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Padre Steve Gets Adolf the Kidney Stone Removed: Musings on Laser Lithotripsy

Adolf Von Grosse Schmertzen will see his last sunrise in the morning, or whatever he can view from where he is at in the ureter.  Whatever, since he has stayed in his bunker and made my life miserable for the past two weeks he will not get to stay intact as a reward for leaving.  Instead he is going to get blasted to pieces by the latest and greatest in Kidney Stone breaker-upper technology, the Laser Lithotripsy using a holmium laser mounted in a endoscope.

This procedure is replacing the older method of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy as the standard of care in treating bastards like Adolf.  The older method was less invasive and used shock waves generated outside the body to break up the stone. The new method which according to the literature is “minimally invasive” involves passing the endoscope up the pee-pee thru the bladder and into the tunnel, the ureter, between the bladder and kidney where Adolf is dug into, sort of like his namesake who did the same in a Berlin Bunker back in 1945.  When the endoscope reaches Adolf the Urologist will direct a “laser” beam into Adolf “vaporizing the stone.”

Evidently there is no stone that has been able to withstand this high tech assault and the remnants of Adolf will be flushed into to sewer of history.  The success rate for this procedure is in the 90-95 percent rate according to the literature which means that for me there is a 50-50 chance of success though only a ten percent chance of that.  My assumption as to why this has replaced extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is that for the Urologist it is much more like imitating Luke Skywalker when he blasts the Death Star or playing the video game Asteroids.

Now I will go in tomorrow and be prepped for the procedure, I report at 815 and am told that it will be an hour or two until the procedure will begin.  Usually the preparation involves placing an IV, placing monitor equipment and asking lots of questions.  The one question I hope they ask if I have any special religious needs.  If they do I will ask if the have a live chicken, a sharp knife and an altar with candles and a shot of rum.  I am told that I will go under “General Anesthesia” which I imagine as being forced to watch a very boring Army General giving a briefing on power point to his subordinates.  Since I have slept through a few of those I image that this will be the case again.

Today I got a call from the Ambulatory Procedure Unit where I will be prepared for battle and then taken to the Operating Room, or the O.R. as medical professionals call it.  My Urologist says that the procedure could take up to three hours but that he expects that it will be done sooner than that. I do hope so because I need to wake up fast after the briefing of the boring General so that I can get home and then top off the day at Stein Club appreciation night at Gordon Biersch…yes, I know I’ve heard that you are not supposed to have alcohol after being under anesthesia but it won’t be like I will be having a beer in post-op, they don’t have any good beer there but I digress.

Today Adolf obviously sensing that his time is short has been giving me a lot of pain even with the Vicodin on board.  I cannot eat or drink anything after midnight so I’d better finish this so I can eat something to go with my last dose of Vicodin.  Providing nothing goes wrong I expect to be writing of my experiences tomorrow night, inshallah.

Of course my mind drifts to great medical films like Robin Cook’s Coma and certain episodes of House, M*A*S*H, Scrubs, the X-Files and the “Junior Mint” episode of Seinfeld which I find very comforting when facing surgery.

Pray for me a sinner,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Health Care Reform, Socialized Medicine and Adolf Von Grosse Schmertzen my Big Kidney Stone

I believe that the health care system in our country needs to be reformed.  A of my opinion comes from my days in seminary and after when the health insurance that I had was not worth the powder to blow it to hell for the most part.  My overriding concern is that people get the appropriate health care and treatment when needed and that a lot of this be preventive type care.  At the same time when the situation presents that is not a preventive medicine type situation but rather something that is dehabilitating to the point that an otherwise physically fit person cannot do their job because of pain or the effects of medication needed to keep the pain to manageable levels that treatment should be done expeditiously in order that the person would be able to resume their duties quickly.  This is especially true for those in the military who have a mission that must be done.

I am a moderate in most of life.  I understand the need for social responsibility as well as individual responsibility.  At the same time I know that even when you have a guarantee that you will have your health care taken care of that things do not always work out the way that you think that they should.

I was diagnosed with a 7mm kidney stone almost two weeks ago on a late night trip to the ER.  Despite the fact that there is almost no possibility of passing that big of stone I was given pain meds as well as medicines to help pass the stone.  I was referred to my family practice physician who was surprised that a Urology consult had not been scheduled during my late night ER visit.  He gave me a consult with Urology when I saw him and a couple of days later saw the Urologist who gave me more meds and scheduled me for a ureterorenoscopy to blast the stone and place a stint.  Since we have only so many surgery slots my surgery was scheduled for March 9th which is over 2 weeks after the initial diagnosis.  I had my pre-op appointment today and even though I am in pain even with a high dose of Vicodin my doctor is sending me back to work tomorrow with the instruction to take Extra-Strength Tylenol while I am at work only taking Vicodin if the pain gets too bad. Now with Vicodin the pain is reduced to an almost manageable level but not gone. Sleep is still problematic and just getting comfortable is difficult and between doses of Vicodin doses of 1-2 liters of beer does little to help.  I would venture to say that the pain is too bad already, but I am only a layman.

I have done everything that my doctors have told me and still there is no relief.  I have to wait until Tuesday for the surgery to blast and remove Adolf from his bunker when if the statistical probability of me being able to pass bloody Adolf would have been employed I would have had him removed within days of his discovery. Instead I have had to wait in pain unable to do the work that I need to do and all the while losing ground on my physical fitness program that I have been working so hard on getting back into optimal shape.  My Urologist has elected to send me back to work Friday and Monday with only extra strength Tylenol as a pain reliever because I cannot drive nor do much when taking Vicodin, the world goes around in a counter-clockwise direction.  So tomorrow I will go in to work and try to survive the day. However in reality I think that without my Vicodin I will be back in the doctor’s office in pain begging for relief, in fact based on the pain that I am feeling with the Vicodin I know that I will seeing my family practitioner as soon as I go in to try to get some help.  It is no fun spending two weeks in pain that does not even allow you to sleep that is only mitigated by medicine that makes your world go in a counter-clockwise direction that cannot be taken if you want to drive to work which of course means that the pain will become unbearable.  This is indeed what is in the old parlance called a dilemma and even though I like dill pickles I think that this dill-Emma will be a very sour pickle indeed.

So I shall go in to work and see what happens….

As much as I want to discuss heath care reform in general, I must say without sounding too self centered or look like I am whining that there must be health care reform and let it begin with me.  But I am whining and because I am in pain now this is somewhat self centered. For two weeks I have gone without a decent night’s sleep, been in pain and missed work and lost ground on my physical fitness program while watching my living room move in a counterclockwise direction.  This is not fun and now I’m told to not take the only thing that is keeping the pain at bay.

Now of course there are a lot of people with a lot more dire conditions than me who suffer worse than I do and I don’t dare to compare what I am going through to them, I am not so self centered to think that somehow what I am going through compares to people in long term chronic pain that cannot be mitigated especially those dying.  Thus my complaint may seem in bad form, but I am not a happy camper.  By the time the stone is out and I am done with the recovery period I will have lost three weeks of work and life in general.

Anyway, it is time for my last bit of Vicodin before I go to bed.  Pray for me a sinner and forgive me for whining.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Crossing the Mendoza Line: It’s not All about the Lifetime Batting Average

Hammock Grand SlamRobby Hammock Crossing the Plate after his Grand Slam in the Bottom of the 6th against Charlotte

When I was playing baseball I hit somewhere around the Mendoza line.  I was never much of a hitter but I made up for my lack of hitting by being pretty solid defensively, a pretty versatile utility player and hustling on every play.  Likewise I would be the guy encouraging other players.   On two different teams in two different sports I was named the “Most Inspirational Player” by my teammates.  Being the most inspirational player does not mean that you are a particularly good ballplayer but rather that you add something else to the team dynamic.  In fact you may not be admired for how well you play, but rather how hard you try and how you get along with your team mates.  I was talking to my dad who is now in a nursing home with end stage Alzheimer’s disease on my last visit.  In a rare moment I had him back talking baseball I thanked him for how he helped me learn to love the game, pitch and field, especially fielding.  I said to him, the only thing that you didn’t do was teach me to hit.  He looked up at me and said “Son, there are a lot of people who can’t hit, it’s a gift.”  So I guess I was doomed to be a Mendoza Line player.

Mario Mendoza played for the Pirates and Mariners.  To be kind he was an amazing defensive shortstop but he as my dad would have said” Couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag.”  His career average was .215 although he often flitted and flirted with the .180 – .200 level. He never played in an All Star game or World Series.  He never hit more than two home runs in a season, in fact one was an inside the park job playing for the Mariners and he hit below .200 in five of his nine major league seasons.   However, despite that Mario Mendoza lives on in baseball, his name forever associated with a low batting average.  In modern baseball parlance the Mendoza line is considered a batting average of .200.  Credit for who coined the term goes depending on your source to either George Brett, the All-Star Third Baseman of the Kansas City Royals or fellow Seattle Mariners Tom Paciorek or Bruce Bochte from whom Brett may have heard the term.  Either way the term stuck after ESPN commentator Chris Berman who used the term in 1988 to describe the hitting struggles of a star power hitter.  Once Berman made the comment it became a pretty standard way of denoting guys who struggle at the plate.  Mexican sportscaster Oscar Soria corroborates the Paciorek and Bochte version referencing a conversation with Mario Mendoza while Mendoza was managing the Obregon Yaquis in the Mexican Pacific League who stated that Mendoza said “that Tom Paciorek was the first to mention the phrase “Mendoza Line” when he read the Sunday paper” and that “then George Brett heard about that.”  Soria then discussed how Mendoza was initially angered by Berman’s use of the term but now “he enjoys the fame of the phrase Mendoza line.”  For a really good discussion of the Mendoza Line see the article in the Baseball Almanac at: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/books/mendozas_heroes_book.shtml, from which the information above is gleaned.

Now my buddy Elliott the Usher and I have frequent discussions about the game discussing pitching, hitting, fielding, base running, prospects, scouting and strategy.  Elloitt is one of those gems of Baseball knowledge, his love and knowledge of the game shows in the way he deals with people including Major League Scouts, players from the Tides and visiting team who are charting the game and others.  I really think that he should be hired as a commentator or color man on some baseball broadcast.  This season we have enjoyed a lot of laughs as well as had a lot great talks amid the joys and sorrows of the season.  One of our frequent subjects of discussion is players on our team as well as the visiting teams who are hitting near or below the Mendoza Line.  We have a few on the Tides who are hovering at or below the Mendoza line.  A couple of these players are former Major Leaguers and a couple career minor league guys.  Last night I decided to venture out for the first time in two days since I was now getting a case of “cabin fever” and my cocktail of Vicodin, Motrin and Amoxicillin seemed to have my pain and swelling a bit more under control.  Judy said my cheek still looks “like a squirrel’s” but at least I wasn’t in too bad of pain, though when I got up in the morning and until 2 or 3 PM I was still pretty sore and tired.  At least for the majority of the game the pain was manageable and of course as soon as I got home I dumped a butt load of meds down me and went to sleep.

Last night the Tides swept a double header from the Charlotte Knights who are the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  Since the game was rain delayed after a series of severe storms raked the area in the two hours prior to the first pitch it was not well attended.  Because of this I was able to flit between my buddies Barry down in section 102 and Elliott.   It was good to be able in a fairly relaxed atmosphere to talk about the game.  The Tides had lost the last game prior to the All Star Break in Durham and then the first game back from the break.  In those two games their hitting died and they were outscored 16-3.  Last night Chris Tillman was throwing an outstanding game having given up just one run in the first inning.  It wasn’t until the 6th inning until the Tides scored their first run with one out when Michael Aubry doubled to score Justin Turner to tie the game 1-1.  The Tides then loaded the bases and Brandon Pinkney struck out for the second out.  At this point with the bases loaded, Elliott and I gave a mutual groan.  One of our “below the Mendoza Line” batters, catcher Robby Hammock was coming to the plate.  Robby is a good defensive catcher and while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks caught Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2003.  However this year has seen Robby really struggle at the plate.  The count went to two and from the way Robby had been swinging the bat tonight Elliott turned to me and said “I can’t look.”  Robby then fouled off the next pitch.  I said “Elliott he’s dragging this out.” Then I yelled “Hey Mendoza! Get a hit!”   At this point Robby who is currently hitting .190 stood back into the batter’s box.  The pitch from Knight’s reliever John Link was a slider that didn’t cut and Robby planted it in the picnic area in Left Center for a Grand Slam home run.  Elliott and I rejoiced, Robby had maybe gotten the hit that would re-ignite the team for the second half of the season.  This blew the game open and the Tides went on to win 5-1.  Robby was quoted in the Virginia Pilot today about the hit “I closed my eyes and put my bat in the spot” and “I felt decent today, I just got lucky and that’s all there was to it.”  Tides fans are not complaining even if it was lucky, I’m happy for you Robby, you helped get us back on track enjoy the moment and keep hanging in there.

The hitting surge continued in the second game.  Jeff Fiorentino and Michael Aubrey, who are .300 hitters, Fiorentino about .325 right now and way above the Mendoza Line each had 2 hits and drove in two runs while our other way below the Mendoza Line players had a good night. Infielder Carlos Rojas was in at Third due to injuries that forced Manager Gary Allenson to reshuffle the line up.  Carlos is a pretty good defensive player with pretty good range.  However he was only hitting .156 going into the game but went 2-3 with two singles in what I think was his first multi-hit game of the season.  Catcher Chad Moeller who has struggled at the plate since coming down from Baltimore when Matt Wieters was called up also doubled and scored a run as the Tides took the second game 5-1 with Chris Waters getting the win.

All in all it was not a bad night for our guys living below the Mendoza line; hopefully they will all get themselves up above it.  As a member of the Mendoza Line club myself I hope that they all do well and that last night is a harbinger of things to come.  Today my mouth feels a bit better than yesterday though I woke up in some pain.  I plan on seeing tonight’s game with Judy as the Tides hopefully will extend their International League South Division lead over the Durham Bulls by defeating the Knights here again.

Coming back to the Mendoza Line itself the way that guys like Mendoza make their mark is by the intangibles that they bring to the game.  Some of the “Mendoza’s” went on in other ways to make a difference in the game through coaching, managing, scouting at the Major or Minor League level, as well as in sports media, announcing or writing.  Some would include guys like Tony LaRussa career .199 average in 10 seasons, Charlie Manuel .198 in 6 seasons, Bob Uecker career .200 in 6 Major League seasons, Sparky Anderson who hit .218 in one season in the Majors and once said “I led the league in “Go get ’em next time.” Tommy Lasorda was a pitcher and had a 0-4 record and 6.48 ERA in three major league seasons as well as Earl Weaver who never made it to the Majors.  All made lasting marks on the game and all were way below the Mendoza line.

The application to baseball players and non-ball players alike when you find yourself at the Mendoza Line is to make the most out of what you have.  Play to your strengths and know that if you do this you will make a mark, even if it is not at the plate.  I figure as a somewhat well trained and experienced theologian, historian, military officer and Priest that the Deity Herself understands bad days, and lackluster careers and still helps us get through life.  So anyway, as a Mendoza Line alumnus I say to all those hovering around the line, find a way to make your mark and do well, I’m cheering for you as are all the other Mendoza’s among the Saints in Heaven.

Peace, Steve+

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Killing off the Undead Tooth of Terror

stooges dentist 2Yesterday I Might have taken these Guy’s Offer

The battle was brutal.  Yesterday the Undead Tooth of Terror held me in its grip more tightly than any time in the past several days.  Judy drove us home from West Virginia and last night as soon as we got back I was met by the on-call dentist and oral surgeon.  They bought me some relief for the night but I still didn’t sleep much having been tanked up on caffeine just to make it through the trip, the whole yin and yang of uppers and downers together.  This morning I got up and went in to work, my tooth and mouth in a bit of pain but not the 10.5 to 12.9 on the scale of 10 that I had yesterday.  The Undead Tooth of Terror may have been down but he was not yet out.

I met the dentist from last night as well as the Oral Surgeon who is the department head.  The people at the desk had no clue that I was coming in and were trying to figure things out by calling to the back when the dentist from last night came out, told them exactly what the plan was and had them check me in.  I was sent to wait and waiting 5 minutes a nurse came out the get me and ushered me into the oral surgery pavilion. Now you might wonder what difference there is in this and a normal dentist chair and treatment room.  So let me tell you.  I work at a large teaching hospital and this includes the Dental Department.  In fact the dentist who worked on me last night was a first year resident by you would not have known by how well he did and how considerate he was of any possible pain or discomfort that I might experience.  Anyway, back to the pavilion.  It is large with a number of oral surgery suites.  In the suite sits a dental chair. Not just any chair but one that looks like a first class airline seat and much more comfortable than a standard dental chair. The arms were a bit different as they had straps to hold down your arms as well as an IV line for the times they put someone to sleep when doing the surgery.  It looked like it could have been like a set up for prison lethal injection room.  I guess if we move to a Soylent Green end of life deal these would be in your neighborhood.  Since I had no need of lethal injection or for that matter being put to sleep for the procedure these meant nothing to me.  However when I have my implant they will do this.  The rest of the room has a good amount of equipment not seen in a normal dentist treatment room.

I got in the chair and they went through the checklist to make sure that I was me and want procedure was being done.  I was read the consent form which asked of potential complications of the surgery.  These were interesting, thankfully I did not expect complications although because the tooth was so weak there was a strong possibility that it could shatter and would have to be cut out.  Preliminaries completed I was given a topical anesthetic followed by about four or five shots into the right side of my mouth, which because of the local I did not feel.  Then they went to work.  I couldn’t see anything but could hear and feel, albeit without pain what they were doing.  Things didn’t take too long, maybe 20 minutes to remove the tooth if that.  It had come out in several pieces as they suspected, but thankfully the roots were straight and they didn’t have to do any real gymnastics to get it out.  I looked at the damned thing which was in several pieces on the small instrument table in front of me.  It was like looking at Dracula after you had staked him and before he turned to dust.  I amazement I asked if I could take it home with me and was told that I could not because it was now “hazardous waste.”  Hell I thought it was hazardous before it was waste.  I told the dentist and nurse that I was hoping to take it home so I could put it under the pillow for the tooth fairy.  The dentist said that he didn’t think that she would give very much for it but I said I thought that it was worth a try.  When all was said and done I was given an SIQ chit for two days.  SIQ means “sick in quarters” and is basically the Navy’s way of saying “Go home dummy.  Follow the doctor’s directions and take care of yourself.” I really only expected one day, but as I started hurting again some tonight I realized that I could not do my 24 hour on call shift tomorrow without making things much worse for me.   Following the surgery the site of the now really dead Undead Tooth of Terror was packed with gauze to soak up the blood.  I ended up changing the gauze three times before the site stopped bleeding.

When I got home I realized that I had forgotten to drop off a prescription for more Vicodin so I had to drive back and drop it off at our pharmacy. Thankfully traffic was light and I got there and back pretty quick and will get the prescription tomorrow as the line was huge and I was in no condition to wait an hour to get it as I had a couple left.  Once I was home I fell asleep for about 3 hours. I got up, had a light dinner and took it easy.  The pain started back up about 9 PM and so I took my meds and am getting ready to go to bed.  I expect that I should sleep well for the first time tonight.  The Undead Tooth of Terror is no more but I still bear the scars of my encounter with the beast from the pit of hell.  Patently the Deity Herself was with me through this and will take care of me tonight even if I don’t get a visit from the tooth fairy.

Thank you for your prayers encouragement and support.  Thanks especially to Judy who threw herself on the proverbial grenade yesterday to drive me home even though she was extremely tired and not feeling that well herself. I have a follow up next week for this procedure and my initial visit for the implant in six weeks.

Peace, Steve+

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My Home World Visit: Some things Change and some don’t….and the Terror of the Undead Tooth

The last time that I visited the Home World, aka West Virginia was before I left for Iraq.  While this is my family’s Home World it is only mine by default having worked there briefly after my residency.   Now because I was a West Virginia resident when I entered active duty in 1999 it is our home of record for all of my military administrative and pay purposes.  This means that we maintain our West Virginia driver’s licenses, vote in West Virginia elections and since we are out of state have no state income tax liability.

West Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia is an interesting place.  It was became a state in 1863 when the western counties of Virginia, which had seceded from the Union, seceded from Virginia and were recognized by the Federal Government.  My family goes back on both sides to the late 1700s in the state where they were early pioneers having moved west from Pennsylvania.  The Dundas side of the family had emigrated from Scotland in the late 1740s settling initially in Philadelphia where the early settlers served as suppliers of the Continental Congress and Army in the War for Independence and are buried in Christ Church cemetery near Independence Hall, the same cemetery where Benjamin Franklin and other notables from the early history of the United States are buried.  The family which settled in Cabell County owned a great deal of property along the Mud River and the James River Turnpike where they prospered by not necessarily being nice.   They built a plantation and owned slaves, the exact number I do not know.  They also sort of acted as highwaymen charging travelers along the turnpike to go through their land, in a sense they were the progenitors of the toll booths on the West Virginia Turnpike.  Their prosperity last through the Civil War in which they sided with the Virginians who seceded from the Union and not those that seceded from Virginia.  When the war ended the family patriarch decided that he didn’t like the results and as a Lieutenant in the 8th Virginia Cavalry Regiment refused to sign the loyalty oath when the Confederacy surrendered.  Of course Officers like Robert E. Lee did so, so the refusal was kind of stupid.  As a result the Federal Government seized almost all of the family land save for the homestead and a parcel donated to Mud River Baptist Church and the Blue Sulfur cemetery where as my cousin by marriage Betty says “all the good Dundas’s are buried.”  Thus my family became just another working family.  My parents were born in Huntington in the 1930s.  At that time Huntington was a booming city.  It was a rail hub as well as the site of many heavy industries including the manufacture of railroad cars, steel, nickel, glassware, chemicals and automotive parts.  It was also the home of Marshall University.   This boom lasted until the 1960s and early 1970s as industries moved out or shut down, the population which once numbered about 100,000 dwindled to barely 50,000 in 2008.  The city did nothing to help itself when it refused to let the Interstate Highway go down through the waterfront. The diversion of I-64 helped destroy the downtown and contributed to the move of many people to the outlying areas of the county.  As a result the areas along the Mud River gained both business and population leaving the city with fewer business, people and tax revenue.  Of course had my ancestor decided to sign the loyalty oath all of this would have been on our family land and the family would be wealthy.  The sins and stupidity of the previous generations do truly affect their descendants.  What a Dumb-Ass.

So my dad joined the Navy and I was the first one of my family born out of West Virginia.  Now we would go back often to visit my grandparents as well as other relatives and I have some fond memories of visits to Huntington in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Back then Huntington was still fairly affluent by West Virginia standards.  When I moved back after my residency in late December 1994 Huntington was a different town.  The city was smaller and areas that had once been nice were run down.  Gangs and drug lords from Detroit and Columbus made Huntington, which once had a very low crime rate a pretty sporty place.  Instead of industry service industries like telemarketing became major employers joining Marshall University, Cabell-Huntington Hospital and Saint Mary’s hospitals as the economic base of the city. The few remaining heavy industries were much smaller than they had been even a decade before.  Since I left to join the Navy in 1999 the city has continued its decline.  In spite of major expansions of the University, both Hospitals the opening of a new campus and University medical center a revitalized downtown much of the city is in disrepair and once nice neighborhoods are blighted.  There are signs of hope as the city and state are making concerted efforts to fight the drugs and gangs, while corrupt officials who allowed the infrastructure to collapse leaving the city in violation of EPA and other federal agency regulations.

The decline has affected everything, even churches.  The church that I was baptized at as a infant, Southside Methodist is shut down, the congregation merged with several others at another location.  Other formerly influential congregations of various denominations have shut down and in some cases the buildings demolished.   The city lost its Minor League baseball franchise in 1994 and it has not been replaced.  The population is now significantly older and poorer.  One only has to visit stores like Wal-Mart and see how poor people look and how bad their state of health is to understand how the city has fallen.

One thing that surprised me was walking down 3rd Avenue after departing the Marshall Hall of Fame Café and seeing two young let’s say late teens, early twenties girls wrapped around each other at a bus stop French kissing and pawing all over each other.   For a second I thought someone had turned on Cinemax, this was definitely not the West Virginia that I remembered growing up.  Now I know that Huntington is a college town but I still was not expecting this.  Had my paternal grandmother, God rest her soul been there she would have probably taken her cane and forcibly separated them while giving them a piece of her mind.  Granny was not to be messed with and even long haired men drew her wrath as what she would have termed improperly clad women who showed more skin than she thought was proper.   I’m sure the display of the two young women would have sent her into orbit. Of course I make no judgment on the young women, save perhaps their choice of venue to express their affection for one another.  Heck if they had been a hetro-sxcual couple I would have had a similar reaction and Granny would have at least accosted the young man had it been that situation.

Huntington has changed in a lot of ways, but some things remain constant.  For me these have been the parks, such as Ritter Park as well as eateries such as Stewarts Hot Dogs and the Frost Top Root Beer stand both of which take one back in time to when things were better.  I still like to go back; the pace of life is relaxing if you aren’t in pain.  Our trip this time was marked by a nice visit with our friend Patty a couple of visits to Stewarts and a visit to the Marshall Hall of Fame Café.  At least the beer at least gave me a bit of relief from the constant pain in my mouth.

As far as the matter of the “undead” tooth goes beginning Sunday night the pain was unmanageable.   I could not sleep and no matter how many 800 mg Motrin and Ultram that I took I was still in pain. I might have gotten two hours of bad sleep Sunday night.  Monday morning I got up, ate breakfast, took more medicine and went to back to bed.  After I got up at noon I went to the Hall of Fame Café for a salad, chili and beer, after which I saw the aforementioned Cinemax girls.  Monday night was more of the same and I was wishing for my regular boring insomnia.  Tuesday morning I woke up gave up and called our hospital dental clinic.  They referred me to the office that approves visits to non-military providers.  It took me a while to reach them but when I did they gave me permission and I went to the dentist who took over the practice of our old and recently retired dentist in Huntington.  I was x-rayed and the dentist said that the tooth was infected.  He wrote a couple of prescriptions, one for amoxicillin and the other for Darvecet a pain reliever.  Unfortunately they had no effect on Tuesday night and by the time that we left today I was in worse pain than any time previously.  The tooth was making groaning and popping noises throbbing and shooting out sharp pain.  By the time we got to the western section of Virginia I knew I had to get some help so I called our dental department.  The person at the desk told me to report to sick call in the morning.  About an hour later the pain was even worse so I called again about 40 minutes before the clinic closed.  I got the automated answering system that told me “thank you for your patience, we value you and you are number one in the queue.” I waited in the “queue” or 40 minutes, my call dropping twice due to bad cell coverage but each time I was still “the first in the queue.” Finally, after the clinic was officially closed I called m ICU and Stacie one of our Critical Care RN’s paged the on-cal dentist.  He called me back and told me to come in as soon as I got back in town.  When we finally got home we went directly to the hospital where the young dentist waited.  He consulted the on-call Oral Surgeon and the two decided to open the tooth back up and grind it down as well as give me a long lasting anesthetic that will take me through the night as well as some good drugs, Vicodin to keep the pain down not the Darvocet which was crap and didn’t touch the pain.  So tomorrow I go in early and the dentists will fit me in and excavate the remains of the tooth from my mouth and do some site preservation so I can get the implant later.  Thus, my saga completed I will try to get some sleep, unfortunately I am so wired from all the caffeine I took on board today that sleep, even if I am not in pain will be problematic.  Thankfully I have been assured that they will send me home when this is done.

Pray for me a sinner,

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, travel, west virginia

Monday Monday…a visit to the ER and the DMV

Well what can I say?  If you remember Garfield the Cat and how he hates Monday’s you can probably understand this post.  Maybe you have lived this yourself. Maybe not, but there is always tomorrow.

I really expected to have a nice day recovering and resting from my very draining trip to California to help out with my dad.  It started that way but didn’t end that way.  When I got home I found out that my license plates had been stolen off of my car.  Thus I knew that today I would need to go to the DMV to report them stolen and get them replaced.  I figured that this couldn’t be too bad, I called my boss yesterday afternoon and he graciously gave me the time to do so.  Of course I could not gotten through the front gate without them, but still it is good to have an understanding boss.

Late in the evening I started to get my things together for work.    After having watched the movie Fletch with Judy I was tired and expecting to go to bed.  Judy had told me earlier in the evening that she had a sore throat and had taken some throat stuff to make it feel better.  The throat stuff usually takes care of the problem.  This time it didn’t.  She started complaining of sharp pain of like 9 on the scale of 10 in her throat and that she was having a hard time swallowing.  This to me was odd.  Judy has a super high threshold for pain, that fact that she has been married to me for nearly 26 years testifies to this.  Once in Germany she had a cavity filled with no anesthetic when the Army dentist who had the shrine to Dr Mengele in his office refused to give a topical before sticking her with a needle.  She let a broken ankle go for a year before having something done about it.  Sorry I don’t like to suffer like that.  But she has a super high threshold for pain.  So at 0002 in this morning (for those not German or military both of Mickey’s hands are pointing straight up to the 12) yes Monday dark and early, we set out for Sentara Bayside ER.  I was not a happy camper.  I picked up one of my Andrew Greeley Bishop Blackie Ryan mystery novels and took Judy through the rain to the ER.

Now to me a real ER is where guts are hanging out, people a being coded in multiple rooms. In a real ER there are gunshot wounds, stab wounds, burns, strokes, heart attacks, people mangled in car or industrial accidents. Likewise there are always Police with knuckleheads who have been arrested, drug overdoses, suicide attempts and real live psychotic people who think that they are Jesus.  Death, crisis, mayhem that dear readers is my kind of ER.  Eating a cheeseburger with a trauma surgeon while looking at the track of a bullet in an open chest after some gang banger got whacked and we could save him.  That is an ER to me.  I did my residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas as the Trauma Department Chaplain and worked as an ER Department Chaplain in a Trauma Center in West Virginia.  I’m used to full waiting rooms, upset people and various forms of craziness.  I now work in a teaching hospital and have the adult and pediatric ICUs.   To put it mildly this was not what I experienced this morning.  We got there and there was no one in the waiting area, which unlike places I have worked before was nicely decorated and relatively comfortable.  They even had Lifetime set as the channel on the cable TV.  Judy went through triage quickly and was taken back.  After a while I was called back.  Judy was getting an IV placed and a full panel of labs and a CT Scan of her obviously swollen neck were ordered.  This was a bit scary for her, and a little unsettling for me as first she is my wife and I don’t want to lose her, but also because I know that if untreated whatever was going on could threaten her airway.  This is never a good thing.

The nursing staff and the ER physician were very nice.  I have no complaints.  For a while it looked like that Judy might be admitted until she responded to the three different IV meds and drips that she was on.  Now whatever was going on was potentially serious but seemed to have been nipped in the bud.  I did try to comfort Judy by telling her that it couldn’t be that bad because she wasn’t intubated, didn’t have a Foley catheter or NG tube, but she didn’t find that terribly comforting.  I young man how had cut his arm pretty bad after giving a dumpster an elbow was across the way and had a pretty cool cut, but still pretty mild by what I am used to.  Compared to the places that I have worked it was far too sedate.  It was really kind of boring.  I guess that is okay, I didn’t want Judy to be the one who got sporty and provide the entertainment for the evening.

We got out of the ER about 0330 and hit 24 hour Walgreens to pick up her medicine.  She even got good stuff for pain, Vicodin.  All I ever get is Motrin, no let me take that back, my Nurse Practitioner here put me on Ultram for my chronic pain in my shoulders.  But this isn’t like Vicodin.  The people in the pharmacy were all friendly, giving us a cheery “Good morning” every time that we turned around. We finally got home well after 0400.  Checking in with the boss I got permission to come in late.

This afternoon I still had to go to DMV to get the license plates.  I didn’t get much sleep and what I had was not very good.  Groggy and grouchy like a bear waking up from hibernation I put myself together.  I did not want to go to the DMV, but it had to be done.  Now the DMV sends chills up my spine.  I grew up in California, so my first experience of the DMV was in that fair state.  The DMV in California is like the major league of the DMV.  I’m sure that I stood in line behind Jimmy Hoffa one day well after he went missing never to be seen again.  He’s probably still in line.  The last time I went to the DMV here it was a long wait.  Today I expected the worst.  It started out where I thought that would be the case when the rent-a-cop at the door sent me outside and told me that I couldn’t have my Norfolk Tides travel mug filled with Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee, Splenda and Coffee Mate Nonfat French Vanilla creamer in the building.  I thought, “well isn’t this just great….I’m tired as hell and have to wait in DMV for what could be forever without more coffee.”  I was even less happy than when I got there.  Thankfully the rest of the DMV time was not too bad.  The lady at the desk was friendly and had lived in California and even knew something about Mudville.  I left with my temporary tags and stopped by the Advance Auto Parts store on Princess Anne Blvd in Virgina Beach to pick up a new license plate frame and mounting devices.  Now Advanced usually gives military members a 10% discount on the purchase.  Showing my ID card I expected this.  However the young man refused to give it to me because “I had not specifically asked him for it.”  I thought this was kind of shitty as all the other guys there have went out of their way to honor this.  I decided to say the hell with arguing with him and just write a nasty comment on my blog with tags for Advance Auto Parts on Princess Anne Blvd in Virginia Beach.  Following this I got Judy some soft food to eat and went in to check in with the boss, drag all the stuff I would need for the week into work and to go through my hundred or so e-mails so I wouldn’t have to do that tomorrow.

In a few minutes I head over to the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish for a double header between the Tides and the Louisville Bats.  Tonight, though tired I need this.

Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and kindness this past week.

Peace, Steve+

Post Script: The double header against Louisville was great.  The Tides swept the twin bill winning 6-2 in the first game and 2-0 in the night cap.  Justin Christian homered and Matt Wieters  a triple with Chris Tillman picking up his 5th win with no losses. David Pauley getting the win, his third and Jim Miller his 10th save striking out the side to close the game. The Tides are now 25 and 12 and up by 2.5 games over the Bulls in the IL South. I really needed tonight, the weather was a tad bit cold but it was good to be back with my Church of Baseball Friends.  Barry my partner down in section 102 B had his daughter down and it was fun to be with both of them. My section usher Elliott was back as was Chip up in section 202.  Had my usual King Twist pretzel from Kenny up on the concourse.

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Filed under ER's and Trauma, healthcare, Loose thoughts and musings, state government agencies