23 February 2014

Counting Down

As this last week of February gets ready to start, we find ourselves in the final throes of an exciting countdown here. If all goes according to plan, this Friday The Boy will know if he has been accepted to his lone university of choice, our alma mater, BYU, for the Summer Term and beyond. Suffice to say, there is just a huge tiny sense of anticipation here.

The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I invited The Boy to join us for dinner last night and we were glad when he arranged his schedule to join us. Due to my travel schedule the past week, the last time I'd seen the Boy was Monday night. So I really was glad that he would go to dinner with us. He's an eighteen year old kid with plenty going on. Hanging out with his borderline empty nester parents is not necessarily high on the list of priorities. I get that.

At dinner, our main topic of conversation was the countdown. There is a literal countdown that he's had running on his iPhone for the last 55 days, since he submitted his application. As he talked about how he's psyching himself up for a potential rejection and yet unable to mask his excitement of the potential of going out to school, I couldn't help but be a little impressed by the way he's worked this out in his mind. He's showing that he's got a good head on his shoulders. He's thought this through and he's already made up his mind that if he is not accepted that he'll embark on a mission for our Church. Either way, whether he goes to school for a time or leaves on his mission immediately, The Boy is set for experiences that will shape him for the rest of his life for the better. I wish I had choices like that.

With those kind of choices, the countdown we are observing is one of many ahead of us. Countdown to graduation. Countdown to leaving for school. Countdown to leaving on a mission. Countdown to empty nest living! This is shaping up to be a big year of transition for us. As I think about what lies ahead, I am at peace. We are ready for this. Bring it.

16 February 2014


Although she's not been a live-in resident of the Den for several years now, that doesn't exempt our first-born, Our Lady of Awesome, from being honored, as is tradition, here on her birthday. Today is that day.

We're enormously proud of this girl (she's my daughter, and she'll always be 'my girl,' so no hate on the 'girl' reference). She strode into her twenties well and ticked a lot of things off her life's checklist:

  • Graduated from university with honors
  • Got married
  • Dove into the working world
  • Gave birth to our first grandchild
  • Swam with some dolphins
  • And hooked me up with waffle trucks in two states
All good great things. She has much to celebrate today. I'm sure her boys, Awesome and the Baby Awesome will treat her well. She deserves it. We'd love to be with her little family, celebrating too, but we'll make due with FaceTime.

Happy Birthday, Princess!
A ridiculously attired new dad and his Princess 

15 February 2014

Cupid, Get Thee Hence

Truer words have never been uttered
Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. As has my steadfast and stubborn refusal to pay much heed to this day. I just can't won't do it. The reasons why are myriad and have been documented in several posts throughout the years here in the Den, so I'm not going to rehash it. What's worthy of discussion may be how deeply I've dug in my heels on this one...it's kind of crazy.

I'm not going to let some Zaftig little tyke from classical mythology, who bears a freakish and disturbing resemblance to one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Honey Boo Boo, named Cupid, dictate how I display my affection for she who I love the best on some given date on the calendar.

That said, it was good to take she who I love the best, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, to dinner last night. We joined two other couples at an Italian place and had a good meal and laughs. It was good to be out with the best friend I have ever had. I marvel each day at her goodness. I try to be better for her each day. Heaven knows that after twenty five years with me, she deserves it.

She deserves the best of everything. I've still got a ways to go to be the best, but I'm working on it. I am a decidedly lucky and blessed man. In spite of my irritation with the whole Valentine's Day thing and the dogged pursuits of Cupid, I am proud to declare how much I love the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML.

08 February 2014

I (Don't) Got My Tight Pants On

All kinds of wrong
As a follow up to my last post, wherein I pondered the possibilities of sporting a caftan to ease the wear and tear on my incisions, I'm here to report on today's achievement. I wore pants for the first time in ten days. By pants, lest you think the last ten days has been a parade of open-backed, rump-baring hospital gowns, which it has not been, I mean something that isn't either a pajama bottom or sweats. I wore honest-to-goodness pants today.

I am delighted to report that I had them on for nearly seven hours before they were switched back to the sweats I've come to know and love the last ten days. It was a good test run for Sunday because it's back to Church and heaven knows, that is not a "pants optional" affair. Ever. And then Monday, it's back to work and again, not a place where sweats rule. So today's test run was a good one.

Also, I've never been a fan of tight pants. Except for an ill-advised period of my life wherein I incessantly wore favored a pair of acid-washed Marithe et Francois Girbaud jeans (guess the year!), I have steadfastly eschewed tight pants. There are all sorts of reasons for that, not the least of which is that I've tried to not have homes equipped with fun house mirrors, thus giving me an altered view of reality. Far too many people seem to have homes equipped with fun house mirrors. Seriously.

The horror of tight pants was brilliantly lampooned by Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell during a skit on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." It's a riot and it showcases the awesomeness that is Fallon. He did his last show this week as he prepares to take over "The Tonight Show." Jay Leno's horrific reign of terror is now over, assuming of course he does not hatch another blitzkrieg on Jimmy like he did Conan. I don't see that happening. So, in honor of the great Mr. Fallon and the fact that I could put pants back on today, I give you "I Got My Tight Pants On":

05 February 2014

Dressing for comfort

One of the things that has dogged me most during my 'recovery' has been just how bad my incisions itch and how they seem to react in anger at the slightest touch. With four of them adorning my gut, this has made for some interesting clothing options. Picture if you will, or not if you're smart, me pulling my shirt up and crafting my own version of a halter top whenever I am not standing up. It's not pretty.

So I've asked myself how would others try to dress for comfort in a situation such as this? I thought of none other than that paragon of fatherhood, one Homer J. Simpson, the beloved drunken patriarch on "The Simpsons." Homer is no stranger to tight clothing irritating his gentle skin and at one point, he donned the following as a solution for dressing for comfort:
A zaftig Homer in a jaunty caftan
While my issue is not related to obscene weight gain, like the aforementioned Mr. Simpson, you can see from the picture, he seems to be enjoying the freedom and comfort of his caftan, which I think he got from a yard sale out front of Honey Boo Boo's double-wide. Seeing his joy got me to thinking. 'Could this work for me?' As I ponder going back to work here shortly, the thought of tucking a shirt into a pair of pants and then ensnaring all that in a belt with the sole purpose of enraging my incisions, how could I not ask, 'Could this work for me?'

If it were 1973 and I was an extra on the set of 'McMillan and Wife,' then yes, it would have worked like a charm! I could have even sewn my own (that's a lie - I can not sew):
More proof of just how awful the 70's were
Can you believe it? Neither could I. Alas, I know I can't pull this off. There's a reason (more like 10,000) the man's caftan craze never caught on. I will not be hatching a new fashion trend, sweeping down the halls of my place of employment, dressed for comfort in a caftan when I go back to work. No, no I won't. Instead, I may be falling back on the hope that I can get away with my shirt untucked. I'll just say I'm going through my hipster phase. Yeah, that'll work.

02 February 2014


It's been 48 hours since I was released from the hospital and I'm pleased to say I'm recuperating well. The fact that I was in and out of the hospital, minus a gall bladder, in 36 hours is amazing. This is not a reflection of my superhuman powers, of which I possess exactly zero, but is a testament to the incredible gift that is intelligence. To be clear, I don't mean my own middling intelligence.

So what do I mean? Not so long ago, identifying a medical issue like the one I had took several days. Once identified, surgery was a highly invasive affair, followed by several days of hospitalization and weeks of painful recovery. Contrast that with my experience - issue clearly identified in less than five hours; surgery twelve hours after admittance; and home 24 hours after the surgery. In the grand scheme of things, aside from the initial onset that sent me screaming to the ER, the pain has been totally manageable. And the surgery? Not invasive at all. I have four 'stab' wounds that were used for the cameras and tools that dragged out my sick gall bladder. All in all, amazing.

Intelligence is an amazing thing. In my take, we have seen these improvements in medical care because smart people asked questions. Questions like, Can't we manage pain more effectively?' 'Is there a better way to operate?' 'How do we take x-rays to the next level?' Now I'm fairly certain the questions that got these innovations in modern medicine were not quite so simple, but you get the drift.

It's been said that the glory of God is intelligence and I'm grateful for that intelligence being used so wisely in our world today. This little medical brouhaha has reminded me clearly of that! 

But I do have one concern about the intelligence, or the lack thereof - would it have killed the people that prepped me for surgery to have shaved my whole stomach instead of the 3/4 of it that they did? Who does that? Seriously.

01 February 2014

Galling, just galling.

Galling - as defined by dictionary.com is an adjective meaning chafing; irritating; vexing; exasperating. All four words define that which is galling perfectly. I found this out earlier this week in more ways than I ever bargained for.

I got home this past Wednesday after two and a half days of meetings in New York City and I was ready to crash early. The Boy and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML were out at Church activities and I took advantage of the opportunity to call it early. I crawled into bed around 8PM and started reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest opus, "The Bully Pulpit," (BTW - I would give my right arm to be as brilliant a researcher/writer as Goodwin) and then it happened. With a fury I can hardly describe, my abdomen was on fire. This was not angry gas. This was something totally different. Think what happened to poor John Hurt on the table in that scene in Alien. It was totally like that and I was writhing in agony. I tried walking it off and nothing. SML got home and was instantly concerned when she saw my condition. Because she's smart, she began asking questions to help assess my situation, which was getting worse. She called the urgent care that our insurance/politburo allows us to use and they were closed. Apparently, the appartchik only considers emergency care between 8AM and 8PM (note that for next time). So it was off the Emergency Room at UConn Health Center.

We picked the right night to hit up the ER. I was on a gurney by 10PM. Now, if you didn't know, the UConn Health Center is a teaching hospital and I had a fourth year med student all over me like white on rice. Apparently I was going to be a fun case for her. And little did I know I was going to be a fun case for about 16 residents in different stages of their training. Good times, people, good times. Anyway, it took them a little while to decide what they could do for my pain, but once my new BFF, Dilaudid, was administered, things got all kinds of rosy. Until it wore off and things got hideous again.

Anyway, by 3AM and multiple ultra-sounds and a CAT scan, it was determined that my gall bladder was all kinds of angry at me and surgery was on the horizon. I was admitted and in a semi-private (which actually means no privacy whatsoever for you or your poor sap of a drug-addled roommate) room. There is no sleeping in the hospital. I had someone poking, prodding or assessing my vitals every five seconds (again, teaching hospitals are fun!). Then, at 5AM the warren of surgical residents came in, each one prodding my flaming abdomen, which was so not cool. This visit was followed by the chief surgeon who declared that my gall bladder was needing to check out and would I be OK with a 10AM surgery? Um, yes, bring it.

I have zero recollection, zero, of the surgery. I remember being wheeled into the surgical theater and being told to be careful as I slid onto the operating table and that's it. The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery, feeling all kinds of good. I'd been warned that my throat would hurt thanks to the breathing tube. It did. I was told I might be nauseous. I wasn't. I asked where SML was and the nurses got her and she was once again at my side, convincing me all was well in the world. I was amazed at how good I felt. I would find out later that my surgeon, as a parting gift at the end of my surgery, shot me up with Toradol, which is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Ever.

So it was back to my semi-private relaxation nest where they kept me for another 24 hours. I was released Friday around noon, with a shaved stomach and four stab wounds and images of one sick, sick gall bladder. The surgical residents all came in on Friday morning at 530AM (yeah, thanks), swooning about how sick my gall bladder was. Apparently, this was a pretty big bonus for them. Somehow I think the whole crew was in the operating room for my surgical fiesta. I hope it was memorable.

It's been memorable for us. This was my first hospitalization in my more than 47 years of living. I join my wife in living a life sans a gall bladder. I've learned that if it weren't for the ladies of the Caribbean islands, hospitals would not function at night. I've learned that nurses really do all the hard work. I've learned that beef broth is straight from Satan's kitchen.
Straight from Satan's Short-Order Cafe
I'm grateful for modern medicine. I'm grateful for people who surround us that care. I'm forever grateful for the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML. She is the best caregiver/nurse/partner/friend I could ever ask for. I'm trying to be a good patient this time. My track record has been bleak at best but I'm going for the gold medal on this one.

So yeah, it's been a fun couple of days. I've been sitting up for too long now so I'm wrapping this up. I need to go think about a cool back story for the scars, which better be good ones!