I go to town to eat a hotdog and see the doctor; another surgery looms ahead; rain, wind, and an interpretation of a Foxy interpretation of a speech Michelle Obama never made
Now that we are briefly back in the pre-surgery routine, I had to get up early yesterday and take Margie into town so she could stay at Jake and Lavina's home and babysit Lynx. I had a followup appointment with my surgeon, Dr. James O'Malley, at 3:30, so instead of dropping her off and then turning around to drive straight back home, I stayed in Anchorage and spent the morning hanging out with Margie and Lynx.
For some reason, I took no pictures of this wild morning social event.
A couple of days ago, it occurred to us that the summer was nearly over and we had not bought ourselves a grilled hot dog lunch down on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage. Very soon, the hot doggers will pack it up for the winter, so we had to act fast, or miss out altogether until next summer.
So we decided to go to Fourth Avenue for a hot dog lunch. Jacob and Lavina decided to meet us downtown and have hot dogs with us. In the past, we have always bought our summer hot dogs from one certain guy, reputed to the be the best, but he was absent.
There were two hot doggers set up near where we parked the car and then waited for Jacob and Lavina to join us. The dogger on the corner just aways down the street seemed to have the most customers, so I thought maybe he was best. But then again, we were parked right in front of this dogger, set up in the middle of the block and it seemed kind of rude to walk down to the corner and leave him here, waiting alone for a customer.
So we bought from him. The hot dogs were damn good.
Afterward, as Margie and I drove away, near the end next block, a security guy on a bike began to point excitedly and earnestly at our roof. I pulled to the side of the rode. "You've got a can of pop on your roof!" he said. So Margie got out. Sure enough, Jacob had left his Coke on the roof. It had traveled a good block and a half with us and had not fallen.
Good thing, too. If it had fallen, we could have got arrested for littering, thrown into jail and who would have thrown our bail? Fortunately, Alaska does not have the death penalty, so we would not have had to worry about that.
As you can see, the weather was blustery - hinting at the high winds and gusts forecast for evening and night. Rain was in the air but had not yet started to fall.
I had not set in Leah Frankson's grooming chair since probably two months before my surgery. I was getting pretty damn shaggy, so after I dropped Margie and Lynx back off at the house, I went over and took a seat. As she always does, Leah trimmed me up real good.
It was a little horrifying, though, to watch the tufts of clipped hair flutter down and to see all the white and gray coming down with them. For a long time, I have been seeing white in my beard clippings, which have now become mostly white, with just a little bit of black remaining - but not my hair. My hair has been seeming to hold in at its natural brown.
But no more. It looks like I am going the way of all flesh. I always thought I could beat it. I guess I was wrong. All too soon, I will be dust, drifting across the mountains and tundra; sinking into the sea.
Then I headed in the direction of Dr. O'Malley's office in one of the building's on the Alaska Regional Hospital complex, but first stopped at the hospital itself so I could make a small payment to Dr. Geronimo Sahagun, who has his office right there in the hospital building. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Sahagun, it was he who I went to see in May, just before Memorial Day. The plan was for him to burn the flat polyp out of my colon with a laser, a process which I anticipated would cost a total of somewhere between $6000 and $8000 - which I had no idea how I was going to pay for.
But when Dr. Sahagun got a first hand look at the polyp, as opposed to the little pictures from India, he determined it was too big and too complicated to be burned out, very likely had cancer in it (it didn't) and I would have to have a colectomy instead and so sent me to Dr. O'Malley. Combined with my bill to Providence, where Sahagun did the colonoscopy and also sent me to radiology for a CAT scan, that segment of my treatment alone ran up to more than $12,000 and, in practical terms, accomplished absolutely nothing, other than to move me along in the chain.
It was pretty strange to be feeling pretty decent and to see Regional, and these columns, and to remember how I had been and how I had felt the last time I saw them.
Dr. O'Malley was pleased with my progress and told me I am free to get on with life - but also emphasized one bit of very bad news. Due to all the complications, I now have a softball-sized hernia right in the middle of my belly button, where the incision was made and then fell apart and dehisced.
He told me he would give me another operation next summer, open up the hernia, draw the two sides together and stitch it back up.
I told him I did not want to lose another summer.
Okay, he said. February? That should give my body enough time to recover from the trauma it has been through.
Okay, I said (but not until after Kivgiq!) - and how long will this lay me up?
About three weeks, he said. Then he paused. That's just what I told you before this last surgery and it didn't work out that way, he said.
I have been thinking about it since. The surgery will leave me with a very similar incision wound to the one that got infected, dehisced and caused me so much grief.
It could happen again!
Damnit!!! It better not.
He also wants me to get some kind of elastic band I can wrap around my belly when I am engaged in physical activity - like riding my bike or dragging my heavy cameras about.
On the way home, I stopped at Jitter's in Eagle River for coffee and a peanut butter-chocolate chip brownie.
The rain had begun. The winds had grown more blustery, but were still nowhere near the forecast 75-80 mph, with gusts to 100, forecast for the Anchorage Hillside, winds that would topple trees and flip airplanes, rip up roofs, cause my internet to flash on and off, but, fortunately, hurt no one.
Update - 2:18 PM: I just learned the wind blew down a portion of Jacob and Lavina's backyard fence and now they cannot let Muzzy loose back there.
I have oatmeal, and I have Cheerios and I have blueberries and bananas to put on it and if Margie and Lynx had been here, I am certain I would have had one or the other - probably Cheerios. Since my surgery, I have become quite fond of Cheerios with blueberres and banana slices.
But I awoke to a cold house. I did not want to make coffee. I did not want to sit alone in the cold and eat Cheerios or oatmeal, so headed over to Abby's.
Tim was there, outside the window, talking on the phone.
Tim came in, joined me and told me about his latest ventures working on a temporary road at Trading Bay, on the west side of Cook Inlet, being built to support oil development. He spoke of the country, the rivers and lakes he had seen between there and Lake Clark and I got real lonesome for my airplane, because I have flown in that country a few times and it is a wondrous beyond wondrous experience.
Tim's hat, Tim's mug, Tim's hand and the ten he would leave behind for Abby. Elsewhere in the restaurant another breakfast diner began to talk about Michelle Obama's convention speech last night. I was puzzled, because I watched her speech and the one he was derogatorily describing and criticizing bore no resemblance to anything I had heard or seen.
For example, he began by quoting her as claiming that to Barack Obama, there were no blue states, no red states and what a farcical falsehood she had made there. While I remembered the President making statements along that line during his 2008 campaign, I was quite certain Michelle Obama had not even mentioned "blue" and "red" states in her speech at all. In fact, here is the transcript of her speech. I challenge anyone to so much as find the words "red" and "blue" in it at all.
Still, he kept going in this vein and finally I said I had watched the speech and she had not said what he was saying she said.
Yes, she had said it all, he said, he had watched Fox News and they had played the clips back and those clips were her very words.
Suddenly, I understood how he came to see Michelle Obama's speech as something other than the one she had actually delivered. He is still a most decent human being who knows how to cut and deliver a good, honest, seasoned, cord of birch and I won't allow any gratuitous, mean, comments about him, but TV news reporting in this country has gone largely to hell and Fox News pioneered the firey descent downward. It is still possible to get an idea what is going on, but it takes some effort. Sitting down in front of the TV and turning the channel to Fox News just ain't going to educate anybody.