Archive for June, 2012

Goofing With The Bees

June 25th, 2012

My scream, I was told, would have curdled milk. Until that defining moment, I had a serious fear of bees…apparently a common phobia.

At around 7 or maybe 8, my very intimate, in-the-shirt encounter with what I recall as a huge bee changed all of that. Previously, bees and like critters such as yellow jacket wasps hurt me physically a bit and emotionally substantially. While an outdoorsy, tent-camping, walk the woods, leas and cow pastures, garden in my grandfather’s one-acre “patches”  kind of little guy, I dreaded the next sting. I’d walked barefoot on bees, which in retrospect understandably stung me. Sitting at family picnics dripping watermelon juice, I’d get attacked by a bee or yellow jacket for no reason I could fathom. In short, the pain, itching and swelling came on me suddenly and with no malice on my part.

Then came the gigantic bee in my shirt.

My grandparents’ backyard in their house where I summered, abutted the Mytinger place (apparently the oldest house in the state and at the time very neglected property). With my family’s carefully planted and cultivated flowers, and the neighboring overgrowth, there were flowers galore. In particularly right on the border, my grandfather had planted hollyhocks, which were basketball-player height and jammed with blossoms that bees loved.

Several of us kids where playing right there when a huge bumblebee flew down the back neck of my tee-shirt and scampered way down inside.

My grandmother loved slapstick and to her the essence of humor was schadenfreude, not surprise. That evening, she said how sorry she was that she missed the event. She added immediately that the neighbors who did hear me thought I was being killed. Apparently I let out a loud, enthusiastic and, as it turned out cathartic, bellow of terror. Then I literally tore my shirt off, shredding it.

To this day, the humor to me is that not only did the normally benign (just ask a country kid) bumblebee did not sting me. Rather, the incident with its scream exorcised the fear. From that moment, I’ve had no dread of any critter in that family. I keep a judicious eye on the unpredictable bad actors, such as hornets, but bees and wasps are just other insects to me.

If I’m sitting outside and a bee or two land on my arm. Well, a bee or two landed on my arm. I might let them crawl or just blow them away. No foul.

Thus recently, I have been taking a few snaps of bees making love to flowers (as above). Those are not telephoto, rather with the lens an inch or two from the subjects. When people ask if I am afraid of being with the bees, I just tell them no. Rarely, I’ll add my tale of tee-shirt release.

The bee interplay does remind me of that charming The Point! album by Harry Nilsson. Its bee scene has the protagonists hiding in a hollow log from a bee swarm, when the log rolls downhill into the Rock Man. He looked at them and said, “Say – what’s happening with you boys . . . it looks like you’re pretty shook up, been goofing with the bees?”

I can relate.

 

Morbid Floral Fantasies

June 20th, 2012

Spurred by Facebook and Twitter truths, several hundred of us queued for Morticia this morning at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. We came prepared for the sprawling visual glory of the titan arum, a.k.a. corpse flower, and a bit trepid over a promise of dreadful stench in the temporary greenhouse kept at 80-something humidity and temperature.

Visually, she as the staff said, did not disappoint. As for bad smells, you’d do worse with durian fruit or happening across a decomposing mammal in the woods or maybe that camp outhouse. I eavesdropped to hear people apologizing to each other for their “failure” to get disgusting enough smells after all the anticipation and trepidation.

The zoo has a nice profile of botany of Morticia, here. Plus there’s info on the donor, who presented this one and four others to the facility.

They also realized what a winner they had here. Two of these monsters have bloomed in the same year. Fester, also named for a creepy  Addams Family character, recently finished its cycle. As these bloom on their own mysterious schedules only for about two days every five to 15 years, this mini-run was a delight to plant freaks.

The zoo intends to keep all five in a more permanent greenhouse elsewhere on the grounds after Morticia fades. Others in the quintet are in various stages of development. The staff told me they had no idea when the other three might bloom…a year, five, ten?

This time, the zoo really accommodated us curious types. They had pre- and post-zoo hours just for gawking and sniffing, and set up the greenhouse right inside one of the gates. They also did not charge admission for those special times (8 to 9:30 AM and 6 to 8 PM). Zoo members and paying visitors who came at regular hours could also visit the flowers.

In addition to self-appointed alerters, the zoo updated developments and included photos of each change over the past week of pre-blooming. Their FB page had it all and their Twitter handle carried abbreviated versions. Coupled with not charging for a peek, they clearly wanted to plug people into the zoo. Smart marketing, says I.

When I arrived this morning a little before 8, I sank like a butterfly in the rain. The cars in front of me on Blue Hill Avenue were turning maybe a third or more of them into the park. The two semi-circles of parking spaces by the zebra entrance were jammed and backed up. So was the huge lot by the golf course. Cars were parked all along the drive a quarter of a mile down. The auxiliary lot doesn’t open until 9 either. I went ahead and parked in the little lot by the other entrance and across from the golf course, a  lot I generally use in winter when I cross-country ski there.

Ah, but good news, as I returned to the zoo, I heard the loud speakers at the golf course. There was some sort of links tournament there. So not the entire world just had to see Morticia. In fact, as I entered, I estimated I was 150 or so people back in line. A similar number came behind me in the next 20 minutes. If this was Disney World, that line would be nothing for any attraction worth the trouble.

Pix notes: Click on an image for a closer view. These are Creative Commons. You’re welcome to use and abuse them. Just give Mike Ball credit the first go.

As it turns out, these flowers blow it all in preparation and blooming. Once they open up, they let off their smells to attract pollinating bugs and such. They they quickly fold up show. Fester was nearby and showed what happens as the exterior parts fold down back onto the corm. It looks very woody and extremely dormant.

They let us in double groups of 10, so 20 sweating camera bugs at a time would be around the two corpse plants, with the next batch of 10 replenishing as folk exited.  Certainly, they did not want to spend a lot of time inside. The air was hot and wet. You could pretty well see and photograph and smell from various sides in five or 10 minutes at most. By then, your camera lens was likely to fog and your shirt was wet from your own dew.

Yet, I think we were largely disappointed at not being disgusted by the aroma. That may well have been oversold. Perhaps Fester was more fetid?

On the other hand, Morticia was one big honking flower. She was nearly five feet tall at at least four feet across. The colors of the open blossom were splendidly rich and a bit lewd, looking very vulvar both in folds and hues. The outer green cup of the flower was gloriously fluted too. As fond and proud as I was of my giant parrot tulips, I bow before Morticia.

I can’t say I’ll keep close tabs for the next five to 15 years. I have seen and smelled a corpse flower in bloom. On the other hand, if I’m near one at the right time, I’ll make the effort. Who knows what grand colors…and repulsive smells….that one will produce.

Blue Bloods Birthing Babies

June 17th, 2012

Amusement and satisfaction coexist in a big shot’s indicator in today’s NYTmidwives are becoming must-have status symbols for rich ladies.  Reminiscent of the FT‘s splendidly absurd How to Spend It insert magazines, we learn that the likes of supermodels in NYC and Boston use “the best” midwives now instead of OBs to deliver their princelings and princesses.

Having long been big on midwives, I see this as a likely advance, one that will percolate into the populace. First will be the celebrity imitators, who can do more than copy the pretentiously unusual baby names. The birth method may well open up, increasing demand for more midwives and birthing facilities.

This is personal with us. Our three were all born with midwives, beginning in 1979. I know from both experience and reading that prenatal care is vastly superior with midwives over OBs/nurses and that outcomes are superior, in no small part because of preparation and monitoring. Moreover, numerous moms beyond my wife have spoken of how much better the births went without being strapped down and rushed and drugged and cut open and such. Having a couple of women with you throughout (not even including the serving hubby or beau or equivalent) is an order of magnitude better than the standard hospital routine.

We had to work to get access to midwifery services. Actually the easiest was the first, at the Maternity Center in Manhattan’s Yorktown. They’d been delivering babies and training midwives (and fighting jealous OB groups) since the Depression. They were in a gorgeous, commodious former mansion, to which we made a weekly pilgrimage (always followed with a pregnant-lady satisfying meal at a local restaurant).

There were lots of measurements, stringent rules for nutrition and exercise, and correcting or preventing problems that would preclude a non-hospital delivery. The OBs who worked with the center were of course midwife friendly. They were wont to say on the rare times we saw one to listen to the midwives, to rely on their estimates of delivery date, and to practice the breathing and other techniques we’d use in delivery.

One morning, I awoke to see my wife in the rocking chair saying, “It’s time.” When the contractions were close enough together, we took a taxi from the Village and were off to the arena, or at least the birthing room in the basement. The first one made it some work, as in back labor. He needed to go from sideways to head down, which took the better part of a day. He was healthy with a high Apgar score. My only shocks came at how slick he was when I caught him and at the official New York moment of birth, which was when I cut the umbilical cord. That was one tough tube.

A few hours later, we were in a cab headed to our apartment with our son, following the requisite OB visit to certify his health. It was great to nest with the baby the same day.

Two and three were born around here, although we had to chase the midwives.  What was then the Harvard Community Health Plan only offered a midwife center for Eastern Massachusetts on the grounds of the Beverly Hospital. That’s a haul from Boston’s Jamaica Plain. We took our mandated birthing refreshers more locally but drove to the North Shore for the birth. We got there but didn’t have a lot of time to spare.

We were both more relaxed for the second act and the labor was considerably shorter.  I caught son two too. As with the first, we headed home the same day and were a family, now of four, at home.

The third fell afoul of bureaucracy and because-we-can behavior of a teaching hospital, but still produced a healthy son. By this time, the HCHP shunted us to a midwife area at Beth Israel Hospital. That was fortunate geographically, as this labor was under an hour. We managed to drive there from a few miles away and toss the keys to the valet. I was well aware of the fast progress, but the midwives and nurse didn’t seem to get it. In the room, I immediately washed up and put on gloves. While the trio was across the room chatting, I caught son number three without them.

Unfortunately, BI being a teaching hospital, the OB on call insisted that our son’s heart rate was too slow. He also didn’t get the usual squeezing workout of delivery, so he was a bit purple. The doc had him put in a neonatal ICU. We were not pleased and this two brothers were concerned when they visited and put on yellow scrubs to see him under Plexiglas with tubes. When our own pediatrician was available nearly two days later, he came by, checked him over, pronounced him very healthy and with a heart like a future athlete and sent us all home.

I can go on about the glories of midwife preparation and delivery. I have been known to do just that. If it takes the status-seeking super-rich to spread this gospel, that’s OK by me.

Boston Dudley Do-Nothing

June 13th, 2012

Growing up in houses filled with cops and with relatives who were staties, I am predisposed to liking police officers. They make it hard.

In my childhood, my mother ran Red Cross chapters, which involved training police and such in first aid and water safety, coordinating with and training ambulance and fire folk and co-hosting disaster preparedness weekends. We knew a lot of cops.

The other side of my thinking cops are the good guys is expecting them to behave that way. I think they should act to protect the public, drive like the best examples, know the laws, and enforce the letter and spirit of those laws.

For three decades though, I’ve lived in a town where a running joke about BPD folk in blue is “no blood, no ticket.” They seem loath to do anything that involves a ticket book or other paperwork. Moreover, too many, including the Commissioner, B.S. their way through life. That makes it hard to respect cops.

Today down in Logan Square around 2:30 PM, I had another experience with incompetent make-it-up-as-you-go policing. An officer saw a serious traffic law violation, but instead of enforcing the law, he showed both ignorance and lack of concern. It’s wearing.

The short of it is that I was walking to Cleary Square, westbound on River Street by the Hyde Park municipal building. Still healing from a broken clavicle and several busted ribs, I’m tricked out in an arm sling with my bright orange windbreaker. At 6 feet and nearly 200 pounds, I’m not camouflaged.

As I entered the crosswalk, a woman whipped around the right turn on River Street, almost stopping at the stop sign. She not only continued rolling toward me, but blew her car horn, as though this crippled guy should disappear and stop inconveniencing her.

When she honked, I thought there might be an acceptable reason, as another vehicle or other case where she was blowing to avoid a wreck, you know, the legal basis for horn blowing. Turning to my right toward her as I made my way across the crosswalk, I saw her raise her fist, mouth what looked like obscenities and swerve around me. She never stopped, as required by law. She certainly did not yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, as required by law. Of course, as a minor issue, she also used her car horn  to threaten instead of its allowable safety purpose.

I pointed to her as she whipped past, barely missing me and called, “Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks!” Then the amazing happened.

A uniformed BPD officer appeared…and proceeded to scold me. I told him that she had just broken multiple state laws and deserved a ticket with fines, likely license suspension and six years of insurance surcharge.

Unbelievably, he told me:

  • He would have gotten to it and handled it, if only I had not turned and pointed at the driver
  • I had no right to point at her
  • My actions, inexplicably by geometry and time, caused him not to apprehend the driver for the crimes he had witnessed
  • Even though my walking through the crosswalk had slowed the aggressive driver, his not bothering to take two or three strides toward her and stop her was somehow my fault and not that of his indolence

I came right back at him. He saw the crimes and did nothing. He did not step forward and stop the driver when he easily could have. She violated the failure to yield  law and was subject to a $200 fine and she used her horn to threaten, which I said was a Boston regulation.

He countered that it was a $100 fine and that if I had not turned toward the driver, he was going to do something. Somehow, he implied, it was my fault he made no effort to apprehend her.

I checked and I was almost entirely right. It is $200 for the crosswalk violation. However, the horn violation is of state law and not city regulation, with a $50 fine.

Maybe I should have snagged the cop’s badge and recorded the scofflaw driver’s plate. I’ve wearied of that over the years, particularly with Commissioner Davis’  total disingenuous responses to his officers’ behavior.

Here before me was yet another Boston cop who did not know the laws, who made up what he thought violations and fines were, who saw crimes committed and did nothing, and who chastened the victim instead of taking a couple of steps (literally) to grab the perp or even calling in her plate to the nearby station. What a slug!

He even said to me, “Do you think they know the laws?” I was aghast, as in he didn’t even know the laws.

I’ve known good cops in various places, including Boston. For over two decades, I shared the block as well as the first name with one of the best in Jamaica Plain. That Mike though is not the norm.

BLA blah blah

June 11th, 2012

Yesterday was big doing in these parts. #3 son and his GF graduated from Boston Latin Academy. Her family has one more young’un but that completes our cycle here.

These things changed. I picked up his yearbook a few days ago and before that they had gone to their prom. Each was the same and different from my HS years. For the yearbook, all the pix of kids and staff were in color, and more important, the students got to put their own message beside their image. There was no more CV style, comma-delimited list of sports, clubs and other activities, which set us obsessive sorts apart from those just clinging to the log flowing in the educational river. Both better looking pix and free commentary are good.

The prom though had no theme. With disdain, Isaac explained how old fashioned themed proms were, that they were more sophisticated today. That may be accurate too. Lord knows, I went to several junior and several senior proms in my years. Their Hawaiian or outer space or other decorations were generally pretty tacky, even though those involved spent terrific time and money flogging the motif and its artifacts.

Yesterday, we might have been able to cram everyone, kids and parents, into BLA’s auditorium, but the Matthew’s Arena at Northeastern was more spacious, allowed for flow of grads getting their three seconds across the stage, and provided the sense of transition that fit.

It was a jolly time for students, perhaps too jolly with the smuggled in beach balls distracting from the addresses and making the patrolling teachers look like rasorial birds scrambling, but for the toys instead of worms. After six years of attention, I think the kids were allowed what passes for rowdiness in one of Boston’s exam schools. Having been in numerous other of the city’s high schools, I am always struck by the relative focus and calmness of the teens in the likes of BLA and BLS.

I brought a notepad, expecting some wisdom in the numerous addresses. Only one was worthy, but the others were harmless enough. Both the salutatory and valedictory addresses were LITE. The young women thanked parents (with the valedictorian claiming she had successfully hidden her keynote status from her Albanian immigrant parents up to the moment she walked on stage), praised the school and teachers, and waxed nostalgic with a few mini-vignettes of shared experiences. There was no enlightenment offered.

The salute to the graduates, a.k.a. the mandatory remarks of Headmaster Emilia Pastor, was harmless but atavistic. I’ve been in meetings with her and always found her dreadfully serious. I don’t know about the science high, but BLA and BLS’ headmasters have always seemed to wear their position like chainmail, heavy and demanding deference. In hers, she gave advice on how to thrive in the six years of BLA, only every student on the arena floor had come out the end of the HS machine.

She was more amusing rising from her seat repeatedly to introduce others or start her address. Her skirt was a little above the knee and she offered no cheap thrills to the hundreds of black gowned folk before her. She was acrobatic rising by pressing her knees together, splaying her feet and somehow managing to spring modestly upright. She was attention getting in the way a baby giraffe is rising on his hooves.

Understandably most parents and other relatives were there for their precious one. Those with large claques walked the stage to deafening squeals and applause. Before the presentation of diplomas, quite a few in the audience had no use for the addresses. They shouted to each other and into their cellphones instead. I may have been the only loony trying to hear the words.

It’s a pity they missed what I considered the highlight (short of my son getting his diploma, of course). State Rep.Carlos Henriquez, BLA ’94, spoke in the middle. His was the non-trivial set of remarks. He spoke wistfully of never marching across the stage and his envy of those who were about to. Seems he struggled with a required match course, failing a couple of times, before completing it in summer school.

So he was a dragon at heart as were those about to hit the stage, but without that few seconds of shared glory.

He noted that he continued to accomplish in life in ways he feels that redeem his slow start. In fact, he said one redemption was being the legislator who represented the district where BLA is. Perhaps more so was his candid inspiration to the grads-to-be. He was not afraid to use himself as an example of the struggle and success. They heard the call to go out the next day and start becoming leaders, but then the brief respite came that “Tomorrow you can sleep all day. Then the next day you become leaders.”

The Power of an Earring

June 10th, 2012

I put a post earring in my left lobe this morning. It’s a silver, smiling sun, symbolic of our youngest graduating high school today.

Big, fat, hairy detail as Garfield thinks. Well, to the incapacitated, it’s noteworthy.

Healing from broken ribs and clavicle, these small and normal tasks are remarkable. Moving the left hand to the lobe and manipulating the earring back onto the post was moderately painful. Of course, in context, completing the wee task was still a minor accomplishment.

And there it is…for those inconvenienced or worse by accident or disease, the wee range from impossible to requiring effort to delighting with the relative ease of completion.

I recall nearly 30 years ago, I broke my right wrist in a fall on roller skates. I like to think of that as a noble sacrifice instead of clumsiness. Our young firstborn had fallen right in front of me. Having no out, I could have plowed into him or taken a tumble. An amusing aspect is that two resident docs from Mass General were running along the Esplanade beside us and heard the crack. They said they were so happy after treating so many broken bones to see and hear it actually happen. Whee.

The doc who set the cast on the wrist asked the obvious question — are you right handed? Well, I was, or so I thought.

As it turns out, I apparently had been ambidextrous all along. I just had accepted the training I’d had at school and home. I’ve heard from other boomers that they too were told righthandedness is the norm, ergo you are righthanded. Yet, with a bad wrist break and a hand immobilized for a month or so, I had a single choice, be helpless or see what I could do.

My writing with the left hand was not quite as good, but plenty legible. After never having had the muscle memory, I found it refined quickly. I learned that I had no problem with other tasks — shaving, cooking, dressing myself and on and on. I found as the cast came off too, that I could use both hands as needed separately, such as stirring a pot and a frying pan with different motions simultaneously. I just had never tried.

It makes me wonder how many of us are really ambi unaware.

The harder part was doing two-handed tasked with just one. The extreme example was tying shoelaces. The docs told me it was impossible ad that I had to go with slip-on or Velcro closure shoes. That was a direct challenge, which I accepted. It is tough, but not at all undoable. It too falls in that class of the normal made impossible then mastered.

I recall too many years before that in my volunteer work at VA hospitals, being with vets who relearned basic tasks. They tended to have a sly, infectious joy at re-adding each task to their repertoire.

I relate.

 

Lessons Awaiting

June 6th, 2012

A bit of dialog on pain, pills and physicians is about on my Facebook, here and on a (real, face-to-face) friend’s blog. Over at Scratches, Uncle has an extreme perspective from his recurring and sometimes sudden bouts of intense head pain. The archives there have numerous powerful posts on pain.

Maybe it’s my decades of attending UU churches or maybe I’m a UU because I think this way. Regardless, as the cliche goes, adversity is a great teacher.

In the 11-plus days since my bike wreck, I’ve been thinking and feeling as I grimace, grunt and gasp. Sitting awake (lying is generally precludes rest or sleep), I have reflected on others as well as my miserable self. The ganged demons of incapacity, agony and immobility can turn us inward or outward.

Poor me is certainly an understandable response to disease or trauma. We can even cloak that in pretending that self-absorption is necessary to take care of ourselves, to get healthy or such.

Yet consider that in such times, we have gotten a house call from a guru. A great teacher appears and offers development. As we all tend to become more fixed day upon day and year upon year, we should welcome such visits. Big lessons keep us from what I consider the living hell of experiencing the same few days, thoughts and reactions again and again and again.

The freshness that comes with living with or working through or merely gutting out pain and fear is a gilded gift.

Of course, virtually all of us would avoid chronic or acute diseases, wrecks that wrack and break us, and the pains that come with them. When these are upon and in us, we do have a choice though. We can start and stop with the self-pity, or we can augment that with a compassion and even empathy for others who suffer.We can actually come out the other end with a better spirit.

I have never been mature or saintly enough to bypass the self-pity totally, but prolonged recoveries with great pain has taught me to identify with and respect the agony of others.

We must avoid the true coward’s alibi — people don’t change. Not only do our observation and anecdotal evidence firmly refute that, but we stifle ourselves pretending we become immutable at 18 or 40 or whatever we are.

Yes, we change. Sometimes it is by will and planning, others by events and conditions thrust upon us, and others by little enlightenments. Sometimes our brains just alert us to a fundamental truth. Discomfort to pain to agony, disease to surgery to broken bones, these and more can, if we allow, spur that enlightenment.

A lot of us experience the dreadful, which means whether you are there at the moment or not, you will encounter others in various kinds of pain. Transcending woe-is-me can round us out, smooth us off, and open us up. Those are good changes.

Little Pink Pill

June 5th, 2012

Magazines, websites and I hear even the T and V drown in drug ads. Most of those intend to convince Boomers they’ll sicken and die if they don’t accept the capsule, tablet or pill that treats symptoms they didn’t know they had. Vanity, fear of mortality, peer pressure…who knows what makes these is-the-purple-pill-right-for-you attack work.

On the other hand, in my tiny universe of one, in the past four years, I’ve found an effective diet regimen — opiates.

Probably like other blogs that write on common physical issues, this one gets a fair number of hits related to various aspects of my broken legs. That makes perfect sense, both in seeing how someone else dealt with your condition and in filling in the huge gaps that docs often leave. I look at the info sheets the ER provided me for my broken clavicle and ribs, thinking these are as bad as a Microsoft Office Help system. There’s not enough useful there, and no effort to address common and likely problems.

In that context, I’ll note that I had been losing weight and fat, using a self-customized low-carb/moderate protein and fat nutrition plan. Then coming up on 11 days ago, my big boom threw me to the pavement from my road bike at speed at 20-some MPH, with those fractures, cracks and such. Being unable to exercise in the slightest, I have feared what had been my weekly weigh-in. I still record all I eat, but only two days have had the slightest exercise, and that’s been just over a mile walk up and down this hill. While the amble was slow, halting, painful and demanding, it’s far, far from my normal daily fitness attacks.

Mirabile dictu! After not weighing for the past two Mondays, I dared today, knowing I just had to record the damage and push ahead. By the scale, I was down nearly 10 pounds. I suspect I had been holding some water, as I was at a plateau and that some of that recent drop was soggy tissue giving it up. Nevertheless, to a banged up old guy,not gaining would have been plenty of good tidings.

On the way to the weigh-in, I was on oxycodone, an opiate. Likewise, following my leg surgery and much, much worse pain levels, I had hydromorphone, a synthetic morphine replacing the actual opiate given me in the hospital. In both post-trauma situations:

  • I was not hungry when I had the drug in my system
  • There was real, substantial weight loss
  • My typical nervous response did not turn to food
  • I was (almost surely irrationally) terrified

I have known drug addicts in many situations. During my college and professional years working newspapers, I would meet them both on the job and socially. I have never known a plump one. However, I am at a disadvantage (for which I am grateful) in not coming from a family with drug addiction in it.

Still, I fear opiates and other highly addictive drugs. I think at various times in my life, I would have been healthier and more productive if I drank less of an evening. More to the point, I smoked for a decade from my late teens. I was truly addicted to cigarettes and nicotine. Kicking was no fun and took several tries. It was the idea that we’d create a baby that inspired the victory. So, I know I can exhibit addictive behavior.

For both pain drugs, I disdained the doctors and nurses, nurses in particular, who chanted, “Stay ahead of the pain!” They actively encourage what looks like drug abuse to me. At least, they’d have you take the script dosage and stay drugged up all day and night. The idea is that you heal better. The reality is that you would bug them less if you were out of it.

I recalled how they pushed antacids and laxatives and such in hospital. I had no symptom indicating any of the several allegedly preventative drugs and adamantly, repeatedly refused multiple nurses and docs. Likewise, I demanded the minimal morphine dosage over their objections.

Post-hospital and recently post-ER, I weaned myself from the opiates quickly, preferring a higher level of pain to a possible dependency. That’s not for everyone. I know many who get emotionally wrapped up in pain issues and who take analgesics daily and more for any cause. Coffee is a drug for me, as is a drink. Thank you very much.

Alas, the current opiate was to help me sleep at night and manage during the day. Turns out, that wasn’t true in my case. The first full day after the bike wreck, I went with three of the scripted four pink pills. During the day, taking one made me almost pass out and become a dozing drooler. Not cool. At night, one at bedtime kicked in at a half hour, give or take, but only provided two or so hours of rest before the agony of scapula and ribs, that is their related muscles and nerves, had me teary and too, too awake. The cycle repeated if I waited the six hours from the previous pill and dosed again.

I discovered I was better off grimacing and groaning my way into a seated position on a living room couch. That minimized pressure on the torso and chest, allowing more exhausted sleep than the drugs did.

With all the upper body damage, breathing was very painful, coughing almost unbearable, climbing our many stairs (four stories with the basement where my computers are) was very bad down and much worse up. I have reasons to think of pain relief.

I confess on those first few nights of agony, I could understand how junkies and the pain-fleers would double or triple on the dose. I felt the urge. Yet, I went from two pills a day to one to none.

When I can drive again, I’ll swing by the pharmacy where my wife got the pink pills and drop the container off for disposal, as I did with the hydromophone. I’m not quite sure why I am so wary of addictive prescription drugs, but there are many worse compulsions and areas of paranoia.

So to those stuck in acute pain cycles, I advise a bit of self-science. Step back, Newton like, and observe. Do behavior and as in my current case, posture offer relief drugs don’t? Is being shoved into stupor awful to you? Can you manage your pain with fewer doses than the bottle calls for?

I think of a former minister who was on the other end. She said she hated pain and give her anything and everything necessary to take it away. She and I differ.

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Big Joys from the Small

June 4th, 2012

Personal inconveniences and even tragedies are the classical teachers. We learn by adapting. We observe by the introduction of the unusual. We are roused by the noises or touches we do not expect.

Thus, I have taken pleasure today in putting a keyboard on my knees and typing with, verily, two hands simultaneously.

With a broken clavicle and ribs, with agony on coughing and deep pain on breathing, such mundane functioning seems almost miraculous. Yet, there is no swelling music audible.

I am pleased at being able to use my hands in concert, even if for only a short period today. Moreover, I pushed it two days ago and paid for hours in suffering that night. This too makes me attentive to limits. All of which are wisdom-inducing observation and modulation.

Those who cast the I Ching certainly know the phrase and concept of the preponderance of the small. The lesser forces, events and folk alter the mighty, particularly in repetition and number. I’ll try to be more aware and more appreciative.

Meanwhile, typing instead of hunting and making do is a joy.