Not An Auto-Matic Fix

But a fix nonetheless, of our 17-year-old backup car, a 2000 model year Honda Accord. On balance, since inheriting it from mother in 2008, it has been an exceptionally reliable and reasonably-priced second car and one which I’m happy to own. I drive it approximately 7,000 miles per year and not over long stretches. In effect, it is our local car. And considering there is no monthly car payment and the insurance/maintenance costs are low, as a non-car guy who only wants to get from point “A” to point “B”, I can live with it “Big time,” to quote our current President.

Now I’m at a bit of a crossroads, however. (And not that this is a “cancer” column per se, but it is a column affected by yours truly being a cancer “diagnosee.”) I am dropping the car off at my local mechanic, Tony, later today because there are some warning signs and idiot lights suggesting I do so. First, the infamous “check engine” light is illuminated. Its yellow which Tony said is not as bad/urgent as if it were red. Nevertheless, to turn it off/fix the underlying problem (since it doesn’t appear to be the gas cap) will likely cost hundreds. The preliminary assessment is that the fault is emission related.

The second area of concern is temperature, specifically how poorly my car’s air conditioner is cooling and how loud the fan controlling it is when engaged even when one/low is selected. Adding insult to summertime discomfort, the passenger-side window doesn’t slide down, either when using its own power-window switch or the master control on the driver’s side. To summarize, I have one window (the driver’ side) that can go down and extremely limited air conditioning. I wouldn’t say it’s hot in the car, but I’m sure any normal person would. Having had previous conversations with Tony about these repairs, I know the dollars needed to right these wrongs might not make any sense given the age and mileage on the car and the diagnosis of its owner. Yet here I am trying think long term, not cancer term. What to do?

I don’t want to be miserable driving the Honda anymore (and it is me who’s driving it). But I only need the air conditioning for another six to eight weeks or so – and not every day, and rarely at night. I do need to open the windows though for eight to 10 months, not so much during the winter and rarely on cold nights, but opportunities do present themselves. Spending the hundreds/possibly thousands of dollars for all repairs now however might make me miserable, too. The question persists then for any of us who own/want to maintain older cars: when are you throwing good money after bad? Ergo: when is enough, enough? (I sound like Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City.”)

Would I be better off spending the repair money on a newer car and enjoy whatever warranty protection I could muster and thus minimize future repair bills or not? The only problem with buying that ‘newer car: it’s likely (heck, there’s no ‘likely’ about it) there will be a monthly car payment which at present I do not have, and in so having one will definitely make me miserable.

Factor in my health status and I can’t stop asking myself: do I solve a problem that affects the quality of my life today at the expense of tomorrow (pun intended) or do I plan/repair for tomorrow and suffer the consequences of having done so today?

As a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer patient originally characterized by my oncologist as “terminal” and given a “13-month to twoyear” prognosis to boot back in late Feb., 2009, I’ve always tried to live my life and make decisions as if I had a future beyond what I was told.

And for the past eight years and four months, I have pretty consistently maintained that approach. Still, the longer I live, the more my underlying medical diagnosis impacts my thinking/judgment. Unfortunately, worlds sometimes collide and reality is up for grabs. And occasionally decisions are made in a “bizarro” kind of way where topsy is turvy and vice versa. Welcome to my whirled.


One thought on “Not An Auto-Matic Fix

  1. […] speaking, a few weeks late, of my “whirled,” (see July 5, 2017 column, “Not an Auto-Matic Fix”); at least as it relates to my next week or so: 24-hour urine collection on Tuesday, […]


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