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Posts Tagged ‘Essay’


It all started when my wife decided to get the mail. She thought she should get in better shape by powering up our 660 foot steep driveway.

She then went upstairs to her office where she started having chest and back pains. She thought about laying down there until they went away. I thank God that it was uniquely painful enough that she decided to come back downstairs.

I first heard about it when she entered our living room rubbing her chest with one hand and giving me her phone with the other. “I think I’m having a heart attack. Call 911.”

“I’m having chest and back pains, starting to sweat, and my skin feels cold and clammy.”

I had her sit down on the couch and put her feet up on the ottoman and dialed 911 with shaking hands. How do you get to the place where you can dial 911?

At this point she was holding her chest with both hands and rocking front and back. “My hands are going numb and I’m starting to feel pain radiating up my neck and jaw.” She said.

I got the operator on the line, gave my name and address and told her that my wife was having a heart attack and described the symptoms, and that we needed an ambulance.

I couldn’t help but get a little angry as she calmly said that she was going to transfer me to the state police dispatch as we lived in an unincorporated township. Didn’t she know she should hurry? Then they transferred me to medical dispatch. That didn’t make me feel any better. Hurry, Hurry!

Between quickening breaths LLC keeps repeating, “I love you. I’m sorry. And trying to tell where the important papers are kept.

Inside my heart is wrenching as I tell her “I know, I know.” There’s nothing to forgive.” and “Yes, I remember where everything is.”

The operator tells me that the ambulance is on the way.

LLC wants to get up and walk around the pain is so bad. I make her stay on the sofa and tell her the ambulance is on the way.

Our poodle Belle is worried something is wrong and trying to nose her way between LLC and me.

The operator tells me if I have a dog to put her in another room and open the door so the EMTs can get in.

I tell LLC that I have to leave her for a second to do just that. Belle doesn’t want to go but lets me guide her into the bedroom where I have to close her in.

I run to the front door, open it and hurry back to LLC.

Pretty soon we hear the sirens of the ambulance. “They are close. They’ll be here in a few minutes. I say this to reassure her…and myself.

Never was I more glad to hear the sound of an ambulance.

I’m CPR certified, but I’m glad I don’t have to use it and worry about breaking her ribs.

The ambulances pulls up in front of the house and I say “We’re in here!” as they reach the front door.

We relate her symptoms, as they question us, and they tell her they have to expose her chest to hook up the leads to the portable EKG machine.

If she’s embarrassed, she doesn’t show it, as she tells them to “Go ahead.” like it’s no big deal.

Almost immediately the EMT reads the slip and says, “Yep, you’re having a heart attack.”

Another EMT pops 4 chewable baby aspirin and tells LLC to chew them. The others bring the stretcher in and gently transfer her to it. They wheel her out to the ambulance.

As they strap her in, I ask if I can ride with as I don’t want to leave her. “No but you can follow behind, just don’t speed.”

They take off, lights flashing.

It takes me a couple of minutes to call my Bishop and ask if he’ll assist me in giving her a blessing at the hospital.

I try not to cry as I tell him what happened but I can’t help myself. I’m somewhat relieved but her future is still uncertain.

In the ambulance they have given her 4 more baby aspirin. LLC is in such pain that she has stopped verbally responding to the EMT’s questions. He is asking them to keep her conscious. Instead she squeezing his leg so he knows that she is still with him. They give her morphine to help with the pain.

Hearing the concern of the first EMT, the second, who is driving asks “Should I come back there?”

“Just drive faster!” So he does.

By the time I get on 70, I can see the ambulance lights miles away

LLC wants them to take her to a different hospital but they tell her they have to take her to the nearest one that can treat her.

Since he lives closer to the hospital my Bishop makes it there before I do. We’re on the phone when he says “That must be her ambulance pulling off the exit right in front of me”.

I arrive a few minutes later but have to wait because of COVID restrictions only one person is allowed in the ER room at a time and he beat me there.

They let us both in anyway because we are priests.

They’ve prepped her for the cath lab but are waiting for the cardiologist to return who had gone home for the day.

Med staff leaves the room so we can privately bless her.

They wheel her off to the cath lab and my Bishop and I are led to that waiting room.

We trade medical war stories while we wait. I think he does it to help me hold it together.

The hour goes by quickly and the nurse comes out. “She did well and the Dr. will talk to you in the ER.

LLC is sedated but coming out of it. She had to be awake through the whole procedure.

After writing up his notes, the Cardiologist comes to see us. You can tell he’s an old army doctor with good bedside manner.

He presents us with his drawing of a heart with its major arteries and shows us the: 100, 80, 70, and 50% blockages.

The 100% was what precipitated the attack. It was on the widow-maker underneath the heart but close enough to the end of the artery where it wasn’t fatal.

He didn’t put stents in the others because he didn’t want to over stress her heart. They could be dealt with in the future.

LLC spent two more days in the hospital, mostly for heart and femoral artery incision monitoring. Then she came home so she could get some sleep.

Why am I telling you this story? Partly catharsis but also instructive.

Being religious, I like to think that we were blessed with a few small miracles.

We both knew the usual signs of a heart attack. LLC was blessed because she being female didn’t have unusual signs of a heart attack.

It only took the EMTs seven minutes to get there, and there were two ambulances.

LLC was instantly diagnosed by EKG. We didn’t have to worry about misdiagnosis like “panic attack”, or “gall bladder”, or “indigestion”.

And it only took them ten minutes to get to the hospital.

She made it there in record time.

There was minimal to no damage to her heart.

So please,

Watch https://www.netflix.com/title/81157840

Eat good food

Take 1 baby aspirin a day or keep aspirin handy.

Learn about heart attack symptoms.

And take CPR training.

You never know when you will need it.

With love,

Russell

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20200306_112700The full title reads: ” “Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, Incorporated” — BallClub, July 13-15, 1920. Benjamin Caswell, of Cass Lake, President” “and in another place “Rich” Photo –Bemidji–

I found this photo in my Grandmother’s shed. Having cleaned it out a few months after she died in 1985. “Lizzy” Elizabeth Joyce Mason is the girl with the bow in her hair on the far left. She was 14 then.

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To the left of her is my Great -Grandfather, “Neogeshig”, or Thomas Jefferson Jerome Mason. You can tell from his visage that Littlecreek men received many facial characteristics from him. 🙂

He’s holding Helen C. Mason, age 2, and I believe that little boy half hiding behind his pant leg to the left of him is either his son Vilas, age 6, or son Thomas Jr., age 7.

I figured I’d better put this photograph online somewhere so others could benefit from it–since it’s been sitting on top of my dresser all these years.

I am amazed at the amount of personal family history contained in this photograph. Who are all these people???

The expression of their genes is so strong, I think I would recognize their descendants from this picture! Let me know if you know any of them.

After uploading the whole photo,  I noticed that it was compressed so much that I couldn’t really identify anyone, so I’m adding enlarged sections of it above and below.

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I’m guessing that the man sitting apart from the others in the front bottom row, as a place of prominence, is Benjamin Caswell. Can anyone confirm this?20200306_125403

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Aren’t phone cameras great?

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The following is a non-fictional writing exercise on perception:

I ask my wife what she sees when she closes her eyes in a totally lightless room. “Black.” She says.
“Anything else?” I ask.
A boring “No.” is her response.

What I see when I close my eyes is… complicated. It’s different depending on the situation.

Color-wise the elements are muted flourescent greens, the kind you see on a glow-in-the dark watch face after a few hours into the night,

and muted flourescent purples; the color of dust on velvet under a black light.

Speaking of black, I see that too. Rarely is it ever the rich perfect vibrant black seen on an OLED color TV screen but is almostly totally muddied, washed out by the overlay of the previous two colors.

The picture is complex.  As I describe this I have to alternate between turning the light on in my room to write, and turning the light off and placing the palms of my hands over my eye sockets to return to my interior vision. When I do, what I see has no boundaries save it be how far I can turn my eyes left and right, up and down. If I had 360 degree vision, I suspect  the picture would be spherical. In fact that is it. It’s just that my viewing arc is more restricted. And “I” am in its’ center.

When I say picture, I mean both senses of the word. The “picture” is what I see, but it also has movement. There are elements which are static for an instant when I focus on them, but change, either when I move my eyes to another part of my visual field, or shift into something else when I concentrate on them.

There is no horizon. There is two and three dimensionality. It is sometimes like looking into a microscope and seeing what you have focused on a two dimensional plane and then turning the dial and seeing the focus of a nearer or farther plane.

The elements are multitudinous, minute.
They comprise my whole visual field. I suspect it is part after-images, but I know upon experimentation that they also are physiological manifestations. For instance, if I roll my eyes as low as I can, I see two arcs/ circles flashes of light which I suspect might be photons silhouetting my retinal disks.

And the elements sometimes strobe. I wonder if this is due to microsaccades generated by my superior colliculus. You know, those little jerky eye movements that keep things from disappearing  if you stare at them too long.

I’m getting sleepy but there are three other things I mention off of the top of my head. Sometimes the picture is cross-hatched. I don’t know where that comes from. Sometimes I see typeface. That comes from reading too long before bedtime. And sometimes it’s like looking through a sponge of neurons, which makes me wonder, since eyes, optic nerves, optic chiasm, right and left lateral geniculate nucleai, and right and left striate cortices are all connected; whether the visual seat of my consciousness is looking from the outside in, or inside out. Perhaps it’s one of those things that’s dependent upon your choice of view.

Am “I” actually able to peer through the cells in my visual cortex? I kid you not. It’s food for thought.

So, what do YOU see when you close your eyes? I’d like to know!

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