One helluva ass kicking!

I know it’s been two months since I have posted here.  The main reason has been two-fold, one I have struggled with some medical issues that have left me feeling weak and at times in a mental fog.  The second has been due to personal issues, trying to get work done around the house and dealing with the problems that friendships can bring.  Today I take to the keyboard due to a situation that occurred yesterday.

Depending on how I feel, and how far I have to walk, I will use a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair to get around.  Normally if I am walking into the gas station to buy a soda and a pack of cigarettes, I will rely on my trusty wooden cane to make the dozen or so steps from the parking lot into the store.  If I am making the long walk from the parking lot at the library or a local store I will use my wheelchair.  Usually when I am at either of these locations I will spend a considerable amount of time wandering around either pursuing books or looking for what is on sale.  The walker, that beastly aluminum monstrosity, is reserved for those days when I am weak legged and shaky yet know I will not be walking far.  I mention my modes of ambulation to help the reader better understand two events that have occurred in the past two months.

A couple of months ago I was at my normal library branch, returning some books and DVDs when I had a run in with a young man.  He was probably in his mid-thirties, old enough to have common sense and manners, and when I rolled up to the desk to drop my materials into the return items slots, he was standing there blocking the return area.  I was sitting in my trusty wheelchair, and said “Excuse me” to him.  He was talking loudly and rudely to one of the staff, turned and looked at me, and then continued to berate the elderly woman working behind the counter.  I again said, “Excuse me,” hoping that he would step aside a foot or so, to enable me to drop my materials and be on my way.  He turned to me, glared and said, “Motherfucker, can’t you see we’re talking!”  If you know anything about me, you know that I am not one to suffer fools gladly.  I looked up at him replying, “If you’d move your ass over a foot I could drop my stuff off and be on my way.”

This is when it turned ugly.  This “man” standing with his elevenish year old son looked down at me and said, “Look ‘cracker’ you can fuckin’ wait.”  I do not use racial pejoratives towards another for any reason, and with his “cracker” comment got pissed.  I couldn’t resist replying, and told him if he moved his “stupid fucking ass” I could be on my way and not bother him.  That’s when he told me that he would kick the “fuckin’ shit” out of me right there in the library.  Again, not being one to back down from a confrontation, I told him to “bring it on” and that I would “knock the fuck out of him” right there in front of his kid.  The young boy with him had more sense than his father, grab the dad and dragged him away, all the while saying, “Dad, it’s not worth it.”  Father and son retreated into the stacks and I went about my business.  Of course this made the rounds in the library, and the library system, and on my next visit I was stopped by nearly every library staff person and thanked.  It seems that this person has a habit of trying to bully the staff every time he comes to the library.

The second incident occurred yesterday, August 24th.  I was pulling into my local gas station to buy some cigarettes and a soda when a young woman (late teens, early 20’s) came flying into the parking lot, pulled into the handicapped spot and another spot, and went into the store.  Having the disabilities that I have, and having a son that is also disabled, I am very militant about people parking in handicapped parking when they do not have the proper placarding or plates.  I went into the store, and since it was a short walk I was using my cane.  I came across the woman, and said to her, “Nice job on parking in the handicapped spot and taking up another spot.”  My hope was to both embarrass her, and make her aware of her selfishness.  This effort was lost on the woman, and she replied, “Whatcha gonna do about it motherfucker?”  Her answer surprised me, and truthfully caught me off guard.  She kept getting up into my face, repeating, “Whatcha gonna do motherfucker?  You gonna call the cops, bitch?”  After thirty to sixty seconds of listening to her screaming I finally had enough and told her, “Bitch, get out of my face!”  That’s when she threw her sodas on the ground, and told me something to the effect that I was “dead.”

She ran out the store, and I went to get my soda before getting in line.  As soon as I finished filling my cup, I turned and there she stood with her boyfriend.  She was pointing at me, and told her boyfriend, “That’s the motherfucker!  Beat that fuckin’whities ass!”  I stood there holding my soda and cane looking at the two of them.  As I attempted to walk past them I said, “I don’t need your fucking shit.  Get out of my face.”  That’s when the boyfriend shoved me backwards.  I pushed him back to get by him, and as I walked past him, he hit me in the back of the head.  This sent the soda and cane flying.  I am NOT one to walk away from a fight, and if you have ever been in the military, law enforcement or any other “combat” type situation, you know there is no such thing as a fair fight.

I grabbed this 20ish year old man, and threw him into the display rack.  The female started to punch me, so I grabbed her around the neck with one arm, and had him against the rack by the throat.  My intentions were to choke out both of them, and end the fight right then and there.  Unfortunately, the floor had become wet from my soda, I started to lose my footing and slip.  I ended up letting go of the female, and she proceeded to pick up my cane, hitting me in the head with it.  After about the fourth or fifth hit I remember thinking to myself, “This bitch hits hard.”  I don’t remember how many times she hit me, but eventually it made me let go of her boyfriend, and I fell to the floor.  I could hear the store staff yelling that they were calling the police, and this pair of criminals (there is no other word to describe them) kicked and stomped on my head several times before they attempted to flee the store.  I wasn’t done yet, and grabbed a hold of the male’s leg before he could escape.  As I said, there is no such thing as a fair fight.  I grabbed him around the ankle, and proceeded to bite through his jeans, most likely taking a chunk out of his calf.  My thinking, as I was fading into semi-consciousness was that there would definitely be some mark on him for the police to identify him.

After that, things pretty much blurred out until the medics arrived.

The police arrived, getting statements from the store staff and from me as I sat in the ambulance.  During the time we were waiting for the police to finish their investigation, the woman and man called 911 and told the police that I attacked them.  The investigating officer came to me, and asked again what had happened, and again I told him that the entire fight started over the handicapped parking.  He asked if I had pulled a knife on the couple, I do carry several with me at all times, but I had not.  The couple was with other police officers several blocks way, and telling the police that I attacked them and pulled a knife.  The officer told me to sit tight, as if I was going anywhere strapped to a gurney.  He went into the store and reviewed the video tapes, and came back to the ambulance.  He opened the back door, looked at me and said, “Dude, you got your ass kicked.”  I laughed and said, “No shit, I was there.”  I asked him what was going to happen, and he said if I was willing to press charges, the pair was going to jail.  I told him that worked for me.

The ambulance transported me to Wishard Hospital, and after sitting in the hallway for an hour or so I was finally moved into the triage area.  The right side of my face was swollen, my jaw was out of alignment, and my right eye was blurring in and out.  I had multiple contusions on the left, right, and back side of my head.  Cuts all over my face, neck and shoulders.  Plus a headache from hell.  A C-Scan revealed no broken bones, but I did sustain, what the doctor called, “pits” in the bones of my face.  Probably caused my having my head stomped on.

After being released from the hospital a friend picked me up to drive me home.  I asked him if we could stop at the gas station (yes the same one as the fight), I still needed (wanted) cigarettes and a soda.  When I got inside, the clerk, who recognized me as a regular, asked if I had heard about the “big fight.”  I looked at her and told her I was the big fight.

Since all this happened yesterday, I have been chastised by my daughter, “Papa, you need to back down, you can’t fight like you used to.”  My close friends think I am nuts, perhaps they are right.  I still have a swollen face, broken glasses, half-dozen or so lumps on my head from my cane, and a hell of a headache.

I write all this not to disparage any particular racial or ethnic group.  Violence truly knows no bounds or group.  I write this because I have noticed a growing trend towards racially or ethnically related violence, especially among a younger generation.  The media is full of stories of young groups of men and women roaming communities and attacking people for no other reason than they are of a different color or ethnicity.  A generation has come up that knows no societal boundaries.  They take seething anger out on the weak, perceived or actual.  They do not value life, privacy or the rights of others to live life in peace.  My fear is that there is a coming tsunami of violence that is going to sweep this country, and the loss of life and property will be extensive.

Last night as I packed my face and head in ice a friend asked me if the beating was worth it.  I told her yes.  There are things worth fighting for:  respect for others, your country and community, your family and friends, and the right to live your own life without having to fear violence from a malcontent.  The only way we will save our communities is for everyone, and I mean everyone, regardless of age, race, sex, color, creed, etc., to stand up and tell bullies, gang-bangers, thugs, criminals, and others that wish to destroy our way of life that we will NOT be sheep led to the slaughter.  The fifty-seven men that signed the Declaration of Independence swore at the end of the document, “[W]e mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  It is time for the people of this country to remember this pledge, and be willing to stand up to those that would subject us to laws of anarchy and violence.

Posted in Crime Scene, Doctor's visits, Personal history, Thoughts on life, Uncategorized, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

St. Francis Hospital and the 4th Amendment

UPDATE – JUNE 27, 2012 @ 4:55P.M.

When I posted this particular entry, I forwarded the link to various individuals that I thought should be aware of the situation.  This afternoon I received a call from Col. Randy Warden, Chief Deputy of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.  Col. Warden had followed up on my comments, and checked to see if in fact any of the deputies of the Sheriff’s Department were working or assigned to work at St. Francis Hospital.  He assured me that after a thorough check; both internally, and with the hospital, that NONE of his deputies were in fact involved with this situation.  To the men and women of the JCSD, I offer my humblest apologies, and I am grateful that none of the officers that patrol Johnson County would be so dismissive of our constitutional rights.

On a personal note, I have, in my past profession, worked with many officers from JCSD, the Greenwood PD, and other departments in Johnson County.  They have always been professional, courteous, well trained and disciplined.  That is why the situation at St. Francis was such a shock to me.

Again, I stand corrected, and thank Col. Warden for his diligence and time.

******************************************************************

I have two friends, who for the sake of their privacy, I will call George and Martha, which I have known for several years.  They are the best of friends, and have been for a long time.  While they have never been intimate, they are like an old married couple; knowing each other’s secrets, arguing to the point where one will walk out to cool off, and the other pouting until apologies are made and the situation rectified.  While they can be annoying at times, they are still close friends of mine, and I mostly enjoy their company.  George is ten years my junior, having just turned 43 a few months ago.   Martha is a few years younger than George, but I won’t share her exact age for fear of reprisal.

Several years ago George was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder, one that has now led to end stage renal failure.  He has been told by his doctors that he is not a candidate for a transplant, and that his condition is terminal.  It is difficult to watch as you know a friend is going to eventually die from a disease that there is no known cure.  George was on hemodialysis for a while, but the line that was inserted into his body kept getting blocked with blood clots and fibrous tissues.  This made it so that the doctors were having to do surgery every week or two to clear the blockage, and left George in pain and misery.  They switched him to a dialysis program were a set of tubes were inserted into his stomach and he would do his dialysis at home.  Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is an effective method in the treatment of renal failure, and patients can live a “normal” life for a long time.  However, with George there is a complication.  A number of years ago he had bariatric surgery reducing the size of his stomach, and this has caused complications in his use of PD.  The tubes were inserted too deeply into the abdomen, and when George drains the solution the tube sometimes sucks up portions of the abdominal lining.  This causes great pain, and had led to several bouts of peritonitis, and extended stays at the hospital.

George has two sisters; I’ll call Dolly and Abigail.  Both are sweet women; both are married, and Dolly has two children.  Both also claim to have a personal faith in Jesus, and are active in their churches and with their own families.  They are so active with their church and families that they have little time for their own brother.  When George gets sick, he doesn’t call on either of his sisters to take him to the hospital, but rather calls on his longtime friend Martha to take him to the hospital.  Being the dutiful friend, she will drop whatever she is doing and take him to the ER.  Martha will spend hours and days at George’s side while doctors try and figure out what to do next.  She truly is the epitome of the loyal and devoted friend.

George generally goes to St. Francis Hospital in Greenwood, IN.  He had received treatment at Wishard Hospital, but was uncomfortable with the doctors and his treatment.  Once he was determined to be permanently disabled due to his medical condition, he was eligible for Medicare, and changed hospitals.  This is where the real story begins.

Neither George nor Martha have much education beyond high school, but they have a street smarts and wisdom that often fails the college graduate.  George’s father had been a police officer, so George is somewhat familiar with the ins and outs of what the police can do.  Several weeks ago George became sick, and Martha took him to St. Francis for treatment.  It has gotten to be a regular routine, these hospital visits, and the staff is getting familiar with George.  Unfortunately, George is one of those people that does not suffer fools gladly, and when confronted with some person, or worse, some staff member that is acting like a fool, he will revert to what he knows, and that is his street sense.  During his last stay at St. Francis Hospital, he had such an experience.

Statue of St. Francis.
Photo by J. Ordower

Both George and Martha are lifelong smokers, and when he has one of his medical issues crop up, and is hospitalized he has to suffer through the pain of withdrawal from nicotine.  If the doctors remember, they will order some nicotine substitute for him while he is confined to his bed.  However, there have been many occasions where that order is not placed.  When he has had enough of trying to deal with his withdrawal, he will sneak out of his room and find his way outside to grab a few hits off a cigarette.  Since his conditions have led to him always being in an isolation room, he is prone to infections, when he does sneak out it is obvious to the nursing staff.  This has led to several confrontations with St. Francis’ staff, and more than a few choice words coming from George’s mouth.

During his last stay at St. Francis, Martha had come to spend the day with him, and offer some cheer and company.  She is the only one that will visit him regularly while he is confined.  I have stopped in for a visit, but my basic fear of hospitals, coupled with the problems I have in getting around make it difficult for me to visit, though I will call and give him hard time.  During one of Martha’s visits a nurse, accompanied by two Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies came to George’s room.  He was sitting at his computer playing a game, and Martha was sitting on the bed talking to him.  The nurse and deputies came into the room demanding to know where George was hiding his cigarettes.  The deputies started to search through his personal belongings, and search through Martha’s bag.

When they were asked what they were doing, the senior deputy replied that they were looking for contraband that had been smuggled into the hospital.  When further asked what the officers meant, they told George and Martha that they were looking for cigarettes and lighters.  Under Indiana law, IC 35-44-3-9.3, the contraband definition applies only to a person that is in the custody of the state or a local detention facility.  I can hardly see a hospital as being a detention facility, especially since George was not under the jurisdiction/supervision of any court or detention facility.  He was in fact a “paying” customer of the hospital.  The deputies started to look through Martha’s bag, and that is when memories of George’s father came to the forefront.  George asked if the deputies had a warrant to search Martha’s personal property, or any probable cause to believe that there was in fact illegal or dangerous items in Martha’s possessions.  As of this writing, cigarettes and lighters are still legally purchased and possessed items, and therefore cannot be construed as “contraband” unless they meet the Indiana codes definition, ie being in some form of a correctional facility.

Under the color of authority these two officers, aided by a nurse that had personal issues with George, engaged in a violation of George’s and Martha’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The text of the Fourth Amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

While I agree that a hospital has the right to ban smoking on their property, that does not negate the Fourth Amendment’s protections.   Neither George nor Martha were smoking in the hospital.  If Martha did in fact have cigarettes in her personal property on the hospital grounds, that can hardly be construed as “contraband” or her possession of cigarettes in George’s room be considered as “smuggling.”

I am a very vocal supporter of law enforcement, having spent the majority of my adult life working in that very field.  However, these officers and the nurse engaged in a very serious violation of two people’s rights to be secure in their property and possessions.  Either St. Francis Hospital’s staff thinks that a patient surrenders those rights when admitted, or the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department’s deputies have no understanding of what constitutionally protected rights are.  In either case, the hospital and the sheriff’s department are treading on some very thin ice, and need to teach their staff and deputies what the law is.

Unless a patient is hospitalized under a court order, or transfer order from a correctional facility, the patient does not surrender their rights to privacy.  I would encourage both the hospital and the sheriff’s department to do some remedial training of its staff so that this type of violation does not happen again.

As a side note to the situation with George and this illegal attempt to search, it so enraged him that he and his best friend would have to tolerate this abuse of power that he got out of his bed, going off on the deputies, pulling IVs out of his arm and threatening to leave St. Francis Hospital.  When he jerked out the IV, blood started to spurt out of his arm, and Martha, not the nurse that caused the problems, tried to get the bleeding stopped and get George to calm down.

I personally am a patient of Wishard Hospital, the local public hospital, and have been told repeatedly that I would be better served by going to another medical facility.  However, after George and Martha’s experience with St. Francis, I know that I will never be a patient of that particular hospital.  My health be damned, my rights are more important to me than medical treatment.

Posted in Fourth Amendment, Illness, Incompetence, Medical Profession, Public healthcare, St. Francis Hospital, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sciaticus Pinch (with apologies to Harper Lee)

Two weeks ago I woke to the sound of a painful moan.  Looking about the room I realized that the moan had emanated from me.  As I attempted to roll over and push the dog out-of-the-way, I was struck with a searing pain in my right leg unlike anything I had experienced before.  It was rather shocking, as most of the time my right leg is in a state of perpetual numbness.  I finally got Gus off the bed, and made my way to the edge, as I put my legs on the floor and attempted to stand the pain was so intense that I fell head long into the wall.  Gasping and grappling for something to hold onto, I found my cane and flopped back onto the bed.  As I laid there for what seemed an eternity, the pain increased, shooting down the leg, through my backside, and up into the lower part of my ribcage.

Over the years I have treated my body like a temple of doom, having broken numerous bones, dislocating varied joints, straining and spraining more ligaments and tendons than I can count.  This pain however was more than anything I had known before, and totally foreign.  After finally catching my breath I dragged myself over to the walker that my wonderful physical therapist, Kristen, had ordered.  When she first told me that I need to have one I was hesitant, and a tad pissed at the idea that at 52 I needed a walker.  But on this painful morn I was glad that it was there.

After suffering and stumbling through my morning routine – dog, coffee, and bathroom, I settled in for a long day.  Every time I attempted to move I was hit with this incredible agony, and forced to park myself in a chair.  At first I thought I had slept wrong, and had simply pinched something in my back.  I have a variety of problems with spinal stenosis in my neck and low back, so it made sense to me that I had twisted something while sleeping.  Being one that doesn’t care for doctors that much, I figured I could wait a few days and see how things progressed.   This was a Wednesday morning, and by Friday at noon the pain had not subsided, but rather was increasing.  So I swallowed hard and called the doctor.

I described to the nurse all that was going on, and that my research into my problem led me to believe that it was probably sciatica.  She listened sympathetically, and then informed me that Dr. Seele, my primary care doctor, was on vacation until the following week.  There was one appointment open for this past Friday, June 15th, and I could come in to see her then.  The appointment was set, and I was told that if the pain became too intense to tolerate I should go to the emergency room.  Not being one that desires to tie up the limited resources of an ER, I opted to hang on and muddle through the pain until my appointment.

The 15th came, and I spent an agonizing hour sitting and waiting for Dr. Seele.  Between not being able to get comfortable sitting, and the constant shooting pain in my rear and leg it was hell.  When she and I were able to sit and discuss my situation, I described and explained all that was going on.  She agreed with me that it did sound like a classic case of sciatica, and that from her end, there really was nothing she could do.  Fortunately I already had an appointment with the pain clinic for 20th, and Dr. Seele sent them a request to have them look at the problem with my leg.  She also ordered another round of physical therapy for me, and renewed my prescriptions for my medications.  She was very sympathetic with regard to my situation, having suffered herself from sciatica.

One of the things that she explained to me was that it is a condition that often corrects itself without any action on the part of the patient.  But, she warned that it could be a day or two, or months.  A friend of mine told me that he dealt with sciatica for nearly eight years, when suddenly one morning he woke and the pain was gone.  Another acquaintance said that he dealt with it for six months and was days away from having surgery to correct the problem when suddenly the pain stopped.

The other day friends were over helping me do some yard work, I am still cleaning out years of neglect to my back yard, and as I attempted to walk through the back, I was hit with this sudden surge of white-hot pain through the leg and fell head long into the dirt.  Fortunately I missed the “land mine” from the dog by a foot, but I did dump the wheelbarrow over.  One of my friends brought a chair for me, and I told them I didn’t need a chair, but to give me a minute to catch my breath.  I tried to get up, but again fell face first, only this time into the chair that had been placed before me.  So, I guess I did need the chair after all.

Posted in Doctor's visits, Illness, Public healthcare, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The coffee dog

Gus, my wonderful Australian Shepherd pup, is still learning the rules of my house.  One of these rules is to stay out of the garbage.  It is a concept that he has not fully grasped, and his trash diving has been the cause of some consternation for me.  It has also resulted in one very funny morning.

The other day he jumped onto the bed around 6:30 a.m. to let me know that he needed to go and take care of his bodily functions.  I learned in the first few day he was here that when he starts to poke you with his nose, or jumps onto the bed in the morning, you have about ten minutes to get him outside, otherwise you will be cleaning up inside.  So he has become my morning alarm clock, and with the duly noted nose pokes and “kisses” on my face I climbed out of bed, stumbled to find my slippers and avoid the toys and bones he accumulates at the side of my bed.  As we walked to the back door, I saw that he had engaged in another night of trash can diving, and several items were scattered about the kitchen.  I picked them up tossing them back into the now up righted trash can, and headed out the back door with Gus.

Photo by J. Ordower

Normally, first thing in the morning he plods about the back yard looking for the “perfect” spot to take care of his business, and then half way drags himself back to me and the door.  But this particular morning he seemed more invigorated and energized.  He dashed off to the back of yard, took care of things, and then proceeded to romp, run, and basically act like a fool for nearly fifteen minutes.  I love to watch him run and play, and we have established a game where I hide behind the giant elm tree in the back yard and we play “find the fat guy.”  I will peek out one side and then the other, all the while he darts and dashes back and forth, stirring up a cloud of dust that the Lone Ranger would be proud of.  On this morning he didn’t even want to play around the tree, but rather found some of the varied balls that I have gotten for him, and batted and nosed them around the yard, growling and barking at them if they went the wrong way.  Finally thirst overcame him, and since his outside water bowl was empty, he had flipped it in one of his mad dashed through the yard, he decided it was time to come inside.

After a few laps of water from his bowl, a dog treat and ice-cube, he pranced his way to the couch.  By now the coffee maker had turned on, and finished making my morning infusion of caffeine.  I poured myself a cup of the thick, hot liquid that has become my daily source of life and settled in front of the computer to catch up on the day’s news and information.  I sat there for five or ten minutes when I felt a familiar cold nose on my thigh.  Looking down there sat Gus with a tennis ball at his feet.  “What, you want to play?” I asked him, picked up the ball and rolled it across the bare wooded floors that are my dining and living room.  He dashed away chasing the greenish orb, sliding into the front door and grabbing the ball as he crashed.  He brought the ball back and we repeated the game of roll and crash.  Between trying to catch up on the Drudge Report, White House Dossier, and other news sources we played our little game of fetch.  This went on for nearly half an hour, when suddenly Gus just flopped to the floor at my feet, let out a deep, exhausted sigh, and laid there.  At first I was concerned, as I had never seen him get so worn out so suddenly.  Normally when we play I can tell when he is getting tired, as he starts to slow down and not be so enthusiastic with his running.  But this time it was as if he had been hit with a tranquilizing dart.  I watched him breath for a few minutes, and all appeared normal, so it was back to the monitor and my news updates.

Gus laid there by me for the next hour or so, seemingly exhausted, with only enough energy to periodically look up at me with his soulful eyes.  It was as if he was asking me, “What the hell happened?”  I finished my morning pot of coffee, and all the news that was fit to read, and went to clean out the coffee pot.  It was then that I had my epiphany.  The turned over trash can and the empty coffee filter from the day before were the answer to Gus’ sudden burst of morning energy and his subsequent crash.  The poor little guy had raided the trash shortly before waking me, and was primed with caffeine from the coffee grounds.  He spent the rest of the day in that state of confusion most of us exist in, half asleep from the caffeine jolt wearing off yet still wanting to do something, anything.

That night he slept on the bed with me, moving only enough to let me know that I was taking up too much space.  I am still trying to figure out how, in a king size bed, one person and a forty pound dog cannot peacefully coexist and sleep without the dog thinking he is being crowded.  I guess that is a mystery to be solved at a later date.  Gus is fine now, and I have gone back to taking the coffee grounds and dumping them into the garden.  I think we both learned a valuable lesson the other day.

Posted in Dogs, Humor, Pets, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A one year anniversary

A year ago today I started this little blog.  My intention was to have a place where I could discuss the many issues that I have met along my journey in the public healthcare system.  I have posted stories on my experiences with the healthcare system; anecdotes from my personal life; tirades about the ignorance and stupidity of some of the people I have run into over the past year; stories of gratitude to those that have helped me personally and financially as I deal with my medical problems and some general thoughts on life.

This will make my 104th post on this blog.  Writing here has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience, albeit at times frustrating.  The frustration has come not from the responses that I have received from my readers, but rather from my own personal short comings and physical problems.  Many days I wish to write, but my body will go into full revolt, and keep me from the keyboard.  Between days of shaking, or just plain pain, I find myself unable to sit in front of the computer and collect my thoughts.  I do not strive to have an entry daily, nor even weekly, but rather to write when I have something worth writing about.

I am a very political person, and read nearly everything I can get my hands on that has to do with the current political scene or the history of politics.  When I started this blog I decided that I would steer clear of the modern politics, unless it related to healthcare, and I still hold to that philosophy.  There is much that can be said and written about the current election cycle, but I will leave that to the pundits that are better suited to that forum.

Through my sojourn this past year I have received encouragement from varied people.  Keith Koffler of White House Dossier has been very encouraging, and has even recommended this little site on his blog, and to him I say “Thank you!”  There have been many family and friends that have dropped me notes and emails saying that they enjoy the stories, and have offered much encouragement to continue writing, and to them I also say “Thank you!”

Van Gogh

Photo from Wikipedia

Writing is an art, with the writer’s pallet being the blank page and his bushes being a keyboard or pen.  I am sure that Rembrandt or Van Gogh’s first attempts at painting were not as vibrant as their later works, and so it is with writing.  I read through some of my early entries, and see a stiffness and stillness of life in those missives.  Hopefully I have improved over the past year, and am now able to bring life to these pages.

Through this past year I have had 4,469 views of my writing, with readers coming from the US and as far away as Japan and Australia.  That is the wonder of the Web, where someone sitting in the middle of America can reach out to others far across the seas.  The interconnectedness of the world is amazing, where once information and opinion would take days or weeks to reach others, it is now just a few strokes of the keyboard away.  While the ability to reach thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, in seconds is a marvelous and wonderful thing, it is also frightening.  The amount of misinformation and deceit that fills the Web is terrifying.  That is why I choose to write only from my personal experiences and of those things that I have firsthand knowledge.  It would be easy to pontificate about the current rumor or gossip that circles the globe, but that would diminish the goal of this blog – to share that which I know intimately.

Over the next few months I am planning on making some changes to throughthenet, not its content, but rather its format.  I hope that the reader will enjoy the changes, and will continue to stop by for some humor, some bitching, and hopefully some information.

To all of you that have taken the time to stop by and read, I say thank you.   If I have brought a laugh to you with some of my entries I am grateful.  If I have made you think and question how things are going within the American healthcare system then I have succeeded in my quest.  I look forward to continuing writing, and hopefully, someday, I will be accomplished enough to elk out a bit of a living with my endeavors.  I truly appreciate the encouragement, feedback, and chastisement that have come my way.

Again, to all of you that have stopped by, thank you, and I look forward to where the road takes me this next year.

Joe

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The waiting game

This past Monday, June 4th, I had the joy of visiting the physical therapy department at Wishard.  I’m no stranger to this office, having had numerous appointments with them for my leg issues.  It was Kristen, the therapist, that recommended I start to use a walker when going around the house and for short trips in and out of buildings.  With my perchance for falling to one side, and landing either on a wall, table or flat on the floor, it was her professional opinion that a walker would be a delightful addition to my means of locomotion.

However, this visit wasn’t for my legs or exercise, it was for an evaluation.  As I wrote several months ago, I had a nasty fall into the door frame of the hallway, and hit my left shoulder right at the joint.  It has given me grief since then, and I finally asked my primary care doctor if there was something that could be done.  Dr. Seele referred me back to physical therapy for an evaluation, and so on the fourth I got the pleasure of Kristen’s company again.

We did the all the ROM (range of motion) things, strength testing, a bit of pushing and prodding, and finally I was given a verdict.  Yep, something is not quite right.  Kristen is a wonderful young woman, short, perky, with a no-nonsense attitude towards treatment.  Yet she gives off a genuine air of concern and compassion.  I am not a huge fan of P/T, having to go through multiple regiments over the years, and never truly finding them to be all that much fun.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the efforts to get whatever joint or part of my battered body back into some sort of working order, it is that I am of the philosophy that “No pain, no pain.”

She is going to contact Dr. Seele about getting some sort of patch that I can wear on the shoulder.  This patch gives a trans-dermal infusion of medication, medication that hopefully will reduce the swelling and pain that I am experiencing in the shoulder.  If that approach does not work, then it will be off to the ortho to see what is going on.

This is where the difference between private and public healthcare butt squarely up against each other.  Truth be known, I am what is known as “accident prone.”  My dear departed mother used to call me “klutz Ordower” due to my perchance to get hurt in the strangest and most ludicrous fashions.  Once, while a teen, I was in a high school play, and while moving a table to the end of the stage, I literally fell off the end of the stage into the orchestra pit, hurting my neck and back, and giving myself a concussion.  That little adventure ended with several days in the hospital for tests, bad food, and a month’s worth of headaches.  Another time I was playing with my children, they were perhaps eight and five, and I ran up a “kiddie slide” and plowed right into the cross-bar at the top of the slide.  That little showboating ended in a broken nose, and an eight year old little girl standing over me saying, “Papa, you’re bleeding.”  But, in those wild and adventurous days I had private insurance, and when I would go to the doctor with whatever part of me was tattered, battered, bruised or broken, the doctor would send me off for an X-Ray, C-Scan, or MRI.  The idea being, let’s see what’s inside, and then decide the course of action to be taken.  Now, I have to rely on Wishard Advantage and Medicaid for my medical treatment.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that there are programs out there that do provide coverage for the ever-expanding medical issues that I have.  And I would be ungrateful for all the efforts that the various doctors have done to make my life a bit more easy and livable.  However, due to the monies coming from the public sector versus private insurance I have to jump through the hoops and over the rails that are the obstacle course of public healthcare.

Where once I would go see the doctor and get an appointment within a few days for a MRI or other diagnostic procedure, I now wait weeks and even months to get shoved into a tube and be bombarded by X-Rays or giant magnets.  While I appreciate a conservative approach to my medical treatment, as I have stated before I am not a fan on being cut on, it would be nice to know if in fact I have torn or in some other way damaged what is under the skin.  But, as the French would say, c’est la vie.  It is what it is, and unfortunately it is something that I will have to continue to deal with, if I want to continue to receive some form of healthcare.

What frightens me most is the prevailing attitude that the best course of action in America is for everyone to have, or be forced to have, some form of healthcare.  I have witnessed first-hand the overcrowding, overworked public hospital staffs trying their best to treat all the patients that come in.  It is a situation that is untenable, and as with all things that are overloaded and overburdened, the system is destined to collapse.  And then where will Americans be?  The idea that a national healthcare, Obamacare, system is going to be the rule of the day, rather than a short lived blip on the American landscape scares me more than not knowing from one day to the next what my body is going to do to me.

Those in the public healthcare sector know that they cannot continue to face the onslaught of patients and regulations that are coming down the road.  I have talked with those that do the yeoman’s share of medical labor, the nurses, and they all say the same.  The system is heading towards a cliff, and unless or until something is done to stem the tide, patients will receive treatment, but not the timely and proper treatment needed.  There will be hoops and rails to jump while each and every one of us is forced to learn how to navigate this new and laborious system.  In the meantime, persons such as myself will have to endure weeks, months, or longer waiting to see where things will go regarding treatments.

I have my own ideas on how to reign in the costs of medical care and treatment, but that is for another post.

Posted in Doctor's visits, Illness, Medical Profession, Public healthcare, Thoughts on life, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abraham Lincoln, Edmund Burke and Wishard Hosptial

Photo from Wikipedia

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was a man known for his passion for the country, and his sense of humor.  He was also known as one, who when upset with someone or situation, would write a letter regarding his disdain, but would not send the letter.  Lincoln called them his “hot letters” and would vent all of his anger and frustration in these letters.  He would then set the letter aside, cool down, and not send the letter.  In 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg, Union General Meade failed to follow Lee’s retreating army back across the Potomac, thereby guaranteeing that the war would be extended.  Lincoln wrote Meade a scathing letter, but upon Lincoln’s death, the letter was discovered in his desk unsent.  Another example of Lincoln’s philosophy of venting but not sending is when Edwin Stanton, a staunch critic of Lincoln for years, but still Lincoln’s Secretary of War, came to Lincoln after a northern editor had published an editorial highly critical of Stanton’s prosecution of the war effort.  Stanton, a man known for his bitterness, went to Lincoln to discuss the editorial, and Lincoln told him to write a letter to the editor, and vent his own frustration about the editorial, then bring the letter back to Lincoln before it was sent.  Stanton did what he was advised, and upon bringing the letter back, Lincoln told him not to send it, as Stanton had already released his frustrations.

I don’t know if the latter story is true, or apocryphal, but it does show the character of the man Stanton would later call, “The most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”  It has taken me years to realize that in my anger and frustration I am prone to making comments or doing things that I later regret.   It has cost me relationships, jobs, money, and at times my own self-respect.  Thus, I have learned the hard way to wait when I am angry, and to allow my temper to cool before I go off half-cocked and shoot myself in the foot.

The other side of that coin is the quote often attributed to Edmund Burke, the Irish-born British MP, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  I will

Photo from Wikipedia

change that bit of philosophy to, “All that is needed for incompetence to continue is for good men to do nothing.”  Incompetence, whether it is in the hallowed halls of university, within the historic walls of the White House, or the blood soaked floors of a hospital, cannot and should not be tolerated.  But, it often is because people are afraid to speak up and point out the incompetence.  Perhaps it is because we don’t want to “make waves;” are fearful of a backlash; are unsure of ourselves; or perhaps it is simply because we have placed on a pedestal certain professions and don’t think we have the right to criticize those within that profession.

When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I had promised myself that I would protect the privacy and integrity of what I have constantly called the “local public hospital” and have not used its actual name.  Granted I have mentioned its clinic, Grassy Creek on several occasions, and how truly wonderful the majority of the staff there have been.  However, I no longer can continue to keep from the reader the full name of the hospital, this being due to what occurred on the 16th of this month.  For the past couple of years now I have received treatment at Wishard Hospital, now known as Eskenazi Health.  Let me add that the vast majority of doctors, nurses and support staff have been wonderfully compassionate, kind, patient, and understanding.  However, there has been a continual problem with the Neurology Department.  I wrote about this on several occasions, and after pushing for a new neurologist I finally did get one.  When I saw the new neurologist, I was set up to have a surgical consult with the neurosurgery department, and that appointment was Wednesday the 16th.

Photo by J. Ordower

Wednesday was a long day for me, having to be at physical therapy at 7:30 in the morning, and not having the neuro appointment until elevenish.  Rather than drive across town and back I waited at the hospital until the appointed time.  I checked in, and waited for a half hour or so before I was called back to see the surgeon.

Dr. Hall is an affable sort of fellow, though young – he is a surgical resident, he seemed to have self-confidence that a patient would want in a surgeon.  We discussed my medical history, prior surgeries, illnesses, injuries, concussions, etc.  He went out briefly, I’m assuming to consult with the attending and again review my file and films.  When he returned he began discussing my options, and stating that they were wanting to take a “conservative” approach to my situation.  Prior to this appointment I had done some extensive research into severe spinal stenosis, consulting Mayo Clinic’s, Johns Hopkins’, Northwestern’s and UCLA’s web sites for information regarding how the condition is treated.  One of the options constantly referred to was a surgical procedure called a laminectomy, where in a portion of the spinal column is removed to open up the area of the nerve root.

Since was I speaking with a “cutter” and most surgeons that I have met over the years all seem eager to slice and dice, I went into the meeting with Dr. Hall with the notion that he would recommend the same or similar type of procedure.  I am not opposed to surgery, I have had several, but none have been so close to the information highway of the body.  As Dr. Hall explained to me that he did not want to go a surgical route first, but would rather send me to the pain clinic for treatment and possible relief, I was relieved.  The idea of some form of nerve block or steroidal injection to help reduce the pressure on my nerve roots was much more palatable to me than have another scar on this not so perfect body of mine.

However, as I sat there listening to the doctor, the realization that a simple referral to the pain clinic could very well have aided in giving me some relief from my nerve/motor control problems sunk in.  Dr. Sadia Saba, my original neurologist, had the same reports and films that Dr. Hall was looking at.  She had these reports for nearly a year, and yet she consistently stated to me that she had no idea what my problem was, or how to deal with my problems.  Sitting there in the exam room, I could feel my ears turning bright red, an early warning sign that I am about to unload my anger, and I did.  I went off on Dr. Hall, not that he deserved my wrath, but simply because he was the messenger.  Too often we end up “killing” the messenger when in fact we should be hunting down the person(s) responsible for the message.

As the realization that Dr. Saba had sat on information directly related to my health, and simply dismissed me without doing her due diligence regarding my treatment options I vented all my hostility towards poor Dr. Hall.  The language that spewed forth from me would have made a sailor blush, and I stormed out of the office.  It was not that I was angry at Dr. Hall, but rather I was incensed at the fact that Dr. Saba refused to do anything other than shrug her shoulders.

As I left the office and headed down the elevator to the first floor to leave the building, I could feel my legs begin to shake and grow weaker.  By the time I got to the lobby I was a total wreck, and upon exiting the elevator I took two or three steps and collapsed.  I had a friend with me, and after I ended up on the floor they refused to let me get back up.  I sat there on the floor for a good 15 minutes trying to regain my composure and calm down.  I was in the main hall that leads to the elevators, and scores of people walked past.  I could see patients walking, hobbling, and rolling past me, looking down at the mess that I was on the floor.  The disheartening part was watching white frocked doctors walk pass, glancing at me and continuing towards the elevator.  The only ones that even stopped to ask if I was okay were nurses and hospital support staff.  Two of the support staff from the ENT clinic stopped and offered to get me a wheelchair.  I finally agreed, and my friend went to get the car and meet us at the main entrance.  They helped me onto the wheelchair, and rolled me to the door.  We left, with me still seething from the realization of what just occurred with Dr. Hall and the information he provided.

When I finally got home I was still furious over the fact that had Saba actually done her job, I might not have had to suffer and put up with the pain and nerve dysfunction that I have for the past year and half.  Initially I had wanted to write some scathing article about Saba’s incompetence.  But then I remembered Lincoln’s philosophy regarding venting, and so I have waited.  But I also recalled the quote credited to Burke about evil (incompetence) and decided that I needed to share what I view as a lack of competency on the part of Saba.

This doctor has been board certified as a neurologist for nine years, and yet she was incapable of determining that I needed to see either a neurosurgeon or the pain clinic.  This is a doctor that simply left a patient to suffer for over a year without any hope of relief.  My problems were such that any first year resident should have been able to diagnose, yet Saba was not.  Her inability to actually see the problem(s), and comprehend the radiology report leaves me to wonder why she is practicing medicine.  When I read her notes, she mentioned the stenosis, and yet did nothing.  When I read her notes, I read a comment from her that stated I did not make eye contact with her.  Rather than asking me about what I was feeling or experiencing, she obviously made assumptions about me and my condition.  The reason I was having difficulty making eye contact with her, if in fact that was the case, was that I was embarrassed and frustrated by what was going on with my body.  I have always been a man who has been independent, not needing to run to doctors or others for help.  Now I was at the mercy of the medical profession, and more than frustrated.  Between her comment about my eye contact, and her pandering to Dr. Robert Pascuzzi, the head of the neurology department, in her notes, I am left wondering about her.

A patient should have confidence in the doctor that is treating them.  And the doctor should be able to look at all of the conditions and problems and be able to ascertain some form of solution.  Saba, however, left me hanging with no answers, yet my new neurologist looked at the films and reports and was able to determine a course of action.  Why is a doctor allowed to continue to treat, or rather not treat, patients when answers and possible solutions are staring them right in the face?  Is this doctor allowed to continue practicing medicine because she is a female, and the hospital is afraid to take action against her?  If that is the case, then the management of Wishard is doing a disservice to all female doctors.  Is she allowed to continue her incompetence because she is a foreign-born doctor and Wishard is afraid of being accused of xenophobia?   If so, then the management is doing a disservice to the thousands of wonderful and competent doctors that have come to this great country to practice medicine.  Is she allowed to continue allowing patients to suffer with no hope of relief because she is Muslim, and Wishard is afraid of being accused of “Islamophobia?”  If so, then the board of directors and medical director are doing a horrible disservice to the dedicated doctors that adhere to Islam.  Objective determination of competence should not be dependent on one’s sex, origins, or faith.  Objective determination of competence should be objective, and nothing more.  It is my hope that Saba’s inability to direct my treatment is due to her lack of competence and confidence, and not due to my being of Jewish heritage.  A simple Google search of my surname and one will find scores of references to family and its ties to not only the Jewish community but to the civil rights movement.  If her lack of treatment was due to me being a member of the tribe, then she needs to be fired, and any and all sanctions available need to be meted out against her.  At the very least, her clinical and medical skills need to be reviewed for possible malpractice.

Due to my numerous medical problems I have been determined as one hundred percent disabled by the government.  My conditions preclude me from doing the work I have trained all my life for, and thus the disability rating.  With this new definition and determination I now am eligible for Medicare.  Virtually all of my family and associates have advised me to leave the Wishard Health system, and find doctors that will be more willing to listen.  This is something that I have considered, but upon reflection I am brought back to Burke’s words.  So, I have decided that I will stay with Wishard, and I will fight the good fight to push, prod, cajole, and, if need be, through the written word eviscerate those that are incompetent, cruel, or just plain fools.  I do so, not because of some martyr complex, but rather because there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of patients that are seen yearly by Wishard who do not have the ability to speak out.  Whether this inability is due to a language barrier, a lack of education, verbal skills or mental acuity, there needs to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Wishard’s Patient Relations Department can only do so much, if they are not made aware of a problem, then a solution cannot be found.  As I visit the various departments and offices within Wishard I will speak to other patients regarding their experiences, good and bad, and will report back to you the readers of this blog.

It is my hope that Lisa E. Harris, M.D., CEO and Medical Director of Wishard Health Services will take the time to periodically read this blog.  If she, members of the Board of Directors, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, whose generous gift to Wishard will enable to hospital to serve a greater portion of the population of Indianapolis, and members of the Eskenazi Foundation Board truly want to make Wishard the world-class hospital that it can be, then they will take serious the things that I discover, good or bad.

As I have written before, there are many wonderful, dedicated medical professionals within the Wishard Health system.  I will give them their due, but I will also point out the failures, fools, and incompetents that exist within any organization.  I look forward to these next few months and years, I hope and pray that the things I discover will be more positive than negative, and the feedback that this site will provide will be useful to both patients and the hospital.

As a final note.  The day after my tirade at poor Dr. Hall I did return to the Neurology Department and I formally apologized to Pat Graves, the head nurse for the department.  I also asked her to pass on a message to Dr. Hall that I wished to speak to him and apologize, but as of this writing I have not heard back from him.

Posted in Disability, Doctor's visits, Illness, Incompetence, Medical Profession, Public healthcare, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gus

This is my 101st post.  My hundredth was on the military and its research into brain injuries.  I had wanted to write something pithy for the hundredth, but I thought the information on brain injury was more important than my being snarky or just griping about what all is going on in my life.

But today is a new day, and I want to share some wonderful news.  Last Sunday I met my daughter and her soon to be fiancé and picked up my new dog.  His name is Gus, and he is an Australian Shepard.  He’s four months old and has already taken up his place in the house.  Thus far he has been a really great dog, and has done little damage to things around the house.  Puppies do have a tendency to want to chew on everything they can get their mouths on, but so far all that he has eaten is a pair of sandals, and torn through three sets of mini-blinds.  I will say this for him, he knows how to make me laugh. 

The only thing that he has not quite gotten used to yet is the two cats that share the house.  Molly, the 16-year-old tuxedo cat, has been queen of the castle for a long time now, and since Hobbie, my last dog, died last year, Molly has pretty much run the place.  When I got Taz, a beautiful, nearly all black, two-year old cat a few months ago, Molly had a fit.  Poor Taz has to sneak around just to get to the food bowl and litter box.  Taz is twice the size of Molly, but he runs from her every time he sees her.  My daughter says that Molly is one of the meanest cats she has ever met, but to me she is a lover, sitting on my lap for hours.

Now Gus gets thrown into this mix of semi-chaos, and he still can’t figure out why Molly or Taz won’t play with him.  When he was at my daughter’s he would play with her cat, Sadie, and they would have a blast running through the house chasing each other.  He tried for the first few days to get Molly to play with him, but all she did was swat him on the nose, hiss and stand her ground until Gus backed down.  I think they have come to a truce, with Gus taking the long way around the cat, and Molly just giving him the evil eye every time he comes near.

Taz and Gus are another story.  They see each other, and Taz looks like he is about to have a heart attack every time he sees the dog.  He won’t even scoot past Gus if Gus is laying in the hallway, but sits there mournfully meowing until I call Gus and clear the way.

Since I have as many medical problems as I do, I don’t have the energy or strength most of the time to do yard work.  I spend ten or fifteen minutes trying to do something, and then my legs go out on me, and I have to rest for an hour or so.  That has caused the back yard to become a literal jungle.  The first night that Gus was here, I let him out into the backyard, he took one look and wanted back into the house.  Over the past week now, I have slowly been cutting the grass.  It took several days just to get an area clear enough for him to be willing to do his “business” but he is getting used to things.  At first he didn’t even want to be anywhere near the taller areas of grass.  Now, he and I will play catch, and he gleefully romps through the tall grass, making mad dashes between what is cut and what is not.

Unfortunately, his idea of fetch is to chase the ball down, grab and toss it in the air a few times, then lie down with the ball between his front paws waiting for me to come get it.  I hobble my way over to him, pick the ball up and throw it again.  Off he goes to repeat the little game.  I need to work with him on this fetch concept, and get him to realize that HE is the one that is supposed to bring the ball to me, not bring me to the ball.

The first night he was here, I was in terrible shape after the five-hour round trip to get him.  I had a friend drive, I don’t really trust myself being behind the wheel that long, and by the time we got back to my house I was shaking and worn out.  It was as if Gus knew that something was wrong, and he stayed by my side the entire night, following me everywhere I went to make sure I was safe.

Over the past week he has continued this routine, staying close at hand when I start to get shaky or weak.  It’s actually neat to watch.  There have been a couple of days were I have been so worn that I have spent the better part of the day in bed, and he has either parked himself right at the foot of the bed, or climbed up on the bed and snuggled in behind me.

My goal is to get him certified as a service animal so I can take him with me wherever I go.  Especially since there are days when I am out and I start to feel out of sorts and I get concerned.  I think having him with me will help to keep me calm, which helps with the nerves, and to keep an eye on me if I do start having problems.  He seems to know before I do when I am going to get shaky and start to fall out.

It’s great to have a dog again.  I know that he and I will have a lot of fun together over the next decade or so.  If I could only get him to stop “cleaning” the litter box.

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Humor, Pets, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Military Taking Lead in Research

Having the medical problems that I have had, and the fact that I have had a dozen concussions over the course of a life time, it is great to see that someone, somewhere is finally taking a hard look at what concussions are doing to the human brain.

Military Taking Lead in Research.

Posted in Concussions, Medical Profession | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Mom, tight buns and wooden spoons

April 21st was the fourth anniversary of my mother passing away.  I have a Facebook page, and on it I posted the following comment, “Miss ya Ma! Four years. And yes, I still don’t own any wooden spoons.”

To understand the significance of the comment, you have to understand my mother.  She was a woman who lived life on her own terms, and in her own way.  She was, to say the least, complicated.  I don’t think anyone truly understood her except for my father.  Unfortunately they divorced before I was two, and he died shortly thereafter.  So as a single mom in the early ‘60’s she was forced to take on the roles of both mother and father.

I will readily admit I was a shit as a kid.  I was one of the original “latch key kids” coming home after school to an empty apartment.  If my mother had known one-tenth of the stuff I did from the time I was eight until I moved out to go to college, she would have either died right then and there, or killed me.

When I was six or seven, and did something to infuriate her (truthfully, when I did get a bit older I would deliberately do things to infuriate her), she, being one to believe in corporal punishment, would tan my backside with her hand.  After a few “tanning sessions” I realized that if I tightened my rear as hard as I could the “tanning” didn’t hurt as much.  Back then getting spanked wasn’t as much fun as it is today.  There was one particular swatting that changed the course of how she would reward my behavior.  I had done something while she was at work, and when she got home and found out what I had done (honestly, I don’t even remember what I did) she took hold of me, and lifted me off my feet with her hand.  I tightened up my rear, back then it wasn’t the soft pillows it has become with middle-age, and after a few whacks she let out a yell, and let go of me.  Somehow she had broken blood vessels in her wrist, and had a blood filled lump at the area of her metacarpals.  Ice and a week of being spank free, her wrist returned to normal, but she decided to find a new way of discipline.

Since my rear had hurt her, she found something that would hurt my rear.  And thus began a long relationship with wooden spoons, and the occasional hairbrush with a handle.  I can’t even count the number of wooden spoons she sacrificed in the name of discipline.  I do recall vividly her delivering swats with one, having it break, and ending with a different spoon.  My rear was probably the cause of massive deforestation due to the number of spoons mom had to replace.

When I finally left the proverbial nest, I swore that I would never own or have in my house wooden spoons or hair brushes with handles.  The scarring of childhood can run so deep.  The only people who knew of this aversion to “the spoon” were a couple of ex-wives or girlfriends, and my children.

When I posted the comment on Facebook, it was more or less an homage to mom and the memory of days long past.  Several days after I posted the comment I received in the mail a package from her sister, my aunt.  In it was a note, some cash (thank you Auntie) and a wooden spoon!  As I sat at my desk looking that the spoon, I broke up laughing.  It was as if all the years of negative memories just melted away, and brought back the fond memories of my mother.  I sent a note to my aunt explaining about the spoons and my history, and telling her that it was actually cathartic for me to now hold the enemy in my hands. 

I’m going to engrave mom’s name on the bowl of the spoon, seal it with polyurethane, and hang it on the wall in the kitchen.  I still won’t buy any for myself, but I now will have a reminder of mom, and the good and not so good times that she and I shared for so many years.

Miss ya Ma! Four years. And yes, I do have a wooden spoon.

Posted in Humor, Parents, Relationships, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments