Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Will wonders never cease?

By beating the Bengals (24-14), the Jets survive to lose another day.

Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez seems to be a pretty nice guy. And one has to appreciate the gee whiz quality of the following quote (from a post play-off game interview, after beating the Bengals):

Amazingly, Sanchez admitted during timeouts that he actually managed to step back and soak in the atmosphere at various points, realizing the grandiose nature of the NFL’s postseason.

“You just take a look at the stadium and you hear the Bengal thing roaring,” Sanchez said. “You can hear the fans screaming at you. You can see the guys on the sideline getting animated. You think, ‘Wow, the entire country is watching this. And I get to say go? I get to say ‘hut’? They don’t do anything until I say ‘hut’?’ That’s crazy. It blows your mind. It’s unbelievable.”

Considering the awe most rookies go through in their first playoff game, it was a statement that reflected a remarkable grasp and appreciation. Maybe even poise.

[Read full article here.]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beginning of Sorrows, part 3...(A Cracked Sense Of Humerus)

Because we were having such an incredible run of good luck going – obviously, something had to happen to extend the streak. So...

About 2½ weeks after the flood, we were trying to get settled in at my sister & brother-in-laws (and still trying to catch our breaths), when the universe tracked us down and decided to give us a little something extra to go with our recent misfortune.

One day (a Thursday, it was) – while Patty was at work – I had a problem that required that I be lifted. Since Patty is the only person who is able to lift me (solo) without it hurting like a blankety-blank, I turned to my sister and nephew for help (they'd lifted me before, so it didn't seem like a big deal). Well...

As they were lifting me – one on either side of me; my arms around their necks; each with one arm under a leg, and one behind my back – I slipped. And, as I slipped, my left arm was forced up over my which point there was a noticeable pop, followed by a sound like several celery stalks being broken at once. Needless to say, it was painful. On a pain scale of 1 to 10: this one goes to 11! It hurt so bad, I thought I was going to stand up.

My sister and nephew did everything they could to keep me from slipping. Unfortunately, sometimes gravity just wins. Period. And this was one of those times.

Judging by the sound, I thought I must have torn my rotator cuff, or something equally enjoyable. But I decided that (in spite of the pain) I'd give it till Monday to show some signs of improvement, and only go to the doctor if there was none, or it got worse.

Well,...I made it to the next morning (Friday). The pain had gotten much worse, and there was a good deal of swelling and stiffness. So we called to see if we could get in to see our doctor. We could. So off we went.

X-rays were taken, and I was told I had fractured my left humerus (the upper arm bone), right where it turns into the ball that fits into the shoulder socket. YIPPEEEE! But, he wanted to send me to an orthopaedist, just to be safe. Unfortunately, the orthopaedist couldn't see me until Monday. So I was prescribed darvocet, and told to keep the arm as immobile as possible.

Monday, the orthopaedist (a fellow Jets fan, no less) said it didn't require any serious treatment to immobilize the arm, since I can't move my arms alot anyway. (Hey, sometimes, crippled has its perks!) He said to just keep it as still as possible, and come back in six weeks.

Sleeping...was...a...BITCH!!! The darvocet didn't do anything to relieve the pain. It took forever to get me in a position that wasn't excruciating – and then I'd wake up, after an hour or so, and have to be repositioned. It was maddening in the extreme. I felt awful, continuously interrupting Patty's sleep (she was beyond exhausted, yet she never got ill-tempered with me). It is nothing short of amazing, how patient she is through all the crap I (unintentionally) put her through.

You know, can go through your whole life without experiencing certain things and not feel gypped. This was one of those things. I was introduced to a level of pain that had, hitherto, remained unexperienced by me in my 48+ years of life on this delightful little planet of ours. But now,...I can confidently add another item to my list of Things-I-Never-Want-To-Go-Through-Again-In-My-Life. Seriously,...the whole being-in-a-wheelchair thing is enough for me.

And however bad I thought the breaking-celery-stalks sound was – it's a whole lot creepier when you realize it was your upper arm bone trying to snap in two. (I always thought it a bit of Hollywood overkill-for-effect, when I'd see sound effects guys using celery stalks for breaking bone sounds. Now I know they were just being accurate.)

There are some less than helpful x-rays here. (They're not the glamour shots I requested – and I don't even have a good side – so prepare to be underwhelmed).*

*My CAT scan images (here) are, at least, a little more interesting (if not downright disturbing).**

**And if you find all this internal exhibitionism distasteful, then just be glad they didn't record my Cystoscopy last year.

The Beginning of Sorrows, part 2...(A Post-Diluvian Report)

Three days after our 10th wedding anniversary (which found us spending $329 on van repairs), Patty and I found ourselves being forced to evacuate our place of residence due to the worst flooding in a century. Our area experienced nearly 20 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period – and that's never a good thing.

We didn't expect the floodwaters to reach the house, because they never had before (even in the serious floods of 1994 & 2005).

At 8:00 PM, Patty and I decided to watch Lark Rise To Candleford (on PBS), only to have the cable go out around 8:30. Not long after that, the telephone went out. And when the water started rising high enough to begin putting out the porch lights of our neighbors houses, we new that this wasn't going to be like other floods.

When the waters reached the downstairs rooms, we knew (albeit too late) that we were in serious trouble. So we grabbed what little we could (photographs, back-up disks of computer files, my lyrics, and a few other irreplaceable things) and threw it all in the van.

Since our van is a wheelchair accessible mini-van – which means it sits lower than other mini-vans by about 9 inches – traversing flooded streets could be suicidally foolish. So, at 1:00 AM (with only one open road out of the area remaining), we left in search of a hotel on higher ground (thank Heavens, for the Country Inn & Suites on South Cobb Drive).

It's a helpless feeling: being forced to evacuate by floodwaters that seem intent on taking away everything you own. And it's a guilty feeling: knowing you're leaving your mother and step-father behind in the process (Mama and Buddy chose to stay as long as absolutely possible). Patty and I don't have a lot – but much of what we do have is irreplaceable – so it was pretty upsetting, having to leave, not knowing if there would be anything salvageable when we returned.

I alternated between anger and near despair, mainly because of my feelings of being so helpless. I couldn't help pack up and move things, and it was maddening. I was also angry that some of our neighbor's we're losing everything they had. (I know that “life isn't fair” – but that doesn't mean I don't get pissed about some of the unfairer aspects of it. Sue me!)

It was kind of like being on the Titanic: steadily rising water, various utilities going out one-by-one, watching your neighbor's lights get swallowed up by the water, safe routes away from the danger flooding and becoming impassable, feeling utterly helpless to do anything really useful or constructive.

Thankfully, the floodwaters stopped just a couple of feet short of the main level of the house. Nearly everything downstairs was lost – including two cars, two central AC units (the house is kind of like a duplex), the water heater, the furnace, everything in my stepfather's office and shop. It was an awful stinking mess. Fortunately, some stuff got moved upstairs just in time. All-in-all, we felt blessed – especially considering the damage and loss suffered by so many people around us.

Patty and I spent the week after the flood at the aforementioned hotel (we couldn't have stayed at the house, because the air quality was toxic and there were no utilities). We went to the house everyday to pack up stuff to move into storage. Bob and Mary (Patty's parents) came and helped some. And at the end of the week, we moved in with my sister and brother-in-law, and their family, in Woodstock (we'll be staying there until we can figure out our next move – or until a waiting list for Section 8 housing assistance opens up).

The stress has been incredible (we still don't feel fully recovered, mentally or physically) – but, through it all, Patty has been her usual amazing self.

As I recently told a friend: I've never understood the "times are tough, let's turn on each other" reaction to tragedy or adversity. It seems like emotional cannibalism. Aren't those the times a couple should be turning to each other for support? Maybe we're just screwy, but, Patty and I lean on each other during all this craziness. Our love for each other is the one thing that can't be taken away from us – and it's the most precious thing we have.

Not having flood insurance (nothing like the worst flooding in 100 years to make you realize you needed it) has only added to the hardship. Mama, Buddy, and Beth (and Beth's two year old son) are still at the house, slowly trying to get it back into some kind of decent shape, before deciding their next move. My brother Jamey and his friend Steve have been a great help getting the downstairs torn out and replaced. Steve's wife and daughter helped out, too. There have been others that have helped, but I'm blanking at the moment. Church groups of volunteers helped clear out some stuff, and another church group went around delivering meals to those who were still in their damaged homes (good meals, too).

There are photos here.

But the fun ride still wasn't over...

Goodness, no...