Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Napoleon Has NOTHING on These Emperors

I had not heard the term "Little Emperor" until tonight, butI have no doubt it exists, as do the young boys who embody that idea.
Take the 4-year-old son of a Mr. Yun and his wife in Xi'an, China. Mr. Yun owns a noodle shop in that city (McNoodle?), and on the occasion of Chinese Valentine's Day, he invited his family to come to his shop and sing karaoke. Understand that this form of entertainment is at least as, if not more, popular than alcohol for entertainment in Asian cities. EVERYBODY sings at shops and clubs, and they take song rendition very seriously. So, suffice it to say, this is not the singing-in-the-shower-or-in-the-car-while-pounding-on-the-dashboard tunesmithing with which I am familiar.
It appears, according to a report in the London Telegraph, that by 11 p.m. the lad STILL would not give up the mike...and his parents continued to praise his efforts and exhort him to continue singing. Two uncles got a bit irritated and took the parents to task for allowing/encouraging such "Little Emperor" behavior. (Remember the Chinese policy of one child--preferably male-- that has led to unbelievably spoiled children some say).
Anyhow, words came to push and push came to shove and the fists of fury were unleashed. A nephew, one Mr. Hui, according to the report, ran to the kitchen, grabbed a cleaver (NOT Wally or the Beav) and proceeded to hack the uncles to death...inflicting at least 10 wounds on each man!
Lest you think this is an isolated incident, karaoke bars in the Philippines have had to take their track fro Frank Sinatra's My Way out of circulation due to the degree of violence perpetrated on singers who performed substandard renditions of the song!
In Thailand, a man shot eight of his neighbors, including one relative because, in his mind, they were doing horrible injustice to John Denver's Country Roads.
"Well, it's just those foreigners," I hear you say. Not true. A woman in this country punched a fellow for refusing to give up his version of Coldplay's Yellow.
Wow! Given my off-key renditions of just about anything I try to sing, it seems fortunate for me that I missed out on the whole karaoke thing, thinking it was just a method of running sideways used by football coaches...perhaps Little Emperors in their own right.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Recyclist

Heineken Beer recently distributed photos of a new concept in, um, bottling its product. Of course, wines have come in boxes for quite some time...not exactly "Two-buck Chuck" but something of a novelty. I don't think we were ever supposed to drink wine straight out of the box, but then, I'm not a wine drinker so I could be mistaken.
Heineken has decided to think about a concept called "The Cube" for a couple of reasons, according to French industrial designer Petit Romain: "The minimalist form will be more economical to transport, take up less space and be a more ecological way to drink." I don't know. It WILL be easier to pack into trucks. It may well weigh less and conserve gasoline on its way to the store, and the package may well be more environmentally friendly with regard to production and recycling. However, I think the opening should be extended rather than recessed (doesn't the guy in the photo look like he's going to have trouble with the last gulp or two?) In addition, these look far too sturdy for frat guys to crush against their (or some pledge's) forehead.
As far as recyclable products go, though, I don't think ANYBODY has yet topped Izhar Gafni's production. The Israeli constructed a cardboard bicycle that appears to be just like any other bike! If you watch the "How I made the bike" video here, you'll be as stunned as I was. I immediately said, "I want one of those." Built with $9 worth of cardboard, the bike is sturdy enough to carry Gafni around (and he's not exactly a lightweight). After adding the actual bike parts NOT made of cardboard like the chain and brakes, the cost should be between $60 and $90, according to Gafni.
I want one.
Watch the video, and you'll want one, too. Maybe we could get a group rate!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Men! Don't Take This Sitting Down!

The  difficult thing about being a guy these days is that whole "metrosexual" thing that started a few years ago. Suddenly, we were all discussing our feelings, our home lives and our feminine sides. It's not that I think those things are bad, it's just that the line between women and men is beginning to blur a little bit more than I would like it to. If we become androgynous, I think it would be a bit dull. That's why I'm not going to Taiwan any time soon.
Stephen Shen, the minister for the Environmental Protection Agency there has suggested (and the country has apparently agreed) that men should start going to the bathroom sitting down instead of standing up ALL THE TIME! I get the premise: missing the toilet with a urinary stream leaves public WCs smelly and unsanitary. OK, that's a problem...but generally not for men. The proposed cleaner environment is, of course, a good thing, but men might find it a bit, well, too feminine for them. After all, cigar smoke, dingy lighting, loud laughing and smelly bathrooms are parts of male culture.
That's not to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea of "keeping the lid on it." I mean, it's a rule that during nighttime forays into the loo, the lid stays down to avoid unwanted surprises in the dark. I'm good with that, especially since aiming in the dark is something of a chore anyway.
The Taiwan government hopes to emulate the Japanese and the Sedes in the matter of sanitary male facilities. According to a report from the BBC, 30% of all Japanese men already leave the seat down all the time. There was no figure given for Swedish males so we'll have to assume they, too, sit in large numbers.
However, this will cause some issues with toilet training young boys. Sitting down for a reward is not as exciting as sinking the toilet paper ship floating in the bowl. It's a rite of passage that might just be passing away in some places.
Change is OK, but as soon as a bidet is included in the process, I'm going outside.
Couldn't they just install pine-scented air fresheners?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"D'oh!" From USPS

One would think that a family who has been a part of Americana for, well, almost forever, would have more drawing power. At least, that's what the U.S.Postal Service thought last year when it issued a Simpsons' commemorative stamp. I know I bought a number of them, but the rest of America didn't seem to share the sentiment. 
Fewer than one-third of the one billion stamps honoring TVs famous family were sold; all tolled, in 2009 and 2010 318 million stamps went out the door, leaving almost 700 million languishing like last year's Toy Story action figures.  Our nearby post office didn't have any when I asked for them the other day though the clerk felt obliged to tell me that those that had not already been sold were-gasp-destroyed! All in all, more than 2.1 billion special issue and commemorative stamps ( not counting any of the new "forever" stamps) have suffered a similar fate over the last couple of years after being returned by the approximately 35,000 retail outlets in this country.
According to Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times, the USPS ordered twice as many Simpsons stamps as it did for its most popular stamp ever...the one commemorating the King's birthday back in 1993. Of course, the internet was somewhat fledgling back in 1993, and certainly online bill paying was only an idea in someone's head, but still...
I think I, too, bought and used some of those Elvis stamps, but, as I recall, I had to lick them.
And if the Simpsons' fiasco wasn't enough, all those commemorative posters the USPS published of Lance Armstrong are no longer worth collectors' prices.
I have one of those on my office wall. He's smiling in the picture. Maybe not so much now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Don't Fear the Reaper"

I will admit to having been somewhat cavalier in my attitude concerning the whole death/dying thing. Most of my older relatives have taken the "Glory Train," and I am generally dismissive about my connection with the possibilities. Blue Oyster Cult lyrics always seem to come unbidden into my head, reminding me that there is nothing to fear since the season don't;  many see death as a natural occurrence...a long time big deal, I'll be senile then anyway...on and on.
However, I have recently come to the conclusion that, while death itself may not be so bad, the thought of dying is terrifying. That last second before we head "beyond the pale" is probably one spent in an unconscious or at least an unaware state. The days, hours and minutes leading up to that state? Horrible.
In an attempt to make a long story somewhat more brief, I was lying on the physical therapist's table three weeks after knee surgery, and he was stretching, prodding, pulling and twisting as he had been doing for the better part of four sessions. He instructed me to turn slightly on my side, then said, "Oh, there's blood dripping out. Your incision has opened up."
Now, the incision itself wasn't large...about 5 inches or so, and it didn't particularly hurt...but the knowledge that I had been taking a blood thinner for an unrelated condition (discovered during surgery)  sent me into something akin to a panic attack: I began to sweat profusely, my breathing became shallow and somewhat labored, and my heart had to be beating  at four times its normal rate. In short, I freaked. I looked up, and Tony was dabbing my leg with a towel...the blood spot was hand-sized...I almost fainted. He continued to say that the blood loss was minimal as he applied steri-stips to close the incision, but I just knew I was going to bleed like a hog in a butcher shop. I remember gasping, "I don't want to die."
Does this sound like an overreaction? I'm sure it was, and as I focused on controlling my breathing, I listened to what the gathered-round folks were saying, and none of them used the word "stat," so I figured Tony's assessment was more accurate than my own fear-induced fantasy about dying.
Later that day, the assistant to my orthopedist looked at my leg and refused to even stitch it up, opting for more steri-strips and a constricting sleeve. Did I feel stupid? NO. Was I relieved? NO.
The thought of dying stayed with me the rest of the day.
It's not that I have unfinished dreams and goals.
I just don't want to go, and thought of it being a real possibility paralyzes me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Knock, Knock...Who's There?

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in doctors' offices this summer as a result of enough physical malfunctions to make the drug reps salivate. There's been a knee operation, an upcoming shock treatment ("Gimme, Gimme Shock Treatment") fort a heart issue, therapy appointments, and today: a repeat visit to the orthopedist because my knee surgery incision split open during therapy. My reaction to seeing blood come out of my surgically-repaired knee while taking a blood thinner was, well, worthy of its own blog entry. Stay tuned for the riveting story. For now, I wish to deal with a question that popped into my feverish brain today while being repaired a second time from the scalpel:

Why do doctors and nurses always knock before entering an examination room?

I get that when I go to visit someone's home I should announce my arrival with a doorbell chime or a knuckle-knocking, but I see the doctor's office as different for several reasons:
1. My chart is on the door. He or she KNOWS I'm in there. He or she KNOWS I'm waiting, not vacuuming, going to the bathroom, or talking on the phone to my broker or anything else that would make his or her coming in an intrusion.
2. What would I possibly be DOING in the room that they needed to warn me of their impending presence? Playing with the various anatomical models scattered around? Changing the screen saver on their computer screen? Pocketing anything I might be willing to pawn? Picking my nose or other orifice? Scratching somewhere that might be embarrassing to the incoming doctor or nurse? Unlikely.
3. Seriously. If I'm sitting there in one of those gown with no back, would I be cavorting around the room risking the full monty at any moment? NO.
4. Is there a magazine in there I shouldn't be reading? Something containing news from, say, this YEAR?
5. Do they want to make sure I'm not dozing so as to maximize the face time?

These are quasi-serious questions on my part though I'm sure the answer would be something as simple as "just being polite."
I would have asked today but I was so upset to have a newly-lacerated knee that I spent most of the time giving the practitioner incredulous looks that implied, "I don't believe a word of what you're saying. No stitches...just steri-strips and an ace bandage? Hell, I could have done that myself."
I hope I didn't hurt his professional feelings, but I was beginning to sweat and breathe shallowly again, so I had to get out of there with my question unanswered.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Is What's Wrong With Athletics Today

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Safety Is Everyone's Concern

Back in the day, we were forced to ride our bicycles all over creation without the safety net of having a helmet. Heck, I think motocycle policemen were the only folks I ever saw wear a helmet. Seatbelts? HA! Only sissies wore that kind of thing...though windshield manufacturers probably had a heyday back in the day.
These days, however, it seems we have safety devices for just about everything. My iron shuts off if I don't iron something for five minutes. My auto has more seat belts, backup cameras, fog lights and air bags than any ten thousands Cadillacs or Benzes had back in the day. All designed for safety, of course; mostly, I guess, because we're too busy texting or surfing the web or yakking on our cell to be concerned with mundane things involving safety. My pet peeve, though, is seeing parents riding a bicycle down the street with a child or children: everyone has a helmet except the parent! I want to shout, "Who's going to care for your kids when you have an accident and have a traumatic brain injury? Ever think of that?" I control my inner voice, but I certainly DO shout it to myself. That's why I'm applauding Swedish designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin for coming up with the first bicycle helmet folks might actually wear. Much like an airbag, it inflates just prior to any serious head injury being incurred.
It's called "Hovding" which is Swedish for "chieftain," and it contains gyroscopes, accelerometers and other electronic sensors that can sense an imminent crash and activate the helium inside to inflate in less than one-tenth of a second...thereby protecting the melon from serious damage.
Prior to the crash, it looks like nothing more than a poofy collar on a ski jacket so one's hair can remain perfect and comes in either basic black or in a stylish paisley pattern (more models to follow). The "helmet" also comes with a "black box" similar to the ones airplanes use; the box records the cyclist's actions for 10 seconds before and during the crash event. Data derived will be used to make the Hovding even better.
The only issue right now is cost: about $600. But there's gyroscopes and other science stuff, for goodness sake!
Sadly, though, this helmet protects a rider no better than a traditional one during my patented "faceplant" maneuver.
No idea whether this will be a featured item at the local IKEA.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We Need Godzilla...Stat!

With all the scientists around, you'd think it would have been obvious to them that we are on the verge of something horrible. It should not be left to an untrained observer like myself to figure this out: Mothra will rise again...seriously...and we will have no protection.
Let me set this up for you: Mothra was a larvae affected by radiation in those 60s Japanese movies. Her powers included emitting deadly rays from the antennae, shooting bolts of lightning from her wings, and letting loose a poisonous yellow dust. "Fantastic sci-fi," I hear you say. You won't be so smug after I let you in on what scientists in Japan are discovering in their studies over ten years with Pale Grass Blue butterflies (and remember, Mothra began as a giant BLUE larvae).
Two months after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, scientists gathered 144 of the aforementioned butterflies from 10 areas around Japan; some were very near the nuclear disaster while others were from distant areas. Note that these two-month-old specimens would have been in the larvae stage during the disaster (sounding Mothra-like?) They found an increase in leg, antennae and wing mutations in all butterflies, though the most distinct mutations occurred in the specimens around Fukushima. Their analysis of the data, published recently in Scientific Reports, also specified that the mutation rate among butterflies closest to the Fukushima site was more than double that of the rate in specimens collected in the earlier collection from the same area.
So, you can see, that it won't be long before a potential horde of destructive Pale Grass Blue butterflies will descend, and, at this point, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. I realize it is dangerous to even write about the possibility since Mothra was also telepathic, but I had to warn the blogosphere in hopes that we can somehow save ourselves.
I can only hope the Pacific Ocean proves to be a substantial enough barrier.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Talk Is Cheap Most of the Time

If you're like me, and I suspect that most of you are (legs, eyes, internal organs, etc.) you have a feeling of impending nausea concerning the remainder of this election cycle. This feeling is not brought about by arguments between family members or neighbors about which candidate is honest, more "American" or which one will represent the "us" (whoever that is) more effectively or how many yard signs one is allowed by code. The Tums-inducing feeling arises from the fact that we will hear little else over the next 75 days or so from candidates for all sorts of offices, PACs disguised as voters groups and television talking heads espousing the candidates' qualities while offering snide disparagement concerning the opponent, no matter which side is doing the representing. This non-stop, relentless brain-banging gets to be too much. I have taken steps: I mute the television (or watch Tosh.0) at the first sign of a candidate, and I unsubscribe from anyone on my social media networks who begins to wax eloquent on the subject of politics. I get it. I can read. I can reason. I read seven newspapers a day. I don't want to hear from you.
That's why I pity the poor people of Cambodia. Up for re-election (if an honest one can be found there) in 2013 is Hun Sen, a former member of Pol Pot's group (reformed, he says) who has led Cambodia for 27 years. Recently, Hun Sen broadcast something of a political "vote-for-me" statement over national television and spoke without interruption (and without taking questions from reporters from the Cambodia Daily FOR FIVE HOURS! 
The majority of his address dealt with the border dispute with Viet Nam that has been ongoing since the French left Southeast Asia decades ago. Apparently, this is a hot-button item with the voters, and Hun Sen wanted to make sure the blame was not placed on his benevolent leadership but on those nasty French folks for not drawing the border in indelible ink.
So, you're wondering, "Darrell, why should I care about this? So what? Fidel Castro was famous for five-hour diatribes, and just recently, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela gave a nine-hour State of the Union address. Hun Sen is a piker!" 
All of this is true, and I cannot speak to or about the audiences gathered by Castro or Chavez, but EVERY  civil servant in Cambodia was required by law to watch the speech. I have no doubt there was a test and proctors monitoring the situation...and we think civil servants in this country have it tough?
Wow! I'm going to read about it in the Daily.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's All About...Money? Drug Testing? It's the Olympics!

The year was 1972, and the Olympics were held in Munich that year. Of course, that was the most infamous Games that featured terrorist attacks on Israeli athletes (long before the world became jaded by the guman/gunmen du jour massacring people). That event overshadowed a lot of what went on, but I remember two specific things about that year's Olympic Games. I remember Steve Prefontaine finishing fourth in the 5,000 meter run after he had dominated the American field for several years. There was great hope for him for the '76 Games, but Hendricks Park's curvy roadway took care of that. (In his memory, today, I wore a pair of shoes designed for him for those Olympics...the first track athlete to have his "own" shoe.
More importantly, this was the year that Finland's Lasse Viren won both the 5,000m and 10,000m races then proceeded to take a victory lap around the stadium waving his Onitsuka Tiger shoes to the crowd: no national flag draped around his shoulders...his shoes were on display. Rumors abounded that the Onitsuka company gave him a $10,000 bonus for doing so, and the world of amateur [sic] athletics exploded. The only "pure" athletics competition was tainted not by drugs or cheating but by runners getting PAID to win! Having a soon-to-be world record holding shot putter on our college team meant that I was not exactly naive to all the "free" stuff athletes got when they were at their peak...but money?
Now we've come to an Olympic Games scenario in which all of the premier athletes (and not just the no-longer East Germans and Russians) get paid to train, compete and win. One could spend a great deal of time figuring out which country gives the most, but I can guarantee you the woman from Cambodia I saw run in a 200m heat didn't get much. Our athletes, on the other hand (minus the professional basketball players, I would suspect) rack up the dollars for training and performance incentives. Monthly stipends, for our athletes, according to, range from $250/month to $2,000/month which isn't much. They probably also have access to the finest dietitians and medical care (just a guess, though) to help them along. For eclipsing Mark Spitz's Olympic record of 7 gold medals in one Olympics, Michael Phelps got a bonus of $1 million from Speedo. When Usain Bolt broke the world record in the 100m a few years ago, he collected $1.8 million for his accomplishment.
As a result, world records mean more than fame and glory...they mean sponsorships gold, endorsement cash-ins and more than $250/month for expenses. Sadly, these feats also mean increased scrutiny with regard to drug testing and other forms of "gaining a competitive edge," and whiney, nebulous accusations by former wunderkind whose records are being demolished.Remember the controversy over blood doping? It's probably still out there somewhere. Now, it's PEDs.
And Lasse Viren: he's a god in Finland still...and we never DID find out for sure if he cashed in by waving those shoes around. I just knew I wanted to own a pair.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

But Did Bags Fly Free?

It's not just the Olympics that are competitive anymore. Any service one can possibly imagine has upped the ante in order to sway customers to using its services. Airlines are no different. I recently flew Southwest Airlines and got not one but TWO bags of snacks: pretzels and vanilla wafers. It was a veritable Thanksgiving feast for those of us in economy. I also liked the number system that carrier uses to board the plane: each traveler is assigned a number on check-in, and that's the order in which fliers enter the cabin; no edging up to the counter or darting in front of people with overlarge carryons or kids...just civilized stampeding.
Well, it seems that VietJetAir has gone the rewards idea one further. On a recent flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, the stewardesses were dressed somewhat more casually than one might expect and performed a dance routine for the passengers before takeoff (that's airplane takeoff, not what you are imagining). Since Nha Trang is a noted tourist destination, at least according to the Vietnamese, the airline wanted to do something to "...capture the holiday atmosphere." Instead, according to some bureaucrat somewhere, the airline "...violated local aviation regulations" and issued a fine that amounted to $956 US. The dance portion was filmed by several fliers using their portable phones; this, of course, brings up the obvious question, "Why weren't those phones turned off prior to takeoff?" Seems to me that some passengers were breaking the most sacrosanct of airline rules: If it has an "off" switch, turn it off!
Perhaps free drinks with little umbrellas in them would have established the same "holiday atmosphere" and saved the company some money. On the other hand, I'll bet future flights to Nha Trang will be full!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Fascinated by #1? Get Over It!

For whatever reason, being the absolute best is at the core of the American psyche. Anything less than numero uno is seen as a failure...yesterday's news as we seek the new "it" person over whom to fawn as he or she adorns cereal boxes, lunch pails and billboards touting American superiority. I would suspect that this is a similar act to the Romans ' desire to erect statues to every hero from every war against every puny barbaric tribe up until the Visigoths came to town.
While I get it that national pride is an important thing, sticking my chest out and strutting around because the USA women beat Canada in two extra periods in soccer just doesn't make sense. Good for's a nice achievement, but it doesn't make us any better that the folks who say "eh?" after everything. So, it seems that Lolo Jones is going to have a rough couple of weeks following her fourth-palce finish in the 100 hurdles at this year's Olympics. Having been featured by just about every magazine and sports journal (video and written) as someone to watch following a disappointing Beijing Olympics, she incurred the wrath of her fellow hurdlers who felt somewhat dismissed in the hype. Good hurdlers both, they seemed to feel that Jones' looks (and possibly race) were primary factors in the story. No matter. Jones finished out of the medal standings while the other two mounted the podium to be lauded, as they should have been. Hopefully, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells will get the deserved Letterman appearance (though track performers rarely do) and guess is that Missy Franklin and the women's gymnastics teams along with Michael Phelps will reap the rewards. However, winning does not guarantee immortality: as proven by the face that appears next to Ms. Jones in this post...and he finished fourth in his only Olympic appearance.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Gravity Does Its Worst

I don't imagine Sir Isaac Newton suffered any cranial carnage as a result of the whole apple-on-the-head episode. I mean, the distance was relatively short, and apples don't generally weigh much so, all in all, he was right to be more enlightened than injured. Naturally, there are skeptics who disbelieve the whole story anyway just like there are nattering nabobs of negativity who dispute the whole William Tell shooting the apple off his son's head story. 
Apples history notwithstanding, gravity is much so that Tea Party pundits have not even dared to suggest it does not regulate much of our lives (unlike their stance on global warming). But I can attest to the singular dangers of gravity in a way that not even Newton or his lesser known brother Fig could have imagined.
Being somewhat hampered by bandages, wraps and sutures on and in my left leg makes going to the bathroom something of an adventure. Crutches being about five feet tall render them relatively useless as mechanical aids to the getting down then back up again process. The fact that the towel rack opposite the"facility" was merely held onto the wall with a couple of screws did not engender any confidence that it could be used as support for my post-operative-gotta-go-NOW body. Thus, it was a matter of crouching as far as possible, balancing with one hand on the sink, then dropping the final foot or so in hopes of landing squarely on a round piece of equipment that would allow me to complete the task at hand (so to speak) before a mop was needed...I'm trying to make the point that his was an immediate need without being too graphic. There was simply no turning back once I had committed myself to gravity, and there would be either great success (complete with "AHHHH") or a mess of tsunamic proportion.
At any rate, the lightest miscalculation in angle resulted in an off-target landing that was followed by a resounding "crack" as one of the hinges exploded from the stress. Fortunately, my cat-like quickness allowed me to reposition myself in time to avert the dreaded mop experience, but it left me with an equally problematic future involving how to get back up. No solid support below, no crutches or rail on which to depend...just shove off and hope to catch something solid. In doing so, I did manage to et up without doing more bodily damage, but the stress was too much for the lone hinge as it, too, gave way.
At least now I cannot be blamed for leaving the  lid up!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saving Sixty-Three or So Stitches

Thomas Fuller, in a book entitled Gnomologia, is credited with the first literary use of the phrase "A stitch in time saves nine," though Louisa May Alcott used it sometime later in a short story. I had always attributed it to Benjamin Franklin since he authored so many pithy expression as Poor Richard for his almanac. (not to be confused with Little Richard, the self-titled "Queen of Rock and Roll.") I meant the almanac version of Poor Richard used by so many as a reading primer and social guide. Anyway, I thought of that quote as I nervously unwrapped by surgically repaired knee for the first time today, expecting a gash fit for a Hallowe'en pumpkin only to find a modest incision guaranteed to engender little sympathy when seen by the heretofore concerned audience.
It is apparent that surgical procedures have come a long way. Procedures that were routinely calling for days of hospital recovery are now responded to with, "What, are you still here? You were done an hour ago!" My first knee operation to remove a small cyst back in the mid 70's required not only a smiley face consisting of enough stitches that would do the Kool-Aid pitcher proud, it also required encasement in a plastic cast for six weeks...which in turn resulted in more bent out of shape coat hangers torn apart to scratch just the right yellow, flaky skin pockets. (OK,OK, too much information).
The latest foray into my knee involved removing floating bone chips that were virtually the same size as Rhode Island. All tolled, I think there were 25 or so. I only got to keep 20 since the rest went to pathology so the technicians there, too, would have something to fill their days.
The best I can tell, all I got was seven stitches, some corresponding swelling, the use of crutches for a few days, and a not-so-impressive scar. Seriously, I've had bicycle accidents that left more of a mark that this operation.
Not counted are the arthroscopic holes in the front placed by Dr. Obma so he could "clean up" a couple of other things floating around. Honestly, it was like he had an extra ten minutes and felt like exploring. Remember, this was the surgeon who was practically giddy to get started on my knee since he'd never seen anything like the accumulation of junk since watching his last outer space movie.There are photos of all of it as well as photos of the big gap where my ACL should be (but isn't)...just in case I ever want him to explore more brave new worlds inside my knee.
For the time being, I think I'll call it good. Any surgeon who walks out and hands my wife a jar of what he just extracted saying, "I know Darrell will want these," gets the nod from me to explore away.
Now, if I could just carry the pain medication around activated by one of those buttons they sometime give patients in order to dispense their own sedative.
At least now I have some some time (and material) to make that necklace I've been wanting to give my sweetie for Christmas.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Seven is Not Always a Lucky Number

This is the prelude to my seventh knee operation. I am pretending not to be nervous.
It's not that I am Arnold "Pump You Up" large here. It's just that it has become customary to hook patients up to a vacuum-like hose and blow warm air over them prior to surgery. Since my last trip under the knife had been quite a while ago, this was a startling development. I felt somewhat like I was being encased in a fat sumo-type suit though the nurser explained that such a thing was customary. Surreptitiously, I tuned the settings down to zero because I was warm enough without all the excess gadgetry.
To be honest, I always like this part of operations: a light drug dose to relax you, friendly doctors and anesthetists who pretend it will be their greatest pleasure to work you over that day. In my case, world-renowned surgeon Dr. Padraic Obma ( former associate of Dr. James Andrews who specializes in professional athletes) was in line to do the chopping. He had been positively giddy about performing the procedure since he'd never seen a knee with as many bone chunks floating around as mine had. He was smiling broadly, claimed to have gotten a good 8 hours of sleep, and promised two things: he'd so an excellent job, and he would save as many of the record-breaking number of chunks for me as he could. Heartened by that thought, it was off to the operating room where my request for punk music was tacitly agreed up but probably not played in actuality. Going to sleep is my favorite part...I could do that every day: dreamless, peaceful sleep.
Then comes the groggy awakening and the very first "wrong" movement of that knee. As far as I know, no secrets were divulged in questioning me under the effects of drugs, something I think everyone fears at that point.
There was a small glitch, however; it appears that the EKG taken in the operating room showed something called an atrial irregular heartbeat. That is a condition that must be followed up since the opportunity for strokes is present.
But all that for another day. Recovery is underway, and with the Olympics app, I can watch Olympic coverage all day, every day, including varied things such as field hockey and team handball.
Timing is everything!