27 August 2011

Very Well, Alone.

I’m not racist, I’m Southern.  There’s a big difference.  I don’t defend slavery.  I don’t wish the South had won, though I admire the military genius of Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, which is the only reason the South lasted as long as it did. The landed plantation gentry (a class almost all of our Founding Fathers were part of, by the way) sent hundreds of thousands to good, honest, poor, working class men on both sides to needless deaths trying to save their leisurely, genteel, land-wasting, entitlement lifestyle that exploited defenseless human beings from across an ocean and  well, pretty much everybody else, too, except themselves.  Starting the war by firing on Ft. Sumter was the dumbest thing the South could have done.  They started a war they couldn’t win.   The majority of Confederate soldiers neither owned slaves nor knew anyone who did.  These men were the poor, hard-scrabble farmers that my grandparents still were at the turn of the 20th century, on par with the black family up the road.  My Mama told me stories of being given food by a black family when Mama’s family had nothing and the black folks didn’t have much more.   All you revisionists, hear this: the Civil War was NOT caused by slavery.  It was caused by secession.  Lincoln sent the troops in to stop secession.  Read the man’s own words.  Now, to be sure, slavery caused secession, but it came to blows because Lincoln’s hand was forced by secession and the South's attack on Sumter.  The killing of Lincoln was also a terrible thing for the South.  Lincoln would have been a strong moderating hand that would have made Reconstruction far easier and less destructive for the South.  But there’s no defense for slavery.  It was wrong for thousands of years before the war, it was wrong in 1861, and it’s still wrong today in far too many countries where it's still going on right now. 

What I DO defend is Southern manners, charm and hospitality.  You say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” to anyone older than you, and many who are younger.  It’s a sign of respect, a recognition that our God told us to “consider others more than yourself,” and we took Him serious.  If you have something that will help your neighbor, you help him.  You don’t wait to be called in by FEMA, you don’t make your neighbor sign a waiver, if something needs pickin up, you pick it up, whether anyone is watchin or not.  You don’t need someone to praise you to motivate you to do what needs doing.  You pull yer own weight and earn the respect of the team.  Meanwhile, you respect others; NOT once they earn it, but until they prove their NOT worthy of it.

I’m not rich or uncaring, I’m conservative.  I believe the government can’t give you anything it didn’t take away from someone else, and keep a cut for their trouble.  I’m TEA, but I’m reasonable and understand that not everyone agrees with me about what needs to happen right NOW.  We need to get our runaway government back under control, but we also need more revenue, and that means higher taxes on somebody, or at least, better collection of the taxes we already have, and throw out the lifers in Congress who believe they “work hard” for their $175,000 a year salary (plus premium insurance, PLUS lifetime retirement income I’ll never achieve in a lifelong career in the REAL world).  I’m reminded of a saying Abraham Lincoln made when he took office and found that an awful lot of his “supporters” expected cushy government jobs in return: “Too many pigs for the teats.”

I’m not stupid, ignorant or uneducated, I’m country.  Even though I grew up in the “big city” of Memphis, my Mama and Daddy raised me to be the kind of people they were: simple, as in uncomplicated.  I can’t say I’ve learned every lesson they taught me, even now, at 46, I’m still reminded of things they did and said when I was growing up, even though Mom’s been gone almost 3 years, and Dad nearly 13.  They didn’t have Facebook friends, they had face-to-face friends who had forged a real relationship with them over a period of years.  My Dad would have thought video games were a pointless waste of time, but he played things with me like “fishing” and “camping,” using actual lures and tents, not Xs, Os, triangles, and squares, sittin on our butts.  The only reset button we had was to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go again.  We didn’t get “gamer’s thumb,” we got skinned knees and sore bottoms and tetanus shots.

I was not abused as a child, though I knew the dual purpose of my Dad’s belt or a nice, thin hickory switch.  Truth be told, I didn’t get it as often as I deserved it.  I ate what my Mama cooked for ALL of us, and was grateful to have it cooked for me.  The universal cure for ADHD was to sit down and shut up, and act like you had some raising, and buddy, I did it when I was told to!  The universal curfew was the street lights, and somebody’s front yard was our playground.  I remember a friend’s Dad cutting the grass shorter by one mower’s width in a diamond shape for “base lines.”  My parents knew the parents of my friends from standing around talking to them while we played.  Everyone on the street knew who the “bad kid” was and what his parents’ drug of choice was.  You didn’t admire the punks, you pitied them, and if you tried to pull the same kinda stuff they did, you got a booster shot of the aforementioned belt/switch.

 There’s never a better time to take a stand than when you must stand alone.

I try to be a nice guy, honorable, dependable, and quicker to serve than to be served.  I don’t always succeed, and I may have opinions that will make you shake your head and laugh, but they’re MY opinions, usually born out of experience, thought, and investigation.  We may disagree, but you have a right to be wrong if you choose.  I’m not the handsomest feller you’ll run across, but I’m real.  I may look like crap, but it’s MY crap!
All of this is to say, whether you like it, love it, or consider me a mindless, Foxnews-reading, heartless Republican tea-bagger zealot, I don’t care.  I didn’t form my opinions to please you.  I don’t check the polls to decide what’s right and wrong.  Wrong is wrong even if no one stands up for it.  There’s never a better time to take a stand than when you must stand alone. To coin a phrase by that great theologian, Popeye; “I yam what I yam.”  If you don’t like it, there’s a big wide world out there without me in it.  Enjoy yourself.  I’ll see you when you come to your senses.  

24 August 2011

I've got you under my skin (Right lung, to be exact).

Pulmonary Embolism - "A blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (embolism)."

Last Friday, very early in the AM, one of those low single digit hours you didn't realize your clock had two of, I woke up a little chilly.  That by itself is unusual, my thermostat usually runs hot, but this one became more unusual as I started shivering.  Catching the chills is bad enough, but mine was made worse by a back spasm.  Ever had both?  At the same time?  It's a fun ride, let me tell you.  After what seemed like an hour but was probably only a minute or two, I was finally able to relax enough to stop the spasm and chase away the chill.

Woke up as normal about 7, some pain the the right ribs, and behind my right pec (such that it is).  Called in to work and laid back down.  A little over an hour later, I get a call from work. "Where are you?"  "Didn't So-n-so get my voicemail?" "Oh, she's not in today!  We knew you wouldn't just 'not show up,' so we were worried"  Well, that explains that, so I went back to bed.  

About 11:45, I noticed a wheezy crackling noise in my right lung.  "Great.  Upper resp infection, maybe, MAYBE, a touch of pneumonia.  Need antibiotics."  Thought I still had some old Amoxicillin, so I VERY nearly blew this off.  Good thing I didn't.

Well, the Amox was expired, and hunting online revealed that it's probably too far gone to be effective, So I start getting ready to go to South Salem Urgent Care, I've been there a few times and have never had to wait more than 15 minutes.  As I'm gettin dressed, I cough up a nice wad of gunk into the bathroom sink: bright red.  Okay, even I'm smart enough to know that ain't right!  "Houston, we have a problem."  

I hurry on in to SSUC, and the doctor comes in.  I describe my symptoms for about 10 seconds, and she writes "ER" on my chart.  No, no, I came down here because I DON'T want to go to the ER!  She's the first one that says "pulmonary embolism."  I wasn't positive what that meant (though my guess was correct), but I knew it wasn't good.  So I pile back into my truck and head to the hospital.  On the way, some responses come in from my Facebook crew that my suspicions were confirmed and that if they didn't call an ambulance, it must not be immediately life-threatening. 

I get to the ER and there's one guy ahead of me: a prison guard who'd been conked on the head.  He lifted the gauze pad once, and I could see just a little blood, so he was probably okay, though I never saw him again.  They get me into a room, hook all kinds of stuff up and start the Waiting Game for a chest xray and CAT scan.  I'm already seein dollar signs rackin up likie the National Debt.  But what can you do, right?  Coughin up blood isn't a "walk it off, rub some dirt on it" kinda thing.  So I get the xray, and Doc says it looks good.  That's ONE good thing, at least.  And hour or so later, they do my CAT Scan (an american shorthaired named "Bella" if I remember correctly).  Now all this time, I have my resident nursing experts, Michael and Deborah Eastes explaining what's going on and what all the big words mean.  Then Cindy Culpovich arrives for more moral support, plus a visit from Michael & Deb's daughter-in-law, Carla.

This is a good spot to take a sidebar.  I have the absolute BEST Community Group at Morning Star.  I know, some of you think YOU have the best, but my folks are leavin ya in the dust, and I told Pastor Wayne that when he dropped by.  Michael and Sam are as close to me as brothers; closer, really, since I've never had any contact with my natural, pre-adoption brother.  These are men that add a richness to my life that cannot be over-estimated.  Half the group ended up visiting me before my stay was over, and the whole group was praying for me.  I've led groups like this before, sometimes singles, sometimes couples, sometimes just guys, and I don't in any way mean to denigrate any of the wonderful people who have passed through my life at one time or another.  But this group has something really special going on, and it ain't me!

Back to the ER: Doc comes in and says, "Yep, that's a pulmonary embolism, all right." "No, that's the wrong answer!  You're supposed to send me home with some pills!"  Not this time.  Well, crap, I didn't prepare Rascal and Smokey for Dad to be away overnight!  Again, the group jumps in, Michael and Deb doing yeoman's work to get Rascal set up.  Unfortunately, he was not so keen on the idea.  Well, some of it might have had to do with Michael's cane falling next to him, causing him to jump 3 feet in the air and retreat to the corner under the bed.  Have I mentioned what a brave little dog I have?  He's only 8 pounds, but he's attacked a kid before, thinking the idiot was trying to hurt Elizabeth.  He was going down swinging!  Fortunately, another CGroup member, Carla (not that same Carla from above), drove down from Portland to take him.  He stayed with her for a couple of months back in the winter while I was moving into this new place that allows dogs.  He couldn't possibly be in better hands!  He loves her and she loves him!    

So anyway, I end up spending the weekend in the hospital, the first 2 days in step-down ICU.  I dread seeing this bill.  I'm guessing $25,000, probably more.  But they sprung my on Monday, and although I have to take Coumadin for six months or so, and in the short term, I have to give myself shots of Lovenox in the stomach for a week or so until we get the Coumadin dose regulated.  I'll try to post updates every so often, but as of now, it looks like God will put up with me a little longer.  Thanks to my family and friends everywhere for your love, support, and prayers!

05 August 2011

Cherry-picking the attributes of an Omnipotent God

How shall we, from whom God has so often withheld the ill we do deserve, complain when He doesn't always give us the good that we don't?

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?