Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Kidney Stone Incident

The Kidney Stone Incident

For weeks I had been having intermittent pain starting on my left back and extending into my front.  I eventually figured it was a kidney stone and went to my doctor to confirm.

They told me it probably was and I should go see my urologist and get a Cat Scan to confirm.  I made those appointments for the following week.

A few days later, the pain grew so intense I couldn’t stand it and asked Barbara to take me to emergency.  She called my son and he drove us to the hospital.  On the way we found out my son had to be somewhere else and over his objections, called my sister to come down and stay with Barbara at the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital and without too much delay, although it seemed interminable to me, took me into a triage suite.  

The first problem was setting up an IV and taking blood from me.  At the best of times, it is difficult to find my veins, but this time was almost impossible.  It took two of the specialists and numerous “sticks” to finally get an IV and to draw blood.  Once the IV was established, they gave me a pain medication that worked quickly.  I returned to my somewhat jovial self and was able to see some humor in what was going on around me.

There was a very friendly man next door who was singing, talking excitedly, and being very friendly to everyone.  He was being Baker Acted.  Barbara insisted I not go over and talk to him, as the staff might mix up which one of us was Baker Acted and which was for Kidney Stones.  I was sure they could tell us apart, but agreed to stay put.

The doctor ordered a Cat Scan and told me I had a Kidney Stone and was to be admitted because of an infection accompanying it.  Fortunately they kept giving me pain medication, so I didn’t care what they did.  

I sent everyone home and waited for a room to open up.  

Eventually I was wheeled up to a room around 12:30 AM. 

It was incredibly noisy.

Not only was I across from the nurses station, but everyone on the floor seemed to have their TV’s on at full volume, including my roommate.  I wasn’t getting any sleep anyway, as the IV had me peeing every 20 minutes.  In the early hours of the morning, people were watching game shows, political commentary and Jerry Springer type shows.  Where are the Baker Act people when you need them.

Around 4 AM people started coming in to take vital signs, take blood and to see if I needed anything.

Breakfast was at 8 and shortly after a Doctor showed up. He was a Urologist and told me I had two choices.  Try to pass it on my own, or they could go in (you don’t want to know how) and remove it.  I opted for the former, which he seemed to agree to.  I had to wait til his colleague showed up to get discharged.

Meanwhile, Barbara and my sister, Regina showed up.  The day progressed with my peeing every 20 minutes, and not being able to hold down any food.  The pain medicine had a nausea affect on me.  

I took the opportunity to try to guilt my daughter into flying down to visit her “sick” father (didn’t work) and to post a picture of me in my new Halloween Costume: Kidney Stone Patient.

I was amazed at the response I got.  It seems everyone but me has had a kidney stone in the past.  Who knew?  I got lots of sympathy and I appreciated it.

Around 5 PM the other doctor showed up and tried to talk me out of going home.  He said I would most likely need the procedure and not be able to pass the stone on my own.  I agreed to spend one more night in the hospital and he changed my pain meds to eliminate the nausea.

It was just as noisy the second night, even with my getting my roommate to lower his volume.  No sleep for two nights.

The Urologist came in and instead of insisting on my getting the procedure, said I should go home.  I readily agreed but still had to wait for his colleague to officially do it.  I was fed up with having to drag around the IV every time I went to the bathroom.

The doctor came in around 1 PM and discharged me with a prescription for pain medication and an antibiotic.

Barbara and Regina drove me home. 

I spend the the rest of the day drinking water and tea, and peeing every 20 minutes.  The night was the same but when I woke up, I wasn’t in any pain.  I think the stone moved to where it wasn’t pressing on anything.

Barbara who had been extremely nice to me told me my time for niceness had passed, as I was feeling better and could do things on my own.  She had even let me snore for the 20 minutes I was able to sleep between peeing during the night.  Obviously that dispensation was over.

I posted the end of the niceness window of opportunity, and everyone seemed to side with Barbara.  Go figure.

As an aside, when Barbara tries to get me to stop snoring, she whispers my name until I wake up.  I asked her why she is whispering since her goal is to wake me up and using a normal voice would accomplish her goal quicker.  She had no answer for that but said she was afraid I would become startled and fall out of bed if she was too loud.  Really?  That’s the reason for whispering.

The day progressed with Barbara and my sister coming up with disgusting suggestions off the internet on how to get rid of kidney stones.  For instance, one site said I should drink Olive Oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.  I declined.  

I continued trying to guilt my daughter, but she seemed to take on her mother’s attitude that the crisis was over and I should drink the olive oil while filming my reaction to the taste.  I again declined.

That night, I again peed in twenty minute intervals and I think something came out, but I am not sure.

Anyway, I am feeling better and I am trapping what appears to be remnants in the strainer.  

Hope to never have to repeat this again, It wasn’t fun and I didn’t enjoy it, even with the pain meds.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Candy For My Dentist

Candy For My Dentist

When I was growing up, I went to a dentist who gave out candy and charms when you finished your visit.  In fact, his office was situated over a candy store.  I found this very convenient since my mother would always take me downstairs to the candy store and buy me something sweet to eat and a comic book.  I didn’t like going to the dentist, but I did look forward to what came afterward.  

This created the association for me of dentist equals candy, or at least lollipops. As a result of this, I always ask my dentists for lollipops, usually to no avail.

About 3 years ago, I changed dentists and on my first visit, asked for a lollipop.  I was somewhat insistent and said I wasn’t leaving without one.  The office people up front scrounged around and found one in a desk.  I left content.

A pattern was formed.  I would tell them to have a lollipop ready for me when I made my appointment, and they would say it wasn’t seemly to offer their patients candy.  

In spite of their protests, I usually got something. The second appointment I got chocolate, the third, gum, and so on.  In reciprocation, I made them Black and White cookies.

On a recent appointment, they had nothing for me.  I was disappointed, and when the survey came to rate the dentist and practice, I put down that I was very disappointed I didn’t get a lollipop.

As it turns out they were not amused.

I went there to make an appointment for peridontal work and mentioned I expected a lollipop.

“So, you’re the one,” a person at the front desk said.  “You’ve caused us a problem.  Whenever anyone googles the dentist, something about lollipops comes up.  It’s not funny,” she said smiling ( Idid think it was kind of funny).  

“I didn’t know my comment would show up on your site.  I thought it was internal,” I answered, “but in my defense, I did ask for a lollipop in my appointment confirmation.”

“Please don’t put that in the survey again,” she asked.

“Ok,” I answered as Barbara, who happened to be with me, gave me the “look”.  

A week later, I had the peridontal work, and was given a follow up appointment for two weeks to take out the stitches.  I didn’t get a lollipop, but the post surgery instructions specified only eating soft foods like ice cream, pudding, cheese cake, and drinking thick shakes and malteds.  Who was I to argue?

The office called me the next day to see how I was, and I asked if I could have the stitches taken out sooner.  I told them they owed me because I didn’t get my lollipop.

“Well, I could possibly do it if YOU agree to bring us candy,” she replied.

“Hmmm, I do have about 2 1/2 pounds of Jelly Bellies left, I could bring those,” I said, “but only if you agree to display them prominently in the office so all can see.”  I felt it was only fitting to share with the other patients.

“Done,” she said.

I think they are coming around to my point of view.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Visit To Connecticut

Visit to Connecticut 

My wife and I recently visited our daughter’s family in Connecticut.  We usually do this twice a year and try to time it when the grandkids are off and it is not too cold.  This time our timing was off and it was cold.  It didn’t really warm-up until right before we left.

In spite of the cold we had a great time and got to see our granddaughter jump and ride horses: and our grandson play on 3 baseball teams. Of course things did happen to me.

One day, I persuaded (they say took them without their permission) to visit my great grandfather’s farm in Moodus Connecticut, about an hour and 30 minute ride from my daughter.  

Until I was 5, I, my mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin (Rocky) would spend the summers there.  My father and grandfather would come up on the weekends along with my Uncle, Rocky’s father.  My great grandfather, his son Benny and Benny’s wife Esther lived there all year round. Other relatives would also join us there.

I found the farm and knocked on the door to see if anyone was home.  No one was and I walked around the house to see if anyone was around back.  Meanwhile, Barbara and the grandkids left me and went back to the car.  What were they thinking??

Ronni, our daughter, stayed with me and she looked up the public records on the house and found it was built in 1820.  We walked down the hill to what used to be a gas station.  There was still an automotive repair shop and I spoke to someone who was approximately my age.  He invited me in and showed me photos from the 1940’s and we talked about what the town was like back then.  He told me the town had been wiped out by a road widening project.  I thought it was unfortunate since the town was kind of picturesque with wooden sidewalks.

Meanwhile, my wife and grandkids were getting impatient.  My wife told my granddaughter to text me to hurry up.  She texted me a tornado was coming and to hurry up and stop talking to people, a common complaint by my wife.

Ronni and I ignored the text.

On the way home, we stopped at New Haven to take a tour of Yale.  We walked around the campus and visited two of the libraries.  

Afterward, we went to what is supposed to be the 3rd best pizza place in the U.S. (It wasn’t) and we were quietly eating pizza there when the waiter approached us.

“Are you the Mayor?”, he asked me, meaning Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

I turned to him and said, “Of course I am”.

With that I heard a voice in the back of the restaurant cry out “I knew it”.

The waiter explained that there were two tables in the back who had seen me come in and had bets going on whether I was the Mayor.  

The waiter returned to our table with a picture of the real Michael Bloomberg on someone’s phone and showed it to me.  I don’t think I really look like Bloomberg except for a general similarity.  

However, not wanting to disappoint, I told him that was a younger picture of me and that’s why there was a difference in our appearances.

A couple at a nearby table started a conversation with me and we talked about my being  mistaken for the mayor on several occasions.

A few people leaving the restaurant said “Good bye Mr. Mayor”, which I graciously acknowledged.  They were the guys making bets.

Of course Barbara rolled her eyes at me and my grandchildren thought it was hilarious.  I had done nothing to initiate the situation, but rose to the occasion when it presented itself.

The next day, Barbara and I took the train into the city to meet a friend of ours.

We arrived at Grand Central, met our friend and went out to stand on the taxi line.  

It was cold and I was in a leather jacket.  The transit cop keeping order on the taxi line, approached me and asked if I would consider trading his transit jacket/vest for my leather jacket.  

“Yes,” I answered, “If you will leave on the badge and insignia”.  He declined.

We had a nice day with our friend and wound up in Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway and 51st street.  The wait staff are all aspiring Broadway Musical Actors and Actresses.  they all sing a song or two to the customers throughout the day.

I excused myself to go to the restroom and upon returning found my wife belting out a Motown hit with one of the wait staff.  I had never seen a patron taking part in the show before.  I mention this because everyone thinks it’s me who always gets in these situations.

On the following Saturday, Barbara, I, our daughter, her husband and children went into the city.  We decided to go to SOHO and walk around.  We slowly made our way to Greenwich Village and then Little Italy. 

It was around dinner time so we were walking towards a nice restaurant in Little Italy.  

I happened to see a camera man and reporter talking with people on the street.  I approached them and asked what they were doing.

They worked for the UN and were doing a documentary for a TV station on “How Ethnic Groups Got Along In NYC.  They asked (or maybe I volunteered, the memory is murky) if I wanted to be interviewed.

I graciously agreed. How could I say no?.

They seemed to like my answers to their question and indicated that would like to use my answers.  The camera man told me I kind of resembled the “Mayor”.   While they were interviewing me, a small crowd gathered and some people were filming me getting interviewed.  I think they thought I was the Mayor.

I asked them when I could see The documentary and what channel it would be on.  Turns out it was for a TV station in Dubai!  I don’t get that channel.

Our vacation progressed and Barbara, Ronni and I went to a mall in Trumble Connecticut.  While there I passed a kiosk that made T-Shirts.  

I could not resist.  I had two T-Shirts made.  One was a picture of me shrugging and the shirt said: “I was just sitting there”.  I wanted another shirt with Barbara’s picture and the shirt to say “And I should have left him there”.  Even though she came up with that saying she refused to have her picture taken.  I chased her around for a while with my cellphone cameral but she managed to elude getting her picture taken.  I eventually settled for putting the saying on the back of the shirt, signed by “His Wife”

The second T-Shirt has the Seal of the City of New York along with the saying “the Mayor is In”.  On the back it says “Three terms were not enough”.

Now I need Bloomberg to become mayor again so I can continue to be the “Mayor”.  

Eventually our trip came to an end and we were on the plane back to Florida.

I was just sitting there watching TV when suddenly the channel kept changing.

Barbara poked me and stated her TV was broken because it would not change channels.  She was changing my channels by mistake.  I showed her the error of her ways and went back to watching my TV.

The channel changed again!

Barbara was bored with her program and wanted something to do on the plane, so she found something.  

Annoying me!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ketubah Incident

The Ketubah Incident

Our friends’ two children were getting married.  The weddings would be a month apart.  It was going to be a joyous, albeit expensive time for all involved.

Every week, my friend would call me to complain about the cost of the weddings, especially his daughter’s. He was also paying for his son’s wedding. I would listen sympathetically but I would stress that he was having a great time participating in the planning and in finally getting the both of them married.  He was really enjoying himself, especially in bargaining with the various vendors.  Something he is both skilled at and loves.

His daughter had called me during all this and we discussed her father’s calls to me and his complaints about the cost and the “work” he was putting into this wedding.  

I told her to tell him: “It’s your job to pay, so stop complaining because you love that your children are getting married.  Besides, you only have one daughter and one son and that’s what the monies are for.”

A few days later he called me and told me his daughter told him “Shelly said it’s your job to pay, so stop complaining and enjoy it.”

“Did you tell her that?” he demanded.

“Absolutely” I answered.  “Isn’t it your job to pay and don’t you enjoy it?”

“Well, yes,” he replied, “but you didn’t have to tell her”.  He continued paying and complaining right up until the days of the weddings.

As his daughter’s wedding approached, I received a phone call from his daughter and him asking me to be the witness on the Ketubah.  

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Ketubah is a marriage contract. All Jewish couples have to have a Ketubah to be officially married.  It sets out the terms of the marriage in terms of duties and possessions of the bride and groom.  In older times it was a safeguard for the bride, detailing what her rights were and what belonged to her in case of a divorce.  Now it is a formality setting up the marriage according to Jewish Law.  Many couples help write their own Ketubahs. Many couples have elaborate and decorative ones that are displayed in their home.

It is an honor to be asked and I readily accepted.

The day of the daughter’s wedding came and Barbara and I arrived early so I could sign the Ketubah before the ceremony.  We all gathered in a room and I met the Rabbi who not only was going to officiate at the ceremony but had created the Ketubah by hand for the couple.

“You’re the witness?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“You do know how to sign your name in Hebrew, don’t you?” he inquired.

“Not since I was 13,” I said, panic beginning to rear its ugly head.     

“Could you write it out for me and I can copy it?”, I asked both hopefully and somewhat desperately.

“Yes, but you will have to practice for a few minutes.  I took great care on this Ketubah and you have to do a good job so as not to ruin it,” he stated.

The Ketubah was beautifully done, and I didn’t want to ruin it.

I took about five minutes to practice writing my name in Hebrew and was able to sign the Ketubah to his satisfaction.  The ceremony was then able to begin.  I had “saved the day” or at least I thought so in my “Walter Mitty” reverie.

The wedding was beautiful, the bride was gorgeous and a terrific time was had by all.

As the son’s wedding approached, I was again asked to sign the Ketubah for him.  

It was going to be the same Rabbi, and I was not going to be caught unprepared this time.

I printed out my name in Hebrew from the internet and practiced until it looked like the printout.  I was ready!

The day of the wedding, Barbara and I, once again arrived and found the bridal party with the Rabbi.  He remembered me and asked if I was prepared to sign again.  

“Absolutely,” I replied, “I’ve been practicing”

But just in case I had prepared a cheat sheet for me to copy from. I wasn’t going to ruin the moment.

I sat down and signed my name with some confidence, and was given a nod of approval from the Rabbi.  This was also a very beautiful Ketubah.

Once again, Walter Mitty had saved the day.  The wedding could go on.

The bride was beautiful, the wedding was a great success, all was well with the world.

Two days later my friend called me and told me a sad tale. 

While walking to the altar to conduct the ceremony, the Rabbi had dropped the Ketubah, face down on the wet floor (it was an outdoor ceremony and it had rained about 1/2 hour before).  The wet floor had ruined the Ketubah.  

The Rabbi had created a new one, and I was asked to meet the Rabbi at his office and sign again.  Of course I readily agreed.

I hastily located my cheat sheet and practiced before going to the Rabbi’s office.  I set up a time and I met him to re-sign the Ketubah.

I successfully performed my task, once again “saving the day”.

Now that I have some expertise in signing my name in Hebrew, perhaps I could make a career out of being a witness.

Anyone having a wedding coming up?

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Elephant Caper

The Elephant Caper

My cousin Rocky loves Elephant Statues.  She has them all over her condo in Florida.

Barbara, my sister Regina and I were visiting Rocky and her husband last winter at their condo and remarked on the number of statues  she had scattered around the condo.  There were big ones, medium ones and small ones.  Probably about 10 of them.

An idea began to form about how we could improve their look and make them seem more natural.

I told my sister and Barbara about my idea and everyone agreed (thought it was funny, hysterical even).  Barbara said she wouldn’t participate, but my sister would.

Rocky and her husband left for New York.  We plotted.

Rocky called me about a month later and asked me to help out her neighbor.  It seems Rocky’s air conditioner wasn’t working and the neighbor was calling the repair service.  Could I go there and wait for the repairman so as not to tie up the neighbor.

I agreed and set up a time with the neighbor, who has Rocky’s key, since she didn’t trust me or my sister, and the repairman.

My sister and I got the key from the neighbor and waited for the repairman.  He came and fixed the unit.  We took this opportunity to make copies of Rocky’s key and to pick up some brown Play Doh.  We returned to the apartment.

We formed the brown Play Doh into circular shapes and placed them under the various elephant statues so as to make them appear as if the Elephants had performed a natural function.  They looked good.  Rocky’s neighbor came in and concurred with our assessment of our handiwork.  Now we had to wait for Rocky to return next winter.

During the interval, Rocky’s husband, Larry became progressively sick and eventually died.  This devastated Rocky and was very sad for everyone.  

The only redeeming thing was when Rocky fell into a coffin at the funeral home.  

She had gone to the funeral home with her son, daughter, grandson and my sister.  I had offered to go but they said they could handle it.  Rocky was in bad shape and my sister asked Rocky if she had eaten that day. She assured her she had, so my sister gave her a pill to calm her down.  Unfortunately, Rocky hadn’t actually eaten and the pill made Rocky unsteady.

She began leaning against the coffins in the coffin viewing room and slowly worked her way over to an open part of one of the coffins.  She leaned back and went over, head first into the coffin, with her legs up in the air.

Everyone laughed hysterically and finally pulled her out.  She stood up and said, “That wasn’t very comfortable in there.  I thought they were supposed to be padded”.  

Everyone agreed her husband had probably pushed her.  

The funeral director, while not amused, now had a great story to tell at the next funeral director’s convention. He should have discounted the cost of the funeral for that story.

I was in Connecticut when I got a text from my sister saying: “Your cousin fell into a coffin.”

How often in one’s life could you possibly get a text like that? I stared at the text in disbelief.  “Really” I texted back, hoping they were kidding. While unbelievable in some families, it had the ring of the possible in mine.

“Yes, really”, she replied.

Seeing some interesting possibilities, I texted back: “did anyone video it?”  

Unfortunately the answer was no, they were too busy laughing.

Time passed and it was now winter and time for Rocky to return to Florida.

She finally booked a flight to Florida and took her daughter and grandson along with her because she is terrified of flying.  She has been known to leave deep finger indentations in the arms of people who sit next to her on the plane.

They arrived and my sister met them at the condo.

Rocky walked in but didn’t notice the more natural look to the elephants at first. I called and instructed her grandson to make sure to video her reaction when she did notice.

A few minutes later my sister called me from Rocky’s house.  Regina was laughing so hard she couldn’t talk.  I heard loud yelling and cursing in the background.

Rocky grabbed the phone from my sister and starting cursing me in language I will not put down on paper.  Suffice it to say she has what used to be called a sailor’s vocabulary.

The more Rocky yelled, the more I laughed, which made her yell more.  It was really funny.  Everyone had been in on the joke except Rocky and she was mad about that too.

She finally hung up on me since she couldn’t get me to take her seriously.

Barbara and I went to see her the next day.  She took up yelling at me where she had left off the day before.  It was still funny.

Her grandson showed me the video of Rocky discovering my little prank.  Unfortunately the sound did not work on his video.  Still it was very funny, with Rocky literally jumping up and down while she was yelling on the phone with me the day before.  It was like watching a silent film comedy with the overly dramatic rages.

It kind of made up for the lack of video in the funeral parlor, but not quite.