Monday, November 25, 2013

Stringing The Pearls Of His Favor

The last Thursday in November is the one day that is exclusively American.  We commemorate a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.

When their arduous existence was rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty with a joyous outpouring of gratitude.

Times change.  Traditions coalesce.  Their meaning becomes vague to younger generations of Americans.

In a time when aging veterans are told they cannot fly the flag under which they served or school children are told by their school board that there is no time in the day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, upholding traditions like Thanksgiving may be at odds with our devotion to progressivism or secular self-interest.

If there is one day each year when food and family take center stage, it is Thanksgiving. It is a holiday about “going home” with all the emotional content those two words imply.

The need to connect with loved ones and to express our gratitude is at the heart of Thanksgiving and a nostalgia for a simpler time.  Somewhere in the hustle and bustle is the abiding national memory of a moment in Plymouth, nearly 400 years ago, when two very different cultures shared an autumn feast.

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us—and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love; every moment of existence is a grace.

I must admit, that this year more than any other in my 61 years of life, I have been stringing the pearls of His favor.

With the diagnosis that I have restrictive lung disease, I became depressed.  My depression was lifted when God brought me to my lung specialist.  I am not well, not cured, but I am in better health as a result of this very caring and compassionate medical professional.

From the miracle of heart catheterization, I have learned that my heart is healthy and not the source of my lung disease. 

From the government shutdown, when I was not being paid despite reporting for duty each day, I was able to liquidate some assets in order to stay afloat financially.

You find yourself praying in times of need.  You should also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the heavenly blessings which God has bestowed upon me.  I will recount the days filled with abundance, joy and gratitude.  I will kneel in prayer for all the gifts I have received and have yet to receive.

For my readers who have taken a moment from their busy day to leave their kind words and their heartfelt thoughts and prayers, I have been touched by your compassion.

God grants us a gift of 86,400 seconds a day.  You took a few of those precious seconds to think of me and wish me well.  I can never repay your kindness.

I have always loved A.A Milne’s children’s’ story about Winnie-the-Pooh.  It was Piglet who noticed “that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

I will be thinking of you at Thanksgiving and asking God to bless you abundantly, love you dearly and watch over you always.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dolphins To Be Cat Chow For The Panthers

Fox Sports is carrying the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Miami Dolphins.  Sun Life Stadium will see the Fins turned into cat chow.

The Panthers are 4.5 point favorites with the over/under for the game at 41 points.

The Panthers are out-rushing opponents by almost 40 yards per game so far this season while Miami is getting out-rushed by about 35 yards per game.

All the other games slated for this weekend will be snoozefests except the matchup between Denver (9-1) and New England (7-3).

Go Panthers!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Improbable But Very Real Adventures Of Curmudgeon

Allow me to begin this post on my improbable but very real adventures by quoting from Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:
“The most exquisite pleasure in the practice of medicine comes from nudging a layman in the direction of terror, then bringing him back to safety again.” 
My regular readers know that I have been battling a persistent breathing problem since last year.  I finally consented, after repeated severe prodding, to visit a pulmonologist (lung specialist) to determine why I was suffering from a hunger for air.

After a series of tests, it was determined that my lung capacity was 50 percent.  I was diagnosed with COPD and some form of restrictive lung disease.

Most recently, my lung specialist suggested that I change my blood pressure medication from Lisinopril (generic for Zestril®) to Diovan® in an effort to rid me of a persistent cough that is seen in 1 in 20 patients who have taken that drug over a long period of time.

His hunch was right and the cough is finally gone.  In my post “The Doctor Will See You Now”, I underwent several more tests ordered by my lung specialist to determine exactly why I am always so short of breath.

They did not go well and the same day that I miserably failed my stress test he set up an appointment with a cardiologist, who then ordered me to have cardiac catheterization.

I had five days to imagine the worst outcomes.  At first, I was brave.  Each day that passed I became more and more apprehensive.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I was scared.  I was told if they found a blockage I would receive coronary angioplasty with stenting to open up narrowed or blocked segments of a coronary artery.  If the blockage was significant, then the only alternative would be bypass surgery.

I awakened at 4:30 AM the day of the procedure and made sure that my neighbor would be able to take care of my little dog Sophie while I was gone by setting out her food and some pee pee pads if she had to do her business before Roy came over to feed her.  I had already made arrangements with him that if things went well that he would pick me up at the hospital after I was released and that he would drive me back to the hospital the next day to pick up my car.

I left the house at 5:30 AM and arrived at the hospital early.  I checked in at the desk and was escorted to admitting.  After all the paperwork had been issued, the admissions clerk walked me to the Coronary Care Unit.

The very, and I do mean very, young nurse waited for me to take off my clothes, put on the very sexy gown and the special socks she laid on the bed.  A few minutes later, she reentered my room and tried to place an IV in my left arm.  She struggled for 20 minutes without success.

I was patient, but to a point.  When it appeared she was going to be unsuccessful, a seasoned nurse named Camille entered the room and took command.

She looked at the orders and saw that I was to receive an IV in both arms.  While she worked to do that the other nurse shaved my lady parts.

Having no luck trying the conventional way, Camille decided to go all Vin Diesel on my ass and used a tourniquet above my elbow and one around my wrist.  I was watching the clock that hung on the left wall above her head.

She began at 7:15 AM and was done at 7:27.  She hurt me because my vein was too deep and it wiggled.  Then she moved to my right arm.  Again she used two tourniquets.  The clock read 7:31.  She finished torturing me at 7:49 AM.  She apologized profusely for the pain.  I told her it was alright. 

At 8:15 the cardiologist walked into my room, sat on the bed, asked me how I was doing and proceeded to tell me that there was a cardiac emergency and that my catheterization procedure would be delayed until sometime after noon.

The paperwork that I had been given when I left her office last Thursday prepared me for this possibility.

She could see my disappointment and offered to have breakfast sent to me.  It was a token of her compassion I guess.  When the food arrived it was a bowl of grits, two scrambled eggs neatly folded and two pieces of limp, dry toast.  There was also a cup of coffee which I do not drink.  I hit the call button and asked if I could have a cup of hot tea instead of the coffee.  The nurse obliged.

To pass the time I watched TV, nodded off, got up to go the bathroom with my IV drip stand in tow, returned to bed, watched TV, nodded off and got up to go the bathroom, etc, etc.  Time doesn't seem to pass in the same way in hospitals as it does in other places.

Unable to amuse myself any further, I took a look at the clock and saw that it was 1:30 PM.

I turned on my cell phone and called my friend at the beach to keep her updated. Thankfully she didn’t answer so I could just leave a voicemail and then called my neighbor to give him a heads up.

I turned off my phone and dragged my IV stand over to the nurses’ desk and informed them that I was tired of waiting.

Camille acknowledged that I had been extremely patient and offered to call upstairs to find out how much longer it would be before they could take me.

I went back to my three-sided room with a curtain and lay back in bed.  Shortly, Camille came in and told me that they were cleaning up the room and that I would be next.  My simple question was, “What time will that be?”  Camille’s answer was 2 o’clock.  I said, “OK, but by 2:05 if they haven’t come to get me I’m pulling all this shit out of my arms and I’m walking out of here.”

Camille said, “No, honey, you can’t do that!”  My answer was a simple, “Watch me.”

At 1:57 PM, a man dressed in operating room garb, booties over his shoes and a blue surgical cap came with a wheelchair.  He was smacking his chewing gum.  Something about that pissed me off.

He loaded me into the wheelchair, put the footrests down and threw a blanket over my legs and off we went.  We got out of the elevator on the third floor and he put me in a room that had two chairs and nothing more inside.

He said he’d be back.  Moments later he reappeared advising me that he was looking for someone to take me to the cath lab. 

The guy came back a few minutes later telling me that he couldn’t find anyone.  Naturally, I wasn’t feeling very confident about this chain of events and being the smartass that I am asked him if I was starring in an episode of Candid Camera.  He didn’t have a clue what the hell I was talking about.

From 2:11 PM until 2:28 PM I sat all alone in that room.  I had my hands on the brakes of that wheelchair and was within a whisker of unlocking the wheels and rolling my ass back to CCU when a man dressed in scrubs appeared out of nowhere and introduced himself as Dr. Price.

He informed me that the procedure from the AM ran longer than anticipated and that my cardiologist would not be performing the procedure.  He would be doing it because, as he stated, “I’m the night guy.”

At this point, I didn’t care.  He pulled up a chair and sat down in front of me.  He took one look at the IVs in both of my arms and scowled that they were “unsatisfactory”.

I said, “Look, that’s the best the nurses could do” and recited the amount of time it took to insert them.

He said if my veins were that difficult to stick that it would be his suggestion to go in through my groin for catheterization.

Highly perturbed and excessively tired by this time I said, “That’s effing wonderful.”  He didn’t particularly care for my comment and offered to reschedule the procedure.

That was a bad move on his part.  I had a “Come-to-Jesus meeting” with the guy saying, “Listen doc, this is just a job to you, but this is my life.  I’ve put everything in my life on hold to have this procedure done today.  I’ve taken Family Medical Leave time off from work to have this done today.  If you have to do this by going in through the groin then that’s what you’re going to do.”

He agreed to proceed and walked out saying he’d back in just a moment.  When he came back he had two nurses in tow.  They were pleasant young women who could see that I was highly agitated and promised to give me drugs to “settle” me down.  One grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and the other one led the way to the cardiac catheterization lab.

It was so cold in that room that I was certain there had been a blizzard in there just moments before.  The nurses had me remove my gown and guided me onto the table.  They immediately placed a blanket that had been heated over me.  “Thank God,” I thought, because I was turning into an icicle.

They set up a tray with all the needed instruments on it, prepared my leg and shaved the fuzz around the area where the catheter would be inserted.  They repositioned the C-arm right over my head and chest and the doctor stepped up to the table.

They guided my arms into some kind of channel so they would be immobile and one of the nurses stepped to my left side and told me she would be giving me 2 mg of midazolam and 50 mcg of fentanyl to “relax” me.  I thought to myself, “not a moment too soon, honey.”

When he felt I was “relaxed” the doctor warned me that I would feel a pinch and a stick.  He was numbing the incision site at the femoral artery.  We waited together for the numbing to begin and then he said, “You’re going to feel a stick.”

I don’t know exactly how long I was on that slab of ice called a table.  I guess the drugs were doing their job.  The next thing I knew the procedure was over.  They moved the C-arm away and the doctor told me that there were no blockages.  I was relieved to hear that.  He gave me four paper copies of the angiography images of my heart from the procedure and placed them in my lap.

I laid there watching the nurses remove all the leads and electrodes (there were more than a dozen of them).  It was a bit like watching comedian Tommy Cooper do his “rope trick”.

The nurses helped me back into my gown and rolled me onto another bed and took me back to CCU.

When I got back to my room it was 4:14 PM.  Camille entered and strongly advised that I lay perfectly still with my right leg kept straight.  “Don’t cross your legs, honey, and don’t sit up.”  I acknowledged her instructions and relaxed.

A little later she came back with all kinds of papers and an interesting document.  It was a patient brochure that explained the vascular closure device that was used.  It even came with its own serial number.  (Proof, your theory about stuffing Wonder Bread into a leaking pipe apparently has some merit.)

I’ve already explained above that I’m not much of a “waiter” so I asked Camille how long I would be “resting” before I was discharged.  She said, “Three hours.”  Then she quickly asked, as if to divert my attention, if I would like some dinner.  I said I could nosh a little.

In short order a lady carrying a tray asked me my name and date of birth and gently placed the tray on the tray table, raised the head of the bed so I could reach my eats and encouraged me to enjoy the feast she had set before me; boiled baby carrots, two slices of semi-tough turkey and what was clearly instant potatoes with some brown glop masquerading as gravy.  None of it was seasoned.  I was ravenous so I ate it. 

They gave me a glass the size of a thimble filled with Diet Coke.  I needed more to wash down that awesome meal and rang the call button.  Camille came in and saw me sitting up and nearly had a conniption.  She barked for me to lay down.

She checked my blood pressure, pulled off the sheet at my right foot and felt for a pulse then went off to get me a can of Diet Coke.  Thank God, I thought.  At least I won’t choke to death.

By now it was 6 o’clock.  One hour left before I was to be discharged.  I had to pee.  So I got up grabbed my IV stand and walked the short distance to the potty.  Apparently Camille had been distracted.  When I emerged from the head Camille saw me and, yes, she had another conniption.

“Are you trying to get me fired?”  “No,” I said.  I just want out of here.  She grilled me on whether I had someone here to take me home warning me arduously that I wasn’t driving myself.  I directed her to the bag sitting next to the bed and asked her to retrieve my cell phone.  I called my neighbor Roy and put it on speakerphone.  She could hear every word we said to each other.  I told him to arrive at 7:00 to pick me up.

This made Camille happy.

I asked her if we could expedite the discharge papers and she agreed.  Back in a flash, Camille had a handful of papers with instructions about what to do and what not to do when I got home.  Then she came across some good news.  She said my heart ejection fraction is greater than 55 percent.

Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts.  During each heartbeat cycle, the heart contracts and relaxes. When your heart contracts, it ejects blood from the two pumping chambers.  When your heart relaxes, the ventricles refill with blood. No matter how forceful the contraction, it doesn't empty all of the blood out of a ventricle. The term "ejection fraction" refers to the percentage of blood that's pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat.  An ejection fraction of 55 percent or higher is considered normal.

Camille smiled a broad smile and asked, “Do you know how lucky you are to be a diabetic and have a healthy ejection fraction?”  I said that the Good Lord has done a fine job of taking care of me and that I was lucky to have a wonderful, caring nurse such as her.

I thanked her for all that she had done. 

She asked me to sign the paperwork but fudge the time of discharge.  It was 6:30 PM.  I wrote in the time as 6:50 PM.

She allowed that I should have the IV removed from my left arm but insisted that the one in my right arm wouldn’t be removed until closer to my discharge.  I pouted a little bit but jumped out of bed and began getting my clothes back on.

I checked to make sure I had everything ready and Camille came back to remove the IV shunt from my right arm.  I was free at last.  She walked out to get a wheelchair for me and when she came back she said she had seen Roy and promised I would be right out.  And I was.

I jumped in that car and told Roy to floor it.

When I walked in the door at home I loved on my furkid Sophie walked to the bedroom and put on my PJs.

Today is Friday.  I’ve been out of work for three days.  I’m going back tomorrow.

To all who posted their thoughts and prayers, I thank you.  Your prayers for me were answered.  I’m one lucky curmudgeon to have friends like you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Advise And Consent, Fuck That

Today, Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader for the Imperialistic Democratic Party just destroyed the 225-year-old right of filibuster.

Three Democrats, including liberal Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, recognized that Reid will rue this day and voted to keep the Senate the Senate. Speaking on the Senate floor, Levin even quoted the late ultra-liberal "Lion of the Senate," Teddy Kennedy: "Neither the Constitution, nor Senate rules, nor Senate precedents, nor American history provide any justification for selectively nullifying the use of the filibuster."

Reid had to resort to chicanery and sleazy tactics to amend Senate rules, violating Standing Rule XXII, which requires a two-thirds majority.

In today’s remarks about the filibuster changes, The World’s Most Dangerous Community Organizer said, “All too often we've seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government.”

Reid’s love affair with and blind allegiance to TWMDCO clears the way for his radical, progressive and anti-constitution agenda.  Once a judge is appointed they are there for life and it will further affirm his socialistic/Marxist agenda to remake the courts.

It also points to the fact that The Imperialistic Democratic Party had to resort to the “nuclear option”, something Reid said he would never do:
“Ultimately, this is about removing the last check in Washington against complete abuse of power, the right to extended debate.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
“The world is watching us. We should not be changing the rules by breaking the rules. We should not do that.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4614, 5/9/05)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Will The Panthers Prevail?

The Patriots’ QB, Tom Brady, is 13-4 on Monday Night Football.  The last time the Patriots were on the Carolina Panthers’ home turf was eight years ago.

On February 1, 2004 the Panthers and Patriots played in Super Bowl XXXVIII.  That was the game whose halftime show became controversial when Janet Jackson’s nipple became exposed during what was later called a “wardrobe malfunction”.

Jake Delhomme was the QB then.  Now the Panthers have Cam Newton.  The Panthers lost to the Patriots 32-29.  Two years later the Panthers upset Tom Brady and the Patriots 27-17.

Coming off a road victory in San Francisco against the 49ers, the Panthers are set to host their biggest game in years.

The fans are buzzing about the game and have been encouraged to wear black as the Panthers return to their black jerseys for the first time since Week 2 when they went up against the Buffalo Bills.

The Panthers average 33:48 time of possession per game, highest in the NFL.  Newton’s Completion Percentage has improved to 73.0; his First Down Percentage is up from last season to 40.3 and his Total Quarterback Rating has jumped to 83.4 percent.

Carolina has outscored its opponents 140-57 in its last five games pulling them to within one of the 7-2 Saints.  The oddsmakers are saying the Patriots will be playing the role of underdog for Monday night’s game.

The kickoff is at 8:40 PM and will be aired on ESPN.  I’m hoping for a good game with a victory against the powerful Patriots.  

Go Panthers!

P.S.:  If the Cats lose to the Pats, I fully expect to be ribbed by Proof and Odie, maybe even Stogie.  I’m ready guys.

A Child Again At Christmastime

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ― Norman Vincent Peale

There are but 36 days until Christmas, the one day of the year that serves to remind us that we’re for something else besides ourselves.

Back in September, one of the gals at work who had transferred here from another state was abstractly talking about learning more about the city.  I suggested she visit the Southern Living Christmas Show.

Her eyes brightened with excitement.  She asked if I were joking.  I assured her I was not.  Right then and there we made plans to go to the show.

The Southern Living Christmas Show is one of the most popular holiday shows in the nation and signals the start of the Christmas season.  It runs for 10 days and thousands and thousands of people visit it.

There are over 500 merchants from all over the country who exhibit everything related to this most glorious holiday.

As you enter the show, you pass through Olde Town.  Exhibitors have decorated trees, doors and fireplace mantels in some of the most elegant and visually stunning ways.  Then you pass through Christmas Village.  This area is filled with over 50 shops brimming with Christmas ornaments, garland, night lights, gifts, home décor, wreaths, and centerpieces for your holiday table.  You name it, it’s there.

My first stop was The Christmas Mouse. They have stores located in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. There, I found a beautiful iridescent white snowflake lighted tree topper, two packages of gold glitter and white snowflake ornaments, an Advent calendar filled with milk chocolates (I buy one of these each year to carry on the tradition set by my mom and dad when I was a child) and a beautiful Christmas night light with a little teddy bear and presents underneath it. It measures 7”H by 5”W. The little star on top even twinkles.  I adore it.

My next stop was at A Touch of Country Magic.  These nice folks are located in Cleveland, GA.  I bought one bag each of mulberry, cinnamon orange, apple splendor, Christmas tree scent and holiday punch potpourri.  My bonus gift was a 24-inch cinnamon broom to hang by the fireplace.

I also visited with Santa Claus.  The Shriners are always there for the rug rats to have their pictures taken with the Jolly Old Elf.  It was delightful to watch young and old alike having a conversation about what they’d like him to bring them this year.

Having made our way through Liberty Hall we entered Independence Hall.  This is where all the goodies are.  As I approached the Salem Baking Company I decided to buy a Moravian Star to adorn my front porch.  It is a geometric wonder with 24 points.  Traditionally, it is to be hung on the first Sunday of Advent.  I’ve always wanted one.  This year I was determined to purchase it.

The Moravians settled in North Carolina in 1766 and brought with them their centuries-old recipe for cookies.

The cookies…oh my, the cookies.  I bought the cinnamon and brown sugar, chocolate enrobed peppermint, spiced apple cider, key lime, pumpkin spice, Meyer lemon and classic sugar cookies.

I decided to go to the check-in and deposit my purchases to be held there until I was ready to leave the show.  You can’t really shop if your hands are full, right?

We browsed the exhibits of stained glass panels, metal sculptures, collegiate items, jewelry, toys, books, DVDs, scarves and home décor.  All along the way, there were vendors selling food items.

I stopped by Emily G’s.  These folks call Dunwoody, GA home.  I bought three jars of roasted red pepper jam (this is wonderful dolloped on top of a schmear of cream cheese on a gourmet cracker) and a jar of strawberry chipotle.

Further down another aisle was the Brazos Legends Salsa Company.  Hailing from the College Station area of Texas, their booth was replete with nachos for sampling their selection of salsas.  Next to ice cream, chips and salsa is one of my favorite comfort foods.  I ended up with a jar of Rawhide Burning, Jalapeno Pepper Sauce, Chipotle Pepper Sauce and Cilantro Sauce de Julia.  Mmmm good!

Next to Brazos was a booth inhabited by an elderly woman seated in a rocking chair knitting a scarf.  She was selling Amish apple butter and pumpkin butter.  She was selling two sizes—large 32 oz. and small 16 oz. jars.  I bought one each of the large size.  This will be yummy on warm toast in the morning.

A little further down was Mama Lee’s Gourmet Hot Chocolate.  These nice people traveled from Farmington, TN to participate in the Christmas show.  With the weather turning colder a comfy cup of hot chocolate always hits the spot.  Their hot chocolate is rich.  They carry eight delectable flavors.  To help you decide, they have set up some Bunn® Thermofresh Coffee Servers with three of their most popular flavors:  Double Dutch, Raspberry Cream and White Chocolate.  They serve samples in teeny, tiny little cups.  The stuff is piping hot.  This hot chocolate is so good it’ll make ya wanna slap your mama.  Yeap, I walked away with one each of the flavors listed above.  

On Christmas Eve Santa is going to get a cup of White Chocolate and a plate full of Moravian sugar cookies. There will be carrots for his reindeer too.  He knows I like him best.

It was time to grab a bite to eat.  We settled on some killer hot dogs.  Hebrew National hot dogs served with all the fixin’s.  We bought a Susan G. Komen pink mug filled with our favorite soft drink and went to the picnic area to indulge in our culinary delights.

With our bellies full, I stopped once again at the check-in, gave the attendant my loot and off we went to Freedom Hall.  This is where the more luxurious items are for sale.  There were boots, women’s apparel, garden statuary, art galleries and things of that ilk.

I almost bought a flagpole with a solar beacon and flying eagle ornament.  I paused just long enough to come to my senses.  All I saw was dollar signs.  I’d already spent a boatload of dineros and still hadn’t finished shopping.  So I took their business card and promised to check back with them after Christmas.

My friend took an interest in the pet items at another booth.  She has a dachshund named Bo.  She saw a harness she liked and bought it.  Not far away was another booth with pet goodies.  I decided I would purchase a Christmas collar for my furkid, Sophie, and I also bought a teeny, tiny Santa hat to go with it.  I thought if I force her to wear the hat she should have some homemade doggie treats.  I walked away with cheese wafers and peanut butter “cookies”.  Maybe she won’t stay too mad at me.

Then I happened upon an exhibitor from Yardley, PA.  Dakota Prairie Designs was featuring their “lifetime” candles.  They come with a lifetime fiberglass wick.  I fell in love with the red and purple berry candle in the 10” X 12” three-wick style.  I purchased the stand to go with it and a bottle of clear, unscented paraffin oil.  The “candle” is filled with purple and red berries, orange slices and pine cones. 

Over on another shelf I found a waiter wine caddy.  I loved how whimsical it was.  These two items will adorn my kitchen after Christmas.

The last time I visited the Christmas show, about five years ago, my friend D. Morgan was not there.  Her gallery was there.  She just wasn’t.  When I saw her yesterday, she looked just as lovely as I remembered. 

Doris’ work is easy to recognize because it is peaceful.  She intertwines inspirational text with images and does some of the most beautiful matting and framing you’ve ever seen.  Her prints are all over my house.

The first print I ever purchased featured this text:  "When I get to heaven, and I'm all settled there, may I dine with Mr. Disney…and dance with Fred Astaire!"

The second print I got is entitled Dear Santa.  It depicts a snow-covered field with a farmhouse and fence and a little church in the background.  The night sky has a full moon hanging in it and the image of Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are seen against its shape.  On the print are these words:  "Dear Santa...Are you still the same dear man I knew so long ago? Does Mrs. Claus still mend your suit and pack your bag to go? I knew the bells on reindeer hoof and felt the snow crunch on my roof. I ran to peek in at the tree (that breathless little child was me.) How marvelously jolly round, you stilled my heart without a sound. How quiet you were beside the tree, you drank the cocoa there from me. Now with values rearranged, please don't tell me you have changed. Does Mrs. Claus still mend your suit and pack your bag to go? Are you still the same dear man I knew so long ago?"

Hanging in my bedroom all year ‘round is my favorite.  It’s called Christmas Past with the accompanying sentiment:  "Long ago and far away the memories were cast. Today our hearts are full...Love remembers Christmas Past."  Father Christmas is standing in a snow-covered forest with a polar bear that is donning a collar adorned with bells, there's also a white wolf, a deer in the background and the dove of peace fluttering its wings above.  The original artwork was created in 1993.

It was wonderful to see Doris again.  I hugged her hard and wished her a wonderful holiday season and scurried off to my last stop.

The North Carolina wineries have a bar you can sidle up to and sample their fare.  I let my friend go to town sampling.  I already knew what I wanted—Christmas at Biltmore® White Wine.  This is a semi-sweet white wine with the infused flavors of apricot, spice and citrus. 

I dropped back by the check-in, grabbed my bounty and headed for the exits.  The valet brought my car around.  I loaded all my goodies into the trunk and headed home.

When I got home, I took everything out of the bags and decided I was proud of what I had purchased.  For a while, the visit had replaced my angst over what is to happen on Wednesday and then I remembered Doris’ artwork:  "When I get to heaven, and I'm all settled there, may I dine with Mr. Disney…and dance with Fred Astaire!"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Doctor Will See You Now

I shared with you a week ago that my lung specialist ordered a three tests:  a 2D echo-cardiogram and a full pulmonary function test on Tuesday and a dypsnea stress test on Thursday of this week.

The PFT was an hour-long torture test.  The ECG was interesting.  I laid on the gurney propped against pillows alongside the railing and watched my heart on the monitor.  The technician manipulated the image this way and that.  He changed the screen from graphs with heartbeats displayed on the monitor to black and white to color alternately.

At one point he asked, “Did you feel that?”  I answered, “No.  Why?”

He said your heart is skipping a beat.  These are known as PVCs (premature ventricular contractions).  Then he quickly added that this information would be passed on to my lung specialist.

Today I had the stress test on the treadmill.  The technician attached a bazillion electrodes to me, a blood pressure cuff and some sort of belt around my waist with a gizmo that was measuring something.  My lung specialist showed up after I was all hooked up and I stepped on the treadmill.

Holy shit!  The treadmill was level for about 30 seconds and then began to incline upward.  I tried so hard to walk but had to demand the technician stop it.  My heart rate was up but I was terribly short of breath.

The doctor said he’d never seen anyone so stressed so quickly.  He told me he wanted me to see a cardiologist as soon as possible.  Okay, I thought.  I went home and was getting ready to jump back into my PJs for a little power nap when the phone rang.

It was my doctor’s office calling to tell me I had an appointment at 1:45 PM with the cardiologist he had discussed with me.

I arrived early for my appointment.  I signed in and my butt had barely settled into the waiting room chair when my name was called.

I was lead into an examination room and instructed by the nurse to slip into a gown and she would be back to administer an EKG.

Again with the electrodes and the wires and the monitor and the taking of the blood pressure.

Upon finishing with the EKG, she instructed me to have a seat and the doctor would be right with me.  I waited 46 minutes.

When she entered the room she asked me what brought me there.  After waiting 46 minutes in a paper gown in a freezing exam room, I was hardly cordial.  I tried to rein in my ire.  I gave a brief history of my health complaints and she said would phone my lung specialist.  “Just wait here,” she said.

I expected another long wait and hunkered down in the chair after putting my clothes back on and putting on my jacket to thaw out.  No more than 3 minutes passed when she reentered the room.  She said that they agreed that I needed to have a heart catheterization done.

She informed me that if they found a blockage or blockages that they would perform a balloon angioplasty and install a stent to eliminate them OR perform bypass surgery if necessary.

I was told that I should prepare to stay in the hospital overnight and was given instructions on how to prepare for the procedure that will happen next Wednesday at 6:30 AM.

I’m a little anxious about having this done, but if it will help me feel better and avoid having a heart attack then I am ready to go through with it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

For Those Who Sacrificed So Much So That We Can Live In Freedom, Thank You

Ribbin’ A Friend

If you can’t tease a friend then who the hell can you tease?

Today, as I was surfing the Interwebs, I noticed that a blogger friend had merrily jibed the Carolina Panthers who were set to go up against his beloved San Francisco 49ers.

I’m not a fan of the Panthers, but I thought it might be amusing to poke a little fun at Proof.

I started off by tweeting him the URL to my post.  That grabbed his attention.  We exchanged a few tweets during the first half.  It was then that Vernon Davis was stripped of the ball and Carolina recovered it around their own 5-yard line. 

Every replay from every angle clearly showed the ball had been stripped, but the legally blind officials ruled it an incomplete pass after reviewing the play.  The Niners turned that into a field goal and took a 9-0 lead.

Clearly feeling cocky, Proof tweeted, “Take a deep breath. Find your center. And chant your mantra: ‘There's always next year!’”

During the second half the Panthers scored a touchdown and Mr. Smartypants tweeted, “Congratulations.  You’re losing by less now.”

As fate would have it, the Panthers handled the Niners pretty well in the second half winning the game with a field goal that made the score 10-9.

Proof fell silent in Twitterdom.  Crickets.  Hence, this lovely Photoshop™ which I have dubbed “The San Francisco Treat.”

It shows Kaepernick wrapped up in one of the six sacks the Panthers leveled against the Niners QB, and a shocked Sourdough Sam featured on a box of Kaepernick-flavored Rice-A-Roni.

Just a poke in the eye.  A good old-fashioned ribbing.  Proof, are you there?  You’re sulking aren’t you?

You Sure About That Proof?

Proof, the venerable scribe at Proof Positive, decided to post a picture of a 49ers cheerleader dressed in an uncharacteristically modest outfit.  Judging from the background, it was a cold day in the city by the bay.

Underneath the photo was this charming quip:  "When called by a panther, don't anther!"

I’m not so sure Proof wouldn’t “anther” if the Panther shown here called.

The oddsmakers are making the 49ers a 6-point favorite against the Panthers with an over/under of 43 total points.

James Brady of Niners Nation thinks the 49ers can't overlook the Panthers, despite the latter playing some poor teams saying, “To put it simply: the Panthers are an opportunistic team that plays aggressive football. They can be taken advantage of, but it won't be an easy game.”

The Carolina Panthers’ five wins were against opponents with a combined record of 8-33.  The Niners have won five straight against opponents with a combined record of 13-28.

For the first time in five years, the Panthers are least two games over .500 after eight games.

Proof is a good buddy and he’s crazy about his Niners.  This is going to be a chippy game.  I detest Colin Kaepernick for his arrogance.  I detest Cam Newton for his as well, but they both can move the ball.

Tigers Crushed And Crawling Away From A 38-17 Loss To Bama

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was stuck at work as the big game between LSU and Bama kicked off at 8:00 PM Eastern.

I warned everybody not to get in my way when it was time to leave.  As I drove home all I could think about was the game.  When I bolted through the door hustling to turn on the TV, there were 8 minutes and 52 seconds left in the second quarter.  The score was Alabama 10 and LSU 7.

The oddsmakers had Bama as a 14-point favorite with an over/under of 55 total points.

I wasn’t confident that the Tide would win because the oddsmakers favored my guys.  I was sure of their determination.

With 5:17 left before the half QB A. J. McCarron threw a 9-yard pass to Kevin Norwood for a TD that gave Alabama a 17-7 lead.  With just 43 seconds before the clock ran out LSU’s Mettenberger tossed a 6-yard pass to Travin Dural that netted them a touchdown and the score was Alabama 17, LSU 14.

At the half, I changed into my PJs, fed and watered the dog, made myself a sammich and settled down for the second half.  I knew that I was in for a nail-biter.

Three minutes into the third quarter LSU moved the ball down the field, but failed to reach the end zone and settled for a field goal that knotted up the score at 17-17.

I was attempted to worry, but chose to hang in there believing that the Crimson Tide would prevail in this contest.

It was clear from the start that Alabama needed to convert on third downs, something they were struggling with up until Coach Saban called for a fake punt midway through the third quarter and it worked.  You could instantly feel the momentum of the game change.

The Alabama offense produced scoring drives of 79, 71 and 78 yards on their first three possessions of the second half, while the defense held LSU to 52 yards, and shut them out after the field goal.  Three more TDs followed effectively shutting down the Tigers.

At 4:10 left in the fourth quarter, LSU finally got the ball back.  That’s when the old-fashioned beat-down began.

Alabama sacked quarterback Zach Mettenberger four times in a row to take over on downs. Mettenberger, who finished the night 16 of 23 for 241 yards and a touchdown, first crawled and then limped off the field after his final play.

That image of Mettenberger literally pulling his body across the rain-dampened turf was the epitome of the “agony of defeat” and for Tiger fans an undeniable symbol of helplessness to stop the juggernaut known as the Crimson Tide.

Mettenberger limped off the field throwing his helmet down hard on the sideline—a demonstration of his frustration.

Taking over on downs with 1:55 left, QB McCarron simply took a knee to run out the clock and LSU’s hope of stopping Alabama.

I couldn’t have hoped for a better game.  LSU is an awesome opponent.  I wish them well as they finish out their season.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Titanic Tussle In Tuscaloosa

Saturday night’s alright for fighting and brother, let me tell ya, I’m jazzed about the brawl tonight between No. 13 LSU (7-2) and my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0).

The game kicks off at 8:00 PM Eastern.  I don’t get off work until 8:30 so I’m going to need that flux capacitor from Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean in the flick “Back to the Future” to get home as quick as a bunny.  All that will be left will be flaming tire marks in the parking lot.  Hold on McFly.

I’ve already bet a buddy at work that the Tide will defeat the Tigers.  He’s gonna owe me a succulent plate of baby back ribs.

LSU’s QB Zach Mettenberger isn’t good at scrambling when the pressure is on and Bama is going to come at him with awesome aggression.

The game is being played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of 101,821 crimson-and-houndstooth-clad fans.

There’s a lot riding on this game for Bama.  Ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, the Tide must whip the Tigers.  The Tide averages 210.8 yards rushing per game.  The offensive line is brutish enough to run-block and protect McCarron in the pocket.  The defense is built to stop the run and Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense and is fifth nationally in total defense.

I’d like to say the Tigers are doomed, but as we all know, a Southern Slobber-Knocker is anything but predictable.  I’m itching for a third consecutive national championship.  

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, baby!  Roll Tide!

UPDATE:  Should I get into a fight over boys with Pat of So It Goes In Shreveport and watch her yet again cheerfully donate to the Wounded Warrior Project when her boys, the Tigers, lose to my boys?