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Workforce boomers will show tough sides

On occasion in this space, adapted excerpts from the EndNotes blog, blogs/endnotes, will substitute for the usual question-and-answer format for the column.

As baby boomers glide into their 60s and remain in their jobs a lot longer than their parents did, we predict a fairly macho attitude toward sick days. Older workers are more prone to the ailments that can afflict older people in general. Back troubles, heart issues, cancers that inconvenience but don’t kill you. But aging boomer workers will be less likely to call in sick for many reasons.

Case in point: Hillary Clinton, 65, looked pretty darn good last week testifying in front of Congress. Less than a month ago, they were shrinking a clot from her brain.

She’s tough. This we know. But we predict aging boomers in the workplace will be more like Clinton than like the stereotype of older people complaining all the time about their ailments, and using those ailments as an excuse to withdraw from life.

Clinton likely discovered long ago what our 50- and 60-something friends often talk about. Your aches and pains disappear (for the most part) when you are totally absorbed in a work project. It’s a free health treatment, without side effects.

Covered with kindness

Last Monday, while sitting with our friend Chris at her chemotherapy treatment, she wrapped herself in a prayer quilt made by her Washington State University sorority sister from college years, Kass. The church Kass belongs to, Marysville United Methodist Church, created the quilt with pieces of ribbon throughout, representing prayers said for the person snuggled beneath the quilt.

A man, who was waiting with a friend during his chemotherapy treatment, approached Chris and asked if the quilt was indeed a prayer quilt. He asked who made it for her. She explained. The man said that when he underwent heart surgery five years ago in Florida, his church made him a similar quilt.

If you’ve never been with a person undergoing chemotherapy as an outpatient, the setting may seem odd at first. There is a line of comfortable recliners in a large room with IV poles and drip lines set up next to those chairs. There is really no privacy between the people receiving chemotherapy, no curtains and no rooms, though people meet in private with the nurse practitioners during their treatments.

Surprisingly, once you get used to the idea, the no-privacy setting works well. People undergoing chemo don’t feel so alone. And it allows for conversations about support systems, such as prayer quilts being made around the country for sick folks.

Liar pants on fire

Some “big fat liars” (to use a childhood term) have been found out recently. First, the Notre Dame scandal where many people likely are lying, not just football player Manti Te’o.

And Lance Armstrong finally admitted that he lied and lied and lied and lied and lied.

Why does it happen? How can you spot it?

An article in Psychology Today pointed out that pathological lying is “associated with a range of diagnoses, such as antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders.”

There is a rather simple formula for stopping lies within yourself, however. And if we’re honest, most of us do small stretchings of the truth to look better, feel better or spare another’s feelings.

Ask yourself: Does the outside story I’m telling the world match the inside story of who I really am and what I know to be true about my life?

If yes, you’re not lying. If no, you are.

Simple but sometimes more difficult than it seems.

Bumper sticker Zen

Sometimes wisdom is all around us, in unlikely places. We spotted a wisdom-bit one recent morning on the license plate frame on a car traveling on West Francis Avenue near Salk Middle School. It read: Get in. Sit down. Shut up. Hold on.

To which we’ll add: Amen!

Catherine Johnston, a health care professional from Olympia, and Rebecca Nappi, a Spokesman-Review features writer, welcome your questions about what to do in times of illness, dying, death and grief. Contact them through their EndNotes blog at blogs/endnotes.

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