Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Closing A Parenthesis

The dictionary definition of "parenthesis" is: 
a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is complete without it. 

Although that definition refers to grammar, our lives are full of parenthesis too. Things that require out attention and focus so they take us off the path of everyday life. 

Our pair of trips to Florida last December and then again in March were two of the  parenthesis that left us with some longtime memories.

For Paula and me, today closes the life parenthesis which began for us in mid-May. It started out as a single event and snowballed to include a series of things we had to deal with. Paula's rotator cuff surgery on May 10 started it off. 

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was admitted to the hospital and subsequently had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. 

I shared details of both of these events in previous posts: May 25 & June 5.

A week later I was back in the hospital ER, getting treated for a bladder infection, an unfortunate consequence of my surgery. It took me a couple of weeks and two rounds of antibiotics to get over it. 

June 10 began our battle with the lingering stench in our house because of a skunk spraying outside right next to our A/C unit and in our backyard. It's nearly 3 weeks later and we are finally getting rid of the odor. The final step was having our dog, Angel, treated, bathed and trimmed at the local dog groomers. Details about what we had to deal with are in my June 5 post.

And finally, this past Monday, I had a routine colonoscopy. If you've never had this test, I can't even begin to explain it in a tactful way. Let me just say getting scoped at the hospital is only half the "fun."

The purpose of this post is to declare that today marks the end of our May & June parenthetical period. Paula went back to work today and I'm getting back to working on the projects and things that need to be done here at the house. 

In retrospect the parenthesis was not all bad. On the down side, we had the frustration of dealing with the stench in our house and our bank account has taken a hit because of the medical bills and cost of pest control services. 

But Paula and I did get the chance to spend the majority of the 6 weeks. Believe it or not we are still talking to each other. 

We went to the movies about half a dozen times. We watched a couple of movies at home and binge watched 7 seasons of a TV show on Netflix. Paula got the chance to start putting together a jigsaw puzzle from those she has purchased over the last few years. 

Best of all, we had the chance to spend a couple of weekdays with our granddaughter. 

So I guess when I look back at the last couple of months, I just might be able to recollect that there was some good mixed in with the bad.

But now it's time to start moving forward again. Getting used to being back in the reality of "normal life" is going to take both of us a couple of days. But at least it's just a 3 day work week before the July 4th holiday weekend. 

How do you view your life parenthesis?  Do you think of them as interruptions? Are they "detours", "bumps in the road" or simply part of God's plan? How do you handle them? Let me know. I'd be interested in a different point of view. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Nashville Connections

With today being Father's Day, I look forward to spending some times with my kids. But of course, I missing my own dad. 

When I think of dad I don't think of all the time and hard work he put in to help keep food on the table and clothes on are back (although I'm forever grateful for that). 

What I do think of are the things that he enjoyed and made him happy. Things like: The Muppets, Star Trek, songs from the 1950s and early 60s, and of course working on his model railroad. 

Another thing he liked to do, especially once he and mom became "empty nesters", was to spend Saturday nights at home watching TV with my mom. 

Recently, I discovered something that really brought back the memory of just how much he enjoyed those evenings; the RFD cable channel. 

This channel's programming is aimed at a mostly rural audience. You know, "farm folk" like we have here in Kentucky where I live. 

But it also plays to the old school country music fan. Showing the kind of programs that mom and dad used to watch on the Nashville Network back in the day. 

Some of their favorites were: The Statler Brothers' Show, Pop Goes The Country, The Grand Old Opry show, Nashville On The Road and Yesteryear. 

The two that I have taken to watching on RFD TV are the newly produced show, "Ray Stevens' Nashville" and reruns of "Hee Haw." 

While watching these shows I can't help but in my mind and heart find myself back our 67 Brainard Street living room with Ron & Gloria watching the likes of Jim Ed Brown, Bill Anderson, Rex Allen Jr. and a lot more. 

I probably am not conveying how much seeing these RFD shows makes me feel closer to my mom and dad while missing them more than ever at the same time. But those feelings are special enough to me that I find myself watching RFD whenever I get the chance. 

There are also more connections with Nashville that remind me of my dad and mom. 

When I was a teenager and would sleep in on weekend mornings my dad would come into my room to wake me up by pulling back my covers while saying, "The sun shines bright in your old Kentucky home." Little did he know that one day that would be true. 

As I've already shared with you, my parents were both big country music fans. Their dream was to go on a vacation to Nashville and visit the Grand Ole Opry at the Rymon Auditorium. 

When I was young, naive and ambitious, I used to promise my parents that when I grew up and got rich and famous I would buy a house in Nashville so they could come down and visit any time they wanted to. 

Little did I know that I really would own a house relatively close to Music City USA. I'm only an hour away. 

Sadly, neither of my parents got the chance to come and visit. My dad died just 5 months after I moved to Kentucky and mom was never healthy enough to travel this far. 

Let me end this Father's Day post by letting you in on this one thought that has a consistent presence in my life to this day.

Since meeting and marrying Paula, I have been blessed to do a lot of things I never ever thought I would do. For this I am forever grateful. 

At some point during every vacation or adventure I find myself pausing for just a second or two. I look around at where I am or what I am doing and I say to myself, "Dad would have loved this."     

Happy Father's Day to my dad and all the fathers who set the best example for their kids by loving their mother and most importantly loving them. 

That's all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read my memories surrounding this special day. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to come by and read what's on my mind. Be sure to check back again soon for my next RHFactors blog post.    

Saturday, June 18, 2016

This Week For Me

Haven't had much to write about this week on a personal level. It has been a quite one here in "The Grove." 

Mostly we have been dealing with a rather frustrating thing here at the house.

Late on Friday June 10, just before we went to bed, our dog and our house were permeated by skunk spray. It wasn't a direct spray but close enough. We bathed the dog right away which helped quite a bit. But it took another peroxide and Dawn bath in the middle of the week to get most of the smell off of her. 

To deal with the odor in the house, we had to run infusers with blends of essential oils in them and light scented oil burners for 2 days. 

The pungent aroma was diminished for the most part but we could still smell it when we walked back in the house from the outside. 

We soon realized that the odor was coming from the AC vents near the doors. Paula took a Swifter cloth doused it in peppermint oil. 

That seemed to do the trick. Although not completely gone (we get a "whiff" every once in a while) the house no longer smells like a skunk. 

The frustration of dealing with the residual and stinky effects of the skunk led us to realize that there was a possibility that there may be a skunk living under our house. 

Although we didn't have a recurrence of Friday night we decided we couldn't risk it happening again. 

This past Friday, one week from the night of our first dousing, we had a pest control guy come to our home. He determined that there was no sign of any animal being under our house. But he did show us signs that there was one around at one time. 

We signed up for his services. He set up traps to catch the varmint if its still around. He will also repair the vents in our foundation to prevent any creature from ever getting into our crawl space.  

The service is not exactly cheap but it is a necessary thing that has to be done. Just an aspect of being a homeowner living in "the country" that I've never had to deal with up until now. Hopefully it will be the last time. 

This past Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity to take my wife to see a movie she's wanted to see since it opened Memorial Day weekend; "Alice Through The Looking Glass". 

To be honest, I was not the least bit interested in this film but I went along because Paula really wanted to see it. I must admit I was not as bored as I thought I would be. In fact, I'd say I rather enjoyed it. 

The movie actually has a storyline that can be followed and it's based on time travel. In fact time itself is a main character in this Mad Hatter origin story. That's all I'll say so I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. 

Of course the week started out with watching the TV news coverage of the mass shooting in that Orlando night club. 

I'm not going to get into the political and moral debates that have seemingly become connected with this tragedy. I have my own beliefs and opinions on all of it but I won't get into them here. 

When it comes to expressing opinions on social media, there is a dangerous irony. Those who claim to subscribe to the ideal that everyone should be accepted, no matter what they believe or how they live, are extremely judgmental when you express a view or belief that they don't agree with. They quickly become very mean spirited and label you with a measure of judgment they claim to be unfair for everyone else. Enough said.   

Let me just say that I feel nothing but the deepest grief for those who lost their lives and sympathy for those who lost family and friends. 

Then there's the awful, almost unthinkable, thing that happened midweek on the beach of Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian resort. 

Although it was an accident I can't categorize it as anything but a nightmare. My heartaches for that family. Again, there are a lot of issues connected with this tragedy but now is not the time to discuss them. If I do expound on them it will be on my Goofy Guy blog somewhere down the road; after a respectable amount of time has passed. 

Finally I am looking forward to going to see a movie that I've been waiting to see almost since it was announced 3 years ago. "Finding Dory" opens this weekend. 

I have been dealing with some recurring health issues over the last couple of days so I haven't felt much like going to see it on Thursday night like I had planned. But I'm sure I will go some time within the next week or so. When I do I will post a review on my Goofy Guy blog. 

So now you know how my week went.  How was yours? Let me know via Facebook, Twitter or email. I really want to know. TTYL

Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Review: Now You See Me 2

I'm putting aside my "100 Word" format aside for this one because, other than "Finding Dory", "Now You See Me 2" is the most anticipated movie of the summer for me. 

The first film, for me, was one of those surprises you get every once in a while that keeps you going back to the movies. I was blown away by how much I loved it. At the end of 2013, it sat atop my list of favorite movies of the year.  

I only found out about the sequel a few months ago. Naturally, I was excited when I did. I knew I was going to go see it as soon as I could. That's why on Thursday evening, June 9, at about 6:45pm Paula and I were sitting in the theater waiting for the first showing. 

Now here's my spoiler free review of the movie. 

All the original cast members are back except for Isla Fisher who played Henley the only female member of "The Four Horsemen". She bowed out of this one due to her pregnancy. 

This sequel is essentially a heist film that revolves around the world of magic. It takes place 18 months after the Horsemen's rooftop disappearance.  

During their time being out of the public the Horseman both as a group and individually begin to believe their own publicity. They get a bit too sure of themselves. This is a key elements in the trouble they get into. 

Just like the first film, from the beginning you know there is something going on but you can't explain how it's happening, are amazed that it is, and don't really know who's behind the curtain pulling the levers. But in this one it is done with a lot less clarity or sense of mystery.

The plot zig zags more than a Florida resident trying to out run an alligator. Most of the twists are meant to be misdirections but there are so many of them they're annoying. 

Magic is used in a much different way in this one. There is not as much "hocus pocus" pull a rabbit from the hat type magic. The Horseman's specific skill sets are used as a means to an end and in ways other than in front of an audience.    

There is a lot of action, in fact at times it felt like I was watching an action movie or an Ocean's Eleven type film. 

Mark Ruffalo's character is totally turned around from the way he was at first. He's a man whose feelings and fears are being used to manipulate him. The issue of his father's death is still very relevant. His emotional connections bind him and forces his hand.  

As a matter of fact, Agent Rhodes and the other magicians seem are the ones trapped in the very large magic box this time. 

There are also supporting characters returning for this sequel. Morgan Freeman as the still imprisoned Thaddeus Bradley and Michael Caine as millionaire Arthur Tressler. Both play key parts in the plot. However, they are not as confident and compelling this time around.

The absence of Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is explained at the start of the film. But one blatant unexplained absence from the first movie, at least for me, is that of French Interpol agent Alma Dray. Rhode's partner; an important character. She isn't even mentioned this time and it really bothered me.

The new characters, some played by some pretty well known actors, are not up to the same level as those who they join.

Daniel Radcliffe's villain character is very hard to take seriously. Radcliffe is just not convincing as a villain. But you judge for yourself.  

The new member of the Horseman, Lula, played by Lizzy Caplan, appeals to the millennials and Comic-Con type fans. She comes to the Horseman as a fan but quickly becomes part of the team. 

I can't reveal who plays yet another important new character (let's just call him "Chase") because it could be a spoiler for some. But in my opinion the casting was all wrong. It took away from the enjoyment of the film. 

Now from an article I read online, I know what the director was going for with this character. 
But to me the choice for who should play this role was something out of "Gilligian's Island" and was a just a distraction.  

I'm not going to give away anything specific about the ending. But it seemed to me it was more about movie special effects than anything else. Although it was set up by some street magic; something that helped make the Horseman who they are.

Okay, what did I like about this movie? 
Well, let's start with the cast. I really like Mark Ruffalo. I'd go and watch him read the phone book. 

Jessie Eisenberg is likable given the right role. Same thing is true when it comes to Woody Harrelson. Dave Franco is a much better actor and more likable than his older brother, James. 

Oscar winners Caine and Freeman are movie stars of the highest magnitude.They always have great screen presence and always will. 

I like that the Horseman and Rhodes had the tables turned on them. The fact that they weren't in control most of the time and things didn't always go exactly as they had planned helped make things a bit more realistic. 

The secret society of magicians, aka "The Eye", has more of a presence in this film, especially in the last 10 minutes or so. As someone who tends to believe in conspiracy theories the idea of secret societies appeals to me. 

Now that I know that there's plans for a 3rd installment in this franchise (it was announced more than a year ago and is still in development) I can put this 2nd film in perspective. I liked this movie, I didn't love it like I did the original. However, now, I do like the characters just as much if not more. 

In the end I do recommend you go see this film. 

Make sure you have watched the first one before you do. This will not only get you up to speed on The Four Horsemen but you will appreciate the contrast between the two. 

Now I know I have written a lot more negative than positive stuff; but with movies I am excited about seeing I have a tendency to set expectations a bit high.  

 I will most likely go see it a 2nd time, just to try and see some important things I missed. Perhaps then I can judge it in a more objective way. If I get a different perspective I will make sure I share it with you. 

Feedback Welcome: Did you see this movie too? What did you think of it? Let me know. I may share what you say on a future "feedback" post. 
Contact me: 
Twitter: @RHFactors909

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Matter Of Gall

"You're dehydrated. There's glucose and proteins in your urine and your white blood cell count is 13,000."

That's what the nurse practitioner at the Graves Gilbert Urgent Clinic told me on Saturday May 29. 

I had gone to the clinic that morning because I had been sick with stomach issues and a headache for more than 2 days. I never expected to hear what I was told next. 

"It is recommended that you go to the ER to get some IV fluids and have them do a CAT scan to see if you have an infection."

Although I really didn't want to go, I knew that getting fluids would take care of a lot of my symptoms including my headache and body aches. So I had my daughter-in-law take me from the clinic to the Medical Center ER. Paula would meet me there. 

Now I'd been dealing with stomach and digestive problems for a while but I thought it was something wrong with my stomach. The NP mentioned that it might be my gallbladder. But I didn't think I had one. I truly believed that it was removed in 2009 as part of my gastric bypass. 

But after talking to my wife on the phone (I told her what the NP had said) she reminded me that after the surgery I had to take pills to prevent gallstones. I thought those pills were for kidney stones. 

So as I went to the hospital that morning I realized that I still had my gallbladder. Call me surprised. 

In the ER, I was given a bag of saline through an IV in my left hand along with some pain medicine. 

The diagnostic test that the ER doctor ordered was an ultrasound not a CAT scan. 

Shortly after the test was finished, Paula, Michael, and Heather came into my room. I was glad to see them. 

After about an hour, the ER doctor came and and told me that the issue was indeed with my gallbladder. 

However because I was a gastric bypass patient, I was going to have to go to a major city hospital to have a diagnostic procedure not available at the Medical Center. 

This created a whole entire set of issues, especially because Paula can't drive right now. But my family assured me that we would do what had to be done. 

But after consulting with hospital on-call surgeon, it was decided that the best thing to do was admit me right there in Bowling Green with the intention of having my gallbladder removed. That was an answered prayer for sure. 

My room was in the C wing of the hospital's 4th floor. I was given more IV fluids, had all my vital signs checked and answered 1000 admission questions. I was running a 101 degree temperature. 

Late that afternoon, the surgeon came into my room and told me that he had to wait until I was re-hydrated and the flair up with my gallbladder (it wasn't just heartburn)had passed. My blood chemistry returning to normal levels would be the evidence of that. Then he could take me into the OR to remove my gallbladder.  

Now life can turn on a dime and it had for me that day. When I got up on Saturday morning I had no idea that night I would find myself in a hospital room trying to sleep and waiting to improve enough to have surgery. I didn't sleep very much. I wanted to be home.  

Antibiotics and saline were the two treatments administered throughout the day on Sunday. The food offered me on the "full liquid" diet (a preventative measure to keep my digestive system "in check" until surgery) left a lot to be desired. But I did really like the cooked chocolate pudding. Luckily, my wife brought me some very good banana flavored protein drinks. 

By the afternoon I was tired of laying in my bed and my back hurt. I got up and sat in a padded chair for a couple of hours visiting with Paula before she had to go home. 

Michael & Heather were, thankfully, taking care of her transportation from the Grove. 

To pass the time before trying to get a decent night's sleep I sat up in bed and put together this Lego model. 

It was probably a topic of conversation at the nurses station that a 55 year old man was in his room playing with a kids toy. But that's okay, it kept me occupied and helped me relax. 

After requesting a couple of melatonin pills to help me sleep, I tried to rest by the light of the TV. 

Just before I drifted off the nursing assistant on duty came in to tell me that at midnight she would be taking away all my liquids. 

The surgeon requested that I go "NPR" in case he decided to take me into the OR on Monday. But she said he indicated that it would probably be Tuesday. 

Being told that I had to spend another day in the hospital wasn't what I really wanted to hear. But he was the doctor not me. 

My situation reminded me of an episode of my all-time favorite TV show, M*A*S*H. It's from season 2 and is called "Deal Me Out". Hawkeye delays operating on a wounded soldier waiting for him to be more medically stable. 

The melatonin worked and except for briefly opening my eyes at midnight when the aid took my drinks away, a few minutes when I had the location of my IV changed, and the nurse taking my vitals, I got some much needed rest. 

I woke up with the early morning sun shining through the blinds of my room window. I was really not looking forward to a full day of not having anything to eat or drink. But based on the nurses comments the night before that was what going to happen. 

About 8:10 AM my story took another turn. The 1st shift nurse came in and told me that the surgeon had decided that the only time he could do my surgery that day was at 9AM. Otherwise he would not be able to take me until Tuesday sometime. 

I told her that I was ready for the 9AM trip to the OR. Immediately I called Paula. I knew I would wake her but she needed to know what was going on. 

Her sister would have to bring her to the hospital. With the way things were going to go she would not be there when I went into surgery. While that did bother me I knew if there was a chance I could get this over with today I had to take it. 

I was familiar with the surgical area of the hospital. While working as a medical transportation driver, I used to go there every so often to pick up some materials to take them to the hospital on the other side of town.

I didn't get a "just to relax you" shot before going to the OR. So I was awake enough to easily transfer myself from the bed onto the table. 

Next thing I know I'm waking up being given ice chips on a spoon by a recovery room nurse. 

Now I have never had any issues with coming out anesthetic before and this time was no exception. 

When I got back into my room there was my beautiful wife and my sister-in- law, Theresa, waiting for me.   

Almost as soon as I got there a lunch tray was brought in for me. I wasn't quite awake enough to want to eat just yet. Later on I would have the bacon and soup reheated. 

A couple of hours later, I had kept my lunch down, made a visit to the bathroom and been escorted by the duty nurse down the hospital corridor and back. That meant I was in good enough condition to go home. 

Michael came to the hospital to drive me there.Theresa took Paula went to get my post op meds and some foods that I could eat over the next couple of days. You know, soups, bananas, those kind of things. 

I was still a little sore and groggy when I got there but I was glad to be home. 

 The matter of my gallbladder was over. All I had to do now was recover and heal. 

I want to thank all the nurses, nurses assistants, and hospital staff who helped me during my stay. I know there were times when I took up a lot of your attention. 

And I am so grateful for all the help and care that all my family members gave us as well. It's nice to know that when you really need them, your family is there.    

Without a doubt this will be a Memorial Day weekend that I will always remember and never want to repeat.