Monday, October 31, 2011

First Frost

Bill getting rid of the frost bitten impatiens 

This morning when I looked out my bedroom window I saw something that I haven't seen for almost a year....frost.  Oh yes folks, the green grass of our backyard had a cool, white sheen of sparkling frost.  Well, that spelled the end of our beautiful impatiens flowers.  Unlike the hardy mums or winter pansies, the impatiens go limp at the first touch of frost.  They are history now.  Bill is removing them even as I type this blog posting.

My sad impatiens flowers - they put on a fabulous show this year - THANK YOU!

I worked at the hotel again last night (two days in a row again) and tonight I work again.  I sort of feel like I'm on the FULL-TIME WORKER TRAIN again.  I don't have time to breath or do much of anything else.  I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to getting back on my two day a week work schedule.  Hopefully that will happen next week.  If it doesn't, then I'm going to have to learn to say "NO" the next time one of my co-workers has an emergency.  Not that I mind working and the type of work I do.  I LOVE my job but I just don't want to work at it full-time.  I need some time to myself.

I'm seriously thinking this year of NOT going all out with the Christmas decorations.  Maybe put some lights up in my new river birch trees in the new garden island in the backyard.  That way Bill and I can see the festive Christmas lights from our sunroom plus our neighbors can see them from the street as they ride by our house.  I'm just not into doing the whole THING in front of the house again this year.

Time for lunch now then a nappy-poo before I go to work.  I have a lot of blog subjects that I want to write about but I don't want to write until my mind is relaxed.  I don't do well when I'm rushed. Once I get back into my regular cycle then I'll be good.  At least as good as I'll ever be if you know what I mean.

Sunday, October 30, 2011



Sometimes a picture or a series of pictures are worth more than a word or a book.  The following pictures are a good example of this fact.  These series of photos were taken without my knowledge by my blogger friend Mark H. at my family reunion which was held this past October 9th.

The reunion was held at the East Brandywine Community Park near Downingtown, Pennsylvania on an unusually warm fall day.  I had rented a pavilion for our reunion but there was also a lot of other activity going on in the park that day.  Baseball and soccer teams were playing on this beautiful warm fall Sunday. The park also has a series of walking trails.

While our reunion was going full blast I noticed a man who came into our pavilion to rest.  I recognized him.  His name is Michael.  I know his mother from my work at the polls.  His father used to be (and might still be) one of the country magistrates.  They are both lovely people.  Michael is their only child.  I think he is about 45 years old.

Michael was born without the use of his legs.  He "walks" with the aid of two canes   He actually walks with his arms using the two canes to propel himself forward.  I've never seen Michael in a wheel chair.

When I lived in East Brandywine township, I often saw Michael walking alone on the trails in the park.  I thought to myself, "what courage this man has."  When I see someone like Michael I am reminded of the old saying "I used to complain about my shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

Every now and then, when I get caught up in my little petty complaints, I run into someone like Michael who reminds me how fortunate my life is by how he handles what life has dealt him.

On that Sunday, October 9th, Michael brought himself into our pavilion and asked if he could sit and rest for awhile.  I of course said "Yes."  Then he asked if he could have a drink of water.  I got him a bottle.  He asked if I could open it because he didn't have the strength to even open a bottle.  Of course I opened the bottle for him.

I sat with him for awhile.  We didn't say anything.  I've never had a conversation with Michael.  He knows who I am and I know who he is.  I kept him company for about ten or fifteen minutes then I had to go back to my reunion duties.  I wasn't aware that my friend Mark had taken these pictures.  I am glad he did.

So now whenever I get caught up in my little dramas all I have to do is look at these pictures and see what Michael is faced with every day of his life.  This is a my Reality Check.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rainy Saturday

The view from our deck a few minutes ago - a Wet Day for sure

Here I sit at my favorite spot in the house; my desk in front of my iMac computer with the 27 inch screen.  "What will I write about today?" I ask myself.  Well, that is easy.  As the rain is beating against the windows of this small bedroom which I have converted into my home office, I'm thinking that I really don't want to go to work today.  Yes folks, I'm working again filling in for a co-worker.  This time it is Robert.  He is taking a mini-vaca to Orlando, Florida this weekend so I am filling in for his shift 3 pm to 11 pm today and tomorrow.  Then on Monday I am filling in for Lisa who wants to take her daughter trick or treating.  No matter that I was planning on staying home on Halloween Night myself to personally hand out bags of goodies to the children in my neighborhood.  Lisa asked me if I could take her shift and I just couldn't say "No" because a Mom only has her little girl once for these occasions.  Such is the life of a single man like me who has no children.

So here is my frustration from yesterday.  I bought an device to extend my wireless signal from my home office here to my bedroom on the other side of Casa Tipton-Kelly (our house).  I want to take advantage of Netflix's streaming movie services on my new Sharp 60 inch TV.  I tried to set it up a couple of days ago but the signal wasn't strong enough.  So either I get a 200 foot Ethernet cable to snake through the entire house or I get one of these "extenders" which increases my wireless signal.

Bill took me down to Staples and after I explained my situation to the Staples sales guy, I bought the Netgear Range Extender.  I get it home and of course I can't get it to working.  I call the Netgear Help line and after plowing through the automated menu options I get "Heidi".  In fact I got a "Heidi" with a Chinese accent.  And of course she is reading from a script.  I tell her my problem and she's giving me a solution to a different problem (wrong script Heidi).  Plus, half the time I couldn't understand her because of her baby doll, little girl voice and her heavy Chinese accent (I thought they taught these people to speak Engie when Corporate America outsource their Help Line centers).  I tried, I really tried with Heidi but we weren't getting anywhere especially when she told me to "hook your computer cable to the extender."  That was when I knew Heidi didn't know what she was talking about because that is WHY I GOT THE EXTENDER because I didn't have a 200 foot computer cable!  Oh My God.

Plan B.  I called the Computer Guy that my workplace uses.  I left him a message. I haven't heard from him.  I doubt if I will.  He was here once to set up our network and did a great job but when I subsequently called him, he never returned my call.  Of course the first thing I'm thinking is that he doesn't want to be in the same house with two gay men (we're harmless, we really are).  My previous Computer Guy was gay but he blew up my Dell computer while he was messing around with it so I don't use his services anymore. The only thing I can thank him for is because he crashed my new Dell computer, I decided to get this iMac which I haven't had any problems with since!

The next person I call is the neighborhood geek.  He's a teenager and knows all about this stuff but I felt uncomfortable with him in the house being as young as he was/is.  I called and left a message but I doubt if I'll hear from him.

I'll check with my boss at work (he's good friend with the Computer Guy I called yesterday) and ask him if he is avoiding me/us.  That's fine if he is, I just have to know so I don't waste any more time calling him.  If that's the case then I'll call Anton, who is a Russian and also knows computers.  I won't call the Geek Squad.  They're too expensive plus I don't think half of them know what they're doing.

So that's my Bitch of the Day.  I just want to get my new TV set up so I can downstream movies from Netflix.  I'm so confused with what Netflix is doing now, I just want to simplify things and get back on a coasting course.  I've had too much going on recently with my Prostate Drama.  Which by the way, I'm scheduled for my Biopsy Party at 10 am in the doctor's office on January 6th.  Can't wait.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maks Versus Len

Maksim Chmerkovsky/Len Goodman

So here is my take on the whole Maksim Chmerkovsky/Len Goodman dustup on "Dancing With the Stars".  For those of you not familiar with what happen, Len Goodman is a judge on "DWTS" and Maks is the professional dance partner of Hope Solo.  After Maks and Hope performed their rhumba dance (which was God Awful by the way), Len Goodman made judging comments to Maks and Hope.  Maks didn't agree when Len told both of them that they had just performed "the worst dance of the season."  I think what really got to Maks was that Len attributed "half of the fault" to Maks.  

Maks disagreed and Len said "I've been in this business for 50 years" at which time Maks said "Then maybe its time to go!" Maks went on to say "I've danced for 27 years, and I've won more titles than Len ever even participated in."  

Well let me tell you folks, things got a little awkward at this point on this live television show.  The normal back and forth, good humored criticism took a bit of a hit with Maks rude and disrespectful comments.   Then Maks made what I considered the jaw dropping comment of the evening when Maks said that DWTS was "my show" and he "helped make it what it is."  

Here we go folks.  Yes, Maks is an excellent dancer and he has certainly made a major contribution to the show.  In fact, Maks is one of my favorite dancers along with Derek Hough.  He is one of the main reasons I watch the show.  But Maks, now really, it's YOUR show?  No, no, no, you're just one of the parts of the whole wonderful mosaic that is "DWTS."  

But here is the major problem I have with Maks and his disrespectful and inappropriate comments to Len Goodman.  LEN IS THE JUDGE.  Like it or not Maks, he is judging you.  And I think he is an excellent judge.  If the judges are going to be all namby pamby and not really give honest criticisms of the dancers, then I won't watch the show.  "DWTS" would then be a popularity contest (which it is already to a certain level) and not just a dance contest.  

I agree with what my new favorite professional dancer Derek Hough said:

 "As a seasoned professional, [he] should know not to do that. There's a certain amount of self control you should have. Last week, I knew going in it wasn't going to be our best dance. I don't get upset about it, I expect it and then I take it with grace and move on."

Derek is a professional.  Maks may think he is a professional but on Monday night he showed where he falls short.  Sure, he wants to be the MAN and protect his LADY, Hope Solo.  Guess what?  I don't think Hope needs anyone to "protect" her.  She can handle herself quite well.  I think this is more about Maks' ego being trampled on in full view of millions.  His manhood was questioned.  Maks, get over it.  Be a professional like Derek.  

The first few seasons I didn't watch "DWTS" because I thought it was a popularity contest.  I watched "American Idol" mainly because of Simon Cowell.  I could trust him to offer an honest opinion of a contestant's performance.  I think all the judges on "DWTS" give honest critiques and I respect them for that.  

Now there was some criticism of Bruno referring to Chaz Bona as a "cute little penguin" when Chaz performed her his dance.  People, GET OVER IT!  "DWTS" is an entertainment show.  CHAZ DID LOOK LIKE A 'CUTE LITTLE PENGUIN.'  Okay?  In fact, I'm surprised that Chaz has lasted as long as he did on "DWTS."  I commend Chaz for all the hard work and actually he was a pretty good dancer in spite of his knee injury but come on folks, saying Chaz is a good dancer is like saying a dog who walks on two legs is a good walker.  It's not the fact that the dog is a good walker that amazes us but that a dog can walk at all on its two legs.  Let's get real folks. 

What is Chaz Bono's "celebrity" anyway besides being the daughter of Sonny and Cher. "Chaz Bono, author and activist?"  Guess what folks?  I'm an "author and activist" too. Been one for years!  You don't see me on "DWTS" do you?  Hey, you WOULDN'T WANT to see me on "DWTS."  If I was, the first time I would appear before the judges they would tear me apart and rightly so.  And you know what? I would go right back at them.  That's just the way I roll folks.  I don't take criticism lightly.  But then I'm not a professional dancer either.  That's why.  

So Maks, continue to perform your excellent dance routines and show your magnificent body butMaks, let the judges judge.  

Maks "The Body" - no two ways about it...Maks is nice!

Prostate Update

Me acting silly at one of those bank Christmas dinners.  I should wear these glasses when I get my biopsy.

Here's the latest developments on my prostate situation.  I had made the decision not to get a biopsy but instead go with the MRI-S which is 600 to 800 MRI photos of my prostate to be examined to see if there is cancer in my prostate.  I called my urologist and and I expected, he said "that doesn't show prostate cancer."  I suspect that he doesn't have the equipment.  I asked him "What happens if, after the biopsies are taken I still have a high PSA score?"  He said "We are looking to see if you have a BIG cancer or a small cancer.  If you have a small cancer then treatment probably isn't necessary but we will monitor it."

The chances of my having prostate cancer are very high because of the results of my Free PSA score.  It should be over 25% and my score is 5%.  Everything I read on the Internet about the Free PSA score indicates a high probability of cancer.

So here is my dilemma.  In a few weeks I'll be 70 years old.  Everything I hear is that prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and a man my age,  as my doctor told me at the beginning of our consolation last week, "will probably die of another cause."  What a choice?  Live my remaining years knowing I have a cancer growing inside of me, even if it is a slow growing cancer or going through the procedure of getting biopsies on a regular basis with the possible result of having one of the standard treatments for prostate cancer which could have life changing side effects?  I would prefer not to post these negative blog postings but the only way I blog is to write about my life and the way I see the world without offending anyone too much.

So I have decided to go through with the biopsy procedure which is now scheduled for January 6th, 2012 at 10 am.  That gives me something to look forward to over the holidays.

Now my next blog posting will be about the dust up on "DWTS" between Maks and Len.  Now that will be a more fun posting.  And no disrespect to Chaz Bono, who worked very hard on "DWTS" and did an admirable job but come one, he did look like a little penguin last week didn't he?

The Regular Ron will be back.  I promise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Goldielocks TV

Me with my Goldielocks TV

Well, we finally got my new 60 inch wide screen Sharp Acquos TV (a 70th birthday present from my Prince Charming) up and running in my bedroom.  As I feared, it took me and Bill just about all morning to get the TV out of its box (a BIG TV in a BIG BOX), assemble the stand, struggle with it to get it into my bedroom and then to hook it up.  Of course we had to unhook my now neglected 40 inch Samsun wide screen TV.  The poor thing has outlived its usefulness.  I purchased it in 2007.  Bill will inherit it in his tiny bedroom downstairs.

We really did try to set it up all by ourselves but when the setup instructions came to "Air" or "Cable", I didn't know which to choose.  We have DirecTV satellite TV.  I tried both setups, neither one worked.

Frustrated and tried (and stressed, we are two OLD MEN after all whose brains are already overloaded with reams of no longer useful information), I called the Sharp help line.  Of course first I had to figure out the number to call.  Sharp provided me with one of those two cute by half numbers:  1-87-SEE-AQUOS.

I HATE translating these numbers.  I made the phone call.

Thank goodness I got a person right away.  Her name was "Julie" and English was her native language (thank you Jesus).  Only problem was that she spoke too fast.

Julie walked me through the setup, which I would never have in a hundred years figured out myself, and I was up and running!  Only thing was that I couldn't set up my Internet Wi-Fi connection so I can downstream my Netflix movies.  My bedroom is too far away from my wireless router which is in my home office (formerly the smallest bedroom in this house and where I am now typing this missive).

I'll check with my boss today at the hotel and find out what kind of wireless booster they use at the hotel and I'll get the same to use here at home.  I also have to buy a new DVD player that plays Blue-Ray DVD's.  Hey, it's my birthday and I'm going all the way.  At 70 years old I don't hold back anymore.  Not a whole lot of Quality of Life time left.  Make hay while the sun shines Nellie.  That's what I say these days.

So let me say this, the picture on my new TV is FABULOUS!  I LOVE IT!  WOW!

Now I can watch Maks and Len really get into it on "DWTS".  Did you see that last night?  Talk about a reality show.  Hey, I like Maks but I can't agree with him that it is "his show" and he "made it what it is today."  Really Maks?  Give me a break.  Everybody who participates on "DWTS" makes it a great show, including even the bad celebrity dancers.  I love this show, it's the whole human drama.  But I digress, this is a subject for different blog posting.

So here I am with my new 60 inch TV in my bedroom.  I thought it would be too big but it isn't.  I now have a Goldielocks TV.  It's not too big, not too small.  It's just right!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New TV!

Bill at BJ's this morning wheeling out my birthday present

Well folks, I finally did it!  I got that 60 inch LCD TV!  You know what they say (yes, what "do they say?")  Well, I'll tell you.  You can never have too many inches!

Bill got me this TV for my upcoming 70th birthday.  This is Bill this morning at BJ's in Millsboro getting this monster out the door.  Did we ever have a time getting it in his Jeep Cherokee.  Now it is sitting in our living room, still in the box.  We'll tackle putting this baby together tomorrow.

I now have a 40 inch Samsung in my bedroom.  I'll give that TV to Bill and replace it with this 60 inch.  I didn't opt for the 3-D TV.  My brother Isaac has a 3-D TV which I watched a few weeks ago when I stayed at his place for my family reunion.  To me it's too much of a hassle to put those glasses on over my regular glasses.  Also, I don't like the darkness that 3-D has always displayed for  me.  I like my pictures bright.

With this TV I can stream movie directly from my Netflix account.  Also it has WI-FI so I guess I can access on this TV anything I can access on my computer.  We'll see.  There is a lot of overload on our old brains here.  We will tackle this baby tomorrow.  Of course now I need a new cool TV stand.

Sitting Pretty

Clifton Webb, Actor and Dancer Par Excellence

As regular readers of this blog know, I am a voracious reader.  My favorite reading material are biographies, especially celebrity biographies.  Coming in a close second are historical novels.  I have little or no interest in fiction nor mystery novels.

The celebrity biographies I have read this year so far are of Ava Gardener, Lucille Ball, Linda Darnell, Tab Hunter, Robert Mitchum, and Maureen O'Hara.  I just finished reading "Forever Dobie" which is the autobiography of Dwayne Hickman of Dobie Gillis fame.

All were interesting but totally different writing styles.  Some were written by the celebrities themselves and some by authors who never met the celebrities but wrote from interviews with those who knew the celebrities.  I enjoy reading all the biographies, no matter how badly they are written and some of them are pretty bad, believe me.  To me they are all fun reads.

But now I have found a true gem.  It is the biography of Clifton Webb.  The title of which is "Sitting Pretty".

Most of the readers of this blog probably don't know who Clifton Webb was.  Briefly, he was a somewhat acerbic and prissy actor born in 1889 who played John Phillip Sousa and Mr. Belvedere in films of the Forties and Fifties.  I always enjoyed seeing Clifton Webb in a movie.  He was the most unlikely leading man type, because of his prissy and effeminate nature.  As a ten year old soon to enter my teenage years I found myself oddly in synch with this wonderfully entertaining man.  No, he wasn't one of those movie actors that I had a crush on (that would be Farley Granger and Guy Madison) but I did feel "at home" when I saw Clifton on the silver screen.

Thus it was with great joy I discovered that a biography has just been published about him.  It is in hardback and costs almost $25!  I never pay that much for a book, I usually wait until it comes in paperback.  But I just had to have this book so I sprang for the higher price.

I was wondering how the book would read because part of the book is written in Mr. Webb's own hand and the rest was finished by an author who never met Mr. Webb, but instead worked from his numerous notes.  Clifton started to write his autobiography but by his own admission became "bogged down" and thus never finished it.  His handwritten notes were found in the basement of the daughter of the executor of his estate many years later by the author of this biography.

Clifton Webb never married.  It was assumed he was gay but of course back in those days such horrific information would spell the end to a movie career.  Most assumed Clifton lived in the closet but there was never any proof that he had any homosexual relationships.  He lived with his mother most of his life.

Thus it was a stroke of good fortune that the author of Clifton's biography found his unfinished autobiography and assembled Clifton's notes to publish the first an only biography of this wonderful and fascinating man, Clifton Webb.

Now here is the good part.  I started to read Clifton's biography and I am absolutely blown away at what a brilliant writer of prose that Clifton is.  Oh how I do love good prose.  It is so rare that I find a book that has good prose let alone a book about such an interesting man as Clifton Webb.  And what is really good about this book is Clifton's personality burst out of the pages that he writes.  WHAT A GOOD BOOK!

I find myself going back over and reading the same sentences and paragraphs just to savor the well honed prose and bask in the fascinating personality of this man.

I don't usually do reviews of books (or movies) but I am doing one now.  If you like to read a book about a fascinating man with a deadly, on target acerbic wit; this my friends is the one for you to read.

I wish I could recommend it to my friends but I'm afraid it is all over their heads which is sad.  Oh how I wish I had a friend like Clifton Webb today.  Now my friends, don't be offended.  I love the friends I have and appreciate them but I'm telling you, if I had a friend like Clifton Webb with his wit, charm, intelligence and talent; my head would probably explode.

One thing I know for sure, this is one book I am going to enjoy reading.  Just thought I would pass this along to all of you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Colonoscopy Day

I don't usually do this, post someone else's words but I just have to post this narrative by the humorist Dave Barry about his recent experience with getting a colonoscopy.  As regular readers of this blog know, I recently had a colonoscopy last year.  In fact, I've had four colonoscopies in my lifetime.  Colon cancer runs in my family so I am extra diligent about getting a colonoscopy.

Lately my blog postings about my prostate situation has been a bit serious.  I think it is time to lighten things up around here at "Retired in Delaware" and post Dave's experience with his recent colonoscopy.  He says EXACTLY what I went through.  This is SO TRUE:

ABOUT THE WRITER: Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Colonoscopy Journal: 
I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.


Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies...

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began mypreparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.'

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but, have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked..

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.. 
At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point..

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me..

'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of Colonoscopies.... 
Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous..... A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:
1. Take it easy Doc.. You're boldly going where no man has gone before.

2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?'

3. 'Can you hear me NOW?'

4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?'

5. 'You know, in Arkansas , we're now legally married.'

6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?'

7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...'

8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!'

9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!'

10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.'

11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?'

12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.'

And the best one of all: 

13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?'


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prostate Update

Well, here we are and Halloween is almost upon us again.  I've changed my blog photo to a picture that I took over took thirty years ago on Halloween Night at the Venture Inn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  That was the last time I really celebrated Halloween big time.  I would love to do so again but the opportunity just isn't presenting itself so bear with me while I pull up these photos from my Past Life.  This one I titled "The Lost Soul."

So here is the latest on my prostate drama.  I am scheduled for a random biopsy December 16th.  This is where the doctor takes twelve chunks of flesh out of my prostate.  And as the description says, it is "random."  I have decided not to go this route.  My first reason is the risk of infection.  Pardon the grossness but the instruments that take the pieces of meat from my prostate actually has to pass through my colon, thus risking infection because the colon has feces in it.  Of course I am to take an enema the night before as well as take an antibiotic but I've been reading that the antibiotics are becoming less and less effective.  And then to top everything thing else off, taking these random biopsies is no guarantee that they will find the cancer if in fact I do have prostate cancer.

I am very sensitive about catching a hospital or doctor related infection because that is the one time I almost lost my life.  I got a staph infection from a routine hernia operation when I was seventeen years old and almost checked out.  I was in and out of the hospital for six months in 1959 and underwent three operations before they finally cleaned all the infection from my young body.  I doubt if I would have survived if I was older.  Thus, before I put myself in that situation again I had be pretty damn sure that the results will warrant me putting myself at that risk.  Upon examining this situation, I don't think the risk is worth it.

Instead what I am going to do is undergo what is called an MRI-S which is a much less invasive procedure to find out if I do in fact have prostate cancer.  This involves a 30-40 minute session in which an MRI will obtain between 700 and 800 clear images to be reviewed by a radiologist and urologist.  The images may deem that a biopsy is not even necessary.  Then is a biopsy is necessary it will be targeted rather than random as is the standard test now.

Monday I call my doctor (urologist) to discuss.  The adventure continues.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Chrysanthemums out by our garage this afternoon

Fall, perhaps my favorite time of the year.  Maybe it's because my birthday falls this time of year.  Maybe it's because the air is a bit crisper and clearer than it is at any other time of the year.  Maybe it is the smell of autumn.  Whatever it is, I love this time of year.

I got a reprieve today, I don't have to go into work.  Viola!  A leisurely lunch, a nap then a walk then to take in my favorite TV shows.  I've been off schedule for the past two weeks.

I have to address another sympathy card.  A former classmate and a grade school buddy of mine died suddenly on Saturday.  His wife said he was short of breath.  He sat down and died.  Well, if you're going to go, that's the way to go.  Of course he was the same age as I am as was my former neighbor who died last Friday.  This is just another reminder of my mortality.  Make every day count.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Retirement? What's That?

Me meeting the daughter of my first cousin Barbara K. for the first time at the reunion

Last Sunday I had my family reunion.  I asked my friend Mark to take pictures for me.  He took over 800 photos.  I had planned to post these photos to my blog and Facebook account in the next few weeks.  But again my part-time job has interfered with my activities in retirement.

The original plan was for me to work two nights a week at the hotel.  I said I would fill in as needed.  I'm flexible that way.  However, due to circumstances this past month I've effectively been working full-time.  Even worse, I  can't plan anything because almost every day I get a call from my boss asking if I can come into work to take over the shift for one of my co-workers.  I again got that call today.  I just got off from working this weekend plus last week.  One of my shifts ran back to back (3 pm to 11 pm then 7 am to 3 pm).  Talk about a sleep pattern being disrupted.

I just got up from my nap this afternoon and I had another text message from my boss asking me if I could work the next three nights.  I don't even get two days off like normal people.  I said "yes" but I will have to have a talk and resolve this situation.  I don't need this stress while I'm trying to decide how far I want to go with invasive tests to determine if I have prostate cancer.

Just today I read an article in Time magazine entitled:

 "Just Say No - The case against PSA."  The article said:

The PSA test is the most common way to screen for prostate cancer, and millions of men over 50 currently get at the blood-based test at every yearly checkup.

But in many of these men, positive PSA tests may signal slow-growing tumors that don't need treatment or may be false positives; PSA levels can also rise when the prostate simply gets bigger as part of the aging process.  These men often undergo unnecessary and invasive biopsies and surgeries which can be dangerous: the panel noted that from 1986 to 2005, 1 million men who would not otherwise have been rested had surgery, radiation therapy of both after positive PSA results.  Of those, 5,000 died because of complication from those procedure and 300,000 developed importance or incontinence.  

One thing I know for sure is that when I was 17 years old I had a hernia operation that was unnecessary from which I developed a staph infection which almost killed me.  So I have to think this through.  Being on call at work like a fireman doesn't help.  I need to lower the stress levels in my life.  

Visit To My Urologist

The "Hobby Horse"

On Friday I visited my urologist for the first time.  This is the next step in the procedure to see if I have prostate cancer.

If you'll remember, a couple of months ago two consecutive blood tests revealed that I had a high PSA account.  While this doesn't necessarily men that I have prostate cancer it could be an indicator that I do have prostate cancer.  Thus, I had to schedule a visit to a urologist for a consultation.

My appointment was for 11:30 a.m.  Earlier in the day I got a call from the hotel where I work asking if I could work the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift for my co-worker as well as the next day's 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. This is a rough shift because of the short sleep time between shifts but I said "yes" like I always do.  More stress for the day.

I arrived at the doctor's office early hoping they would take me in early.  They did.

After I filled out the first time paperwork I was weighed and had my blood pressure taken.  Then I was given a funnel shaped device and taken to a bathroom and told to pee in it.  They would measure my urine flow.  We're off to a great start.

After that I was then ushered into another side room (lots of little side rooms in this doctor's office told to have a seat on the familiar padded table with the sheet of cold paper on it. I don't know what else to call it...a "hobby horse maybe?  Another assistant came in and asked me to life my shirt and T-shirt.  She smeared some cold jelly on my stomach and put a round cold piece of equipment on my stomach.  She was going to take a picture of my bladder (much the same way a pregnant woman has a picture taken of her baby in the womb).  Ambianosis or osmosis or something like that.  She greases me up and then slaps this huge gray, flat, round and cold stethoscope like piece of equipment on my six pack abs (yeah, sure).  She wanted to make sure I emptied my bladder from the urine flow test that I had just taken.  She finishes, wipe the grease off of my stomach and informs me that the doctor will be with me in a few minutes

Lubricant on the shelf - a sign of activity to come

I heist myself up on the hobby horse to await my fate the doctor.  In a few minutes time the doctor, who I had never met before let alone go out on a date, would get to know me better than 99.9% of the men I have dated in my life time.  I was about to get a digital exam (look it up).  I see the plastic gloves in the corner of the room at the ready.  OKAY.

The doctor came in, extended his hand for a handshake (the same hand that would soon perform another function on me) and introduced himself.  He was a young oriental man.  I'm not into orientals but I would rather having a man doing The Deed than a woman.  That's just the way I roll.  No offense to the lady readers of this blog.

Dr. Chang (not his real name) spoke clearly and thoroughly.  He made me aware of the recent news reports about PSA tests and asked me if I wanted to continue.  I said I did.  He then explained to me how the prostate is like an orange; soft and pliable. He said each person's body is different and that by whatever he finds by examining me doesn't necessarily mean that I have prostate cancer.

Gloves at the ready and The Stool 

He explained out the prostate gland work.  I won't go into the details but basically it is the gland that has a small tube running through it from the bladder to the penis so I can pass urine.  He said the cancer could be on the outside of the prostate gland in which case he could feel it.  However, he said it could also be on the inside in which case he could not tell be the digital exam which is was about to perform.  He also said that the prostate gland could be hard as a knuckle in which case that would indicate something bad.  But, if the prostate gland was soft and pliable as an orange, that didn't necessarily mean that I didn't have cancer, that it could be on the inside of the prostate gland.

The doctor gave me a white towel folder over twice and told me to "drop my pants" and to put the towel around my waist.  He left the room while I did this.  I dropped my pants. Surely not the first time that I've done this in my Life Experience but not under these cold, antiseptic circumstances. He would be back shortly.

I wasn't sure how much to "drop my pants" so I lowered them to my ankles.  I was in a bit of a quandary because I didn't want to go "to far" but I wanted to be accessible to the good doctor.  When Dr. Change (not his real name) returned there I stood with my pants (and underwear) down around my ankles (understandably I short circuited my chances for making a mad dash anywhere under these circumstances) with my towel securely fastened about my waist to secure some minimal facade of privacy.

I asked him "is this alright?" I think this is the first time in my life I ever uttered that phrase with my underwear and pants down around my ankles to another man I (or woman).  Oh well, there's a first time for everything.  Life is an adventure and mine was about to continue.

He said "Yeah, sure."  Then he uttered the phrase that all straight men fear ...."BEND OVER."

Thus the Digital Exam proceeded.  Oh wow.  Man oh man.  For what seemed like a LONG TIME, he stuck his BIG FINGER (didn't look that big when he put on the vinyl glove) up my You Know What.  He probed to the right, then to the left, then a massage of the prostate gland itself.  I could tell he's done this before.  He was VERY EXPERIENCED.  All I could think of besides when was he going to get his finger out of my ass, was WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.  When I was in grade school my little friends would dream of becoming a policeman, fireman or astronaut.  I wonder what the Good Doctor dreamed of?  I'm going to grow up and make a living sticking my finger up in someone's ass?

The exam was very uncomfortable for me.  My back end is for EXIT only, and not ENTRY.  That's just me.  You know what I mean?  EXIT...yes.  Well, at least he wasn't wearing any rings.

I couldn't help myself but I kept clenching. For a few seconds I expected to hear the Good Doctor utter those words "just relax."  Oh please doctor, don't say those words.  He didn't.  Thank you Jesus.

Then I worried that he couldn't get his finger out because I was clenched down too hard on it.  Am I telling too much here?  Perhaps.  I'm trying to keep this a concise as possible.

Finally he finished and removed his finger with what sounded like a "Pop!"

He told me that he couldn't find anything on the surface on my prostate gland.  That was good news.  He also said that my prostrate gland was soft the way it should be and not hard like a knuckle (which he showed me by forming a knuckle on his own hand).  He said that was good.  But then he said that my PSA "Freewill" (I think that's what he said) score was only 5% and it should be 25% or more.  He then asked me if I wanted to get a biopsy.  I asked him what that entailed (no pun intended).

He said he would do it in office.  He would take twelve biopsies which is twelve little chunks of meat from my prostate gland removed by some pincer like apparatus he has in his office.  Last Sunday I talked to my cousin Bud who is the same age as me and he had it done.  He said while it is "no picnic" he had it done.  I told the doctor I would have it done.

Thus I now have an appointment December 19th for have my in office biopsy performed.  Sort of like my Christmas present to myself.

So that's where I stand now folks.  No cancer detected yet but the PSA scores still are indicating something is amiss.

I went to work that afternoon and then yesterday morning.  When I left work yesterday I was exhausted.  The hotel was full and the many of the hotel guests needed attention. How do you pronounce "Lewes"?  "Lewis or Loose?"  Oh yes, I do more at the front desk than provide a dazzling smile and pleasant banter. I'm a Jack of All Trades.  At least I didn't have to deal with the wobbly toilet on the third floor.  Mike (the manager) took care of that.  I don't do toilets.

I have off now until next Wednesday unless I get a call to come in again to fill in for one of my co-workers who has the vapors. So that's the deal folks.

Updates as I learn them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Family Reunion

My cousin Rita and her new grandson, Wes (three weeks old)!

Okay folks, I had all good intentions of posting a well thought out blog entry this morning but wouldn't you know it, I got a call from my fellow worker at the hotel asking if I could take her shift tonight and tomorrow morning.  There goes my time off.  I just got off two days of working.  Believe it or not, I am SUPPOSED to work two night a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays) but this past month I've basically been working FULLTIME. I did have a meeting with the owner of the hotel requesting a raise (the first one in almost five years) and he did grant it.  Since I've never turned down a request to go in on short notice (like this morning) I think that was the least he could do.  Thank you.

So here is the shortened version of my "thoughtful post" about my family reunion.  I'll be doing several posts about my family reunion.  Just to back up a bit, a couple of reasons I haven't been posting much lately is because of the stress of the preparing for the family reunion and my situation at work which I think has been least for now.  And, a big "AND", in a few hours I have my long awaited appointment with my urologist to find if I have prostate cancer.  That has been preying on my mind too, what with all the options for treatment if in fact I do have prostate cancer.  I was planning on having a few days off to deal with this but apparently that is not the case...again.   So much for working part-time.  Hey, I don't mind filling in....occasionally, but this is getting to be a regular feature of my job.  I can't make plans to eat (I only eat crackers for dinner when I work at the hotel - have to be available for the guests don't you know).

Enough with my bitching about my current situation.  Here is the good news.  My friend and fellow blogger Mark took pictures for me at my family reunion.  He took over 800 photos.  I asked him to take pictures because I noticed how wonderful his photos are on his blog.  Well, he didn't disappoint.  He took fabulous pictures which I am now sharing with my family and friends on Facebook.  I'm going to post some on this blog also.

Thanks Mark!

My apologies to all for my hurried and rushed posting.  I wish I had more time but until I get back on a regular work schedule and get this medical question resolved, I will be in a somewhat unsettled state.

Random Observations on a December Morning

Late yesterday afternoon sun on our cozy home (in the background).    What? Yet another selfie of yours truly in a hoodie on his property in...