Now that twenty-four hours have passed, I am able to peck at a keyboard with one finger. This needs more time than real typing, but I have promises to keep and sentences to write before I sleep (with apologies to Robert Frost).
My last memory in the operating room is of the anesthetist telling me to think of something pleasant as she lowered a mask the my face. My next memory is being helped into the car for the ride home. I do not recall waking from the narcosis, lying in the recovery room, being dressed by a nurse and my wife, or being briefed by the surgeon. My memory powers were fading, but anesthesia seems to wipe the slate clean...or not accept any writing.
According to my wife, I fought with nurse to tear off the bandages and sling, muttered senseless babble, and conversed with everyone in the room.
I hope that my ravings were senseless and did not include excerpts from the unfettered, drugged mind of a fiction writer, because most would be disturbing if taken out of a novel’s context or--worse--considered to be real.
I must admit the “intensive care” following the operation at home is more pleasant than I have experienced in a hospital. I did not miss being attached to machines or having a painful infusion needle lodged in my arm. (Read Sister Sisteron or Flying’s Easy for my take on hospital sojourns.)
My wife is an excellent care-giver. I have received better care only from my mother, perhaps because she was a Registered Nurse, or because nostalgia distorts my mind.
Now, I must be patient and wait for Nature to work its magic. And, I must manage to do what I can with one hand. In the end, I will have more respect and sympathy for handicapped people than I already have.
For the first time in the life of this wonderful blog, I can announce “going under the knife” before the fact. I plan no interruption in “service”, as happens with unplanned, emergency surgery. Just don’t hold your breath or force me to stick my hand in a fire, because pain, sloth, and/or bad attitude might cause this to change.
Although I expect to have the use of one arm and related hand, the other one--to be more exact, a shoulder--will become unusable for simple tasks, including keyboard manipulation. I will make an effort to type with one finger. Of course, pecking on an old-fashion typewriter would be easier, but the words--regardless of their eloquence, relevance, or value--would be unusable in a blog.
Fear not, because I have stored a few posts in the larder, as one stored ice under straw in ice houses of yore...
_ I noticed an item on Google News, which announced that Vermont is the healthiest state for the third year in a row. I did not read the article, so am not aware of reason or how they have ranked further into the past.
When I lived in Vermont, I bought and read a book titled Vermont Folk Medicine. I recall that it’s primary remedy and preventative was the apple: fresh fruit, cider, or vinegar. All were of good quality, locally produced, and readily available.
Even today, when coming down with a cold, I treat myself with their recommended potion of cider vinegar, honey, and hot water. The drink tastes like hot apple cider and helps my ailment.
After reading the article about healthy Vermont citizens, I wonder if apples still play a role.
Today, I made a contribution to curbing the health system deficit. It was time for a regular check-up, which I do to pump money into the system, not learn what I already know about my health.
My doctor has a new ultrasound machine, so I had to have an examination...not because I needed it, but because the bloody thing must be financed. If he uses it, he can bill. The new machine looks...well, it looks new. The computer screen is modern and the font rather impressive. The resulting picture is a somewhat better fuzzy image of what goes on inside, than the previous fuzzy image of what went on inside. I always nod and murmur understanding at all the doctor explains, but see little resembling colored illustrations of internal organs, which I used to find in our encyclopedia.
So, I left feeling healthy (just as I had arrived feeling healthy) and with a good feeling about having contributed to someone's well-being.
The big news in England is about McDonalds putting calorie counts on menus. The move comes, in part, from a government drive to combat obesity and improve health. Changing menus is easy, but achieving the objectives is never gonna happen. History in the United States proves the futility of such efforts.
I recall a similar drive, starting the in the early 1980’s (could have been earlier, but I did not notice) to make citizens more health conscious. There have been “drives” and “programs” and “warnings” and whatnot ever since. Food companies began at that time to offer “healthy” products (I worked for an advertising agency, so knew that the underlying thrust was profit) and to print more information on packages. What has been the result of years of effort? Americans have become fatter and less healthy. Even Oprah could not reel in the growing epidemic...or whatever you want to call it.
There is a simple explanation: human weakness. I came to this conclusion after hearing a statement during an interview with an overweight man in a program on obesity in America. He spoke for all his obese brothers and sisters of all ages. “It all tastes so good,” he said, when asked about why he does not change eating habits. Humans have weakness for sugar, salt, and fat, and neither government programs nor calorie counts on menus can change human nature...
Another strange thought today (unrelated to the previous post and, yes, I do have normal thoughts)...
Having recently discovered a health issue (isn’t that such a harmless, vague word?), I began to think about the human body. As I am writing a novel about a helicopter pilot, those machines are currently buzzing through my thoughts.
During the report nightly news report of February 16, 1971, on Vietnam (there was one every night on all three networks and, yes, children, there were only three), anchorman Harry Reasoner made the following statement (captured in a frame in my study/library):
“The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying—immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.
That is why being a helicopter pilot is do different from being an airplane pilot, and why, in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened, it is about to.”
The thing is, the human body is not unlike a helicopter (which is the strange thought mentioned at the beginning: I knew you were wondering!). It has countless moving parts. And, all bits—moving and stationary—suffer from wear and tear, as well as an onslaught of innumerable outside influences. Periodic maintenance and careful use cannot prevent deterioration, decline, and ultimate demise. For some (helicopter or human), a catastrophic event results in an untimely and immediate end.
Although not always at the front of one’s mind, all humans—not only helicopter pilots—know that if something bad has not happened, it will someday...even to airplane pilots.
Most have surely heard the bit about a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a storm on the opposite side of the Earth, even if they don’t understand the science. I am aware of and believe in chaos theory, but could not explain it.
Following the same logic (or lack thereof), I wonder if a tiny crumb of burnt toast can cause cancer at some distant point in one’s life. Or burnt bits of the grilled chicken I ate last night...
When such foolish thoughts invade my mind, I can understand how weak-minded people can become paranoid. But, like waving away a pesky insect, I move on to more substantial thoughts.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.