Blog Archives

Starting the day in Hell…

Last night, on our way home from the MRI, we stopped at my daughter Penny’s to pick up our dogs where they were staying all day. Getting out of Cassandra‘s car and walking toward her house, I tripped over the base of my grandsons’ basketball net… painted black and invisible at night… and fell hard on the driveway and impacted my already weakened left side.

Getting up off the ground required really focused assistance from Elly and the girls who brought out a dining room chair for me to pull myself up using my right arm. This took about fifteen minutes and made my girls worry a lot.

While I don’t seem to have broken any bones, nor did I open any of the breaks I had in August/September, but my right arm hurts too much when I try to lift it that I’m really worried about what they are going to try to do at today’s exam in Hagerstown.

I spent the night switching between ice packs and a heating pad on my left shoulder and I have a little more movement, but not much, this morning. Elly made me a new ice pack for the morning.

I hope this doesn’t have the effect of cancelling Friday’s surgery on my head.

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Just finished my MRI…

Elly and Cassandra say I had a seizure going into the test… apparently I was “babbling”…but I don’t remember it. I was under the MRI’s spell for about an hour. Now we are having dinner and getting ready to drive back home.

They have added 2 more doctors appointments in Hagerstown tomorrow. There goes my last day off. I’ll be glad when the brain surgery is all over with this weekend.

Posting from my iPhone is a new experience for me. These fat fingers on a teensy keyboard really means not much writing. Sorry.

OK… it’s off to Georgetown today for the last day of tests before surgery…

Something called “Pre-Surgical Intake” and ending with a new MRI. Then we’ll be chugging back to Harpers Ferry, I get a day off and on Thursday night I’m back in Georgetown at the hotel next to the hospital waiting to have a hole drilled in my head the next day.

Looks like we’ll be driving down in the rain.

I can’t say this is the week I’m looking forward to, but if it ends up solving the problem of my seizures and other things and I am allowed to drive a car again someday (that’s something a guy who goes around to visit friends really misses!) and maybe live a while longer who could complain?

Hey… a note to my wife… Let’s assume I’m going to make Christmas this year. Know what I want? The new DVD of the revival of Sondheim’s company with Neil Patrick Harris, Patty LuPone and… Stephen Colbert! You can get it at Amazon.  Don’t order it until after Saturday.

 

Lunch with the family…

Oy! Three flights of stairs!

My sister took Elly and me, my mother, my son and his wife, my two daughters and three of my grandsons to lunch at Lightfoot’s, a former bank turned into a restaurant in Leesburg, VA. Supposedly, this restaurant is at a halfway point between my mother in Manassas and Elly and me in Harpers Ferry (and my daughter Penny and her kids in Williamsport, MD.)

This was put together so everyone could give me their best wishes before I go into the hospital next week and for all of them to wish me their best.

Buddy and Rachel

We were up three flights of stairs in a private room in this old bank building, where we (or at least me with my current balance and dizziness) slowly walked up and then spent two hours in one place.

It’s full of old French theatre posters, which was sort of neat for my 12-year-old grandson John who is learning French in school this year…”Mais oui!”

My Mother

My son Bud and his wife Rachel are in from Wisconsin.. they’ll be flying back early tomorrow. Penny and the boys, of course, only live a little bit away from us and will be involved in watching me when I recuperate so Elly can go into Hagerstown Community College and work.

Me, of course

My daughter Cassandra who will be here for another week is coordinating all the hospital and doctor stuff with Elly. She is a very organized and impressive woman and has everything going on schedule… more tests next week before surgery, hospital be rental for after (not sure why I need this, but I’m told not to argue.)

Anyway, I can’t get over thinking that this is everyone’s chance to say goodbye to me in case anything goes wrong in surgery (I think there’s a 7% chance or something.)

No radio shows this coming weekend… perhaps the week after. Let’s hope.

Ever make out a “living will?”

My daughter, wife, son and daughter-in-law are all participating in making out the details for a “living will“… I guess they are worried about what to do with my books and check-protector collection and fat-man clothes and other stuff.

They need to know if I’ll allow an autopsey, or whether I want to be cremated or buried or stuffed and distributed on a timely basis to decorate the homes of family members. They need to know if I want to stay alive in a vegetative state. Nothing I’ve really thought about before.

They are doing all this by following instructions in a book (“In the Checklist of Life“) by Elly and my old friend and former employee Lynn McPhelimy who developed this stuff thirty years ago.

This has been helpful to many people in our family… Elly gave many of them copies of Lynn’s book as holiday gifts one year. You can get it, too… just go to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/In-Checklist-Life-Working-Leave/dp/0965784355b   where it costs under $20.00.

If you are planning last days of any family member, or yourself, you may want to consider one of the many five-star reviews that have appeared on Amazon:

This is an excellent book. Everyone needs to have one of these. I have filled out every page that applies. I told my whole family where it is located should my untimely death occur. I have had to plan and attend many funerals and when there is no plan it can make things difficult and stressful. It you take the time to fill out these pages, even some of them, it will help your family in a time of sorrow and confusion. This book is best for the division of property and sentimental items. It is also a good idea to have a living will and trust. Anyone who’s ever had to go through probate or a difficult family situation can relate. For those who haven’t, just know that death can often do strange things to people and even the most loving of families can be divided over who gets what. Get this book as a great start to planning an inevitable part of life.

…or this one:

“In the Checklist of Life” was a book that I found to be indispensable. In retrospect, after losing someone close to you, you realize how important this book really is. I have always joked with my family about writing my own obituary, and here is my very own chapter in which to do just that. The chapter about your pets is one that should not be missed for all pet lovers. This book is smart, it’s funny, it makes you think, it makes you cry. Be kind to your family and fill in the pages of this wonderful book. They will forever be thankful.

As I think about what might go wrong with the surgery I’m having next Friday, this will keep most of my family feeling much more secure.  Thanks, Lynn.

 

Hey Radio Fans… I’ll be on from 10:30 to Noon today…

This will probably be the last time in the next two weeks that I can be on the air, given my forthcoming hospital visit next week. So… I’ll be thrilled to get your call-ins on “Talk To Me” (304-876-5369).b You can talk about anything you want to, as usual, or make an esoteric music request that you challenge me to find in a few minutes… it’s always fun for me.

If you are not in the 50 mile radius of WSHC at 89.7 FM, Shepherdstown WV, then you can go to 897wshc.org/listen-live. There are folks all over the country who listen, now (and a few friends in other countries) and I look forward to playing for everyone.

So, tune in this morning to “Talk To Me”. BTW, my daughter, Cassandra (from Connecticut) is my guest this morning. You can talk to her, too.

– Bill

 

 

My daughter, Cassandra, has come down from Connecticut and is helping my wife coordinate all the brain surgery problems…

I don’t know what I would do if I were on my own, here, dealing with doctors changing schedules without giving us warning, accidentally taking medications that should have been discontinued before certain tests, getting up at 5:00 every morning to get into three or four appointments which don’t seem to get us anywhere.

The newest big problem is reports we have gotten from friends, employees of the hospital and others, where we have been told that the particular hospital we were going to have the surgery in is not one ANY of them would use. Isn’t that thrilling?

Now we are in a holding position. We haven’t cancelled the now set Monday surgery or anything, but tomorrow we are interviewing another practice at a much better hospital with a much better reputation and this may stop everything and set up a new schedule.

Cassandra

Fortunately for me, my daughter Cassandra Corrigan who is a private school Senior Database Administrator in Connecticut (Loomis, Chaffee School), took off from work, drove down here to West Virginia, and has been coordinating with my wife on getting all the papers ready, information on MRIs and other tests that have been collected in the last couple of weeks to bring to Ge0rgetown, down near DC, for the new practice interviews. We will be making a new decision after that, so surgery will most likely be postponed some more.

I am so impressed with Cassandra… my first-born, a fine wife and mother and a brilliant woman. I taught her to use her first computer and now she outshines and outperforms me in all things technical. Wow! And she and my two other kids (can you still call them kids after they are older, married and out of the house?), my Mother, My sister and so many friends have been so concerned that the phone doesn’t seem to stop ringing with folks wanting to know what’s happening.

Cassandra is just doing a spectacular job of getting me organized with all of this. I don’t know what I’ll do when she goes back up to the snow.

We’ve spent this morning and into the afternoon tracking down test reports from four doctors’ offices and we had a new blood test at a lab… and Elly got to go to work and teach her classes while my daughter brought me from office to office. I’m so glad Elly got to go to work today… she’s been giving up so much of her time for me, and when you are in a one-income household, the thought of impacting that one income is awesome.

A day of celebration underscored by personal madness…

AT 4:30 this morning when I posted Obama‘s win I had had 2 1/2 hours of sleep and needed to be up by five to drive to Hagerstown for the first of five different scheduled lab visits, Doctor conferences, and tests based on the notion that I’d be in surgery with my little brain on Friday.

Then, in the middle of all this, as my wife and I went from office to office (I had fasted for close to 11 hours because of one of the tests… so tired AND hungry) trying to get our neurosurgeon on the telephone to find out the results of yesterday’s testing, we were told the surgery would be moved to Monday from Friday!

Well, you’ve never heard anyone yell as loudly into a cell phone as Elly did to one of the front desk ladies at the Doctors‘ office who informed us of this unannounced time change. You have to understand, she takes time off from her work at the College to take me to these appointments and she manages our schedules and expenses, and she expects that professionals follow professional guidelines and maintain their schedules. They don’t.

There is a chance that they may not be able to do the surgery Monday, either, or that my wife will insist that we find another doctor (my daughters, I think, agree with that, too… I’m to worn out and dizzy to even think about it now. I’ll do what they say.)

So, if there is no surgery Friday, we will probably be headed to Georgetown ( 2 hours away) to interview another neurological practice.  If that does happen, I’ll probably be able to do my Saturday morning radio show on WSHC.

There is Joy In Mudville, though… Mighty Mitty has struck out. If you heard that snivelling concession speech he made (gracefulness is not a Republican skill) at 1:30 in the morning, then you have an idea of what kind of president he would have made.

Now we still have the House of Representatives with a big margin for the Repubs and John Boehner  which will let them trample the legislation we need for the economy, for single payer healthcare, for rebuilding our country and for getting out of all this war. I’m afraid it will be a difficult 4 years. Our support for the president will help get things done.

It will be one of the functions of this blog as long as I can keep it going.

– Bill

 

 

Just Returned From Early Voting…

After having done the Friday Morning radio show on WSHC with John Case, Elly and I set out to go to Charles Town, WV, for a visit to the Jefferson County Courthouse for early voting. Since John and his wife, Carol, were already planning to vote today, Elly and I arranged to meet them at the polling place and to have lunch afterward at our favorite Charles Town restaurant, Mezzaluna.

We spent over an hour from getting into the Court House line through voting at the booth. I never expected that it would take that much time, but the lines were very, very long. It seems like many of our fellow citizens were there to vote early… but remember, this was the third day of early voting and it was still mobbed this morning.

But we HAVE voted and I feel very good about it. The odds are very low that West Virginia will agree with me on most of the votes… particularly it is not considered likely that WV will go for Obama. But you have to vote your conscience anyway, and I did.

The Courthouse is a famous location in Jefferson County since it was here that John Brown was tried and convicted for the Harpers Ferry raid during the Civil War. Now it’s famous as the place where Elly and I do early voting.

I hope everyone out there remembers to vote, either early or on election day.

 

Today is our 34th Anniversary…

Elly dances with Buddy at his wedding reception.

Hard to believe it, but Elly and I have been married for 34 years as of today. It’s almost unbelievable that this wonderful woman has out up with me so long. I’m not the best husband in the world and have been obsessed with my various projects, often ignoring hers and making her life less than happy. Now, with my seizures and health care problems, she is making my actual living circumstances both possible and relatively enjoyable.

But we did have highlights in our combined lives. The major thing, of course, was the creation of our fantastic son Buddy (who now calls himself Will, but we will never think of him without the name “Buddy”) who got married a few weeks ago in Milwaukee. I hope he and Rachel get at least the 34 years we have had.

Together we have now raised four different dogs – it’s amazing how much we care about our pet relationships; Now, with Nestlé and Byron sleeping on our couches, our living room is warm and wonderful.

I guess we will go eat somewhere nice today to mark the occasion.

Busy weekend for me.

This is a busy weekend as Elly and her Sustainable Shepherdstown group are

The Goddess of House Cleaning

having a pot luck supper at our house and we have to do a lot of cleaning today and tomorrow morning. This morning I was up early and cleaned the first floor bathroom. After my radio show I’ve been assigned to the living room… much better than the kitchen!

Tonight we have a movie preceded by a dinner with an old friend of ours who is coming into town because she ha a daughter at Shepherd. So we have a weekend that is really filled up and I’m still getting over my recent health problems which I’m likely to be doing for the next couple of months. Ain’t life great.

 

 

I’VE GOT THE MORNING RADIO SHOW ALONE…

John is away this morning so I have to do the Winners & Losers show alone from 7:30 to 9 on WSHC (89.7 FM). To listen on line live from anywhere go to http://897wshc.org.

Elly, of course, is upset that she has to get up so early to take me into the station. John usually picks me up on his way in.

So right now I’m putting my music list together. I’ll be taking requests for music at 304-876-5369 if you want to hear yourself on the air.

 

Finding something to do to keep from going mad!

 

I’ve had a bad day today… physically tripped up by a small seizure while I was doing dishes and an afternoon of trying to stay awake. This is, unfortunately, what life has become… I can’t drive (by law…until I’ve gone a year without a seizure as certified by a doctor) and, since Elly works (which I can’t do outside of the house), I bounce off the walls and am bombarded by televised boredom. If it were not for my laptop and the internet I might as well be in a coma.

So I guess I’m going to start writing something outside of my blog. There is a joy in constructing ideas out of words which I am beginning to look forward to each morning. What I do with what I write is not apparent right now, but I expect it will be realized sooner or later.

I’m tending toward creating a radio drama that I might be able to add to my Saturday show at WSHC, or do with John on the Friday morning show. I’ve been researching radio scripts from the 30s and 40s and I find them fascinating. Some are funny, some are adventures, all of them are strongly character-based since there is little opportunity for scenery (other than sound effects) in radio work.

When I get something finished I’ll let you know.

 

A personal note – I’m living in considerable fear…

Yesterday I had another seizure like the dozen or so I’ve had in the past three years. As I mentioned at the time of the accident 4 weeks ago that left me with broken ribs and shoulder blade and collarbone (and sent me to the hospital for close to a week), my fall down the stairs was caused by one of these seizures. My car accident which took away my right to drive was the result of another seizure four weeks before that.

The worst part of these seizures is that after blacking out (and falling or actually carrying out some activities), I remember nothing until I come out of it… maybe a few minutes later, but occasionally a much longer time. Those who have experienced seeing me in such a state have confirmed that I talk to them and often do things… something I have never had a memory of.

My fear now is that these seizures may start coming more frequently. I’ve been through a large number of medical tests with no results. One doctor thinks it might be epilepsy and a couple of weeks ago had me watch out and see if new seizures happened, even with prescribed medication. I’ll have to call her today and tell her it has happened… not something I look forward to.

Elly is afraid that I’ll have one while she is at work and that I will fall and hurt myself with ho one around. I fear that, too… but I’ve got to go on living somehow.

Actually, this blog is one of the things that keeps me going and for that I thank the several hundred readers who view it every day. Sorry I’ve spoken about it now… I’ll try to lay off in the future.

– Bill

My son is now a married man and I am a tired old fat guy…

 

Morning after… I’m sitting in the lounge at the Milwaukee Hilton catching up on e-mail and my blog while my wife and my daughters go over to Buddy’s house (or should I say Will’s? No, I can’t get used to that… he’s been Buddy to me since the day he was born) for a brunch (I can’t deal with the stairs up to Bud’s house after my bone-breaking accident… and I had an extra fall yesterday walking down some narrow stairs at the Oriental Theater during wedding pictures time… so I’m staying here until they get back.)

This afternoon at 3:00 we catch the first of two trains… this one to Chicago and the next to Martinsburg, WV. We’ll be traveling for next 20 or so hours. What fun.

During Buddy and Rachel’s wedding reception last evening we had a brief rainfall… and, in a sign that I see as good luck for the married couple… it was followed by a Rainbow. What are the odds of that happening? This was magic!

Elly and I had breakfast this morning with my cousin Bob, his wife Suzie and his daughter SueSue and her boyfriend. They’re driving back to Chicago later. It was nice seeing them
The lovely young woman who works this waiting lounge just brought me some ice water… they are so pleasant here…and I think I’ll take a little nap if i can get away with it. Once we head out for the train I’ll have no Wi-Fi again until we get home tomorrow, so I can’t do much more on the blog.

Be good to each other.

 

Back on the blog…but this will be slow.

Saturday, in the early afternoon having returned home after my WSHC show, I had a seizure walking up the basement stairs from the laundry. The next time I knew anything, I was being rolled into an MRI at Jefferson County Hospital.

Everything else, to me, is blank.

It looks like I fell down the stairs, hit the concrete  floor and slid over to a wall with a stack of paintings on it.

Fortunately,  Elly was just returning home and heard the thud. When she found me she couldn’t wake me up so she called 911. They got me to Jefferson.

I have six broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade and a cracked collar bone… all on the left side.

Any movement on my left side or moving my left arm meant excruciating pain. I screamed a lot. JCH then decided I needed specialty trauma care abd sent me down to Inova Fairfax in Virginia… a place if you were my worst enemy I would NOT send you.

I finally got out last night. Now comes six months of healing and pain reduction.

The sadness of a runaway dog… And his recovery.

Three evenings ago our smaller dog, Byron, pushed his way out of the front door as he regularly tries (and sometimes succeeds) to do. Usually he returns in about an hour wanting water and to get on a couch and go to sleep. This time he didn’t return.

Elly and I drove up and down the nearby streets for two days hoping we would see him or, a miserable thought, find him dead along the side of the street having been hit by a car,

We called the dog warden to see if anyone had turned him in, but there has been no lost dog answering to his description (nor has there been any dog reported hit by car in our area). The Warden keeps us on the list watching out for the next month, but Elly and I think we have seen the last of Byron. If someone has taken him in I hope he has a good new home.

We miss him.

UPDATE!

Wonder of Wonders… Byron is Back!

We got a call this morning from the dog warden’s office saying Byron was found last night by a family several miles away. We, of course, immediately ran over to get him… a tired and roughed up dog that had spent two days on the run… his face looked like he had been fighting and he smelled of cow poop.

The folks who found him had three dogs and Byron was apparently not being all that friendly with the male of the three. But these good folks fed him and gave him a place to sleep and called the dog warden with his description.

We got him home and hosed him down to get the dirt and stench off and wiped off his face and brought him into the house. He immediately curled up near Elly’s feet. It looks like he’s glad to be home.

Our Second Night of CATF…

Contemporary American Theater Festival

Last night we saw two plays at the Contemporary American Theater Festival… and I have to have seen all five by Sunday so I can get my WSHC reviews in by Monday.

Our friends Linda and Cecil are up from Silver Spring to see them all with Elly and me… this is our annual couples get together. Linda and I go way back to our time at Laurel Mill Playhouse.

Last night we saw “Gideon’s Knot” by Johnna Adams (a workd premiere), and “The Exceptionals” by Bob Clyman. Tonight we go to “Barcelona” by Bess Wohl (another world premiere.)

When I finish my reviews I’ll post them here as well… the Festival goes on throughout the month and I hope you’ll use my reviews to make your attendance decisions.

Back to the Radio…

I just got into the WSHC (89.7) studio and I’m setting up for my 11 – 1 show. Given the Shepherdstown Street festival combined with the number of trees that came down in the storm last night, getting in here took longer than I expected.

Elly did the driving, since I am banned from doing it for at least six months (assuming I have no more seizures.) It’s another hot day out but the studio is AC’d and relatively comfortable.

If you are outside of our area you can listen on the web at http://www.897wshc.org.

So, it looks like we’ve sold our Town House…

Three months after moving over here to rural Harper’s Ferry, we have just signed the agreement to sell our Shepherdstown town house…not for as much as we wanted, but for enough to move forward in our plans to eventually build a totally sustainable house in the lot next to ours. In Elly’s mind, we are moving again next year, but I’ll just wait and see.

Life is never easy.

 

My congratulations to Peter Corum…

I received the most awesome gift yesterday for my birthday, from the (local) government – Approval for our Conditional Use Permit to build Morgan’s Grove Market – An Agricultural Campus and Health Collaborative! I want to Thank Everyone who came out to support our project. What a great community we live in!

– Peter Corum

I’m thrilled to hear this from Peter, since Elly and I have been more or less involved in the Morgan’s Grove Market project since it’s start. I was one of the public statement makers (reading a letter from Elly, who couldn’t be there) at the Zoning Board of Appeals the other night with a roomful of other supporters and speakers. It’s nice to know that something positive can still happen locally.

Over at WSHC putting my morning show together…

Elliot Simon

… and listening to Elliot Simon who is on right now spewing his libertarian blather to anyone listening. I’m tuning him out of my head while I write this.

Right now I’m selecting the Bob and Ray episodes I’ll be playing and adding some songs to my playlist (although as of late we have been playing a lot more requests from listeners and I rarely get halfway through any preset list of songs.)

It’s nice outside right now but there is rain predicted for this afternoon, right when Elly and I are driving to DC to eat with Linda and Cecil and see the Synetic Theater‘s production of The Taming of the Shrew.

As I write this I realize how difficult it is to compose a post and hear Elliot at the same time… burbling about regulation on oil speculation.

I’ll be back later.

Saturday Morning and I’m getting ready for my radio show…

Talk To Me” is on WSHC FM from 11 Am to 1 PM today and I’m getting my music list and discussion topics ready for the broadcast. If you are outside of our local area (we’re a very small university radio station at Shepherd U.) you can listen by going to the web site at http://897wshc.org/listen_live/index.html. and feel free to call in and, well, talk to me: 304-876-5369.

We have only one line, so if someone else is talking you’ll have to wait til they are done (and my regulars, Ralph and Stu, talk a lot.) I also don’t answer the phone when I’m playing old Bob and Ray cuts.

Elly is going to Frederick, MD, this morning for a student Graphic Design Portfolio Review for the Blue Ridge AIGA… this the third time she’s done the portfolio review and she’s going there with our friend, designer Jill Harner. That gives me most of the day to myself, so after the show I’ll be going back home to continue unpacking at the new house.

Another Saturday in West Virginia.

 

A Death in the Family

I started to work on the blog a couple of hours earlier than the first post went up… that’s because my daughter Cassandra called me from Connecticut to tell me that Penny, my daughter in nearby Williamsport, Maryland, was hysterical.

Her family’s dog, Moose, had been found dead in his little fenced yard this morning.

This had not been expected… Moose was a seemingly healthy, 6-year-old golden retriever that the whole family was fond of. I had just been playing with him on Easter Sunday, playing catch with a tennis ball. He was full of energy and loved playing.

Penny told me her two older sons (John – who had found Moose this morning – and Jason) went off to school crying this morning. Jacob, the youngest, made sure to tell me that “Moosie is dead” as soon as I got to Penny’s house.

Elly drove over from her shopping trip this morning and we all expressed our feelings for Moose, who would be sent to the Vet this afternoon for cremation.

It’s amazing how close you get to a dog. When I came home I spent some time petting Byron and Nestle – someday this will happen to them, too.

Waiting for John Case to pick me up…

This is my 9th and, hopefully, last day without a car. John’s picking me up to get to the 7 AM warmup for our Friday morning show on WSHC.

According to the Honda dealer, my new Fit should be ready to pick up after 3 this afternoon and I’ll be driving again and much poorer.

We’ve already named the car The Hearse, since it is black… or, as Elly says, we’ve never had a black car. The other choices were white or teal (which Elly refused to get.)

Now we have two Fits… Elly’s is a grey 2008 version. I think it’s a pretty good car… we haven’t had any complaints. Even though it’s small, there’s a lot of room in it.

Anyway, I’ll add more later when I get the new wheels and drive ’em around.