Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | December 4, 2002

Post-it notes, don’t fail my middle-aged brain

I’m normally a very organized person. I have files at my fingertips and can pull out our tax returns for the last several years, the kids’ immunization records, or a copy of our homeowner’s insurance policy at a moment’s notice.

However, I’ve noticed that my sophisticated system of keeping track of appointments – post-it notes stuck to my computer monitor – has recently been failing me. Ask our family’s doctors.

I recently forgot my daughter’s 7-year check-up with her pediatrician. It’s now rescheduled for the week after next, when she’ll be a few days shy of 7 1/2 years old. I even had to call this week to double check the date and time because I lost the scrap of paper I used for scribbling the details when I called the pediatrician’s office to apologize for missing the first appointment and reschedule.

It’s not just my kids. I also missed an appointment with my own doctor. I discovered this when, in a moment of frustration with the business cards littering my purse, I decided to discard the ones I didn’t need anymore. I found an appointment card for a doctor’s visit I was supposed to have made a week earlier. I haven’t had the guts to call my doctor yet; I wrote my last appointment with him down incorrectly and showed up exactly 24 hours late. He very kindly worked me in.

The embarrassment is great enough at this point that I may need to find a new physician.

I, apparently, have become a prime example of why many doctors – our family’s optometrist and the kids’ dentist, for example – call to remind people of appointments. I can’t thank them enough.

I didn’t used to be this way and I don’t know why I am having a hard time juggling three people’s appointments (my husband seems to be able to handle his appointments himself, thankfully). I’ve always mad a point to be on time for appointments, to not keeping people waiting, and it horrifies me to discover I’ve completely missed some.

I have a slick Palm Pilot that I mostly use as a whiz-bang address book with handy games – especially freecell – when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office for those appointments I actually manage to keep. Back when I was a reporter, it was wonderful for creating the impression that I was fascinated by and taking notes of endless testimony during marathon city council meetings about say, RV parking, when actually I was extending my freecell losing streak.

The problem with the Palm Pilot is that when I’m on the phone with a doctor’s office, I cannot write fast enough in graffiti to get the appointment information down. More likey, the gadget’s missing – is it in my coat pocket, buried at the bottom of my purse, or on its charging stand in the other room? – when I need it.

Of course, I have to remember to check the thing periodically, which is difficult when I don’t know where it is half the time.

Another Palm Pilot pickle is that when I do have it with me, it invariably gets bumped by some other object in my coat pocket or purse and emits an irritating and endless “beep-beep-beep-beep” until I find the cursed thing and turn it off.

Finally, there’s the compatibility issue. When my husband bought the Palm Pilot for me a few years ago, we were an all-PC household. I’ve since acquired an iMac, and apparently the Palm Pilot needs a certain cable that can’t be plugged into my nifty Mac – where all my other work resides.

Of course, it’s probably not technology’s fault. I think the real reason is that I’m getting old. After all, I’m at right about the midway point for U.S. female life expectancy (can you tell I recently had a birthday?) and I’m sure I’ve lost enough brain cells by now that there has to be some effect.

So, I apologize in advance if I miss an appointment. Don’t get angry or take it personally, just think of me struggling to find my Palm Pilot so I can silence its infernal beeping; and remember, the gadget probably doesn’t list the appointment in its calendar anyway. Pity me, and pass the post-its.

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