Friday Firesmith – The life and death of photo albums

There was a very sweet little old lady that lived in the house near me when I first moved here, in 2001. The first day I moved in I had been up since dawn unloading boxes and getting stuff done. I walked down to the end of the driveway to put up the mailbox, and it’s a good three tenths of a mile. I’m sweaty, dirty, aggravated, and carrying a post hole digger, and this woman, who was about 90 at the time, ambushes me, makes me go into her house for a glass of water and cookies, and proceeds to show me ten thick albums of her family history. Literally, two hours later, fighting off diabetes and a sugar buzz, I escape.

But I think I learned more about this part of the world in two hours than I have in the following nineteen years. Once upon a time, people did that, they showed you their pictures, and everyone had a ton of them. It was a ritual, a way of getting to know people, and you understood their history by what they took photos of and who was in their photos. It was something that kids grew up learning to do, learning who was in photographs, and why that person was important. I met that woman through her memories, stored in a book, while sitting next to her and eating cookies.

It took some effort, back then, to make a photo. You had to have a camera, you had to buy film, you had to hope when you pressed the button, the photo was going to be okay, because there was no way to tell until the film was developed. It might be weeks before you got the photos back, and there was the thrill of a great shot, balanced against the ever present possibility that you screwed it up somehow. Cameras, for a very long time, were not cheap and they were not easy. One hour film developing became a thing, and disposable cameras did, too. But the cell phone ended all of that, and digital photos could be taken instantly, and seen by millions of people, in seconds.

Videos were rare, and about the time good solid video cameras became easy, the cell phone got them, too. You have no idea how badly I wish that I had videos of my dogs who are no longer with me.

At the end of the day, digital storage replaced the photo album, mostly. If you want to look at someone’s photos, just go online, and there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of them. But the narrative isn’t there, the side by side sitting and sharing isn’t there, and the pointing finger, “Look, there’s Duke in the background, he was a stray that just showed up one day and Uncle Bob started feeding him so Duke just hung around. Died when he was twelve years old, that dog did.”

I miss that woman, she’s gone now, she was 95 the last time I saw her. She had a mind that was still sharp and her memory was unclouded. I can remember her telling me once that she’d leave everything she owned in her house and let it burn if it caught fire, but she’d die before leaving her photo albums.

There hasn’t been enough time yet, to figure out how this will change us, this ability to have a photo or a video, of every single second of our lives. But somehow, it’s cheapened the experience of photography, while improving the quality of photographs.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

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Friday Firesmith – Full Moon Wrex

The moonlight filled up the bedroom in a faint silvery tone that cast shadows here and there. Lilith snored loudly, from the living room sofa, and both Budlore and Jessica were sleeping on Mom’s bed. Wrex was out there, in the moonlight, somewhere, and who knows why it is that dogs love this sort of thing. My theory is the light gives them the illusion there’s more to see because their vision is better. But maybe they just like it. Maybe they just enjoy the moon. At any rate, I drift off to sleep before Wrex returns, and suddenly I hear him crying to come in. Mom has gotten up and opened the door, and there’s the sound of dog nails on the floor as Wrex comes to tell me about it.

Wrex is cold. Very cold. The temperature outside has dropped, and I can feel the cold in his paws and ears. Wrex has been outside in the woods alone, and he’s hyped up about it, too. There are owls, and small mammals, and there are things in the woods. Wrex is cold yet he’s very happy about something, even if he’s happy about not being out in the cold anymore. Wrex wiggles and prances, but he’s winding down. In just a few minutes, he’s curled up beside me on the bed, drifting with me.

Lilith can be heard across the house, sawing away, loudly, her sleep deep and undisturbed. Mom had gone to bed, turned off the television, so Bud and Jessica are asleep, too. Bud isn’t going to sleep anywhere else at night, so Jessica stays with him. It’s Bud’s job to protect Mom, and any noise in the night will be barked at loudly. Jessica is a little bit more laid back, and until she’s convinced there’s something out there, she won’t raise the alarm.

Wrex has worn himself out in the woods. He dives down deep into sleep now, curled up in a tight ball beside me, his breathing clear and clean. There was a time when Wrex was a stray, many years ago, and then he was adopted by a family who gave him up after four years. He’s been here now a little over two years, and this is where Wrex will stay. The woods belong to him for many full moons after tonight, and he knows it, too.

But now I can’t sleep. The moonlight is compelling. I can see the shed in the yard perfectly, even a hint of color here and there. The woods are an alternating world of deep black shadows and silvery shine. It’s a maze of sight and blindness, of beauty and dark, a brindled world as confusing as the human mind, and just as deep.

What goes on inside the mind of Wrex Wyatt as he runs through this world of moonlight? Is it the shadows, the light, or is it the moon itself, who guides him through the night? The cold is not the element that Wrex loves, and he’s usually the first in from it. But this is a night where Wrex is compelled to run, to chase, and to pursue something in the woods, until the cold drives him back into the house and onto the bed.

What do you chase at night? What drives you to be in the woods?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
 
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Friday Firesmith – Shopping Hell

I rather be beaten with a stick soaked in pepper spray while lying face down in a fire ant bed than do business with Mal Wart. The only thing I hate worse than Mal Wart is shopping. I know what I need, I know where it is, I know how much it cost, and all that’s left to do is go in and get it. Simple enough, right? The issue is there are people in stores. No, not the folk stocking shelves, and there sure as hell aren’t cashiers enough to go around, oh no, I mean customers. Those people, slack-jawed mouth-breathing cousin-marrying repetitive-head-injury customers, who have no idea why they are in the store, or that there are other people there, also.

More than anything else I have seen in my life, the way people behave when they are shopping bolsters the idea that we are truly screwed and cannot survive ourselves. People block aisles, they bring their crotch goblins in with them, and they act like they are all alone in their own private universe, with no one else trying to get in, get out, and avoid listening to their offspring sing the song of their people.

Just once, just once in my life, I would like to grab someone by the neck, lift that person totally off the ground about three feet, put my face as close to theirs as I could, and whisper, “Get the &^%$ out of the way, please.”

Physically speaking, that’s not likely. I would also like to invent a device that allows a child to breathe enough to live, but not enough to scream. Legally speaking, that’s not likely to happen, either.

And suddenly, Mal Wart saves the day?

As much as I hate it, I can sit at home, use my cell phone to put things in a shopping cart I don’t have to wipe down for Ebola and Goblin Snot, push a button, and then go to the Mal Wart parking lot, and they’ll bring my stuff out for me, load it into my truck, and I don’t have to get near another human being.

It’s a deal with the devil, sure, but it’s a bargain I am more than willing to accept.
Oh, and get this, they always put something in my truck I didn’t order or pay for. Usually, it’s like bathroom cleaner or something like that, but they did add a box of tampons last week. I left the box on the steps of the Post Office on my way home. Someone will find them and give them a home, so to speak.

Yes, I know. I know the arguments about buying local and I never buy meat or fruit or vegetables from Satan because it makes me nervous to think about some methed-up trailer park Goblin Hatcher walking around aimlessly for an hour then putting a container of chicken down on a sofa made by slave labor and some less than minimum wage worker restocking it the next day.

Yet, all the stuff I know I’m going through during the week can be picked up without me having to deal with other people. I always said I’d sell my soul to have that.

So I did.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

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Friday Firesmith – Lightning Crashes

South Georgia has impressive lightning storms. They are usually brief, lasting no more than half an hour or so, and sometimes it seems they last only a few moments. Three, four, maybe a half dozen good flashes, some serious thunder, and a hard rain that pretends to fill up swimming pools, is suddenly gone, the sun comes back out, the rainwater turns into streams, and it’s like nothing ever happened here at all. Except instead of the humidity being 100% it’s 110%. And hotter.

Sometimes we get lightning storms that last for an hour or so and at that point some electrical device is going to die. In the nineteen years I’ve lived at Hickory Head, the well has been hit three times, I’ve lost a refrigerator, an oven, a couple of light outlets, and some wall outlets. Also, my direct wired smoke detectors were hit last year.

Before you tell me you’re an electrician, and that electricity doesn’t behave the way I’ve described, first tell me you that I live in a place where lightning is frequent. Surge protectors, breakers, and other such devices are there to tell you lightning works well beyond human construction.
As I was saying, the direct wired smoke detectors died, and with them, the wiring. Lightning is a very, very, very, strange creature. I’m not prone to believing in the supernatural, or being a fan of mysticism, but I am here to tell you this very day, lightning has a mind of its own.

All of this led to Mom buying battery operated smoke detectors for the house when she moved in. All things changed when Mom arrived, and one of the very first was Budlore Amadeus, the Dog Left Hanging, became the self appointed body guard of The Mom. Does he take this job too seriously sometimes? Yes, he does, but at the same time, I can accept a little strangeness in the name of a fifty-five pound Chow/Pit mix who frightens strangers. Bud isn’t interested in sorting things out; that’s my job. He’s there to let me know that something different has happened and it’s a threat to The Mom until I tell him to stand down.

At three in the morning, the battery dies in one of the smoke detectors. It’s high pitched scream of death, repeated at regular intervals, hits Budlore Amadeus in his wheel house. For this, Bud was born. Whatever it is, it’s different, and his call to arms is answered, and repeated, by every canine in the house. I don’t hear the smoke alarm’s first screech. All I hear is four dogs, in the darkness, acting like the Manson Family has arrived. I, too, have to react.

I have the ancient, but efficient and wholly deadly twelve gauge double barrel in my hands before sleep is totally gone. Light? I need no light. I know where everything is, and I know who everyone is, and The Mom knows better than to get out of her room in times like this. We have a drill for this. I get up, she doesn’t. There will be no accidents.

I just look and listen. I let the dogs run their trip. They seem non-specific as to the location of the threat. Then I hear it. The smoke detector’s shrill death call. Bud barks louder at hearing it again. Stand down the Am-a-day. Good dog, come here. Here mutts, treats for dogs. Mom has slept through this.

Lightning is a strange creature. Mindless, with no direction, it does what it does. Smoke detectors are pretty much more predictable. They’ll die in the middle of the night, and when they do, my dogs are going to rise to the occasion. I’m actually good with all of this. I’ve lost some sleep, but I know what works. Amadeus, Adamantues! Adamant. Of Steel. The dog is fearless in a way that I will never know.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
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Friday Firesmith – Polly Anna, Super Freak

The first thing you’ll figure out is there has to be some way that I have the information I have, and I’m good with just letting things stay the way they are, with you having some idea of how I know, and wondering. We’ll leave it at that, okay? But the world is an interesting place because, up until I retired, I had to be fairly careful about some of the things I wrote, and who read what I wrote, and who knew what and where I was writing.

On Facebook, I blocked twenty-seven people who worked in the same department I did, including everyone in my office, and none of them knew they had been blocked.

There was this woman who worked up in another division, and she was always dressed neatly, was also very polite, prim and proper. She was friendly, but in a way that didn’t leave any doubt she wasn’t interested, and for a long time I wondered if she was just very private, as I am most of the time, or if she was wearing a front, because I used to, most of the time at work.

I was invited to join a FB group that was secret, and the topic of conversation was Internet Dating Gone Horribly Wrong. Horribly Wrong in this case meaning you went for sex and something weird happened. Just relax a bit, and wonder what could possibly go wrong when two total strangers get together for sex, and neither of them fully knowing what they’re getting into.

There are some truly interesting stories out there, and some, uh, cravings, that I do not understand. But that’s not my job, to understand what other people like, or why they like it, and who they like doing it with. If they want to talk about it in public, cool, I like being a text voyeur, and who knows if any of these people are actually telling the truth.

The Dog Named Peanut Buddy.
I’m reading some of the posts, and this woman is talking about a guy she met online who wanted to meet her at a motel. She agreed, but after they had finished their ‘date’, this guy follows her home. She didn’t realize it until he knocked on her door, and pushed his way in. Her dog, Peanut Buddy, was totally unamused with the action, and proceeded to go piranha on the man’s leg. She called 911, and the man fled. Two days later he shows up in the ER, his leg swelling because he’s got twenty puncture wounds from a medium sized dog.
Peanut Buddy. I know that dog. I know who adopted him. It’s Polly Anna telling this story.

I troll her a bit. I ask her what breed of dog Peanut is and she says he’s part pit and part collie. Bingo. It’s Polly Anna herself.

I’m not going any further with it than this, no need to say anything to her about it, or tell anyone else. Just keep walkin’, Preacher Man. But here’s where it gets interesting. Another woman who knows Polly comments that she didn’t know what he asked Polly to do, but she had met with this guy also, and he was into some deeply strange things. She went into detail that Jonco wouldn’t allow here.

The moral of the story is that with some people you just can’t tell. They have to make a living, but they also have a private life. Some people make more of a living than others. Some of us are more private than others.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

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Friday Firesmith – My Grandmother’s Church

My mom moved in with me several months ago, and I can remember her hauling me to Sunday School every Sunday to go to my grandmother’s church. Grandma taught Sunday School, and the preacher at her funeral had been one of her students, when he was a child. That must have been a strange experience for the man, to stand there to say words for a woman who taught him what they meant, and he did a good enough job. It was cold and rainy, so he made it as short as he could have, and still said what he thought needed to be said.

The church was a cold edifice, in the winter, because most of the members of the church were famers, county folk, hardened by poverty and their own homes were not overly warm. These were people who made quilts out of necessity, not because it was some symbol of their pastoral roots. There was no pretense to their clothing, their mode of transportation, or their faith. They had what they had, and it was enough. Having enough was something that was a very good thing. Tthen there was some for those without, and those without were never far away.

Their god was a personal thing, like a neighbor, or a family member, a parent, or grandparent, and the world they lived in harbored very little deceit. There was very little theft, and adultery, where it did exist, was very carefully hidden. Everyone went to church every time the doors opened. There was hardly any spare time in the lives of farm people past hard work and worship. The ground opened to receive the dead, and to produce the bounty, what there was of it.

My grandmother’s house, the one she shared with my grandfather, was wired for electricity in the mid 1960’s. They got an electric well about the same time. There were very few inside lights, even then, and no outside lights, so a trip to the bathroom, even the one inside, was an adventure. A trip to the outhouse during very cold weather might be memorable.

You know what you’ll never experience? You will never walk out into total darkness with nothing but stars in the sky, and realize, that’s enough. You’ll never push the bucket down into the well, with the reflection of the stars shimmering in it, and hear the sound of the pulley squeaking, and sound of the bucket hitting the water, and the sound of the winch as the bucket is pulled up again. Once, nearly every person living in the county had drank water, from a dipper, under the light of the Big Dipper. The spare moments of a person’s life were found here, under the light of the Milky Way, drinking pure water uncontaminated by progress.

I’m not here today to question where there is a god or no god, or many. I’m not here to question your salvation, for if such a thing truly exists, I would think that’s a personal thing between you and whatever god you’re looking to save you from whatever you feel you need saving from. I’m here today to simply say that the overwhelming population of people in America who lay claim to being “Christian” would not have been recognized as such, in my Grandmother’s Church.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

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Friday Firesmith – Iraqi Exit

It’s hard to estimate what the Unites States has spent in Iraq. We’ve built dams, bridges, roads, hospitals, and we’ve created military bases everywhere. We’ve trained their military. We’ve educated their officers. We’ve funded and armed their air force, their army, and their version of the CIA. We’ve given them surveillance capabilities to spy on their arch enemy Iran, who incredibly enough, aren’t enemies with anymore. The Iranians have armed troops inside of Iraq acting on behalf of Russia, supporting those factions who seek to expel Americans from Iraq.

Trump’s assassination of a member of the Iranian government, inside Iraq, now makes expelling the Americans a lot easier for the Iraqi government. It’s given them a clear reason to do so. Even if they do not, they will not trust Trump to behave in a manner that is conducive to peace.

If America moves out of Iraq, we leave behind billions, if not trillions of dollars in military and intelligence assets. Every Iraqi we recruited as a spy, at any level, will be open to exposure once we are gone. Everyone we had in that country who we could count on, like the Kurds, will be betrayed. Every device, every camera, every protocol that we had in place will now be subject to examination by forces hostile to the United States.

If you thought the exodus from Saigon was messy, wait until you see the last chopper out of Baghdad.

The Iranians and the Russians will move into our evacuated military bases and they will inherit, without firing a shot, billions of dollars of infrastructure. They’re likely to find thumb drives and laptops, weapons and ammunition that were left behind in the full and hasty retreat America makes from yet another ally. Every piece of military equipment in the Iraqi army will now be a proxy of Iran, and Russia. The largest and strongest, and best equipped military force in the Middle east will belong to the Russian/Iran coalition. The dream of a Shiite Superstate, with Russia’s full backing, with be fulfilled.

The oilfields of Saudi Arabia, and the holiest cities of Islam, lay just across the open, and now totally unprotected, desert. Israel cannot be defended from an attack that has inside information on America’s command and control, from an aggressor using American technology, and attacking with American weapons, using information gathered using American techniques and systems.
The Iranian dream of wiping Israel from the face of the Earth is within reach, and there is nothing short of a nuclear response from America stopping it. And even that means setting off nuclear weapons so close to Israel there will be no victory.

There will be no NATO response. There will be no “Coalition of the Willing”. There will be no united force to stop Russia from taking over in the places where America abandons its assets and allies.

Trump has sown the wind. We will reap the hurricane.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
 

Comments are closed on this post.

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Friday Firesmith – High Attitude

“You’re going to run out of options at that point,” the Surgeon told me. The various scenarios that led to happiness and good health were there, but there was a darker side to the conversation. There were things happening to me, that if they kept happening to me, there was not going to be anything left to prevent things from getting worse. Getting worse meant the worst. I would die. This could kill me. It was an odd conversation to have five hours after a doctor’s appointment that was supposed to end in a conversation about hernias.

Clearly, I lived. Right after I came to from surgery, I woke up to the idea that I had dodged a bullet, or at least had a small group of people push me out of the way of the bullet. I was hooked up to an IV tree, had a catheter in the end of my penis, and had a tube running down from my nose into my stomach. There was a scar the size of a good sized snake running from my groin to my upper abdomen. I could not have been happier.

From where I sat, or rather lay, things were incredible good, and a hell of a lot better than they had been the previous day. There is no way I can explain the joy of a surgeon coming in and telling me that the operation was 100% perfect. Textbook perfect. Complete success. No problems or issues at all.

It was a pain in the ass to deal with the bevy of nurses coming in and out of my room at odd times of the morning, noon, and night, but I decided to greet each and every one of those people cheerfully, and I did. Why wouldn’t I? At what point was the inconvenience of lack of sleep, the blood taking, the blood pressure, or even the nurse who woke me up checking to see if the box of gloves was full or empty, weighed against the fact that I came into the hospital not knowing if I would leave alive or not?

Standing up was painful. But I walked every day, or close to it, just to prove I could. I wanted the nurses to know I was trying. I wanted to show the world, and myself, I was going to try to get better. Yes, they were getting paid to be there, and I was paying to be there, but at some point they have to know you’re doing your part in the process.

But here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it: Why not?

Why not go into the hospital with the plan of having the best attitude you can have? Yeah, you’ve been cut, you’re in pain, and you can’t take a shower, but why not be happy? Why not feel joy in being alive? Why not go into the fight in a state of total bliss that you’re still alive and still capable of feeling any damn thing at all?

Misery, even under those conditions, of no sleep, of endless blood taking, of countless visits by nurses night and day, misery is still your choice. It takes a lot of effort to get past that, but what else are you going to do? Why take people down to your level when you can take them up to your level? It’s your decision.

I’m glad to be alive today. I’m happy I survived. I had more than one nurse tell me I had the best attitude of anyone they had ever met, and maybe they tell everyone that, but I’m here to tell you this: being here to tell you this is an incredible thing.
Never forget it.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
 
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Friday Firesmith – 2019

Hello everyone, and welcome to the last Friday Firesmith of this year. 2019 was an interesting year, to say the least, and it’s not over quite yet.

This was the year I sent my sister’s dogs, The Cousins, back home to her. I made room for Wrex Wyatt’s return to me, and the adoption of Budlore Amadeus, The Dog Left Hanging. Tyger Lynn was killed. I knew she would be, one day, by something. That dog had a violent streak in her that defied training and logic. Tyger never found peace in this life, or in her death, and perhaps, there is something past this life, where she will. I miss Tyger Lynn. I wish I could have healed her, and made her whole again.

Mom moved in with us here at Hickory Head in 2019. That kicked off the creation of her studio, formerly known as ‘The She Shed”, and also kicked off renovations that would make her life easier here. We built a ramp for her to get into and out of the front door, with ease. We also built a walkway for her to get from the backdoor to the studio withot having to cross over the yard, which is full of roots and things that might trip an aging Mom. We built a patio in front of the studio so Mom could paint outside in nice weather. Mostly, all of this made Mom feel like there was a part of this house that belonged to her, and she belonged here.

Budlore, who has never been fully social, adopted Mom the moment she walked through the door, and he has not left her side since. Self-appointed Protector of the Mom, and Lap Dog extraordinaire, Bud made Mom feel as if he were waiting for her arrival, and there would always be someone watching over her. Delivery people and would-be evangelists have discovered that Budlore Adamateus doesn’t have an off switch and he doesn’t give a damn. The Mom will be protected. Is Bud serious? He sure looks like he is. I’ll take it.

Retirement snuck up on me in 2019. It’s something that’s been kicked around for the last year or so, and with Mom here, I made the decision to jump. I think it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a very long time. I do not miss working for the man.

And then there were my health issues, late in the year. I wound up hospitalized and operated on. Health scares are always good for the soul if not the body. You have to think about what’s important in your life when someone points out that the end could be one bad judgment away.

However, if I had to pick one event in the last year that made the biggest impact, I would have to say Mom moving in was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I get to watch her art move forward in a manner it has never before, and I get to spent time with Mom, now.

What’s the biggest thing in 2019 that happened to you?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
21+

Friday Firesmith – Surgery

On Sunday night, December the 8th, a fever raged inside my body, without any clear cause for it. The last week prior or so was spent with an unsettled feeling, my digestive system wasn’t happy, and I didn’t have an appetite at all. I have two hernias below the belt, wherever my belt is now, I lost it in all the shuffle, and I assumed all pain and suffering was due to those issues, the hernias not the belt. So I made an appointment with the doctor for the 10th, and Monday wasn’t such a bad day. I still wasn’t hungry so I went the day resting, but not eating. Hell, they might work on the hernias on the 10th so there was no reason for me to do anything that would slow down the process.
I have, or rather, I had, a certain disdain for the medical profession. You walk in, they give you pills, you walk out and come back to get more pills. The PA was a very young woman who looked twelve years old, but there were a couple of things. The first is she immediately didn’t believe the pain and the hernias were related. The next thing was she ordered bloodwork. She talked me into a CT scan of my guts. I gave the blood and then went to be processed by the scan people. It was a very warm day, eighty degrees outside, but I felt like I was freezing; my body couldn’t regulate my temperature.
The PA called me: Mr. Firesmith where are you right now?
Me: At the scan place. I have to drink the Kool Aid to get scanned.
PA: Do not leave until you see me again. Your white count is through the roof. (Her voice was sharp and professional.)
Me: What does that mean?
PA: You are a lot sicker than you think you are. You have an infection. If we don’t get the white count down your kidneys could stop functioning.
Me: What?
PA After they do the scan bring me the file, please.
Me: Can I go get something to eat first?
PA: No, I’m trying to get you admitted to the hospital. I’m trying to find a surgeon.
Me: What?
PA: Listen to me. If we can’t get your white count down you’re going to lose your kidneys.
Me: Whoa.

I get scanned and for the first time Perforated Diverticulitis is said aloud. There’s a hole in my colon and it’s leaking raw sewage into my body. The PA has the hospital waiting for me, and she found a surgeon for me, too. I walk into the hospital to find people waiting for me there. Bloodwork, IV, and then there’s the surgeon.
The surgeon is a young man with the attitude of a gunslinger. He’s professional yet friendly, but he’s also looking for a fight. He tells me I have two problems, both of which are intertwined. My WBC is rocketing. I have an open sewer in my body. He can’t go in to close the sewer until the WBC comes down. But this is a man who has a plan: Put me in a hospital bed, and flood my system with antibiotics. Bring the count down in two, maybe three days, and then go in with the knife.
This is a starkly honest man: The count keeps getting higher and my kidneys die. I’m too old to hope for a donor. Dialysis will keep me alive, but the white count is, in and of itself, enough kill me. How soon? If it keeps climbing? Very soon. We’ll put you in ICU and hope we can save you.
The upside is I haven’t eaten in three days. The sewer isn’t leaking into my system because there’s nothing there to leak, or at least not as much. For the first time in my life, I am in a hospital, and I’m staring down some cold hard truths about the future.

At seven the next morning the surgeon returns with light in his eyes. Your WBC dropped twenty percent. Let’s go. We go in, shut down the sewer, IV you with antibiotics, and we fight a one front war that we’re already winning.
Okay, when?
Now. I have a team in place.
Now?
Right now.
The man’s optimism is infectious, and if I am going to die, it’s going to be fighting, not waiting.

Two hours later, I wake up in a bed, stoned as hell, and I can feel it. The surgeon returns, once again, shakes my hand, and tells me the operation went perfectly. Everything went perfectly. They took my plumbing out, cleaned everything out, and soaked it. The infected area was cut out and the gap stitched together. Perfect is a word that keeps coming to mind.

Chances of survival? The question startles him now. Good, very good, damn good, we got it.
That was Wednesday, December the 11th. I spent five days in the hospital, and every day the WBC was lower than the day before. That twelve year old looking PA saved my life. She went above and beyond trying to figure out a problem instead of assuming the patient, me, was right. The woman had me in a hospital room with a knife fighter before I even realized what was wrong.
The surgeon did something few medical professionals will do; he changed his mind about what he was going to do, when new data arrived. The man pounced on an opportunity to go in and kill a problem quickly. Both of these medical professionals were able to talk me into doing something that needed to be done, and quickly. They went after this thing like it was personal. I’m alive now because of this.

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I’ve got one hell of a scar and some pain. But I am quite alive, and I feel better right now than I have in a very long time. I’ll be down for a while yet, but the wound is clean, and I’m taking it easy.

I’m alive. I’m alive. Someone told me I might not be, just over a week ago, and I felt it. But not this time, Death, may be soon, but right now, I am alive.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
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