THE GREAT SURGERY, Update #3

The saw hurt a little, the drill just a bit…

I went in the hospital early early Tuesday morning and I came home Friday midday. In-and-out, go home. I like it that way. I had some initial therapy and advisories about the normal things like no lifting, twisting or bending or else all my bones will fall apart and crash to the floor in a heap. I was reminded when going up and down stairs, it’s up with the good leg first and down with the bad one first. They taught me how to get in and out of the car, the shower and one of those booths where they swirl money all around you (just in case that really happened). The food was terrible, the nurses very good and the overall review 4 out of 5 stars.

So now I am home. A nurse will visit every day for a few days as will a therapist to work on my moving around the place. Whether or not I come down with my usual post-surgery infection has, so far, been negatory good buddy. Last time I had to wait six months to find out if I was home free (I wasn’t) so that means around Christmas time I will or won’t get a present.

Pretty good, huh? They wound up doing more than originally expected, once they got inside and got a good look around. That resulted in two additional pieces of hardware being inserted between my vertebrae in addition to the rods that help straighten me out. Rosemarie says I’m already a good inch taller! She prefers tall men so already I’m on her good side.

Do I hurt? Uh-huh. I have ten incisions: 8 little ones and 2 larger ones. But the pain seems the be a little less each day. Today, for example, getting myself situated in a comfortable position in bed took fewer and easier lifts with a lot less ouch.

Okay, there you have it. Now, let’s all move on and get back to normal. Thanks for your interest, and especially all the get well wishes I’ve received this past week. It’s nice to know people actually care whether or not you are feeling well! Okay, on with life!

*****

 

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MY MYSTERY FAMILY PHOTOS

old PhotographsI have been going through some of those packed-away boxes we all keep stored and hidden on the top shelf of a closet. Some day, we tell ourselves, we will go through them and get them all organized…but that never seems to happen. One of my boxes contains a treasure-trove of vintage pictures of my family ancestors.  But it is a bitter-sweet photo collection because an overwhelming number of them are of people I assume are relatives, but I cannot confirm that. Why? Because the pictures are not labeled.  There is nothing more frustrating than having a picture of someone you pretty much know is a past member of your family but you cannot identfy the person.  Anyway, I picked a few and scanned them to share with you on this posting.  These are all from my father’s side of the family whose roots are planted in the Baltimore area of Maryland. Now, of course, I do not expect you to have any interest in my dearly departed, but the  pictures themselves, I think, are interesting and they illustrate their vintage lifestyle, fashion and pure quirkiness.  Case in point…

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Now this picture speaks for itself. Trouble is, I am not sure what it is saying. If a photograph ever screamed for an explanation to be written on its back, this is it. And is that a stagecoach behind her?

Fortunately, there are more “normal” ladies among my ancestors. Here are a bunch. It’s a shame I do now know who among them is related. There is one non-conformists, that’s nice to see. She’s the one on the steps, NOT wearing a white dress.

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I have to assume my ancestors weren’t filthy rich–at least I’ve never seen any sums of money handed down the inheritance trail. But, they certainly had enough to buy cars …

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And how’s this for the family digs–I’m guessing this place was owned by someone on my family tree. It almost looks “southern plantation-like,” but I don’t remember ever sleeping there or picking magnolia blossoms off the tree. I do like the porch, however, and I am sure my thinking chair would fit in well.

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Every time I talked about researching the family’s history, I  distinctly remember my father telling me not to bother.  He said all I would find would be horse thieves.  I always thought he was joking until I found this among the pictures…you don’t think?

MayKuhn6-27 copy

Now, when it comes to my collection of old family photographs, it goes without saying that my most treasured picture is one that is actually identified. I have shown it before here on my blog. It’s a real hoot! My father’s Aunt May was a fill-in “train caller” during World War I.  Here she stands in full uniform, stoutly illustrating the family traits of, ah, how do I say this discretely…the proud and the not-so beautiful. Forgive me Aunt May, but I do treasure your picture regardless.

*****

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Plentiful Pineapples

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I like pineapples. I kind of wish I liked them more.  This year we’re having a bumper crop.  I check google to determine the origin of “bumper crop” and beyond an early mention of a “bumper” being a glass of wine filled to the brim, there seems to be no definitive or logical explanation of why a bountiful harvest is referred to as a bumper crop.  But I digress.

Our little pineapple farm is only about 12 feet long and consists of a single row of eight potted plants. I’ve shown you pictures in the past but that was when the fruit was just beginning to show.  Here’s how they looked a few months back…

TWOPINE

Time and pineapples march on.  Here are a few shots I took after dinner tonight…

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pineap4If you don’t think have a green thumb and you like pineapples, well, not to worry.  You can do this, although I think you will have to move to a warm tropical climate if you don’t have one available.  Next time you’re in the produce section, select a pineapple and when you get home check to make sure it’s one you like, juicy and sweet or a little tart.  Before  you cut into it, slice off the top about an inch below the base of the leaves.  Plant this in the appropriate potting soil. Use a pot at least a foot across on the top.  Don’t plant it deep.  It likes warmth and the sun.  Give it some water when it looks dry and Rosemarie always recommends you chat with it at least once a week.  It should look like the one on the right above.

So there you have it.  For someone who once succeeded only in growing dandelions, a bumper crop of  pineapples is a big step and a lot more rewarding.

*****

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THE GREAT SURGERY, Update #1

surgeon2I know there may be at least two of you wondering the outcome of my last posting featuring the dilemma of Dr. #1 vs. Dr. #2 in my quest for back  surgery.  Yes, I did say it was my “quest” for surgery.  Anyone who has an arthritic back like mine, after half a dozen failed nerve block procedures and a selection of usually useless painkillers, would be on a quest for surgery…it is the next natural progression in dealing with screwed up lower lumbars.

So, just to refresh, last week I went to Dr. #2  for a second opinion on the surgery that Dr. #1 had proposed for my consideration.  The two doctors disagreed although I kept their identities secret to–as Detective Friday used to say–protect the innocent. After two failed attempts to meet with Dr. #1 (emergency surgery seems a common occurrence in the industry) we finally had a lengthy conference call late yesterday afternoon.

Cutting to the chase, Dr. #2 had already decided to pull back on a lot of the surgery he was going to perform, based on the feedback he had received from my other doctors. Plus, he had lined up a bunch of side-bar resolutions to deal with two side-issues my individual case presented.  So, a plan came together with which everyone, including concerned and skeptical Nurse Rosemarie, felt a lot more comfortable.  A good conference call was had by all.  Now, all that is left is the wait until early Tuesday morning next week, not to mention putting up with this creepy fear of what horrible things will be done to me and how much it’s going to hurt.

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Oh, I forgot to tell you the most interesting part of the conversation.  Doctor #1 is a real back surgeon, not one I pick up in the hallways of General Hospital on TV, although the latter’s fee was a lot less.  Doctor #1 does some of the new, innovative procedures that doctors read about in their medical journals and Popular Science Magazine.  To lessen the chance of infection, lower the degree of pain and to brag about how well the surgery went, he will attack my spine from the side. Yep, the side.  It seems there is a spot in the side of the body that opens quite cleanly and features a wide-screen view and accessibility of the spine.  My back itself will be subject to only a few small poked holes.  I figure, too, if any of his medical instruments touch the sides of my surgery site, an alarm will sound and he’ll have to pass the tweezers to the next surgeon. Game on!

*****

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THE GREAT SURGERY…maybe

Decision Making Concept

Decision, decisions, decisions.  We all make one or more of them practically every day of our lives.  We decide what to have for breakfast, what to buy with our money or what to watch on TV.  Decisions can be petty at one end and critical at the other.  Wars have been based on decisions.  Marriages come and go based on decisions.  Decisions are an unavoidable part our existence.  We cannot escape them.

Opinion is decision’s compass.  Usually, what we decide is based on opinion–our own or those of others. Opinions come from two parts of the human body: the gut or the brain.  “I have a gut feeling” or “I have to go with my gut” are lines we’ve all said and heard.  A simple “I think…” works for all other opinions.  The more complicated the decision, the more opinions we usually seek.  Often, there can be more opinions in the room than there are people offering them.  Everybody loves to give their opinion, welcomed or not.

When it comes to serious medical issues and how to respond to them, many of us seek a “second opinion.”  It is a lot more comforting when the first and second opinion agree.  The patient can proceed with the twice-recommended procedure feeling reasonably confident that he or she has made the right decision. It’s a no-brainer as well as a no-gutter. But what if…

What if the first and second opinions don’t agree?  Whoa! Now this is a whole different animal, especially if major surgery is involved.  Which opinion is right?  Which opinion do you trust?  Which one may seriously affect the outcome of the surgery?  The compass is spinning now…and the decision has become tenuous.

I won’t go into detail, but this is the scenario I am faced with right now.  I have surgery coming up in two weeks and the second opinion I received yesterday called for a more conservative, less aggressive operation than plan #1.  There are several “side issues” going on inside my body which present some challenges to surgery.  These won’t stop the surgery, but they do add to the discussion.  Well, now what to do?  This is a moment when I would probably like more opinions, but that is not practical.

My only sensible alternative is to confront doctor #1 with the concerns I developed after seeing doctor #2.  Doctor #1 responded appropriately today by insisting I return to his office and review all the evidence, and go over my concerns.  He said he would explain all the alternatives and levels of surgery from which I can choose the one that makes me most comfortable…although some of them, he offered, will not ease my pain as much as others.  He made a special appointment for me tomorrow morning. Importantly, I was pleased that he was not defensive in any way.

Decision, Decision, Decision…I wonder what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow.

*****

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THE GREAT MOVE, Continued…

Truckupdat3Move?  What move?  Uh-0h, things have gotten complicated.  The Great Move is being moved.  We have had to postpone it.  Note, I said postpone, not cancel.  Not to bore you with my medical problems, I thought I could handle the move despite all the pain issues I’ve been having with my back.  The plan was to move, then have the inevitable spinal surgery that’s been in the works for several months.  Well, the back didn’t agree with the timing of our decision and it let me know it. I tried to overrule its objection several times, but to no avail.  Just for spite, it increased its intensity.  I was reduced to a cantankerous cane weilding, floor crawling , wounded wad of whimpering kibble…or something like that. I could just about lift an empty box, let along pack one full.surgeon2

So, our original decision has been reversed:  surgery now, recover, then pack up and move.  The one thing that is really messed up is that we will not be able to take advantage of the timeliness of listing the house when parents are pursuing a summer move into an “A-rated” elementary school neighborhood, which ours  is.  The positive is that now I am no longer in a rush so I can slow the pace.  One thing is for sure…I am NOT unpacking what I’ve already packed.

During the early stages of packing I was able to set aside a lot of stuff for The Great Garage Sale.  I have decided the show must go on.  As soon as I am able, I will get the sale organized and Macy’s will just have to suffer the loss of business for one day.  I’ll let you know how that goes, probably from the deck of the new yatch I will have purchased from the Great Garage Sale profits.

Okay, now then, you are all caught up on The Not So Great Move, Yet.  We will resume all that next fall if everything goes well in the O.R.  Hmmm…I wonder if my blog should cover The Great Surgery!

*****

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Spending Spree, a poem

For those who have hung around this blog for a few years you know that I’ve been prone to rhyme from time to time.  It’s been a while…lucky you!  But your luck has run out.  The urge came and here’s where it went….

The wooden rocking chair at the beautiful view terrace is waiting for someone to relax on. GA USA

       I know, I should be grateful for what I’ve got.

       I shouldn’t resent what I have not.

       But what a fantasy it would be to me

       To embark upon a spending spree.

       I cannot think what I would buy first

       To relieve my wallet before it burst.

       Probably it’d be something outrageous

       Perhaps a red Jaguar looking just gorgeous.

       Or would it be something for my Rosemarie?

       Something unique and exquisite it’d have to be,

       She loves jewelry, so that’s a no-brainer,

       But I’d probably get her something saner.

       Like a Mediterranean cruise on a private yacht.

       I know her well, she’d like that a lot.

       We’d be packed and gone most of the year.

       Surely the lure of new places wouldn’t keep her here.

       Me, I’d just as well rock on my old rockin’ chair,

       Not really caring if I were here or there.

       Just  knowing there’d be no more struggle, no more grind,

       It’d be worth all the wealth, just having peace of mind.

*****

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THE GREAT MOVE, Continued…

Truckupdat2For those just tuning in, here’s a quick summary:

–Rosemarie and I have decided to move after 22 years in our current home.  We want to/need to downsize.

–Because we don’t have a gazillion bucks stashed away, we need to sell before we buy.  So we plan to pack up, store what we will take with us, and then live somewhere temporarily while we look for a new home.

–We are considering moving to the west coast of Florida (we are on the east coast right now) or we could move around the corner.  We really don’t know yet.

So we have put in a few days of packing and have found it a million times more daunting and exhaustive than the last time we did it…when we were 22 years younger and free of backaches and failing stamina.  We needed a break, yes already!  So we decided to take two days for a road trip to the west coast of Florida and look around a little to see if there are some locations we might consider.

We spent the first day touring Ft. Myers which is the largest “city” in the area we were investigating.  While we spent the most time there, we left without anything yelling “buy me.”  That actually happened, 45 minutes south of  Ft. Myers, near Naples.  We took a side trip to Naples, a place we have visited in the past and would roam around there for most of day two.  It is a major South Florida attraction because it is high-end, a great place to vacation and extremely attractive…it has all the elements.  South of Naples is Marco Island, another place to worship if you have the money.  Houses in these two areas typically look like the one below.   They are large, beautiful and cost a lot to keep that way.

Naples4

Downtown Naples is “botique headquarters” for clothing, jewelry, gift shops, and just about any retailer you would like to frequent.  The architecture lives up to expectation as you drive through the main shopping are of downtown Naples.  In the winter the traffic is ten times heavier than during the summer as “snowbirds” from the cold north descend upon the their second homes from about November through April.

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North of Naples if Bonita Springs, another area we like.  The beaches on the west coast of Florida are much different from those on the east. First of all, the water is on the left instead of the right, a much repeated joke in these parts.  The water is much calmer than the “wavy” east coast surf.  Next, the sand is whiter and much finer (like Jersey beach sand). Below are two beachy scenes of Bonita Beach.

So what said “buy me” was a new development we visited midway between Marco Island and Naples. It was a huge development with all kinds of housing environments, single homes to condos.  We went through two condo units and would have been happy in either one.  The location was good, the local shopping was good, the scenery was good, the price was not good.  It is horrible when you come upon something you want but it’s not practical and in keeping with your goals.  But it was nice to dream for an hour or so until we floated back down to the sidewalk, got in our car and left for the trip back home.  We could still eventually wind up living in this area, it would just have to be a little farther away from the beach were the prices are more in range.

Okay, road trip #1 is done, as is Update #2.  It’s back to packing more boxes…and more boxes…and more…..

*****

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MY ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY “CORRECTION”

American cemetery in Normandy,France.

Many Americans routinely spend their three-day holiday weekends with family, sometimes traveling or just gathering for a special meal or picnic. Many others go shopping because retailers looovvvvveee  to run sales during a holiday weekend.  Such are the activities of many Americans this weekend as we honor Memorial day.  Notice I said “honor” Memorial Day, not “celebrate.”    “Celebrate” is not the correct term for this particular holiday.   Fewer and fewer Americans understand that.

Each year at this time, I hop up on my soapbox to remind many in the younger generations, and I’m sorry to say some of my peers too, why “Happy Memorial Day” is simply not the proper greeting to use for this holiday. With that in mind, here again for 2019 is my annual posting for Memorial Day…

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I am a traditionalist.  You remember the song, Tradition, from Fiddler on the Roof, don’t you?  “And how do we keep our balance?” asks Zero Mostel.  “I can tell you in one word,” he says–-“Tradition!”   Now, when it comes to certain holidays, especially the patriotic ones, I went to the School of Normal Rockwell where I learned how to observe them.  That said, here is my take on Memorial Day.

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First of all, many of you have it all wrong.  This is NOT a joyous occasion that we are honoring this holiday weekend.  What was originally called Decoration Day was established by a group of Union Army veterans in 1886 following the Civil War.  The former soldiers thought it would be appropriate to set aside a day to honor those Americans who had died in service to their country.  Veterans of the Confederate Army did likewise on a totally different day.  Eventually, the two holidays merged into one, now called Memorial Day.  It is held on the last Monday of May.

Crosses in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

It is tradition that American military graves are decorated this day.  Those in Federal cemeteries in the United States and abroad are usually adorned with a small American flag.  When I was a kid in the 1950’s, I remember seeing lots of American flags on Memorial day.  They were hung on poles or were draped from window sills, porch railings and anything else that one could be tied to.  Almost every household displayed a flag—and I lived in a row-home neighborhood so you can just imagine the sea of red white and blue that ran endlessly down the blocks, one after the other.  Of course, World War II was still very fresh in the minds of Americans, especially anyone who had lost someone in the war.  Most storefront windows also displayed flags back then, not sale signs.

No shining academic record do I hold, but I cringe when I hear a young person today who does not know the difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, let alone any of the great conflicts that followed them.  I am not making that up.  I realize that I sound like an old curmudgeon when I criticize “these kids today” who have no concept of the sacrifice their forefathers made for them.  There are many adults too who have gotten caught up in the redundancy of how Americans celebrate their historic events.  As such, we treat all holidays pretty much the same: big retail sales, family gatherings and sporting events.

Jewish star

But wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day” is…well, it’s just not correct. Think about it. If your neighbor recently lost a son or daughter in Afghanistan, would you feel comfortable wishing them a “happy” Memorial Day?   This is a sad day, a solemn day when Americans should take a formal, structured time-out to think about and pay tribute to the thousands who died so that we and many others who aren’t even Americans can continue living in a protected and free environment.  Unfortunately, a lot of that thought process is gone from this holiday.  Memorial Day does not impact as many of us in the same manner as it once did.  It is no longer relatable to all of us.  It is no longer as relevant.  It is fast becoming a tradition lost…and it leaves us, as Zero Mostel said, out of balance.

*****

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SURVEY SAYS!

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If one more company asks me on a scale of 1 to 5 how I feel about their product, service, personnel or the conversation I had with them, I  think I will  S C R E A M !

Okay, I get it.  In fact, I use to send out customer surveys way back when I was a working person and involved in the marketing of my company’s products.  Back then, such surveys were uncommon so when someone received one, they were prone to fill it out and send it back to the company.  We didn’t have the luxury of doing the survey on a computer.  We had to have the survey formally printed on a post card, then snail mail it to the recipient and wait for the person to snail mail it back.  The return rate while okay, wasn’t anything astronomical.  I thought maybe we should send out a follow-up survey asking folks what they thought about our survey.  No one else thought that was a good idea.

If there is one thing you can count on in the marketing process USA-style it’s duplication.  Once someone comes up with a new and innovative idea it won’t retain that status very long.  If it is a good idea then you will begin seeing it used by everyone everywhere.   This is what has happened with the survey.  It is almost impossible to have any kind of relationship with a company and NOT receive a survey asking you all kinds of questions about your experience.

I have adopted a universal survey boycott.  I answer none of them.  If they come in my e-mail….delete!  If they arrive in my snail mailbox…trashcan!  If someone calls with a survey….goodbye!  Maybe, just maybe, if someone used a new format, maybe maybe maybe I’d fill it out.  I though toilet paper might be a good survey medium.  Each square would have its own question.  I mean, you’re sitting there with not much to do and what a great time to opinionate.  No one else thinks this is good idea either.

I admit there have been times when I have been tempted to fill out a survey, but usually I cut to the chase. I skip all the Q&A stuff and I go directly to the little block of white space at the end where you can actually enter comments.  That’s where I tell AT&T that waiting on hold for over a half-hour until a representative was done helping someone else and was ready to talk to me, is not only very frustrating, but having to listen to their music-on-hold for that amount of time was enough to make you want to blow your brains out.   Which brings me to another area to vent about.  Here is a business opportunity for you.  There needs to be a company that manufactures a decent music-on-hold product.  First, the music has to be “neutral” but pleasing (that’s a very subjective requirement) and second (but I should have put it first) the quality has to excellent.  Not only is AT&T’s music-on-hold a loud and lousy selection of blaring saxophone, the quality is enough to make your inner ear implode.  After hearing it over and over and over and over and over and over, etc., you are tempted to say the hell with the problem you called about and hang up.  It’s simply not worth it.  And even then, after you’ve suffered through on-hold forrrevvvvvver, finally someone is there to assist you…but you cannot understand a word they say because their accent is so thick.  But that’s okay because you can eventually tell his or her boss how difficult it was to resolve your problem because  you could not comprehend a damn thing the support person said to you.  And how do you do that?  On the survey, of course!  Trust me…you will get one.

*****

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