Follow by Email

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The love of my life: Liam Dutcher, age 2 years, 9 months. Photo taken July 24, 2011 by my cousin, Kathleen McKeeman Kalhoff in Broomfield, CO

I just love this Little Dude guy.  What a beautiful Child of God!  And imagine the wonders, and horrors, of the world he's already seen, at his tender young age.  And still he has this wonderful expression.  What a miracle. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

The Week that Was--Bob's week, that is

A lot of people ask me, "What the heck do you DO with yourself all week, now that you've left your job as a highly-paid (high being the very relative term that it is, i.e. compared to what?) trial lawyer?"  So, to give you some idea of what a ner' do well slacker does with his time, here goes at least part of a recent non-work week for yours truly:

Last Sunday, July 24, 2011, I went to my second-in-a-row church service at Zion First Baptist Church, and I love the address, 16 James A. Moses Avenue, in Middletown.  It's a tiny little church, all white-painted interior, and filled to the brim with all black folk, except, that is, for yours truly.  I'm the only pink guy in an all shades-of-brown congregation.  And I hope it stays that way.  It's fun to be a "skin minority."  I say that because the fact is, although all men and women are created equal, in the eyes of God, we're not created equal in the eyes of most white folk, at least in our "bless-ed" country, the U.S. of A.

Zion First Baptist Church also bills itself as "The First Black Baptist Church in Middletown since 1943."  Rev. Carleton J. Giles, Pastor, is a large man, very pleasant demeanor, large brown-framed glasses, a shiny bald head, jovial demeanor and patter.  Rev. Giles is also has a very loud voice, made even more so by electronic amplification of the sound system.  He sings the old standard hymns of my boyhood experience in the Methodist Church in Philadelphia, PA, into the microphone, from the pulpit.  There's no missin' Pastor Giles singin' those old-time religion songs of the Christian faith.  When Rev. Giles blasts out the lyrics of "Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible told me so," there's no room in the church for anybody to disagree.

Summer is "dress-down" time at First Black Baptist.  I typically (for the past two Sundays) wear a short-sleeved black collared shirt, with very light white window-pane pattered highlight, un-tucked, over black Levi jeans, and, as always, my gray Teva sandals, no socks.  Some men wear dress shirts and ties, others dress shirts over shorts, others have dress shirts, ties, and leather sandals.  All the women, and I mean ALL the women, dress up.  In very nice dresses, their Sunday finery, many with big hats, some made up, others all natural, but none, of course, au naturel.  And the most Rev. Carleton J. Giles, Pastor, dresses down is wearing a light-colored sport coat, flowered tie, and off-white dress shirt.  As he explained the first week I went, "I know it's dress-down here in summer.  And that's a good thing.  But the best I can do there is wear this sport coat and this tie with the flowers on it.  But I'm not complainin'.  That's just me."

I grew up in the Methodist Church and for the past 35 years I've gone to First Church, a UCC congregational church.  I left First Church and went to South Church for a few weeks, in June.  Then I realized South was just as staid and stale to me as First.  The week before I started at First Black Baptist, I ran into, or God sent to me, a black man named Hosea.  He was walking towards South Church, around 9:15 a.m. that Sunday and I assumed he was going to South Church to worship.  "No, I go to First Black Baptist, Zion, the little church down next to the YMCA parking lot."  "Hosea," I said, "you mean like the Old Testament prophet?"  (see )  "Yeah, sorta' like that.  We'd be happy to have ya' there if ya' wanna' come."  "Maybe I will.  Maybe I just will," I thanked him.

So The White Church was becoming a bit staid and stale.  But The Black Church is anything but.  I'll write more in detail in future posts, but suffice it to say that The Black Church is to The White Church as the disco scene is to C-Span discussions of the Federal Reserve system.

'nuff said about last Sunday.

On Monday I saw Dr. Larry Levine, my primary care doctor, and good friend (he delivered Robin in 1990).  Larry wanted me to have my blood sugar and cholesterol re-checked from the blood sample taken for my May annual physical.  Everything is fine now, so I don't have to return to see him again until my next annual physical.  Also, because I'm finally off all the psychotropic medication I was on for depression, he doesn't need to see me every few months to make sure I don't become hyper-tense.  I didn't even realize that hypertension was a potential side effect of taking Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Remeron.  I stopped taking the Wellbutrin in February, the Remeron in March, and slowly titrated off the Prozac from mid-June until mid-July.  As I've told many of you, I'll continue to do psycho-therapy with Ray Oakes, my therapist, as long as I can afford to pay him his 50-minute fee of $100 cash on the barrel, no insurance accepted, no billing hassles.

As a side note, as I've also told some of you, I've suggested to Ray and my psychiatrist, Dr. Allan Jacobs (a South African native, so he tells me he's African American, even though he's lilly-white and has light-colored hair), that they consider marketing themselves to people who yearn to be creative.  Writers, artists, that sort of thing.  Why, you may wonder?  Woody Allen has been in psycho-analysis for 50 years.  Although it's enabled him to justify marrying his step-daughter, despite the public outrage, he's also created a body of work which includes Annie Hall, Sleepers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point, and Midnight in Paris.  Before Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes") died, he told an NPR interviewer that there is one simple reason for why there are so many great Irish writers. "Catholic confession.  In confession, young boys tell stories every week to the priest.  Lies, truths, half-truths.  About their lives.  They become writers."

After that, I went to the Park and Rec office next to Coldstones in Riverview Center to buy an annual pass to Vets Pool.  I wrote out a check for the $25 fee but was pleasantly told by Chris Bourne that it's free since I'm over 60.  Finally I get a Senior Discount.  This usually only kicks in when you reach 65.  I then picked up Susie at the eye doctor.  She went there because after the bike accident, she began experiencing flashing lights in her right eye which the eye doctor said were the result of the accident.  She needs to follow up with the eye doctor in a month.

Monday night, I tried to watch "The Tourist," the movie starring Angelina Jolie as an undercover spy who meets Johnny Depp on a train, but fell asleep throughout the movie, so I put it aside for another day.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to Vets Pool to swim and read.  Vets Pool is a great deal.  It's free if you're over 60, outdoors, plenty of college kids who are lifeguards, and the lifeguards make sure nobody dives, splashes other swimmers, gets roudy, or anything else.  Although I love the rowdiness of The Black Church, I just want to mellow-out in the pool.

I began reading Kay Redfield Jamison's "An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness," which was suggested to Susie by a therapist friend of ours, Ginger Blume, who had learned from a discussion with me about my suicidal depression last fall, my recovery, and my open-ness to revealing most everything about my past to anyone who will listen.  Ginger, like other long-distance, well-meaning, but ignorant-about-the-details-of-my-subjective-and-most-of-my-objective experience,  psychiatric wannabe diagnosticians, thinks I may be "manic," perhaps even "manic-depressive."  Some of my "friends," really just two, who shall go unnamed here, whom I now am beginning to think of as my unwanted "Miserable Moral Minders" or "Talibanic Scolds," actually have publicly objected to my "inappropriate" and "self-destructive" behavior and recommend, without any significant clinical justification (one claims to be a "therapist"; the other thinks he's a psychological clairvoyant), that I "need to go on mood stabilizers."  One of them even refuses to resume the walks we've gone on regularly, for many, many years, through many crises in each other's lives, until I get, as he puts it, "truly curative" care.

Anyway, I'm about half-way through Dr. Kay Jamison's wonderful story of her own psychotic manic-depressive illness and I am again reminded that there is a continuum on which each of us lies.  We are all, more or less, "manic" or "depressive," not in any clinical psychological sense of those terms, but in a practical way.  Substitute "energetic" for "manic," and "sad" for "depressive," if it makes it easier for you to understand the algorithm, or the rubric, or the concept I'm pointing to.  Now that I'm off all psycho-tropic medications, but I've made some very significant changes in my psycho-sexual life, I wake up feeling happy every morning, whereas, before my major clinical depression took hold of my mind and emotions last summer, most acutely between September and late December, I woke up feeling tense, guilty, and ashamed most mornings.  Not every morning, but very frequently.  And now that I'm feeling good, and self-confident, and happy with my new way of life, and very happy in my marriage, and very comfortable being the father, not the friend, of my children, and grandfather to the real "love of my life," my grandson, Little Dude, Liam, I am more energetic, more open, more self-confident, more happy, and this change may be hard for some of you to understand or at times, tolerate.  But that's the way it is.  And I hope that's the way it will continue, although I am working on toning myself down a bit, depending on who I'm with and what the context of "appropriate behavior" is.

Tuesday night Susie and I went to Ray Oakes for our weekly marital therapy.  This was Susie's first visit with me to Ray since her accident.  Ray was extremely pleased to see Susie, neck brace and cane, and all, and, as always, we got some stuff about our marriage out in the open, on the therapeutic table, that needs to continue to be worked on, fine-tuned really.

On Wednesday morning, Susie and I went to The Scene of the Accident, The Bike Crash really, to meet with an expert who is investigating the legal aspects of the case for us.  I then drove Susie to West Hartford to meet with her neurosurgeon, Dr. Schwartz, about which I wrote a blog entry several days ago.

Wednesday afternoon I went to Vets Pool again, where I had a conversation with Tang David, a Taiwanese immigrant who goes to the pool every afternoon after he gets out of work at 2:30 p.m.  We talked about China, Taiwan, and the U.S., Mandarin, politics, child-rearing, and life.  Tang's given name is something I find hard to remember in its Mandarin pronunciation, which is why he calls himself David.  Tang is his surname, but the Chinese (which includes the Taiwanese) put the surname first, followed by Mr., and then the given name.  So his American name is really, Tang Mr. David.

Wednesday evening Susie and I ate a delicious meal provided by one of her fellow-parishioners at First Church.  Since her needs were taken care of, she agreed I could go to the Music at the Mansion at Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown.  Wednesday nights during July, the Mansion has musical groups come to play on the expansive back lawn, for free, and people come at 6:30 a p.m. with picnic baskets, chairs, and blankets, to eat food, drink wine, and listen to music.  The group this week was "The Glamour Girls" (see  ), three "hot cougars," two blondes and a very black-haired blue-eyed woman, who dance and sing, backed up by two guitarists, a trumpeter, and a drummer, all men.   I estimate there were 500 to 750 people on the lawn, watching the concert.

A male and female swing dancing couple went out for the first number, then sat down.  I recognized them from Ginger Blume's birthday party a year or so ago, where all her and Lee's swing-dance friends, who are all great dancers, who don't just do "free-form" dancing like me and many other people, danced the night away to the strains of "Eight to the Bar" at the East Hartford Holiday Inn.

After the swing dance couple left the area in front of the band where people can dance, I overcame my inhibitions of feeling foolish dancing alone in front of a large crowd and went out on the dance "floor" (it's just a grassy lawn), faced the glamour girls, and, well, just danced.  Soon, I turned around and realized that there were a lot of people, mostly women, dancing behind me.  The dance party had finally begun.  The band played until 8:30 p.m. and I got to dance with a lot of women, from K.C.'s friend Jeff's girlfriend, Jan, to Sherry and her sister, and Beth, from Jule Crawford's law office, to Robin Reynolds, to Mylene Patrois from Montreal, with whom I spoke French, to many other women whose names I don't know.  To summarize: I had a blast.  The time of my life.  I then left in the darkness and went home to help Susie get ready for bed and recount my magical evening for her.

On Thursday morning, I had my regular weekly psychotherapy session with Ray Oakes, after which I bought a fresh blueberry muffin at the Village Provisioner on Main Street in Essex, which I ate down at the end of Main Street, beyond the Gris (Griswold In).  I spoke with the owner of Fatty Knees sail boats, who was there launching a Fatty Knees boat with his girlfriend, both of whom were visiting from Massachusetts.  Then I chatted with some Sicilian-Americans from Middletown who were clamming from the dock.  Finally, I talked for a while with Tom Lee, a middle-aged man from Essex who was drinking coffee while sitting on a bench overlooking the island across from The River Museum, with his young niece.  I determined that Tom works at Whiting Forensic Mental Hospital at CT Valley Hospital in Middletown and probably knows my friend and neighbor John Porter's wife, Traci Starbird, who's an art therapist for mentally ill PTSD survivors at CVH.

Susie had a couple of therapists over on Thursday afternoon, all provided by Anthem and our excess medical insurance coverage.  Bonnie, her home health aide, and Noreen, her occupational therapist, whom Susie didn't want me to interact with, and distract them from their appointed rounds helping her, so I went to Vets Pool to swim, and read, swim, and read, shower, and come home.

Thursday evening, I went, with Susie's blessing, to Thursday Jazz on the River, at the Canoe Club Restaurant the Outdoor Bar, right on the Connecticut River at Harbor Park in Middletown.  My good friend, Trevor Davis, organizes the Thursday Jazz sessions.  No cover but lots of good music, incredible views of the gentle bend in the river, just south of the Canoe Club, and great people to talk with.  I said hello to Steve Crabtree and Nancy King, spend a long time catching up with Joe Cunningham, Teresa Fanska, and meeting Teresa's teacher-daughter, Sarah, who's getting married next year, Joe and Teresa's friends, Tighe Hunter, who, it turns out, is a very good swing dancer, as I witnessed late in the evening with a woman who had been dancing throughout the evening with an older gentleman wearing a cool Fedora light-colored dark-banded hat.  Also I spoke briefly with Karl Scheibe about his nice visit with Susie that afternoon while I was at the pool and about an article on the controversy about the value and possible over-use, or not, of psychotropic medication in the treatment of depression.  And I spoke even more briefly with John Shaw and Andrea Roberts, and Ginny Houghtaling, all from First Church, who were sitting at a table on the north side of the outside bar.  I also ran into Allie and her girlfriend, Chloe, whom I'd met the week before.  Allie's mother is Lauren Gister, a lawyer in Deep River or Chester whom I think I've met at Middlesex County Bar Association meetings in the past.  I had a wonderful time sitting with Carl and Bea, Tighe's uncle and aunt.  Carl is a drummer, who now has problems with his right wrist which prevent him from drumming regular gigs.  However, late in the evening, which lasts from 6 to 10 p.m. every Thursday night in the summer, Carl took over for the very famous drummer whom Trevor was able to lure to play at the Canoe Club.  That guy, a black man in his 60's, has done studio work for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Lionel Ritchie, and many others whose names, like his, I can't remember.  Tighe's Uncle Carl used to play in bands with Tighe's father, who had 8 kids, Tighe's the youngest, and played an out-of-this-world saxophone.  For years, his father worked in a factory in Meriden during the day and played sax on-the-road 6 nights a week.  I shared with Tighe, Carl, Bea, another black man whose name I don't remember, whom I also met at the jazz night, about going to the black baptist church and they all seemed interested that I had the interest to do so.

I also had a very interesting political conversation with Grady Faulkner, a black Middletown City Councilman, who works as an accountant for a company in Enfield, I believe he said, which makes parts for solar energy panels.  Grady grew up in Harlem, used to go to the old Appollo Theater, where he saw lots of great black popular artists perform.  He speaks with just a hint of what I would call a "cool black" lilt to his voice, and looks and talks a little bit like Wynton Marsalis, the great black trumpet player.  Grady was interested that I plan to go door-to-door for Dan Drew to try to oust our Republican mayor, Seb Giulano.

On Friday, Susie had more in-home therapy and I went to the pool in the afternoon to swim and read more of the Jamison book.  Friday night we had a wonderful dinner at home, provided by a First Church member, and both of us went to bed early, she in our bedroom, and I on our back porch, with Russell the Coolest Cat.

Yesterday, Saturday, I had a meeting in Hartford, then went to the store at Stop and Shop in Cromwell for Susie, had lunch, went to the pool, ordered out Thai food with Bob Coffey, who came to dinner and went with Susie and me to see the progress of the building of our new house at Bartlett Hollow.  After Bob left, I went from 9 to 11 p.m. to the Barefoot Boogie dance at Vinnie's Jump & Jive on Main Street in Middletown.  That was another wonderful dancing experience.  Lucia Deleone, a PhD in literature, originally from Mexico City, who also speaks totally fluent French, and her boyfriend, a Shakespeare scholar, both of whom lived many years in Prague, where they met a few years ago, were the YouTube computer lap-top DJs.  At the end of the evening, when all the other dancers had left, and it was just down to the three of us, I asked them to play one of my favorite songs, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," from his 1993 concert in Modena, Italy.  Here is the link if you want to dance to it--   Lucia, the dark Mexican beauty, couldn't resist getting away from her laptop, next to her boyfriend, and joining me on the dance floor to mouth the words to "In Your Eyes," jump around on the dance floor like the singers on stage 28 years ago, projected virtually on the wall of Vinnie's, and soak in the love and the peace of this miraculous song experience.  Every time the refrain was sung, on the wall, back in 1993 in Modena, and right here and now, in Middletown, on Main Street, in 2011, Lucia and I couldn't help but look at each other, in the eyes, as we jumped and dance with ecstatic pleasure, as Peter and the other singers said, over and over, the mantra, "in your eyes."  A magical evening, a magical moment.  Life is Good.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

I've got to go because bible study, adult Sunday school, at the black baptist church, starts in 20 minutes at 9:30 a.m., followed by the rockin' and rollin' church service in the little pressure cooker of the sanctuary, all white on the walls and all black on the inside, except, of course, for this one little white-pink sinner-of-a-man, who's never felt closer to God, and Jesus, in all his years in The White Church.  Amen.

More another day........

Bob aka Grandude aka Big Dude to Liam's Little Dude

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Susie Update--Smashing Vertebrae

My wife, Susie, really IS a nice person.  Probably the most thoughtful person I've ever met.

This morning, I looked at the envelopes of three thank-you notes Susie had written yesterday, two waiting for me to transfer to the mail box out at the street of our home, and one awaiting hand-delivery by me to Apple Rehab.  That one, addressed to Pam Ferguson, Susie's physical therapist at Apple, had no stamp on it, as, I'm sure, Susie figures I'll be going by Apple on my daily rounds and we thereby save 44 cents, the cost of a first-class postage stamp.

So not only is Susie one of the most good-naturedly parsimonius people I've ever met, she's also thinks about the knee pain Pam Ferguson must be experiencing in recovery from her recent knee replacement.  In the note, which I read because the envelope was not sealed, Susie told Pam she was thinking of her and knew Pam was probably in a lot of pain.  But, Susie added, from her own recent experience in Pam's care, if Pam works really hard, she'll be free of the pain, or most it, sooner rather than later.  Susie never once mentioned her own, excruciating, daily, 24/7 pain from her own bicycle accident and ongoing recovery.  She didn't pity herself or compare herself with Pam.  Had I not known what Susie has been going through these past few weeks, I never would have guessed, reading the note to Pam, that Susie was having any physical problems of any kind.  Hence, my conclusion: Susie is the nicest and most thoughtful person I've ever had the privilege to know.

Which brings me back to Susie's story.  Yesterday, she was seen in follow-up by Dr. Schwartz, the neurosurgeon who had also attended her broken neck and brain mass, at Hartford Hospital.  Susie didn't want me coming in to the examining room, because I'd developed a prejudice against Dr. Schwartz, without having met him, based on some of the things Susie had told me about him.  Having had no direct contact with the doctor, all I had to go on was Susie's reports.  What I didn't like about him, from hearing Susie's account, was the way he joked about his short height, red hair, and pride in being a neuro-SURGEON, not a mere neurologist.  "Why would you ever want to be seen by some other doctor when you've already got the short, Jewish, red-haired, funny guy for your brain and neck doctor," Susie had told me Dr. Schwartz kibitzed with her.  Also, he reassured Susie that if the meningoma in her brain needed to come out, he might be able to go up through her nose and pluck it right out or, if it were too big for that, he'd be able to go right in and extract the mass.  All of that just left me cold.  He seemed, at a distance, too flip, too "funny," too confident to be thinking about putting his scalpel anywhere near my wife's gray matter.  Ultimately, of course, the final decision on things medical will be left, by me, to Susie, as the Chairwoman of her Body's Board.  However, as her Consigliere, I will do everything in my power to help her make a wise decision about who gets to go poking about in her brain.

So while Susie was in seeing Dr. Schwartz, I went downstairs in the medical building in West Hartford and had a cappuccino and some small talk with the two young women in the basement cafe, trying to guess their ethnic backgrounds from their appearance and their speech patterns.  These two presented an interesting challenge, because their histories were somewhat hard to discern, merely from their appearances.

After going back up to the doctor's office, Susie was just leaving the examining room area.  She told me that she had to return in one week because the trauma team at Hartford Hospital, not including Dr. Schwartz, had failed to schedule Susie for an x-ray of her broken cervical vertebrae.  Dr. Schwartz, therefore, had no way to discern the current healing status of the bones.  I also determined that Dr. Schwartz had not told her she could begin wearing a smaller, more comfortable, neck brace.  "Does he know that you're taking 3 Ibuprofen every 6 hours because that big neck brace causes muscle spasms, in addition to the 24/7 Oxycodone and occasional Dilaudin for the rest of the body-wide pain you're feeling?", I asked in a fairly loud, irritated voice? With that, I heard Dr. Schwartz walking around the corner and approaching Susie and me.  I introduced myself and quickly determined that he would not have been able to let Susie out of the painful neck brace even if he had a current x-ray.  It was nature, not administrative problems with respect to the scheduling of the x-ray, which was the responsible agent for keeping Susie in the irritating neck brace.  Once I was reassured of that fact, I relaxed and assumed a more friendly attitude towards the doctor.  Dr. Schwartz seemed genuinely compassionate towards Susie's situation.  I found this enormously reassuring, and immediately revised my non-fact-based prejudice about him.  It was especially confidence-building that this "little man" obviously had heard my plaintiff irritation about Susie's painful existence and immediately came out to meet me and talk with me, rather than avoid me and either send an assistant to deal with me or ignore my concerns entirely.  That's what I call a "visual credit check" of the doctor.

Dr. Schwartz did strike me as a character from a 19th century cowboy drama.  He is about five feet, 2 inches tall, very light-reddish-toned somewhat naturally curly hair, light blue eyes, a goatee, and wearing a formal dark suit with red and orange patterned tie, and a very old-fashioned, nerdy tie tack, at about the level of his sternum.  The tie tack was a gold chain, hanging down in an arc, with a gold bar, parallel to the floor, to each end of which was attached one end of the gold chain.  His eyes appeared just a touch watery, as if my complaints, or Susie's pain, had moved his tear ducts to release just enough liquid to cover his corneas with a very think coat.  I had a positive emotional response to that aspect of his person also.  If Dr. Schwartz had been wearing one of those old-fashioned, Union soldier blue hats, with crossed gold swords on the brim above his head, and curled up sides, and a silver sword hanging from his left side in a saber,  he would have looked like Commander Cody or some other Civil War or Old West, refined cavalry commander.

Susie and I thanked Dr. Schwartz and left to go back to her Prius for the ride home.  On the way home, Susie explained that the doctor had done a very careful and thorough examination.  He removed her neck brace, told her it was performing well its function of keeping her neck in the right position for healing.  Next week, when he sees a current x-ray, he'll be able to see if that's the case.  In his clinical office examination, he asked Susie to flex (bend forward) her neck.  She said it hurt her at the base of her neck, just above her shoulders.  He said that that was not from the broken vertebrae but from stiffness in her upper neck, from the neck brace.

If the x-ray looks good, he'll be able to tell her next week that she can periodically remove the neck brace to get relief from the pain of the spasms which result from having her neck stuck for so long in the same position. If she gets the go-ahead next week to remove it from time-to-time, it'll have to be on her neck for 8 weeks.  If she can tolerate not taking it off at all, the brace will only have to be worn for 6 weeks.  That'll probably be her choice, after the next office visit.

As for the brain lesion, he'll want to have another MRI done, 6 months after the accident.  If it hasn't grown in size, he'll leave it alone.  If the brain mass had not been uncovered due to the bike accident, it could have grown in size, slowly, without being detected, until, at some point, Susie might have begun having memory difficulties and balance issues.  These symptoms would have resulted from the lesion growing in size and pressing on brain cells responsible for memory and balance.  And who knows if a doctor would in that case have thought the clinical symptoms warranted an MRI or, instead, have chalked it up, diagnostically, to "the aging process?"

As for the broken neck, Dr. Schwartz told Susie the rear "wings" of her C6 and C7 cervical vertebrae had crushed together by virtue of the force of her body hitting whatever it hit, on her right side.  As the stable object she hit, whether tree or sidewalk, stopped her body's movement, suddenly and abruptly, the force which a millisecond before had moved her body through the air, with the lightness of a ballet dancer, was unfortunately transferred fully through her neck and into the rear wings of C6 and C7, pushing the adjacent bones together with sufficient G-force to crush the calcium-made-by-God structures and come just millimeters away from severing her spinal column irrevocably.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Amen.

I've got to go to an appointment in Essex, so I'll continue this missive later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Update on Susie's progress--and thanks for your prayers, and delicious meals

Dear family and friends,

Middlesex Home Health Care called yesterday to alert Susie to the fact that Anthem will be paying for a home health aide to come to our home two days a week.  That will be in addition to two-days-a-week of physical therapy, and the same for occupational therapy.  The home health aide will help Susie take a shower, safely, and wash her hair, among other things.  The neck brace makes washing her hair a two-step process.  I have already bought and installed a special shower hose, which is attached to a special fitting which I installed between the existing shower head and the water pipe for the shower.  Once the special shower hose is attached to the fitting, the water flows only through the special hose, and not through the existing shower head.  Once the special hose is detached, the water again flows through the shower head.  Technology can really be nifty, when you really need it.

I continue to "camp out" on our back porch, with all the windows open.  I'm sleeping in my sleeping bag, on one of those mats which inflates by just opening the plastic valve.  It's not real thick, but does the job of cushioning the body from the hard floor.  Russell, Jamie's cat, loves camping out with me, no matter how hot it gets on the porch, which we keep un-air-conditioned.  When I wake up in the middle of the break to take a restroom break, Russell is usually sprawled out on my legs at the bottom of the sleeping bag, or crouched by the porch windows closest to the floor, looking for birds to "stalk," at lease virtually.  Since I dislike the cold of air-conditioning, while Susie depends on it for her summer sleeping comfort, I'm actually enjoying the fact that Susie can't have me with her in the bed at night, nor during the day for that matter, during her very painful recuperation.  And I'm looking forward to the day when my grandson, Liam, is able to visit us and I can offer him the chance to "camp out" on the porch, with Grandude and Grand-Cat (Russell).  In our new house, I look forward to "camping out" under the stars on our back deck, either without a small tent, on starry nights, or in a small tent, on rainy nights.  Eventually, of course, if I get lucky, Susie will want me to return, at least occasionally, to our marital bed, but that'll probably only be if the pain in her derriere which my antics cause her is not so great that she prefers me "camping out" on the back porch or the new house's deck.

In the morning, as I write my blog or reply to e-mails from the previous day, in the den below our bedroom, I wait for the sound of Susie saying, "Bob," and then, quickly, take the steps upstairs, two at a time, and enter the master bedroom.  Susie is still in sufficient pain, as she continues to have to lie flat on her back the entire night long, without even once rolling over onto her side, that she needs me to hold onto her right hand, with my left hand gently under her neck brace, as she slowly, painfully, pulls herself up to a sitting position, and then swivels her legs to her right to gain contact between her feet and the bedroom floor.

Several of you have told me that your experience with Oxycontin is such that you find it hard to imagine being on the stuff 24/7.  I've been told by you that that medication can really "zone a person out." Plus, Susie needs to take Dilaudin, as needed, to reduce the pain and discomfort of spasms in her neck from having her neck held straight, without turning.  Hopefully, tomorrow, the neurosurgeon will take another x-ray of Susie's neck and recommend that she replace the present hard neck collar with a more flexible, smaller version.  Only time will tell.

Susie still has a LONG way to go to get back some semblance of her pre-injury condition.

Well, that's the end of today's Susie Update.  If you are by any chance in reading a discussion of the possible Constitutional Option by which the president can raise the public debt limit, even in the absence of a compromise political solution to the crisis, you can click on the link to my blog, Bobs Blog, and read my column in today's Bobs Blog. See link, here----

Thanks for reading about Susie's progress.  And thanks for all the prayers, meals, and visits.  They give her, and me, strength to carry on, and continue living in the meantime.



"....the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned." The public debt limit crisis, politics, and our complex, and magnificent, political/legal system

Some people say our political system is dysfunctional.  Why can't politicians make decisions, using reason, and without rancorous power struggles?  In my view, when reasonable people, or large populations of people, disagree about how a public problem should be resolved, rancorous political power struggles will ensure, inevitably.

Take, for example, the current crisis over raising the public debt limit so that the United States does not default on the payment of treasury bills, bonds, government salaries, and military salaries.  This is no academic question. If our government defaults, the world's faith will be shaken in the U.S. as the last bastion of economic sanity in a world full of banana republics whose currencies unreliably depend for their value on political regimes which fluctuate like New England weather.

So, die-hard liberals lament, why can't the conservatives see their way to compromising on raising taxes, to encourage Democrats in the House and the Senate to vote for a federal budget with lots of expense cuts?

And why, complain the Tea Party conservatives, can't the "Democrat" congressmen and senators forgo their demand for tax increases on the wealthy, in order to gain our agreement to a leaner federal budget and a corresponding increase in the debt limit, thereby avoiding default?

Those on either side of the aisle, or, in the case of us, the voting public, on either side of the argument, ask, "Why can't those politicians just get along, for the good of the nation?"  The problem is, both sides have legitimate, reasonable points and arguments.  Each may be wrong with respect to the extremity of their positions, but on the whole, both sides have their reasons which justify their contrasting views.  In politics, one man's glass may seem to him half-empty, while to the other, the glass is "clearly" half-full.

In the present controversy, there is reason to be confident that a solution to the problem will be found, and default avoided.  And this is simply because ours is a complex, and elegant political/legal system.  If the House and Senate cannot bring themselves to trim their differences and strike a compromise, then the solution WILL, I predict, be found at the place where politics and The Law intersect.

An illuminating article in the July 24th NY Times discusses the constitutional option at length.  And yes, it was that paragon of moral virtue, none other than Bill "Oral Office" Clinton, who called the press's attention to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that, The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion,” the critical sentence says, “shall not be questioned.

In "Oliver Twist," Dickens wrote, Mr. Bumble famously declared, "the law is a ass—a idiot."  While that may be true generally, in the present public debt crisis, I suggest to you that "our politicians are a ass--a idot."  And when politics becomes "a ass," that is, a donkey standing, like Balaam's Ass, in the way of moving forward to a problem's solution, The Law, in all its vagary, complexity, nay, majesty, sometimes steps forward and lets a flawed, very human, alpha politician take the bull by the horns and impose a needed resolution.  

In the present imbroglio, Barack Hussein Obama may, once again, take the reigns of the situation and, using the 14th Amendment language, quoted above, finally find a way to move the ship of state out of the political doldrums in which we, and the world, presently find ourselves stalled, gasping to be able to breathe wind at our backs.  I say "once again," because not too long ago, President Barry grabbed the reigns of state and solved a problem which his predecessor in the Oval Office effectively kicked down the road when "W" decided to invade Iraq in 1993 rather than keep the focus on tracking down and finding Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora.  

Let us pray that our president--yes, like him or not, he is our President, just as "W" was the President of all of us, before B. Hussein O.--will use his power to threaten not to use the 14th Amendment constitutional option to solve the crisis, in order to pressure our beta politicians to strike the compromise, or, failing that, pull the rip cord and insure a soft landing for the good of the world economy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thank goodness the gunman looked like....this........

Of course it's horrible, unthinkable, beyond tragic, that a man would murder 92 people in cold blood in Oslo and the island where all those children were in summer camp.  But if God had to let it happen, had to let Satan have his way with humankind, we need to give thanks that Satan selected a deranged man who was a fundamentalist Christian, an anti-immigrant, anti-tax, anti-Muslim, right-wing conservative, who

Image: Anders Behring Breivik
AFP - Getty Images
This undated image obtained on Saturday from Facebook shows Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old suspect questioned by Norway's police over twin attacks on a youth camp and the government headquarters.

Thank God he was a blond-haired Norwegian man with very light-colored skin.  And not a dark-skinned, curly-haired, bearded, North African, or Saudi Arabian, man with dark-colored skin.  And not a Muslim.

Will well-meaning men and women who believe that Islam is "an evil religion" finally be disabused of that idea?  Think about it.  Did Anders Behring Breivik murder 92 men, women, and children because he was: (a) blonde, (b) fundamentalist Christian (at least in his self-identification), (c) anti-tax, (d) anti-immigrant, (e) anti-Muslim, (f) Norwegian, (g) whatever height he was, (h) whatever weight he was, (i) clean-shaven, (j) other?

How 'bout Timothy McVeigh?

This mass murder was tragic, beyond belief, beyond human imagining.  I choose to view it as the dirty work of Satan.  Which God allowed to happen, but did not want to happen.  And maybe, just maybe, God knew Satan might do such a dirty deed, and misled Satan into thinking the best agent-on-earth Satan could choose to carry out the evil work was a blonde, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, clean-shaven, young Norwegian man.

I also wonder why works of great goodness (Jesus's healings and preachings) and great evil (Anders Behring Breivik) are sometimes performed by young men in their early 30's?

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Diminishment of Susie's neck brace-related symptoms, and PT & OT therapy regime

Susie has been able to reduce the inflammation and spasm in her neck from the hard neck brace by following the neurosurgeon's advice that she take Ibuprofen, continuously.  She still experiences discomfort where the brace makes contact with her neck, and because the brace keeps her neck virtually locked in one position, but at least it's not as painful as before she added the Ibuprofen to her Oxycontin and Dilaudin medication regime.  

She also met with the Debie, the physical therapist, and Sarah, the occupational therapist, to give them histories of her injuries and discuss future therapy treatment.  The therapy will be given several times a week to start.

Now that Susie can remove the hard plastic stabilization device from her left thumb, she is able to begin forcing the tip of her thumb to flex, very slightly.  Her thumb is still very swollen, making it difficult for her to flex it even a degree or two.  It is also sore where the sutures were removed at Dr. Linburg's office last week.  The rip in her skin will probably leave her with a permanent scar, but at least it is not on her beautiful face.

Last night we were able to make dinner together.  I cut up the delicious pork loin leftovers which Bonnie and Greg Brooks brought us the other day, and Susie sauteed the Brussells sprouts which were still in good shape, despite their having sat in the refrigerator since sometime before the road depression caused her bike crash on July 2.  I give thanks that we can make dinner together, let alone everything else Susie's continued life will enable us to do together in the future.

Every day I give thanks to God for not taking Susie away from me, our children, Liam, and the rest of our family and friends.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

News about Susie's medical treatment

Susie's been feeling pain, discomfort, and muscle spasms around the margins of her hard neck brace.  Yesterday, she called her neurosurgeon's office and asked to have Dr. Schwartz call her back about what, if anything, can be done to reduce these symptoms, pending her office appointment with him next Wednesday.  Dr. Schwartz never called back, so Susie, under prodding from yours truly, called Dr. Schwartz's office again, got the answering service, and Dr. Kureshi, a neurosurgeon who was on call this weekend, called her back.

Dr. Kureshi said Dr. Schwartz will look at x-rays of Susie's fractured vertebrae on Wednesday and may have new ideas about how the fractures are healing and whether a smaller, softer neck brace could be substituted for the large, hard, neck brace.  In the meantime, Dr. Kureshi told Susie to take Ibuprofen, the anti-inflammatory medication, throughout the day, and night, to try to ease the pain and spasm in her neck.  Hopefully this will ease the pain and spasm in her neck, until she can get in to see Dr. Schwartz on Wednesday.

We are both very happy Susie is now recuperating at home.  I am free to help her in any way she needs.  Every day, she looks better and better, more relaxed, but she's still in a lot of pain.  That's going to take a long time to go away, we hope and pray.

Every day I wake up, I thank God for saving Susie and protecting her from a lifetime of wheelchair dependence for getting around and about.

our infallible il papa, Pope Juan Paulo the 2nd, and the new R.C. rule that all priests must be practicing, Orthodox jews, just like our Lord and Savior, Jesu Christu, jew from Nazareth, Palestine

From today's NYTimes: "In a 1994 declaration seen as intended to end the debate, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, saying that the church “has no authority whatsoever” to ordain women. Among the reasons the church gives is that the apostles of Jesus Christ were all men, and that that has been the church’s practice all along."  (emphasis added in red to highlight direct quotations from the New Testament, the words of Jesus Himself)      See the full article at

Based on the BRILLIANT reasoning of il papa, our former infallible Pope Juan Paulo the 2nd, ya' know what's wrong with this picture, infra.?  According to a necessary corollary of the Infallible Principle that any physical traits of the apostles must be the physical traits of  R.C. priests today, the ethnic and religious traits of the early apostles, and, particularly, Jesus Himself, are the necessary preconditions for gaining entry into the hallowed halls of the Vatican Priesthood.  Therefore, and hithertoe, and wherefore, I, Consigiliere to the current pope, the ex-Nazi German pope, Pope Benedict, decree that henceforth all R.C. priests shall be limited to the class of persons who qualify as ethnic and religious JEWS, just like our Patron Saint, Prophet, and God-head, our Lord and Savior, Jesus H. Christ-stein, ethnic and religious and observant and knowledgeable Jew from Nazareth, Palestine.

Here endeth the Lesson for today from the New Testament.

Note Bene: The man in the picture, below, was born a R.C. in San Francisco, California, so he will no longer qualify to be a R.C. priest, under the Vatican rules, explicated above.  The three women will, however, qualify, since they all had Jewish mothers and are observant Orthodox Jews.


Bloggin' Bobbin' Grandude

Susie Update--July 23, 2011--Pain, a poem


Susie HURTS.

ALL the time.

Pain (to wit, Susie's Pain), sincerely yours, Susie's Pain-in-the-A-- neck rub-er and body-shower-help-er, The Added Burden and Un-constructive Helper, Your Humble and Obedient Servant, Blob the blogger

so-o-o, susie's comforter (intended to) comforted susie with the following comforting sentiment the other day:

"I don’t know how it’s going with Bob but thankfully, he has switched from e-mail musing (mostly about himself even though you are in his subject line) to a blog.  That may satisfy his need to share…let’s hope so!  I pray that he is a constructive help to you rather than an added burden.  I know he’s trying to take care of you and guess that at least intention is good."

Now you may want to skip to the poem I wrote about Susie's pain, it's at the end of this e-mail, and it's very short, so you might miss it if you don't look real carefully.  (Bob's Editors)  The poem's called, "PAIN".  And for those of you sick of reading so many words spewn forth from my fingers, "PAIN" is only two lines long.  Just 5 words.  Brevity is the soul of wit.  Bob's not learned that lesson well, yit. (Bob's Editors)

he or she, The Comforter,  is a wonderful person, did i fail to assure you'en?  i actually like this person, he or she.  he or she really LOVES suz-zee, in a way he or she is SURE yours truly does not, or cannot, or only has the ability to INTEND to love suz-zee, did i fail to inform thee?  and, rest assured, if only that caring he or she could only bee, here, with suz-zee, then that love of my life might finally get that CONSTRUCTIVE HELP my love can only get from the likes of he or she, and be relieved of the ADDED BURDEN which    I      AM     TO     SUZ-ZEE.          UNDOUBTEDLY        WITH CERTAINTY        AND      F-EYE-NAL-I-TEE    .

so, be assured, all ye comforters, ye constructive helpers, and ye un-added burdeners, that bobs blog     most assuredly does NOT satisfy Blob's NEED, yes the goddess did give Blob lots a' needs most of which remain un-Comfort-Ed on account a' ole' Satan, God's Fallen-but-Still-Powerful-Angel, hurtin' Suz-zee,  TO SHARE, the PAIN, which is NOT, MY pain, BUT SUZ-ZEE's PAIN, with our F-R-I-E-N-D-S, as well as Suz-zee's C-O-M-F-O-R-T-E-R-S (see "Job", The Comforter chapters.  Jewish bible. aka Old Testament).

so, to those who think i only know how, to write, at l-----e-----------n----------------g------------------------t---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------h,
about MYSELF
     I-    may I, instead, share, with thee, a little poem I wrote, 'bout what, susie's, going through, every hour, of every, day, despite, taking Oxycontin, 12-hr. release, twice a day, plus Dilaudin, when pain spikemy wife's bee-you-t-ful bod-dee?  Here goes the poem:


Susie HURTS.

ALL the time.

cc: The Comforter (you know who you are), and the TRUE friends of Susie AND Bob

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lyn's advice to make sure I take care of myself, not only Susie, and my reply

Lyn Shaw, a good friend of Susie and me, wrote the following today:
Hi, Bob:
      Is my intuition right, that things are calming a bit for you now that your Susie is home and there is a great new purpose in your life, that of being her literal helpmate?  What a relief that Susie's thumb doesn't need such cumbersome bandaging........She's clearly doing well. Her attitude is good, probably because she has you to care for her so attentively. ( But don;t forget, as a caregiver, to take breaks, i.e.walks, etc.), giving attention to yourself. Balance is the key, says Dr. Lyn:-)     Lyn

And my Reply:

Thanks, Lyn, for you kind thoughts and wise advice.  I am taking care of myself.  Last week I took the following "breaks" for myself, all while visiting Susie every day at Hartford Hospital.  

Monday, July 11--had lunch at Kent Baker's place, and a swim in his pool.

Tuesday--went to the 12:10 p.m. free dance performance by A.I.M. at Crowell.
              went to the 7:30 p.m. Neely Bruce Ives and Duckworth Concert 

Wednesday--had lunch at Pattaconk Grill in Chester with Paul Orsina, a long-time friend and former law client for whom I tried several jury cases and court cases, all of which we won.  (By the way, I've also lost cases, overestimated my client's legal position, and otherwise had bad outcomes, although fewer than my successes over 35 years in the courtroom.  Just didn't want anybody to get the idea that I won ever case.  My practice was more like Rumpole of the Bailey than Perry Mason, who won ever case as far as I recall, and in the most improbable way, by a full confession in open court, during cross-examination by Attorney Ironsides Mason.)

Thursday--went to Jazz night at the Canoe Club on the CT River in Middletown from 6 to 8 p.m. and then at 8 p.m. to the Marc Bamuthi Joseph performance of rap, poetry, prose, and dance at the Wesleyan Center for the Arts.

Friday--saw Shakespeare's Argument by Art Farm at Middlesex Community College, theater in the grove (of tall pine trees), a wonderful theatrical experience.

Saturday--attended a Buttonwood Tree performance by Occidental Gypsies, an excellent instrumental and singing group.  Then went to Mezzo Grill where I experienced for the first time the amazing Caribbean-inspired gigantic deck and bar area, followed by dancing in the upstairs disco, which had a really good black DJ from NYC.  As the only 61-year-old, uninhibited "old" man in the place, other than the bouncers, and also the only man in the club not on the lookout for picking up anyone, being a happily married man, I danced for two hours, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., with lots of people coming up to me to dance, mostly young women but also some guys whose girlfriends would not come out onto the dance floor.  I did have young men, white and black, coming up to me and offering to buy me drinks, although I'd had one beer in the outside area and only wanted water, which they got for me.  The question I mostly got asked by these guys, the white guys, that is, is, "Who ARE you?" i.e., how are you so free and uninhibited with that graying beard of yours.  When I explained that I'm a 61-year-old, happily married man, with four kids and a grandson, and internally very free after retiring from my 35-year-straight-jacket, but interesting, career as a trial lawyer, they fully understood and gave me high-fives, forearm bumps, and closed fist bumps, with smiles on their faces.  My advice to anyone who wants to do what I do on a dance floor when I'm all alone is this--just dance, let people come up to you to dance, make absolutely no attempt to ask anyone their name, tell them your name, or make any small talk, and keep your hands TOTALLY to yourself, and the message comes across, LOUD AND CLEAR, that you're there to DANCE and HAVE A BLAST, not pick anyone up.  No problems then ensue.  None at all.  Just one heck of a fun time for an "old" grandude.  Of course, when I saw Susie at Apple Rehab the next day, I tell all the details of what I've done, and she just gets a kick out of it.

Sunday--had dinner on the upper deck of the Canoe Club overlooking the CT River with my sister, Carol, who drove up from a get-together she had in Cape May, N.J. with high school friends from Frankford H.S.  We then walked to Destinta Movie Theater and saw "Larry Crowne," the new romantic comedy with lots of scooter action, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. 

Monday, July 18--had an afternoon walk and talk with Bill Roberts.

Tuesday--went to the 12:10 p.m. free performance of "They Might Just Be Gypsies," at Crowell Concert Hall, a father and his 16-year-old son from VT, on guitars, and Scott Kessel, from Middletown, on home-made cardboard box, tin can, and playing card drum kit.  Amazing guitar-playing, gypsy, flamenco, and very fast, and slow, style.

Wednesday--went from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Wadsworth Mansion back lawn free concert of The Michael Cleary Band.  I wandered around and talked with lots of people, then danced near the band with 50 other people, for the last hour-and-a-half.  Again, like  at Mezzo Grill, lots of good, clean, exhilarating, fun.

Thursday, last night, July 22--went to an encore performance of Shakespeare's Argument at MXCC, preceded by an hour of performance by "They Might Be Gypsies," who stayed in town just so they could play again for us lucky Middletownians.  Then from 8:40 to 10 p.m. I went over to the Canoe Club on the river, to listen to jazz sung by Linda Ransom, a very good jazz singer, and her little band.  I talked most of the time with Trevor Davis's cousin, Tim Nettleton, who's 57th birthday it was yesterday.  We shared some interesting stories from our respective lives.  

Now, in case you don't understand how I can do all the above and still take care of Susie, the fact is, I can, and I do.  I'm available to her every day, most of the entire day, and then I often go out for a few hours at night.  As Lyn Shaw and my cousin Kathleen Kalhoff have told me, it's important that I take care of Susie, not smother her with care, and take care of myself.  I know I'm doing all three, i.e. taking care of Susie, and me, and not smothering her.  

More another time.....



The Follow-Up Visit

The Follow-Up Visit

“You didn’t fracture it.  It was dislocated and the tendon hyper-extended, and you’ve got the sutures which will take out today, but I see no fracture on the x-ray,” said Dr. Linburg as he was looking at the x-ray in the light box on the wall of the little examining area.  Curious retired lawyer that I am, I left my plastic seat and looked at the x-ray myself, shocked beyond belief that I could tell there was no evidence my wife’s left thumb had suffered any insult to the way its calcium had been knitted by God in her mother’s womb, aided and abetted by all the calcium atoms which over 62 years had replaced, and lengthened, and strengthened, the atoms which God borrowed from Her creation to form Susie’s thumb.

“We’re gonna have Jay take out the stitches today and give you a smaller brace.  This here is the reason you’ve been feeling discomfort in your first finger. Who put this big bandage and splint on your thumb?,” wondered the orthopedic surgeon.  Susie recounted how they’d put the big bandage pack on her thumb, her hand, her wrist, and her forearm, almost up to her elbow, at Hartford Hospital.  Dr. Linburg turned around in his black plastic round examining room seat and called out to Jay, who was out of my sight because of the wall I was sitting next to.  “Take Mrs. Dutcher’s sutures out and put her in a [I didn’t catch the name of the small, white, hard, molded plastic thing which had a hole through which her thumb stuck out],” Dr. Linburg ordered.  “I want you to take off the plastic brace when you shower….,” he explained.  “You mean I can take a shower with the brace off?  They told me at the hospital I had to leave on the wrappings and keep it from getting wet while my thumb healed,” Susie said, with relief, plaintively.  “….and I want you to begin bending the tip of that thumb as soon as you can, to get it moving so it doesn’t freeze up.  Just move it back and forth as much as you can.  It’ll hurt at first but get easier as you loosen it up,” the doctor ordered, again to Susie’s, and my, great relief.  It was crystal clear by now that we were in the hands of a real pro. That Dr. Bass at Hartford Hospital was a real clown. 

Dr. Bass was the guy who told Susie she’d fractured her left thumb.  Susie understood from that diagnosis that one or more bones in her thumb were broken in the bicycle crash.  Although I was only a Juris Doctor, with no formal medical training, I, too, concluded from Susie’s report of Dr. Bass’s statements, that the force of the impact had not merely stretched the connective tissues in her minor thumb.  When marriages become irretrievably broken down, and the lawyers are called in to administer the last rites, the colloquial description of the spousal relationship is “fractured,” not merely “strained” or “stretched.” 

And once we learned the truth about Susie’s thumb, it suddenly dawned on me why Dr. Bass had lobbied her to see him in follow-up care for her thumb.  “I hope you’re going to make an appointment to see ME for your thumb.  I’d really like to care for you after you leave the hospital,” he entreated her, in a begging sort of way.  It also occurred to me that someone, perhaps the doctor himself, had somewhere along the way altered the original spelling of his surname.  Why, I wondered to Susie, did doctor ass prefer to be named after a scaly fish, rather than a part of the human anatomy which many men used to describe the part of the female form with respect to which they focus their imaginations and sexual longings when they think of the fairer sex as objects rather than subjects?

“Dr. Linburg, are you Swedish?,” I asked as he was getting up to move to another examining room.  “Yes,” he answered.  “My Norwegian father-in-law would have loved to give you a hard time, then,” I kidded him.  “Oh, well, I’m also part Norwegian,” he countered, smiling.  “Oh, okay.  Glen Price would certainly have liked you then,” I noted.

Richard M. Linburg MD is about 6 feet 2 inches, white hair, slicked back on his head and temples, thin, wearing a long white MD’s coat, dark blue surgical pants, and brown leather loafers with no penny in the tongue of his well-polished but un-shiny shoes.  According to his abbreviated Google-available CV, he’s been practicing medicine for 43 years.

 I knew him from many years ago, when a client of mine, Steve Wilcox, suffered aseptic necrosis of the lunate bones in his right wrist, from an auto accident, and Dr. Linburg did surgery to fuse Steve’s lunates and stop the continuing deterioration of the blood supply (the necrosis) to the calcium molecules in his wrist.  Steve always spoke highly of Dr. Linburg. 

That was in the late 70’s, just a few years after I’d started practicing as a Juris Doctor, and Richard Linburg had only been practicing as a Medical Doctor for 8 more years than I had.  Because Richard Linburg went to 4 years of medical school, and three or more years of post-medical-school internship and surgical residency, Dr. Linburg was probably 39 years old when he treated Steve Wilcox. 

I only had to do three years of law school before I began practicing law, and Dr. Linburg has been practicing medicine 8 years longer than I had when I retired in March of this year, so 8 plus the 4 years (4th year of med school plus three more years of internship and residency) makes him probably 12 years older than I, so in 1978 when I got money (justice?) for Steve’s injuries and Dr. Linburg treated his lunate bones, I was 28 years old and Richard Linburg 40 years old.  That makes Dr. Linburg 73 years old to my 61. 

You may now be almost as confused by the numbers I’m throwing around as I always was when I played golf with my senior partner, Dave Royston.  In the 19th Hole, as we cooled off from a hot round with a beer from the tap, David appeared to churn the scorecards through his prodigious intelligence, following which process El Hefe aka Il Papa Davidus announced how many dollars each of us owed the winner, as determined by Attorney Royston, with no right of protest or appeal.

As Susie and I were leaving Dr. Linburg’s medical “factory,” his chief medical assistant, Karen, explained to Susie how she should wash the thin white knit fabric which Jay, Dr. Linburg’s physician’s assistant, who also removed her sutures, had put over Susie’s thumb before he installed the white plastic molded splint device.  “You should make sure I understand the washing instructions, because I’m the one who now does the laundry at our house,” I said to Karen, who then repeated the washing instructions.  “Just use ordinary sham-pooh,” Karen repeated.  The “pooh” was pronounced just the way most Philadelphia-born-and-raised people say their “ohs,” like “thirty-tooh,” with the “ooh” sounding a lot like the sound of the “ew” in “Spiro Agnew.”  To describe this more concretely in words, that “ew” is pronounced in the City of Brotherly Love with an expression around the edges of the mouth, the nose and cheek area, and the forehead, which occurs when a person is smelling a noxious odor or recoiling at the vision or verbal description of a very unpleasant event. 

“Are you from Philadelphia?” I asked Karen.  “You’re the first person who’s ever guessed correctly.  Yes, from Northeast Philly,” Karen confessed.  “I’m from the Northeast also,” I said.  “Rhawn and Frontenanc, in Rhawnhurst,” I explained.  “I was born in Port Richmond and then we moved to South Orange, New Jersey, up near New York,” Karen said.  “My grandmother lived most of her married live in Bridesburg, near Port Richmond.  I went to Northeast High School,” I continued.  “My father went to Northeast High School,” she said.  “The old Northeast, at 5th and Lehigh, within walking distance of the old Connie Mack Stadium?,” I asked.  “Yes,” she answered.

After making our next appointment with Dr. Linburg, for August 1st, after the doctor returns from his vacation African safari with his grandchildren, I said to Karen, “I look forward to talking with you next time about Philadelphia and Northeast High School.”  She said, “Yes, I look forward to it.”

With that, we left the office, used the restrooms, and Susie got a drink of water from Jay, a very nice African American young man who was, like Tyler, one of Dr. Linburg’s physician assistants.  I thanked Jay and told him how nice it was to meet him and the rest of Dr. Linburg’s medical team.  Just before Susie and I got on the elevator to return to her Prius, I reached up with the palm of my right hand and Jay reached back towards me with his, and we high-fived and smiled as we parted ways, until August 1st.

(un-read and un-edited; I hope you overlooked any typos, grammatical errors, or lousy sentences--The Editor-Not)

namaste, bob know the routine