Sunday, October 20, 2019

My Bout of Loopiness

I’m not quite ready to write about my friend’s death. Instead, today I’ll share with you my recent trip to Emergency. 

I was born with asthma. As I grew older, Mom taught me to distract myself when I couldn’t breathe. “Dolores, if you think about breathing, you won’t be able to,” she said. “Distract yourself! Think about something else and breath will come.” She was right.

Later, I applied her advice to pain. If I dwelt on it, it got worse. So I distracted myself. Living alone, however, makes distracting oneself more difficult: there’s no one with whom to engage in conversation. 

Last Sunday, after 35 hours of a Meniere’s headache, I went to Emergency, with its many distractions. While my sister-in-law parked the car, I spoke with the receptionist. She asked for my social security; I didn’t understand. I opened my purse and gave her the first card I came to.

 “No, Mam,” she said, “This is Medicare. I need your social security number.” 

My mind dulled by pain, I kept pulling out cards. Finally, a glimmer came: oh, it’s the check each month. That’s social security. Stammering, I gave her the number. 

After that, I had an EKG, blood drawn, and a CT. Finally, a nurse—Danielle—led us to a cubicle. She was a gift from the Universe—so calm and so willing to distract me with information about her studying to become a nurse and what she was doing to help me. 

The first two meds she gave me had little effect on the pain. Then she prepared the morphine. While doing so, she said, “It might make you a little loopy.” 

I replied, “When I was in a small girl’s Catholic college back in 1954, we sang a song about morphine. We didn’t know what we were singing about, but we liked the beat!”

“Do you remember it?” 

When I told her I did, she asked me to sing it for her.

As Danielle began the intravenous morphine, I began to sing, normally at first and then, as the medicine went into my vein, with gusto: “Morphine Bill and Cocaine Sue—strolling down the avenue! Up from Broadway—down to Main—Just to buy some . . . . . . . Cocaine!!! Honey have a [sniff the nose], have a [sniff the nose] on me. Honey have a [sniff the nose] on me. Honey have a [sniff the nose], have a [sniff the nose] on me. Honey have a [sniff the nose] on me.” I ended the song on a resounding crescendo.

Danielle started laughing. Pulling aside the cubicle curtains, she hurried out into the hallway. Soon other nurses were laughing—an 83-year-old wrinkled-face woman singing about drugs back in the 1950s! Danielle came back in to tell me they thought it was a hoot!

I grinned at her and sang again—uninvited. The song took me back to hootenannies in 1954. To ukuleles. To be-bopping. 

When the headache had fled, a nurse came with a wheelchair. Danielle leaned down and whispered, “She wants you to sing for her too.”

As the nurse wheeled us down a long hall, I sang, shouting at the top of my lungs, about Morphine Bill and Cocaine Sue.  Passing nurses and doctors laughed and spurred me on.

At the end of the hall stood a couple with a six-or-seven-year old boy. The parents gaped. The boy’s eyes widened. The nurse leaned down, “Shhh! Shhh! The child! The child!” 

By then, we’d come to the foyer. Everyone grinned. The receptionist rose, leaned toward me, and whispered, “We’re feeling a little better now, aren’t we?”

“You bet!” I shouted and left the hospital—at my loopiest!


Friday, October 18, 2019

In the Interim

Several postings ago, I shared with you my decision to post every other Sunday for the foreseeable future. So this coming Sunday is my “regular” posting day. I hope that day to share with you a friendship of fifty-three years between me and Bob Kraske, my first boss after leaving the convent. He became my writing mentor; later, he became my mentor for aging. So I have a lot I’d like to share with you about Bob.

That’s for this coming Sunday.

Today, I simply want to express my regret for being unable to do any blogging for the past few weeks. I’ve visited a few blogs, but visiting has been erratic. I miss reading about what is happening in your lives, but Meniere’s headaches and joint pain have kept me lying low—mostly resting on the couch.

The headaches are like migraines in intensity. However, there is no extra sensitivity to light. Symptoms from Meniere’s can happen at any time, but are more evident when the barometer is bopping up and down—rising and falling precipitously. That especially happens when the seasons change: late March/early April and late September/early October are the most problematic times for me. 

This past Sunday, my sister-in-law drove me to Emergency because I’d had one of the headaches for 35 hours and it simply wouldn’t desist—no matter how much medication, prescription and otherwise, that I swallowed. It was, perhaps, the worse headache I’ve ever had. I had a vision of using a machete to cut off my head! Then I broke out laughing as I realized I’d have no way to reattach it!

After an EDG, blood draw, and Cat Scan in Emergency, I was given the first tier of medications. They didn’t do the trick, so I got the second tier—morphine.
Wow!  I’d never had morphine before. It’s quite a drug. I hope never to have it again.   

But the headache went away and something really amusing happened while I was in a loopy morphine state. I’ll share that with you in a couple of weeks. I hope I can make it as funny as it was. Arkansas Patti is able to not only tell but write stories that make me laugh out loud. I hope to follow her lead and do the same with this story. We’ll see if I can pull it off in early November.

The left-knee pain will soon be taken care of as I’m having replacement surgery on Monday, November 18. First it was scheduled for October 13 and then December 4, but it now seems that the 18thwill happen. I’ve been icing my knee twice daily and taking meds for discomfort. All is well. I’m just tired. I think pain does that—it tires us out.

So, all this is to say that I’m sorry I haven’t been visiting your blogs, reading them, and leaving comments. I hope that all is well with each of you and that you are able to live within the day and find the peace that dwells at the deep center of yourself.

Please be gracious to yourselves as you travel this journey we are all on.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Soldier Boy: The WWII Letters of Donald G. Reimer

During this past week, I’ve avidly read the e-book entitled Soldier Boy: The WWII Letters of Donald G. Reimer. A fellow blogger—Cynthia Reimer—discovered the letters a few years ago in her grandparents’ attic. Along with her dad’s letters home she also discovered letters that had been sent to him. He’d kept them and at one point during the war had sent them back home for safekeeping.

Thus, these letters vividly show us what was happening—between January 1943 and late 1946—on the home front as well as in the boot camps in the United States and the jungles of the Pacific.

Cynthia sorted these handwritten letters, added transition; clear explanations for what was happening month by month in the European and Pacific Theaters of War; and entertaining information on the camps her father was in and on the radio shows, songs, and celebrities who were popular at the time.

For me, this book Soldier Boy was a revelation. When the war began, I was in kindergarten and in 3rd grade when it ended. I knew what was happening from what adults said, from the movie newsreels, and from the newspaper headlines.

Also, every week, Mom gave me our ration books and I bought groceries at the corner store across our grade school. The owner had pinned a large world map pinned to the wall behind the cash register. As I waited for the bus, he’d point out what was happening in both theaters of war. He made the war and the world come alive for me.

Given that background, I’ve read many books about WWII. Most historians, I’ve discovered, research the battles, the strategy, the lay of the land, the troop numbers, troop movement, the death toll, and the names of the men making the decisions. I brought that background to Cynthia’s book.

Here’s why I say her book was a revelation to me. The letters didn’t describe generals or strategy. Nor did Donald Reimer try to explain why the war was happening or why he enlisted. Instead he shared with his family at home what was happening with him in each camp the army sent him to.

Thus, this past week, I met one man—an ordinary soldier who became part of the 485th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. With him, I spent day after day, marching, cleaning guns, eating in the mess hall—and sometimes there wasn’t enough food, learning to recognize all the different planes that might fly over the battlefield, writing home, getting lonely, going on a three-day passes and sitting in the audience at some radio shows, and moving from one camp to another.

Truthfully I never knew there were that many boot camps in the United States. Nor did I know how many months the men trained for war. Nor had I ever thought about the tedium of waiting for the next letter. The next march. The next battle.

These letters introduced me to one anti-aircraft soldier who felt he had a duty to his country. Mostly, it seemed to me while reading, he lived at peace within himself. He was sure of what he had done: enlist. He was sure that he was in the right place at the right time. I believe that his letters reveal him to be a man of peace.

Yet he ended up on the islands of Leyte and Okinawa. In his letters, he doesn’t complain or grouse or say, “Why me?” He simply lives in the present. Longing for it all to end and to eat a Christmas dinner with his family. But not until he’d done his work.

If you decide to read this book—and I do so hope you will—please also leave a comment/review on Amazon for other readers to find. Thank you.


Anti-aircraft artillery from Wikipedia