Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bruce Jenner Is A Hero

Imagine holding a secret for sixty-five years. That is exactly what Bruce Jenner did. Bruce Jenner courageously went on national television and exposed himself as being a woman trapped in a man's body. He did it with courage and honesty Diane Sawyer seemed shocked at several times throughout the interview the other night.

At one point, he pointed about two feet off the floor and told Diane Sawyer, from about this age I wanted to wear dresses. His mother, Estelle let him do it. I thought that was pretty cool of her she recognized something in her son was different from the other boys.

Obviously, he was raised as a boy and competed in the decathlon as a boy and later as the "World's Greatest Athlete" in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal on July 29th and 30th. He not only beat the evil, communist Soviet bad guy, Ukrainian-born Nikolay Avilov who had the record which he set in the 1972 Olympics in Munich but raised the points record as well.

According to an article in the New York Daily News, "Darkness was falling on Stade Olympique when Jenner crossed the finish line in 4:12.61, assuring his victory and giving him a final point total of 8,618, which is 164 more than the record Russian Nikolay Avilov set in 1972, 425 more than Bill Toomey, 617 more than Rafer Johnson, 887 more than Bob Mathias and 1,862 more than Jim Thorpe."

For all of you who are not familiar with the names in the paragraph above, they are all Americans who won previous Olympic Decathlons. FYI: Rafer Johnson and Roosevelt Grier were bodyguards for Robert Kennedy on June fifth, the night he was killed in 1968. Roosevelt Grier was a member of the Fearsome Foursome the famed defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams. 

Bill Toomey won the 1968 Decathlon in Mexico City. Bob Mathias won two decathlons. In 1948 he won his first one In London, and he won his second in Helsinki, Finland in 1952. He went on to become a U.S. Congressman from California. Jim Thorpe was the first American Indian to win Olympic gold in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He not only won the decathlon, but the pentathlon as well (five events). No one in history has ever done that! In doing some research on all of these men, I found enough information to do a post on each one! Google is my friend!

Jenner was an exceptional athlete from the time he was young. He competed in a number of sports including football, baseball and ultimately track and field. He was a state champion in the high jump and pole vault when his family moved to Newtown, Connecticut after his sophomore year.

For those of you not familiar with track and field, the decathlon is something special. It combines the ability to jump (hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault), run (100 meters, 400 meters, 1,500 meters) and throw (javelin, shot put, discus) is one two-day test of speed, strength and stamina.

Jenner qualified for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany but did not place. As a small boy Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia, which made reading and school difficult for him. He found his release through athletics. He competed in a number of sports but found his niche in the decathlon. Here is an iconic photograph of him as he crossed the finish line in the 1500 meter run to set the record:

As always, click on the image to make it larger:

Bruce Jenner showed no signs of being a woman in that picture. However, he was hiding a deep secret inside himself for many years until his interview with Diane Sawyer.

At one point, he let his ponytail down and shook his head as if to free himself of his secret. He joked about it but it seemed like it was a freeing experience in a way that loosened him up and enabled him to be who he was.

Back to the reason I called him a hero. He was a hero to me watching him win the decathlon and doing it in record numbers. My dad was a track man his entire life, and I love track as well. Watching Jenner at that moment was a tremendous feeling as I was both a track man and a United States patriot. After all, we had just scored a huge victory over the evil Soviet Empire! 
I believe everyone needs to find their inner self and be able to show that. It seemed to be a huge load off his shoulders to come out of the closet of being a transgender woman. I believe it was a huge step for the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) to finally show someone who is famous for two things. First of all, he was known as the World's Greatest Athlete, and secondly he was known as the wife of Kris Kardashian whom he married in 1991. She is his third wife.

He is part of the reality show "Keeping up with the Kardashians" that has been running since 2007. All of the extended family, both his, hers and theirs support him in his going public about his sexual identification.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pacemaker Four Is Ticking Away!

It is in my chest, and my fourth pacemaker is now keeping my lower heart block at a steady sixty beats per minute! Friday afternoon they took me to an operating room at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, shaved my chest and put in my brand-new, Boston Scientific pacemaker.

I was told ahead of time I could go home later that day if they did not have to put in any new leads. As it turned out, one of my leads was frayed at the end, so Dr. David Melby capped that end and put in a new Medtronic lead. 

I found out later after a conversation with Dr. Thomas Johnson, who is a longtime friend from Worthington and also a cardiac surgeon of some note in his own right. Dr. Tom told me they would leave that cable in because it is probably scarred in and could cause excessive bleeding if they tried to take it out. It is always good to have your own cardiac surgeon as a friend on Facebook!

 Dr. Melby took an x-ray of my new pacemaker and emailed it to me. I put up a brief note on my Facebook page last night and it has over one hundred twelve Likes and about fifty Comments! I am wondering what will happen when I put this post on my Facebook page?

Here is the x-ray:

If you are a Facebook user, click on this link and see the overwhelming response already! At least it is overwhelming for me:

Dr. Melby told me this pacemaker should last eight to twelve years! The batteries have improved that much in the eight years I had number three. 

I was told I could not drive home, so I arranged for a ride to and from the hospital with Metro Mobility. The woman I talked to at Metro told me it would be no problem if I needed to stay overnight and rearrange for ride the next day. They do not have same-day service, but they do have an arrangement with Checker Taxi Service and their wheelchair accessible vans. They are tiny and my chair barely made it in so the back door could close! If it is not one problem, there is always another problem waiting just behind!

The nurse who discharged me gave me four pages of discharge notes with explicit directions on how to care for my wound for the next seven to ten days. There is a thin layer of glue holding the scar shut. The Dura Bond will slowly deteriorate and the wound should be back to normal in ten days. I took this photograph this morning and the swelling and redness has gone down considerably since I got home. Here is a small section of my chest and the wound:

As always, you should be able to click on me image to make it larger:

The dark spot is a small spot of blood and is stuck under the tape. I am thankful it is just below my feeling of sensation because I can tell from other pieces of tape it is very itchy.  I was also told not to raise my arm above my head for at least a week.

I will tilt my chair back and watch my Sunday evening lineup of television once I send this off.

Thus ends the next chapter of Pacemaker Number Four.

I look forward to your comments and/or questions. Remember, if you put up a Comment, it will take a while for it to appear in the list of comments because I need to check it first to make sure it is not Spam.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Am 60 Today!

I have a hard time believing I am 60 years old today! I do not know where the time has gone and how I reached this age!

Before I talk about my age, I want to tell you about my new pacemaker. I told you I would keep you informed as to when the date will be. I will be getting number four on Friday, April 17th at noon. Chances are I will check in, have them insert my new pacemaker and go home that afternoon. 

I did something I had never done before and that was to put a two-sentence status post up on my Facebook page. I simply wrote, "I just found out I will be getting my new pacemaker April 17th! That makes number four." 

For me, the response was overwhelming! I know other people get much larger numbers for posts on a regular basis, but that was incredible. I received more than 100 Likes and more than 50 Comments! That is the second-highest number I have received for any post on my Facebook page except when I posted a Profile picture from last summer when I gave the keynote speech for the University of Minnesota's Physical Therapy's Commencement Ceremony. I had 163 Likes!

The Comments and Likes came from people I have known my entire life and six of the eight towns I lived in before I was 14! I also received notes from all three colleges I attended. They also came from people I knew from giving a speech or met in an unusual way. As if anything is usual for me!

Now, it is back to the point of this post. I want to show you my first birthday cake and see what you think:

I was already using my left hand at an early age! Scroll ahead thirteen years to my 14th birthday, and notice how I am using my left hand as well to light my birthday candles.

Click on the images to make them larger:

It was only two more birthdays after that I stopped celebrating my birthday. Let me explain why. When I first got hurt September 3, 1971 my goal was to be walking by basketball season. When that goal obviously did not arrive, I set a new goal of walking by my 17th birthday. Obviously, that did not happen either. It was then I decided my birthday was just a reminder that I was still not able to walk. That did not seem like a reason to celebrate.

That is until this year! I have been getting a number of reminders from unlikely sources reminding me that 60 years is a long time and deserves a celebration. First of all, I have had reminders at my acupuncture receptionist, the receptionist at my wound clinic a week ago, a social worker, one of my personal care attendants and two women from my past lives who are both my age.

On April 8th, Karen (Smalley) Bixby who lived in the women's dorm next to my dormitory the second year I was in Berkeley called me and wanted to be the first to wish me a happy 60th birthday. Karen and I have been lifelong friends and she is smiling right now as she keeps track of me through my blog posts and I am writing about her!

She called to remind me my birthday was April 12th and I would be 60 years old! Since Karen's birthday was April 9th, a full three days before mine I asked her to tell me what it was going to be like since she is so much older than me. We have discussions on our cell phones every once in a while, although they are not frequent enough, but we had a great thirty-minute conversation before she had to go. I am sure we will have another talk soon.

About an hour later I was chatting with a new Facebook friend who I played baseball with her brothers when we lived for a brief time in Sibley, Iowa.  Mind you, we were only in the seventh and early part of eighth-grade when Susan (Streit) Wheeler moved to town with her family. I had never talked to her when they lived in town because of my fear of girls at that stage of my life. I am over that fear now. I believe I was afraid girls would bite me if I spoke to one back then. Little did I know if one did, I might actually like it!

Susan and I had a forty-five minute conversation that only had to be cut short because she had to be someplace. I am certain we will have another conversation again soon. It was like we had been lifelong friends and in reality had never spoken before. I find myself in conversations like that all the time.

I have no problem meeting people now and finding things to talk about. Often times I will end up finding something in common from one of our past lives. That also happened to me several times last week while I was either in the hallway or in speaking to a therapist or physician. I love stories like that.

If you did not know it already, you might think I am a bit of an extrovert!

I am not sure what I'm supposed to feel like now that I am 60? I have had people tell me I  do not feel old to them because I do not act old. What is the definition of old? When does a person become old, or is it just a feeling? There are many questions I have about the aging process and the attitude one takes as he or she ages. I know people who are younger than me and feel much older to me. Do you know people like that? 

Is it about being positive, realistic or negative?  Can healthy relationships be built at any stage in life? Can they be built between people with drastic age differences? I could go on but this is already a long post. I will save more of my questions for another post.

Now, I believe it is time to watch the Masters Golf Tournament for a while. Does that make me old?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Monday, April 6, 2015

The BIG 10 Is Down!

All season long, the pundits, prognosticators and analysts put the Big 10 down as not being one of the Elite 5 Conferences in the country. They claimed they could not compete with the Southern and Eastern conferences. They were not deep enough and could not hold their own in the Big Dance.

It does not matter to me who wins the National Championship tonight. Duke is favored once again by most of the so-called experts. The main reason is Duke beat Wisconsin earlier this year by ten points. Granted, that did happen. However, I contend it was two different teams and Wisconsin was playing without its second best player, Sam Dekker. He has averaged over 20 points per game in the tournament and I believe his regular season average is about 18 points. You take that kind of production out of any lineup and chances are you are not going to win.

When a single conference puts two of the four teams in the Final Four, it is my contention that conference deserves to be considered one of the best in the nation, if not the best.

If Frank (The Tank) Kaminsky can beat the Sports Illustrated cover jinx and get his team to the championship game, I believe he deserves all the accolades that have been bestowed upon him and deserves to be named The Player Of The Year!

My latest Sports Illustrated had Kentucky on the cover. They could not overcome the jinx! Kentucky is indeed a great collection of NBA talent and their top six players average in double figures. That almost never happens! The thing with Kentucky is they will lose a good part of those freshmen to the NBA with the one and done rule we now see in college basketball.

The only reason I would like to see Duke win tonight is because freshmen, Tyus Jones is playing exceptionally well and has gone from winning the Minnesota state championship while leading Apple Valley just one year ago to the possibility of doing the same with Duke.

I am especially excited for young Mr. Jones because he played for Zach Goring, whom I have known since he was a young boy growing up in Apple Valley. Zach is even part of a story I tell in my book about the Dairy Queen girl. I have known Zach's father Darrell for a long time and there is another one of those small world stories behind our relationship!

Either way, I am excited to watch the championship game tonight. It will just be sad because I will have to go through a rapid withdrawal of watching another season of college basketball.

It is a good thing baseball started yesterday or I might have to undergo some sort of sports withdrawal treatment. I cannot get excited about watching most NBA games because they're all alike and do not seem to mean much until they get into the playoffs. Then I start watching the multimillionaires battle it out one-on-one to find out who can play the longest and have the fewest amount of injuries.

I have to go as the big game is about to start. May the best team win!

I look forward to your comments.