Friday, June 24, 2016

It Is Time For Me To Put In My Two Cents Worth On Orlando!

Before I start to discuss the horrific terrorist attack on the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, I want to tell you a little bit about my gun history.

When I was four, I received my first guns. I got a Paladin pair of six shooters complete with my own business cards that read, "Have Gun Will Travel" and I was styling.These were my pride and joy until I ran out of caps!

Here I am protecting my little sister, Kathleen from any bad ass that wandered in front of our trailer house in tiny White, South Dakota. Shortly after that picture was taken we were on the move again hauling our belongings in that trailer to McLaughlin, South Dakota three hundred miles away!

Two years later, Santa Claus gave me this double barrel, cork gun which I was hunting Grandma's large porcelain cat that sat across her living room with these huge deep blue eyes taunting me. The cat need not worry about my shooting skills because I am left-handed but right-eyed. Nothing I ever shot at needed to worry about being hit because I was never aiming at my target. Although, years later my uncle Terry let me shoot his BB gun at flickertail gophers!  I do not remember, however, I may have even shot gophers once or twice with his 22 rifle. I had no interest in shooting anything or anyone! I certainly was never a member of the NRA!

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

Now, back to my original intent of this post. After much consternation and bickering back and forth between many sides of the issue including restrictions on military style automatic weapons, to discussions on mental health issues, to hatred of someone whose lifestyle you do not approve of, to the shooter who after looking through his computer, journals and his apartment appears to have been a closeted gay man, to our elected bodies of the Congress who are acting like little boys and girls now in what people are calling an unprecedented act by the GOP walking out of Congress literally in the middle of the night and the Democrats staging a twenty-five hour sit-in!

I find it humorous how people are calling this act of Congress on both sides unprecedented; because it happened on the other side of the aisle in 2008 when President Clinton's Congress did the same thing only the parties were switched around over an oil drilling bill. That is only eight years ago and many people have forgotten their recent history!

I want to address a couple issues that have stood out for me over this mass shooting. The irony in the nation getting so upset over the enormity of this one particular shooting and since then we have had several more shootings and the total of one hundred twenty-five people have died from guns! That is less than two weeks people! The numbers are staggering and continue to mount.

Former Chief Justice, Warren Burger (incidentally was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1907) was appointed by Richard Nixon in 1969. He was a staunch conservative and voted many times on conservative issues like abortion, women's rights, equal pay for women and a number of other issues. However, he maintained the Second Amendment was not interpreted properly. He believed the militia or as we refer it today as the National Guard should be in charge of our defense and the only ones who should possess weapons of mass destruction in a quick amount of time!

Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate proudly proclaimed he would not allow any bill to be brought to the Senate floor that was not first approved by the NRA! The nerve it must take for a supposed leader of the Senate is beyond me! He made his proclamation while holding up a single shot musket shown here:

I have not even begun to address the issue of mental health and/or lack of mental health treatment for people that are contemplating such an act as the Orlando shooter. I will not use his name because I do not believe he deserves to be addressed by name by me.

The issue of mental health as a disease is often not classified as such and many statements are attached to someone with a mental problem. They are often shunned, put down, excused as a "head case" and if they do receive any care maybe the diagnosis is often misdiagnosed. Oftentimes, someone with mental health issues are just shoved along in the system from one department to another and along with misdiagnoses may receive medications that counter the effects of another. If the patient or an advocate for the patient is not diligent in keeping track of medications and treatments, patients often will begin to create an even more horrible situation than the beginning.

They may not have any problems at all in the beginning; but, rather misdiagnoses and treatments that can lead to problems. We are just beginning to understand the brain and how it functions. The sad thing about brain research is many programs are losing funding because of grants drying up and priorities going elsewhere. I have strong beliefs about how our Western medicine operates. I'm a staunch believer in Eastern and/or alternative medicine, and believe the two can work together and create a much better system for everyone.

That brings us to the issue of who pays for what in the medical field? Many insurance companies will cover a certain drug and not another one that might do the same thing. From all my years of experience with the multitude of medications I need to take for certain things to the acupuncture, supplemental herbal supplements as well as some home remedies I am getting by.

This country is divided in many ways and we need to understand and appreciate the people around us who are different than we are. That difference may be cultural, philosophical, racial, language, sexual orientation, disability, age and others.

In the immortal words of the now deceased Rodney King who once asked, "Why can't we all just get along"?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Does It Take To Make A Toothbrush Holder For An Old Quad?

Funny you should ask, because I want to tell you what happened to me today when I went to get my six-year-old toothbrush splint replaced as it was beginning to fall apart.

First of all, I was to be at the outpatient hand clinic in the 2800 Building of the Abbott Northwestern Hospital complex. My attendant, Danyell, parked right in front of the building. My instincts kicked in and I hurriedly rushed to the outpatient clinic in the Sister Kenny building. Where I was told I was in the wrong building and I had to go back to 2800. That clinic is for inpatient patients and the 2800 Building is for outpatient hand therapy.

My original appointment was set for 12 noon. I got to the clinic with about five minutes to spare. They got me checked in and quickly assigned me to Teresa who helped me form the basic splint. That is the black part of this following picture.

After almost an hour with Teresa and forming the basic splint, I went back to the correct clinic in the Sister Kenny building and re-met a longtime acquaintance, Christina. She and I went on a great Odyssey over the next few hours! We went to the Occupational Therapy Department I have been in as a patient and visitor for many years. Christina did what she could, but we ran into a problem with riveting the straps to the split. The therapy department no longer has the capability to rivet; so, I mentioned the idea of going down to the maintenance department and see if they could help us. Eureka, we were greeted by several SEIU Healthcare MN members who took us back into their woodshop to see if they could help us get the straps riveted onto the splint.

It was about 1:45 and one of them said they punched out at 2 o'clock. A couple of them said I'll go punch out, but I'll be right back. They looked in every box they could find for the exact rivet I needed. That is when Jim went and got his own little rivet gun box with the exact rivet and four union members stayed for another half hour to get my splints made to fit on the splint. When they finished, I thanked them profusely and Christina and I were off to her clinic to finish the project.

The finished product looks like this:

The image from the other side looks like this:

As always, click on the image to make it larger. I am not sure what the final cost of a split like this will be; however, I can assure you it is in the hundreds of dollars range if not more than a four-digit number!

We were running late and Danyell's shift was way past 2:30 PM. When I got to the van, she was patiently waiting for me, as it was now just about 3 o'clock. She asked me if my blood draw went okay? That is when it hit me, I needed to go back to the main hospital lab and get my blood drawn. I was so proud of myself and finally getting my work done for the day, I forgot I needed to get a blood draw because another infection is starting and my doctor wants to check all of my blood levels.

I got back to the van and it was almost 3:30! The problem was besides her running on overtime was I had an appointment with my friend Mike Ross at 2:30 to help me fix my computer. I finally was able to call him and he had been sitting in my driveway for the last half hour! We had a discussion about what was going on and he agreed to come by tomorrow or the next day when I am here. He is my savior when it comes to keeping my computer running. He has been ever since we were friends in college in Berkeley in the 1974-'75 school year.

Back to my original point in writing this post was to show how creative problem-solvers and people who are committed to their work get things done. All in all I had a fun day despite everything that took longer than expected! Writing this post even went longer than I expected.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Today Would Have Been My Father's 83rd Birthday!

June 6 is an important day in our history because 48 years ago today Robert Kennedy was taken from us all too soon. I often wonder what the world and our lives would be like had the 1960s been different on so many occasions.

The 1960s brought tremendous amount of change for me as a young boy moving from five different communities and learning to adapt to five very different environments. It was also a decade in which my relationship with my dad changed dramatically as I grew up under his tutelage.

I have written about his birthday on several occasions and other times I wrote how he affected me as my mentor, coach and friend. I was my father's shadow in many ways and as I grew older I came to realize just what a wonderful relationship we had.

There was an alternate side of my father I did not know much about until much later. I choose to focus on the positive side of our relationship. That is why I miss him tremendously since he has been gone almost ten years already. I have several pictures of him at various stages of his life on my Screensaver and see him for seven-second intervals every so often.

Attached is my first photograph of him playing with me and teaching me how to blow bubbles in 1957 when I was only two:

Click on the image to make it larger:

Recently, I wrote a blog post that has become one of my most read ever about him coaching me in the summer of 1968 in Sibley, Iowa. After that summer, he accepted the track and cross country coaching job as well as a counselor position at Worthington State Junior College (WSJC) where he stayed for eight years until my family moved again where he took a similar job at Rochester Community College (RCC). He retired after seventeen years in Rochester. 

Several years ago, I was in Worthington in mid-September for the annual King Turkey Days celebration. I took some time and went to visit and give a brief speech for my long time friend Joel Krekelberg who was teaching a class entitled "Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries." Krek as he is appropriately known in Worthington was teaching his students how to wrap ankles. Every time I get an opportunity to watch him deftly wrap an ankle is a treat because he is so good at!

After his class, I wanted to go over to the athletic building and see if any of my dad's track and cross country teams pictures were still there. We went over there and there were only a few photographs left. The athletic director was there and asked me if I wanted those photos because since track and cross country were eliminated from their sports options, eventually they would be thrown away when the football team pictures crowded them out. I gladly took them and want to share a couple with you now of my father's very successful track and cross country program in the eight years he ran the program that he took over when Bruce Traphagen turned over the program to Dad in the fall of 1968.

I am attaching a couple photographs and their yearly haul of trophies:

As always, click on the images to make them larger:

Some of you may recognize yourself or someone you know. One of the members of the track team, Jerry Schnyders, back row, second from right, I have known since we lived in Edgerton and played baseball together in the mid-1960s!

Roger Schipper who is on the far right in the second row lived with my family for a while when he first moved to Rochester to become the trainer at the Community College. Later, when he was finishing his student teaching, he stayed with Dave Bisbee and me in my first apartment in Minneapolis.

This is fun for me to look at old pictures of not only my dad but also friendships that have lasted many years. I wrote a lot about that in my book.

I look forward to your comments.