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Naturally Buried.

My wife and I were driving down the road the today discussing… daydreaming, about ways she could supplement her income. Something to bring in some cash if the day ever came that she had to pull the plug… my plug, yeah it kind of worried me too!

I struggled to vanquish the morbid nature of the events that might be leading up to her need for financial stability and tried look at the upside. I had images  running through my head of hand knitted socks, little handmade snow boarder skull caps. I know of some women that make jewelry, or put up jellies and jams and sell them at craft fairs, or card, spin, and dye their own wool, some even going so far as raising their own flock. Cottage industry type affairs with labels that say “This garment was crafted with love, by Jann.”  You know, the kind of thing Grandmas might do.

As I describe my plans for her financial security, I notice it had become awfully quite on her side of the vehicle. I was  getting the feeling we may not be on the same page. Knowing that I was not following her path, I figured I’d better ask her what her thoughts were, I mean it was her dream not mine.

“I want to start a cemetery”. I reached over to the volume control on the car radio and turned it down, I could have sworn she said, cemetery. I tried to keep my eyes on the road, all the while fighting the urge check her pupils for a brain dysfunction.

“A what’?

“A cemetery, but this one would be different.”

I tried to keep my sarcasm to myself. “What, one that didn’t have dead people in it?” I really wanted to go with that, but since we had already had an argument this morning about a Jon Stewart video clip, that I lost, I figured I better hear her out.

“What do you mean by different?” It was hard, but I got the question out there.

“Well this would be an all natural cemetery, and wild life preserve.”

I swerved barely avoiding a pot hole in the road. I think I was the only one that saw it coming.

“What do you mean all natural?” I was intrigued. I mean I’d heard of all natural fibers, all natural ingredients… but all natural graves?

“You know, no wood coffins, just a hole in the ground, the body is wrapped in a cloth and buried. No grave makers either, people could come to the cemetery and find the spot were their loved one is buried using GPS coordinates. I’d rent them the handheld GPS, kind of like Geo-Caching for the dead”

Your loved one is planted here.

Thank G-d for the red light! “Honey! the city wouldn’t allow it!” At this point I hoped she was joking. I can usually tell when she’s joking. She looked at me blinked once looked forward and nodded, “The light’s green.” This didn’t feel like one of those moments.

I tried to reason with her; “Honey, there’s zoning and permits, where exactly would you put this all natural grave yard for the dead”.

“All I’d need is five acres, I could build a little house there, put in a garden, and set up a game preserve, it would be perfect. The city wouldn’t even have to know. Oh!, and I’d need a backhoe.”

A backhoe? Oh honey, you’re going to need a whole lot more than that.

Talk to you later.

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“Come in Heparin One, do you read me. This is Hou-ton -alling”. The radio chatter in my helmet is intermittent. I rap the side of my head with the palm of my hand, hoping that the useless gesture with somehow improve the signal inside.

Houston can you hear me?

“Maintain the Enoxoparin at 300, but increase the feed of the Warfarin from 5 to 15. We have got to reduce the viscosity of the circulating fluid faster!”

“Roger Houston; holding 300, and increasing feed to 15″.

” Heparin One… has the Lisinopril stabilized the internal line pressure yet?”

“Roger Houston, line pressure stable and holding at acceptable levels”.

“Roger that Heparin One.”

“Oh and Heparin One?”

“Yeah Houston?”

“When you get back to Edwards in November… we need to bring her in to check your rear seal.”

“Roger that Houston.”

I feel like I’m piloting a space shuttle for the first time, awkward, second guessing myself, my reactions, and all those in charge. I don’t know how my in-laws do it, visiting the doctor two to three times a week adjusting medications, tweaking  pacemakers. When did all this become second nature for them?

I promised myself that I wouldn’t turn this site into “AJ has a pulmonary” but I keep finding myself getting caught up in it’s tidal undertow as it draws me out past the breakwaters. Frantically I flail my arms around in a feeble attempt to return to shore, only to draw the attention of some patrolling predator.

Today my wife and I are going over to our daughter and son in-laws home, to see their new puppy. Definitely not a grandchild, but I’m sure we should be able to dump enough doating accolades on the 8 pound kibble cruncher to feign  enthusiasm.

I’m just in a grumpy mood today I guess. Picking on puppies, arguing with my wife over some stupid U-Tube clip that I haven’t even watched. I think I’m just tired of all of it; the visits to the doctor, the examinations, the blood tests, the thing is, I don’t see an end to it yet. Tuesday another test, and a week of more self injections. They don’t hurt they’re just… a pain. Tomorrow I return to work for the first time in 4 weeks  and I think I’m a little nervous about that as well. I’ll be glad when I can get off this ride.

“Houston… this is Heparin One, hey we’ve encountered a little turbulence ahead.  What you say we back off on the stick a bit, and grab a cup of coffee.”

“Roger that H – One… but use the paper cups will ya, we don’t need any mishaps up there, remember last time!”

“10-4 Houston… H – One out.”

Talk to you later.

DAMN IT!

How the heck did this happen! I’d been on the look out for ‘it’ for the last ten years; and yet like the unanticipated crash of a seesaw being released at it’s apex, with me on one end, I suddenly realize I’ve moved beyond middle aged.

I think in part it was the accumulative affects of working with the law firm Schmeckle and Peck; who so skillfully assembled our Last Will and  Testaments, assigned my  Power of Attorney to my wife, and legalized the termination clause in my Living Will. The one that allows the UL rated cord to be pulled and severed from the G.F.C.I. outlet next to my bed, which drove home the fact.

Now wait just a minute!

I’ve never noticed it before, but over the last several weeks the question has come up way too often. They don’t even address the question to me! “Mrs. Gest? Do you have Medical Power of Attorney on your husband? Does he have a Living Will”? The admissions administrator causually nodding his head in my direction like I’m some sort of 6′-1″, 300 lbs carrot laying on the examining table! My wife sighs in relief: “Yes, yes he does.” What the hell is she relieved about! The whole affair made me very edgy as the poignant words from my Living Will peal through my brain, like the bells that tolled in the streets of Cologne in 1351. “In the event I lack the descional capacity to accept or reject medical or surgical treatment… my wife can pull the plug”! It was like a scene straight out of “Murder She Wrote” and the History Channel all rolled into one.

I told you I was watching too much daytime T.V!

There have been other signs of cresting that hill. The books on the kitchen table  “Property of The Aurora Public Library”, with their block letters printed in red ink along the fore edge of the publication; sporting catchy titles like “Death and Dying”,  “Is There A Life After Death”?, and her favorite “Shiva, the Jewish Ritual of Mourning”. Up until now I figured it was just all background noise, heck my father in-law is 87 years old.

But last Friday afternoon, before I was hit on the head with that stainless steel bed pan, my wife and I did something… well, it was just creepy. We went window shopping for cemeteries. Don’t ask me how I got hood winked into that one, I always thought of that as one of those things only old people did; kind of like discussing bowel movements with their loved ones, don’t get me going, that question has been brought up way too often as well!

Comforting in a creepy sort of way.

Oddly enough I enjoyed this shopping experience. There were no uncomfortable inseam measurements, and I didn’t have to exit a fitting room in my socks to see if the trousers were hanging properly. As we strolled through the graveyard, I felt like I was at Costco looking at the items on the shelf comparing the labels. It was as if I’d returned home after a long absence;  recognizing the Hebrew script but not being able to put a name to the face.

Today as I went driving by ‘Oldtimer Acres’, I caught momentary glimpses of octogenarians playing bingo through the pane glass windows. Their images slightly obscured by the reflections of automobiles as we went speeding by, I let out my own sigh of relief. Not yet buddy, not by a long shot!

Talk to you later.

My ride home from the hospital should have been like any other; but leftovers from an anointing by my opiate angel had me drifting in and out as I struggled to maintain clarity, preventing this trip from being like any other.

I remember taking a concealed sigh of relief when the E.R. Doctor said; “Well, we’ve ruled out a heart attack.” I grimaced a bit as I drew a shallow breath into my aching lungs, the second ampule of morphine hadn’t quite completed its magic, as it slowly melted over me like butter on a hot pancake.

G-d I love pancakes

The unfamiliar word “embolism”, flew at me like an attacking Starling from a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie. If only I had watched more Grey’s Anatomy with my wife… maybe then I would have grasped the nature of the diagnosis. Embolism, it didn’t sound like heart attack, that was a good thing; so when I commented “Well that’s good, I’ve been off work for 3 weeks with this foot (pointing to the offending appendage) and I thought I’d be going back to work on Monday.” It was posed in the form of an announcement, with the verbal tone of PLEASE!! It seemed reasonable, it was Friday night no more pain in the chest, I finally felt like a well buttered pancake, life was good and I was ready to go!

Three weeks on the mend from a self inflicted coffee cup wound. I had WWII down pat, go ahead ask me any question;

Who made up the The Weimar Republic? Answer: Bad guys.

Next topic, Matlock; What was the name of the first private investigator who worked for Ben Matlock?  Answer: Tyler Hudson.

Bonus round: What was the first name of J.B. Fletcher’s  (Played by Angela Lansbury) dead husband? Answer: Frank.

Yeah, three weeks in front of daytime T.V. had turned my brain to mush, the morphine sulphate was just the icing on the cake.

The silence in the room had drowned out all but the audible Beep, Beep, every .789 seconds from the monitor over my right shoulder, a DOS green line spiking in rhythm with those relentless  beeps as it traveled across a black screen. It was the only tangible truth that I recognized that the Doctor was right; I wasn’t having a heart attack!

If there was one of those stainless steel bedpans in the room, I think my wife would have handed it to the E.R. Doctor who would have gladly gonged me on the head with it. The only thing holding him back was that it would have been pointless given the circumstances, and the two vials of morphine now coursing through my brain.

The doctor shook his head. I’m not sure if it was his disaproval of my  suggestion  of returning to work, or his feeble attemp to grasp my reality. “Mr. Gest”… I hate when someone in authority uses my sir name; I akin it to your mother using your first, middle, and last name, when you’ve done something stupid, like starting the patch of weeds on fire in the back of the elementary school.

“Mr. Gest, you have a pulmonary embolism, I don’t care how long you’ve been out of work,  if we don’t treat this now, it really won’t matter”. He looked at my wife, figuratively handing the stainless steel bedpan back to her. I believe they got my attention.

It was now Sunday, drugs with names like Coumadin and Lovenox are now my new best friends, while terms like self injections, and bleeding out hide in the wings, potential villains in my very own Shakespearean tragicomedy.

Denial is a curious thing; by our own ignorance it can make us appear invincible, while in reality it is often our greatness weakness.

Talk to you later.

The Butterfly Effect…

What a way to make a reentry. I feel a bit like D.B. Cooper poking my head out from the pines along a deserted mountain road somewhere near Wall-Drug, checking to see if the coast is clear. Three months… not a peep, that’s way too long.

As I mentally sort through the stored material from my long hiatus, I feel out of touch, and out of step. I want to jump in and begin recanting times and dates, but feel overwhelmed by the task.

Setting things into motion.

I’ve recently experienced something akin to the butterfly effect, it’s remarkable how one clumsy moment can change so much. Take one ceramic coffee cup, a warm Sunday morning on the front step, and a pair of bifocal glasses, yeah I got some of those too; combine them together with an ill timed step and I set into motion a series of calamities that only Buster Keaton could appreciate.

It happened so quickly, yet when I run it through my head I see it unfold in slow motion. I knew the coffee cup was there; I placed it on the concrete step just seconds before I got up to get a plastic bag for a neighbor. Flower seeds, she wanted seeds from some of the flowers in our front yard. In her thick German accent; “Ya… Ya, dat vood be goot, I vood like sum of doze”. I don’t even really like her that much, her stupid little dog poops in my yard as she wheels up and down the sidewalk in her recumbent three wheeler… stupid dog.

So like some over sized garden gnome gamboling back from the meadow, I returned from the kitchen with a zip-lock baggy pinched between my index finger and thumb, I must have looked like a…. never mind.

I hate bifocals… a set of stairs can quickly become a step into the great unknown. It reminds me of when we were kids; we would grab the picture framed mirror down from the wall in the front room and hold it at our waist, directing it’s polished surface to the ceiling while we walked from room to room. Gazing into the reflection, we would giggle as we stepped over door frames that were never there, and inched our way around the ceiling fixtures placed in our path. We would scream like passengers cresting the incline of the worlds greatest roller-coaster when we stepped out the front door of our house into the  abyss of a clear blue sky… yeah you had to be there, you probably had to be 9 years old too.

I approached the front step, plastic baggy in hand, gamboling remember?…and punted my empty coffee cup down the three concrete steps, breaking it into three or four semi circular throwing daggers. I’m not sure if it took a lot of grace and finesse, or just blind bifocal-fricking luck to time the breaking of the cup to coincide with the placement of my rubber soled sandal… but SHIT THAT HURT!

Two emergency rooms, severed nerves, nicked tendons… canine fecal matter, three weeks off from work, and enough antibiotics to kill all the Ebola virus in Zaire, the butterfly that set these effects into motion had one evil sense of humor.

This story continues with words like thrombosis, and embolism, and terms like medical power of attorney, and living will… but hell if I use up all that material I won’t have anything to talk about next time!

Talk to you later, soon I promise.

It beckons, calling out quietly, my very own personal Tell-Tale Heart. Hidden under the floor boards it has been whispering for weeks on end; “You need to post”. Mentally I respond back with the most asthenic of excuses; I don’t have time, I’ve nothing interesting to say… I’m a lousy liar.

As wedding troops marched down fairly dry aisles, and a package of soggy honey bees made their inopportune arrival, the month of April was resplendent with fodder for posting.

THE WEDDING:

Sadly I missed the rehearsal the morning before. If you recall in the previous post, I had made some kind of wise-ass remark about missing the wedding because of the arrival of my honeybees? Well it was nearly as bad. With the wedding rehearsal set for 11:00 am on a Saturday, I received word on Thursday night that my package of  ‘Apis Mellifera’ was due to arrive on that same Saturday at 10:00 am. With a couple of phone calls and and more pleading than a man on death row, I was excused from the rehearsal, absolved from any permanent spousal wrath as long as I made it to the wedding to give the bride away. Piece of cake, I mean, how hard could that be…

The Father of the bride.

I dressed at home, wearing a black tux, I looked like a 285 pound penguin in a pink tie. The pink tie was my future son in-law’s idea of retribution for not making it to the rehearsal the day before. This kid has no idea what retribution is; hell I wore a pink welders cap and a bandanna with tiger stripes on a pink background for years, but that’s whole other story.

We made it to the venue on time and ready to go, my bees although cold were secured in their new home and I was happy. First task, review what I’d missed at the rehearsal the day before.  I was introduced to Gregor, not Greg or Gregory… Gregor.  With all the stereotypes of a male event planner, complete with long dark curls in Fabio-isck fashion, a black cowl necked sweater; the two German Police Shepherds rounded out the ensemble perfectly. In six minutes I was drilled in wedding march etiquette and procedure, it had taken over an hour to do this the day before.

The only thing worse than watching six women running around in various  states of undress, hoping their hair is perfect; is watching five men running around in various states of undress looking for their cuff links. Let me make one comment, how is it that a perfectly sane woman, my wife, can be transformed into a giddy post  adolescent twenty something with the appearance of crinoline! The bride looked beautiful, my wife looked content, my youngest daughter, “captain” of the bridesmaids looked… far too available. It was too much to watch, I found a quiet little spot over looking the caterer, as Gregor swooshed here and there directing the double wide budget affair.

With the proper gate and arm placement, I made it down the aisle with out stumbling to say; ” Her Mother and I” when prompted. Actually it went rather smoothly, a little confusion with the hand off but acceptable.

I never really lost control of my emotions during the whole affair, however I must of had an allergy to the flowers that caused my eyes to water during my dance with my daughter.

Talk to you later.

This morning I looked at the calendar and winced; March 26th, a month has flashed by in a blink of the eye, and I haven’t “penned” a single word on my blog. Emails at work abound, some worthy of an Art Buchwald recognition award, if there were such a thing especially in the email category. I’ve posted a few comments here and there on other peoples blogs but even those have slowed. Today? Yeah we’ll see.

Spring approaches easing itself out of a seemingly long slumber, sadly it’s at a rate much slower than my liking. The crocus have bloomed, receiving their expected assault from a late dusting of snow, retreating a bit haggard, but not defeated. Behaving as a scout might in search of smoke on the horizon, I find my self scanning last years spent foliage for the signs. Small green eruptions  emerging  from the still cold soil, timidly check the air to see if it’s safe to venture forward. Soon there will be blooms pronouncing that it’s spring, and taking part in the celebration… bees.

Yup,  this year I have it bad. All last year my quaint little hive sat waiting, poor timing and hesitation prevented me from getting a hive established. It is a sad commentary when a beekeeper, even an amateur beekeeper…  okay someone like me, who would like to have bees, needs to travel to someone else’s hive just to get stung. What’s even worse; of the four stings I got last year, one of those was from a damn bumblebee.

Improving the odds.

So this year I’m improving the odds; placing my chips on black, red, odd and even, I purchased a three pound package of bees, and… another hive just in case. I can hear the familiar rattle of the white marble as it bounces from pocket to pocket before settling into the payoff slot. I figure in about a month or so with 10,000 bees arriving from Grand Junction things will be looking much more promising. Aaahh yes, the warm sensation of being stung by your own bees, I can hardly wait.

Yes sir, this April will certainly be a busy month, my wifes birthday on the 10th, followed by my mine on the 18th, then Passover, then there’s my daughters wedding on the 24th, and the arrival of 10,ooo bees.

I hope they don’t show up on the day of the wedding, I sure would hate to miss it!

Talk to you later.