St Patrick’s Day

I’ve been working on a theory about time; specifically, the passing of time and the perceived passing of time.  I know I have the same number of hours in a day as everyone else, and the same number of hours in a day as when I was younger.  I think the hours were somehow fatter when I was younger.  I could accomplish a lot more in those fat hours.  My hours seem much thinner these days.  They stack tighter and can be passed quicker.  It’s hard to get things done in a thin hour.

Everyone is busy.  We all have things to do on weekends, and things we’ll try to get done after work.  There are things that need to be done before you go, and things to finish before they arrive.  I have indoor projects best suited for dark, rainy winter days, and projects postponed until the longer, warmer summer days are here.  Lately I find myself considering a vast, new scheduling option: “soon after retiring.”  It appears to be wide open.

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Taken recently on the way to visit my brother, Mark, in Salem

Today is St Patrick’s Day.  On St Patrick’s Day 2011, I had prostate surgery.  I’ve never been zealous about the holiday, but the night before, I asked my wife to find a green ribbon I could tie in a bow attached to myself where my surgeon would lift the blanket and be surprised to see I was celebrating St Patrick’s Day.  That might have been fun, but I had just recently met my surgeon, and that could have made me appear to be irresponsible, or a weird-O.  So I didn’t.  Looking back over our seven year relationship, the doctor and I have shared a few laughs, and I’ll bet the green St Patrick’s Day ribbon likely would have made a unique and memorable surgery.


Arranging Deck Chairs?

I had a great idea and made coloring books for my grandkids, made up of pictures of them.  That led to similar coloring books for my two grown up sons, just for fun.  I wanted to make a book for my wife, but instead of a coloring book, I made the pictures look more like pen and colored pencil drawings.


I hope she enjoys paging through it as much as I enjoyed creating it.  It features a few pictures she has never seen, surrounded by good memories; some not roused in a while.


It was challenging to keep what I was doing a surprise for Valentine’s Day; working often while she slept or was not yet home.  I had it spiral bound and ready for Valentines Day with hours to spare.

I also had a Valentine’s Day date with an x-ray technician.  She gave me peaches, graham crackers, applesauce, bread, and a milky drink, all generously mixed with Barium.  These treats weren’t gifts for my nibbling pleasure like my wife gave me; these were so she could video x-ray me swallowing them.  After carefully explaining that she is not a doctor and can’t make a diagnosis, she told how the x-ray video showed the consumed food hesitated a notable moment in my lower esophagus before continuing into my stomach.  That’s not likely the cause of my constant throat clearing, but it could be a clue.  The Ear Nose Throat doctor’s office called the next day to repeat what the technician said (except the part about not being a doctor), and to add that my x-ray video audition bought me a ticket to see a Gastroenterologist, coming soon to a hospital near me.  I also went in for a “CT Scan of Face (CT Sinus WO Contrast).”  The results: There is no evidence of laryngeal penetration or aspiration identified.  Please see the detailed report rendered by speech pathology.  I haven’t seen the report yet.

It would be wonderful to finally solve this constant throat clearing mystery, but if the blood test in March shows my PSA numbers going up, all these other tests may end up being as productive as rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

I do Love Spreadsheets

My prostate surgery was almost seven years ago.  We’ve continued regular PSA testing since then and the results have always been, “undetectable.”  In reality, undetectable is actually detectable, but if the number is less than 0.1 ng/ml, it is considered undetectable. The voicemail with my December test results relayed a 0.15 score and a, “please call to make an appointment.”

I made the appointment and saw my Urologist.  He seemed quite concerned and commented a couple times that this never happens this far out from the surgery (almost 7 years).  He’d reviewed my file and seemed pleased that I already had a radiologist, because if today’s blood test verifies the last one, radiation may be prescribed.  Where to radiate would be the question (since there is no cancerous prostate).  He told me about a new technique that has just arrived in Portland, and is promising for that very issue.



I asked him; wouldn’t it be funny if the prostate cancer was positioning to play a big joke on the Multiple Myeloma cancer?  I wondered if they would ever fight it out to claim my demise.


IN THIS CORNER: Prostate cancer – off to a good start, but seemingly eradicated with surgery.  AND IN THE OTHER CORNER: THE INCURABLE Multiple Myeloma cancer – starting out determined, but then punched repeatedly with radiation, chemo, a stem cell transplant, and more chemo – it’s on the ropes, but still breathing.  Prostate cancer crawls by the fingernails, back to the center of the ring with just a spark of life and says to Myeloma, “Incurable?  I’ll show you incurable!”

A young lady who’s had two babies since she started taking my blood, took it once again.  It was tested and the results relayed by voicemail: 0.15 confirmed, please call and make an appointment for two months from now.

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A Beautiful Sunrise tempting me to be late for work recently

I can’t remember when I started daily, sometimes it seems constantly – clearing my throat.  It has to be a year, maybe two or three, but it is everyday.  I thought an allergist might identify the cause, so I made an appointment.  His assistant took a felt marker and produced a spreadsheet on both of my forearms, complete with columns and headers.  With a tray of pokers, she poked my skin in each cell with the corresponding poker and said she’d be back in 30 minutes.  I sat in that quiet place, with a pillow in my lap and my arms steady on the pillow, it was a perfect time to catch up on prayers.

The spreadsheet reported zero allergies, next stop – another blood test.

I really felt fortunate to catch this action shot – my immediate supervisor at work – going off the rock pile jump on his bicycle, sailing over the mote and fence (in his Grinch pajamas).  It’s a Public Works thing.

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