I BEG YOUR PARDON. DID I HEAR THAT RIGHT?
Ear Candling? Yes, I did hear you correctly. You were asking me about Ear Candling. Someone I know was asking whether or not they should try Ear Candling.
For those of you who are already completely lost, let me explain.
We were on time, checked in, and led back into one of those little curtained off areas where I was handed a hospital gown. I did not expect that. The Nurse, Techie, or Head Patient Wrangler told me that they were going to hook me up to a heart monitor and put a port into a vein – just in case.
Whatever. I was resigned to my fate.
By this time tomorrow I will have a brand spankin’ new lens in my left eye. Then for the next two weeks I will see better in that eye and still see crappy in the other.
At the end of these ads they always stick in a disclaimer, “Ask your physician before starting any new medications.” Aren’t these new meds all by prescription only? I would assume that you cannot get these drugs by hanging out in the Seven-Eleven parking lot after midnight and befriending some guy named “Lucky.” Your doctor should have to write a prescription for a real pharmacy to fill. I’m not going to start popping some “Xyzzzqwizl!” with my Dr. Pepper and feel I’ve done my part.
Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “What Is That Thing On His Head?”
As far back as I can remember I have had a lump on the back of my head. Not a lump like you might get from whacking your head on the door of a kitchen cabinet or from a high and inside fastball. No. My lump is more like a Crab Rangoon stuck under my skin.
What it is, is – a collection of fat and some obligatory blood vessels. So, I guess you could say that I am a medically certifiable Fathead. I’ve been called worse, today even.
I’m sitting here sipping on a cup of decaf coffee – by choice. In a few hours I will be going into my Cardiologist’s office for a Blood Pressure check and a blood draw. A load of caffeine won’t help my BP reading and the free donut I was just offered won’t look pretty on the analysis of my Type “O” Negative.
Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Conclusion
by John Kraft
“What about…” He looked at Gloria who had walked into the room and was standing by the kitchen door with her arms crossed. “Our two – visitors?”
“They’re, uh, in the trunk.” Walker leaned forward ignoring the pain.
“What trunk? My trunk? The Cadillac? You put those dead bodies in the trunk of my Cadillac?” Gloria stood up straight.
“Dead bodies? What dead bodies? She asked. Her words stuck in her throat. “Terry, what dead bodies? You didn’t say anything about dead bodies. Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus.” She hugged herself and started to rock back and forth. She was already on the verge of crumbling. “Oh, Terry.”
Walker lost it. “Shut up, you stupid Gin Blossom! Terry, shut her up. I need to think.”
“Gloria, please. He needs to think. I’ve messed things up. I’m sorry.”
Gloria looked at Terry. “You’ve messed things up? What about this jackass sitting on our couch? He’s the one who’s messed things up, not you.”
Walker picked up one of the small pillows from the sofa and threw it at her. “Hey, Blondie, shut up. Get out of here. Go do something useful. Go slit your wrists.”
“Do something useful? I’ll do something useful right now.” In two steps she was in front of the sofa and she delivered a sharp left jab onto Walkers bandaged shoulder. He let out a short scream before he passed out. “Now that’s something useful, you, Mr.’My Cadillac.’”
OK! OK! I KNOW WHAT THE DIRECTIONS SAY. I should always eat something when I’m taking my meds. On most morning my iced coffee is enough to buffer the effects of my handful of pills, but things have changed. I’ve started taking something new, on Doctor’s orders, and the game has changed.
My new Doctor has changed my medload and my body has yet to adjust to the altered chemistry in my tummy. When I take the new drug I have to eat something more than coffee or my gastrointestinal tract begins to re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade.
“Half a league, Half a league, Half a league onward! Into the Valley of Death rode The Six Hundred.
“Cannon to the right of them. Cannon to the left of them. Into the Jaws of Death, into the Mouth of Hell rode The Six Hundred.”
Get the picture?
Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Five
by John Kraft
“I’ll let you in, but I don’t have to like it.” –Gloria Dumbaugh
Gloria was pissed.
“I don’t know what else I can do, Hon. He’s my Boss. Look, he’s out cold. I got something I gotta do. Just a few minutes. He won’t be any trouble, I promise. Just keep him on the bed.”
“Our bed you mean.”
OK, on the couch then. I gotta go. It’s important.”
“Terry, he’s been shot. What if he dies on me? What then?”
Terry ran his bandaged fingers through his hair. He wanted to run away. “He won’t die. Doc patched him up. See all that tape? He’ll be good as new in no time.” He set the shirtless, unconscious man on her couch. “Hon, I really gotta go. I’ll bring you back some ice cream.”
“Terry, No, you can’t…” She stopped. She knew it was useless. “Butter Pecan.”
Terry took the Cadillac. He wished it was his. Maybe someday. He parked in the alley behind Walker’s office, right back where it had been before all this mess started.
Inside Walker’s office nothing had changed. The dead guy hit with the shotgun was still dead and was going to stay that way. The Fat Guy by the door was…where was he? Terry started to sweat again and talk to himself.
Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Four
by John Kraft
“Yeah, I know, Einstein. My arm. I need to see Doc. Can you drive?”
“In my left coat pocket. You’ll have to get them. I’m parked in back – dark green Cadillac. Let’s go.”
“What about them?” Terry asked, pointing with the baseball bat at the two men on the floor.
“Later. They don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. C’mon, help me up.”
Terry picked up the dead man’s pistol and set it on the desk. Walker slipped it into his right coat pocket.
“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” — Al Capone
Doc shook his head. “I can’t do that. Not here. You need to go to the hospital.” He looked pale and hung over. That explained again why he never finished medical school.
“Doc, you gotta do something for him. He’s been bleeding all over the place. He passed out on the way over here.”
“Oh, Jesus, Terry, I can maybe try to stop the bleeding, but that’s about it.” Doc gave the unconscious man a quick eyeball check. “That slug is still in him. Probably stuck in a bone. I can’t deal with that here.”
“Do what you can, Doc. I’ll take him to the clinic, I promise.”
“No hospital. No hospital.” Walker had stirred. He was awake enough to hear what was being said. “No hospital. They’ll call the Police.
“Mr. Walker.” Terry wiped his hands on his pant leg. He was sweating like he had gone fifteen rounds. “Mr. Walker, Doc says that the bullet is still in your arm up by your shoulder. No offense, Doc, but Mr. Walker, you need a real doctor.”
Walker was barely able to stay awake. He shook his head. His eyes were only half open. “No hospital. I’ve got two dead bodies in my office. How do I explain that?”
“What?” Doc took a step back from both men. “What? You two have to get out of here. If the police bust me I’ll die in prison. You have to go. Now. Get out.”
“Terry, he’s right. In my wallet there’s a card…a card. Dr. Wycoff. Call him. Take me there.”
“Wycoff? He’s a Veterinarian,” half shouted Doc, “A horse doctor.”
“Terry, do what I tell you. Call him. Call him and then I’ll…” He passed out again.
“Doc, what should I do? He’s my Boss. If he dies I’m out of work, but if I take him to the hospital we’re both in hot water. Doc?
Doc opened a cupboard and took down a box of latex gloves. “He needs a real doctor, but that Wycoff is an old drunk who’d kill him for sure – if he wasn’t dead by the time you got him there. Damn it. Let me see what I can do.”
The two men lifted the unconscious and bleeding man up onto Doc’s kitchen table. Doc took some scissors and started cutting off Walker’s coat and shirt. Terry moved back and stood there watching and worrying.
“I’ll try to stop the bleeding. That’s first, and then we’ll see if I can at least find that bullet. It’d be a snap if I had an X-Ray.”
Ten minutes later Doc had stopped the bleeding, and after poking around he could tell that the bullet fired by the dead man, the very dead man, still in Walker’s office looking for his face, was lodged in the joint where the upper arm connects into the shoulder.
“Well, Terry, that’s about all I can do. I can see where the bullet is, but…”
“Can you get it out, Doc? That would help him a lot wouldn’t it?”
“I said I know where it is, but it might as well be on the moon. No, I’ve done what I can here, Terry. Thanks to you he is still alive, but he needs more than either of us can do.”
“I think I’d make a good Corner Man, Doc.”
“Yeah, but nobody ever got shot at in the Boxing ring.”
Doc stripped off his latex gloves and tossed them into a wastebasket half filled with empty bottles. He looked at his unconscious patient and at Terry. Standing next to his Boss Terry looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“What to do now, Doc? My Boss needs an X-Ray and there’s two stiffs in his office.”
“Not good, Terry.”
“Yeah, Mr. Walker took out the one that shot him – with his sawed-off. It’s a mess. I got the other one, a big fat guy, with a baseball bat.”
“Oh, Terry, this is getting worse by the minute.’
“Could I just leave, Mr. Walker here for a while, you know…?”
“No. No way you can leave him here. Where does he live? Does he have a family?”
“Jeez, Doc, I don’t know where he lives. I’ve only seen him at his office or at ringside. Family? I don’t know that either.”
Lying on the table, Walker was coming to a bit. He was moaning. His arm and shoulder were heavily bandaged. He was drooling.
“Terry, you have to go, both of you. I’ll help you get him out to your car.”
Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Three
by John Kraft
“Now I know why tigers eat their young.” — Al Capone
Once the night faded away the streets were wet and the sky promised more. Terry Jarosz was at his Boss’s office at 8:30. He had slept on Gloria’s couch for a few hours using the three grand as a pillow. He dreamed that the money was his, but he knew it wasn’t and now he was at the office to turn it in and get his cut – five percent. The Boss was waiting for him.
“Did you get it all, Terry? Three grand?”
Terry nodded and emptied his pockets out onto the desk. The last two dollars was in quarters. “I got it all, Mr. Walker.”
“Good job, Terry.” He looked at the Boxer’s bandaged fists. “Jesus H. Christ, what happened to your hands? Was he hiding the money in a meat grinder?”
Terry looked at his bandages. They were feeling tight. He was swelling.
“No. He got physical with me, him and one of his boys. I’m OK. I’ll take it easy for a day or two and I’ll be OK.”
“I hope so. You look like you went twelve rounds with the Marines.”
“I’m OK, Mr. Walker. A hundred-fifty dollars?”
Walker peeled off a couple of wrinkled Fifties and the rest in Twenties and Sawbucks.
“Five percent of three thousand – a hundred-fifty dollars.” He threw in an extra Twenty. “A bonus – to cover the cost of your bandages, Terry. Take your girl out for a nice dinner.”
“OK. Thanks Mr. Walker. I’ll do that. I’ll be ready to go again in no time.”
Ho. Ho. Ho.
As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.
Boxer — Part Two
by John Kraft
“You’re either at the table or on the menu.” — Al Capone
And that was where Mike Walker came in. He was a fan of The Sweet Science. He’d liked watching Terry fight because he knew it wasn’t just “entertainment.” He respected Terry’s work as a boxer and rewarded him by throwing some jobs his way. Mike Walker had a “Private Security” business. He was an ex-cop, a bad one, who did background checks, provided an extra pair of eyes for shopkeepers when inventories grew legs, and he collected overdue debts. Terry Jarosz entered the picture when payments got slippery.
With ninety-five out of a hundred people who missed a payment or two it was just one look at Terry and wallets opened up. With the other five per cent – they got stupid before their money finally came across the desk. Stupid is what sent Terry to see Doc. Doc never charged Terry for helping him. He knew that The Rules were never fair for either of them.
by John Kraft
“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.”
— Pope Severinus – 640 AD
The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.
“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”
“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”
Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.
“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.
“Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”
“Business. Just business, Doc.”
“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”
“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”
The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.
“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”
“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”
He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?
“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”
“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”
“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”
Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.
The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.
Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”
“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”
“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” — Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.
After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.
A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.
Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.
He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”
When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.
Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.
People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.
That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.
Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.
It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.
“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.
Most of the conversation segment of my morning was about my impending Doctor’s appointment. How exciting.
The appointment was with an “Ophthalmologist.” That is a word meaning: “Not a guy working at the Mall.” I was going to see him for a very good reason – my vision is starting to suck. Not all of it, just the part from about 2 ft. out to about 15 ft. Closer in and farther away I am seeing as well as a 71 year old Geezer with Astigmatism can be expected to see. I can find my way around town without a dog.
The Doctor I had been seeing ever since I came to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Turn your head and cough.”) has decided to retire. I take no credit or blame in his decision making process. He retired and it turned into a case of finding a replacement before my prescriptions expired.
Let me tell you – it is not as easy a task as one would expect. There aren’t that many doctors in town, who have actual degrees in Medicine, who are anxious to take on 71 year old Geezers on Medicare. It seems we have a nasty habit of dying and I hear that means they have a whole new set of paperwork to fill out.
Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –
I saw an old guy recently who was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Getting old ain’t for Sissies.” I have come to truly understand that that is true, in Spades, a solid gold, cold hard fact. Ya gotta be tough.
As the temperature drops the sinews and skeletal structure of my body begin to react in a way that, if I were a car they would have me up on the rack for a tune up and a check of my suspension – and maybe new shocks. But, since I am not a car, I get a bottle of Excedrin. I’m an old model and it is hard to find parts for me anyway.
Right now my spine is trying to dislodge itself and go to Florida. The attached muscles and other human bungee cords are twisting to counterbalance my spine’s attempts to sneak away when I’m not looking. And, Mamacita! It hurts.
Modern pharmaceuticals offer a variety of substances that alleviate pain, but they do so at a cost. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about side effects. All medications have side effects – ALL OF THEM. Some are innocuous, some are enjoyable, most are tolerable. These side effects are there because all medications are also poisonous – ALL OF THEM. The trick with medications is to have you take them in such a dosage that it will achieve the positive, intended goal without killing you first. You can OD on anything.
I knew a fellow who, for various psychological reasons, tried to commit suicide by taking his entire month’s supply of antidepressants at one time. Doing so lifted his spirits and made him forget about offing himself, but those meds had the side effect of completely shutting down his kidneys. Fortunately, the ER doctors were able to save him and his kidneys, and the emergency catheterization they had to perform made him even sorrier that he had taken all those pills.
When my body begins to ache, and get downright punitive with me, I try to avoid taking any pain medications. Most of the OTC things are no more effective than a bag of M&Ms and not as tasty. The ones that do help either upset my tummy or make me feel like I’ve downed 32 cups of espresso. The happy medium, for me anyway, is Excedrin Migraine. I don’t have migraine headaches, thank you, Lord, but it seems to be the most effective with body aches. Go figure.
I came to the realization, decades ago, that these seasonal changes are unavoidable no matter where I lived, and so were the pains that came with them. I have also accepted that there is not a damn thing I can do about the pain, unless I want to take prescription pain medication and put my brain and personality in a box until summer. Some of those heavy-duty pain meds are the equivalent of a lobotomy in a bottle. Why on God’s green earth would I want to do that when my brain is just about the only thing I have that works?
Some years ago I had a nasty case of Shingles and my doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin. Sweet Jesus! I couldn’t feel the pain, along with my head, my tongue, the Western Hemisphere or the Milky Way. It was like getting hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer. It turned me into a side of beef with shoes. After a couple days with that I opted for the pain. At least that way I knew I was alive.
So, here I sit, typing away, having downed a couple of Excedrin Migraine. It helps, a bit. I think that the best thing I can do for myself, and those around me, is to stay warm, eat some comfort foods, and watch the World Series on TV.
Now, if I can just find a bowl full of chocolate covered endorphins.
I LIKE TO CONSIDER MYSELF A PRETTY “WITH IT” KID OF GUY. I may not know where I am all of the time, but I’m never lost. I have my act together. Some people think I’ve lost my mind, but I think they are the crazy ones or they are family.
One thing that I don’t do very often is lose stuff. I try to not have too much stuff to begin with so there is less to keep track of. It’s a simple formula. There are people, however, who go around losing stuff all of the time.