Monday, July 27, 2009

I saw something yesterday ...

that has left a profound impact on me. I want to share a quick encounter I had with a man who broke his neck at C2, which is the second cervical vertebra; and is actually located in the skull. C1 and C2 are the vertebrae which your head swivels on, and the first bump out of your skull, is C3. You can feel C3 by touching the first bump, or spinous process on your spine, just outside your skull. C1, or the Atlas (the first cervical vertebra, which supports the head) and C2, or the Axis, are just above that.

That was my quick Anatomy lesson for this post.

Back to my story: Sunday afternoon, I went up my alley about 1:30 to pick-up a few prescriptions at my pharmacy. On the way home, I turned down the alley and dropped the bag carrying my precious cargo. So, I looked around to see if there was anyone who could help me get my bag of drugs.

That was when I saw a man going through my neighbor's trash dumpster looking for food. The thing was — he was wearing a halo, which for those of you who don't know, is the devise they use to stabilize the cervical spine when someone breaks his or her neck by drilling four screws into your skull to hold it in place. It looks like this:

As I approached him, I didn't think he was capable of bending down to the ground to pick up my prescriptions, so as I passed behind him, I said, "Hi," and came in the house to get Tim, my attendant, to come and help me.

When I called Tim, I told him he wasn't going to believe what was going on outside! After picking up my goodies, we came up the alley and got to where Jim was, when the shy, quiet, wallflower that I am, politely asked him, "What happened to you?"

Without breaking stride in his quest for food by looking up, he said, "I broke my neck!"

Guess what I said? Yup, "So did I!"

got his attention and brought his head out of the dumpster. So, we shared our accident stories for a few minutes and I asked him, "How are you getting your medical care?"

That was when Jim chuckled a bit and said, "Right now, my General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) is taking care of me, but at the end of the year, Pawlenty (Minnesota's Governor) is cutting my benefits and I don't know what I'll do."

Now, mind you, Jim wasn't very clean, the lamb's wool on his halo was filthy, he didn't look like he had bathed or gotten clean clothes for a significant amount of time, and he told me he was having a good day because he had found some food and a half bottle of wine in my neighbor's dumpster! He said, "I found a half bottle of wine, and I'm drinking that."

Then Tim asked him if he was sure it was wine. Jim assured him it was. He was quite confident about it, and was obviously looking forward to drinking it! I can only imagine where he was when he drank his half bottle of wine!

That was when Tim left. When I got inside, Tim asked, "What the hell is going on? Why is this guy in a halo going through dumpsters digging for food, when he should be adequately taken care of considering his medical condition? I wonder if he's a vet?" (Tim served in the Army for six years, so he's sensitive to the plight of veterans.) He told me later he couldn't watch Jim; he had a hard time being there.

I know this is a much longer post than I usually put up, but I just had to write about it. There is so much more I want to tell you about my encounter with Jim, the state of health care, budget cuts in the government, homelessness, the lucky ones who break their neck or back and walk away, how Jim broke his neck, and so on ... but, I think I may turn it into a chapter for the book. After all, that's the whole purpose of this blog! Remember, I'm not done yet!

I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jim Brandenburg's Photography

September 3, 1971 was the night I got hurt. There was a young photographer standing in the end zone taking pictures for the Worthington Daily Globe, the local, daily newspaper. His name was Jim Brandenburg.

He took these pictures, along with several others, you can see on my website by clicking here:

Click on the images to enlarge:

Jim has come a long way in his career since that night. Many of you may know of his phenomenal body of work. He is an award-winning nature photographer, filmmaker and environmentalist, and has become one of the most respected nature photographers in the world. I came across Jim's website, blog and Facebook page, and spent the last couple of hours checking them out.

A friend gave me this framed, autographed print several years ago and it is one of my most prized possessions. Jim signed it, "With great admiration!" Jim Brandenburg

WOW! Here's this world-famous photographer, and he's admiring me. That was pretty cool!

You can visit Jim's websites by clicking on these three words: Website, Blog, Facebook.

Take some time to peruse his work and see if you agree with me.

I look forward to your comments.



P.S. Jim's office gave me permission to use this copyrighted
image entitled Gray Wolf.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"And that's the way it is."

Many of us grew up hearing those six words at the end of the CBS Evening News every night as Walter Cronkite signed off from his report from 1962 to 1981. Mr. Cronkite was laid to rest yesterday after passing away at the age of 92 late Friday night.

I remember him coming on every night during the height of the Vietnam War and giving us the body count for the day. He would tell us how many North Vietnamese we killed and how many American soldiers were killed that day. It gave us a sense we were winning because we were killing more of them than they were killing Americans.

He was a journalist and television anchor for close to fifty years who became, (according to many polls) "the most trusted man in America." He reported many events including bombings during World War II, the Nuremberg Trials, combat in the Vietnam War, JFK's assassination, the moon landing, Watergate and the Iran Hostage Crisis, to name just a few. He was in our living rooms talking to us. We trusted him.

The one event I will always remember was watching him come close to breaking down as he put his glasses back on while he reported the death of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. This is a very short snippet of that report.

Here it is:

Do you remember where you were when you heard him utter those words? If you are old enough, I'm guessing you do. I remember him being a rock as he covered the next several days. Now, he's gone too. Rest in Peace, Mister Cronkite.

I welcome your comments.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carl Sagan — Pale Blue Dot

In doing research for this blog, I often come across fascinating articles, amazing videos and compelling information. When I found this video, I knew right away I wanted to share it with you. Please view and listen to Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot.

He puts the earth and everything on this third rock into a perspective I find more compelling each time I listen to it.

Besides getting mesmerized by his great voice, he has given me a fresh viewpoint I find absolutely amazing because he has made me look at myself in a way I had never done before. Listen and think and see if it affects you:

Any comments?



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Canadians Make Stem Cell Breakthrough

Several weeks ago, I told you I did a lot of research for blog posts while I was in the hospital. Here's one of the articles I came across from our friends north of the border. I believe you will find it very interesting.

Originally published Sunday, March 1, 2009, it was updated on April 10th in Toronto's The Globe And Mail. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

I find it fascinating how quickly researchers are finding breakthroughs with the science of stem cells and all of their qualities. This paragraph comes directly from the article:

“We hope these stem cells will form the basis for treatment of many diseases and conditions that are currently considered incurable,” says Andras Nagy, of Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. He is the lead author of a groundbreaking paper published online Sunday by the journal Nature.

I have always said it's just a matter of time! What an amazing time we live in!

As always, feel free to comment.