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Crabby Old Lady: Professional Patient

Crabby Old Lady is sick, she is dying and she is busier than she has ever been. That's because she has become a professional patient and she is sure, after this amount of time at it, there must be a certificate of achievement or something she can hang on the wall attesting to her proficiency.

The last time Crabby wrote about being a professional patient 18 months ago, it was from a hospital perspective. She was spending a lot of time there in the early days following her pancreatic cancer surgery and many of those hours or days involve waiting for this doctor, that test or procedure, new instructions and so on.

There is little to do in those circumstances to amuse herself, so Crabby watched how the system functions - “studied” hospital culture, if you will - and learned a lot about a world she had not encountered up close before. She wrote about it here.

But you don't need to be in a hospital for the medical team to pile on the tasks and homework.

Crabby is sure that many of you, dear readers, have experience keeping track of medications, counting out pills into those little plastic boxes once a week. Crabby keeps a chart taped to the inside of a cupboard door in the kitchen to follow when she is filling up the boxes once a week.

Why does it always feel, when they are empty again, as if she last did the counting yesterday? It never ends.

And filling the boxes depends on whether Crabby has kept track of how many pills are left in the bottle. If she forgets to renew the prescription when she's down to five pills, there is the pharmacy to wrangle with to get a refill in time.

The doctors and nurses have asked Crabby to keep a diary of symptoms and side effects from the chemo so she has a little book for that. She also tracks her weight every day to be sure she's not losing. (Never in her previous life could Crabby have imagined that she would one day struggle to maintain weight rather that lose it.)

Before her cancer, Crabby had only the vaguest idea of what chemotherapy would do to her. Of course, she had heard of all sorts of dreadful side effects and she's lucky to have so few – the biggest one being fatigue for several days after an infusion.

That means naps. Sometimes two a day for three days or so. Then there are the two full days a month at the chemo clinic for her infusions. It puts Crabby behind in everything – she is always playing catchup these days.

Both the disease and the chemotherapy have slowed Crabby down. Pretty much everything – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking a walk, hauling groceries in from the car (in two trips nowadays instead of one) – takes twice as long as it once did.

That leaves a lot less time for social life, leisurely telephone chats with friends far away, reading, other entertainment and writing blog posts. It is the dilemma of the professional patient and Crabby is losing patience with it.

Not that lost patience will change anything. It's just that Crabby didn't expect this drag on her time and she needed to blow off a little steam about it today. Plus, she really does believe she deserves at least a gold star for it.


I'm sending you four Gold Stars for putting up with all that stuff, Ronni. (No one ever gets five Gold Stars because I don't know about their struggles, the fifth being awarded for never kvetching - lol.)

It is always a wonder seeing how well you (and a couple others of my friends) cope with a life filled with maintenance activities. I'm happy to see that you are maintaining your sense of humor and your sense of balance. Very well done!

Crabby definitely deserves at least one gold star if not two. ⭐️⭐️

How annoying for you! Ah Ronni, I love it when you let Crabby loose on your blog. Refreshing.

A gold star, with a couple of oak clusters!


Loved reading Dear Old Crabby this morning. I, too, send several gold stars (I'll say 77). You'll probably get many more. I get crabby sometimes just doing anything to maintain myself these days. Every task to that end seems never-ending. My mother felt the same way during her chemo and resented having to take pills. She would sometimes lay them out and make shapes with them --often she did faces because one her pills was shaped like a bow-tie.

I love all your posts; I've learned from them, laughed with them, and often send them to my kids.


Many pharmacies were sort your pills into daily packets and you can put your prescriptions on auto fill.

A basket full of goldstars to you and Crabby for the courage of speaking your piece and keeping on keeping on. I believe venting is the best form of mental Therapy and I encourage practicing it in written and verbal form.

I'm sending some gold stars, too, from one crabby old lady to another... Sometimes we all need a day or two to get our crabby on.

A gold star with (as Jean Shepherd used to say) bronze oak leaf clusters to you Crabby.
Spending more time in hospitals than I ever could have imagined made me a jaded, crabby old man disdainful of everything and everybody. It took a long time and a lot of Lexapro for me to get over it.


I grow impatient with medical maintenance too!

But I’m impressed with your organization.

I hope today is a good day.

4 Stars and one shooting star for appropriate attitude 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

What's higher than a gold star? If there's one (platinum?), you deserve it. You are a blessing in more ways than you'll ever know. There, I've said it.

It does get tiresome, doesn't it? I tried to just think of it as my new job, and the drive as my regular commute (45-60 min one way, just like all the other commuters). On my GPS, the cancer center is labeled "work." And I really did come to think of all the staff there as coworkers.

Your pill routine sounds exactly like mine, right down to the list taped inside the kitchen cabinet door. How else does one keep track of all those pills?

I didn't get any gold stars but when I finished my radiation treatments (daily for 6 weeks), I was presented a certificate and a little pompom and everyone in the waiting room applauded.

Oh, definitely more than a star.
On recommendation of the blog readers and by virtue of the authority granted by them the readers of Time Goes By have conferred upon Ronni Bennett (aka Crabby Old Lady) the degree of Master of Science in Patient Management and all the rights and privileges pertaining to such award.

I second (third, and fourth) that James!

YAY Ronni!

I complained last week to someone about the time consuming nature of self maintenance. When we most want to be appreciating environment and human interaction we have to stop for a pill or a doc appt or just long drives to see docs. Mine are mostly three hours away.
Thanks for your timely vent. We can relate as the saying goes. Oh, and numerous gold stars to you.

I would award you an Oscar!! But that's for pretending, right?

Anyway, I'm sure you're happy you can vent with all your This End Up mates. That alone will make you feel better today.

Many gold stars from me too. Kudos for the lists and notes and organizers. I have a little notebook too. Although I've caught myself having missed a day every now and then. Who knew all those organizational skills we had at work and in our lives would go to such good use as we aged. Proud of you.

A timely description of the "older period" of life....it gets stars and and A's for effort !

Here's a gold star!

What a drag it all is! Just having to take the "normal" pills for old age irritates me, so I admire you greatly for dealing with all that medical crap. I guess, ultimately, a crabby old lady's just gotta do what a crabby old lady's just gotta do! Hats off to you!

When I was a kid the teachers used to put gold stars on spelling tests that were 100% correct. One teacher kept a drawer full of goodies which you were allowed to access. So Ronnie I not only award you a gold star but my favorite reward,
a chocolate-covered graham cracker.

I think you deserve a higher accolade than a gold star – a koala stamp.

A meteor shower is what you deserve. Wish I could order one for you! Your openness and strength and humor are inspirational. Thanks for continuing your blog!

I have a pill reminder and medication tracker app on my smartphone and it's very usefull not to forget taking my pills everyday.

I also got tired of my doctor appointments. Very tired! So my Christmas present to myself was to cancel all my doctor appointments for December and January. Oh that felt good. Luckily nothing earth shattering. Many all the maintenance appointments that the doctors seem to want and the dentist and knee surgery for a torn meniscus. Back on track in February. Sitting here with ice on my knee.
All the rounds of doctors will begin again but it sure felt great to blow them all out!
Your diligence with keeping up with it all is mind blowing fantastic. You are so very special! Hang in there "Fierce Tiger".

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ And some 🍷. You are so awesome, let your crabby flag fly whenever you need to.

I quit smoking in ‘92. I’m still waiting for my gold star for that achievement. If I had your address, I’d send you one myself! You deserve it! Being a professional patient deserves many gold stars. In fact, you deserve a parade with fireworks and all the cotton candy you can stomach.

Hooray for Crabby--so good to see her again! And loads of Gold Stars, too. . .

I have no idea what I'd do if I were hit by a Big Ailment requiring me to become a permanent professional patient. I don't think I have the patience for that s*** (especially if it involved "heroic medicine") and would most likely follow the path of least resistance. However, that would depend on a lot of different factors.

Yes, many gold stars for your crown, Ms. Crabby, and I totally sympathize. Here you should be lolling on a velvet chaise with favorite friends, ice cream, wine, great books and movies, you should be taken out for lovely rides and to favorite restaurants...........not having to count pills, keep records and take naps. No, you are right, it is not right. I wish for you a lovely surprise in the next several days..........

Vent all you want, it helps get one's attitude back on track. You deserve so much more than a gold star. I too know about being a professional patient. One day last week I had 5 different medical appointments and of course another couple earlier in the week. It gets so old. Today I have no appointments and we got a dusting of snow and are having a few snowflakes now and then, so I have declared it a snow day, even though it wouldn't qualify, as I take time to relax and do what I want. I am still in my jammies which I don't usually do in the daytime, but mine says "If It's Snowing I'm Not Going". LOL So I'm not going anywhere today. Sometimes we just need a bit of down time.

I have found the perfect place to vent my ire and my frustration with an aging and ailing body! These past two years and the next two years have and will provide me with such a deserving past time that I thank my guardian angel twice each day for this oh-so-obvious diversion from my daily medical routines!

A moving target, perfect timing and plenty of verbal "ammunition" have come along at just the right time! It sure beats paint-ball ... and I've made a ton of new like-minded friends this way. Modern-day cyber advancements have provided me with the greatest venue for this joust ... it's called Facebook.

I only hope to live long enough to see the silly little dragon ousted and a proper successor seated in our beloved White House before I depart the field of battle with my head held high and bearing the flag of victory!

You really should hire someone to clean house and do errands. You should not be vacuuming or cleaning toilets etc. Unless your area has grocery delivery, you should save your strength for cannabis runs : ) You are no doubt a person who has always done everything for yourself, but getting some household assistance would truly be something you could do for yourself, especially since you may not live into your 90's.

You deserve a constellation of stars, in whatever goddess shape you choose. I also encourage you to pare down the home chores and use a grocery store that delivers (you are in Portland, right?), save your energy for the things that "spark joy" to borrow a pretty good phrase.

I believe that all of Ronnie's fans and followers should take a collective vow never to quote or mention Marie Kondo to her ever again. She has lived so far on her own terms and has enough to deal with without being subjected the cult of "life changing magic." She seems (to me) to be a hard core realist, probably immune to "magic." Having lived in apartments (NYC) and condos, she is probably also as "tidy" or more so than those of us with attics, basements, extra closets etc.

My saving grace is Instacart - so easy when you are exhausted, or just simply don't want to get dressed, get in the car, buy your groceries, and drive home again. I love Instacart and it is available in Lake Oswego! Order online, and your stuff is delivered within 2 hours. It's even available for Whole Foods.

A heap of gold stars for you⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
You deserve each and every one of them. 🤗

Gold stars and koala stamps for sure. Afraid I'd make Crabby Old Lady look like a milk toast. Can't even imagine. Thanks for sharing always!

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