Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Thoughts 2012

It has been a wonderful Christmas time. I came to realize that this is the first time in a number of years I have felt well at Christmas. Five years ago I was waiting for surgery on January 9 to remove a tumor from my colon. Four years ago while the surgery was successful, I was still recovering and had had my gall bladder out in November 2008. 2009 brought a pretty good year, but I was encountering digestive tract issues that I did not understand and were frustrating. In 2010 I was miserable, what we thought was IBS was in fact the tumor recurring and partially blocking my colon. 2011 was recovery from months of radiation, chemo, surgery to resect the bowel a second time, then surgery to reverse the illeostomy. This is the first year I felt well in body and spirit. I hope I have many more years of wellness. I can handle the aches and pains of age, but the unwell feeling is a real downer.

This year I have come to realize that my grandchildren at moving out of the toddler stage to young girls. I am encounter.

This year I am still amazed at my oldest daughter, Kristi and how she has grown and matured and taken charge of her life. She is doing, and going, and being a vital part of her nieces lives.

This year I am amazed at the woman who married me. She exhibited strength beyond my understanding during my illness. She cares so deeply and loves so much. She is truly a partner, I hope I am worthy of her.

Other grandchildren have come into play, Sam helps so much and is so eager to do so. Timmy lives in our trailer and is willing to help, he provides for himself, and is not problem.

The dogs are beyond measure. I have chosen to love them unconditionally, although sometimes that is difficult. They have rewarded us with the same love, and constantly look out for us, are around us, and always willing to let a hand pet them.

This Christmas was truly a magical time for me. My daughters, Jenny and Kristi were full of the spirit of the occasion and are going on about their lives in such a comfortable fashion. My sisters seem well, and their families are supportive and caring. It just seems like a good time for reflection, and I sense serenity and peace of mind. The greatest things a person can have.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Politics, Politics

It is two days since the November 6, 2012 national election. I would feel remiss if I didn't comment, not that it matters much. Obama won. I am neither happy nor sad. I voted for Obama. I voted for Obama more because the Republican party did not seem to stand for anything that I could get my mind around. 

A Senate candidate in our neighboring state of Missouri made a comment that if a woman were raped her body could prevent contraception. In Indiana a Senate candidate said if a woman is impregnated by rape it was intended by God. They were both beat and should have been.

We have the religious right, evangelical Christians who were against Obama and got our over 70% of their base to vote for Romney, problem is their base accounts for less than 25% of the eligible voters. They alienated much of the other 75%. Smart huh?

A map of the U.S. showing voters densities is almost all red, Republican. The population centers of the U.S. are all blue, democratic. What did Sam Kinison, the abrasive comedian say, "It's where the fucking people live." Don't visit North Dakota, that's not where the people are. 

What happens when large groups of people live near one another. They come to see the value in diversity. It stretches the imagination, it pushes your mind to new possibilities. When you and forty others gather in church on a blustery windswept prairie guess what, you all have the same issues and feed one another the same solutions, nothing new there. So guess what, people in large cities are more tolerant of extremes like abortions and women in positions of authority and power. Guess what, smog and the environment are an issue when your government services are handling millions of contributors to the sewage system and choking the highways with auto exhaust. It is hard to imagine why the environment should be of such concern on the lonely roads of Wyoming. 

Why should the government spend a bunch of money. Look what we do in society.  When we go to far we go bankrupt, no big deal. Start the program all over. We demand outstanding health service that only the employed and well of get. You ought to go visit a county health department and see who is sitting there waiting to try and get their kid into a clinic someplace. We have to drive cars that call home for us, phones that whisper in our ear, and devices that connect us with the world 24/7. We listen to get rich quick schemes of "flipping" houses and Wall Street comes up with financial products that are based upon huge leveraged investments in huge mortgage bundles whose contents can't even be ascertained. 

Then when the whole thing falls in the shitter we ask the government to bail us out. When we have to generate cash into society to get people to spend we run up a deficit and guess what, when the government starts to live like we do as a society we don't like it. 

So now we find ourselves in an interesting position. In a month and a half we hit a wall and huge spending cuts will be mandated and a large tax increase will fall upon our heads. Guess what, it is the old Congress that has to fix it, not the new guys. The American people reelected BO by 2.5 million votes, not an overwhelming margin considering about 110 million votes were cast. About 2%? Not a margin a President can hang the mandate handle on. The Republican goal of taking over the Senate was thwarted. So now we have the old boys in Congress who dragged their feet, who said NO to all that Obama tried now will be blamed for the biggest ride back downhill if they don't get off their collective asses. I find some comfort in that, the bastards.

The people have said yes to Obamacare, they've said we must have a check and balance system but most of they have collectively told our political men and women, you figure it out now. Get along, put your heads together. This is not a Republican problem, nor is a Democratic problem, it is an American problem and we expect you to rise above petty politics and do something amazing for a change. Solve a GODDAMN problem!!! If I were Obama I'd hold their feet to the fire and say come up with something because I am not signing a "kick the can down the road" bill. You've till December 31, 2012. AMEN.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Kicked to the side of the road

How does it feel to be kicked to the side of the road? Not good. At the moment it happens it made me so angry I would've liked to commit mayhem. I did not write about it any sooner because it usually takes me a while to get my head around a very emotional event and I would have said things I do not need to say.

I was given a choice of taking a less responsible position with my employer or leaving the organization. I took the less responsible job. I need to have healthcare coverage until December 2013. That is when my wife Terry will be 63 1/2 year old and I can carry her on COBRA until her 65th birthday so she can get Medicare.

So, I was placed between a rock and a hard place. The decision was not hard, I will take care of my wife first. What really drove me to distraction was the manner the reassignment was handled. A lady who I worked with for over 10 years left the college I worked at. She went to another college where she did not fare so well. However, because she was the contact for a helicopter school that wanted to expand its operation and introduced the flight school to the community, plus asked for her job back she was not only given her old job, but mine too. I was told she was the successor and they (the organization) decided to move the succession plan up. Given this is a state institution with a hiring policy that requires open posting and selection a succession plan makes little sense.

Regardless I am in my new position. It will not be the work the old one was and the folks are good. I'll make the best of it until I can retire, then I'll put it all behind me and enjoy retirement and old age with my wife.

HOWEVER; they have really angered me and I am pursuing all of the internal remedies in a grievance procedure, then I'll file an EEOC charge of age discrimination. I may not get anywhere but I'll make sure the facts get aired.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My First Video Blog. Flex-Sigmoidoscopy

One Man's Poison Another's Medicine

We have been in need of rain for some time now. Like most of the country we are experiencing a drought, although we did have rain in July and are not as try as some, the lawn has gone dormant and the trees are looking distressed. So when hurricane Isaac was named and the track heading for the Gulf I thought we'd see some relief. We have. Late Thursday night/Friday morning it started to rain. I've  been watching the rain bands of the storm  north of the eye and we were on the right side meaning the counter rotation of the low was bringing water to our region. Yea!

Yet when it came I could not help but wonder about Mother Nature. We were experiencing some heavy rain but mostly moderate to light and steady. The wind was up, but we've seen a lot more wind than that and not called it anything but a windy day. Friday it rained off and on, and early Saturday morning a tendril of the bands hanging down from the storm moved through Paragould producing a nice soft steady rain all night long. It was the kind of rain farmers dream about. 

Yet hundreds of miles south of us homes were flooded, lives were lost, there was widespread devastation and severe property damage. New Orleans was pretty much spared but some of the Parrishs of Louisiana were severely flooded and emergency evacuation was taking place. Thousands of people were sleeping in shelters and hundreds of thousands were without power. Here, we lay in comfort with the window open listening to the soft rain of Isaac, the monster now tamed by moving over land and losing its engine of warm sea water. 

Like I said, one man's poison is another man's medicine. Mother Nature is certainly a complicated force.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A change in location

For those following this blog concerning bowel resection I have started a separate blog on that very subject. I have written about five articles about my second bout with colo-rectal cancer. I have been trying to move my health discussion off this blog because the title was meant for me to do a little ranting and raving on that most may not find very interesting, This blog receives approximately 500 to 1000 hits a month remains the number one search item on Google if you type in bowel resection home recovery. I feel honored and privileged to have created a blog that derives so much interest and I thank all of you for your caring and your sharing. For those who are interested in other colon health articles please see the attached link:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Side effects limit range of activities.

I had not thought about it until my daughter stated in one of her posts on her own blog, The Jenny Life, that colon cancer is not only a deadly disease but its victims encounter embarrassing and humiliating side effects. How true. The surgery is over, the chemo is done but my system is reestablishing normal. 

A week after I stopped maintenance chemo for good I left Arkansas  to travel to Michigan for my 50th high school class reunion and to visit family. It was fun, but it was clouded by my system. I could not seem to get it under control. Under control for me means I may go to the bathroom every few hours or so. I also may have a measure of control, which means I do not have an accident and shit my pants in public. Usually it is a small accident, but there have been times it is bad.

I visited my nephew in Racine and it was great to see he and his wife after all these years. We picked up as though we had never been apart. However, I had to stay close to a bathroom as I was experiencing some slight incontinence so I wear a pad to keep from anything leaking through which is not only embarrassing but could stain someone's furniture.

On to Munising and my class picnic. It was held at a classmate's beautiful summer home on Lake Superior. It was wonderful to see all of my old classmates. We are all in our late 60's now and no one put on any airs. That is over. We just hope to survive another ten years. I was pretty much at ease, no problem, lots of fun with my daughter and we had a good time.

Monday evening the class banquet. I was not at ease, I had no one to sit with and other classmates I was interested in sitting with seem to have grouped up and there was no room. However I sat with some old friends and had an enjoyable dinner. However, at the end of the dinner as the band began to play I had an accident. I was not sure, but I cannot afford to wait. I eased out and went back to my sister's. Sure enough I did have an accident so I missed the social part of the night. I don't dance so it was not big deal, but I would've like to move around and seen some people.

Wednesday was the parade, July 4. We had a float and other vehicles in the parade. I could not control my system. I was not having accidents, but if I did not make a bathroom in a brief amount of time I would have an accident. So I stayed at my sisters.

It was that way the whole trip and when I got home I was not happy. It was a tiring trip, I ended up driving from the U.P. to the Minneapolis area to see a sister who was under the weather then drove all the way to Arkansas in one sitting. It was a bit much. 

Now that I have been home for some weeks my system is getting more even. I have still had some accidents. One day Terry and I must've come down with a bug. I was out of control for much of the day and it wasn't nice. I had several messes to clean up but at least I was home. God knows what I would've done if I was out in public.

So life is OK. I don't hurt anymore when I go to the bathroom but my system is not normal and I guess I will learn to live with the unexpected. It does limit my range of activities and I do have to be more aware of what I eat and the situations I get into. That said, I am a survivor and now I know how thankful I am for every day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The "last" for a long time

Saturday, June 9, 2012 I started my last week of maintenance chemo. It has not been bad. I take nine pills of a drug call Xeloda. It converts in my body to a drug called "5FU." It is the drug used in conjunction with radiation a year ago. The effect of the drug is not as profound as it was a year ago, I think mostly the inflammation from the radiation compounded by whatever side effects the drug contributed were what made that phase of the treatment so rough. However, these drugs are not without some side effect. I get a funny sensation around my lips. I do not develop mouth sores nor am I having any breakouts on my extremities. But I do develop an odd taste in mouth. I also get fatigued about day four. Not too much during the day, but when I come home at night I am bushed. I have found myself going to bed as early as 7 PM.

This is the last week. I am ready for some long period without treatment to see how my body settles out. Right now, it does pretty good. I have had some episodes where my body says "Purge thyself." That can get pretty rough. I lose control of my bowels and have to stay near the bathroom. I have yet to try any Limodal or Immodium to stem the tide because I kind of feel that nature is getting rid of stuff for a reason. 

Other than that, I feel good. My energy level is not real good, but them I'm 67. I am up by at least 5 AM every morning and don't hit the bed until after 7 PM at night. I work a fairly long day, albeit it is pretty sedentary. Still I work, I come home and I really appreciate life. I hope this is the beginning of a long run of good health. It has been a long year.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Going Back in Time

I do a lot of thinking during my daily one hour walk. Today I got to thinking, suppose you were given a chance to go back in time. You would still have to live through the same times moving forward, but you would know what you know today. How many years, or what age would you go back to?

I thought about ten years. I'd be 53, not 63, and I would not have had the cancer experience. However, I was not running the training group I now manage, I was still very much over weight, I was a Type II diabetic, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and did not have much get up and go. So no, I would not go back ten years.

How about 20 years, to 1988. Well, I'd have been in Arkansas one year, I would be going through the stress of relocation, a new job and my divorce. I would do some things differently, but it was not a good time in my life. So no, I wouldn't go back 20 years.

Today I have a job I love. My wife and I are financially secure. Our property is well developed and will be paid off soon. We have some money in the bank, an investment portfolio, and I have survived cancer. I've lost 50 pounds, my blood pressure is normal, my diabetes is gone, and my cholesterol is normal. I only take two prescription medications, and my get up and go is back.

So how far back would I go. Well, I'd go back to age 18, 45 years ago. I'd have a lot of choices to make. I'd probably go into the Army first instead of after college. I'm not sure I'd go to college, I'd probably learn a trade. I would know about drinking, cigarettes, and how my marriage would turn out. Would I marry the same gal? Hmmm, there really isn't a good reason not to. She is a good woman, and had I known what I know now, maybe our life choices would've turned out better.

So I guess the answer is, Naw, the choices I made have turned out the best. Life is good, just shorter now. I'll enjoy the years I have left with the decisions I made, no regrets.

Brookfield Poo Pond & Kenny Kiar

Never heard of Kenny Kiar? I have. The year is 1965, I get a summer job at the City of Brookfield, WI Sanitary Department, otherwise affectionately known as the Poo Pond. I was hired for general labor and the first thing I had to do was scrap and paint a very long metal railing that went around the place. I was out doors, no one pushed me and I just worked along. However, if you know me I was bored stiff and angling for other things that appeared to be more interesting, like driving around Brookfield servicing substations.

Kenny Kiar was a maintenance man, and older fellow, in his 40's perhaps. He worked at the Brookfield Sewage Plant several years before I arrived. He was gone most of the time on repair assignments to the various pumping stations or substations and we did not work together much at first. However, when I was done with the railing painting and the mowing he and I did start traveling about the city on repair missions. I would glaze broken windows he would check on and perform preventive maintenance on the equipment. We became friends.

After a time every morning meant a stop a the Brookfield Cafe for a sweet roll and a cup of coffee. Here Kenny indulged me with stories of his Navy days and lamented that he never had the opportunity to go to college. As a result he would never let me buy the sweet roll and coffee for either of us. He would say, "Your going to college, you need to save your money, don't become like me a man who'll have to physically work the rest of his life."

Every time I have a sweet roll and a cup of coffee I think of Kenny. I hope his life turned out well and he got to sit in an easy chair and watch his garden grow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love and In Love

I have been told, in the south, that it is OK to love someone, but it may not be OK to be in love with someone. I have a very dear friend, a male and we tell each other we love each other. A childhood friend, also a male, when we see each other we tell each other we love the other. I love my wife. What does "in" have to do with it? To be "in" love almost sounds like an act of love, then what is just loving another person. I do not know the distinction.

A psychologist I know well described love as an act of choices. I choose to be with this person. I choose to honor that person by being faithful and caring of their emotional well being. I spend time with that person because I derive pleasure from being with them. I care for that person with my material resources because I want them to be provided for. We share intimate thoughts because we trust one another.

Then mix in sex and the equation really goes ballistic. Yet I am not sure sex is an expression of love rather of a physical need that gets fulfilled by two emotionally attached person. After all we read of people who are promiscuous, or we read of swap clubs, or a lot of couples have affairs and dalliances that would seem to be impossible if a person truly loved the other.

There seems to be two aspects to relationships, rational and emotional. The two mix, but sometimes not well. A steady parent loses his head in an emotional relationship with an exciting, enticing woman and all of a sudden a marriage blows up and people are hurt because emotion overrode rational judgement.  On the other hand can a person love a person intensely and yet the rational side defeats the emotional side.? So what is love? I guess love by itself is just that, strong, warm feelings toward another person, mix emotion and you have an increase in intensity, but I'm not sure that love is any greater, just enhanced by hormones.

Then again, what the hell do I know.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are We Teaching Hate?

My daughter Jenny has a blog, the Jenny Life. It is good. She is creating a phenomenal history for her children as most of the articles include pictures and a description of activities the family has participated in. I cannot imagine the value to those kids in 20 or 25 years. From time to time she posts an article that gets me thinking, probably far more or deeper than I should. A recent article is titled the exact title of this blog, Are We Teaching Hate? The gist of Jenny's blog is she was concerned that a book that her daughter brought home about MLK might awaken in her mind the fact that Blacks look different than White, Latinos or Asians. There were pictures from the civil rights era showing dogs attacking civil rights marchers, water cannons being turned on protesters and other pictures showing the tenor of the times. I believe Jenny believes that her children don't see Black, Brown, or Yellow. I do not know if and/or when children notice we are different one from another. I never had the opportunity. I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan, we had no TV, at least not until I was twelve years old. News of the world was simply not known to me. So I was naive.

As I moved on I learned. I spent the better part of Friday evenings at college talking with a black librarian named Mr. Scott who took the time to talk about the similarities in our families, black and white not the differences. He told me of the social culture of blacks and that in many ways it was learned just as white people learn their social culture.

I took part in college wide discussions and programs on civil rights and the right of equality. Nigger was a word I thought of from time to time, but it did not come out of my mouth. It is kind of like we learn all those words we associate with prejudice, stereotypes and hate, Kike, Mick, Wop, Dago, Spic, Chink, Zipperhead, Slant eyed, Jap, and on. Dustin Hoffman in a 1974 film titled :Lenny" played Lenny Bruce, the idol of none other than Richard Pryor. In one scene Lenny is playing in a smoke filled club and starts saying, "Are there any Kikes in here, any Niggers, how about some Wops or Mick. Any Spic's." He zeroes in on a black man and his date sitting at a table, and he says again, "How about some Niggers, you a Nigger there?" The Black man is infuriated, humiliated and about ready to pounce when all of a sudden Lenny says, "I wish we would use these words and make them part of our everyday vocabulary so they become acceptable. Perhaps then a black child might not run home from school crying because she was called one of those terrible names."

Point made, point taken.

We all have prejudices. We all have stereotypes. They are taught us by being around our parents, our community, our teachers, and those we grow up with. Do we teach hate, We can.. We can teach it in our homes, we can teach it in our schools, we can teach it in our churches, and we display it in our actions. I think prejudices, stereotypes and differences between people need to be discussed and talked about. I think we need to emphasize that we are truly equal, I can use any other human blood in my body for a transfusion. Race plays no part in that. We can fall in love with people from different races. We owe it to ourselves to understand our prejudices and stereotypes so that when we come up against one we can make a choice. For if we make a decision about a person based on race, color, creed, religion, etc., without thought we fall victim to our prejudices and stereotypes and deny ourselves the opportunity to have a wonderful human experience.

Values are learned close to home and at a young age. Our values change over the years as we grow and mature, but our beginnings are right in front of us.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gingrich Wins South Carolina

I watched some of Newt Gingrich's victory speech last night and heard the cries of USA, USA and the humorous one of "A Newt Beginning." Several people have asked me could I vote for Newt. Frankly, yes I could. Could I vote for Obama, frankly yes I could. They certainly don't sound alike and obviously have different ways of viewing the same issue. However, Newt has in the past been a fiscal conservative but a pragmatic progressive. I think he articulates good judgement on the immigration issue. We could not stand the economic impact of losing 14 million people who fill jobs none of the rest of us don't want. Many of the industries in our area cultivate Latino workers because the generally exhibit and outstanding work ethic and work very hard. The fact that some of employers take advantage of them is wrong, but they are a good labor market.

I don't have a big problem with the Health Care Plan, I'm 67 and want health care. I think everyone should participate in the premiums. I think it is patently unfair that some people in good health opt out of health insurance and then when they have an issue use the emergency room and I end up paying for their care. Baloney, we all should be in that pool.

Most economic writers agree, the president has little to do with the economy. In fact, the slide happened years ago and if we remember the end of the GW tenure in the White House he proposed and got passed the first real stimulus package. When you read about how to solve recessions and depressions most experts agree that governments have to go on a spending spree to get people back into the market. It is said that 70% of our recovery in the economy will be lead by the average consumer. We need to get money into their hands so they can spend The conservatives want to put the money in the hands of business and rich folks who aren't going to hire people until the economy expands. The money is in the wrong place.

Finally the issue of Newt's personal background. He's been married three times. Apparently his second wife has some ax to grind. I am not so sure we have to have a pasteurized President. Maybe a guy who has stumbled, tripped, been arrogant, prideful, selfish, and hit his head on the bedpost a few times might be the right kind of guy to lead this country. I sure as hell couldn't cast the first stone. I also don't believe the President has to line up with the country on every issue. I'm Pro-Choice. I don't think that is an inherent contradiction with family values. After all, what are family values. Ten years ago 60 some percent of the folks between 18 - 25 were married, now only about 40 some percent. Divorce is rampant, marriage is falling off and so is the birthrate. So family values are different today. Newt may fit that new paradigm better than Romney or Obama.

So yes, I could be comfortable voting for either Newt or Barack. I just wish we had some better names, what the hell happened to Tony, or Jack, of Frank, or Bill, or Ron. Christ, I feel like I'm voting for a lizard or a belch.