Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Stop that potus before he wrecks the world! (Happy Holidays from ApacheDug’s Teepee)

spectre4Y’know, I began reading comics in the late 1960’s; not yet my own, but my brother Duke’s friend Jeff Tewell & his books (his mom worked at GC Murphy’s and he got free comic books: unsold ones, minus a 1” strip off the top of the front cover).  He had quite the collection.

I can still remember the first time I saw this cover of Spectre at his house and how it made my heart beat real fast, just like my ticker does now every time I turn on the tv, it seems.

Watching an unhinged Donald Trumb these past two years (let alone these last 2 weeks), his need for attention, the chaos he creates daily with his ignorance and corruption of power—it reminds me of this Spectre story, a comic I haven’t seen or read in close to half a century.  

You can’t help but wonder if things in the White House are going to come to an end before we do;  Wall Street certainly hasn’t been optimistic, my retirement portfolio has taken a giant beating these past couple months and my slated annual withdrawal isn’t happening in January, that’s for sure.  But I know I’m still more fortunate (luckier, more like it) than most out there who aren’t middle-aged white men like me. 

Back in early November, I took a lot of comfort in the fact that the Democratic Party would be taking control of the House in 2019, now I’m not so sure.  Trump holding government workers paychecks hostage to get his STUPID BORDER FENCE PAID FOR WITH AMERICAN WORKERS HARD-EARNED DOLLARS may become his modus operandi if the Dems give in.  Today it’s the National Park Service, EPA & NASA; who knows who he’ll go after next?  Nancy Pelosi, hang tough! 

Dad Christmas 1982Christmas 1982, Dad watching the news and looking like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I don’t know what he was thinking, but I know how he feels

I’ve often wondered these last couple years what Dad would think of the news today.  Sometimes I’m almost relieved he’s not here to see it. 

And sometimes, I have to admit I wonder what side of Trumb’s lame “steel flats” fence he’d be on.  My youngest sister (a Trump supporter for crying out loud) almost had me convinced he’d support the office of the President regardless who was in it.  No… I can’t see it.  My dad was no liberal, he had his prejudices, but he was Democrat thru n’ thru and always insisted Republicans “had it in for us”.  I don’t think that’s ever been more apparent than today.

(BTW, I showed this photo to my friend Danielle and said “My dad was 45 here, he looks older to me than he should” and she replied “Everybody looked older back then.”)  

Well, I don’t really have anything to say here (I’m sure it’s obvious), I just wanted to put something out here and wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy—no HAPPIER New Year.  I for one could do with less kidney stones & Republicans in the year ahead!

And if things get bad enough, I have this shiny “Star Trek Pizza Cutter” my sister Shawn got me for Christmas.  I went on Amazon to read some of its reviews, one wrote “Be real careful with this thing, it’s sharper than a straight razor!”   Hmm… one good swipe under the chin should do it. 

Happy Holidays

Star Trek Pizza Cutter

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A fond farewell to my outside reading room

readingA couple days ago, my sister Shawn emailed me & told me of a friend’s sister’s plight; the young woman’s jalopy had broken down on the interstate, was beyond repair and she was in desperate need of a new (used) car. 

Was I still interested in selling mine?  

Shawn asserted she was NOT trying to sway me one way or the other, she was only asking as I’d mentioned recently that I was thinking about selling my car.  Still, I replied “no, sorry” and she said okay.

Then I put on my Spock ears & decided to think about this logically.

I’ve owned this car for 16 years, ordered it direct from the Honda factory in the fall of 2002.  Even though I was 39 at the time, it was my first car; I’d been living in the city since the 80’s and got around pretty well without one.  But after my dad died in 2001, I told my mom I was going to get my license & a car so I could visit her regularly, without having to rely on others to bring me down from the city & back.   And that’s just what I did.

Y’know, I’ll never forget what my driving instructor said to me the day of my first lesson:  “It’s been my experience that older women who learn to drive make the best drivers but older men, just the opposite.  They never get comfortable with it.”   I asserted I’d be fine (and I wasn’t THAT old) and then began pumping the parking brake.  When she asked what I was doing, I said “priming the engine, isn’t this what you have to do before you take it out of park?”

ANYWAY—I hate to admit it, but that instructor was right; I was nervous everytime I got behind the wheel.   For the first year or so, I forced myself to drive it for simple errands, but I was just too used to walking to these places.  So the car was soon used exclusively for trips back home.  And then these last couple years… even that became increasingly frustrating.  (My vision isn’t what it used to be.)

So I’ve pretty much left it alone in it’s parking space, aside from going downstairs twice a week to run the engine for 30 minutes to remind the poor thing it wasn’t dead.  I always took a book along with me while it idled, and it became my outside reading room.   (Geez I’ve read a lot of good books in that car… I can’t believe I’m sharing this!)

So I emailed my sister again and said yes, I’ll sell it.   She said “Don’t do it unless you know it will make you happy!  And if you change your mind at the last minute, I’ll just tell her the deal’s off.  It will break the girl’s heart, but… it’s your car!”  I said that selling it wasn’t going to make me happy, I have great affection for my green bean.  But I’ve probably driven it 3 times this year, and it deserves a real driver.  

(Plus I’m paying $40-50 a month for parking & insurance!)

I talked briefly with the young woman who’s purchasing it (at a pretty fair price too, in the range of it’s Kelly Blue Book value) and she couldn’t have been nicer or more appreciative.  She assured me it’d be going places—in Atlanta, Georgia where she now lives.  Gulp… I guess I can forget about visitation rights.

Ah my little Civic Coupe.. I think you’re going to love your new owner.  Now I just have to find a new place to read.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

He isn’t Goldfinger, but the man can still work that laser

here comes the laser  

This past Monday (November 26) my urologist’s office called & said “Hi Doug, how would you like to have laser surgery tomorrow on your kidney stones?  Dr. Turner is aware of the issues you’ve been having with your urerteral stent, and he has an opening tomorrow to do your laser lithotripsy and stent removal.  If you’re not available, we’ll have to wait until December 21.”

“Oh & one more thing, you’ll have to come to St.Margaret Hospital in Apinwall, and you’ll need to be accompanied or go home with someone who can stay with you for 24 hours.”

Yay!  And damn.  As grateful as I was for the stent (which was helping me pee and alleviating the kidney stone torment), it had been a constant, painful feeling in my groin (and in my lower back when I peed) since Thanksgiving.  Still, I’d handled things on my own so far, and didn’t want to pull anyone into my medical drama… but what could I do.  I told my doctor’s office, yes, YES.  I’ll be there.

My friend Danielle arranged for my one-way trip there via Uber (I really need to start thinking more about getting a smartphone) and my sister Shawn generously offered to drive to Pittsburgh on a black icy night to take me home.  (She did that & more, thanks Shawn.)  And it couldn’t have been in a nicer community hospital, as they went out of their way to be friendly, informative & make me comfortable until Dr. Turner (the surgeon) arrived.

Even Dr. Turner seemed different than our first encounter (the stent placement at Mercy).  He sat on the bottom of my bed for a few minutes, told me about his wife & 2 kids, and how much he enjoyed living in Pittsburgh.  He asked if I had any questions:

Me:  Why does the anesthesiologist need to insert a breathing tube down my throat?  At Mercy I just got a gas mask…

Him: The stent placement was only a 30 minute procedure; the uteteroscopy lithotripsy will probably take a couple hours.  We need to keep you under for a much longer timeframe.

Me:  Speaking of that lithotripsy, why am I getting lasered?  My sister had kidney stones a couple years ago, and got shockwaves.  I know that’s no walk in the park either, but it’s not as invasive, right?

Him:  Well Doug, the stones can only be up to a certain size for shockwave treatment, and yours are too large.  I’m also concerned about your stones densities.  Using the laser is a more practical solution, where I can break them into small enough pieces to collect into a tiny basket.   This will allow me to study their mineral content as well.

After he left to prepare for surgery, a tiny, spry woman named Ima came into my room and explained my life would be in her hands for the next two hours.  She would be my anesthesiologist.  She asked me to show her how far I could bend my head back and how wide I could open my mouth, and it seemed no matter how wide I opened, she whispered “just a little more, a little more”  and I began to worry.  I explained to her I had TMJ (or TMD, a jaw disorder) and if I opened too wide I could rupture those discs in my jawbone’s joints again.  (FYI, they can take a year to heal.)   She promised to keep that in mind.

The operation was a success.  Dr. Turner later called and told me he hadn’t found three stones in my left kidney, he’d found six.  He managed to break them all down & collect most of the pieces.  Now for the bad news:  to guarantee I passed any pieces he’d failed to collect, he had to put in a new stent.

He also informed me (what I already knew) “Your right kidney may not be giving you issue right now, but it contains stones too and we’ll have to address that sooner or later.  But for now at least, your left kidney is clear.”    Thank you Dr.Turner.  

I’ll be going back to Mercy on Monday morning to have the second stent removed, and to hear what the good doc has to say about my other kidney’s future.  Sadly, my damn TMJ has returned.  I think the combination of things from the last 5-6 weeks was too much for my finicky jaw to bear. 

God, if you’re listening… let the TMJ stuff pass quickly this time, okay?  

(And if You’re really listening, my brother-in-law Jim is getting his hand operated on this week, and unlike myself, is as Christian as they come—and one of the good ones.)

Thanks & amen.

medicine wheel