Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Coffee Makers

I sure wish I had one of them old tin percolators. You know the kind with the small glass bulb on top so you could watch the color of the water change as the coffee brewed. Put some coffee in the little strainer. Fill the urn with water. Sit it on a burner and in a few minutes you had coffee. Or maybe a Pyrex percolator made of all glass so you could watch the whole brewing process. Anything SIMPLE!

Sunday morning our coffee maker sort of blew up. Well not literally, it just sprung a leak and ran all over the cabinet. I examined it to fix it and found it to be "re-place-able" rather than "fix-able". So it went to the trash bin and I went to Wal-Mart to find a replacement.

Our old one was real simple. Just put in coffee and water, hit the big red button on the front and poof, you had coffee in a few minutes! The only "bell and whistle" it had was a two hour safety shut off incase you forgot to push the big red button. (Which the Warden and I almost always forgot to do.) Well apparently that style was too efficient because they quite making them.

Wal-Mart did have at least 15 different styles with all sorts of bells and whistles. Expresso makers. Cappuccino makers. Instant "cup of coffee" makers. Coffee makers that were also alarm clocks. This one is "programmable". (You know I enjoy flashing lights and buttons). All sorts of safety stuff on it.

Well that night I set the clock perfectly that is built into the face of this elixir maker. I got to poke all the buttons as I programmed the thing to come on at exactly 3 AM so that when I got up the coffee would be ready to pour and I could enjoy my morning cup at first rise. No waiting!

In the night the electricity must have blinked during the boomer and reset everything. When I got up, the little clock was blinking showing that the time was off by several hours and there was no coffee made.

Well I started trying to reset the brewing time, but the "safety features" wouldn’t let me over ride. So I opened the manual to find out how. It was written in several languages and all of them made no sense!

"Hold down the ON button while touching the minute button three times to enter your password allowing you to reprogram your coffee maker"

Well that’s fine and dandy, but I never set a password in the thing to begin with! (I don’t think.) To make a long story short, I finally figured out that at 3PM each day (and 5PM on Sundays) the coffee maker will come on and make the perfect cup of coffee!

Best I can figure, I’m either going to have to go to Wal-Mart and get another coffee maker or change jobs so I work a night sift to have a fresh cup of coffee!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Warden

Over the past couple of years, many have written to ask about the "Warden". Does she read the blogs? Does she mind being called such a name? Does she know that I refer to her in such a manner? People have even written saying that apparently I am an insensitive person. I have even been threatened a couple of times.

This shocks me. Thus I am compelled to write this blog concerning the Warden.

First of all, let me explain to those of you who do not know her. She is a librarian and understands how important stories, books and the written language are in shaping and educating those around us. How they help in the exchange of ideas and facts. The written word is needed to spread humor and fascination or explain devotion or even anger. So thus she encourages me to write.

However, communication is a two way street. I write with my limited vocabulary with a certain thought in mind. I use the words I know to explain that feeling or event. You (the reader) reads using the understanding of your culture, background and events that have shaped your thinking.

For instance, if I was to write the statement, "Your beauty would make time stand still." Most would accept that as a compliment. Some however would interpret that as a putdown by understanding it in this manner. "Your face would stop a clock".

Many of you have interpreted the word "Warden" incorrectly. Most have seen the word as a chief guard of a prison or an enforcer of punishment. You do not see the word as an official charged with special supervisory duties.

Also I am a very slow typer and speller. (I wouldn’t dare write anything in long hand without a spell checker!) So I started using acronyms as often as I can to speed up my story telling. An acronym of course is an abbreviated way of writing a lot of words with a few keystrokes.

Warden in my case is more of an acronym.

Wonderfully Attractive Resourcefully Diligent Efficient Nurturer

So from this point forward, I hope each of you will see my references to "the Warden" in a much different manner.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mining for Gall Stones part 2

Waking up after surgery is always a good sign, but memories of that particular stage is foggy to say the least. The scariest part was hearing someone say, "Angel, he’s beginning to wake up." (But in retrospect, I guess it’s better than hearing Beelzebub or something similar.)

"Sir, do you need anything?" a voice from the fog asked.

"Yes, I want some water." I replied.

""Nothing for a while yet. You might throw up and cause complications" was her answer.

"Why? What difference does it make if I die of thirst or from throwing up?"

"You’ll live" she assured me.

In my foggy remembrances, there was a nurse sitting there with another clipboard and I assumed she was going to ask them same questions again. But then I noticed she was checking the dials and writing things down.

"What’s my chances?" I asked.

"About 99.9% unless you give us a hard time" she replied.

My next memories are of being rolled back to the room. Kind of reminded me of those TV shows of them pushing a gurney down the hall and the camera gets the patient’s perspective of the lights flashing overhead as they pass under. I moaned "water" a few times so those standing along the hall would know I was in dire need of something to drink. (I was hoping one of them would overpower the orderlies and offer me a drink of water!)

Finally I come to the room and the nurse hands me a buzzer and says reassuringly "if you need anything, just press the buzzer and I’ll be right here."

Just as she heads out the door, I press the buzzer. "What do you want?" she asks from the door.

"Can I have something to eat?’ I plead.

"Nothing till after 7PM" she says and immediately disappears. I press the button again.

"Now what do you want" she asks as she rounds the door.

"Can I have some water or ice?"

"No!" she says with hands on hips. Then with a pointed finger she includes, "If you press that button again before 7PM and ask for anything to eat or drink, they are going to have to take you back to surgery to remove that buzzer!"

Well that convinced me so I lay the button down and look at the clock 5:45PM. I think to myself that they have to be trying out some sort of torture method

Finally at 7PM (not one minute sooner) Florence Nightingale shows up with a big glass of water and a tray of liquids for supper. Now folks, normally I like to chew my food, but that tray looked awfully good after 22 hours of NOTHING.

The surgery doctor comes by and I over hear him tell the nurse "his diet can be as tolerated". I immediately ask the Warden to go get me a bacon cheeseburger and fries.

The nurse overhears my request and says "Sir, without your gall bladder, you will not be able to tolerate much fat in your diet".

So folks, here I sit this morning finishing this story, thankful I lived through the surgery and FINALLY figuring out what that torture method is they had planned. A life without tasty food! I’ll be skin and bones in a month!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Mining for Gall Stones part 1

Well for those of you interested in the rest of the story, let me begin by stating the original directions of the doctor. He said on Monday morning, no food or water by mouth after midnight because I would be set up for 7AM check in, 9AM procedure on Tuesday. (Well folks to begin with I SURE didn’t plan on taking food or water in any other manner!) He then says if nothing is wrong, fluids by dinner and you’ll be home easily for supper.

Then the hospital calls in the afternoon and says things have changed, be there at 9AM for an 11AM procedure. I am beginning to see a pattern here designed to starve me. But I comply and show up at the proper time hungry, thirsty and ready to get the procedure done so I can EAT.

9:00AM The little aide brings me the famous back-less gown for me to put on. (As I strip to my underwear, she explains how shy she is!!!!) The pre-op nurse comes next to ask all the questions that I have answered in the afore mentioned meetings and to tell me about the procedure and what to expect.

4 little incisions two just above my belt line and two just below my ribcage. She explains how they will fill the cavity with gas so they can work. I explained if she would just bring me a plate of beans and cornbread, I’d make my own gas and save them the trouble. (She apparently wasn’t the humorous type cause she didn’t grin.)

Next she puts in the inevitable IV in the back of the hand (someday I suspect they will just have the admission receptionist start those dang IV’s so you can wear them longer!). The vampire nurse shows up drooling for her blood samples. And the aide now offers me a remote to the TV to pass the next hour and a half.

10:30AM The little aide stops by to inform us they are running a little late. I have already channel surfed the TV completely. (The only interesting channel is the "in house health" channel which has explained many interesting facts, such as blood pressures, cholesterol levels, defecation and urine volumes!)

11:45AM The little aide says only one more before me and we will be TAKING him down sometime soon. (By now I am getting bedsores and my mouth is so dry I can’t even form spit. I am beginning to plan on how to unhook my IV and just drink straight from the bag,)

2:15PM The little aide shows up with a nurse and orderly in surgical greens and a new gurney. As I climb onto the new gurney, the nurse in greens says, "Sir you will have to remove your underwear."

"Why?" I ask in astonishment, "You are only going to work above the belt line!"

"We have to prep you for surgery, sir."

"Well just make DANG sure that you are very careful with razors and scalpels then!" I caution. (She apparently wasn’t the humorous type either.)

The green nurse then pulls out her clipboard and begins the questions, AGAIN. By now I have them memorized and just answer: no, no, no, yes, no, 11-26-51, oral surgery only, 1999, no, no, yes and no.

"What’s that?" she ask.

"The answers to the questions!" I shoot back.

"But I haven’t asked them yet" is her reply. (It seems they just like to ask the questions.) She then reads my wristband and asks if I am Dennis.

"Well yes!" I say answer emphatically.

"We just have to make sure, sir" she responds. "Just a safety precaution. There is a lot of identify theft these days you know!"

"You mean you have problems with people stealing arm bands and sneaking in for surgery?" I ask quizzically.

"You know what I mean!" and we begin our journey to the operation room to meet the anesthesiologist. This guy begins explaining in depth the procedure and medications he is going to use to put me under. And then explains in depth the process of waking me back up. All the while he is explaining, he is beginning to inject some sort of fluid into my IV. A nurse on the other side explains that he really just bores people to sleep and it must have worked because that is the last I remember.

More to come later, but right now I’m tired and you are probably thinking I could take the place of that anesthesiologist.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Gall Stone Experience, Stage Two

Well we went through stage two today of proving I have gallstones. I reckon the “bent over retching in pain” and the x-rays that even a redneck like me could see wasn’t enough proof. Now today’s procedure wasn’t bad, I admit that. But I had to go to the same “lab” that I went to several years back for diverticulitis and it is forever burned into my memory.

When they were checking for diverticulitis, this little nurse told me to take off my wranglers. Now folks, I am somewhat of a shy individual, so the start of that procedure was somewhat of an embarrassment. BUT THEN she took out this probe hooked to a garden hose and put it where the sun don’t shine! That ordeal still sends shivers up my spine!

Well, today they led me down the hall to the same room. I was doing OK until that SAME nurse with the garden hose showed up. I would have been out of there in a flash but they had the door blocked. She assured me there were no needles in this procedure or probes to be inserted into any of my orifices so I relaxed somewhat. (But I kept a leery eye on that nurse just incase.)

She asked me a few of the same questions that the ER nurse ask (I was only about 30 feet away from the ER! You would think they would keep records or something!) But anyway, she asked me to take off my shirt and then squirted some of this jelly stuff all over my belly then went to rubbing this hand held sensor across it.

Now this machine had all sorts of flashing lights and buttons. I would have given my eyeteeth to have gotten to play with the thing. I even asked if she could let me have a few of them pictures so that I could attach one with this blog for proof but she said no.

She showed me my heart (which for those of you who do not believe I have one, IT’S THERE!), the gall bladder and finally the stones. (Looked like pencil erasers to me.) And then she went “hmmm” in a serious tone as if she had found something. Now folks, a doctor or nurse should never do things like that to us hypochondriacs.

“What’s wrong?” I asked

“I can’t find it,” she said as she continued her search.

“Find what? You just showed me the stones!”

“Yes," she continued, "but they told me that as big a sissy as you are, there would probably be a uterus!”

There’s a wisenheimer in every crowd. Oh well, surgery tomorrow at 11 AM.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

ER, IV's, EKG's and X-rays

This just hasn’t been my summer! In June on the way home from vacation in Texas, we hit a wild hog and did quite a bit of damage to our car. In July I end up with a case of the shingles and go to the doctor for the first time in over 10 years. Then last evening, leaned back in my easy chair, I started having bad back and chest pains. After setting around for two hours and trying to find something that would relieve the pain, I gave up and ask the Warden to take me to the emergency room.

Well now folks, I’m here to tell you that the ER’s you see on TV is not the way the ER is in our town. Now they were nice, don’t get me wrong, but I was kind of expecting a furious flurry of activity to determine just how close I was to dying. Instead I was put into a room and left for dead. I just figured once they seen me they had written me off as a lost cause.

Finally one little nurse came in and asked who my doctor was and other simple questions. (My assumption was she needed to know who to have sign the death certificate.) I told her I was in a lot of pain and even moaned a few times to validate the claim. She had me lay back on the gurney and gave a few pokes at my upper abdomen, which almost sent me to the roof. And then came that question that all doctors and nurses go to college to learn, “Did that hurt?”

“What was your first clue,” I asked, “the fact that my eyes rolled back or the blood curdling scream?”

“Would you like for me to get you something for the pain?” she asked in a rather smug tone of voice.

“No” I answered with the same smug tone. “I like laying here in a fetal position gasping for each breath.”

She disappears from the room for what seems like hours then returns with a small cup full of creamy lime green liquid. She hands it to me and demands, “Drink this!”

“What is it?” I ask.

“A green lizard” is her reply.

“Puréed?” I ask in astonishment. I am beginning to wonder when the witch doctor in his full regalia is going to show up and drive the evil spirits away.

“Sir, if we are to help you, you must do what the doctor orders”.

Well as I turn the cup up and drink the slimy stuff, my mouth and throat go instantly numb and swallowing becomes difficult. Now I KNOW I am being put out of my misery by some sort of paralyzing poison. I try reading this nurse’s nametag so that I can come back to haunt this woman.

“Does that relieve the pain?”

“No!” I sputter.

She disappears again as I lay there writhing in pain. After another hour or so she shows up with a blood pressure machine, one of those little bags full of clear liquid, some test tubes and a whole bunch of needles. She then wraps my arm with the BP cup and turns it on. It nearly squeezes my arm off but finally the numbers appear.

212 over 106

“Well” she says, “it does appear you are in some pain.”

“How many more test have you got to run before you’re convinced?” I ask.

She then takes my hand. Finally I think, she is feeling remorse for this suffering soul on the gurney. She then grabs a 6-inch long needle and aims for a vein on the back of my hand.

“Hold still” she demands as she works the needle in, “we need to put this bag of fluids in you.”

“Can’t I just drink it?” I plea.

“We need blood samples too” she responds as she draws the first vial of what must have been a hundred.

When I am fully drained of blood, she rolls up a machine with all sorts of electrical wires and couplings to it. She then starts peeling little sticky things (kind of reminded me of duct tape) all over my body and chest. (Now folks, the ONLY place I am not covered with hair is the top of my head.) She turns on the machine and prints off a couple feet of paper with a graph on it.

“Looks normal” she says as she gives the first duct tape tab a jerk. She removes the remaining 50 tabs in the same manner and I now have little bald patches all over my body and chest. I sort of look like I have scabies or something.

They then roll me down to the x-ray room where they do a series of film in various positions. Then back to the torture room. In a few minutes the doctor on call shows up toting one of the x-ray pictures which he holds to the light and points. “You have a lot of big stones in your gall bladder. I’ll bet you are in a lot of pain” as the nurse begins injecting some liquid into the IV slot.

I begin to feel a warmth take over as the morphine creases through my veins. Why didn’t they do that 3 hours ago, I think to myself as I drift off?

The “rest of the story” will come in a few days. (If I survive the surgery!)