A Slow Process​

I thought I would bring some of you up-to-date who have been following my post-op from the total parotidectomy I had done in August.

Recovery has been slow and painful. I had no idea I would be going through these conditions and certainly didn’t realize the length of recovery. I’ve always been a high energy and very restless person. I’ve been an insomniac for decades, but that isn’t the case anymore. Even being on steroids for the last year hasn’t helped to increase my energy although it has increased my weight.

For two years I was shuffled from one specialist to another. I couldn’t swallow and my tongue was swollen. I had numerous CT scans, specialized blood tests, and MRI’s. I was referred to an infectious disease doctor, an ENT, and then a rheumatologist. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, nodules in my neck, and that I no longer made saliva. I had four biopsies on the nodules in my neck. Trust me…these are not fun procedures. Thankfully, all came back showing the nodules benign. However, to prevent these from turning malignant it was highly recommended I have the salivary gland completely removed (parotidectomy). Knowing the risks involved in this tricky procedure (the surgeon works around the three major facial nerves to get to the gland) I eventually flew the surrender flag and consented to the procedure. I either made the right decision or I’m a glutton for punishment. Only time will tell which one is correct.

Being impatient is one of my major character flaws. Admittedly, I am my worst critic. I loathe sitting on the sidelines of life but have been resigned to the fact I don’t have the energy to do routine tasks. I’m plagued with constant fatigue and lethargy. I love to read, but the incurable dry eyes make reading for any length of time painful. Laugh and the world will laugh with you was my mantra. Unfortunately, due to partial paralysis, my face doesn’t want to cooperate in allowing me to have a full smile. I have swelling, redness, and numbness in my left cheek. There is limited mobility in turning my neck from left to right. I have limited feeling in my left upper lip, left nostril, and under the left eye. The left ear feels dead. When Cathy applies cream to my face it feels like a dog brush with 200 steel prongs stabbing my skin. Angst and depression were two things once foreign to me, but have now found a comfortable home inside my psyche. My wife and daughters keep reminding me the doctor said recovery would be a minimum of six months. Apparently, I have conveniently forgotten that particular doctor and patient conversation.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. After spending countless hours researching the internet I finally came across a blog which dates back at least 10 years and is filled with patients who were in the same spot I am now. I am finding out I’m not unique and that my signs and symptoms were commonplace in many who underwent the same procedure. There is a common theme among this group’s members. You see, many mentioned that a complete recovery from this major surgery took a full year.

So, I now realize how important it will be for me to practice patience over the next 10 months and let the whole healing process happen. Meanwhile, for the rest of my life, I’ll continue to take my three pills per day to help create saliva and use lubricating eyedrops every two hours.

I thought these golden years would be a lot more enjoyable. However, on a positive note, I’m still above ground.

Dennis L. Page

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We Aren’t Alike

No, we are not the same. Physically, emotionally, philosophically, educationally, politically, racially, regionally, ethnically, morally, and sexually we are as different as the sun and the moon.

People are tall, short, thin, obese, in wheelchairs, missing limbs, muscular or flabby. We are different.

There are stoic people and those who weep when an ant has been crushed under the weight of a shoe. Verbal abusers thrive on reducing a person into submissiveness. Others, stay calm even during the tense situations while others explode over a glass of spilled milk. We are different.

We are drawn to individuals or groups who have similar beliefs as ours. One group may advocate for isolationism and another may be advocating the advantages of globalization. Social issues are often major dividing points for many. Some people are rigid regarding their stance on social justice and conversely, there are others who firmly think a person’s success or failure is their responsibility, without outside assistance. There are disagreements between what one considers right and what another thinks is wrong. We are different.

Addressing education and educational standards is as tricky as a magician pulling a rabbit out of their hat. Not everyone is destined to be a scientist, physician, systems analyst, architect, dentist, accountant, attorney, or veterinarian. We need gardeners, roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, restaurant workers, hotel staff, grocers, and construction workers. Many adults go on and have successful careers without a college education. However, as a whole, college graduates earn more, are healthier, have more opportunities, better employment benefits, and greater interpersonal skills than those who did not graduate from college. We are different.

No, the bulk of the blame for our political division is not the fault of the news media. The cause and effect of our political unrest can be placed in the bank accounts, offshore accounts, and the dark money fed into countless special interest groups, pacts, lobbyists, ideologues, zealots, and those with an agenda that runs counter to popular beliefs. The sole purpose of these groups is to sway people to their side, but in their quest, they incite many to use ugly words, troll, argue, and turn family members and neighbors against one another. We are different.

A segment of society has been suckered into a quagmire of racism. What possesses some people to firmly believe their race is superior to other races? Why do they feelIMG_0744 their race should be the one that dominates others? How did this group get this way? Were they raised in racist homes or did they develop this ideology later in life? Do they truly know/interact with members of other races? Are they so blinded by misguided thinking that they don’t see how inane this hatred is? We are different.

Regional and ethnic differences are almost interchangeable. We are exposed to regional and ethnic foods, styles of clothing, accents, customs, and cultures. We are fortunate to experience the diverse flavors of Italian, Greek, Asian, European, Cajun, Mexican, and American cuisine. We are different.

Examining morality can be and often is a sticky wicket. A line is drawn in the sand when discussing right and wrong acts. Most will agree that murder is morally wrong. However, there are many other behaviors which may not align with acceptable conduct according to the standards others believe in. We are different.

Addressing sexuality covers a myriad of beliefs and emotions, including how we think philosophically, politically, religiously, and morally. We are born male and female, but should that be the sole criteria in determining how someone loves and lives? Does a person being gay, lesbian or transgendered truly have an adverse effect on your life? Isn’t love just that…love? Why do we need to judge others based on our set of principles? We are different.

May you fill your heart and mind with acceptance, diversity, and especially love because with love everything else will fall into place.

Dennis L. Page

Dreams Provide an Eye Opening Perspective

Do you remember your dreams? Are you open to interpreting the movie that played out in your sleep? Or, when you wake up do you simply go about your day without even thinking about the dream you experienced.

I am fascinated by my dreams. Subconsciously, things and events which may be troubling me will eventually play out in my mind. It is like an unwritten diary, of sorts. The fun begins in the morning when I attempt to decipher and break down exactly what transpired while I was off in lullaby land. Last night’s dream involved many issues including, religious freedom, racism, control, suppression, violence, and the denial of basic liberties.

There was fear, mayhem,IMG_0849 and chaos in the streets. People were running for their lives. No one was immune from the wrath of the oppressors. I was huddled with several others in a kitchen. We had the window curtain askew and were peeking at the Middle-Eastern men yelling and racing through the streets with swords and rifles. I don’t know if this terrorist group was Isis or the Taliban, but they were definitely zealots with an agenda of either death or life if we followed their religious beliefs.

Extreme anxiety had enveloped the crowd as they attempted to flee the deadly attackers. Knowing that it would only be a matter of time before we were captured, tortured and eventually murdered, I made my escape. I was caught up in a group of others who were rushing. We didn’t know where we were heading. The only thing we were certain of was our imminent demise if we got captured. I recall with vivid clarity how many of us stood out from those Middle-Eastern men. You see, we were all Caucasians. In any event, I found a police car with the keys in the ignition and jumped into it. Shaking uncontrollably I sped off in a cloud of dirt. I was headed in the opposite direction of all the pandemonium when I awoke.

My dream gave me just a slim glimpse what people of color must feel like in a crowd of judgmental white people. Additionally, religious freedom should be exactly that. No government or ruling party should impose secular beliefs or tenets on an entire society. Furthermore, we should all be constantly on our guard regarding the loss of our rights and freedoms.

Yes, this was a nightmare, but even more alarming is knowing these things really do occur on a daily basis. That is the harsh absoluteness of having a bad dream.

Dennis L. Page

LIFE AND DEATH

LIFE AND DEATH

We are innocently born into a world of unknowns. We live and then we die. The cycle of life from conception to death has been completed. Once we depart this planet our words and deeds will be the legacy we leave behind.

For some the opportunity to live a full life is nonexistent. After taking their first breaths they may succumb to disease, trauma, or by accidental means. We stare off into space wondering how/why these things happen, but alas, they do.

Lamaze classes were nonexistent when my first child was born. Dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room and instead were ushered into a waiting room where the cigarette smoke was thick and hung in the air like an old bingo hall. There wasn’t much conversation among those waiting and dads paced and chain smoked until the obstetrician would call their names. It was a gut-wrenching and numbing time of anticipation wondering about the health of mom and baby. By the time I was summoned to see my wife there was only one other expectant father left in the waiting room.

I remember my wife was shaking all over when I saw her. The doctor told me she was suffering from a form of shock. Then the miracle happened as the nurse brought in my baby girl. We were filled with love, joy, hope, and thoroughly into this most wonderful moment when we heard a woman sobbing on the other side of the curtain. Her husband had joined her as the doctor expressed his sincere sympathy on the loss of their child. Apparently, this woman had miscarriages in the past and through her tears, the doctor kept reassuring her how young she was and kept encouraging the couple not give up and to keep trying for another baby. I could not imagine the pain and sorrow they were feeling. Here we were, a family, celebrating life on one side of a curtain and on the other side a husband and wife were mourning the loss of a child. There is life and there is death and it can all happen in an instant.

The required three-day hospital stay was over as I scurried up the hospital sidewalk. The morning was awash in bright sunshine and I was agog and completely oblivious to my surroundings. Walking in my direction were a man and a woman. He had his arm around her and a solemn aura enveloped them. It was the couple from the recovery room who had lost their child. I lowered my head as they passed me on the left side, not knowing what to say. My happiness was countered by their grief.

Yesterday a man walked into a school and entered his estranged wife’s special education classroom. Two children stood behind their teacher as the man shot and killed his wife and then took his own life. One child was critically injured and an eight-year-old boy died. This incident touched me deeply for a number of reasons. I weep for the teacher, the child who died, the child who was critically wounded and for all the children who will be traumatized forever.

We live and then we die and when the latter happens is anyone’s guess.

Dennis L. Page

Just My Opinion

Just My Opinion

Unless and until the majority rises up in unison and resists we will all be complicit in the establishment of an oligarchy.

We are now at the crossroads of a defining moment in our country. Do you want to be complacent and simply let the cards fall where they may or are you willing to fight to save this country? I’m not going to sit back idly watching Trump and his family destroy this nation. I will call and write members of congress. I will continue to tweet to DT, the GOP, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and any other politician who is rubber stamping this oligarchy. These people are NOT patriots. These are traitors selling their constituents down the river while they fatten their pockets on the backs of our blood, sweat, and tears. 

This is a partial definition of oligarchy from Wikipedia: “Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning ‘few’, and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning ‘to rule or to command’)[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.
Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich,[4] for which another term commonly used today is plutocracy.”

Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I still believe words have power.

Dennis L. Page

A Different Perspective

A Different Perspective

I think the world would be a rosier planet if we would learn to be more flexible, rather than being stuck in the rut of ideological stagnation.

I’m reading “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum and first published his #1 best seller in 1986. I was tucked into bed last night thoroughly enjoying all the little observations of life the author described so eloquently and then turned to page 50. I smiled to myself and made a mental note that in the morning I would share two paragraphs with anyone who cared to take the time to read them and think about the possibilities of a different perspective:

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A Beauty Bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode half in the air…explode softly…and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth…boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either…not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.

Guess that sounds absurd, doesn’t it? A bit dumb. Crazy and silly and weird. But I was reading in the paper today how much money the Russians and our Congress just set aside for weapons. And I think about what those weapons will do. And I’m not confused about what is weird and silly and crazy and absurd. And I’m not confused by a lack of, or the need for, imagination in low or high places. Pass the crayons, please.”

Today I am coloring my world in bright and happy and pleasing hues. Oh, yes…one more thing about kindergarten and my day today is knowing that eventually, it will be nap time.

Dennis L. Page

Charge

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We want what we want and we want now it now seems to be a common denominator for many in the United States. Money is no object when the consumer is armed with credit cards.

I nearly choked on my coffee this morning when I heard the average credit card debt in America is $16,061. This figure doesn’t factor in debt for car loans, student loans or mortgages. Americans are spending $1,309 annually just on credit card interest. In other words, approximately $109.00 per month is dedicated to only paying interest charges. I suppose this wouldn’t be so bad if average household incomes were six figures, but, the average annual household income is only a mere $58,000. Figures like these make my head explode.

I was raised to believe you shouldn’t have a champagne appetite if you are living on a beer budget. I think many people are confused and feel a 60-inch television, fine dining, exotic vacations, new cars, and the latest in electronic gadgetry are necessities when, in fact, they are the “extras” in life.

Dennis L. Page