April 2nd, 2009

Bruce, Caroline

Happy Birthday!!

And we have another birthday today. In reading my friends page a few minutes
ago I read about another birthday that took place earlier in the week and
thought I'd totally spaced, but then I discovered that I'd never even gotten
an email reminder, so hopefully I didn't just break my fairly decent record.
Today though, I'd like to wish truthobjective a happy birthday.
Hope it's a good day for you today!
Bruce, Caroline

What's Going on in My Part of the World?

Well, I suppose that's kind of a loaded question, but it's been a while
since I posted an update, so here I am.

The last time I wrote in here I talked about the joys of trying to arrange
for my ultrasound.; I honestly didn't think it was going to happen on
Monday. Businesses were still closed all over the place, and although the
Red River finally crested at about 41.8 feet on Saturday afternoon and then
started falling, there was still a lot of concern.

Just a slight diversion from my topic for a minute. A few days ago someone
left a comment and asked me how close I actually am to the flooding. I live
in West Fargo, which is considered to be a separate city from Fargo. They
have a system set up that apparently is supposed to divert water around the
city, and considering that I'm still in this apartment safe and dry, I'd say
it's doing what it's supposed to do. However, because I'm still most
definitely in the Fargo area, I was affected in the sense that
transportation and businesses were still not totally functional, even in
West Fargo. This gave everyone who could possibly help the chance to work on
sand bagging and other things to help get the dikes built up to at least 43
feet. Flood stage of the Red River in this area is 18 feet, and even now the
river is still somewhere over 30 feet, although I haven't gotten a flood
warning email about it recently so can't give an exact level. In any case
though, businesses started to reopen yesterday, and I think things are
gradually starting to get back to some semblance of normal in this area.
Things aren't over, and the new snow that we got on Monday and Tuesday
definitely hasn't helped, but the overall feelings seem to be very positive.

So, now with that out of the way, back to my story. By the time Monday
morning came around, I was pretty much bound and determined that I was going
to have that ultrasound. I was still really frustrated that I hadn't been
notified about any sort of cancellation, and I really didn't want to put
things off. I wasn't unsympathetic to the floods, especially since last
November is still very much on my mind and dreams, but I wanted that test.
So, starting at about 8:00 AM, I started calling the radiology department at
the hospital. For the first hour I kept getting the message that I'd gotten
last week about Friday appointments being cancelled, but there was no new
news. At 9:00 though, the message was changed, and gave me absolutely no
information. So, I called the main hospital number and asked to speak with a
human in radiology. I was reluctantly transferred, but I actually got a real
person. I explained that I was supposed to have an ultrasound that morning
and I was wondering what the status was. The lady told me that things had
been announced on TV. Okay, so the one question that I chose not to ask as
much as I wanted to was, so what about those people who don't watch TV? Does
showing something on a TV screen alleviate the need for a courtesy call to
patients letting them know about changes in their appointments? I wasn't
overly pleased, but at the same time I was really trying to be
understanding. But, things changed when the lady mentioned that one tech had
managed to make it in that morning, and she'd be willing to do the test if I
could get into the hospital. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
Fortunately, the cabs were running normally, so I was able to get a cab over
there. They didn't give me any problem at registration; apparently radiology
had notified them that I was coming, so they didn't try to tell me that the
place was closed or anything. It took me $31, and just a little over an hour
for the entire trip, and it would have even been quicker except that someone
else just kind of walked in expecting to have his appointment that day too,
and since his appointment had been scheduled for an earlier time than mine,
they took him first. Since it was so quick, this didn't bother me, and I
thought it was nice that they were being accommodating anyway so I was
willing to wait as long as I needed to in order to get this done.

The next step was what to do about my follow-up appointment. Since my
original visit was at a different clinic, I wasn't sure if I should go back
to my regular place and see my normal doctor or if I should go back to the
new clinic. Yesterday morning I attempted to call the new clinic and the
phone just kept ringing and ringing so I called my original clinic instead.
My doctor's nurse called me back and after a few calls, I'm scheduled to see
my doctor next Tuesday morning. I'm really hoping that he'll be there this
time around!!! Then, while I was writing this entry, I got a call back from
the other clinic. I was told that my blood tests were a bit elevated in
terms of liver function and things, so if she were seeing me she'd recommend
one more test, but obviously that'll be up to my doctor. The ultrasound came
back negative, so that's good, in a way. This other test apparently looks at
the gallbladder and liver too, but somehow it's different, and it can find
things that might not show up on the ultrasound. So, I guess we'll see what
Tuesday shows and go from there. All I know is that I still don't feel all
that good, but it doesn't matter if I'm doing things or just sitting around,
and I can't wear half my jeans because they button and zip, and right now
they're putting too much pressure on me so that means more laundry. It's a
small price to pay for comfort, especially since I can just do it right in
my apartment.

And, speaking of laundry, I really should get off my lazy butt and try to do
a load. But, that's the latest that I have at the moment.
Bruce, Caroline

What's Changed?

I'm taking a break from my normal reading material, and I'm currently
reading To Race the Wind: An Autobiography by Harold Krents. The description
says: Recollections of a former Harvard law student who is blind. Krents
fell in love, graduated with honors, and passed the New York State bar exam.
Recalls childhood loneliness and being taunted in public school. Credits
family support for his perseverance. Krents's experiences inspired the
popular play and movie Butterflies Are Free. 1972.

I've never seen the play, but I've seen the movie with the same title, and
also the movie To Race the Wind. There are many things about Harold's life
that I think are a bit different, some things that I don't totally agree
with, but in other ways, I can most definitely relate. As a male though, the
expectations for Harold were different from what they were for me but it
sort of got me thinking.

As I'm sitting here reading, I'm remembering things that I haven't thought
about in years. One thing that came to mind took place when I was probably
about five years old. I don't remember if it was Kindergarten Round-up when
this happened, or if it was just something that happened. As a kid, (and
before I knew that exercise was bad), I absolutely loved to run. On this
particular day I remember walking into a gym with my mom and just taking off
across the floor, running at top speed. I wasn't afraid that I was going to
get hurt, and in fact, the thought apparently never even entered my mind. I
don't know what exactly was going through my five-year-old mind, but I knew
it was an empty space, and I wanted to run. I think it was that same day
when I discovered climbing bars that ran up the side wall of the gym. I
climbed those too, and at one point I think I dropped off before actually
getting to the ground. At no time did I give any thought to my safety, and
at no time did I actually hurt myself. I had no fear. I climbed on
everything, took crazy risks, and enjoyed every minute of it.

This fearlessness took me through several years, but somewhere along the way
it started to go away. I remember a time in fourth grade. It was during
afternoon recess, and we had plenty of snow on the ground. One of our
teachers was standing by the monkey bars with a pile of snow in front of
him. We were taking turns climbing on the bars and then we'd jump off. The
idea was that the teacher was going to catch us before we actually hit the
ground, but the snow was there as a back-up just in case. Not once did my
teacher miss catching me, but I remember starting to feel uneasy about
jumping after a while, and eventually I think I said I was tired rather than
admit to my classmates that I was starting to get scared. The drop couldn't
have been more than about five feet but for the first time I think I
realized that I could possibly get hurt.

A year later, I was practicing the high jump in gym class. I had gotten
pretty good, and I pretty much always managed to hit the mat without
knocking the poll down and I was really excited. I think it was the day of
the actual test when it happened though. I started to execute my body turn
too far to the right. My leg went over but I landed too close to the edge of
the mat and kept going. The mat was fairly far off the ground, (I'm thinking
about three feet, but considering that I was shorter at that point my
perception might be off a bit now.) In any case, the mat was outside on
concrete. I landed on my arm. Nothing was broken, but I was pretty sore for
a while and I either had a strain or a sprain, I can't remember which
anymore.

After that, I think I started to be a bit more cautious. I participated in
trust games and high ropes course things during summer camp, but those
things were different for me. I was in a harness for the ropes, and although
I knew that if the person holding onto my rope lost their grip I'd be in a
world of hurt, the absolute freedom I felt dangling so far up in the air was
amazing. There's nothing like the feeling of controlled free-fall, and I
think I still remember that feeling of total freedom.

These days though, I prefer to be more cautious. I'm not as likely to wander
around in unfamiliar areas, I'm a much more careful walker, and, for the
most part, I prefer to keep both feet planted firmly on the ground. I'm sure
part of it is just me getting older, and hopefully a bit smarter, but
sometimes I wonder what happened to that part of me who used to love the
unknown. What happened to the kid who used to climb up the slide from the
slide end instead of the ladder? What about the kid who could climb up the
side of a swing-set bar and hang upside-down from the top bar? I think back
to some of those things and absolutely cringe because I didn't get hurt, but
I wonder what made me change. I was the kid who used to pull kids into the
swimming pool when I thought they should be swimming rather than sitting on
the edge of the pool in tears because they were afraid. (Okay, so that's
cruel, but I even remember the name of the boy I did it too. His name was
Billy, and he just couldn't bring himself to get into the pool and since the
rest of us were there I thought that he should be too. My teacher wasn't
pleased, but Billy was even less pleased.) These days though, I'm more
likely to be like Billy and let everyone else try things first before doing
it myself. Am I chicken? What happened to change me? Are these changes good
or am I truly missing out? Does the fact that I know I can't see, and
understand what that actually means have anything to do with any of this? I
just don't know, but reading this book has really gotten me thinking.