Merry Christmas 2013!!! And Happy New Year in 2014!!!

other paint christmas treeFor the next two weeks, Biddy Bytes will be on holiday break and will resume new posts on January 6, 2014.

In the meantime….

Enjoy our Christmas tree…It’s all lit up and festooned with lights and ornaments from a long way back….but not all the way back. A 3 foot flood in the basement of our former home destroyed those…

It’s OK…We got to make a totally fresh start and that actually worked out for the better because my little family desperately needed that fresh start.

Speaking of new beginnings, I’ll soon make a big announcement concerning a fun, new writing job I’ve taken on (it would appear I elude complete retirement.) Maybe some of you out there do the same (avoid retirement, I mean.)

Finally, there’s my book, Patient Witness. Its catalyst is the event that happened in the region to which we will soon be going–Asheville. I plan to pretty much hibernate there, while I complete the editing process. Then I’ll move to publish my book, either through traditional channels or self-publishing.

At this wonderful time of year, I extend to you all my best wishes for a blessed and beautiful holiday season….I wish you joy, too, in the New Year.

P.S.  The picture at the top of my blog?  It figures into the announcement I’ll make, so please Stay tuned…And tell me, too, your plans for the coming year. Anything new on your horizon?

Posted in Family Life, Health and Well-Being, Inspirational | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Physical Therapy: Necessary Bridge in the Convalescence Process


 salt water pool(Absolute’s salt water pool is almost as long as one to the right…Even better, it’s not too populated, making swimming a joy.)

In an almost sadistic twist of fate, I broke my ankle the year following the death of my husband.  I was set to take my daughters to church (so much for being a good parent) on an overcast day, in that dreary month of March.  Spring hadn’t erupted yet and there were patches of snow dotting the yard, remnants of a last storm.

I marshaled my daughters out the door, to the car, and as I approached the driver’s side, I slipped on one of those hitherto mentioned patches.  My leg shot out from under me and I went down, splayed out, in the mud of a half-thawed front lawn. I heard the crack and I feared the consequences.  When I tried to move my foot, the pain kicked in, and I cried out.

I directed my older daughter to call 911, to get me help. Almost immediately, they arrived. The medics lifted me up on a stretcher, deposited me in the van, and off we went, to the hospital where I discovered I’d suffered a particularly-nasty ankle break.  The upshot? This single working Mom could put no weight on my foot for 8 weeks. I was basically immobilized.

I took a medical leave from school and considered the consequences: My older daughter wasn’t old enough to drive, and no family members lived nearby.  That meant we relied for support on friends who dropped by, periodically, to check on us, or who graciously dropped off meals.

At the end of the 8-week convalescent period, I went back to my job, as teacher in a junior high.  First, I dropped my girls off at their respective locations and then proceeded to my school, where I parked, limped along serpentine corridors and hobbled up stairs, to the second floor, to begin my school day  that consisted of teaching 5 classes, with another period of supervision (study hall, cafeteria duty…whatever.)

Unbelievably, upon return to my teaching job, following that long-term sick leave, office staff assigned me to cover an absent teacher’s class, during my one unassigned period. That meant I worked 7 periods straight, with only a 20-minute break the entire day (for lunch). 

There was no ease-in period. My problem?  I was weak from weeks of sitting and had little stamina or strength.  I had had no physical therapy throughout the process and went from sidelined patient to full-fledged employee, drop-kicked into full demands of a work scenario.

At the end of the day, I struggled out, wondering how I could continue.

Some years later I had foot surgery and the follow-up gave me a chance to see the difference physical therapy makes in one’s transition to normal life, following an operation or a procedure.  Under the guidance of a physical therapist, I worked at keeping muscles in prime working order. My strength built over time, so that when I returned to work, I was fully up to the task.

But it was in the weeks following my husband’s accident that I got to see the really important value of these professionals.

Over a several week period, they guided a thoroughly-broken individual in strength training, helping him rebuild his motor skills. Because he suffered neurological impairment (due to the anoxic episode), occupational therapists were critical in assessing his cognitive skills, helping him regain abilities in this quarter, too. I wouldn’t have known how to do any of that.

But originally, we weren’t supposed to get that help, for the hospital was merely going to discharge him to my care. Only when they learned I’d not be up to the task (I informed them I have MS), did they alter his post-hospital care plan and assign him to a rehabilitation facility.

Why else did I seek such?  I knew that if I took him home, right from the hospital (where he’d suffered the code blue (“died”), I’d never fully realize the damage he’d suffered. I’d be responsible, too, from that point on, as to what happened, in future.

I wanted an independent source to assess how much damage he’d suffered. I also wanted direction as to how much he could improve in the recovery process.

When I saw how very broken he was in those first meetings with therapists, I knew he had a long road back. Over the next months, he continued making strides in his recovery, but, in my estimation,  excellent physical and occupational therapists were the all-important bridge back to normalcy, following horrific circumstances that robbed my husband of his ability to “do life.”

Here are the two teams that helped us:    Care Partners, in Asheville, NC. and
Elite Physical Therapy,  in Warwick, RI, where Jason was our prime therapist.

***I’ve just begun, too, going to Rhode Island Rehab, in East Greenwich, R.I., where a young woman skilled with MS patients helps me through a current episode.  Other aspect of this facility I like so much? While there, patients can use Absolute Fitness’s large, salt-water pool next door. Being buoyant through stretching exercises makes a huge difference..I’ll look for a similar facility when we soon go to Asheville.

Now, how about you?  Use the skills of a physical therapist and does it make a difference?

Posted in Health and Well-Being, Inspirational, Medical, Specifically North Carolinan, Uncategorized, Uniquely Rhode Island | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Think You’re Safe from Snoops? Think Again…

provate detective

Speaking of privacy, there was a big hack job recently and folks were advised to change their pins…I haven’t changed mine yet, for I have too damn many of them….(7 pages in all.)

I’ve got friends who say: “I don’t want to be on Facebook because I don’t want my personal information shared,” and I say:  They’re kidding themselves if they think that they control who gets sensitive information about them. Why?  The one area of personal information always considered sacrosanct—especially in our parents’ and grandparents’ day—was salary.  Today, that information is accessible to anyone if the one queried about is in the state retirement system.

Why?  The public has a vested interest in knowing…They bankroll part of that retiree’s income.

OK, I gotta admit:  I was shocked.  I submitted a piece to an editor some years back whereby I made the argument that we Rhode Island teachers paid a whole lot more into the retirement  system than other states did, and the pension, with COLA, was our fair return.  I argued against the loss of that 3% raise that kicked in after our third year retired–the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment.)

The amount was agreed to by both sides; actuarial experts approved; they believed it  do-able…the formula was years in the making. 

I argued (at the State House, where hearings occurred just before they took our COLA):  If financial experts established a flawed model, why do we retired teachers pay the price years later?

But the editor (and legislators) didn’t buy my version.  He reminded me that since I retired in 1997 (he’d apparently looked me up on that state retirees’ website), he knew that I’d make 1.3 million (if COLA remained—which it hasn’t) if I lived and collected to my projected age. His point? I’d make more money (while retired) than I made during my career.

I countered with:  As Rhode Island teacher, I paid in more than other teachers in other state retirement systems (that’s a fact).  Furthermore, my money was supposed to earn enough interest over the decades to fulfill the contractual agreement.

I brought up related issues:  As single Mom (divorced once…widowed twice), I took all sorts of second jobs (while teaching) and my deductions in those made me eligible for Social Security benefits.  What happened when I reached the age to collect?  Since I get a municipal pension, via a city that never paid into Social Security, the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) kicked in and I lost most of my Social Security earned benefit.  Instead of $450 a month, I get $150.

What about all those who got fat pensions for no…or little… work?  They’re the ones who infuriate all, and little can be done to change that.  The rest of us are victims of administrative malfeasance, in-house chicanery, and a robbing of the pension fund by those undeserving others (you know, the ones on beaches, collecting fat pensions, despite the fact they never paid….or paid a pittance.)

But I began this article talking about people’s fear of personal information being “out there.” Yes, it’s out there—in a big way. That’s why my Facebook page has trucker ads appearing on the right, in the margins (Facebook knows I write the Grandpa and the Truck books for kids, so they load my Grandpa and the Truck page with ads tailored to that interest…See I gave them that information about me when I created the Grandpa and the Truck Facebook page (“Like” us if you like…)

Proving this another way, folks can look up the value of anyone’s house in Rhode Island at  Once on site, go to “Realtor Tools” and scroll down to “Tax Assessors” then highlight city or town where person lives.  When that comes up, hit “Enter Database” and provide address or person’s name. You’ll find other delicious facts, too, such as assessed value, square footage…see pictures…

But it’s the pension money folks earn that’s the most telling of today’s absence of privacy.

Finally, today’s personal information website tools abound, and much of our heretofore personal information is accessible to anyone with a computer (I listed those for Rhode Island; I’m sure others exist for others’ home states.) Just put in “state retirement pensions North Carolina” (if you’re a Tarheel, ) in your browser and see what comes up.

For that reason, you may want to reconsider joining Facebook; most folks can pretty much find whatever they want to know about you using these website sleuthing devices.  You might as well control the Facebook part.…Here’s the site for RI state employees’ pensions….

***If you wish to buy the Grandpa and the Truck books for little ones 4-8 (boys and girls), go to As author, I will personalize (to your specifications) and sign…Shipping is free…How cool is that? If you wish to purchase by check, let me know that, too (a reader just apprised me of a need to include this option and I thank her.)  I’ll tell you how to send check, if you e-mail me at…

Posted in "I Didn't Know That...", Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment