April 2018


I am anticipating a family event later this summer and purchased a couple battery powered amplifiers for the venue.  One of the attractions of these was the presence of Bluetooth.  The plan is to sync the phone and play music for the crowd present.  That is the concept.  It does need to be tested.  I charged the battery, managed to sink the unit with my phone, then looked up YouTube on my phone as I had no saved music there.  While I was trying to think of some music group to use for testing, the name Merle Womach  came to mind.  I had seen Mr. Womach in concert back when I was in high school.  The man had an incredible voice.  If memory serves me, he had about a four octave range.  During the concert, he talked about the airplane crash that burned him and left him with all that scarring that you see in the pictures.  Amazingly, his voice was untouched. I decided to play the song “Happy again” which happened to be the first to show up on the potential list.  It’s quite a pleasant song as you listen to it and the message seems, may I say, a little simplistic.  I was walking around messing with the amplifier settings well the song was playing.  So it wasn’t until little bit later that I started taking a little time to watch the video that accompanied the music.

Seeing injured men in an old-time hospital ward didn’t seem to troubling at the time.   Actually, it sort of fit.  I noticed that the video did not accent Mr. Womach’s face.  Back when I heard him in concert, he mentioned awaiting to more eye surgeries. I sufficed myself on the set up of the amplifiers, then once satisfied there, started looking underneath the video at the comments to the same.  Many of those comments were absolutely brutal.  Me being me, had to contemplate the mindset that would place the comments like I observed.  What I have considered, is that song needs to be taken in context with the character singing.

Consider “I’ve been happy before, I’ll be happy again” sung by the likes of Miley Cyrus.  The last picture I saw of her begs application of eye bleach.  The message of the song, especially in this case, needs to come in coordination with the individual delivering it.  Mr. Womach had been through incredible pain and rebuilding of his face.  During the concert, he talked about being in a vision where he he went down a hillside towards a river.  A man was waiting there with a boat.  The man asked him whether he was ready to cross the river.  He informed the man not now, he still had work to do.  That’s when he came out of a coma.

The impact of the song is not because the words are anything spectacular, but because of the history of the one singing them.  That’s why having him sing those words in the presence of patients in the midst of treatment makes sense.  This is not a song for people without issues.  It is an encouraging word that there is a light at the end of the tunnel from somebody who has been through a tunnel.

As a musician, there is a difference in getting a complement from Joe 8-track versus a first chair cellist.  As a patient, there is a difference in hearing a canned response versus hope from a survivor.  I am a nurse.  I started nursing in an oncology ward.  I have it ministered pain meds and spoken with patients during many of our planet’s revolutions around the sun.  However, certain things can only be best appreciated by experience.  I assure you that this past year has given me the incredible appreciation for patients with chronic pain.  There is a constant level of apprehension whether, for example, pushing on the wall mounted soap dispenser will hurt too much.  Should I turn the doorknob with my other hand?  Shaking hands with the patient post office visit is an almost dreaded experience because you never know if you have a simple goodbye or you’ll have an aggressive handshaker that leaves you feeling like knives going down the arm for the next hour.  This last year given the experience that has changed my impressions from that which I previously read or spoken, to a different part of my psyche.

Back to the commenters: I’m left with the impression that they fall into one of two camps. The initial would be those who have had no experience. It’s commenting without life’s education.  The second group would be those who do have problems and are so cynical they can no longer hear any end to them.  I would not surmise which camp would reply in which fashion, just admit that’s my interpretation of their comments.

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The place where I took my first breath was upstate New York.  it is known for HillS, tall trees, liberal intrusive government, and snow.  In reaction to the snow, and to keep some semblance of friction between the car tires and the ground, the cities apply salt to the roads.  It helps somewhat.  It has other effects though.  Cars from that section of the country are notorious for rust.  The salt plays havoc with the paint job and metal of the car and quickly deteriorates the lower seems of doors under carriages and drive train.  Its effects are not limited to the mobile machines.  There are many metal supported bridges in the area.  One of these has created a mental picture.  This bridge was designed to support a train across three lanes of road.  there were vertical supports set in sets of four diagonal attachments between each of the four these legs were supported to each other by vertical I-beams designed similarly.  We would drive under that train bridge since I was a kid not griping, I noted the rust on the structure of this bridge.  Over time, I noted how some of the small diagonal pieces would rust through.  On that rare occasion, some individual would actually have a rate of sense and believe it a good idea to fix the bridge structure. So once, maybe twice in the years I was there some new metal structure was applied and some of the rust and decay was cleaned and the metal structure repainted.

There was another obvious incident.  We were driving under the bridge and I noted this nice straight vertical column was no longer straight.  It was bent in with a sharp curve about 18 inches above the ground.  Since it was a structure, and not a single piece, the metal corners nearest the outside were compressed more than the inside corners.  These obvious marks of somebody running into the bridge.  The bridge still stood doing the job for which it was placed even though showing rust, decay, and accidents.  It continued to be used even in this state of repair, or disrepair as the case may be.

This did seem to me to be a decent allegory of what has been and what I’m anticipating.  In contrast to the bridge however, when my structure gets altered, I will not be able to support the workloads that I previously had known.  My hope is that the anticipation is, or rather will be, worse than the actual procedure and outcome.  I am standing here on the back side of the bridge watching the misguided car heading towards the upright.   The possibilities are flashing through my mind.  The desire for avoidance is palpable,  though there is an understanding that the trajectory combined with the structural presence makes the outcome inevitable.  Those moments before the accident are the periods of time I have been contemplating for the past many months.  Talk about time expansion!

I ran across this article from the LATimes.  I’m tempted to fisk it, but instead of shooting fish in a barrel, I just wanted to point out one thing which the illegal immigrants provide – argument wise.

The concern extends to farmers, who fear more sweeps will drive away labor at a time when some are struggling to get enough workers to pick the crops.

“They’re not going to be replaced by American workers,” Cunha said. “Don’t punish the businesses. We’re not the ones that came up with the sanctuary state.”

“Who is going to work the fields? No one,” he said. “This is a difficult job, and all of us are from Mexico.”

Most of the article is a whine about this stress and conditions in which these illegal immigrants work.  The author goes at length to depict ICE as the origin of fear.  Comments under the article focused similarly on these issues.  I, however, think the comments above are related to slightly different issue.  In this country, who is going to do the work legally?  The California labor law as it is, what farmer could afford to hire Americans to do this job?  There are jobs which do not rise to the official minimum wage level.  Since this artificial level has been established it also sets up the market for illegal labor to do those jobs which cannot be financed at the artificial level wage.  We see the marionette of the illegal labor being pulled back and forth across the stage and I’m noting that the strings may be connected to a wage law poorly conceived and long defended as a protection for the poor even though its application does the exact opposite of what it’s promoters purport.

Some time ago last, I broke my wrist working in the closet.  My doctor at work said that was an unglamorous excuse and I needed a better story.  I decided my glorified tale is I lost a sumo wrestling contest.  :–)  I was getting paperwork ready for a second opinion and realized the status of my wrist has been degenerating through the year.  The initial evaluation was a sprain. I was told if pain continued after two weeks to return to the clinic.  Pain kept getting worse and I returned. They did an x-ray at that time and told me there was still nothing broken. They gave me a brace and I was instructed to wear it. That was last July. I had an appointment with orthopedics and was prescribed physical therapy. They had done an additional x-ray and again told me there was no issue. During physical therapy, there was no change in having pain, however, the location of the pain changed according to the wrist position.  About October, my primary care physician ordered an MRI.  The results of the MRI told him that I had a broken wrist. I got referred to a wrist specialist in a neighboring town and they did a CAT scan.  This is now December.  I returned there in January to get the results. This time I was told my scaphoid was broken and received my first suggestion of a carpectomy.  As I started looking back through the scans and x-rays a term was starting to be used – avascular necrosis.  Another term began to show up in the reports, this was slac. Slac refers to scaphoid lunate advance collapse. The bone does not get the blood supply required and slowly dies. I went back for a follow-up in March and looked over new set of x-rays and discussed all these surgical possibilities. On this set of x-rays, the broken scaphoid was actually showing a clear crack. I was informed that the scaphoid had bent when healing was pushing on the other bones in the area and I further had a bone spur on the end of my radius – the long bone on the thumb side of the arm. The area was further described full of traumatic arthritis. Options discussed were four point fusion, cutting and resetting the scaphoid, cutting out the bone spur, cutting a block of bone off the radius and switching it in place of the scaphoid, and the limitations of each one of these procedures. The surgeon’s suggestion was the carpectomy as that would retain circumduction in the hand. I was told the bone spur would simply regrow if removed, the scaphoid could not tolerate or hold a screw, the vasculature of the area could not receive new piece of bone and survive in the long term, and the four-point diffusion would limit the hand to a hinge like fashion in two directions.

I have looked at videos and read on the procedure and looked up former patients’ evaluations of having a carpectomy.  It will retain motion so I can play the keyboard, however, I will have to stop all of my heavy building activities. The new wrist joint will not support the stresses that such activities would place on it. If I did do the jobs around the house like I have normally been doing, and injure the surgical site, the next step is a full wrist fusion.  I enjoy both fine and gross motor activities. I enjoy music, writing it, performing it, as much as I enjoy digging a post hole and expanding the backyard fence. The wider implication of this whole mess is I have to pick one of my activities and ignore the other or rather start to hire somebody else to do the jobs I normally would have done and no longer can.  In the meantime, I am on two anti-inflammatories and a nerve medication to keep the pain in the wrist at a reasonably low level.  I have been informed that one of the anti-inflammatories is known to cause kidney issues. So in the back of my head, I really can’t take an extended amount of time deciding what to do unless I want to risk another more serious issue.

If you have been wondering why it’s so quiet from this corner of West Texas, there’s your thumbnail. I have started using Dragon naturally speaking in place of typing as repeated keystrokes through the day tend to aggravate the wrist.  This is the second post I have tried with the program.  It’s still faster and much easier to type, but the pain level increases throughout the day.  I have asked for the same at work, and am awaiting their mercy.  Looking back, it’s amazing the cascade that can result from a little injury to a minor blood vessel.  I can only speculate what would have happened had the broken scaphoid been recognized initially.  That was missed, and here I am.  I told my manager that this is the map of the trip I have to travel.  I am not faulting anyone.  Each responded according to the information presented each time.

Today is a day to remember how blessed we are.  We are blessed because we are recipients of the efforts someone made on our behalf.  The efforts of this one made it possible for us to have life.  We get to live.  About 2000 years ago, there was an individual who lived on this planet in a small country called Israel.  He was different from all of his countrymen.  He interacted differently with both individuals of his native ethnicity and foreigners this country.  People of his day expected him to overthrow the current ruling government and set up new kingdom. Some of his closest companions held similar ideas. The religious leaders of that day held a mock trial set him up with the political ruler to be executed. Once he was dead and buried the religious leaders further requested assistance from the political leader to provide armed security at the tomb.

 

Imagine the soldiers surprise when the ground shook and an angel arrived and tossed stone that was covering the tomb to the top of the adjacent hill.  Out emerged the man who had set up a new kingdom.  This kingdom was a spiritual one not a political one.  This man showed spiritual truths in our physical reality.  The physical reality of the resurrected person was to illustrate spiritual reality that we could be raised to new life.

It is this truth and this gift that we celebrate.