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Three score and ten or more

Friday, August 02, 2013

Stuff and Nonsense

I felt that if I don’t get back here a little, even my relatives will quit looking for me.  I have had a wonderful and also a difficult month with great joy and a lot of frustrationl

I have developed something called a venous ulcer.  The most frustrating thing about it is that I can’t get it wet, so I can;t do water aerobics, and I have a hunch that without the water exercise, I am going to melt in a puddle.  That’s not why I wrote about the ulcer.  I wrote about it to tell you about a real experience that will make a different person of you.  If you get frustrated, depressed and worried about hanging on, you should follow my shoes for a few days.

This    “venous ulcer” which hasn’t been a great personal trial (except maybe for Janet) but they tell me that without treatment, it is a good way to lose a leg, and I have been having to patronize a wound clinic at the hospital.  (I never knew such places existed, I thought that the whole hospital was a “wound clinic.  I have had a quadruple bypass, sat in ICU both as a patient and a visitor, etc.  But the wound clinic is for wounds that don’t heal easily.  Sit in that waiting room for an hour and you will be acquainted with  folks who REALLY have difficulties.  There are open wounds that have to be treated in a hypobaric chamber, and other injuries that have persisted for months, with intense treatment two or three times a week at two or three hours per treatment.  After four trips to the waiting room, I am never going to whine again.  I may talk about a physical problem so that people can share an experience, but no more complaining of any kind.    I used to take my students to Nursing homes to perform puppet shows and cheer up the people, and invariably the patients would cheer us up.  I am just going to pray for the people in the wound clinic.   I don’t think I am man enough to work there and I have such respect for the nurses and doctors who do.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New thoughts.

I was going to write a thing without any whining, but since the theme of the blog started out to deal with the process of aging, I will mention some elements of that process.

My back yard is a disaster.  I have two riding lawn mowers who seem to have permanent resident status in the small engine repair shop.  When things get tall enough, the hand lawn mower is a task that neither my shoulders nor my legs handle well.  Fortunately I have a six or seven foot privacy fence around the back yard or the neighborhood association would have had my ears by now.

I actually have been alternating between a string trimmer and a hedge trimmer to cut weeds in preparation for hand mowing.  I also have some branches growing down in inconvenient places so i got out the trusty chain saw to remove them.  Much to my disgust, my shoulders are so painful that I can’t pull the starter chain.  The chain saws (both of them) sit there and snicker as they see me coming.  I don’t know how successful it will be, but when my wife asked me what I would like for Father’s Day, I asked for an electric chain saw.

I had a request from a local Boy Scout troop for a financial contribution, so I offered the troop a couple of hundred dollars if they would come clean out my back yard.  They came and looked at it.  I haven’t heard any word from them since, not even an offer at a higher price.

Janet was treated some years ago for rheumatoid arthritis, but the rheumatologist said that her tests were coming up pretty well and he suggested that we save the money.  She recently has been in such pain from her leg (femur broken in several places and patched with metal plates) and the bone in her shin is just randomly painful.  Last weekend, her hands were so painful that she stayed home from church (unusual), so our family doctor rain the “rheumatic”  tests again, and they are out of sight.  She is back on methatrexate, which she hated before, and on low dose prednisone, which seems to help a  lot.  My neurologist sympathized with my shoulder pain and has giving me a dose pack of prednisone  which has really helped my back in the past,  My shoulders seem to be “shrugging it off” (note, poor attempt at pun).

Unrelated to anything else, but one symptom of old age is that instead of having “my  doctor” one begins to have “my neurologist”, “my cardiologist”, “my nephrologist “ (which, until I got one, I never knew that they existed under that name), “my urologist”, “my orthopedist” and , I shudder to think which new kind of “ist” I will acquire next.

I spent some time the other day thinking of wittty social commentary , but when i sit down to the computer I can’t remember what it was.  (Half witty, I guess)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Series of Old Coot Ruminations

Again sporadic in posts.  This is really frustrating because: 1. I have plenty of time to write. 2.  When I sit at the computer, I am sorely drawn to Facebook where I find the latest word from many of my grandchildren, though I tire occasionally of the obsesssion with Harry Potter and Dr. Who.  ( I have to admit to a small obsession with Dr. Who when it was the real Doctor  with the scarf reaching his feet.) 3. My brain is so fuzzy that it prefers Spider Solitaire to anything that requires thinking.  4. Etc.

I sometimes wonder which is more frustrating, not being able to remember the names of friends  (I get along with looking them in the eye and saying “Hi, buddy>” .  If I have to talk about my friends, I can usually describe them well enough that Janet (my wife) can fill in the blanks; or having to ask my son to unscrew the lid off the jam jar (ore even worse the Diet Mountain Dew bottle.

I am astonished at the way physical durability diminishes.  About a year and a half ago i dug foundations and laid a combination of railroad ties and concrete blocks to lay up and level a space for a back patio, which space, with the help of my son Stuart I filled with and packed down dirt, then hauled in a trailer load of concrete pavers with which to cover the space.  The pavers still sit solemnly in stacks at the end of the patio, and  the ground to which they belong  is no longer level (Erosion and the habit of the dogs belonging to my children of digging little dens in it to cooll off have had their effect.  My back yard is such a shambles that if I didn’t have a six foot fence surrounding it, the neighborhood association vigilantes would have long since strung me up.

With all this, the most frightening and frustrating thing in my life is the pain Janet has,(a few years ago, she came to hear me sing with a choir in a university Christmas concert and fell off a badly designed step landing which had no rail and broke her femur in three pieces, which was fastened back together strongly but not painlessly with metal patches on the bone installed by a brilliant orthopedist.  WE were advised to sue the university because of the unsafe design but the lawyer we hired surrendered because the university was declaring some kind of “eminent domain” for itself.  (The good thing was that they repaired  and put rails along the landings ---there were more than one dangerous landing -so it won’t happen again.)  Her leg still gives her terriible pain, and her health is much worse than it was,   But we keep plugging along.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Well, I have repented or reinvented or something.

My oldest daughter, who lives in Florida, recently got a new computer, and when talking to me on the phone she revealed that she had found the ‘three score” blog and is reading it starting from the archives.

This aroused my curiosity enough that I went back and read some of the early things I posted and had a revelatory epiphany.   I can write the things that I post on FaceBook, or at least the same kinds of things.  I don’t have to get deeply into some thoughtful essay.  I think the last election, some of the things I thought about at the time, some things I even wrote about at the time but didn’t post and--- well I just got writer’s block trying to do something I really didn’t want to do.   The heck with it.

I have had a series of adventures, not big ones, but significant ones to me and I think I will just write about some of them.  I smashed my face into the concrete again, invested in a smart phone (which convinced me that one should mess around with technical things that are smarter than he is), got , literally, ripped off by a hospital, and Janet is having physical problems that concern me.  I will try to take a moment, at least once a week and probably more often, now that I have convinced myself that I can do this again without any physical body parts falling off.

The thing that is in my mind right now is a continuing theme for the blog.  Getting old is, literally, a pain in the butt, among other things.  It has recently been a moment of pride when Janet hands me a can of soda and asks me to pry it open for her.   For the last several months, I have had to use a coin, a pocket knife or an available piece of metal to pry open my own soda,, and am a bit humiliated when I have to do that which Janet could do as well as I.

I have been feeling a bit smug about having lost seventy or eighty pounds in the past year or so.  I smugly gave advice to others (which is good advice, but…) on not snacking, eating smaller portions, eating organic Greek yogurt, etc. etc. etc.     About Thanksgiving time I began to sense, from symptoms that are probably not appropriate  to discuss in this post, that I had a urinary infection.  I went to the Doctor.  He gave me a prescription for Cipro, had me come back in a couple of days to give a “sample”, and called me up the next afternoon to tell me that my bacteria were having such fun partying with Cipro, that I should cast out my Cipro, and he would have to give me a much more powerful medicine, a combination of a couple of different antibiotics, that were so powerful that he also gave me a prescription for  some extra strong probiotics because this new stuff was so powerful it would kill all the organisms in my gut that digest my food.

My regular pharmacy didn’t have the new stuff in stock so they called around and found some at Wal-Mart.  I went to Wally World and presented my prescription and waited for an eternity till they got it put together (side note:  Has any one noticed that in most Wal-Mart parking lots they now have parking places set aside for pharmacy customers specifying a fifteen minute parking limit?     What a farce?  No one who goes into a Wally world pharmacy gets out in fifteen minutes.)

At any rate when the prescription was finished they assigned me to a “counselor” of some kind to discuss my prescription.  She apologized that I had been kept waiting for so long but the she said, “Most people who need this prescription are not able to come pick it up personally, the prescription is picked up by some one else”   If they say that  wouldn’t it make you wonder?  It did me.

Even this stuff wasn’t completely successful.  Though I felt a lot better, and felt “symptom free’  my tests didn’t agree, and I was sent to a Urologist who gave me two other consecutive extra strong antibiotics.  It was well into January before everyone was satisfied that my infection was gone.

The troubling thing is, that even though I am still being very careful about the foods and the amounts that I eat, since my “cure”, I have gained a little over ten pounds.  I think, and at least one of my doctors concurs, that I have had a low grade urinary infection for well over a year, and that it should get credit (or blame) for most of my weight loss.  That is really disgusting. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I’m Alive

This might be a more significant title than I had intended.  I have no intention of making this an “organ recital”, but my failure to post in months was in part caused by ill health and in part because I had a raging angry post half written about he election and I decided not to do it, but my imagination and energy were limited.  I have made some doctors richer, and frightened both myself and my family with a series of physical maladies that began as I shopped on “black Friday the started on Thursday” and just seem to have gotten a lot better for New Years.

I may post about politics once more but not now.  I have a lot of things to tell you (I am actually writing this because , if I have lost all my former readers with my slackness, I am ultimately writing for my progeny and their progeny to know how I have felt and reacted as I passed through the three score and more and get closer to four score.  (I wonder if I should change the name of the blog if I reach four score.)

I have had a wonderful Holiday season in spite of some physical problems.  I have been to Columbia, SC for Thanksgiving with my daughter, one of my favorite dogs, my wife and son.  I spent a ridiculous amount of money without even getting to more than one or two of Columbia’s great restaurants.  (I swear that there aren’t many cities in the country with more fine restaurant per capita the Columbia.)  I prepared the turkey as usual. a custom that is about to cease, and did the same for family here at Christmas. 

My daughter even coerced me into playing a board game (a favorite activity twenty years ago, but one that I rarely participate in any more.  My span of attention has become such that I don’t often win anymore, and I hate to play without at least some chance of winning.  I attended some of the best church services in my life, and feel spiritually renewed and strengthened.  I used to be a scripture reader and have let that slide, but for the last few weeks I have been reading the scriptures for a half hour or more almost every evening.

I’ve got to talk dogs for a moment.  My daughter’s dog, Roscoe is an aging Basset hound with the most expressive  face ever, and a real desire to love and be loved by others.  My third son has two dogs.  His long time pit=bull lab cross  passed away awhile ago, and he has been rescuing dogs since.  He has  a three legged small lady dog that is a perpetual motion machine and a black dog that is just reaching puberty and while starting out as a small dog is rapidly become a big one.  All three dogs are well trained and really like to have fun with us folks.

We betrayed the three legged one over around Thanksgiving.  Since we moved into our house about five years ago Janet has hated the blah looking green carpet that attracts dirt and dust  and. . .  I collected a decent tax return last year and we had been saving so we went to Lumber Liquidators, and a contractor  recommended by them and had most of that carpet replaced with beautiful wood.  Roxy, the little three legged dog, hates it with a passion.  With three legs (one rear leg missing when she became part of the family, she can’t get traction, and  for a perpetual motion dog that is a form of torture that we hadn’t anticipated.  She still likes to come visit us, but would rather stay in thye yard or on the back porch than come in the house.  (A total revision of attitudes, she used to prefer dashing from room to room in the house)  I have apologized to her, but I don’t think I am forgiven yet.

Anyway I  am going to try to get some stuff on paper about the process  and activities included in getting to be three score and ten and some more before my brain totally turns to mush(seems a rapid development right how) and plan to post more often and less politically than recent posts.  Happy New Year, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I am going to bed right now.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Silly thoughts

I got back to bed this morning and slept till ten thirty.  I felt like I had slept the day away, but I way thoroughly awake for a change.  I actually read several chapters of a book without dozing then we went into town and tried to get some issues tied down so that we can replace some of the carpet in our house with “engineered wood” what ever that is.

As we drove through the Wallyworld parking lot I noticed (not for the first time) that a number of the parking spaces were reserved for Pharmacy patrons.  Fifteen minutes only.  I had to laugh out loud.  If any of you have tried to get a prescription filled in Wal-Mart, you know that NO ONE has ever received a prescription in fifteen minutes.  The time line is ignored.  It is like the ubiquitous  Vonage commercial on the TV where a number of people toss away their old bills from the telephone company and tell us about the wonderful experiences that  they have had with Vonage.  NOW they throw away their old phone bill.  It is clear that if they tell the truth they have been with Vonage long enough to have  had those experiences so why are they just NOW throwing away their old bills. (meaning they have just joined).

We were driving to Savannah on Monday to check in with Lumber Liquidators to see if we could save some money on the new flooring.  As we left town we were passed by a black SUV and I noticed that the left rear wheel was not perpendicular to the ground.  I don’t know how the wheels are set to be square with the ground but I could tell that the SUV was going to wear out the inner side of the tire.  I drew the family’s attention to the car and stated that I was glad that wasn’t our car.  About half way to Savannah, guess what?  I blew out my left rear tire.   We pulled over as fast as we could and got the tire changed for the little do-nut spare that comes with modern cars.  Guess what else, the tire was completely worn out on the inside.   When we checked the other rear tire it was worn the same way and hade wires sticking out from under the tread.  The tires were mounted like this /—\.  These tires were perfect five thousand miles ago because , almost in the same spot on the highway, back about Mother’s day I ran over a piece of steel and broke the wheels, tires, etc. on the driver’s side.  I had to take the car to a Mazda dealer because no one else carried the replacement goodies and after two or three weeks in the garage, the car was returned to me with new tires and everything was in “perfect” alignment.  These were the tires that blew.  The car is back in the Mazda garage being re-repaired and re-tired.  Whee!!! Ain’t life fun?

Well, it is bedtime again.   If there is nothing posted on this blog before morning, you will know that I slept all the way through.

One of those things!!!!!

Since the Presidential Debate, I have tried to ignore political situations (Easier said than done), and have begun to ruminate about some of the stuff that was the original incentive for starting this blog, that is, what happens when one reaches the stage of three score and ten and more.  I had my seventy eighth birthday last summer and the “more” than three score and ten is beginning to become more and more of a problem. 

There are so many things that really need done around our house, and I am less and less able to accomplish them.  My shoulders, with their absent rotator cuffs are getting to be painful enough that they wake me in the middle of the night (I am writing this at 4:16 AM) and don’t want to let me go back to sleep until ------(I am good at falling asleep at random moments during the day, when I don’t want to).  I can’t successfully do anything to anything above shoulder level, including (occasionally) brushing my hair. (I do wish I could clean off the ceiling fans once in a while)

I have remodeled every house that we have owned in the past forty years, and am getting ready to pay some contractor a fortune to remove a lot of our carpeting and put down simulated wooden floors.  A task that I could easily have done for myself just four or five years ago.

I am hopelessly out of fashion.  I see commercials for department stores that show pretty women gamboling about in short sexy dresses that show a lot of leg wearing, what looks for all the world, like the galoshes my mother used to make me wear when it rained sixty five years ago. 

I try tell myself that folks are “caring” for me when they insist of taking my arm whenever I come to a curb, but I wish they would wait till I think I need it.  My neurologist yells at me to use a walker more often but it often makes things  more difficult than it helps.  I think I mentioned in a post last year that when I first went to see the pain management doctor, last year, that she watched me walk around the examining room and threatened “Dr. Johnson (some people still pay attention to my PhD) if you come into this office one more time without a cane, I am going to make you stand in the corner”

Oh well, I think one eye is closing on me so I will try going back to bed to sleep for awhile. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Continuum Yuk

This is a supplement to my last post that I started writing in my mind  within minutes of the last post’s arrival.  I kept wondering why so many  folks cannot accept anything by an opponent as valid.  Before I hold forth on that, though, I have to apologize for my off the cuff last comment on my last post.  One of my few constant readers asked me what I thought of Harry Reid’s comment that Romney is a disgrace to Mormons, to which I replied that I think that Harry Reid is a disgrace to Mormons.  One of the things that Mormons are taught early in their years is that no one but our ultimate Judge has any right to sit in judgment of the righteousness or faith of others.  I am ashamed of my quick judgment of Senator Reid and I have spent some time on my knees asking for forgiveness, not only for  my sin (Our Lord said that he will forgive whom He will forgive, but of us it is required that we forgive all men) but asking forgiveness for the good Senator, if he feels he needs it.—or not.

Back to the ranch:  One early things we learn in the study of Communication and Semantics is that we are all subject to the temptations of selective exposure.  That means that most of us, especially in the case of things we hold dear, tend to select those bits of information that support our current feelings and understandings.

Supplementing this bit of info, I have been known by those who know me best as a news “Junkie”.  It is more difficult now in the era of 24 hour news exposure from multiple sources, but I have been known to watch the news  from one source while taping that from other sources to get the broadest picture from the widest points of view.  I still watch FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, (which is pretty difficult they are so inept) and all three of the major networks.  Taping is not as necessary as in the past because CNN and Fox broadcast everything multiple times so one can look at things from a variety of perspectives.  I would find myself really puzzled by my friend’s attacks on Fox News for lying or taking one point of view (frequent term is Faux News) and I admit that their commentators (Hannity especially) takes a paint of view that sometime I find uncomfortable, but even in commentaries one would rarely find on CNN, never on MSNBC, and rarely on any of the former National Networks the equivalent of opposing points of view as effective and as often as one will see such as Juan Williams, Alan Combes, Bob Bechel (I know I spelled that wrong)) and the wide variety of Democratic campaign officials and political figures.  (Many Democratic  folks are invited but never come.  O Reilly would kill to interview the President, but the President would never come for such an interview in part because no one on the O Reilly show ever gets to complete a sentence in the interview without interruption.)

I do have to say that generally those on Fox who deal with hard news are evenhanded and incredible effective,  I found myself glued to the TV back in the time of the New Orleans  Hurricane and I think that if there was objective thinking, The Fox News  reporter (whose name my seventy eight year old brain just wont recall) should have won a Peabody for his work in New Orleans..   THe pejoratives generally hurled at FOX are classical reminders that we all are subject to the use of selective exposure, listening only (or mainly) to those who strengthen or uphold  our already held opinions and criticizing any who oppose us.

I don’t know how intercollegiate debate is done now, but I had the good fortune to spend two years debating with a great coach and in debate at that time one had to have an affirmative case and a negative case and had to look at both sides of an issue very deeply, and to know how to take either side with passion and integrity. (there is a place for integrity or both sides of every issue.)

I said in the beginning of the previous post that  I fail to understand how anyone with an IQ over forty can support the president.  Taking selective exposure and the passion that exists in social issues, on reflection, for one who believes strongly in the principle of socialized medicine (and any who followed my blog five or six years ago, know that I had many affirmative things to say about it)  or who was/is emotionally caught up in  the idea of the first Black President can overlook many evidentiary items in order to maintain that thought.  I am still personally frightened by the thought of what our nation will be like if he wins.

A passion for certain social goals will lead one to oppose other good goals.  As Mormons, we are taught almost from infancy to follow the Motto “Choose the Right”.  To earn or just to buy a CTR (get it? Choose  The  Right) ring is really exciting for many young people.  Last week in church I noticed some really nice people that I love passing around bumper stickers (not to me, they know me) which said       LDS- CHOOSE THE LEFT.