Archive for May, 2016

my wife’s turn

I spent some time in the hospital this weekend, only this time I wasn’t the patient.

My wife was staying overnight at my house, having kindly offered to help me do some cleaning to get the house ready for me to move out and back in with her. Very early on Saturday morning she woke up with a pain in her right arm, something painful enough that she couldn’t sleep any more. This was around 1:30 in the morning or so. She took a couple of aspirin and I massaged her arm for a while, but the pain did not go away entirely. She was able to fall asleep on the couch for a while, but woke up again with her arm hurting.

Thinking that maybe it was because she had overused it, or slept on it funny, she did a gentle version of her stretching routine and it seemed to help. While I was still waking up and getting ready for the day, she started going a little cleaning, dusting the whole of the bedroom. It got to be time for breakfast, so we headed for McDonalds, but as we were driving there she started to feel more pain in her arm, and into her armpit, and then into her back. Eating our breakfast, she was only able to have a couple of bites of food before her pain really started to worry her.

Now, I’ve been there, done that. If you have a severe pain that you can’t explain, it is better to be safe than sorry – GET IT CHECKED OUT! She dithered about it for a while, but in the end decided that she would not be comfortable going on with the day without knowing what was going on. So it was off to the emergency room.

By this time she was feeling the pain in her chest on the right side, too. With these kinds of symptoms, particularly in women, it is pretty much a given that they are going to take your situation seriously, and they did. They gave her all the normal tests but nothing seemed out of place. They tried some medications but they didn’t do anything to relieve the pain either. As we were at a satellite ER, they decided to load her up into an ambulance and take her to the main hospital.

Once there she went through a couple of other tests, and then it was a waiting game. The whole time, though, her blood pressure was considerably higher than normal, and they tried several things to get it down. Personally, and in hindsight, I think that they might have over-medicated her, but I’m no doctor. Anyways, I stuck around until after 5:30 in the evening, but I needed to get something to eat and get some rest myself, so I left her in the good care of the hospital.

Sunday morning I woke up and, checking my cell phone, saw that my wife had texted me, saying that she was feeling better and to come get her in the morning. While I was getting ready to leave, she called me and told me that she was going to be going home and that she was waiting for them to release her and she would call me when she knew more. In the meantime I went and got gas in the car and got some breakfast. I went to my usual eating place and read for a bit, and then decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. Just as I started driving there, my phone told me I had a voice mail. It was my wife telling me to come get her. Good timing!

Well, it seems that it wasn’t her heart. Everything checked out pretty well. She still had no relief from the pain she was suffering, so eventually they brought her a heat pack to put on the spot. Lo and behold, that took care of most of the pain. Indeed, my wife said she was feeling one-hundred percent better now, which was a good thing. So we walked out of the hospital and headed for Starbucks for a little caffeine to relieve her caffeine headache (and why do they only serve caffeine-free coffee in the hospital meal service?).

We had earlier planned on doing a little grocery shopping for her, so we headed to Walmart. We managed to get a couple of things she needed, but then she started to feel a bit weak. I suspect it was the medications they had given her to try to fight the high blood pressure, which was probably now too low. She sat down and thought about what else she really needed right then, and then we quickly picked those few things up, checked out and left. Back in the car she was hungry so we went to McD’s for some lunch for her, which did help.

The rest of the day, though, she was a bit of a basket case. She was feeling better overall, but was very tired and feeling a bit “loopy.” Again, I think it was the medications they had given her. At least she didn’t have to do anything and could just sleep it off, which she did. Later in the afternoon I needed to get going myself. I had a couple of things to do and I needed to get something to eat. I talked to her later in the evening and she was going better.

So that’s one long story that seems to have no interest to anyone other than her and me, but allow me to attach a moral to the story. If you don’t feel right, get it checked out. At our age, it is ever more important to not ignore pains and feelings that you cannot explain. Sure, it may cost you something to have it checked out, but it can cost you one hell of a lot more not to check it out. I have never had a hospital staff person say anything other than that they are glad you came in to have it checked out.

It is a bit depressing that we have reached an age where our minds go first to “am I having a heart attack” rather than “wonder what I did to make myself hurt,” but that’s just the nature of the beast. Being older and out of shape, it is easy to over-do the physical stuff, which puts us at greater odds for that kind of pain, but if the pain is not obviously related to something we have done physically, then we have to consider, and act upon, the alternative. Better a check-up than to check out.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage – Bill Bryson

This is a nicely done summary of what we know of William Shakespeare, which can pretty much be summed up as “nothing much.” It’s interesting how knowing little about someone can actually be the subject of a book, but it works very well. Bryson does not fall into any particular Shakespeare camp, preferring instead to remain as objective as possible about all things Shakespeare. He writes as a skeptic and I certainly appreciate that point of view.

In addition to covering the life and works of Shakespeare, Bryson addresses several theories that Shakespeare was not the author of the works attributed to him. It’s fascinating how people who are typically centuries removed from Shakespeare’s time believe that they have conclusive evidence that he was not the true author, in spite of the lack of any contemporary hard evidence to back up their conclusions. Again, Bryson’s skepticism in this area is much appreciated.

If you would like a concise overview of Shakespeare without getting lost in the weeds, this is the book for you.

Finished 5/22/16

panicked republicans

I have to laugh at the “main stream” Republicans who have been scrambling to find some way out of having Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president. They are totally blind to the fact that it is their own actions, or inactions, which have brought the Republican party to this state of affairs. They have consistently ignored the conservative ideals for which they theoretically stood, choosing instead to just be the reverse side of the same coin that is our over-regulated and freedom-stifling government.

Rather than a loose cannon like Trump, they could have had a true, constitutionally-oriented, conservative candidate – Ted Cruz. But of course, if that had happened, those main-streamers would have been trying just as hard to find a candidate to replace him. Indeed, there were plenty of such potential candidates when the primaries began, but the voters were tired of being offered the same old pablum and were not going to be denied once again. The candidacies of McCain and Romney had been forced down their throats, and they were not going to go that route again.

Personally, I think it is a shame that people have been voting in the Republican primaries more from their hearts than from their heads. Actually, I think that most voters don’t think with their heads, period, but that’s a topic for another post. If the disenfranchised Republicans really wanted a conservative candidate, they would have been served much better with Cruz. Cruz, a politician with a known record and a solid, conservative political philosophy, was defeated by a man who knows only how to spout catch phrases that offer no substance.

I was reminded of my high school classes when they taught us about propaganda. Whenever I heard/hear Trump speak speak, it is nothing but “glittering generalities” – phrases that offer visions of some fantastic future without worrying about any of the ideals, principles or practicalities of getting there. Somehow, “We are going to make American great again,” holds more value for the typical conservative Republican voter than a reasoned and rational approach to the problems we face.

Was/is Cruz the ideal candidate? No, but in the reality in which I have to live, I believe he was the best choice that could be made. I don’t think that there will ever be a candidate that I could support one-hundred percent, but Cruz came close. Trump doesn’t even come close. The only thing that can be said about him is that he probably would be better than Clinton or Sanders. With Trump the presumed nominee, I will be faced, once again, with the necessity of deciding whether to hold my nose and vote for the Republican candidate, or vote my conscience and vote Libertarian. The one thing that I do know, is that I don’t want Clinton as president.

bookmark: dreamers and deceivers

Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America – Glenn Beck

I originally borrowed this book from the library because it has a piece about Upton Sinclair in it. I had recently read a bit about Sinclair and wondered what Beck wrote about him. Turns out it was about Sinclair knowing the truth about the guilt of Sacco and Vanzetti but going ahead and allowing the publishing of his book which supported their innocence. Profit and personal politics outweighed truth, at least as Beck tells the story.

There are short pieces like this about several people, both those who were “dreamers and deceivers.” To be thorough, those people include Grover Cleveland, Edwin Armstrong, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Ponzi, Desi Arnaz, Upton Sinclair, Alan Turing, Alger Hiss, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs and John Lasseter.

Each story is a dramatized version of some issue in each of these persons’ lives. I didn’t find the presentation particularly compelling, but I did learn about things that previously had only been names I had heard in my youth. For example, Alger Hiss. I knew the name and he was in the news, particularly when I was younger, but I really didn’t know anything about him. The stories definitely added to my historical knowledge. While that’s a good thing, the stories in this book are pretty abbreviated introductions to the people involved, but serves as a jumping off point if I’m interested enough to follow up with more complete investigations of the facts. It’s not hard reading and you could find it interesting, too.

Finished 5/14/16

lost and finding

Last night I finished reading The Bridge Across Forever, by Richard Bach. You can find my mini-review of the book elsewhere. Near the end of the book, there is a section where the author relates a long list of the subjects that he and his wife had been studying and reading. While reading the list, I suddenly had the realization that I had lost myself.

How so? The list of subjects included many of my own interests – interests that I have not picked up in many, many years. Who was I once that I am not now? The truth is that we are what we were. You cannot escape the fact that you are the sum total of all your existence, in this life and, perhaps, in lives past.

A veil lifted, and I suddenly discovered that I have been living my life in suspension. I’ve written about this before, but this was a different aspect of that thought. I had not suspended all my interests, but I had let the scope of them narrow. Rather than allowing my mind to wander freely among the many subjects it has enjoyed in the past, I was telling it that I didn’t have time, or interest enough, or capability enough, to enjoy the wider range of interests.

Not only that, I had let my physical being start to control what I thought was possible for the rest of my life. I was letting my physical being limit my mental being. Oh, I’m too old for that now. Oh, why bother with that now, since you probably don’t have much time left on this planet. Oh, that is just way too much hassle for the old fart that you are.

I rebelled. I am starting to see what I have been going to myself, and I don’t want that. I want more out of life, not less. Sure, there are things that this aging body can no longer accomplish, or accomplish with the same ease it once did. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t give something a try, and if I fail, I can try to find someone else who can help me with it. It also does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that my physical body has to limit my intellectual curiosity. Fore cripes sake, look at Stephen Hawking. If ever there was a man who has the right to claim such a limitation, it is he. But instead, he uses the resources he has to follow his interests. How can I do less?

And so, I embark on the path to who I used to be, so that I can bring him into the present, and the future. It is no good living in the past, but you should not think that it is not part of you, nor something that should be part of your present. That’s my goal – rediscovery. Today I feel I am going in the right direction. I hope I can keep moving that way.

The Bridge Across Forever: A True Love Story – Richard Bach

I read this book some time ago. It is part new age stuff, part personal relationship experience and part autobiography. If you are into soul mates and out of body experiences and such, this book will be right up your alley. It’s actually an entertaining book to read, though those of a more skeptical inclination will need to suspend judgment.

At the time I first read this, I tried to engage my wife in a discussion of the soul mate idea. I was much influenced by the book and really felt that this was a description of our relationship. However, she was not in the same mental state as I at the time, so that discussion fell flat. My reading now has been tempered by reality, and though I don’t necessarily believe that there is only one perfect person for each person in this world, I do believe that you can find someone that fits almost perfectly with you. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine anyone that fits with me better than my wife. A most fortunate thing.

Though the book is new age oriented, there are lessons to be learned in it, so don’t throw the good out with the questionable. If nothing else, it gives you another perspective from which to view your own life and relationships.

Finished 5/6/16