FRIDAY, LIFE AS I KNOW IT, WILL BEGIN CHANGING!


sleepingman

The week ahead could be an incredible one for me…so much so, that it could be life-changing. I will become one of less than 2000 people worldwide (about 40 here in South Florida) who will have had an innovative mechanism installed in their bodies. For those interested, especially those who are victims of the same medical issue from which I suffer, I will share the experience with you here on Marc’s Blog.

Some 40 years ago I began watching late-night television. I wasn’t quite ready for my usual bedtime following the traditional 11 o’clock news. So I became a regular viewer of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. Eventually, I extended my bedtime past these two shows, subsequently going to bed sometime around 2-3 o’clock in the morning. I just wasn’t sleepy anymore at a normal bedtime. Meanwhile, my morning alarm clock started buzzing at 7. Needless to say, I was not getting enough sleep and being alert and functioning throughout the day became a problem that would grow more serious over the next few decades.

In the early 1990s I had my first sleep test. It was strange, like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Late in the evening, I reported to a room on the very vacant wing of a nearby hospital. My head was draped with wires that drooled down my skull and plugged into electronic pads stuck to dozens of points across my face and upper torso. Then I was told to fall sleep. Sure!

While I was allegedly sleeping with all this spaghetti wrapped around me, a man in an adjacent room stared at a monitor and took notes from the data being “pulsed” from all the wires attached to my body. By morning, the evidence was overwhelming. During the short periods that I actually slept, my body stopped breathing on an average of 47 times an hour. I was diagnosed and joined some 12 million Americans suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

The process of OSA is simple and I have discussed it here before. Basically, the body falls asleep and the muscles relax. Those in the air passage down the back of the throat relax too, sometimes too much and they actually close off the airway. Within a few seconds, the brain realizes that the lungs are not breathing and the brain is starving for oxygen. Impulses are immediately sent out to awaken the body so it begins breathing again. This cycle then continues to repeat itself throughout the night, keeping the body in a repetitive state of falling asleep only to be awakened minutes later, thus depriving it from getting the rest it needs.

There is a piece of equipment that OSA patients can use to help  them achieve uninterrupted sleep.  It’s called CPAP, but not everyone has success using it.  I am one of those who have tried different versions many times throughout the years, but I have had no luck with any of them.

To be continued midweek….

*****

Help yourself to a FREE digital copy of my latest novel, ANCHOR.

Simply go to http://marckuhn.com and look for the green  arrow!

 

 

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WANNA BE A SPORTS SUPERSTAR?


sports12Have you ever dreamed about being a sports superstar?   I wound up going down this path after seeing all the media hoopla as the NFL draft approaches.  What sport do you think you would choose?  I let my imagination wander far and wide while I played around with this question for a little bit this morning.  I didn’t come to any real conclusion, other than listing some specific sports that were automatically ruled out.  Both my mother when she was raising me, and my wife since,  have had long-standing rules that apply to me based on my sports prowess.  These read something like this:

  • Marc shall not engage in any activity, sports or otherwise, that involves objects directed toward him at a high velocity. This rule has something to do with my skills in the area of eye/hand coordination, or lack thereof.
  • Marc shall not place upon his feet any apparatus that includes free-rolling wheels, thin blades or other instruments leading to the destabilization of balance and his ability to remain upright.
  • Marc shall have restrictive permission to hold or otherwise utilize any kind of sharp instrument, i.e., knife, scissors, razors and especially his cooking utility commonly known as a “mandolin.”  During such occurrences, he must be wearing protective gear and be under the supervision of a licensed sword swallower or other individual trained in the art of slicing and dicing.  It is advised that a medical unit be on standby during any such occurrences.

So, right away, games like baseball, ice hockey, javelin toss, knife throwing, etc. are out of play. I suppose likewise for tennis, basketball, lacrosse, and even ping pong (those little hollow balls can really sting!). Then too, target shooting with gun or bow won’t work. I really like to sail but you must have some minimal coordination that has to be on deck at all times, especially when that boom comes swinging across with no notice.

Football is definitely out too. I could not fathom a 300-pound lineman coming straight at me with knurly teeth dripping in saliva and eyeballs spewing sparks and fireballs everywhichway.

Trust me, I went down the list from A to Z and curling was about the only really safe sport I came up with, although I suppose I could slip on the ice or jab myself in the eye with one of those little brooms.

I did consider golf. Now there’s a sport that has a lot going for it when it comes to the basics: strong competition, competent skills levels required, good fan base, suspense and drama and, of course, a ball.   You laugh, but I bet most people, at least most Americans, prefer sports that involve a ball.

So the more I think about it, golf would have to be my game. I like the idea that there is little injury experienced in golf—at least injuries caused by the game. Golf is played outside in nice weather at some phenomenal locations. There’s usually a clubhouse that serves good food. I like good food. Now true, it is a bit more costly to participate in golf. You need membership in a club and a bag of clubs with which to hit the ball.  Initially, you probably have to buy your own clothes. Later when you become competitive and start winning, the major sporting goods manufacturers will be badgering you to wear their gear and use their hardware. Meanwhile, there is no running involved in the game of golf.  That’s a big deal for me.

Yeah, I think I will go with golf. I will ask my wife and see what she thinks. I know she likes the windmill shot and the big tea kettle with the steam puffing out of the spout.

*****

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WHEN ENOUGH IS NOT ENOUGH


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Today’s posting is unusual for me. It is highly philosophical and more than likely representative of little that is logic and sense. Okay, go for it!

I have been unsuccessfully grappling with a dilemma these past few days. The physical pain I have endured of late because of some ailments has only exacerbated the situation. My mind has been hyperactive.  I have had ramblings, I admit, and my direction has lacked focus.

The circumstance has made me reduce my thinking barebones, with no inhibitions or reluctance to declare what I feel are truths, no matter how difficult they are to face, no matter how much they may offend.

I have had a lifetime to learn life. It is not enough. But I do agree, the basics are achievable.   An effort must be made to absorb and then accept them.   They are not an easy learn. You must be disciplined, willing to accept change and be cognizant of others. But most of all, you must be keenly aware of yourself.

There is none other than the gift of human life. Do not debate it…it IS a gift and, assuming it comes with little asked, it is your obligation to make something of it. Why else would it be so freely handed to you?

I have become sadly disappointed with people who are constantly making poor decisions, always blaming others and never, never accepting responsibility for who they have been, who they are now and what they represent to those around them.

It is not enough to simply coast through life, formulating it to self-prescribed doses of alcohol, drugs, physical indulgences and material desires. In fact, I have decided there are a whole lot of not-enough’s that need be addressed if there is to be any substance and meaning to life.

And there has to be meaning, I believe. Whether you declare faith in a God or not, life can’t simply be something that is placed here before us and we are to accept it as is, drifting through its essence unchallenged, or with senseless abandonment. That is just not enough….

It is not enough to go through life accepting the paths set before you. The paths are there only as suggestions. Some may have merit, others may not. Some may lead, others mislead. You may choose among them or wander off in a totally different direction not part of the group.

It is not enough to go through life looking for what is best for you. True, you should make those decisions that benefit you the most but sometimes there are those that are better left for others around you. It is your obligation to know which to take and which to let go of.

It is not enough to wallow in your misery, feel sorry for yourself or look to others for sympathy and support. Misery is everywhere. It is a common commodity. It is yours to give into or yours to repel.

It is not enough just to create, whether it be art or life itself.  You are responsible for its existence and thereby duty-bound to attempt to do what is best for it until such time it must stand on its own and if it cannot, you will endure its hardship.

It is not enough to listen to only yourself, shutting out the thoughts and contributions generated by others. It is a natural obligation to share, exchange, profit and lose, succeed and fail.

It is not enough to walk away, leave others behind while you proceed beyond the boundaries unless, of course, you are to return and share what you have learned.

It is not enough to think you are the know-all, the be-all, the entity of ultimate perfection. In human life, there is no such spirit, no such soul, no such being because it is beyond enough for anyone to be.

*****

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FEARING THE BOMB….AGAIN!


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It’s been some time since I last settled my butt into my thinking chair on the back patio and actually did some thinking.  I’m not sure it was as much thinking as it was worrying that I wound up doing.  I can’t believe it, but I was worrying about the state of the world, given the current tensions that exist among the United States, Russia, China and North Korea.  The pot has definitely been stirred and I don’t remember people ever being this actively worried about “the bomb” since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

I guess I should stop and back up a wee bit since many of you were not around back then.  While children my age—we’re talking elementary school, 1950s—weren’t consumed every waking minute by visions of a great blinding flash of intense white light which served a warning for a huge mushroom cloud that followed, not to mention the complete obliteration of life as we knew it.  No, all that was not constantly on our minds, but we were damn well aware of it and every week we had to  practice what to do about it  should it ever occur.

We watched movies (not videos) about air raid sirens, something older British kids were already well schooled in.  We knew where the nearest shelter was located, or otherwise knew to head for the basements.  If we were at school, we were to crawl under our desks where we would be sheltered and safe until the all-clear sirens were sounded…or not.*

Bomb shelters were the latest weekend warrior project for many a father.  If the house couldn’t convert the basement, a shelter would have to be buried in the backyard.   You could buy a complete set of plans or hire a company to build it.  Moms, meanwhile, would be handed a list of supplies to stock the new family addition.  Once all these kinds of things were in place, we had a renewed sense of security. Bully Nikita Khrushchev wasn’t so tough after all.

So, moving ahead one lifetime—mine!—as I sat in my thinking chair, I figured all this new world tension could spawn a resurgence of all that stuff we were taught as a kid…only now we are senior citizens.  Things would have to be altered and adapted. Some examples I thought about:

First, we are no longer in school.  So there is no school desk to hide under.  What to do?  Obviously, we’d be instructed to turn our walkers over onto their sides, get down on the floor and crawl inside one end and, when fully under the walker, assume the fetal position.  Those in wheelchairs would do likewise, placing their chairs in the traditional wheels-up position.  Imagine, however, what would happen after the all-clear signal was given.  There would be a nightmare number of people pressing their “I on the floor and I can’t get up” buttons, followed by gridlock on the highways as millions of ambulances responded to the flood of panic button signals.

I am not even sure there are air raid sirens mounted anywhere on our streets these days.  Besides, we would have to be reminded of how many blasts meant exactly what and whether or not the comforting all-clear siren was the same…and exactly what was that?  I suppose this would not be a big problem given that most all seniors carry a cell phone nowadays.  Much like the Amber and Silver alerts we receive on our phones, I am sure we could be sent a Bomb alert too.

I am also sure that social media would play a huge roll in warning us that complete annihilation was coming.  Tweets would be most effective since you can say “Holy Crap, the end is near” and still have space for a personal thought.  Linkedin could immediately shift from distributing resumes to obits and you could invite others to meet you at Starbucks on the other side, wherever that is. Pinterest would showcase all the iconic pictures of bomb droppings, especially the shots of refugees wandering the globe looking for someone to invite them in. And Facebook would go nuts.  Can you imagine all the pictures posted, all the politicalizing, all the sudden friending and unfriending now that the end was near. Oh the humanity!

And what about bomb shelters in the 21st Century?  I just know my phone would light up with a gazillion robocalls soliciting my good money in exchange for an easy-to-build-fully-stocked shelter in the color and floor treatment of my choice, followed by the dates of their special “blow-out” sale.

Well, these were all the things that crossed my mind while sitting in my thinking chair thinking about the end of the world.  It was all starting to cause me a lot of anxiety. Old feelings of fearing the bomb were suddenly coming back to me. Visions of Edward R . Murrow and Walter Cronkite appeared out of nowhere, not even the television—they were just there floating in the air, reporting on horrific cold war incidents.

I heard boom! after boom! and even felt the floor shake and I saw the blackboards cracking.  My God, all this had more influence on me as a young child than I ever remembered.  And now as a senior citizen it was all coming back to me, every scary goose-bumpy moment of it.  I did the only thing I could do. I got up out of my thinking chair, went into the house, ran upstairs and crawled under my desk.  Ahhh, safe again.

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*BTW, comedian Lewis Black does a much better spin on the outrageousness kids went through during the cold war years. Here is a link to his routine. It’s about a minute in when he begins talking about being instructed to hide under his desk if the bomb was being dropped…BTW again, if you are not familiar with Black, he is known for the many many bombs he drops…f-bombs!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYyb485KewY

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NO ORDINARY PAIN


PAIN

I am not sure how to write about what has been happening to me for the past five weeks.  I have made it through a situation like never before and, like any impacting occurrence in your life, it has left a deep notch in my woodwork.  I do not think, nor expect many people to read this.  It will be long and tedious and of little interest to most, except those who may have gone through a similar situation.  But I will put it all down, if for no other reason than to document this episode in my life.

In 2010 I had a knee replacement on my right leg.  I had done a lot of homework beforehand and I spoke with anyone I could find who had this procedure done or knew someone who did.  The odds were pretty good that I would be a lot better off with a phony knee than the deteriorating one installed at birth.  So off I went, into the deep dark abyss formulated by an anesthesiologist.  When I awoke, my life was hell for the next several years as my body bucked and snorted its way to accepting the new, alien fixture embedded midway up my leg.  My recovery was a lot slower and more painful than most, so much so that I decided I would not get the other knee done which was already scheduled for later in the year.

My surgeon is well known throughout south Florida as THE best doctor for knee replacements.  The complications I had after the operation were not of his doing.  My body is simply one of the ones that takes a more aggressive attitude toward change.  Now, seven years later, the issues with my right knee are history.  Once in a while it’ll let me know it does not like the way I turned or the weight I put on it, but it’s a brief moment of conflict and we both get over it.  Meanwhile, my surgeon told me not to rush getting my other knee done.  He said that I would know “when” is when and I’d be back.  Well he was right.  When was last fall and that’s when the process of getting my left knee replaced began.

My doctor told me he was now using less invasive robotics and he’d also do a nerve block to help ease my pain.  Hopefully and optimistically I marched into the same deep dark abyss of the anesthesiologist and this time, when I awoke, things indeed were different.  The pain was so much less and I was immediately able to do so much more.  I was so happy with my decision to proceed with the second knee replacement. The new, easier recovery continued for the next two weeks as I began therapy at home and then at a location a short ride up the road from home.  Here’s where the story turns.  I had a rather vigorous session during my third visit.  This came at a time when I was definitely suspicious that something was not right. My leg was hurting more, healing less.  After this particular workout all hell broke loose. My leg bucked the therapy and swelled up from knee to little toe and every muscle between my hip and the aforementioned toe flared up in painful rebellion. I was right back to where I was seven years before, right where I swore I’d never venture again.  But wait, this is only part of the story.

Back in December, months before my second knee replacement, my back went out.  I am not a person with back issues.  The only other time my back “went out” was in 1996 and it gave me hell for a month and then slowly understood that I had had enough and it eased its way back to normalcy.  I figured this time it would do the same thing.  It didn’t.  It continued on long enough to make me see a doctor.  He ordered an MRI.  Along with all that was going on at this time, I was in the early stages of being treated for psoriatic arthritis which was beginning to erode my joints in a process that consumes many an aging body.  It is not a nice process.  It distorts your appearance, limits your movement and, of course, inflicts a good amount of accompanying pain.

The MRI showed that my arthritis was doing a good job of eating away at my spine, so much so that two discs were now bulging out of the normal boundaries of their aging chambers. The pain increased almost daily. I was now using a cane and after the knee surgery my days became repetitive time capsules of lying around, limiting my vertical time, and attempting to sleep…all the while I have been taking painkillers that I know will, at any time, test my discipline and addictive tolerance.  Ironically, the pills have little effect on lessening my pain.  Fact is, nothing lessens my pain.

By February I am in chronic, intense pain 24/7.  I cannot sit still, I cannot go anywhere and I spend the hours trying to cope with the pain and looking for a position on a soft surface that might offer me a moment of peace.  I am wondering why doctor offices don’t call back and those that do don’t seem to have an answer to my problem.  I continue on in disbelief that there is no one or no place that can help me.  The leg recovery, as painful as it is, has become secondary to the back issue.  The latter now pokes a fire iron into the small of back on the left side.  The pain is off the scale as it unbelievably wraps around under my groin and attacks an area that leaves any man bending over and whimpering like a child.

Last week I’m lying prone on my stomach in an operating room at the out-patient section of a nearby hospital.  A pain specialist is about to inject the affected area on my back with a thirty inch needle—at least it seems that it was that long to me.  He performs another nerve block, this time using a “live” xray to more accurately locate my sacroiliac, a target area where he thinks most of my pain is headquartered. Over the next 24 hours, life changes.  The back pain eases.  Now I just have to cope with a lower level of it and turn my attention to dealing with my knee issues.

As fate would have it, this latest procedure delivered a spark of hope which crashed and burned on the second day.  I was back to where I’d been.  dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

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I guess you are wondering about the “d’s.”  This is yet a whole other issue that adds to my stress-filled days of trying to live like a normal person.  Because of my sleep apnea, I get little sleep.  Consequently, I constantly “crash” throughout the day, literally falling asleep right in the middle of doing something.  Back up above, when I wrote “…to where I’d been.” I paused to think about what I wanted to write next.  My body instantly noticed my vulnerability and decided this would be a good opportunity to take a time out. Without asking me for permission, nor giving me warning, it went into sleep mode. When it did, my finger was resting on the letter “d” on the keyboard with just enough pressure to keep it active for several rows until I woke up.  This is a constant occurrence when I am writing but, of course, the runaway letters are always deleted.  My Sleep Apnea is actually a fascinating ailment–no really!–and I am about to join 1500 other people around the world who will have a new electronic implant to help eliminate this life-draining debacle.  I will be discussing this in upcoming postings on Marc’s Blog. But I digress…

I like to end on a positive note and that’s where I am right now, with fingers crossed. I do not know if my current status will last a day, a week or for the rest of my life.  Here’s what happened.  I saw my arthritis doctor yesterday and she told me to up the dosage and go back on some medicine I had stopped taking.  She had me taking this same pill several months ago while I was waiting to qualify for one of those secret outrageously expensive pills you see happy people taking on TV commercials during the nightly network news. When the new meds were approved, she took me off the “babysitter” pill.

With only one dose, though significantly higher, of the medicine I had been previously taking, my back pain disappeared.  I am now midway through the next day and it remains under control. Even the leg/knee pain has eased a bit.  I can deal with this. I am to follow this new procedure for only five days and then stop the pills.  While they appear to be helping me, it’s advised not to prolong their use.  It is anticipated that within this week’s time the medicine will calm all the inflammation that is the root of my problem.  I just hope the next paragraph of this long saga doesn’t begin with “Unfortunately…”  Ironically, I have suffered all this time—months of non-stop, intense pain—and the pills that finally seem to be giving me some relief were in a bottle, in a drawer, less than six feet away.

*****

 

 

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MEDIA MONOTONY


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I have a love/hate relationship with broadcasters.  Having worked in radio my entire career, I had the opportunity to be around some incredibly talented people.  However, there were just as many whose creativity is measured only by their zest for stealing what has been originated by others.  I draw special attention to the industry’s bad habit of duplicating verbiage.  When one broadcaster develops a liking for a specific term or phrase, rest assured just about everyone else will soon follow.  It makes no difference if the term has merit.  In fact, it usually doesn’t; it’s simply more of a gimmick.  Example? Of course…

Back in the 1970’s a genius radio exec (words in italics to be expressed with cutting edge sarcasm) proclaimed a revelation that soon spread like a virus infecting radio airways across the universe.  He, or perhaps it was a she, discovered that people do not listen to the radio; instead, they hear the radio.  All those brief station identification announcements that aired continuously throughout the day suddenly changed:

  • FROM:      “You’re listening to Chicago’s Best Rock, WXXX, 97.3fm”
  •  TO:           “You’re hearing Chicago’s Best Rock WXXX, 97.3fm”

Fortunately, this change in expression regarding how we describe the taking in and processing of radio sound lasted for only a few years until new genius radio execs discovered how awkward the phrase itself sounded.

Television is just as bad as radio when it comes to cloning.  Pictures enhance the duplications, making them even more obnoxious.  Examples?  Oh, there are tons.  How about the appearance and format of late night television talk shows?  The norm features a high-energy, humorous male host who opens the show each night with a comedic monologue; a small, live band plays raucous music before and after each commercial break;  the show host and the band leader exchange witticisms;  guests, usually current entertainment stars, are marched out one at a time and interviewed; the set always consists of a desk behind which the host will sit, and two side chairs or sofa; a cityscape or similar outdoor expanse will drape the backdrop.  Really, if they wanted to save considerable overhead, all these shows would get together and share the same set and band.  Few watching on TV would notice.  One other note, the shows always end with “we’ve run out of time.”

Need I discuss the similarities in television newscasts?  Well, forgive me, but I will mention one aspect of contemporary news programming and it has to do with the use of a phrase that you and I have to listen to (oops, make that “hear!”) at least 10-20  times per broadcast.  And what is that exactly?  Already I’m cringing…

                                “We have breaking news!”  

With all that has been going on in the news this week, I bet I heard that line no less than a hundred times.  What these pea-brain journalists don’t seem to grasp is the basic concept of crying wolf.  Not every news story is breaking. I wish just once one of them would intro a story by saying something to the effect: “…and now we have a story we will slowly expose and we’re not sure if it will experience any further development, but we thought you might like to know about it anyway” …or something like that.

Well, I think I’ve made my point and I don’t want to be so repetitive that I am guilty of the same crime I am criticizing.  I’ll just finish up by saying I wish sometimes the media would take a serious look and listen to what they present to us.  So much of what they do is worthy of our attention…they just need to realize that, in addition to seeing and hearing, we also think.

*****

Note readers of Marc’s Blog…

If you would like a free digital download of my book, ANCHOR, go to http://marckuhn.com

*****

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MY GRANDSON’S POEM


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If you are a parent you no doubt have devoted some time management to the space on the refrigerator door.  Located here are the family art gallery, the kids’ literary archives and the photo shoots featuring trophies and medals won. The real estate here is precious and its worthiness is measured by the oohs and aahs of passersby.

Today, Marc’s Blog features the main posting on its refrigerator door.   Placed front and center is the school work of my grandson, Marc.   He is 11 years old and his latest homework assignment was to build a scrapbook about his life and family.  He decided this was to be a pretty big enterprise, one he took seriously.  It needed something special, something above and beyond.  His solution?  Ah-hah! The good lad thinks like his namesake grandfather.  When it’s get-serious time, it’s time to rhyme.  Hence, Marc’s poem and, perhaps, the meaning of life…

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

 

*****

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WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF


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I am happy I was in the right line when I was born. I didn’t confuse the proverbial trains vs. brains. My brain is a great source of humor for me and, surprisingly, sometimes for others. If I knew how to do it, I’d extract my brain from within my skull and insist that it do stand-up. Humor-wise, I think it would be quite the success story, maybe even giving Seinfeld a run.  Sure.

I have noticed that nothing enhances the humorous side of my brain more than a few good painkillers…which right now, after a recent knee replacement, occupy space on my medicine shelf. No, don’t ask, I’m not sharing them. These babies don’t do much to help reduce my pain, but they makeup for it by providing a few good laughs.

Case in point: The other night my wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table having dinner. Each of us was busy shoveling meatloaf and potatoes while picking through the non-bill category of the day’s mail. My wife broke the silence…“Hey, I want a volleyball. I really do.” That is the exact quote I recall. In its place, there is nothing out of the ordinary about this statement. Our one granddaughter plays on two volleyball teams and we have attended a good number of games. My wife has come to really like the game of volleyball so blurting out, “Hey, I want a volleyball” isn’t some far-fetched declaration of desire that she launched out of nowhere. True, I don’t see her actually playing volleyball—no way—but if she wants a ball just to bounce around, who am I to interfere? Hence my response; it was the usual, muffled, “uh-huh.” I put this out really low key.  It’s a habit I have to distract her from thinking I am really listening. That way, when the volleyball arrives she is twice as surprised because she thinks I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve used this technique before and it has amazing results. Yes, you may copy it.

Fast forward two-three nights and you will find me at my computer at some wee small hour of the morning. Much of my best energy is expensed at this time of day…or is it night? Shopping is included. I have recalled my dear wife had mentioned something about wanting a volleyball. Nothing is too good for her, nosiree. So I am busy surfing for one. I select a beautiful white Wilson ball just like “Wilson” from the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away. I think about my dipping my hand in red die and “stamping” the ball with its imprint before I give it to my wife.

A few days go by while I wait for the vollyball to arrive. In that time, for some reason or another, I begin to have doubts about the entire episode. I don’t know why, but I am not sure if our dinner conversation actually took place…or was it something I dreamed while under a drug-induced sleep? OMG, have I lost my mind? Don’t answer that.

The ball arrives. My wife is there at the time. She wants to know what’s in the box. I hand it to her and say, “I got you something. It’s a surprise…definitely a surprise one way or the other.”   She wants clarification. I clarify. “Well, the other night you told me you wanted one so I got you one.” She has the box just about opened by now. I’m sort of cringing, waiting to find out if the entire conversation over meatloaf dinner was real or Memorex.

“A volleyball!” she says. “What for? I never told you I wanted a volleyball?” Ah-ha, it was Memorex. It was a dream—albeit a very real one—but nonetheless a dream. I dreamt an entire scene, complete with our kitchen set, meatloaf and potatoes, a well written script and a very realistic final cut. I’m expecting an Oscar.

These are the kinds of real-life stories that are told over and over at social gatherings. My wife loves to have fun with some of the crazy things I do. She never hesitates to share them. In fact, she has a quiver full of these mocking arrows and in an instant can launch one after another like a Trojan warrior.  The volleyball story will get good play on her circuit. Later, when I run into some of her associates, they will all say something like, “Oh Marc, that story about you and the volleyball was hysterical.”

Okay, it’s mine. I own it. Maybe trains would have been more fun.

*****

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FIRING THE THERAPIST


SignsofTime

The saga of my recent knee replacement continues.  I have made a radical decision with which I am sure my doctor and physical therapist will totally disagree.  I am cancelling the remainder of my visits to the outside therapist and will oversee my rehab program at home by myself.  Why?  Well, first and foremost, I am really really really tired of pain.  It wears one down.

I was supposed to have my second knee replacement on my left leg within the year of my first knee replacement on the right leg.  But recovery from the first surgery went so poorly, I managed to put off having the second knee done until I could no longer put up with it. That lasted seven years.

Because of new technology and the added feature of a nerve block, I came away from my second surgery incredibly impressed.  The pain was quite tolerable and I was told one week later that my bending abilities were a good two weeks ahead of schedule.  I was pleased and encouraged as I continued doing the basic slow and steady exercises at home.  Life was good.  It didn’t take long to turn bad.

I started outside physical therapy last week.  The initial visit was short and I did a minimal routine consisting of mostly passive machine treatments.  That night and the next day, my pain level rose a bit, but not enough to push my response button.  Then last Friday I had a full program of weight-related exercises and I admit I took the challenge with a no paid/no gain attitude and pushed through as best I could.  By Friday night I was in agony.  Saturday I could just about walk and Sunday was not much better.  I was popping pain pills and swirling my cane at anything or anyone threatening to touch me.  I looked like Dr. House.

I then remembered this is what happened with the first knee.  Each visit to the therapist brought on more than a basic pain reaction to the workout, but more so I suffered horrendous levels of pain and sharp shooting daggers that were simply an experience to behold.  Well, ain’t going to be doing any beholding this time.  I will take over the therapy, keep it low key but steady enough that I challenge myself to acheive recovery and return my knee to as near normal function as possible…without all the unbearable pain.

The downside of this decision is self-doubt and second-guessing. I wonder if I am being too much of a wuss, that I have turned sissy to what most people have no trouble doing.  Or, does my body simply over-react to therapy.  I’ve had fillings put in my teeth and caps over them using no Novocain–I have that much of a tolerance level for pain.  So I don’t think wimping out is my nature.  Something simply goes amiss with this knee rehab stuff.  Given the outlandish amount of pain I endured this past weekend, I know one thing for sure:  my decision to do the rehab myself, at my own slow pace and in my own little room is certainly not…wait for it…a knee-jerk reaction.

*****

On an entirely different note, my good ice cream buddy, Ron Carmean, has presented an insightful perspective on the late and great Chuck Berry that features a collection of quotes from his musical peers.  If you are a Berry fan, you should catch Ron’s Omnibus blog this week. There’s a link here–just look for the Omnibus graphic across on the right-hand side and click on it.

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MEDIA OVERLOAD


TVHEAD5

I am in media overload. This is the result of two things: first, I just had knee surgery so my ability to get up and move about the galaxy is limited to short distances and brief tasks. This is so unlike me.  Usually my hyperbolic DNA has me zooming around from planet to planet.  Next, the past few days have been the most incredibly active news days given all the breaking news coming out of Washington especially, and the rest of the world generally.

Newswise, just look at all the events of the past week: the White House/Capitol Hill debate on healthcare; the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and its possible ties to Russia; Intel Chairman Devin Nunes snubs his committee and has a unprecedented self-invited visit to the White House; the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch who displays no capacity to answer questions as mundane as “do you drink water?”; the terrorist assault outside the British Parliament in London; another missile attempt by that crazy kid in North Korea; the Keystone Pipeline go-ahead; proposed budget cuts that will push the delete key on Meals on Wheels. Wow, what a week.

So I have sat, lain, sprawled, fidgeted and assumed a variety of other positions in my bed and in the chair next to it while my eyes have been transfixed on the 18” flatscreen on the table across from me. With my trusty remote controller permanently embedded in my hand, I surf from news channel to news channel absorbing all the conversations, declarations and manifestations propelled onto the screen, one right after the other. My intellect is challenged continuously by news commentators, newsmakers, news anchors, guest experts and media exploiters. It’s a hell of an assortment of talkers, screamers and debaters. Oh, I forgot to mention all the news “cuts”—those “actualities” of persons on the street, eyewitness testimonials, retired generals’ sage advice and academicians’ pontifications.  Everyone has something to say.

Yep, all that stuff suckered me in, absorbing my focus and soaking my brain cells with more data than they can possibly sort through and make any sense of.  There is so  much goop oozing out of the TV that I will even credit all this media mayhem with actually taking my mind off my aching leg for a few minutes here and there.

With the addition of so many cable news channels, one thing is certain: there is a vast variety and diversity of opinion available to anyone who chooses to tune in. Trouble is, it is often difficult to decide who is telling the truth, who is truly knowledgeable and who makes the best case. It was so much easier years ago when the news media remained objective and you had to wait for specially segregated and labeled sections of “commentary” before opinion was injected into the mix. Nowadays, it’s a free-for-all and the viewer is left pondering how to differentiate from what is objective vs subjective. It is, at times, a puzzlement.

Eventually, it occurred to me that if I didn’t ease up a bit, in addition to my knee replacement, I will need a head replacement. So I decided to leave the TV off. Well, maybe not for the entire day, but for chunks of time.  I have to pace myself if I am to keep up with the rest of the world. Oh, that reminds me…I neglected to mention one other vitally important item in this past week’s chain of events.   My local supermarket, Publix, had Ben & Jerry’s on sale—buy one/get one. Now I ask you, is it no surprise that I have finally come to terms as to what is really important and what isn’t?

*****

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