Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Birthday times again (#61)


Well, it's baseball, and it's now my age, works? (I have never heard of this movie, it must be noted)

Y'all.  I will commence my 62nd year of age at approximately 2:20 this afternoon.

My Mom reminds me every year of my birth time, and sometimes the methodology of my arrival into the world of air and breathing.  Look up 'frank breech,' or as the nice Irish obstetrician said to Mom once she came out of the twilight anaesthetic, 'she was born ass-to!' All 9 pounds 10 ounces of me, 1 pound of which was poop, so you say that from the very beginning I was 'full of it.'

I'm very very fortunate to have made it this far.  So many times, had I not been born into a world of modern medicine, I should or could have died from one malady or another. 

Case in point, my paternal grandmother, who as a young child contracted diphtheria (this was in the early 1900s). It might just be my imagination, but I'd bet that pretty much the whole village was sick with it as this was in the days before antibiotics or most vaccines.  The treatment, as I recall it being described to me by her, was that the doctor came to their house, got the affected persons to open wide, and then through some torturous means stripped their throats of the coating/film of bacteria that trying to kill them through poisonous exudates.  I recall she said that what came out of her throat looked like 'a liverwurst skin.'  

You can understand then why I applaud the development of things used to combat the necessity of stripping liverwurst skins from the throats of young children. It seems nicer just to poke their chubby lil' arms or thighs with a needle once and have that worry taken care of.

More: As a kid I had part of my colon removed - thank God for that because life would have been potentially much shorter and more brutal than I've enjoyed.  Look up Hirschprung's disease if you want a notion of what went on there and how very lucky my folks were to have a pediatric nurse who paid attention in a seminar back in 1966.

Also more: As an adult I had pneumonia twice.  Don't recommend it.  Could easily have done me in if the z-pack hadn't been invented.  That was the second worst sick I've ever been.

Extra more: Had the breast cancer a few years ago.  That one was pretty bad, and it doesn't need mentioning how things would have most likely gone for me a hundred years ago or so.  Again, grateful for surgeon's hands, the poison that is chemotherapy, the breathtaking horror that is filgrastim, the painful em-effing drawn-out torturous miracle of radiation treatment, the follow-up I've received, the wonderment of all the means by which body parts can be scanned and examined, etc etc.  

Ultimate more: The COVID.  If I hadn't been twice-vaxxed by the time we got it in early 2021, I'm certain I would have been much sicker than I got.  Now, while I'm convinced I also had it back in late 2019 (right as COVID was making its way around the world and I was in the very early stage of chemo), it can't be proven that I did, but that 3 weeks after my first infusion was the worst sick I've ever been and no infusion thereafter made me even a tiny bit as poorly feeling as that first one did.  I did think I would have rather died at at least one point in that whole mess, therefore, why I believe I've had that nasty thing twice.

My intent of this post is not to make it a 'poor me' sad sack pity party, but instead celebrate the fact that here, at 61, I have the chance to thrive and be thankful for everything made available to me in the moments of these challenges.  One point: I have had good health insurance my whole life, which puts me in a special group of citizens.  I also recognize that I grew up in a different time and had perhaps more or better opportunities afforded to me in my professional life that makes it possible for me to be able to achieve positions in which that good insurance was made available and affordable.  That bit doesn't escape me.

But anyhow, here I am, closing out year 61 and headed into year 62 with  a shoulder that I somehow injured while sleeping, a bum toe throbbing with arthritis, spaghetti and meatballs and a family gathering to look forward to this evening, and the great good fortune to have many wonderful friends and family to share life with.

Grateful for every day, I am.  Challenges be damned.

Tiff out.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day sits heavy (and it should)


Today is a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military, according to the Congressional Research Service. The holiday is observed in part by the National Moment of Remembrance, which encourages all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence. 

A couple of things that might make it to that 3 p.m. moment of silence and reflection:

 In Flanders Fields with a powerful reminder of our responsibilities to never forget.

 The Poppy Wall, ephemeral and powerful.

There are many many other resources to engage with to understand the impact of this 'holiday' and why we should note it, perhaps not just in the United States but in every country that has lost in-service military to acts of war.  It's not just one country's story to tell, not one country's perished to mourn, not one country's potential and future that is diminished by murder in times of battle.

It's difficult for me to understand any festivity to fully replace our solemn obligation to recognize Memorial Day's meaning.  Sure, picnics are wonderful, playtime is totally underrated especially for those over about 9 years old, and togetherness creates stories and, well, memories.  I don't begrudge that, but do wish that the meaning of Memorial Day isn't lost in the slip-n-slides and beer pong and wafts of smoke from the grills of this fair land  UNTIL the real intent behind this day off is recognized and meaningfully given its moment.

Maybe at 3 p.m.

Tiff out.