Sunday, September 27, 2015

the end is nigh

If you have hung out on this dangerous corner of the internet for any period of time, you know I try to take note of astronomical phenomenon.

Well, I almost let one get by unnoticed.  And it is a big one.

This evening, in just a few hours, those of us in the northern hemisphere are going to be treated to a double feature.  Remember those Saturday afternoon movies at the neighborhood theater (the Victor in my case) where you would get a feature film and a B grade movie?

Well, the double billing is back.

Tonight we are going to have a super moon.  I have written about them before.  The last time was during a visit to Bend when my mother was assaulted while we waited to watch the moon rose (COPS comes to bend).

In my opinion (and it is not very humble), super moons are just another of those semi-interesting phenomena that are heliumed by the popular press.  At best, the moon will be 14 percent brighter than a normal full moon -- due to the proximity of its orbit to Earth.

What is a big deal is a full lunar eclipse.  Tied together with a super moon, it will be as if God has pumped up the entertainment lighting for the evening, and then cut it back with Earth's shadow on the face of the moon -- leaving what will look like a rather tasty caramel effect.  (Others call it bloody.  I will stick with my dessert metaphor.)

For those of us in the central time zone in Mexico (and that is most), the eclipse will start at 8:00 PM and run through 11:30.  The full eclipse should appear (or disappear) around 9:32 PM.

Swollen foot or not (and it managed to plump up like a Ball Park Frank on he grill yesterday), I will be out there to watch the show.

Whenever I publish one of these astronomy essays, someone (or two or three) will ask where in the sky to look to see the show.  I think this one will be quite apparent.  Even during the total eclipse.

Here's looking with you, kid!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

thinking of patti

One of the first people I met when we moved to the Risley house in Milwaukie, Oregon was my neighbor, Stephanie.

Her family lived across the street from us.  Even though she was a year younger and one grade behind in school, we became fast friends.  No one can ever describe why these relationships begin.  They just do -- their growth dependent upon proper cultivation.

We turned into fellow confidants.  She advised me on girls; I returned the favor on boys.  Really only one boy.  My friend Jim who lived a block from us.  He was the sole love of her life.  A love that blossomed into a long-standing marriage.

Jim and Steph have continued to be two of my closest friends.  They certainly top the list of "old friends."

And that is why I was not surprised when I found a get well card from Steph this week in my postal box.  She mailed it from Portland on 2 September -- in the hopes that my optimistic view of the Mexican postal service was more accurate than the pessimists who write about late Christmas cards. 

It turns out her optimism was well-spent.  The card arrived here on 23 September.  Three weeks.  Just about standard.

No matter how long it took, its sentiments (and the personal effort invested) were appreciated on this end.  That is what friendship is about.

I am in a reflective mood this morning.  In four hours, the memorial service for my friend Patti will begin in Washington.

I should be there.  Just like Jim and Steph, Patti has long been one of my closest confidants.  To not be able to reminisce about the importance to my life in the company of people she knew is going to be tough.

But my doctor felt it was not wise to subject my left leg to the stress of being bent for a full-day car and airplane trip north.  Ken (Patti's husband) reminded me that Patti would have told me to stay in bed and rest my leg.  He, of course, is correct.

Instead of flying, then, I am going to spend the day resting.  But not peacefully.  I am going to reflect on Patti's life, and what she has added to my own.

There are many ways in which we receive wishes to get well.  Thanks to people like Steph and Patti.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

love for sale

I love the digital world.

The electronic toys.  The immediacy of the internet with its bar-bet bank of information.  Even the constant promise of artificial intelligence -- which I long thought was an attribute of those who read The New York Review of Books, but none of the books reviewed in it.

What I have yet to develop, though, are the social tools that allow me to navigate in this brave new electronic world.  Let me give you an example.

If I go to my mother's house, I know her questions will be rife with sub-text, but she will have no long term agenda -- having abandoned her quixotic quest for grandchildren from this branch of the Cotton tree.  When I walk through her door, I know exactly which social tools I will need to make the conversation a pleasant experience.  And, of course, they always are.

When I walk into a singles bar, I need an entirely different set of tools.  Unlike the questions my mother asks, the questions I receive from the woman sitting beside me are going to be the type of vapid exchanges strangers use to probe new territory.  No subtext.  But the smell of agenda will be thick in the cigarette-clotted air.

Decades of practice have honed those tools.  But nothing has prepared me for the odd world of messenger on Facebook.

My "friends" on Facebook are an interesting mix.  Some are true friends.  People I have known for decades, who I would call "friend" in the sense we once used the term.  There are even people I have met recently who make that cut.

But most of the people on my list are merely acquaintances.  Some are absolute strangers.

And it is that last group that has piqued my interest today.  Messenger on Facebook is like a large movie set where my mother's sitting room shares space with a political rally, an artvgallery complete with critics, a singles bar, and numerous other venues.  It is almost like one of those dreams where you constantly ask yourself: "How did I end up here?"

I have a number of beautiful young Mexican women who have shown up on my "friends" list.  I am not certain how they got there.  Beautiful.  Young.  Mexican.  I guess I know the answer to my question.

Now and then, one of them will start a conversation with me on Messenger.  Usually something quite harmless in a far-too-familiar way -- like "Hello, Steve.  How are you tonight?"

And there's the rub.  I have no idea if the conversation is in my mother's kitchen or on a dark street corner in Shanghai.  Being who I am, I usually treat the salutation as the latter, and move on with my life ignoring the solicitation.

If you think the reaction is harsh, I will share a recent exchange.  The young lady lives in Manzanillo, and has been a "friend" for less than a year.

Her:  Hello Steve, how are you?

Him:  Fine.  Are you still working?
Her:  No.  I am doing volunteer work. [Very sexy photographs attached]

Him:  That must be tough supporting yourself.  Are you looking for work?
Her:  Yes.  But I cannot find anything.  I have two children to support.  [Photograph of cute kids attached]
Him:  Ouch!    I often wonder why young people stay in this area.  There seem to be few jobs -- especially this time of year.  Cute kids.
Her:  Thanks.  Yes.  Turned down for two jobs.  I need money for them.

It was at this point, I realized I was not sitting on a church pew next to my mother.  The collection plate had morphed into a tray of cocktail wieners.

Him: Maybe you should try Guadalajara.

Her:  I would need money for the bus.  You know there was one time I thought to start having sex for money.  That was my situation.

Okay.  I admit I felt some mixed emotions at this point.  My heart went out to her (after all, we are all thirsty in our search in life), and my head told me to get myself out of there -- now.

Him:  I hope you were wise enough to reject the idea.
Her:  Oh, yes.  Yes.  I would never do anything like that.

I was ready to pull the plug when she realized I was not nibbling on the hook.

Her:  Well, I have things to do tonight.  Bye.

I really should have seen the solicitation coming.  After all, she is not the first netizen who has trolled me for paid sex.  It happens at least two or three times a month.  I suspect my Facebook profile may have something to do with it.  And it was why I have ignored her previous greetings.

Even so, it is a bit sad that a sizable number of young people in my local area have chosen the easy and dangerous option of selling their youth -- even if it is to feed their children.  I guess I could say the same thing about selling drugs.

The good thing is that I am finally developing some electronic street sense.  Even though my mother is not going to get her coveted grandchild.  From me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

there's an app for that

Travel has long been a linch-pin of my life.

I suspect that is why I joined the Air Force after I left college.  The Navy sold itself as an institution to join and see the world.  I opted for a more aerial option.

And a good choice it was.  Both on active duty and as a reservist, I ended up seeing far more of the world than an average son of southern Oregon would.  Mainly Europe -- with a few more exotic excursions tossed in for spice.

At one point, I had an almost-classroom-quality world map that was populated by brightly-colored pins -- each color designating the type of trip that took me to Berlin or Saigon or Rio de Janiero.  I say "type of trip" because once the Air Force had infected me with the travel bug, I tried to get as many countries as I could on my own.

It is hard to break some travel habits, though.  I first visited Florence in 1974 -- and it became my favorite world city.  I am not certain how many times I have visited, but my wall map soon looked as if the natural migration pattern of colored pins was to Europe.  And that was before there was a civil war in Syria.

When I moved to Mexico, I threw away almost all of my maps -- including the wall map.  I have long been looking for an alternative.

And I found it.  If I had given much thought to it (or if I had been a better child of the digital age), I would have had my answer long ago.  It was right there on my HTC smartphone.  A telephone that is far smarter than its owner.

The application bears the rather mundane moniker "Countries Been."  But I guess that is the post-postmodern way.  Things bear utilitarian names.

It gives three alternatives: "been" -- for countries visited; "lived" -- for countries where roots have been established for some other than a visit; and "want" -- well, you know.  Once chosen, a world map is created with color codes to reflect what pins once did.  In my case, the mix of countries looks like a rather odd trade union organization.

Because I have had a tendency to visit countries with large land masses, I appear to be far more traveled than I am.  But details matter.  The map on my telephone chides me, even though I have visited or lived in 64 countries, the number constitutes only 26% of the possible places to visit on the application's list.

My instinct is to pull out the valises and to add more green territory to the map.  That is, as soon as my foot gets back to a normal size.

Or I could simply sit on my laurels -- that is what I have taken to calling it these days -- for awhile.

Of course, if I print out the map and start poking pins in it, you will know I have truly reverted to old school days.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

accommodations, wheelchairs, food, and pesos

My six-day stay in a Manzanillo hospital now seems like ancient history.  And, for a blog essay, it is.

But I wanted to share some of my observations with my second major contact with the Mexican medical system.  The first, of course, was in 2009 when I broke my right ankle while ziplining outside of Puerto Vallarta -- where I learned that Mexican medical care is first rate and inexpensive (the price is perfecto).

Rather than keep you in suspense, I will tell you I have re-learned the same lesson on this hospital stay.  But, this time, with my left leg.

You may recall I was not inclined to head off to a hospital for my swollen left foot.  It took a few well-intentioned readers to convince me I needed to drive to Manzanillo, get off of my feet, and allow medical experts to do for my foot what needed doing.

My choice of hospital was not universally acclaimed.  Several readers gave me rave reviews for the place.  Two others were far less than praiseworthy in their assessment.

Overall, I give the place high marks.  I had a private room with all of the electronic conveniences (most of them provided by me) I would ever need.  It turned out I took far too many diversions with me.  By the second day, I was so bored I found reading to be a chore.

But what would a hospital stay be without a wheelchair tale?  I have two.

When I checked in, I was first taken to an examination room where I exchanged my Steve Irwin-wear for the standard bare-butt hospital gown.  I retained my boxers out of a sense of propriety.

I was then enthroned in a wheelchair with my clothes in my lap, an overnight bag on top of them, and topped off with my electronic gear backpack.  I could barely see over the traveling arrangement.

My impression was we were headed to my room.  I was wrong.  We had one important stop -- at the admissions desk.

I was handed a stack of forms to fill out.  But with no clipboard.  Of course, the pencil kept poking through the paper when I tried answering the questions.  I felt like one of the applicants in MIB

But that was not the worst of it.  Most of the required information was in my wallet at the bottom of the pile stacked on my lap.

My brother's voice kept repeating in the background -- "everything has a sequence."  And the admissions process simply did not.  With the passing of ten thousand pesos, as a deposit, I was on my way to my room.

That is wheelchair story number one.  Here is the second.

It only took two days for me to go stir crazy in my room.  My doctor asked if I would like the nurse to take me for a "stroll" in a wheelchair.  Sure, I said.  I had visions of being pushed along the Champs-Élysées.

Instead, she pushed me out into the waiting room -- perhaps the most tense room in the entire hospital.  Where she abandoned me for an hour.  At least, in my room I had air conditioning and the semblance of services being provided.

I pointedly avoided wheelchairs for the remainder of my stay.

The first question most hospital residents are asked is: "How was the food?"  I have never understood why people ask the question.  I know of no one who enters a hospital for the food.

But, here is my answer.  It was fine.  Plain.  But, well-balanced.  It was always filling, and I actually lost weight while confined to my bed.

And the second most popular question is: "What did it cost?"  Before I answer that, I need to let you know all of the services I received were top drawer.  

With one caveat.  The hospital has its own pharmacy attached.  I suspect several of the drugs I was prescribed were more expensive than other alternatives.  But each of them seemed to do their assigned duties.  As did the doctors and nurses.

For six days in the hospital -- and an incredible number of drugs that were pumped into me -- I left behind about $2,800 (US).  That included the medical fees, as well.

I would have preferred not seeing a doctor or being in a hospital.  But my foot refused to give me that option.

And I have no regrets in choosing the hospital I did.  For me, the price was affordable, and I appear to be far better off for taking the plunge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

another independence day

My choice of living in Mexico is filled with contradictions.

I am a postmodern man who finds very little comfort in ritual.  To be more accurate, I am a post-postmodern man who finds ritual rather annoying.

And, yet, I live in a country where ritual is the very essence of cultural life.  At least, ritual is the steam that runs the cultural engine in the highlands of Mexico.  Not so much here on the coast.

My local Mexican neighbors tend to be a bit more utilitarian in their celebrations.  Today was Independence Day -- when Mexico declared its intention to be free of the colonial yoke of Spain.

There were the usual parades of marching school children.  And the neighborhood fiestas. 

Falling mid-week, though, does take the edge off of the celebration.  After all, our area thrives on tourist pesos.  And now that school is back in session, not many people made the trek to the beach to honor Miguel Hidalgo and el grito.

That does not mean that even an anti-ritual curmudgeon cannot enjoy the day with a bit of tradition.  Mine is dining on chiles en nogada on the beach with good friends and even better conversation. 

And we didn't even have to rely on tales of how the war for independence concluded with the "treachery" of a Spanish general who would be declared Mexico's first post-conquest emperor (1810 or 1821?).  One of those tales that makes Mexican history as contradictory as my indulgence of ritual in a post-postmodern world.

Here's to Mexican independence.  But, even more important, here's to good friends -- absent and present.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

last medical bulletin -- i hope

Some of you may remember I was scheduled to see my doctor last Friday for a follow-up appointment on my left leg.

It was a good visit.  The swelling and redness in my leg are gone.  And, even though my instep and toes are still obviously swollen, they have decreased in size.

I had hoped my doctor would say the swelling would soon be gone.  He didn't.  Instead, he said it should take at least six more months for the foot to return to its normal size.  The culprit is not my blood circulatory system, but my lymphatic system.

The good news is I can re-initiate my walking program next Friday.  The exercise should help the fluid work its way out of my foot.

But I will need to wear those silly white pressure socks while I recover.  Some people doubt I will wear them during my public exercise sessions.  They are probably right.

When I was discharged from the hospital, my doctor told me to stay out of the swimming pool for several days.  I forgot to ask him on Friday whether "several days" had now passed. 

Doctor Steve has declared they have.  With our increased humidity, that was an easy call.

So, there you have it.  A swollen foot.  A bit of bed rest.  Nurse stockings.  And lots of patience.

That is just about enough of this little adventure.  I will tell you a bit about the hospital stay (and its costs).  But that can wait.

I need to go take a cooling dip in the pool -- where there is neither wife nor dog. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

the circle tightens

I remember the day we met.

It was one of those August days, whose heat and blue skies, could convince almost anyone we were in southern California.  We weren't.  We were in Oregon.  Both of us sitting on the front stoop of Willamette Law School in Salem.

I then knew no one in what would take on the granfaloonish title of Class of 1979.  But Patti Burnett was to turn out to be the first of my classmates I would meet.

Her VW beetle, which I was later to learn was named Sparkle, was adorned with a Ford for President bumper sticker.  He was the last presidential candidate we would jointly support.  But we had great fun discussing the 1976 elections.

There was something about Patti's personality that immediately struck me.  She was friendly, but in a very courtly way.  Manners and civility were important to her.  She could have stepped out of Pride and Prejudice -- had Jane Austen been brought up in Nevada.  To me, she was utterly charming.

Our paths would cross during the three years of law school.  Dinner parties.  Barn dances.  Law revues.

Law school is also where Patti met her husband, Ken.  Upon graduation, they headed off to their lives in and around Olympia, Washington.

And that is where we entered each other lives on a grand scale.  I would perform my periodic duty as an Air Force Reserve JAG officer at McChord Air Force Base -- just a few miles from their home.

They were gracious enough to let me live with them in their home on the 20 days of duty I would perform each year.  But that was just the start.  They would spend frequent weekends at my home in Milwaukie, and I would spend additional weekends with them in Olympia.

Plays.  Movies.  Dinners.  Whatever distractions we planned, it was the company we shared that inspired these visits.  No scalpel could have been sharper than the wit we brought to our conversations.  And each thrust ad riposte added a new layer to our lives.

Somehow, during this period, I moved from being a good friend to being their "son."  That is odd -- because I was older than both Patti and Ken.  Perhaps we had too often used the Old Gregor/Young Gregor joke from Love and Death.

But my rule as the odd son was soon to end.

The three of us enjoyed listening to, and analyzing, the soundtracks of newly-released musicals.  Our reviews were a bit predictable.  Anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber or the Schönberg-Boublil team would have us in stitches.  The big exception was Sondheim.

Into the Woods had just be released before one of my visits.  On our way to dinner at Casa Mia, I asked them about their favorite song.  They both answered in union: "It Takes Two."  A song about what it takes in marriage to obtain a child.  I knew something was up.

And it was.  Patti and Ken soon adopted a baby into their home -- Kimmy.

Three years ago, Patti told me she had been diagnosed with liver cancer.  Like everything else she has done, I suspect I was convinced that somehow the diagnosis would be far different for her than for other people.  That she would beat the disease.

She underwent a series of treatments.  Chemotherapy.  Drug cocktails.

Last September, even though she was weakened by her treatments, she felt strong enough for the thee of us to take a cruise to northern France and northern Spain.  We also stayed in London -- one of her favorite cities -- for several extra days.  I could tell the trip simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted her.

Recently, she underwent a series of drug trials in Arizona that proved more costly to her system than they were beneficial.  Patti decided the trials were not worth the side effects.

On Thursday, Ken sent me an email informing me Patti had entered hospice, and she was in the palliative care stage of treatment.  I knew what that meant.  My father went through the same stage.

He also told me the doctor predicted she only had a few days left.  I contacted Ken in the hope of getting to Seattle before the end.  But he wisely informed me there was little I could do.  That I needed to tend to my own health issues.

He was correct.  This morning he wrote: "Patti passed away at 8:00 AM.  Kimmy and I were there, and it was a peaceful and quiet moment." 

Summing up a person's life in a few words is impossible.  We are complex and contradictory beings.  But we are souls who enter one another's lives -- and forever change the people whose lives we touch.

Patti certainly has done that in my life.  Friend.  Intellectual sparring partner.  Counselor.  A soul who embodied the very essence of civility.  Wife to my friend Ken.  Mother to my pal Kimmy.  And a woman who was proud to call me her brother.

Anne Lamott once wrote: "A basic tenet of the Christian faith is that death is really just a major change of address."  Whimsical though it may be, I believe it is true.  That Patti's soul, in some mysterious way we cannot understand, is in God's presence.

That truth, however, does not fill the void that her death has left in our hearts.  Jesus himself taught us: "Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted."

And mourn we shall.  And comforted we shall be.  With the blessings that Patti has granted each of us in our lives.

Even so, I am going to miss you my sister Patti.  A lot.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

an opening for a princess

You have probably seen it coming.

For the last month, some of my essays have had an emotional and rather subtle edge to them.  The reason is easy to understand. 

Last year, Jennifer Rose predicted I would accomplish two of three things: buy a house, purchase a dog, and get married.  Well, I did only one of the three.  I bought a house.

For the moment, a dog is out of the question -- for various reasons that are not pertinent to this essay.  But I have come to the conclusion that it is time to find a mistress for the house with no name.  It is time to get married.

My brother is fond of pointing out an ancient truth: "Everything has a sequence."  And, even though it may sound a little odd in matters of romance, I have been thinking of some criteria for my long-postponed search.

So, here we go.  My ideal mate should be:

  • Latina -- after all, I am living in a Latin country
  • A woman of faith -- that is actually my first criterion
  • 45 to 50 -- those are years for those of you who may miss my point
  • A holder of a post-graduate degree -- in either a profession or liberal arts
  • Financially independent -- but with a net worth less than my own; I am not a gold digger
  • Interested in music -- and capable of arguing both sides of whether the oriental scale is superior to the occidental
  • Fascinated with art -- especially, abstract expressionism; after all, the house with no name is filled with paintings of that style
  • Well-versed in film -- willing to appreciate both Woody Allen and Mel Brooks
  • "Statuesque" -- with the rest of the list, is that surprising?
  • A traveler -- and willing to take off on trips at the drop of a sombrero
  • A good dancer -- that could easily be the second most important criterion
So, there you have it.  I will start my quest soon.  But if you know of anyone who fits all of those criteria, I am more than willing to travel to meet the perfect mate.

Just in case you are curious, this is not one of my jokester essays.  My life is ready to take a turn for the better.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

i have no idea why i am telling you this

Back during the War of the Austrian Succession, when I was in third grade, our teacher, Miss Romig, read one of her favorite children novels during story time.  Frances Hodgsen Burnett's The Secret Garden.

I thought it a bit overwrought even back then.  But I appear to be in a distinct minority.  My indifference is often seen as being akin to disliking Mary Poppins.

The story has been resilient enough to spawn several film and stage productions.  One of the more recent stage adaptations was a 1991 musical.  Based solely on its title, it had a rather successful run on Broadway.

But recall the adjective I used earlier? Overwrought.  The musical suffers the same malady.  A simple tale turned into a musical melodrama.

Having said all that, one of its more poignant songs came back to me today.  I received news that two friends, who have been on separate journeys with diseases, are beginning to wind down.  That news came along with something I have been expecting for two weeks -- a personal relationship has unraveled.

The song "A Bit of Earth" appears in the first act.  The young protagonist has just asked her widowed uncle if she might have a bit of earth as her own garden.  His bittersweet response sums up my day.

To me the song is a song of hope, even though it appears to end on a bitter tone.  Here is an excerpt.

When I'd give her the world
She asks instead for some earth
A bit of earth
She wants a little bit of earth
She'll plant some seeds
The seeds will grow
The flowers bloom
Their beauty just the thing she needs!
She'll grow to love the tender roses, lilies fair, the iris tall
But then in fall her bit of earth will freeze and kill
them all!
If you can bear it, here is the rather annoying Mandy Patinkin deconstructing the piece.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

not a selfie shot

I am a big advocate of Mexican medicine. 

When it comes to cost, bed-side manner, and quality care, Mexican doctors beat out their northern competition in almost all fields.  I would not consider heading north for any medical condition.

But I am occasionally surprised at some of the medical treatments I hear from my neighbors.  Folk remedies, if you will.

I regularly eat at a little Mexican restaurant in Villa Obregón.  The owner has watched my left leg worsen.  When she saw me yesterday, I told her about my 6-day hospital stay.

She just shook her head and said the doctors had taken my money for no purpose other than I am an American.  If her family had a similar injury, she would take a cane toad, cover it with lime, and squeeze it while rubbing the toad toxin and lime on the wound.

The toad must die in the process for the poultice to work.  But it is guaranteed to cure any infection.

You may recall, we have met a cane toad once before.  In my courtyard.  mr. toad's wild ride.  The
bufotoxin in the toad is strong enough to kill a dog.

Rather than slather myself with toad toxin, I took my chances with the doctors in Manzanillo.

But even the doctors offer remedies that are a bit foreign to my Oregon ears.  One item on my discharge prescription included five boxes of antibiotics accompanied with five hypodermic needles.

I have heard other people comment on this before, but I have never experienced it.  Up north, you go to a doctor to get an injection.  Here, you get the equipment, and you then search out the place to receive the injection.

And there are plenty.  Yourself.  Family.  Friends. Pharmacies.  Yesterday I opted for the local pubic heath clinic.

When I checked in, I was almost passed over for violating a cardinal rule of Mexican medicine.  I forgot my documentation.  My prescription.  But the nurse took pity on an obviously poor pensioner trying to make some sense out of a confusing world.

Today (and for the next three additional days) I will be certain my papers and medication are in order.

Now that I have adjusted to the procedure, I am quite fond of it.  It gives me, as the patient, greater control over my health care. 

And truly it is a shot in the arm -- even though that is not where I get mine.

Friday, September 04, 2015

tranny show at home

For a moment, I thought my doctor had misunderstood my former profession.

During my discharge from the hospital, he pulled out two white leg-length stockings.  The type of paraphernalia you would see in a high-class transvestite show.  If he had pulled out a pair of red stilettos, I would not have been surprised.  After all, I do have the breasts for the part.

It turned out they were nothing quite so exotic.  In fact, they were dreadfully mundane.  Just one step closer to latching the lid on my coffin.

They are, of course, support hose.  Vericose veins are not involved.  But severe edema is.  It turns out my right leg has started collecting fluid -- but it is an amateur compared to my left leg that has officially earned the name Bibendum.

However, free I am.  At least,from the hospital.  My left leg is not yet fully healed.  My regimen is to spend the next five days at home with bed rest while gobbling fistfuls of new medications.  The only condition that has not yet come under control is my blood pressure; I have two medications to tackle it.

My one respite from bed rest is that allowed to be on my feet one hour for every four hours in bed.  But I cannot yet use the pool.  For a condition whose diagnosis and prognosis is uncertain, there are definitely a lot of very certain rules to be obeyed.

But obey them I will.  I have no desire to experience another period of incarceration.  I cannot even say for certain that all of that care really dd anything for my leg.  Time could easily have been the major contributing cure.

Next Friday, I return for a followup on both the leg and the blood pressure.  Until then, I will try to find something more interesting to share with you.

Perhaps you would would like to hear my Dietrich impression of "Falling in Love Again."  I have most of the equipment.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

mad to be home

Everyone is entitled to at least one March hare mad day while in the hospital.

Mine was on Monday.  In spades.

When I first talked with one of the doctors about hospitalization, he told me the stay would be for three days.  The admitting doctor said five.  Based on the progress of my left leg, my stay, now, will be at least six days.

I thought I would be fine with that.  Being confined to bed was exactly what I needed to recover.  To avoid boredom, I brought along all manner of reading material.

That worked well the first day.  On Monday night, I came down with a racking cough that kept me awake all night.  Fortunately, I am in a hospital, and the experts came to my rescue with medication in my IV bag and a breathing machine to deliver steroids.

Between the steroids, the antibiotics, the decongestants, the anti-inflammatories, the antihistamines, the anticoagulants, and the diuretics, I was a drained man.  About thirty minutes into my treatment with the mask for the breathing machine, I had what could kindly be called a panic attack.  Looney Tune moment would be more accurate.

I told the nurse, "Take that thing away.  No more" -- in my best Albert Finney voice.

The Finney reference must have put me in a Shakespearean mood.  When my friend Ewa arrived for a visit, I was asleep muttering: "They are going to kill the king.  They are going to kill the king."

With a conspiratorial glint in my eye, I let Ewa in on a secret that I had just discovered.  The hospital was trying to suffocate me with its breathing machine.  It wasn't a cask of malmsey.  But it would do.

The doctors assured me I was not the Duke of Clarence and they would remove the big bad machine.  The doctor, who treated me for the cough, later told me he had slipped a mickey into my IV.  That would certainly pass the medical probability test.

Other than my bout of traipsing about in Vivian Leigh's shoes, all is going well.  The swelling and roseacea have receded.  But a bit more rest should do it -- and me -- even better.

My cough is gone -- along with the dreaded machine.  Oddly, my glucose readings have skyrocketed -- as has my blood pressure.  The doctor says neither is unusual with the treatments I have been receiving.

So, here I am.  Too exhausted to read, but looking forward to my discharge later this week.

I have nothing but praise for the medical staff here,  But more on that after I leave.

I am not that mad.