Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A rhino virus named Attila-the Hun

Eighteen days ago, I slipped and fell on the ice blanketed snow while meandering around in my back yard.  While I did suffer an immediate headache and some discomfort of my thoracic spine, nothing more serious ensued.  I mention it only as a point of reference leading up to my “catching “a head cold.

I take good care of myself; exercising, eating nutritiously, and getting sufficient rest.  To wit, this recent cold is the first I’ve suffered in a year.  I work in a hospital and have young grandchildren whom I visit regularly.  I’m exposed to some of the over 200 varieties of cold viruses daily but my immune system usually fights them off efficiently.  Keeping one’s immune system in top working order requires that it be stimulated regularly.  Moderate exercise is one way to help strengthen your immune system, and limited exposure to diseases; vaccinations serve this purpose well.

I’m surmising that the fall mentioned above stressed my immune system sufficiently to give any viruses I’d been exposed to a chance to gain a foot hold and begin to breed.  However, my symptoms never seemed to measure up to a full blown head cold.  Niggling, I referred to my symptoms as niggling.  The virus seemed to shop around for a good place to set up housekeeping, but never really found a hospitable home.  First I had some increased secretions in one nostril, really so minimal as to be considered insignificant.  This was followed by a mild bout of throat scratchiness, some trachea irritation and a nagging cough.  These symptoms remained in their minor irritations for 17 days.  I continued to live my life and follow my routines as usual; exercising, running, walking to work, etc. etc..

Then yesterday this sniggling “Attila-the-Hun” of rhino viruses smacked me up side of my head with maximum payload.  I felt like a kid when my father gave me a slap upside the head from out of nowhere, just because he thought I needed it.  I assaulted it with an entire armamentarium of products to alleviate the symptoms invoke by this monster.  Yet it fought back with a vengeance causing me to spend the night coughing, hacking, snotting, blowing, spitting and in wonder at the amount of secretions my immune system could produce in trying to rid itself of this marauder.

I was pleased to read, upon investigation of literature pertaining to the “common cold,” that the symptoms can last for up to three weeks with a persistent cough lasting longer.

Here’s to a Happy New Year, and a strengthened immune system.

BTW, everyone in the OR has this virus, so quite whining Bob and just suck it up buttercup.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Whittling away at life

The announcement in our local newspaper on Friday last that come March the publication would change from a 5 day plus Sunday publication to become a 2 day (Tuesday/Thursday) plus Sunday publication..  Of course they portrayed the change in a positive light, saying better, more in depth coverage etc., etc..  But the fact is that for the amount of news, a three days a week paper is more cost efficient way to disseminate what little local news there is.

Small towns in rural America are dying a slow agonizing death; at least in the northeast and mid-west.  Our youth are migrating from the bucolic but economically destitute areas of their birth to the more thriving metropolitan vistas with better employment and cultural opportunities.

As more and more of the amenities of the city and town of my growing up days fall by the wayside I’m reminded of some of the patients we’d care for in surgery.  They consisted, usually, of diabetic smokers suffering from end stage renal disease.  Their peripheral vascular systems were shutting down and their feet, being at the far end of the circulation highway, began to suffer a slow death from gangrene and they ended up in the OR having first one toe amputated and then, on subsequent return visits to the operating room suite, would have more toes, then half a foot, until a mid calf amputation was necessary.  The surgeon whittled away their body parts ‘til death stepped in to bring surcease, finally, for the patient.

And so it is with our little communities; being whittled away of their economic livelihood until amid the relics of the past only the shell of what was once a thriving community is left.

image from Google images. Photo by

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The good-ol'-days.

My Internet friend Tess, (a fellow writer) through blogging and Face Book wrote a post about nostalgia and creativity yesterday. I shared in her thoughts  but went on to post a comment that looked through the retrospectoscope slightly differently:

The "old" days are great for remembering the fun we had growing up. But to say that today's youth are being deprived is, in essence, to wish time to stop. They too in their time will reminisce about their "god-ol'-days and decry the fact that their children are doing different things. Today's youth look back on the Dick Tracey Radio watch as arcane or if they are kind, a precursor of today's much more advanced technology.

Children are imbued with imagination no matter the time into which they are born. They will always explore and invent. We, the Elders, are given the chance to enjoy both the past wonders and witness the new. We just have to look at the new world through the glasses of wonderment that we view our past.

I, too, grew up with burn barrels, My kids missed that, or not. But we did burn leaves in the fall, and they now wish their children could experience the same nostalgic wafting of dry leaf smoke, Alas, the world marches on and we can only stand and watch or jump on for the ride.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Inpatient vs. Impatient

Yesterday, I put up a status on Face Book:

"Early in my career I dealt mostly with inpatients.
Now I deal with a lot of impatience."

It drew less than a dozen responses, but the interesting thing is how each respondent personalized the concept and in their own context responded.  Some, at least one, suspected I was referring to my own personal impatience, while others thought I was referring to the impatience of others; i.e. surgeons, staff, administrators, patients, etc..  While I, also, can find a case for each of these interpretations, none apply to the thought process behind my status saying at the time.

For the most part, I'd say I'm a patient guy.  I'm no yogi guru or Buddhist priest, but in general I;m most often a patient person.  So that motive can be eliminated.  What, then, prompted me to make that statement?  It seems that I do some of my best thinking or creative word construction (poetry) in the moments just before awakening or in the shower.  Such was the case yesterday; not while waking but in the shower.

Six months ago or so, I began to feel pain in my shoulder.  It was ever present but I could still function adequately.  Doing shoulder exercises became more and more painful requiring ever more decreases in the amount of weight I could use in doing my exercises.  I mentioned this on a casual occasion with the owner/manager of the gym I workout in.  He is a Physical therapist and he did some tests and confirmed what I had already suspected; impingement syndrome.  He suggested some exercises for me to do and which I dutifully employed.

I was not inclined to seek surgical intervention.  Thinking of a knee injury a few years ago associated with running, that I self diagnosed as a torn meniscus, I said then: " I have faith in the bodies ability to heal itself, I'll wait this out and it'll get better.  It took a good six months but get better it did and I'm back running again.

So, yesterday in the shower I realize that I can reach across my upper body, with the arm that has plagued me, with out discomfort.  Reflecting, I realized that that had been the case for the previous three days.

My point?  In many cases minor discomforts and injuries can and will correct themselves (heal) given adequate time and care.  With a positive mind set and faith in the bodies abilities, proper nutrition and resting of the part injured the body will make itself whole given time.  To be sure there are more than a few times where surgical and medical intervention are necessary to save life and limb; ruptured aneurysm, cancer, long bone fractures, compound ankle fractures like those sustained while jumping from a bridge while mental ability is impaired by alcohol, etc.

But in far to many cases, in my opinion, medical/surgical intervention is sought because of the injured's impatience.  Not so much in the "olden" days when patients were admitted to hospital one or two days in advance for work-up and remained in-hospital for a week or more recuperating.

With the advent of one-day surgery, come-in-go-home same day surgery, the amount of patience exhibited by patients has diminished accordingly.  If you have medical insurance it goes something like this:  I want it fixed now, AND I want somebody else to pay for it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Don't cry over spilt wine

I shoulda taken my own photo like a good facebooker would have but no sense in crying over spilt wine.

In a day filled with minor mishaps, I've struggled to find a topic to write about that didn't sound like whining.  coming to the end of my day I thought; "looks like you'll have to miss a day's blog post just 6 days into the new year."

Fortuitously while preparing my supper I accidentally knocked over a just poured, full, glass of red wine.  Fortuitous you say?  How can spilling a full glass of red wine be seen as a good thing?

Well at first blush, my reaction was; damn it.  Almost immediately I thought: get this wiped up before it dries.  And so as I surveyed the mess my mind thought; "How can I put this in a positive light?"  Unlikely response I agree but there you have it, honest to God.

First thought; wow, this would make a great photo illustration or even a video to demonstrate to students, especially students entering the health care field, the caveat we all learn as nurses; a little blood goes a long ways.  To wit, a six  ounce glass of wine toppled while at the edge of the counter managed to splatter half the kitchen floor linoleum with a star burst shaped Rorschach inkblot.  In addition it soaked both of my bedroom slippers, splattered the front of a base cabinet door, the front and top edge of the brand new dish washer, the bottom 1/3 of the refrigerator door, the wall of the door opening, and oh yes, soaked the left leg of my blue jeans and left a smaller sample on the right leg.  (Anyone know how to get red wine stain out of blue jeans?)  Even better, the glass remained intact on the counter, and not a drop hit the carpet adjoining the kitchen linoleum.

Second, my thoughts turned to getting this mess sopped up as quickly as possible with a fist full of paper towels.  Surprisingly, 98% came up leaving no stain behind.  The remainder was easily cleaned up with my Swiffer wet mop.  It even worked on the door surfaces of the frig., dish washer and cabinet.  Probably not the best impetus to mop the floor but none-the-less the floor got a good cleaning.

If there is any down side to this little incident was the fact that 6 ounces of perfectly good Merlot got sopped up with paper towels instead of titillating my taste buds.  The glass was replenished let me assure you.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Reminiscing about days of old

With the advent of old fashioned winter weather (ice storms, frigid temps, and ample snow-fall) for the end of December, 2013 and the beginning of January 2014 got me to reminiscing. ( )

I recalled the issue of learning to ice skate as a youngster.  Specifically the part of falling over backwards and cracking my head on the ice.  It was a memory that brings a shudder to my body and I can re-feel the pain from my occiput to my forehead and the effect on my sinuses. It is definitely something I never want to experience again.

Fast forward to yesterday, Saturday January  4thHaving been away from the homestead since  Friday the 20th of December, I decided to take a tour around the property and check the status of the bird and squirrel feeders as well as what damage the ice laden trees of the previous week had wrought.  I was glad to see that the ice had melted off the trees without too much limb loss or damage to the other structures on the property. However the layer of ice that had covered the snowfall was still intact.  The recent snowfall had dropped only a couple of inches on top of this icy crust which made it easy to walk around the property for my inspection without breaking through.

Everything appeared copacetic and I returned to the walk way leading around to the entry door.  there was a slight drop of 3" to 4"  to the still ice covered walk way.  Yup you guessed it; Instantaneously and I mean instantaneously both feet slid forward at 120 miles per hour and I landed prostrate with a thud, smacking the back my head on the non-forgiving ice as my thoracic vertebrae landed on the 4" hump leading down to the path.

Lying there evaluating the extent of, if any, injury sustained, I hear my wife  call out asking if I was OK.  Head? damn, hurts like hell, just like it did when I was ice skating as a kid.  Concussion?  Not sure but frontal headache is evident.  Back broken?  Well, I can still move my legs and I'm breathing OK.  Again my wife yells, "are you OK?"  I say:  "I think so."

As if I needed reminding that your life can change or end in an instant.

My luck held one more time!!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Letters; it's writing too, yes?

Hey Jule,
Fortunately, for travel considerations, my surgery schedule was light and I was able to leave after one c-section.  Got to apt. at 0930 and we were packed up and on the road by 1130.
We got home, without incident, about 1530.  No weather in the form of precip, but plenty cold; -8 when we got to Morristown.  The ice was gone off the trees and we only got an additional 3" - 4" if snow.  In Dansville we got, probably, 7" or so.
I know what you mean about the wood-stove; nothing like it when the thermometer drops into the minuses.  Ours is more a piece of furniture theses days, used only in case of emergency like a power outage.  It is fully functional and the wood shed is well stocked; not for a whole winter but we could heat for a few weeks with what we have should the need arise.

Sounds like you guys got a lion's share of the snow!!!  Diane was pondering why you guys don't own a four wheel drive automobile when your winter history is one of many feet of snow.

Diane, Jane and I went to the Bedrock for dinner last night.  The place was packed and there were only two waitresses and an inexperienced bartender.  The regular bartender called in, and I suspect that the owner, Wendy, didn't expect such a large crowd on such a frigid night.  To their credit, the two girls did a great job and it looked like no customers had to wait too long for service.

Weather service reports some warming for the weekend up your way and then back to winter next week.  You guys have amazing fortitude to manage the tremendous snowfall you get each winter.

Jane is doing much better since coming under Diane's care.  We refuse to coddle her and therefore she is gaining back some independence in everyday skills.  I doubt that she will ever regain the ability to live independently again but you never know.  She managed the 3 flights of stairs at the apt. Alright; even after we went out to Jack's Gaslight Grill for New Year's Eve dinner.  Diane is taking her down to Florida for the last two weeks of January.  Mainly to see and say goodby to friends down there.  Not sure what the future holds for Jane, but we'll manage one day at a time and encourage her to do as much for herself as she can.

Okay, time to fold the laundry, put the towels in the dryer for a little longer.  Then put the oatmeal on to simmer.
Have a cozy day around the wood stove. :-)

Love ya,

Friday, January 03, 2014

Snow shoeing in January, Or, moving to Dansville

Last year, about this time (early into January), I was preparing to move to Dansville, NY to start a job.  Since I was moving myself, in my Trailblazer, to an unfurnished apartment, space was at a premium.  I called my Chief CRNA and asked her if they had any snow down there in the southern tier.  She assured me that yes they had snow and asked why I was inquiring.  "I'm just wondering whether to pack my snowshoes and cross country skis," I said.  
"Bring them along," she replied.

Today, as the frigid air mass and snow storm labeled "Hercules" by the Weather Service begins to pass eastward leaving behind a hefty accumulation of snow and temps in the minus degrees, I'm reminded of the day I moved into my apartment one year ago.  It was Saturday the 12th of January and the outside temperature was 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  There was nary a flake of snow to be found.  I stored my snow shoes in my assigned basement storage space and never removed them until spring when I returned them to my garage in northern New York, where they are still hanging on the wall today as I speak.

Today, if the weather forecast is accurate, I will trek north from Dansville with my wife and mother-in-law, who have been staying with me in my one bedroom apartment for the past week.  I wonder if Sunday next I should bring my snow shoes back with me.

What say you?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

January: resolution month. Or Word of the year for 2014

For a few years I've noticed some of my on-line acquaintances take the time during the first days of a new year to pick "A Word."  A word to guide them throughout the coming year; to be their stimulus to achieve the improved life they seek.

I look at that endeavor with the same sense of cynicism as I do the repetitive, yearly, act of making "New Year Resolutions."  It's a noble idea but, as so many failures to succeed have shown, more often than not,that the act of listing things you want to happen is about as far as it goes: putting words on paper is what is done.  The follow-up peters out in a few weeks.

I reflected on this "Word" as a guide to accomplishing my individual betterment and mulled it over of a number of minutes.  Esoteric words such as wholeness, savor, simplify are all well and good but seem to me to fall into the same column as NYR (new year resolutions). 

Without acting on the words, nothing changes, except that time marches on and no real personal change transpires.  With the exception that we get older and perhaps a little more cynical.

So for me, as I reflected on my successful physical and mental transformation over the past year, what word or words would exemplify how those changes came about. 

Without action all the best intentions remain just that; thoughts to be mulled and conjured.  But to feel accomplishment I need to see and feel the results. so my word for the year is Action.

You want to be slim, trim and fit?  Eat less, take in fewer calories and concomitantly burn more calories by moving; contracting all your muscle groups.  Curb your negative thoughts and actively replace them with their opposites, both mentally and verbally. Put your thoughts into action even as they pop into your awareness.

Ok, now it's your turn.  What word do you pick to be your guide to a better you for 2014?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Dean Martin - I'm sitting on top of the world

Hello 2014.  I'm gonna be your best friend; just ask 2013.  We had a fantastic relationship and I intend to continue with you.

Gotta smile on my face
sittin' on a rainbow.