How not to Spend Your Bonus Day


My two cents: some days are a bit of a tails-you-lose proposition, if only in the sense of lost time you’ll never get back . . .

I have two words for you: undesirable expenses. I’ll say right up front here that I am in no way comparing my day yesterday with those disasters of epic proportions in life, safety, health and happiness that are visited regularly on people around the world and even those in my own circle of love and acquaintance. So you already know, then, that I am still here to tell the tale and it’s only generalized annoyance and frustration at my own petty, less-than-optimal Happenings that make me even say it wasn’t the most glamorous and desirable way to while away the hours of that “extra day” we get every four years in the form of February 29, or Leap Day.

There are some people who claim that what happens on the 29th day of February is a sort of cosmic Freebie–it doesn’t count as real in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t actually exist, because after all the 29th of February doesn’t even appear calendars for three-quarters of the years of our lives. Of course, this idea of the day’s magical insubstantiality might be considered problematic by any of the people who on February the 29th are born, get married, win the lottery, or anything else they might consider a big Plus, if not essential. Maybe I should’ve planned my 29th better ahead this time around, just in case there was anything to the theory. But disregarding any potential Bonus inherent in the date, I did as I always do and scheduled/happened upon just another ordinary day of Being Me. Not that I find this practice in any way lacking panache and glamor, as I am after all quite the fantastic creature ‘as is’.

The only straying from my typical day was decided for me: a return visit to the local radiology center where I’d recently had my regularly scheduled mammogram. This was simply the first available date for my ‘reshoot’, and I took it. Arranging times for routine medical checkups is hardly routine, a sketchy business at the best of times, so when a scheduler says the magic words “I have an opening . . . ” I leap. Leap Day it is, then. I even showed up a little early, because who knows . . . . Should I have been worried that the first magazine I saw on the waiting room reading table in the Women’s Health Clinic was ‘Rifleman‘? No matter, I plunged ahead.

Thus I found myself sitting in the hallway between the time of being Ready for My Closeup and getting my radiological reading from the oracle-doctor, and thinking dimly about whether my worrier-self needed to be consulted. I slouched there looking at a wall that was quite blank except for the electrical outlet that was either winking at me conspiratorially or making grimaces of warning–I couldn’t tell which. This, at length, confirmed for me that I am either too jaded or too lazy to get worried about such things.graphiteHaving what is blandly termed “dense tissue”, I have probably had call-backs on at least 50% of my mammograms over the years. Auditioning actors might like callbacks, but I’m not such an enthusiast. Mostly, it means another half day of my precious life’s hours down the drain. So far the worst that has come from any of those callbacks were a few visits to a surgeon who aspirated collected fluid from persistent cysts, which while it’s another time-eater and not my first choice for a purely entertaining thing to do, is benign stuff. And I will certainly admit that I am glad someone cares enough about either me or my money to check up on my health from time to time. Even if I could figure out a handy way to do my own digital mammography ‘x-rays’ with a DIY home kit (my version would likely involve a non-stick frying pan, a bench vise, six disposable cameras, silly putty, and duct tape), I know from looking at the resultant tissue images yesterday that there’s not the remotest hope I could usefully decipher what looks to me like a grey interstellar cloud with a sparse constellation of teeny white fibroid stars in it. So I sat there in that hallway gazing without much thought at an electric receptacle.

It was, of course, a relief all the same that I had a perfectly happy diagnosis confirmation and no need to do further imaging or biopsies or aspirations. If I am to have aspirations I’d much prefer them to be for more impressive, productive or fun things than personal deflation. By the time I ran a couple of errands on the way home, there was a hefty chunk of the morning all siphoned right away and with very little to show for it but my one-page declaration of Negative (or Good) Results.

digital drawing image

Sometimes, when things are obviously entirely beyond my control I begin to feel like a seahorse out of water . . .

No matter, I had better things ahead. And indeed, the afternoon was a pleasant one, beginning with that telephone call from Mom S that led to yesterday’s reverie posted about the ambient music of the world, going on through the latter part of the chamber orchestra rehearsal I caught when I went to pick up my partner from his work with the players, and next leading to getting a few needful things done at home before we drove south for the evening’s church choir rehearsal. Indeed, I had put away my sense of tedium from the morning’s sitting-around and getting-pinched and sitting-around-again extravaganza and I was able to enjoy the evening’s rehearsal from my perch in the adjacent office while looking forward to a commute back home afterward, an hour or so to unwind, and then off to sleep away a longish day.

This was where things went a little off course. Literally. We were hardly on the freeway, heading wearily but contentedly home, when we caught the usual sight of many red taillights coming on as we approached the freeway construction zone downtown and prepared to get into a brief bottleneck. As we were both scanning ahead to see if the traffic seemed more backed up than usual, the cars all close together but not yet terribly slow, right in front of us appeared a very big piece of Something that could not possibly be avoided at freeway speed, let alone when it spanned the entire lane, was obviously made of metal, and was framed by cars whizzing right alongside us. No swerving, no amount of standing on brakes, and no wishful thinking could fix the situation, so drive right on over it we did. With a crunch and a clank. Whether it was a truck tailgate or a piece of construction scaffolding or something else was irrelevant: it was big, pointy, solid and Right There. Amazingly, the car jolted but never went off its straight line. The Tire Pressure light came on at the dashboard instantly, though, and we knew continuing forward was not optional.


Whether getting fluid removed from oneself, being pressed to near-nothingness in a mammography machine, or seeing *all* of the air go out of a tire, one is always a little surprised at the Shrinking Feeling involved . . .

My fabulous chauffeur got us up the first exit ramp and our champion car hobbled up the street far enough that we could get off this busy city avenue and into a passenger drop-off zone outside a parking garage. All of the good things that could happen from there on in did happen, so I have to give credit to the kindness of the day that, first of all, we didn’t see the debris until it was virtually under us, so there was no time to tighten up and get any injuries from the jolt. That the car behind us that was also ‘hit’ also limped up the exit safely, passengers intact. A large group of men passing by as we got out to survey the damage stopped and offered to help us change our tire: not, it turned out on inspection, necessary or useful, because both right-side tires were deflated far more than I ever was after fluid aspirations. I’d never realized full-sized tires could get so tiny. The car-park structure had security guards, who kindly checked on our safety. We had a functional cell phone with programmed numbers and were able to call a pair of incredibly generous friends from the church choir, who came instantly to our rescue.

When our friends arrived, the men stayed to join forces with the tow truck operator who had answered the summons for help. We two women took the one functional car and dashed off to Love Field–the airport being the only accessible location where we could secure a rental car at that hour, and then only by a ten minute margin from closing time–and picked up a temporary replacement for our injured vehicle. Then we two caravanned back and convened with the men, who had been dropped off with our lame auto in the alley behind the local auto shop our friends recommended. Leaving our kind friends with our car keys and a commission to get the repair process started in the morning–and leaving a note crammed under the auto shop door–we finally headed back for home only a couple of hours later than planned. And still uninjured, unless you count a bit of a blow to our best-laid plans.

Will you be shocked if I say there was a flurry of very colorful colloquial language indeed in the confines of a certain little red rental car when we got on the road to drive home to our burrow and the ramp leading onto the northbound freeway was completely closed for construction, with no Exit Closed, no foreshadowing, no detour signs anywhere in sight? Some days are like that. Maybe I should be glad that so many of the hours of a less than ideal day were actually wasted away and gone forever. I should at least be glad we got home mostly unscathed, eventually. I know I am very glad, at the moment, that the 29th of February only shows up once every four years.

pen & ink

Some days are clearly beasts of entirely another sort than the expected…

36 thoughts on “How not to Spend Your Bonus Day

  1. Ah, yes! This is also known as “Murphy’s Day”. It is unfortunate that this ‘holiday’ comes more frequently than once a year. So glad the day left you uninjured, if not unruffled! (love the sea horse 😀 )

  2. At the very least, all this happened without a hint of snow and way above zero, which, as you are painfully aware, greatly intensifies the tragic-ness of EVERYTHING. I suspect even the hands of the medical person/ mammogram artist were a little warmer! Not that i enjoy othere people’s pain & suffering & general bad luck, i did however enjoy the read.

    • Believe me, we were standing around staring at our deflated tires and talking about exactly how lucky we were that it was unnaturally warm, dry, and clear. No snow or ice to skid us hither and yon, throw us into other cars or concrete barriers or ditches or keep us from escaping the highway UP the off ramp.

      And yes, there *is* something to be said for doctors not having ice cube hands!! 🙂

  3. I am very pleased to hear that the result of your repeat mammogram was a perfectly happy diagnosis conformation. What an afternoon after that though. Hope that all the bad car luck on yesterday’s 29th of February will not be repeated in a zillion leap years.

    • Thank you, B, we’re hoping for the same. 🙂 We get our car back this afternoon, and the inspection indicates that there was no damage beyond the tire shredding, which is in itself a mighty lucky escape.

  4. Oh dear.. you had one of those days, and the only time i went for the afore mentioned mammogram, the lady looked at my .. um.. slimmish um boyish physique and said ” You are going to make this hard for me aren’t you!” That was many years ago, thankfully i have fallen out of that particular loop and have managed to outlive all my female rellies, who dutifully turned up, were given bad news and succumbed.. I am of the head in the sand variety!! c

    • I’m quite the opposite, coming from a family with no history of problems, but I figure since the technicians and equipment are pretty sophisticated nowadays and have little problem with my *quite* boyish physique (okay, the callback in this case *was* because the “mystery” grey area was hard to reach by the chest wall) I might as well be proactive. I don’t blame you, though. It’s a bore and a time-eater, to be sure.

  5. What a perfect awful day, first the mammogram call back then your car incident. I’m like you, after the first incident I think, “good now that’s behind me” only to get whammied again! I hope today went better for you:) xo Smidge

  6. Oh, Kathryn! Twice during your post I could feel my heart starting to race. As a result, I can fully understand that you need time to “decompress” but, from where I sit, you had a pretty good day. No need to speak of the mammogram and things could have gone so much worse on the freeway. Instead, you’re fine, a little frazzled, but fine and likely to stay that way for quite some time. And I, for one, am very relieved.

    • Thank you, my dear, I too think that the sum of the day was much better than a couple of its parts. Since R and I both came out of the drive none the worse for wear I am a happy camper. We get our car back later today, and that’ll close the episode, except of course for paying off the monetary parts of the transaction. 😉

  7. Oh I see.. so mammograms aren’t as gentle as I would’ve hoped … I hate those sorts of days Kathryn… But I always like it when I come out having survived! Great post.

    • Yes, major bonus points for survival intact! And I’ve been lucky to have very gentle technicians do my mammograms, generally, so I can’t complain. After all, good news at the end of it is well worth a little bit of nuisance, whether in hospital or on the highway! 🙂

  8. As I read your account of what happened on this most peculiar day, I was able to identify with you, and felt sorry that it had turned into such a wasted day. Afterwards, I read Dennnis’s poem at the ‘Bard on the Hill’. It sounded very sane advice. But still, I’ll tell you what I do when I have an unexpected free day. I am always grateful for a holiday, or a free day, and when I see one on the horizon, I immediately schedule some activity that I’d never think to put in a normal day… A visit with a friend I haven’t seen since the last blue moon, watching a movie in the middle of the day, or a trip to the ocean… I figure there are enough days to do routine things… and a special day deserves a special plan.

  9. Boy did you ever have a cluster of a day! I recently had an anxiety attack of a day going in for bloodwork and am thrilled to report the tests came back improved. WOOT!!! I prescribe a day of meditation and yoga with a big glass of wine. Your DIY mammogram kit was funny!

    • Oh, I’m so glad your bloodwork gave happy news! I’ll get my results on that part next week when I see the doctor for my regular checkup (got postponed by one of our added rehearsal dates last week), but am expecting generally upbeat things there too. It’s just so nice when we get that stuff off the agenda for the next while. I’m kind of hoping that the car Incident gets us karmically off the hook for a good long time too! 😉 In any case, I’m happy to schedule in that prescribed recovery day of yours. Come join me! 🙂

    • I have to say, much as I disliked the cyst aspirations, mammograms *without* those obstacles interfering are much *less* uncomfortable than with them, so it’s worth the hassle of getting them out of the way. As I told Teri above, I’m hopeful that we got our allotted car hassles out of the way for a long time now too! 😉

  10. What a day! But you are here to tell the tale.
    and as to the “Even if I could figure out a handy way to do my own digital mammography ‘x-rays’ with a DIY home kit (my version would likely involve a non-stick frying pan, a bench vise, six disposable cameras, silly putty, and duct tape)”. I think you have a patent pending, just not sure for what 🙂

  11. Double whammy! But I am so glad you are safe and that the results of the mammogram are negative. All’s well that ends well.
    Will it help if I told you that I had a root canal on that day? Yup! That’s what I did. Sat slack jawed while a relative stranger poked and peered within to help me on my way to a better dental health. Weird though it may seem, It does give me sense of achievement. I got the nuisance out of the way on the extra day so that I may have my regular days to myself. Hmmm…I know there is a logic here somewhere.

    • I’ve heard that a root canal is *far* more unpleasant to undergo than anything that happened here, Rama dear. I hope you’re recovering VERY well and quickly and won’t have any more drama from your teeth! And here’s to our all having smoother days ahead. 🙂 Hugs!

  12. Sorry that you had one of those days. Not so much fun to live through, but they certainly resonate with everyone. I’m glad all is well and that day is now just a memory.

    • Thank you, my dear–as usual, just having a good public whimper about it puts it in perspective and takes a tiny bit of the sting out of paying for all the fun too. 😉

  13. Well, at least you won’t have to mark the anniversary of such a day for another four years!

    Love the drawings! And ‘Auditioning actors might like callbacks, but I’m not such an enthusiast. Mostly, it means another half day of my precious life’s hours down the drain.’

    …and so many other things about this, including ‘a seahorse out of water’

    So glad you are alright, Kathryn!

  14. I understand “bonus day” but I have to ask anyway, what “bonus day”? And, by the way congratulations on negative med report, if you get my meaning? Seems there’s never any time to play. Age has not brought the anticipated time to put down the Ajax & relax…

    • No, every so-called Retired person I’ve ever met has been something like twice as busy as when employed–no one can resist using every available minute for those things we put off during the supposed Working years. Ironic, perhaps??

      Getting a 29th of February is *supposed* to be an extra day, according to my sources. It just turned out that instead of being the Bonus of an extra day for fun it was an extra day of annoyances! 😉

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