Tag Archives: senior citizens

Ex Post Facto: The retroactive waltz of point-men and snipers

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I finally got to see a primary care physician in that KC VA Medical Center.

KC VA Med Ctr

I arrived early and put my defibrillator to the test carrying a 20# daypack 150 yards across that parking lot, up the hill to the entrance, and a quarter-mile of heroesque hallways.  Registered and waited around a comfy area filled with old vets.

At which point life became a hoot.

Jeeze we veterans are a bunch of liars!  And we all know it, but remain silent on the issue so’s when our turn comes all the the others will nod sagely and pretend we aren’t just blowing pure unmitigated horse manure back and forth at one another.

So here in this Hero Hall you’ve got close to a hundred of us, maybe a third wearing VIETNAM VET, or some other VETERAN nuanced headgear.  And roughly a third of those are talking in loudmouthed indignation about something a first sergeant did or said forty years ago in a different country.

Meanwhile the other 2/3 wearing the Veteran caps nod and wait patiently for that vocally active third to finish or pause for a breath so’s they can cut in and tell what some first sergeant did or said to THEM forty years ago in some foreign land.

Those of us not wearing Veteran headgear listen deadpan, saying nothing, doing nothing to break the spell of dramatic fantasies, of young men who never existed prowling through the jungles of our imaginary youths doing and saying courageous things for the betterment of mankind and Freedom.

“Hell man,” I muttered to the guy sitting next to me, “I must be the only person here who wandered Asia trying to get a dose of clap, never met a hero.  Never sacrificed a damned thing in the service of this country.  I can’t recall a first sergeant ever knowing I was alive.”

The guy smiled at me.  “Not me.  I was an Air Force Sniper working out of the finance office in Danang.  Spent the whole time killing zipperheads except when I was in an office doing payrolls.”

About then a nurse called my name and I trekked breathlessly back to see a physician.  He hadn’t received all my med records from the recent hospital stay, so we’re starting all over.  Got an EKG, Lab [blood] work, complete stomach sonogram, and XRays to get out of the way brand spanking new before I can be seen by a VA cardiologist.  He says they can’t get the records from the Olathe Medical Center work because the VA computer is connected to the National Defense computer system, which might be compromised if they allowed outside data to be transmitted into it.

So they’ll just have to do it all again.  Though if I go over to Olathe Med Ctr. and get them to photocopy everything and carry it along when I see the cardiologist he figures the specialist might look through it if I provide it that method and that context.  Maybe.

So at least I’ve got some things I can do to improve my health this week, picking up those records at Olathe Med, going over to KC MO VA for all that expensive medical testing I’ve donealready had, getting it again so’s to be able to see a cardiologist.

Confidence raising, being able to do something uncharacteristically positive.

Somehow it’s vaguely reminescent of back when I was an infantry point man and sniper in the US Army in a country I never had the pleasure to visit.

Old Jules

Desalinated, molassted and tofued into submission

Believe it or don't, this stuff makes a tasty substitute for soy sauce and woostershire sauce.  Blend it with rice vinegar and it makes tasteless goop go down easier.

Blackstrap molasses:  Believe it or don’t, this stuff makes a tasty substitute for soy sauce and woostershire sauce. Blend it with rice vinegar and it makes tasteless goop go down easier.

Hi readers.

I’m not going to say I think cardiologists know what they’re talking about, but in the matter of no sodium/extremely low sodium in the diet I believe they’re correct in spite of the fact they said it.  I’d always thought if a person didn’t eat canned goods and didn’t salt his food he was on a low sodium diet.  But when I left the hospital they handed me a sheet of paper and took the trouble to read it to me as though I couldn’t read it for myself.

2000 mg.  2 grams of sodium per day these people were unsmilingly demanding I confine myself to.  And they sent along a list of food items in one column and how much salt each contained per one-measure-or-another.

I could see with one eye these ivory tower quacks didn’t know what they were talking about.  Heck, I’m betting there’s never been a day of my life when I wasn’t fasting when I didn’t consume more than two grams of salt.

So when I arrived back at Jeanne’s I slouched toward low sodium, waved the bloody flag at it, but was completely reasonable.  Non-fanatic, not any sort of no-salt extremist anyone need fear.  And noticed a rapid decline in my physical capabilities concurrently.

You all know by now I enjoy messing around cooking and experimenting with food preparation in sometimes bizarre ways.  And since I was losing my ability to walk any distance, I figured what the hell?  Jeanne got me a couple of books from the library on no salt and lowest sodium cooking, and I began concocting all manner of experimental food with no salt, or so little salt as to pass for none.  2 grams?  Ha!  I spit on 2 grams!  1 gram until I get this down pat.

cilantro corriander

Cilantro!  Onion powder!  Tomato powder!  Lime juice powder!  Molasses.  Garlic.  Dill.  These are the soldiers, the legions of the war against salt.

Began making chips from steamed sticky rice rolled down thin and baked.  Made the best catsup I’ve ever eaten in my life from tomato powder, lime juice powder, molasses and rice vinegar.  Made an absolute jewel of guacamole with garlic, green onion, jalapeno, avocado, tofu, and cilantro.  Deeeeelicious!

Made a soy sauce alternative from black strap molasses and vinegar, along with a few other spices.

And after a couple of days of less than two grams, yesterday I walked to the end of the block and back, one-way being an uphill grade.  Didn’t get knocked to my knees by my top-kick drill instructor, either.

So I doubt those cardiologists know what the hell they’re talking about, but sometimes even a blind hog finds an acorn.  A person doesn’t have to know what he’s talking about to be correct.

Old Jules

Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska of insignificance

KC VA Med Ctr

VA Medical Center, Kansas City, MO, 100 acres ofparking lot, 20 acres handicapped parking, 100 active hospital rooms serving a shrinking population of US Military Vets who didn’t make a career of being lifers. Draft-era vets are dying like flies, robbing the macho of facilities such as this one.

VA med ctr elevators

The ‘Valor’ elevators. Yeah, but if you think that’s a bit overkill in the nomenclature department the hallway getting there is ‘Hero Hall’. Goes to prove there’s no limit to the lengths the US Government will go to in order to keep all us gullible burned out has-beens who use the place thinking Vietnam, Korea and other Presidential Wars were places where heroism could manifest itself.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I said in my last entry I might post anew if anything different happened and by gollywolly it did.  Different as hell, in fact.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska of different.

You might recall my state of mind as being a bit tentative during the period just prior to my taking a break.  I had what medico-oriented people might consider sufficient reason to be concerned about ‘suspicious’ whatchallits on my goozle and lungs, considerable intermittent pain, and a ticker that clearly was behaving outside the range of idealistic tickerism.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska, of lousy ticker behavior this side of croaking.

In short, Texas wasn’t working out as the best place to pursue my options in the less-than-optimum mobility direction following anything coming down the pike involving hospitals.  Two cats were depending on me being around and able to do everything necessary to provide them with sustenance.

Jeanne stepped in and save my life at precisely the right moment in human history to allow that option.  Suggested at a moment when I was able to consider it, me trucking up to Olathe, KS, and checking into the horsepital here through the Emergency Room.  Her taking care of the cats while I was inside.

And agreeing to keep them afterward if I croaked during the process.   An offer I dasn’t refuse.

So I loaded up Hydrox and Tabby, groaned into the RV the day before the worst storm to hit Texas in a number of years, I’m told.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska, of winter storms.

Drove most of the night and reached the end of my tether in Gainsville, Texas, north of Dallas.  Checked into a motel room to croak.

Jeanne sent her two sons down to interfere with the Grim Reaper by driving me on up to Olathe, KS.  Shortly after arriving I parachuted into the ER of the Olathe Medical Center for a week or so vacation.

Turned out after they’d done a lot of poking and prodding I’d killed off allbut about 15-20% of my heart back when all this whining and complaining I’d been doing started in November.  And my goozle was a thing to behold over in the gastroenterology end of things.  That poor old tube had more ugly mess going on inside it than I’d have dared hope.  But [after swilling a tea of Burdock, Turkey Rhubarb, Sheep Sorrel and Slippery Elm for a month before the Cat-Scan] not malignant.  Nor was the suspicious lung stuff.

Quicker than you could tell it they stuck a magic electric cow-prod under the skin of my chest/shoulder and ran wires from it down into my heart.  It’s there to remind my mildly functioning heart muscle that it needs to keep trucking without any drama if it doesn’t want to get struck by lightning, kicked by a mule, as many times as it takes until it decides to behave itself.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been sleeping in Jeanne’s recliner, wearing a restraining thing so’s I can’t raise my arm above my head, thus protecting the wire running down into my heart from getting yanked out by the roots.   Another couple of weeks and that shouldn’t be necessary.

The RV’s in Jeanne’s driveway, Tabby’s finding a new home for herself with Jeanne’s daughter, Julia, and her sons, Michael and Andrew, and Hydrox is here with me trying to become a Kansas cat.

I’m figuring I’ll be here a couple more months, at least.  I’m forming a new relationship with the Missouri Veteran Medical Center mainly because I was so impressed with what all they did in Texas to prevent me having to go to a private hospital in Kansas to find out what the hell was going on inside my body.

But hells bells, I’m grateful for all of it.  Been finding a lot of reasons why my life’s going to be a better place as a consequence of not having cancer of the goozle, lung cancer, and having a cow prod in my chest in their stead.

I’m thinking, for one thing, I’ve arrived at a place in life where Hydrox can no longer depend on my services.  When I leave here most likely he’ll be staying behind with Jeanne.

All in allI’m the Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Omaha, Nebraska, of grateful to be alive and feeling as well as I do.  Luckiest man on the planet, any way you cut it.  Don’t try this at home, though.

Old Jules

Prioritizing insignificance

clownpic

Hi readers:

Those of you who’ve read through this long series of anecdotes will recognize that my life’s been spent in a forest of insignificance incapable of being recognized as such except by hindsight.   To qualify for the insignificance merit badge each item running for office had to be at least a week in the past.

Lately that’s changed.  I’ve got a 1950s Africa movie scene dust cloud of stampeding herds, pods, prides, coveys, flocks, and occasional individual insignificances coming at me out of the future, stirring up all manner of noise and dirt right here in my normally significant present.  Even when they drift downstream into the past they keep zigzagging around trying to fight their way back uphill to make nuisances of themselves in my today mode.

Fact is I’ve got another reincarnation coming into the picture, as well, and though it’s probably insignificant, I need to tip my hat to it various ways.  Just so it doesn’t get pissed off and decide I need to pick up on past themes earlier reincarnations.  If I’ve got to bow and scrape a bit it’s worth it.

So I’m going to take some time away from this blog.  Spend my time sorting through whatever I can convince myself is more significant than something else over the next period of time.

Those of you who’ve been frequent visitors, I appreciate you.  Those who haven’t, I appreciate you, also.

I’ll send you no more omphaloskepsis unless something different happens.

Old Jules

Filler between adventures

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne’s explained some of the things happening in my life at the moment, how I’m having phone and Internet access issues.  And she and I have both been sufficiently cryptic to cause some to conclude major issues are stalking around my life making nuisances of themselves.

Fact is, nothing here is all that major, nothing uncommon.  What’s going on in my life is an interlude between adventures.  A break in the plotlines to allow some breathing on the part of the author and major characters before the really juicy stuff comes trotting down the pike.  Nothing at all gloomy in this neck of the woods.  Mild anticipation, excitement kept carefully under control best describes the mood.

Hells bells I had a whatchallit, ecco or echo sonogram of my heart the other day, got to watch that poor worn out, frayed piece of meat trying to keep track of what it’s supposed to be doing, got to watch it wiggle, trot across that screen looking and sounding for all the world like the grim reaper.

If that ain’t a one-in-a-lifetime experience I can’t imagine what would be, and I was the one right there lucky enough to get to see it.  I don’t blame you folks for wishing you could be me.

But in between all the pesky details packed into the upper end of a human lifetime I’ve been seeing some pretty decent old movies I’ll be telling you about.  And reading some good books.

In a few days I expect I’ll begin a blog entry telling you about God Knows, by Joseph Heller.   So much better than Catch 22 it’s a wonder anyone even ever heard of Snowden.  If King David had written a hindsight view or review of the Old Testament, God, everything you read and passed over in the Bible without stopping to think about it, think it through and examine the implications, God Knows would have been the result.

But for some reason it took Joseph Heller to come along and actually do it.  A book you should hunt down and read if you can find one.  An important book.

I’d send you mine, but I have it earmarked for my ex-wife.

Old Jules

Bummer if that thing went off (from the drafts)

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Ever noticed how many people hang around discussion boards of every description watching for things they can tell other people NEVER to do?

NEVER play with matches! NEVER ride a bicycle with no brakes! NEVER point an acetylene torch at your face when you light it! NEVER try to get inside a tree shredder while it’s running!

I think there must be something about typing a command about never that feels validating, self-affirming. Telling people what they’ll either have better sense than to do anyway, or who will pay no attention and will do it anyway.

And the fact is, it could as easily be said in ways people might listen to because it wasn’t so offensive and presumptuously downtalking. How about, “Sure would be a big bummer for a person to get his hair caught in that fanbelt.” Something along those lines.

About the only response I can think of appropriate to the NEVER command is “NEVER say NEVER!”

Old Jules
====================================================
Hi folks, Jeanne here.  That was from the unpublished drafts files…although it’s still possible that it was published and I just didn’t find it. So if it sounds familiar, let me know and I’ll be more careful pulling things out this way. There are 945 published posts on this blog, so I suppose you could just hit “random” and find something entertaining.

Fact is, Old Jules has an unstable phone line right now and can’t keep a connection long enough for the internet. It’s difficult to talk to him for more than a few minutes, although the breaks in the connection get fairly predictable. There’s a lot of repeating and frustration involved with a five minute conversation. But he did approve my putting up this old draft and an update.

Yes, but how is he, you ask.  Well…he’s not in the hospital. He sounds real good.  He’s got almost zero energy.  Drinking Caisse’s tea. Blood oxygen level normal. Blood pressure fluctuating. Reading a lot, generally staying warm and fed. Trying not to get dehydrated or winded. Although he’s isolated, Gale and his neighbor check on him from time to time and some others of us call him frequently and freak out (me)  if for some reason he doesn’t answer the phone (usually it’s on the charger).
I suspect it was pneumonia that caused things to deteriorate to the point where he went to the hospital. While treating him for that, they found other stuff to alert him about, and he’s tackling those in order of importance as he sees it.
A couple of us are standing by to take care of the cats if he decides to, or needs to, go back in for the rest of the recommended testing. Gale is out of town on a fairly frequent basis, so we are trying to make sure some satisfactory solution is found for them. I would just drive down there and get them, but 800 miles doesn’t allow for him to get them back easily when things settle down, so that’s not the first choice.
So basically, he’s resting a lot and trying to get his energy back, and I’m preoccupied with keeping tabs on him and passing on updates as needed.
When I can keep my head on straight, I’ll see if I can’t pull some posts out of the drafts from time to time, but I think my own blog is on hiatus for now.
Thanks, C.P., for sending the photo from last week.
And thanks again, everyone,  for all your kind thoughts.
Jeanne

New Year Day 2014

Hi again readers:   Turned out I ain’t as tough as I believed myself to be.  I’m in the hospital in Kerrville, TX, sneaked spang in a couple of days ago through the Emergency Room.  They know a lot about what’s been going on inside me now, and all of it is interesting and exciting, though it doesn’t necessarily bode well for my continuing to post on the So Far From Heaven blog a lot longer, everything else being equal.

But I’ve refused most of the things they’d propose to do insofar as keeping me this distance from heaven, plan to get discharged hopefully today, go back out to Gale’s and digest my newfound perspectives.  Make some exciting decisions about what a guy in my position ought to be doing with himself, thinking about, spending his time and energy on.

Probably should have been doing that all along, but it wasn’t rubbing right up against it consciously and autopilot isn’t the best place to observe important, exciting events.

Happy New Year to those of you who believe this is a new year and are willing to be happy during it.

Old Jules

A merry little dumpster diving year-end adventure

Hi readers:

When I left Andrews on Christmas Eve morning a cold fog wrapped the RV and a tasteful bow atop kept it all together for the felines and me until I reached Big Spring.  That’s where the brakes on the RV failed.  Roughly 100 yards before the entryway into the parking lot for a chain store for auto parts.

Great, helpful folks there while I was diagnosing the cause of the problem, feeding brake fluid to the pre-Christmas Universe.  Determining the next best guess to be a failed master cylinder.  And me with almost no tools along.

Ordered the master cylinder inside the store, arranged with them to park in their lot until it arrived the day following Xmas.  They showed me an electrical outlet where I could plug in to keep the heater and lights modern.

Hydrox, Tabby and I watched a store employee carrying boxes past us to the dumpster straining to get them over the side.  One plastic box appeared to be a great possibility for a litter box, so I went over to retrieve it.  I was astonished to observe the dumpster was home to several boxes with taped label, “Manager Disposal”, the contents scattered among the lowbrow cartons and candy wrappers.

The contents:  open end wrenches all sizes, box end wrenches, socket sets, miscellaneous other tools, a couple of which I’d surely need for the master cylinder replacement.  So early Christmas morning I climbed down the chimney of the dumpster and began digging out every tool I could bring myself to save from the landfill.

Finished in time to have myself a nice Christmas dinner of something-or-other, cuddle a cat, watch a vintage movie.

Next morning the master cylinder arrived, I installed it with the dumpster-tools, ran the RV around the parking lot a bit to test the brakes, and headed off to points south.

Easily the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever been blessed with.

Old Jules

Cheating the landfills

Computer karma

Hi readers:

Thanks for coming by for a read.

My life’s blessed at the moment having my bud, Eddie, available to kick around finding fixes for the unfixable. In this instance, all that broken plumbing and wastewater damage blowing the tires did on the RV. That stuff’s made of a material monikered, ABS, which was never intended to be repaired. Plastics, nylon, nothing much easily available attaches to it and the hardware stores don’t carry anything much in the plumbing department made of ABS.

But ABS does attach nicely to other ABS if a person can find some.

Eddie did some web searches to find out what products might be made of ABS to be ravaged for the purposes of converting them to RV wastewater heaven. One turned out to be old computer monitors.  So he dug around until he found one.

Yesterday we examined the old monitor to make certain the flat area on the side would be large enough to make a patch to cover the hole broken in the greywater tank on the RV.  Then we took a waste piece of RV broken plumbing pipe, scarified it, scarified the potential monitor, and doctored both with purple ABS goo cement.

Voila!   Yes.  You heard me right.  Voila.

That flat surface on the side of that monitor’s going to RV wastewater heaven, holding back the forces of darkness, undergoing reincarnation, likely providing a whole new US cottage industry in the future.

Damned monitors all over the US now have something to aspire to.

Old Jules

MIA – Permanent Mouse Patrol – Niaid

Missing a couple of  days now.  Hopefully she's just on an extended adventure, but she's got Hydrox and me missing her a lot.  Last time I saw her, night-before-last I was noticing she was losing a lot of weight, skin and bones under all that fur.  But she rested on my chest purring and demanding affection an hour-or-so during the night, ate heartily, drank a lot of water. Not a bad final approach to the active runway out of here.  Jack

Missing a couple of days now. Hopefully she’s just on an extended adventure, but she’s got Hydrox and me missing her a lot. Last time I saw her, night-before-last I was noticing she was losing a lot of weight, skin and bones under all that fur. But she rested on my chest purring and demanding affection an hour-or-so during the night, ate heartily, drank a lot of water.
Not a bad final approach to the active runway out of here. Jack

The Cat in the Wood – Archibald MacLeish

The cat in the wood cried farewell cried farewell
Farther and farther away and the leaves
Covered her over with the sound of the leaves
And the sound of the wood O my love O my love
Farther and farther away and the sound
Of leaves overhead when I call to you
Leaves on the ground.

Socorro, NM, 1996 - 1997 On loan from Mel to provide company for Hydrox, her litter-mate.  Beginning the long road home.

Socorro, NM, 1996 – 1997 On loan from Mel to provide company for Hydrox, her litter-mate. Beginning the long road home.

Naiad sunset placitas