"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The Poor and the Lucky
pain Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old French peine, from Latin poena, from Greek poinE payment, penalty; akin to Greek tinein to pay, tinesthai to punish, Avestan kaEnA revenge, Sanskrit cayate he revenges 1 : usually localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (as a disease or an injury 2 : what I had bucketfuls of in my chest today
It had been building for almost two weeks, and as usual when I awakened this morning it was gone.
OK, let's just out with it. "It" is chest pains, something I don't even like to name because there are so many bad outcomes when things in that area start going south. I'd been to my regular doc last week, and he put me on some strong acid pills and was going to schedule a stress test with my cardiologist.
Yeah, cardiologist. I got one of those. He put a stint in my heart about six years ago. It's been at least four since I've seen him.
Anyway, I woke up pain free. Which was nice, since the pain could get fairly intense, radiating into my arms and face and back. Working like that is almost impossible.
By the time I downed my daily handful of pills that keep me happy, scrappy and sane, I was a bit uncomfortable, so I quickly downed some breakfast, a couple of Pop Tarts. By the time I arrived where I was headed, 30 miles away, it was really hurting. And I was way out in the boondocks.
On the way back I had to stop in a store parking lot for an hour while it calmed down. I really felt it was gastric, not cardiac, so I didn't call an ambulance.
I drove the thirty minutes home, and by the time I arrived I was in excruciating agony. I was downing Maalox and no effect. None.
It was time to get to the emergency room.
My wife walked in right then from work, and she drove me.
Long story short, my heart checked out fine. Turned out it was muscle spasms and cramps in my esophagus. No fun. But treatable.
Besides, the important part of this story isn't even about me. All this has been to set the stage.
When I was laying there, hurting, an older man was brought in to the bed next to mine. I never actually saw him or his wife, but from their voices through the curtain they sounded pretty old, maybe late 70's or later, and raised in the country.
I heard the conversation when the doc walked in.
"So, what's going on?"
"Well..." said the old man.
"He passed a lot of blood this afternoon, so we called the ambulance and they brought us here," said his wife, interrupting him.
"She'll tell you everything," the old man said.
"So you're his spokesman?" the doctor joked.
"No, I'm his wife," she answered, confused.
"You say he passed some blood? Was it dark red or bright red?"
"Well it was..." the wife began.
"It was all red and all mixed up with crap and everything," the old man volunteered. "It kind of exploded out of there."
"He wears a diaper," the wife said. "There's probably some still in there, you can look and see it if you want."
The doctor declined the offer.
As they covered the man's history, it turned out that he had a major stroke over two years ago that almost paralyzed his left side and made him incontinent.
"So you are his caregiver, you take care of him?" the doctor asked the wife.
"Yes, I clean him, bathe him, dress him, move him, about all he can do is feed himself. I went to training to learn how to do this."
"How long have you done this?"
"Twenty seven months."
I looked at my wife, she whispered "Poor man."
I whispered back, "No, lucky man."
"To have a wife like that."
Dedication is a quality that is so lacking in marriages nowadays. It is only when one sees such a vivid example of it that we really realize what we have lost as a culture and as a nation. And here we have a little old country lady, doing things every day that would repulse most of us, and doing it because it is the right thing to do.
What a lesson.
I used to believe that marriage would diminish me, reduce my options. That you had to be someone less to live with someone else when, of course, you have to be someone more. --Candice Bergen