Hell of a Guy
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 01, 2016

A Pain In My Back Is A Pain In The Ass…


A saga.

This saga began on September 15th with a visit to the National Spine and Pain Center in Hagerstown, MD, my second visit to this office to see if something can be done about my constant back pain.

Result…not much. I was told they could “burn a nerve” to reduce the pain sensation, but that is just a masking of it not relief of it. They recommended I see a neurosurgeon, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. Since I already have a doctor in mind, a referral was to be sent that day.

Nancy left that Sunday for a meeting in Orlando, and I was to fly out on Friday and meet her in Phoenix for the Association of School Business Officials, International’s annual conference. On Monday I checked with the surgeon’s office on the referral, and was told none was received and that they used a specific form for referrals. Now know I had on two occasions visited this highly recommended and capable doctor’s office, asked about getting an appointment, told I needed a referral but not told of a special form. I gave them the Spine Center’s number and asked the form be faxed to it. Checked with the Spine Center the next day and told no form was received. Called the surgeon’s office and asked again to fax the form (they told me they could not email it). The young lady I spoke to told me she was doing it while I was on the phone.

Friday on my way to the airport I stopped by the Spine Center, again I was told no form was received. I thought perhaps one was sent but my name was not on it, so nothing was done because they did not know what who it was for. The Spine Center then, after calling the surgeon’s office and getting a different fax number faxed their original referral form to the surgeon. The following week after we got back home from Phoenix, Nancy’s dad was to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, so I put this issue aside, took Nancy to Joe’s on Wednesday and Thursday got back into my problem.

First thing on Thursday I faxed a note and the referral forms I had copies of to Dr. Underwood’s office. I checked later and was told the carbonized form I faxed could not be read and that the report I sent was not what they needed. I made a trip to my doctor’s office and got a copy of the MRI report. I went home determined to make progress on getting this referral properly done and submitted. Asked again the proper form be faxed to the Spine Center, checked the Spine Center and was told again no fax was received, called the surgeon’s office and was told they got confirmation the fax was received at the Spine Center at 12:47pm. Called the Spine Center…no fax could be found.

Exasperation sets in…I am on the verge of being really ticked off. I called the surgeon’s office and asked they fax a copy of the form to my doctor’s office. Called Doctor Quarantillo’s office and asked they fill out the form and return to the surgeon. They tell me they cannot do that until the doctor sees me. I told them I had been there with him three times on this issue, and that my original request was to refer me to this surgeon and it was my doctor’s idea to try the Spine Center first. Again, they told me I must come in for an appointment. I nearly told the lady to fuck off, but held my tongue, but nonetheless she knew I was pissed.

Called the Spine Center and after a lengthy discussion got a lady who gave me the fax number that was at her desk, got it to the surgeon’s office. Viola! Finally the Spine Center had the required form. Now all the needs to be done is to get the PA I saw there to fill out the form and transmit it to the surgeon. I will check on Monday to see if it has been received.

This will be a test to the power of prayer.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Friday, September 16, 2016

Camping, Not for Me…


Not long ago The Nancy and I decided we would take her dad up to his camp and spend the night there with him. He is 87 and not very agile, he walks with two canes (too proud to use a walker). We wanted him to have one more night there before he is completely incapable of doing it.

We got to the camp at Big Bear Lake around noon that Wednesday and made preparations for his arrival. His caretaker was bringing him, the four of us excited to stay. Unfortunately after we had eaten lunch and had some time to sit around the fire pit, which is something he has always loved to do, The Nancy’s dad decided he was not feeling all that well and he and the caregiver headed back home.

Now, The Nancy and I could have packed up and left as well, but she decided since we were there we should continue with the plan and stay. I am not a camper. Even a remote thought about spending the night at any place without running water and an in-house bathroom give me chills.

In 1957 I joined the Boy Scouts. At some point not long after I joined, the scout troop went on a one night camping trip. We spent the night in tents in woods – no running water, no bathrooms, no nothing. The entire time I felt dirty and as if things were crawling all over my body. The experience left me traumatized. I never wanted to camp out ever again.

Fast forward to 1980, my youngest daughter was in a father/daughter group sponsored by the YMCA called the “Indian Princesses.” Twice I went on a father/daughter outing with her and spent the night in the woods – about 12 girls and 12 dads. It was not a particularly exciting event for me, but I did it. I never wanted to do it again. Thirty-six years later I found myself in a similar situation. This time I did it for my father-in-law. It’s a damn good thing I love the guy.

With her father gone, we sat around the fire for a couple of hours – there was no TV or other entertainment there, finally about 10pm we went inside the camping trailer and to bed. Some facts: 1. No one had spent any real time in the trailer for a couple of years, 2. The trailer had had no maintenance in a couple of years, 3. It was musty, dusty and very warm in the trailer, 4. The trailer’s beds were nasty.

Rather than attempt to get into one of the beds, we decided to sleep in recliners that were there. We covered them with sheets, opened a sliding door and aimed a fan at full speed at the chairs to try to cool the place down. Not ideal but manageable…or so we thought.

To be fair, it was less awful than I thought it would be and worse than I would have liked. I did not sleep well and The Nancy didn’t sleep much better than I, either. Fortunately morning came, albeit not that quickly, and we were able to pack up and get the hell out of there.

Note to self: I hope this experience is permanently burned into my memory so that if I ever again have an asinine idea to camp out again, I puke.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Monday, September 05, 2016

I Just Called Her Kitty…


She came to live with us in late September 2005. We had been in this house just under two months. We had already assumed temporary ownership of Stella, mixed breed black lab, and to be frank, I had not wanted any pets. She came with her brother, at least we were told they were related, but they definitely looked different to me. At that time, she was Angel, he was Friskie. Living here on The Farm, we thought it appropriate to change their names to Lisa and Oliver.

Stella, Lisa and Oliver soon developed a love for one another. Stella was a very patient host as the two kittens climbed on her, bit her tale and took over her space. There was never so much as a second they didn’t get along. Oliver was the wilder of the two kittens, he loved to be outside roaming around fields of The Farm, and it was one of those times he ran into something a little bigger than he and did not come home. 

The two paragraphs above were written two weeks ago. I just didn’t feel I could finish this piece then, so I stopped. Just how does a 72-year old man fall in love with a cat, or any animal for that matter, but it happened?

Frankly, the kitty was a pain in the ass; she was as demanding as any human could ever be. She spread her hair everywhere. Places in the house I absolutely did not want her to sleep in, she did. She seemed to have a “spot of the week” every week…a living room chair, one of the guest beds on the second floor, our bed. She loved to annoy me in bed. She would sleep between my legs causing me to go through agonizing contortions in order to rollover. She liked freshly drawn water in her bowl, and would sit beside it and meow until The Nancy or I reacted to her “command,” sometimes just moments after we had filled it.

About a month ago she began to act a little strangely, strangely for her. She lost a lot of weight, she was not eating. We got her to the vet and the diagnosis was intestinal cancer. We took her home and tried to make her comfortable, but knew the end was near. Finally we made the decision to put her down. I could not bear to watch it, Nancy did.

I was once told to dogs you are family, to cats, staff. Man, was that so true of Lisa.

I miss Kitty, R.I.P.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Thursday, June 23, 2016

These Days…


These days I am a kept man. Having retired nearly four and a half years ago I quickly realized that job I had for twenty-nine years definitely got in the way of my personal life. These days I do as little as possible and volunteer for nothing, at all. Life is good!

These days I am a kept man. The Nancy, to whom I am happily married to and deliriously in love with, keeps me in the lifestyle I came to appreciate as a working stiff. She, too, retired, but she wanted to keep working and I encouraged her, for my benefit, to follow her bliss. Life is good!

These days, while not as vigorous or virile as I once was, am quite satisfied knowing at age 72 I do not have to be, nor am I supposed to be. And, come to think of it, I do not want to be, for if I were, more would be expected of me. I choose to not live up to others expectations. Life is good!

These days, after denying the existence of a higher power for most of my adult life, find I am a spiritual person, and even occasionally go to church. My mother, the Methodist preacher’s daughter, would be proud of me, and so am I. Life is good!

These days I often think of family, those close to me and those not so close. I have a wife I dearly love, daughters I dearly love, brothers I dearly love and other family and friends I get to love, as well. Life is good!

These days, like today, I get to travel to places like this one. I am sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton Grand in Chicago looking out at the Chicago River and a nearby bridge where there is a guy blowing hundreds of bubbles, allowing the wind to catch them and spread them in the air across the roadway. Why does he do this? I do not have a clue, but is it beautiful to watch. It makes me happy. Life is good.

These days I take it all in with a grain of salt. The world is a beautiful, fucked up place where some terrible people live to do horrible things. A place, too, where babies are born who will grow to do wonderful things. A place where one day the good will far and away outweigh the bad. And for that, life is good.

And that is all I have to say about that…

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