And We Got Here How? (Part 1) ~

When I first began to gather my thoughts for this “ramble” … I was concerned with discourse, or lack of discourse.

As I thought and worked through how I want to try and connect my thoughts – yesterday, THIS report was released by the PEW foundation – which has been polling the polarization of America since 1986.  This report, which I’m going to link to in it’s entirety, shows that we are more polarized than we’ve been since they began tracking.  This does not surprise me in the least. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2277/republicans-democrats-partisanship-partisan-divide-polarization-social-safety-net-environmental-protection-government-regulation-independents

As I’ve said before – I’m a member of several forums, follow an insane number of blogs and news sites (and the comments) as well as being part of World of Warcraft and Pogo games.

I cut my computer “teeth” – so to speak – in the AOL chat rooms of all kinds – where one had to have an advanced degree in AOLese or AOL speak or you would be five conversations behind everyone else.  (For those who may not know, you had to learn to read through the typos/spellings and strange constructions because people were typing so fast and thinking so quickly that sometimes things didn’t quite match-up.)

All of this introduction is to simply say, I didn’t need the PEW organization to let me know “There’s Trouble In River City”, all I’ve had to do is be around people on-line and even in real life.

What has happened over the years is a steady decline in the ability of people of differing beliefs, hopes, dream, ideas, lives to even civilly approach each other.  At one time, personal opinion, you either were willing to listen to another person or you didn’t interact with that person at all.  Much of time now, I feel it has become a game of seeing who can one-up another in either hate/degradation/intimidation/provoking (not to be confused with trolling – that’s a special sub-set of behavior!!)   or proving how much more someone knows than anyone else.

Just the other day on Facebook, I entered into what I thought was a discussion involving the concept of gay marriage (how’s that for a hot button at the beginning of these postings?) and the difficulty someone had found in talking to someone else about it.  Those of us who are friends with this person and know the overwhelming love in her heart for all people, commiserated with her and offered some light-hearted and yes, even snarky thoughts to help.  Another person had entered the conversation and within two posts it had devolved into 1) necrophilia 2) pedophilia and 3) bestiality.  Even with AOL speak, I couldn’t figure out how we’d gotten there.  It became very obvious that the person simply wanted to anger everyone and bait everyone into an “argument” so that they could present themselves as a 1) winner 2) extremely knowledgeable and at the same time 3) the victim.

So, how did we get here? There were news events from when PEW began tracking the polarization: 1984 The Aids Virus is identified it is not the worldwide problem it is today. Following on from the PC Apple releases the Macintosh computer. Following the Widespread Famine in Ethiopia many of the top British and Irish USSR pop musicians join together under the Name Band Aid and record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. Following the boycott by the US of the Moscow Olympics the soviet block boycotts the Los Angeles Olympic games. Recession continues to be a problem in the US and 70 US Banks fail in just one year.  But I think it goes back to even before that.

Here are three images and comments that will start this series of posts ~ and hopefully, you’ll forgive the length of this one…

At this point in time, we as a people were pushed into the realization that those dedicated to protect us, could indeed seem to turn against us.

Kent State by John Filo

Add to that another realization that perhaps our view of life wasn’t quite so quaint as we wanted to believe.

Birmingham Alabama 1963
I don’t know whose picture this is

 

And lastly – an event that shook our already shaky belief in our government.

So bear with me, and more on this journey of thought over the next few days ….

A 60+ Stoner ~ Late Evening Thoughts

This chapter picks up from —here

Once taken into the surgical holy-of-holies, I was shown to a draped area with a bed and various machinery not for the faint of heart. I was handed two (not one) two surgical gowns to put on. As surgical gowns had been designed by Dr. Seymour Butts, this was a welcome change indeed. Now, the posterior areas would not be flapping in the breeze of hospital air conditioning…or so I thought. Alas, when the surgical nurse (have to use the right title here) came back. I was to put one on and the other would be put on after surgery. But, I need not have worried – once I got into the bed, I didn’t get to leave it.

And now the torture began. After the first surgical nurse left (having divested me of one of the gowns), a second one arrived – carrying a $4 cup of coffee. Sheer torture. Fortunately, he was but a moment and left with coffee intact very shortly. At that point, the anesthesiologist arrived without coffee and talked in detail about what they were going to do and how I would be “under” for the operation.

Those who know the story of a year ago, know that my last major surgery was not exactly a walk in the park going into it. I had shared that with my Dr., but had no idea he had shared it beyond that.

I was very glad to talk to the anesthesiologist and find out that I was NOT going to be given the paralyzing shot so common in operations, but would be a combination of gas and drugs. There was a lot more torture as various surgeons, interns and I swear there was a cleaning person all arrived in front of me – with cups of coffee. One person actually used the table by the end of MY bed to add his sugar … I was in agony.

I should have paid more attention to the next explanation but I didn’t. They were going to give me a nerve block in my upper legs which would relieve most of the pain over the next couple of days. This is important for later.

After that discussion the Dr. came to see me and made the usual poking of the leg, discussion with the nurse that was with him – and merely gave me “THE LOOK” for daring to joke about marking the leg to be operated on with an X. (Some surgeons are known for NOT having a sense of humor – mine included!)

At that point, the anesthesiologist was back with several additions to the IV that had been started in my arm. I felt wonderful!!!! Nothing hurt, I had a good grasp on reality and everything seems fuzzy and sharp at the same time. The bed I was on was the one I would be taken to surgery in – and off down the hall we went. By this point, the meds were beginning to take hold, and I was enthralled by the passing lights, and the people passing by. My mouth seemed a little fuzzy but I think I could still be understood, but frankly I have no idea what I said. Finally, it was through the doors and into the operating. I was feeling so good – getting onto the operating table was no problem. That’s because they didn’t move me until I was out. The anesthesiologist was talking about the mask in my ear, and it was placed over my nose/mouth and I did as I was told – to breathe deeply.

That was the last I remembered until I woke up in my hospital room. To say it took a few minutes to get focused would be a distinct understatement. Managed to see my daughter sitting in the room, and supposedly asked her if I’d had a good time at the party. I then remember various people suddenly (she says not suddenly, but over a period of time) converging around the bed to “fill me in” on all I needed to know. First off was an explanation of the machine in bed with me making my leg move up to my chest and then back down. A major annoyance during my stay, even if I was grateful that I would keep me from locking up the new knee. Then there was the physical therapist to point out what they would do later (Spanish Inquisition torture for 400 Alex.).

He finally left and the nurse came over to explain the pain pump next to my bed. In my foggy state I did manage to listen as she explained that every time the light came on I could press the button for pain medication. Please make not that she actually said could press it. As she was leaving, the light was on – (cue the Psycho violins here) – so I pressed it. And that’s what I did all afternoon to early evening.

I need to do a short explanation here (do I do anything short?). I am not a stoner but not by nature. With my compulsive/impulsive nature people are sometimes surprised. I simply can’t. Pot makes me incredibly physically miserable and very sick – which made me a real pain-in-the-butt in the Theater department in college. And none of the rest either because they don’t work in my system as -according to everyone else – they should.

So now, I have drugs blocking the pain in my knee, whatever was in the IV dripping away and I’m pressing the pain pump every time the light comes on…which seemed to be about every five minutes. At this point – even my daughter agrees- I had gone from operation drug lingering head long to a 60+ year older stoner (in case you hadn’t gotten that!!) I had several cell phone calls I don’t remember having, ate two meals which I don’t remember and several servings of ice cream – which was available anytime on the floor.

I was blissfully unaware – even though my daughter was telling me at the time I was beyond loopy and heading toward loony!! That blissfully unaware came to an end when I looked at the wallpaper above the sink in my room. I’ve included a picture of something similar – but mine was more gold, more washed and with some dark in it. (creepy music for 200 Alex) I was looking at the TV on the wall when I realized that the wall paper pattern was moving . . . around the wall. I did what any logical person would do in that situation and closed my eyes several times to see if it would go away.
It didn’t.

I realized right away that I was for the very first time in my life completely and absolutely stoned. I will say that it was frankly NOT a good sensation. (OK, DEA did that cover my probation?) I also knew exactly where the problem was and what needed to be done about it. At that point the nurse came in and we both basically started the same conversation . . . which in a nut shell was “the machine has to go.” She was trying to be diplomatic about it – I was being blunt. She wanted to re-set the timer (!!??) I wanted the thing gone. And shortly gone it was. Eventually the “trip” came to an end, the wallpaper stopped moving and the fuzz began to clear.

It especially cleared enough for me to concentrate on my nemesis since the beginning of time – the walker. Curse it as much as I did – it wouldn’t take the hint and leave. It just laid there against the wall and mocked me!!!

—more tomorrow

A 60+ S_ ONE R ~ Early Evening Thoughts

Picking up from —here

Everyone knows what a hospital waiting room looks like, sounds like and very often smells like. They are often places of frenetic activity, unintelligible or delivered in code intercom calls . . . and frankly smell like hospital.

I was not prepared for this entrance/waiting room. There was the tranquil sounds of fountains and a full sized grand piano was being played by ghostly hands. OK, that was a slight exaggeration – it was a player grand piano. Turning to the right, there was a marble topped circular desk with someone in coat and tie standing behind it. I was tempted to go outside and see if I had been delivered to a funeral home by mistake. Everything seemed so peaceful and didn’t smell. It turns out that the gentleman behind the desk if the first person everyone talks to before entering the rest of the hospital.

He takes your information (actually listening I might add!) and then calls whoever you are supposed to see and they will come an get you. If necessary, he will take you to where you need to go. No wandering aimlessly around the hallways trying to remember if you were told turn left, then right – go up five steps and “shake it all about.”

There were several reasons they went with the set-up the way they have it. First of all it help control traffic and also it help convince people that they are known and expected. Of course, visitors check-in and go up to the rooms.

Anyway, hospital registration came out to get me as I waited in nice comfy chairs – by a window wall and listened to the water wall and piano. I was taken to a glass enclosed area to begin the sign all the papers required and make sure all the payments had been recorded. Within a very short delightful time, I had my wrist band and the nurse came and got me for the necessary testing that had to be done.

Before going into the testing area, she took me on a tour of the floor where I would be staying – showed me a room (I was beginning to wonder if I would be expected to buy a time-share plan before I would get out). And we grabbed a fresh cup of coffee from the floor waiting area. Already I was falling in love – they had good coffee!! Once ensconced in the testing area, two nurses went to work on me. The only complaint I had was that one cup of coffee was not going to be able to replace the gallon (so it seemed to me) of blood they drew. OK, the 2nd complaint had to do with those little gluey pads they use for EKG’s. But that has more to do with glue and chest hair. . . and there’s not much anyone can do about that. And then, we were done. Because I had come in before the day of surgery, I was given a reprieve on arrival time on Friday. I didn’t need to be there until 5:30am!! Not much of an improvement, but at that time of day (Is it really a time of day?) I’ll take what I can get!!

So now I was free until Friday morning – about 33 hours away. Just enough time to go home, and brace myself for nothing to eat or drink after 10pm on Thursday. Of course, that gave me sometime to surf the net and discover all sorts of things I didn’t want to know about the operation. . . and anesthetic. I know I should have stopped reading, but it was as if I was watching a car wreck. I just kept looking.

“Achmed was supposed to pick me up Friday in time to make the 5:30am deadline. At about 5:00am I get a phone call they he can’t pick me up, but one of his friends is going to be there and the “friend” knew where the hospital was. “Friend” did NOT know where the hospital was – and “Achmed” was giving him directions the entire way – very loudly – over the cell phone. And we did make the appointed time. Again, check in at desk, registration comes and gets me and I get a wrist band – which includes a picture, by the way. No mistaking who I am that’s for sure!! Registration takes me to the surgery floor, and there is the ONLY place I’ve had to wait for any length of time…along with the others scheduled for early morning surgery.

We did get to laughing as the waiting became a test of endurance. Right across from where we were waiting was an area for families to wait while surgery was being done. The area was filled with coffee, colas and rolls and such. It was very hard to behave – let me tell you. Especially seeing the coffee …. especially the coffee.

Eventually, we were released from the torment and taken back to begin the final part of this story … and of course the last letter in the hangman puzzle in the heading.

–more tomorrow.

A 60+ S_ O _E R ~ Late Evening Thoughts

Continuing from —last night— ~

By now the horrors (as I called them) had begun to run out of steam. I had assured all of them that I wasn’t going to end up a bed-ridden cripple, that I was not going to have to sell my first born to pay the bills (although when he was growing up ~ ah, let’s not go there!) and that whatever path the recovery took I would be just fine …

I then had D & D to deal with. They had decided that there was no way I was going to be able to go through the operation and recover by myself ~ and that they were going to be there every step of the way. Which normally, I wouldn’t have minded ~ but the thought of them fluttering around the hospital bed and then fluttering in and out of my apartment while I was recovering was just a bit more than I wanted to even think about let alone deal with. (hysteria by proxy for 600, Alex)

Don’t get me wrong, they have been and are good friends ~ in very defined doses. Fortunately my daughter was taking over that portion of the watch, and she definitely didn’t need any help. So, not only would she be around after the operation, but would carefully monitor my being at home.

By this time ~ a week before the operation ~ the hospital, doctor/surgeon’s office, anesthesiologist and medical equipment rental decided they would need to be paid. I was informed these people would be calling me and to be prepared for sticker shock.

And I was . . . there was a middle-man in what I was beginning to call “Behind The Operating Room Door” and if you’re too young (or too innocent) to get that reference ~ send me an E-mail and I’ll send you a link. The reason he was in the middle was his delightful personality, his willingness to help, his lawyer skills and a company American Express that could take the charges and I would then pay back from the inheritance.

None of us knew what anyone was going to charge ~ but as a cash up-front patient, I was sure there would be some kind of discount…which I was prepared to ask for.

Believe it or not, the first call was the hospital and I almost wished I had delayed all this several weeks. After my experience of calling all the “medical center” hospitals ~ I was prepared for 1)rudeness and 2) an astronomical price tag. I received neither. The business office was incredibly helpful and let’s just say that I was going to be able to get BOTH knees done for the price of ONE at the other hospitals. (blue light special for 300, Alex)

So, when all the calls were done and everyone had the money they needed ~ I began to stump (I certainly wasn’t able to dance!) around the apartment singing “Signed – Sealed – Delivered!” When you have to sit down every few moments to let the knees recover, it somewhat takes the fun out of the celebration!!

The Doctor had given me his instructions on a much copied copy of a copy. But the hospital was quite insistent that I either come down on Wednesday and pre-register and get the necessary paperwork and test done, or I would have to do the morning before surgery. Dear me, what a difficult choice!! (Remember, I’m the one that wasn’t sure 5am was an actual time of day!) So, Wednesday afternoon it was off to find the hospital and get the tests done.

Since I’m still not driving (that IS going to change no matter what my son-in-law says!!) I either take the bus or a taxi. In this case, taxi seemed preferable. . . that way two of us could get lost. At this time I had a driver that I used all the time. He was quite good, knew the city and we had a number of pleasant conversations. He was Muslim and spent most of the trips discussing religion with me … I had always maintained that iron sharpens iron … and as the conversations were never arguments I had begun to look forward to them. Of course, I referred to him to my daughter and my friends as “Achmed, the dead terrorist.***” Knowing that if I every accidentally called him that or explained it . . . I would be in deep trouble. (non-famous deaths for 600, Alex)

Off we went – I had the address and the approximate location of the hospital, he was convinced, as always, that I had no idea where it was and he did. The discussion was lively and interesting ~ but alas, he is too serious to have much of a sense of humor. But that certainly never stopped his trying to convert me and/or all in my family.

We did find the hospital (I was right ~ he wasn’t but never admitted it) and I walked into one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a long, long time.

—more tomorrow and another clue in the hangman puzzle of the title

*** for those of you you didn’t understand the Achmed reference ~ here is ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and Achmed. My grand kids think he is hysterical, however we did have to explain to the youngest that going through one of the box stores saying loudly: “silence ~ I kill you!” was not really a good idea!!!

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-7312667536368258282&hl=en&fs=true

A 60+ S_ O _ _ R ~ Early Afternoon Thoughts

Leaving all the “Sturm und Drang” that I last posted at length about –here– I want to move forward to the merry month of May. A wonderful time of may-flowers (except for those that were being flooded or frozen) and supposedly a welcoming of spring. In my case, it was the welcoming of yet another surgery. Over the years, those who know me have realized that walking had become much more difficult and sometimes quite painful. (bad joints for 100, Alex)

In the month of April, I realized that something was going to have to be done ~ and quite soon. I was walking as if I had been riding horses for 100 years (bow-legged really doesn’t even begin to describe it. I was beginning to look like the curved sides of a ship!) And I was beginning to be unable to walk for all but a short distance without having to sit down and let the knees recover. All of which contributed to making me fell exceptionally old and somewhat feeble. This time I began to plan and research 1) where I wanted to have it done and 2) who I wanted to have do it. (shocked friends and relatives for 500, Alex)

Several years ago I had researched the cost of getting my knees done as a cash up-front patient. The results were absolutely stunning overwhelming…out of all the major hospitals in Houston ~ for cash payments I would have been able to literally buy a house for a little more than what the two knees were going to cost me! To one business office (after THREE days of trying to get in contact with them.) after she quoted me the price I simply told her ~ “Look honey, I am not buying the operating room or donating a new one! I just want to rent the one you have!” At that point I simply decided the operations were not going to happen until I was on Medicare or had won the lottery. As both seemed to be long-term before they happened. I gave up.

Now, there was no giving up. Things had to get done and I was the one that was going to have to make it happen. I had decided WHERE I wanted to have it done. It’s a small (79 surgical beds) hospital located just on the edge of the medical district called University General Hospital. I found out that the hospital is operated partly by the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine and the doctors who are affiliated with the hospital. So far so good . . . So, I simply called and asked for a list of Orthopedic Surgeons. There were five that were immediately recommended. Armed with Google and my own determination I went on a surgeon hunt. The first name on the list had not only his own website, but was on several others. He had a list of accomplishments a mile long and even had a video on his website that showed through animation what would be done during the operation. –>here<– (it’s not a graphic movie folks!!)

I made an appointment to meet with him – and without a moments hesitation on my part (after we looked at the x-rays) I was scheduled for surgery on May 9th ~ having to be there at 5am . . . A time I hadn’t seen for several years, and wasn’t sure still existed!!!

Of course, once you have something like a total knee replacement surgery scheduled ~ the horrors begin the come out of the woodwork . . . each with a different view of how terrible the operation is going to be and how horrible I’m going to feel once the operation is done and I’m on my own. These were usually prefaced by “Of course, yours might be different BUT my (cousin, uncle, sister’s friend’s aunt three times removed or I read about) . . . whatever had or ended up doing …. whatever. I’m sorry now that I didn’t write them all down. They would have made a wonderful plot line for a soap opera or a lifetime of Lifetime disease of the week movies!

–more tomorrow on the adventure and more clues on the hangman puzzle in the heading!!

The Coal Becomes A Diamond ~ Early Evening Thoughts

The response and viewings of my post, Nodrin King’s posts and Though Lovers Be Lost post about Paul Potts has been interesting and very heartening. The videos haunted me all day today ~ even to the point I was tempted (ONLY tempted) to sneak another look at them while at work today. (I said only TEMPTED!)

So many people in the audience (to say nothing of the judges ~ although I have some sympathy for them ~ have you seen America’s Got Talent?) had prejudged him as he walked out on stage, settled themselves in for a possibly dreadful performance ~ then he opened his mouth and that wonderful, powerful and amazing voice rang out.
Of course, one of the major questions I got was: “Did he win?” Yes, he did ~ and with no further editorializing ~ here is the video clip of the announcement. Another question I had was: “Would he have made it on America’s Got Talent?” I don’t know … but I would hope so.

And I certainly hope that the people with the rights to “Britain’s Got Talent” will continue to allow these clips to be seen by as many people as possible.

And I certainly don’t want to pass over any diamonds in myself or others that might be disguised as a lump of coal.

–more tomorrow night

A Little Lump Of Coal, That Could Become A Diamond ~ Early Evening Thoughts

A dear blogger Nodrin King posted two of these videos on his blog (A Flat With A View) the other day. Having not been on the computer for anything other than work for several days, I missed his post ~ until today. Now, several Kleenex’s later ~ I’m ripping borrowing his post and adding a little bit to it.

In the videos is a man ~ by his own admission ~ with little self-confidence, having been bullied in school, was always “different” making an astounding journey. I’m not going to say much more, I don’t want to spoil your own discovery.

However, I will editorialize just a l i t t l e bit. In the first video watch the judges reactions to him as he says what he does for a living and what he is going to do as an audition. I see their reaction over and over again in life. And you know what? It’s so shallow and condescending. Who are we to make any kind of judgment about someone until we know them?

Probably one of the most disappointing moments in a recent friendship was when this person told me they just simply couldn’t be friends with a particular person anymore because their friends just weren’t all that good looking. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I had a few things to say … I’ll post more on that later. But being someone who always had difficulty regarding themselves as special, attractive or having a lot of self worth, these videos really spoke to me on a deep, deep level.

And remember the Kleenex’s … you WILL need them.

The audition: Where the title of this post comes from ~

The semi-finals:

The Finals: He sings the same song he sang for the audition ~

Thank you Nodrin ~ These videos made my day!!!!!!

And Your Little Dog Too! ~ Early Morning Thoughts

One of my daily read favorite blogs is called “Don’t MAKE Me Get My Flying Monkeys!” I have to admit that the very first time I saw the title, I had to repress an enormous urge to shout: “I’ll get you and your little dog too!!!” As I have followed the blog over time, I have have found out just what a delightful person Laurie is and those connected to her as well.

Laurie ~ you have kept all of us so updated on your life, and then you began the series involving Dale and ALL that he has been going through in the hospital (to say nothing of your (1) hysterically (2) described (3) trip (4) – well, the drive (5) anyway – to get there). While convincing me all the more, that a hospital is not exactly the place to get well … at least Dale has been surrounded by love, care, concern, hope and a decided lack of fear. (If anyone hasn’t read it – now would be a good time to click on the link above ~ or the one –>RIGHT HERE<– )

Now, you are faced with the wrenching problem of having to leave for a time.

As much as I hate to leave Dale in this condition, I have work duties that have to be taken care of. Making the decision to go is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I don’t see any way out of it and it is breaking my heart.

I know just how difficult that decision has been and is for you. There is such a sense of feeling that you will not be there — and not be there for Dale. However (comma) I want you to assure Dale:

I may not be physically present,
but my spirit remain.
My hope
is ringing
the hospital bed
on which
you
lie.

I may not be physically present,
but my concern
and love remain.
That love
has seeped
into the walls
around
the hospital bed
on which
you
lie.


I may not be physically present,
but my thoughts
and belief remain.
They will shine
from the corners above
the hospital bed
on which
you
lie.

I may not be physically present,
but I will see you
at every turn,
I will see you
in a stranger’s smile,
a word of greeting,
a moment of silence.
I will hear your voice
as I look out over
the valley,
as the cats play
terminator with
their cat pole,
and
as the wind comes across
my face
in the mornings.

No, I may not be
physically present ~
but I’ll be (insert favorite “cuss” here)>)
if you’re going to
be
rid
of
me ~ yet!
—wd

(An aside to Wolf:)

As you know, I play a character on World of Warcraft … allow him to imbue your armor with +25 stamina, your chest plate with +16 Int, +5 Crit. I’m going to add +22 healing to your armbands and +16 healing to your ring of defense. Go forth young Warrior!!

–picture of the flying monkey was labeled as a Mattel toy. I’m sorry I don’t know the date of manufacture.
–seeping light picture from http://www.theleggett.com/index.php?tag=art

What Would You Ask~

I admit it ~ I did it all by myself. I have a blog that I follow almost daily. I find him funny, biting and quite honest about himself and his world.

Last week, he offered a question to his readers. It was simply titled “truth or dare.”
His simple question was to ask his readers to say which one. I posted truth, as being the most interesting. Little did I know ….. (cue theme from Jaws) ~

He then issued this challenge after we had posted our choice of the word truth or dare. We were to post our truth question or dare challenge with the understanding that he, in turn, would post something for us that we had to do…..it we posted a dare – he would accomplish the dare and then dare us.

I’ve been tossing ideas around … but I wanted to ask ~ what would you ask someone if the opportunity presented itself? Would you ask them a dare? Truth? … Just wondering.

Yes, I have posted a truth for him, and yes – you’ll see his truth to me here. I promise (NO my fingers are NOT crossed!!!)