create something we believe wholeheartedly can be very helpful to everyone who will experience changes in health and independence (which is every one of us!).

We call it Elephant in the Rööm™ and we’re offering it now on our new website at  We are certain our Elephant in the Rööm™ will aid individuals, families and groups in thinking about and discussing healthcare needs in a variety of physical and emotional states.  The purpose of Elephant in the Rööm™ is to help people begin meaningful conversations about the kinds of care they want (or are willing/able to provide) when health conditions change.  We know talking about future health problems and eventual death can be scary.  With Elephant in the Rööm™, we believe you CAN talk about it without fear or trepidation.

Handle the elephant in your room with our Elephant in the Rööm™ and make plans with your loved ones while you can talk about these things.  It can never be too early to talk about health and aging issues, but it can become too late.
0147 GW pic








(c) 2015 Caring Choices