Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I bet you thought this is going to be about a movie.  It’s not.

My dear friend Amir Brown recently posted this to Facebook.

Was driving down seven Mile and saw a guy passed out in a flower bed. Looked like someone was talking to him but then they walked away and he was still laying there so I turned around.
Pulled up and the guy roused himself enough to give me his name (Alex) and his father’s phone number. Called the dad to tell him where his son was and then called an ambulance.
While waiting l, Alex made his way over and passed out by my car.
Fire and EMS arrive and we all try to figure out where the wasted white guy in flip flops came from.
Turns out there is a rehab facility down the street.
I called his dad back to tell him they were taking his son to Detroit Receiving Hospital. We had a brief conversation about Alex being in his tenth year of severe alcoholism and how he had just bolted from the rehab center after his dad brought him some cigarettes and money for essentials.
I told him that my family had been through this too and that all we can do is hope that Alex pulls it together before he faces more severe consequences. My uncle lost both his legs and eventually his life because of alcoholism.
I was struck by how sad and resigned his father sounded. How bereft.
Addiction is a hell of a thing.
I hope Alex gets the care he needs.

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago in a some moments of self-reflection I was revisiting the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I realized that at times I’ve been all of the characters from that story except the robbers.

I’ve certainly been the smart-ass lawyer who tries to trick Jesus with the question; “Who is my Neighbor?” I’ve also been the two guys too busy with their own concerns to stop and help.  I’ve experienced being the guy in need.  Last summer during recovery from shoulder surgery I was dependent on the kindness of friends and family because I could not drive for eight weeks.  I learned gratitude and humility.  Gratitude I’m pretty good at.  Humility, not so much.

Not often, but from time to time I’ve been able to be the Samaritan.

Hey Amir, thanks for reminding us who are our neighbors and our duty to be the Samaritans.

 

Tipping Point?

As the week of the semi-treasonous news conference comes to an end many wonder “is this the tipping point?”  I afraid that’s wishful thinking.  But there has been some hopeful reporting, from of all places – Wired Magazine.

I read Wired from time to time but never for its political content.  That’s changed.  In the article “What Robert Mueller Knows and Nine Areas He’ll Pursue Next” Garrett M. Graff takes a very deep dive exploring the likely sources of trouble for Trump.  He begins with a shout out to Deputy Attorney General Rob Rothstein.

Why would anyone put up with the abuse, vitriol, and daily haranguing from the president’s Twitter account that Rosenstein has endured? Why would Rosenstein seemingly set precedents that undermine the core principles of the Justice Department, an institution that he’s devoted nearly his entire career to serving?

I have a simple theory: In a world of hedgehogs and foxes, Rosenstein today is the ultimate hedgehog.

Rosenstein knows one very big, monumental, history-shaping thing—how Trump’s presidency will end—and he’s wagered that if he can hang on long enough, justice will be done and the good guys, in his eyes, will win. His early actions, around Comey’s firing, will be vindicated by history when seen by the light of his bravery and personal sacrifice and refusal to be bullied into quitting, a move that would almost surely lead to Mueller’s investigation being shut down or circumscribed by whichever Trump appointee takes over supervising it next.

If you play inside political baseball give this article the time it requires.

The Obama Bros of Pod Save America help keep me sane in these times.  Dan Pfeffer observes that though some Republican Senators are finding their voices talk is cheap.  With John McCain on the sidelines the the split is 50-49.  It would only take one Republican to do some serious shit

Subpoena the interpreter in the room?  Now that would be something.

Any of it likely to happen? Naw!

Pfeiffer’s book “Yes we (Still) Can” is on it’s way from Amazon.  I got the hard cover.

Bring on the weekend and savor summer while it’s here.

 

Stay Off Of My Lawn

I’m a little sad that summer is half over.  I’ve not really done any summer things.  I’m not very good with outdoor chores.  My front lawn shows it as it begins to turn an unpleasant shade of brown.  But I’m smart and I know how to use the internet so I’m on a mission to save it.

The obvious first thing is more water.  There is no in ground sprinkler system so I’ve begun to use an ancient back and forth sprinkler that came with this house.  It squirts but not well.  Looking for something new and first item on a “Ten Best” site for lawn sprinklers is this baby.

It’s the Orbit 6210 Yard Enforcer with day and night motion detection.  Motion detection?   “It sprays and deters unwanted animals without wasting water or energy.”  Yes but it will also spray and deter the neighborhood kids who play ball in the street in front of my house.  I remember “that guy” in the neighborhood I grew up in.  Actually it was an older woman, Mrs. Kramer.  She sat on her porch all day.  God forbid your bike should vere toward the edge of her grass.  Once I actually fell off of my bike onto her grass.  She didn’t say “Are you okay?” It was “Hey you, get off of my grass”.  I’ll give the Orbit 6210 a pass.

Do you listen to the Will Shorts puzzles on NPR’s weekend edition Sunday?  When they are word puzzles that are solved knowing the meaning of words I’m pretty good.  But it it’s an anagrams or crossword I suck.  I’ve never learned to spell.  This week’s challenge is something like this; think of a famous resident of Chicago with the first name of Al.  Substitute the “e” in the last name with an “i” and you get a famous actor also named Al.

For the first time in my life I solved it immediately.  It must be too easy.  How long did it take you?

The world is trying to make sense of the Helski press conference in which Trump sided with the President of Russia instead of our Intelligence community.  People seem much more comfortable with the words “traitor” and “treason”.  Is this a Tipping Point?  I doubt it.

Enjoy hump day.  I’m going to do something summery. 

What Planet Are We On?

Because I can buy and sell stocks and bonds for my clients on my desktop computer I’m required to have a very strong password and I’m required to change it every ninety days.  My memory being what it is requires a mnemonic system for choosing passwords.  So three different characters in the beginning,  four different numbers at the end and a variable word in the middle.  For the first 21 months I used the seven dwarfs.  !@#Dopey1234 is considered a very strong  password and one that I can remember.  When I ran out of the Dwarfs I switched to planets starting with Mercury and moving outward.

The other day I sat down and stared at my computer. I had to ask myself the somewhat cosmic question; What planet am I on?

The past 16 days have been surreal.  My Mother uncharacteristically called my sister complaining of the worst headache ever.  At 87 she was living independently, driving and involved in social activities in the neighborhood.  Her usual response to hardship of any kind is stubborn stoicism.  The CAT scan revealed three brain aneurysms.

She was moved to the larger hospital in Flint.  We were informed that she was a candidate for the non-invasive surgery known as  Neurointerventionalist/neurosurgery.

Depending on the aneurysm’s size, location and shape, it may be treatable from inside the blood vessel. This minimally invasive procedure is similar to the cerebral angiogram. However, in addition to taking pictures, a catheter is directed through the blood vessels into the aneurysm itself. Then, using X-ray guidance, the endovascular surgeon carefully places soft platinum micro-coils into the aneurysm and detaches them. The coils stay within the aneurysm and act as a mechanical barrier to blood flow, thus sealing it off.

The surgeon was able to treat two of the three aneurysms.  The untreated one had not ruptured.

We never were able to have a complete or coherent conversation with Mom thereafter.  She breathed with assistance from a respirator through a tube in her throat.  She answered yes and no questions with nods.  She specifically asked for my Sister in law, Peggy who is a nurse anesthetist.  Peggy leaned in and explained in detail where she was, what had happened and how she was being treated.

Consultations with the doctors over the next few days were wildly inconsistent.  She would make a complete recovery, she wasn’t “out of the woods” yet, we have to wait and see.  We watched her condition deteriorate over the next nine days and knew that the third untreated aneurysm was likely a ticking time bomb.

We came to a unanimous conclusion; time to stop all active treatment.

On June 29 the respirator was removed.  When we came into the room Peggy went to the ICU monitor and started pressing buttons.  “Are you allow to touch that?” I asked.  “I’m turning off the alarms.  We don’t need to hear this thing beeping when any of her vitals go above or below normal.”  We held Mom’s hand, we stroked her forehead and said encouraging, grateful and loving words.  After about ninety minutes she took her last breath.

My take-aways

  • Pick the right Siblings and In-laws.  Mom had six children. We stayed in constant touch with each other and never disagreed.  I know many stories where this was not the case.  This experience has brought us much closer.
  • Have an advance directive in which you designate a Patient Advocate.  You’ve heard me say this before.
  • Talk to your loved ones about your end of life preferences.  When I gave the news to my son I was able to say, “This is exactly what Grandma wanted and, listen closely, this is exactly what I want when the time comes”.
  • Consult with the Doctors but really listen to the Nurses.  The Doctors see their patients for 10 minutes.  The Nurses are with them day and night.

We respected Mom’s instructions not to plan a funeral or memorial service.  On Monday I went back to work.  I shared the news on Social Media from which there came an out- pouring of consolation, support and love.  Five days later I celebrated a birthday and my Facebook page blew up with thoughtful expressions of kindness.

My mother’s legacy includes 10 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.  She loved large and was loved in return.