He’s Come Undun

I’m coming unravelled, although I was never too tightly wrapped in the first place. 

A man encounters another fellow at a DC cocktail party.  “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a naval surgeon.”
“Wow, you guys really specialize, don’t you??!

My Father’s family kindly passed down a gene which causes weak abdominal wall.  Excess weight is not the only reason that my tummy protrudes.  At 2019’s annual doctor visit, I had two small hernias, one in the left groin, and one on my navel.  The groin one was quick and easy to fix – day-surgery at the hospital – someone jabbed a hole in it with a sharp pencil, poked some window-screen in, under the skin, and super-glued me back together.

The belly-button is a little more complex.  They don’t like to work on it unless absolutely necessary.  She told me to keep an eye on it, and report if it increased in size.  After the fiasco of last year’s visit, which I chronicled in I Have Never Felt So Alive, I let her have another look.  Last year, it was the size of the last segment of my baby finger.  This year, it’s as big as the end of my thumb!  😯

They will not act unless the opening is more than 2.5 cm (1 real inch).  She gave me a requisition for an ultrasound scan just as COVID19 arrived.  It took me three months to schedule a clinic appointment.  I find that I am six months pregnant with twins.  😉

She has, properly, been chastising me about my weight.  Something like this has finally opened my eyes.  I don’t want to explode like that obese wight in the Monty Python sketch.  I asked about liposuction, to relieve the immediate pressure.  She refused, because, without a basic change in my lifestyle, the weight would just pack back on.

A maintenance man at a plant where I worked, took more than a year to lose over a hundred pounds.  Then he spent another year, gradually putting it all back on.  😦  Slowly we forge the chains of our obesity so, slowly we must cast them off.  In the three months that I waited for the scan, I managed to lose 15 pounds, with lots more to go. 

No more snacking from boredom, as I stay up all night.  It’s as simple – and as complex – as that.  I was appalled at the number and variety of goodies I had available – regular chips, salt and vinegar chips, corn chips, cheese twists, mini chocolate bars…. Three kinds of peanuts, one Honey-Roasted, one Caramel-Coated, for extra calories – and cut back on the sugar-laden soft drinks.

No more 4 or 5 snacks per night!!  Now I must choose – and limit myself to – one snack per evening.  Carefully rationed, I have eliminated several of them, and vowed not to replace them.

COVID19 further delayed already slow medical specialists’ appointments.  Something must have shown in the ultrasound.  On August 1, I received an email appointment notice with a Surgical Oncologist, on Oct 22 – Wow, only another three months!  I only hope that he can ‘knit up the ravelled sleave of my care,’ before I come completely Undun.  Click here, if you’d like to hear the Canadian band The Guess Who, tell you about a girl that it happened to.

I’ll tell you what transpires.  (EW! EW!)  I’ll still be as big an opinionated asshole as ever.  It’s just that, hopefully, there’ll be a lot less of me doing it.

***

So, my Oct. 22 appointment has come and gone.  The specialist took one quick look at it and told me to get out.  At least I now have a direct line to him if it grows any larger. I told him that my weight loss was up to 20 pounds, but he only speaks Metric (9 Kg.)  Very good….keep at it.  It can be caused be something as simple as a sneeze.  With my allergies – do you know how many times I sneeze per day – and how strongly??!

I picked up some meds after the doctor visit.  The pharmacy tech asked me how the visit went.  I told her the doctor was busy, and had just put a strip of Scotch Tape© over it – and got out while she was still reaching for the phone.  If the wife doesn’t have me committed, she might.   😉   😳

Gahh!!  I’ve Been Shot

Just found out that I qualify for the Pfizer vaccine….
….Apparently if you buy 20,000 Viagra a year, you’re a preferred customer.

Despite the incompetence and disorganization of the Canadian Federal Government, the Provincial Government, the Waterloo Regional Council, and the local medical association regarding COVID19 vaccinations – the wife and I each managed to get our initial shot on Easter Sunday, April 3rd.

The clinic was held at a new medical building, about a mile away.  This is where I took the wife last November, for her standard flu shot.  In the fall, they did a drive-thru system at one end of the building.  Since the main floor is not yet leased, with the volume of customers, this time we had to walk inside.

We were accosted by a greeter at the main door, who would not allow us in until we’d sworn that we were not suffering from a long list of medical ailments that I’m sure included leprosy.  I worry about the future of the human race.  There was enough hand sanitizer being splashed around to sterilize the entire next generation, not that it mattered to this crowd.  The clinic was for those over 70.  It looked like a false teeth and hearing aid sale down at Codgers-R-Us.

The bureaucratic duplication was thicker than usual.  The greeter directed us across the atrium, to a pre-screener, where we presented our health cards and gave our names, address, and birth dates.  This is something I learned to do long ago, when I received someone else’s dental anesthetic – plus my own.

We then proceeded to a screener in a large U-shaped room as big as half the building, which wrapped around the elevator shaft… where we presented our health cards and gave our names, address, and birth dates.  Following colorful dots on the floor that looked like the Easter Bunny had hopped through, the maitre d’ soon escorted us to a small table near the washrooms.

We were greeted by an Oriental man…. where we presented our health cards and gave our names, address, and birth dates.  He did not profess what medical training he might have.  He might have been the maintenance man, but he was quite quick and efficient.

We were given a cash register type of receipt, giving our names, Health Card number, date of injection, and the type of vaccine.  For the medically morbid, we did, in fact, receive Pfizer-Biontec COVID19 mRNA-PB.  He then directed us to a waiting area where we would be observed for any adverse reactions.

We sat for 15 minutes to prove that we could stand and move safely on our own, although there was a forest of canes and walkers.  Aside from possibly the hypo-wielders, most if not all of the attendants were volunteers – and there were a ton of them.  I don’t know how we maintained a 6-foot clearance.  The place looked more like the Wuhan wet market where COVID was born, than a socially-distanced medical recovery area.  It was like Jeff Foxworthy’s Grateful Dead Seniors Tour.  It’s Metamucil!  Take a hit. Pass it down.

I took the photo below as we left, during an unusual lull.  There were twice this many people when we sat down.  We then had to proceed to a liability-waiver, after-mission debriefing…. where we presented our health cards and gave our names, address, and birth dates – to prove that we were as hale and healthy leaving as we were when we arrived. We’re scheduled to go back for our second shot, and play this game again on Sunday, July 25th. 😯 For as many Stations Of The I-Was-Cross there were, it still moved though quickly and smoothly. Including the 15 minute cool-down period, we were in and out in half an hour.

If/when you get your chance, take it.  If I can do it, any wimp can do it.  The only reaction that I got was that the next day, I felt like the school-yard bully had punched my bicep.

I Spy With My Little Eye

Pirate

I’m going to get my chance to pace the poop-deck, (Heh, Heh, I said poop 😆 ) and do my best pirate impersonation.

When eye wrote of having an impending eye operation, eye expected to be given a couple of weeks warning, so that we could adjust our sleep schedules.  We are unlike most retirees, staying up late partying reading, and sleeping in.

Eye got 93 hours – less than four days – notice.  A lovely tech named Olivia (Suddenly eye’m surrounded by Olivias.) called, at 11:30 AM, Thursday, January 3rd. to say that eye had surgery scheduled for 8:00 AM, Monday, Jan. 7th, and to be at the hospital by 6:00 AM to register.

It was bad enough getting the wife to a local hospital by 6 AM for her two knee surgeries, but this hospital is an extra hour and a half drive away.  We’ll have to be ready to leave by 4.  I might as well just stay up. I could peacefully sleep through the operation, but the wife would need sleep to drive me home.  Then I need to be back at the same hospital by 7:30 the following morning, for assessment and removal of my pirate eye-patch.

Eye’m posting this note a day ahead of my normal schedule, just to give you the heads-up that I threatened promised.  Just after midnight, eye’ll click publish on my regularly scheduled A To Z Challenge.  After that, eye may not post for a few days, or a week.

Eye’ll see you here soon…. I hope.   😎

A To Z Challenge – R

 

Challenge '18letter-r

RECOVERY

Hedge Clippers

I HAD A VASECTOMY!  I know, I know!  TMI!  TMI!  The guys are now clenched so hard that they could hold an aspirin with their butt-cheeks, and the women are diplomatically trying hard not to smile.  Still, it’s something that should be mentioned.

After a few years of marriage, I had produced a couple of offspring and a paltry paycheck, so we decided to stave off poverty, using birth control.  ‘The Pill’ was available, but difficult to obtain, and expensive.  Using Ontario’s “free” socialized medicine, either the wife or I could get sterilized.

If she has her tubes tied, it’s three or four days of extreme discomfort, and a week to recover….all while I’m taking care of a 4-year-old, and a 1-year-old.  If I have the snip, it’s a couple of days of mild discomfort, and I get waited on.  The choice wasn’t difficult.  Some years later, my brother also decided to have it done.  He drove to the hospital on a Saturday morning…. but couldn’t bring himself to go in.

I got the idea for this post from another woman, whose husband was given a Valium at the hospital, to calm him down, and had an interesting reaction.  I’ll tell you about him in a couple of weeks, when I write about ‘S for surgery.’  I wanted to tell my tale first, so I titled it ‘Recovery.’  I already have a word picked out for V, so I don’t need either Vasectomy (easy, guys), or Valium.

When she wrote of her husband’s Valium adventures, I made the following comment:

Now I feel cheated. I didn’t get a Valium. They may not have been invented back when I had the procedure. I had it done in the doctor’s office on a Friday morning, before I went to work. I got a local anesthetic injection, and went to the office after.  The doctor who actually performed the procedure was another, of three doctors sharing a practice.  I wasn’t told why at the time, but found out later that my doctor was a barely-functioning alcoholic.  I am so glad that he didn’t get his shaky hands on my delicate crotch.

The shot was just wearing off by the time I left work at 5 PM. Still, I only took 4 of the 8 pain pills Doc gave me, over the weekend. He warned me that I would feel like I got kicked in the groin by a horse. Actually, I didn’t. I looked like a horse had kicked me – bruises in colors not normally found in nature.  Her husband was grumpy after the meds wore off.  I purposely had mine on a Friday, then I had the entire weekend to be grumpy, and there was that bag of frozen peas that never made it to the table.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll tell you a tale about the dangers of drug use – even if it was just an innocent little Valium, but please come back before then.  We have other topics to discuss.  😀

 

2017 A To Z Challenge – J

Challenge2017

When I was looking at others’ A to Z Challenge ideas, searching for inspirational prompts, I didn’t always read the complete posts. I thought it might be from a fan of legalization of marijuana, when I chose
JOINT SUPPORT,
as the title of the post for the letter

Letter J

The wife has tried for years to get knee replacement surgery. Her doctor asked her one time if she was a good Catholic, but her days of kneeling are long past.  Finally, she got referred to the Orthopedic Surgeon who replaced my left shoulder 10 years ago.  He now specializes in knees.

She was told that the first one would be about a year, and the second, six months after. Government funding cutbacks stretched the first to almost 18 months.  Despite hours of hospital interviews and paperwork, they still managed to f….oul things up.

Despite clearly marking that she was allergic to pineapple, they served her fruit salad for every lunch and supper – with pineapple in it. (I loved it.) One night, supper was sweet and sour chicken – with pineapple in the sauce.  She says that, without me bringing her fresh fruit and vegetables, and Tim Horton’s Tim-Bits (do-nut holes) and coffee, she’d have starved.  She lost almost 10 pounds in a 3-day stay.

She also impressed upon her surgeon, that she was allergic to the nickel in (surgical) stainless steel, and insisted that he use sutures, instead of the far more common staples. They still teach suturing techniques in doctor school, but her surgeon has never practiced much.  She had hoped for small, delicate stitches, perhaps in a soft blue silk.  Instead, he put in 18 big, ghastly, bride-of-Frankenstein’s turkey-trussers, with black fishing line.  Still, it healed nicely.

When I had my more complex shoulder surgery, the arm was put in a sling, and I was told not to use it for six weeks, as it healed. Only then could the long, painful process of stretching and strengthening rehab begin.  Knee surgeries have become so easy and common, that she was expected to get out of bed, stand and shuffle a couple of steps, the day after surgery.

I worried about the Princess and the Pea wife not doing painful exercises, but have been pleasantly surprised.  Although she had already been looking forward to having the second knee done, it’s possible that she’s not looking forward quite so hard now.

2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

A To Z Challenge D

Challenge2017

I have some alien DNA in me, though I think many of you have suspected that for some time.

For the letter

Letter D

I think I’ll write about DNA

DNA

I woke up the other day. (And congratulated myself for doing it.) I crawled out of bed, threw on a grubby tee-shirt and a pair of track pants, went downstairs and began the ‘feed and water the animals’ routine, including me.  I walked into the living room. I sat down in my big easy chair.  I picked up the day’s newspaper – and absently scratched my right leg.

WOW indeed!  Just from gently touching it, it was now intensely itchy – and a burning kind of sore.  A spot about the size of a silver dollar, 6 inches above my knee was hard, hot, red, swollen and inflamed.

When I complained, the wife told me to come over to her chair and pull my pants down. There were times in the past that that could have led to something interesting.  The only way I know that is because I have it written down.  I can’t remember.

This thing had an even redder spot in the center. What the Hell was it?  Necrotizing fasciitis – that ‘flesh-eating disease’?  Better not be.  I’m so chubby that it could die of indigestion.  A cat scratch?  There would have been more than one, and a scratch, not a single point.  An insect bite?  I seldom go outside, and when I do, I wear heavy jeans and boots.  A bedbug bite?  There’d be more than one, and the sheets are clean.

In my It’s In The Jeans post, I already showed how much alien human DNA I have in me.  I don’t need any non-human DNA.  I don’t want to be like that guy in the Alien movies, and have a mouthful of fangs erupt from my chest.

When I mentioned it to the wife’s podiatrist a couple of days later, he suggested it might be a boil. I still have a scar on my right forearm from a teenage boil.  This ain’t growing, and it’s no boil.  When the wife looked at it, her best guess was an ingrown hair, and she promptly proceeded to do exactly what we tell teenagers not to do with a zit.  She applied two thumbnails, and popped it.

SDC11029

SDC11030

Like teenaged zits, she forced some of the poisons back into the surrounding flesh, making it look almost like a bruise. I spent the next week, slathering antiseptic cream on it, trying not to scratch like a kid with chicken pox, and hoping that my DNA was stronger than any old alien DNA.  I’m back to what passes for normal, but perhaps only because the alien broke his lease, and abandoned this condemned structure.   😉

Oops! Was I supposed to put a medical warning at the top??  Sorry about those photos.  Eye and brain bleach is available in the lobby at reasonable prices.

A To Z Challenge – X

april-challenge

I’m going to dip into the healing waters of medical treatment, and for the letter

Letter X

I’m going to talk about Xrays.

X-Ray

Once upon a time, Doctor Kildare, or Marcus Welby MD would hold your TV hand and solve your medical problems with a reassuring smile. More recently, Dr. House proved that a good doctor could achieve the most baffling diagnosis in a single episode.

THEN THERE’S REALITY

About a year ago, the wife developed a cough. Not a cold – a chronic, hacking cough.  After a week, she also got a sharp pain in the muscles of the bottom ribs, below her right armpit.  After another week or more, the cough was still with her, and the pain in the side got worse.  Neither of us was sleeping.

She called her doctor, and got an emergency appointment. He listened to her, (maybe) and told her to go for an X-ray.  The next day, Wednesday, I took her to the lab.  The doctor was to be faxed the results.  No call from the office on Friday, or Monday.  On Tuesday, she called the office, and the clerk told her that he had not found anything on the X-ray….and had gone on 2 weeks holidays.

The next day, the son dropped her off at the emergency ward at 8:00 AM. I didn’t get a call to pick her up, but went down after lunch to find her, and dug her out about 4:00 PM.

An eight hour stay, and, despite her telling them that the pain was in the muscles of the lower, right chest, they insisted on taking another X-ray, to check for a heart attack.  When that showed nothing, they wanted to do a CAT-scan, to check the lungs, but she’s allergic to the dyes that they’d use.

They decided, instead, to do a Gamma-ray scan.  This showed that, because of the pain, she wasn’t breathing deeply or strongly enough, and the bottom lobes of both lungs were developing fluid.  Not finding any cause for the sharp pain, they released her.

The next day, I took her to the ‘Medical Group’, for a clinic-style, first-doctor-available visit. We got a kindly, retired English doctor, recently moved to Canada, and willing to make a few bucks by filling in part-time for the likes of the one on vacation.

He actually listened to her, and quickly found the source of the pain by reaching over and palpating (touching) her, something that no doctor, nurse or technician had done. He wrote a ten-day prescription for a broad medication – something with a powerful painkiller, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory.

He told her to take the pills, and wait another week and have yet another X-ray taken, and book an appointment to see him a couple of days later.  The pain quickly disappeared, and she (almost) stopped glowing in the dark.  When we went back to see him, he still couldn’t find anything in the results.  Of course not! It’s a soft tissue injury.

After three X-rays and a Gamma-ray scan within two weeks, it still took a British Marcus Welby-like fill-in doctor (doubly-named Dr. John Brodie-Brown), relying on his touch and intuition to solve the problem by treating the symptoms, rather than with shiny tech-toys.

A week later, I was reading the blog-post of a lady bicyclist. She wrote that she had developed the same symptoms as the wife.  A doctor diagnosed it as ‘costochondritis’, an inflammation of the nerves that control the breathing muscles.  It’s known, but not common, among people like bikers and runners, who gasp and pant for extended periods.

Even with the best of treatment, (Which very few of us ever get) it is still often up to us to diagnose our own problems, and insist that we get full and proper care.  😯

Empathy Thrust Upon Me

Medicine

Of all the things I hoped to be when I was young, a wrinkled bag of aches and pains wasn’t one of them.  Some while ago, BrainRants, a mere stripling in his mid-forties, published a post about all the pains and strange body noises he was accumulating.  Bloody amateur, just wait till he moves up to the pros.

Through a confluence of good genes, a relatively physical lifestyle, and a modified Mediterranean diet, I am far healthier than many men my age.

Several years ago, a doctor at a clinic remarked to the wife, “You have a lot of things wrong with you.  Nothing that will kill you, but a lot of minor problems.”  Between prescription meds and supplements, she downs 20 to 25 pills a day.  She has a general surgeon who has removed a couple of skin growths, a urologist, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist and an osteopath.  I drive her to a cancer clinic and an airway clinic for monitoring.

Until recently, I was exempt from all that.  I had sympathy for her, but didn’t really know what she went through.  All that has changed.  It started innocently enough, about 15 years ago.  She convinced me to take an antihistamine each morning, for allergies.  Then it was a Vitamin B tablet.  I don’t know what it does.  I don’t ask. I am a husband, Yes dear, Yes dear.

Vampire

Next was Vitamin D, I took a tablet a day.  Last year’s blood test revealed that I am low on Vitamin D.  It has to do with my vampire lifestyle schedule – up all night, sleep all day.  I don’t get enough sunlight.  (It burns!  It burns!)  The doctor insists that I take two.  I take a multivitamin tablet laced with something to keep my retinas from deteriorating.

This year’s physical revealed that I have ‘Old Man’s Disease’, my prostate is swollen.  It also showed that my thyroid is running a bit slow.  Perhaps that’s a small part of my weight gain.  I am now taking medication for both of those.  Only ten pills a day, 9 of them before breakfast, and a heavy-duty pain pill a couple of hours before dawn, to help me get to sleep.  I now take four ‘little blue pills’, and not one of them made by Pfizer – although the doctor did offer me Cialis.

I’m on a call-back list for a Neurologist, from my eye problem of a couple of years ago, but my Ophthalmologist visits are down to once a year.  My long-time Optometrist recently died suddenly, but I’ve found a nice young female replacement.

The duct of a fat gland in my back stopped up and it swelled a bit.  Nothing to worry about – until it infected and grew as big as half an orange, making it difficult to sit or lie down.  It burst before I got to see a surgeon, but now I’m on his call list, because another gland is swelling.

Because of the enlarged prostate, I have an appointment to see a Urologist.  I’d sooner suffer another colonoscopy.  You’re going to push what, up where?  I’m waiting for an appointment with a Dermatology surgeon because I have a couple of suspect skin growths.  I have yet to acquire a Rheumatologist, although the most recent spike of incipient arthritis had me barely hobbling for a week.

I have had empathy for the wife and daughter (and any of the rest of you who suffer these accretions of ‘minor’ problems) thrust upon me.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it
ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot
of your time.  What do you get at the end of it?
A death. What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first; get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get
a gold watch when you go to work. You work forty
years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement!

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you
get ready for high school! You go to grade school,
you become a kid, you play, you have no
responsibilities, you become a little baby, you
go back into the womb, you spend your last nine
months floating…you finish off as a gleam.

Here’s hoping that my list of pills and specialists doesn’t grow to match the wife’s, but even if it does, it beats the alternative.  (Did I mention that my ass gets sore from sitting at the computer too much?)

Minutia IV

During the recent Provincial election, I saw two high school students vandalizing an election sign at the side of the road. I know they were high school students because they were wearing the red plaid kilts of the nearby Catholic school.  That’s right ladies and germs, two teenage, female, Catholic students, kicking the shit out of a sign of some candidate who they, and presumably their parents, disapprove of.

Defacing election signs is a federal offence! That’s how Charley Manson got his start.  He obtained a blank Department of Interior check, and made it out to himself for $5, and did time in a federal prison.  Once released, he broke into a Post Office and stole the “leave a penny” tray, netting 98 cents, and did time in a federal prison.

Released again, he convinced a young female to “work” for him, transported her across a State line to provide her services, ran right into the Mann Act, and did more time in a federal prison.  So, if you’d like your Good Christian daughter to be Charley’s girlfriend in prison, send her to a Catholic School and urge her to freely express her political opinions.

We used to hang a bird feeder on the fence near the back of the property. The birds we attracted would eat seeds like sunflower, but would throw on the ground, all the millet.  As a result, I have about 200 square feet of lawn that’s millet plants.  It’s soft, it’s green, it covers, but it’s not grass!

The wife planted a couple of chive plants in a small bed just beyond. Over the years, the chive has seeded itself further and further into this bed of millet. I mowed the lawn the other day, and when I reached this area, it smelled like I had a gasoline-powered salad shooter.

I have found two new ways to irritate telemarketers. They’re easy to identify.  The phone rings, I pick it up and say Hello, nothing happens for a second or two, then suddenly the line opens on their end and you can hear30 or 40 voices babbling in the background, and somebody starts to say, Hello, Hello??, usually in a Paki accent.

Previously, when this happens, I just say nothing and make a game of how many desperate Hellos I get before they finally hang up.  Recently, two cats climbed into my recliner and poured a bucket of soporific on me, and we all had an hour’s nap.  I awoke, partly because I had to pee, but more urgently, because the plate of nachos I had for lunch, c/w refried beans, was starting to rock and roll in my digestive tract.

Just as I decided I could extend the nap another half hour, the phone rang, and I got to hear “Kevin” (Gupta) babble. Too tired to even reach to hang the phone up, I just laid it face down on my stomach, and let him talk to my borborygmus – Hello? (rumble, rumble) Hello? (gurgle, gurgle).  After a while he went away, and I pushed Off.  Now I worry that my stomach may have ordered something from him in Paki, and I’ll receive a lifetime supply of curried chicken and basmati rice.

More recently, I was in the kitchen, trying to accomplish two simultaneous chores and arguing with a cat who wanted to drink from the filtered faucet, Meow, Meow, Meow. In the midst of all this, suddenly the phone rang, and I was treated to “Kevin’s” brother “David” (Sanjit).  As soon as Mr. Hello came on the line, I laid the phone, face-up on the table in front of the thirsty cat and let him explain, Hello….Meow, Meow, Hello??….Meow, Meow!  Let Paki “David” figure out how the cat answered the phone.

There is a shortage of doctors in Ontario. Most doctors are turning away potential patients.  Recently, I heard the female brains behind the Money Mill,  advertising on the radio.  Here, slightly paraphrased, is what I heard.

“Hello, I’m Doctor Packrat. I operate a cosmetic clinic in Cambridge.  Other clinics have estheticians and technicians.  If you’d like to safely increase your beauty, please come to our clinic.  We have only doctors and nurses.  None of them is actually trained in cosmetology.

We have Internists with queasy stomachs, Pediatricians unable to treat children any longer because of convictions and restraining orders, and Ob/Gyns who were too lazy to get out of bed to deliver babies. You are guaranteed to lose weight because all of them have been extensively trained in surgically extracting every last dollar from your wallet.”

We recently attended the Free Thinkers meeting at the new venue. While the food, choices, price and access are all good, I am not thrilled with the room.  It’s all flat, hard, walls and windows.  The reverberations quickly raise the noise level to intolerable.  I took along the son, daughter, grandson and fiancée.

Since I can talk to any of them, any time I want, when I entered, I quickly sat on the far side of the table next to a new female. It turned out that the reason she had attended was that she was angling for the Liberal nomination in the next Provincial election, and was out shaking babies and kissing hands, as well as taking the measure of various local groups.

Perhaps because it was me sitting beside her, but she was surprised and impressed at the depth and breadth of knowledge of politics, history, psychology, sociology and religion. This was not a group that she could bullshit to.

She wants to work to oust the Federal Conservatives, “Because they’ve had their time.” without offering any other reason or alternative. Like the Religionists, it’s because, “We’re entitled – and they’re not.”