Natural healing works, or does it?

 

So many promises are made in books, magazines and weblogs advocating the fantastic results from using herbs, spices, minerals and oils. They sound so great until I turn to the index searching for specific, chronic problems. There the promises fade into oblivion, especially for those of us who have had first-hand encounters with serious mental illness. Several decades ago, I first started looking everywhere for help for my relative’s mental illness, including books on natural healing. Those books never discuss prescriptions such as the natural element lithium, which helps some with bi-polar disorder. Lithium requires regular blood tests to avoid serious side effects.

For any other serious mental illness, don’t bother to buy the natural cure literature or products. A “natural cure” does not exist for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Natural healing platforms offer nothing in this category. Some individuals suffering from these disorders self-medicate with alcohol or street drugs. Those options numb them for a while but do not help the individual live normally.

It’s not that the psychiatrists did not try natural cures. In the 1960s, many advocated for vitamins to fix mental illness by supplying what the body surely must lack. Vitamin B did calm anxiety. It failed to fix the psychosis.

In the 1990s new medications began entering the market that truly did allow a semblance of ordinary life for the severely mentally ill. The website for Everyday Health states, “Schizophrenia is a serious and chronic mental illness that generally requires anti-psychotic medication to keep it under control.” Chemically unbalanced minds need more than herbs, oils, supplements or vitamins. They need a qualified, trained clinician to find each individual’s best fit with a modern medication.

The natural healing advisors also have ideas for diabetes. Practically speaking, many sufferers in this overfed country need to put down that candy bar, grab a carrot, take a walk and lose the weight. Still, plenty of folks with diabetes need more than that, including some thin, active folks who make healthy choices and still develop diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, the only recourse for individuals with diabetes was a very strict diet with very few carbs. Even then they potentially faced a shorter life expectancy. In “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, one of the aunts developed diabetes. The doctor trained Corrie to test the aunt’s urine regularly. Eventually, the test results diagnosed her as terminal. In that era before insulin, she knew nothing could reverse the sentence. Her aunt needed a prescription for insulin, which was not available at the time.

As I worked on this column, I came across a medical advice column by Walt Larimore, MD. He supports natural medicines (herbs, vitamins and supplements.) The questioner asked about products sold to boost the immune system against the flu, a cold or Covid-19. Larimore recognized that 25 to 30 percent of the population take supplements for their immune systems. “Unfortunately they’re wasting their hard-earned dollars,” he wrote. He went on to quote Harvard Heath “For now there are no scientifically proven (products to enhance) immune function.” He added that even the makers are aware that the natural medicines are not working. Which is why they use words such as “supports immune health” or “supplements.”

So, I scan the books, read the blogs and social media chatter. I listen to short videos (except the ones that take an hour to convey one sentence of information). I refuse to believe their hype because while some supplements help, others take your cash and pay little in curative power. I eat healthy, drag myself to exercise regularly, take a couple supplements and follow the common sense approach of folks like Dr. Larimore.

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Monetary miseries

    “Why didn’t you stop me?” the woman asked the banker.

    “I tried,” he reminded her of the questions asked when she withdrew $5,000 cash from her account. She had answered the questions confidently, packaged the cash and mailed it to a new online “friend” in another state. After a few online conversations, she felt connected and wanted to respond when asked to help out in a pinch. “You can help? Oh man! That would be so great. Can you send me cash in the  mail?”

    She could, and she did. Only after dropping the package in the mail did she question anything. Too late. The package went to an empty lot in a state far away.

    Tricked, hurt and stung, the customer, asked “Why didn’t you stop me?”

    The banker had done his due diligence. But, it was her account, her money and she had, afterall, answered the questions confidently. Since then, if she withdraws a couple thousand or so, he asks, “Is everything okay?”

    As a banker, he has seen it happen all too often to folks of every age.

    A young adult found a part time job on Craigslist. “They applied and were accepted. The employer wanted help with an out-of-state move into the area. He wanted a local person to deal with the details of moving into a rental. He sent the new employee a couple thousand to make the payments. Only the check wasn’t from a funded account. She got the check, and he needed $500 back for some reason. The shadowy, Craigslist “employer,” says, “Send me that $500 electronically,” which means “immediately.”

    “Since the ’employer’ did not send a valid check, the target sent back $500 of their own money. The check they deposited did not clear the bank. Sometimes they want you to send a money order or to buy a gift card and read them the numbers. The Craigslist fraudster will immediately go and spend the card.”

    Young people get fooled. Middle-aged folks are tricked. And sadly the elderly, especially the lonely, and those with declining mental health get scammed.

    The banker said, “We had one woman come in who had sent $10,000 in cash to another state. She had a healthy account. The voice on the other end of the phone said the IRS was after her because she owed money. They would be coming to arrest her if she didn’t respond immediately.

    “They told her to get cash, wrap it in several sheets of paper and send the $10,000 in an envelope from the post office. ‘If you don’t you will be arrested.’ they said to scare her.”

    “They usually have a foreign accent,” the banker shook his head. “People need to remember, the IRS will ALWAYS mail you notices. The IRS will NEVER call. Unfortunately, the customer believed the caller. She went to the bank, got the $10,000 in cash and mailed it. Only then did the elderly woman mention it to her son. He called the post office in the recipient’s city. That post master general found the envelope before it was delivered, verified it was hers and returned it to the sender. The family member asked that a block be put on her account to stop her from being able to do that again.    

    Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation at a bank, at risk of being scammed. The questions may feel annoyingly nosy or unnecessary, but, if asked, stop and consider the urgency for the large amount of cash or the request to return a portion of the money sent to you. If the banker asks, remember he or she is simply trying to keep ou and your money safe. Thank them for their concern, be glad they noticed and review the situation with others before sending anything.

 

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Help wanted in Indiana

Reading and hearing about all the companies’ desperately searching for employees in northern Indiana, I repeat what my mother-in-law said nearly 50 years ago, “I’m retired, but with all the ads in the newspaper for jobs, I feel like I should go get a job and help out.”

Many of our family – children, grandchildren and in-laws – live in that same area which is a major production area for recreational vehicles. Back 50 years ago, I worked for a short time with a company that sewed cushions for camper trailers. My future husband took a second job cutting through dozens of layers of floral fabric for the cushions which I stitched into cushion covers.

During our recent visit, we met a son who helps set doors on smaller RV’s and his son-in-law who helps build the high end quarter to half a million dollar RV’s. Another of his sons-in-law works in the warehouse that supplies parts for RV factories. They all work overtime every week to meet demand. Perhaps because the pandemic forbade so many inside activities this past year, the demand for the RVs has exceeded the supply. Employees work overtime 5 days a week and Saturdays.

We listened to stories of folks walking away from their jobs because they received a stimulus check or knew an unemployment check would cover basics. They know they could quickly and easily land another job somewhere else when they decide to work again. Unlike last year when many factories closed, it is now an employee’s market.

With that in mind, companies issue incentives to get and keep employees. One of the relatives, a five year employee who has done the same job for five years, recently received a $4 an hour pay increase for just staying at the plant. The company saw a crisis coming when six employees abruptly quit. Any business needs steady, trained workers who will stay. So now this young father earns significantly above even the proposed minimum of $15 an hour.

The pay increases and long hours include fast-food restaurants, big box stores and gas stations. Most places sought folks to apply, join and then show up to work faithfully. So at the big box store the child who once struggled with school, recently welcomed a $2 pay increase along with everyone else. The day before she learned of the leap in pay, she completed the final step to land a new job. She wanted a different working environment, “but $2 an hour more! I couldn’t turn that down,” she grinned. She enjoys her full insurance and retirement benefits and will stay … for now.

Another grandchild went to work at a gas station recently. “If I refer a friend and they are hired, I get a $100 finder fee and another bonus if they stay 90 days,” she said.

Seems logical, especially as we drove through the business section. “Look at the sign in front of the fast food place,” I said. “They want applications and promise a sign on bonuses of $500 as well as pay beginning at $11 an hour for part time and $13 an hour for full time.”

Such a flush economic time for the area. I left agreeing with my mother-in-law, “I could easily feel like I need to find a job and help. So many companies need employees.” The pandemic may have slowed down work. It did close the non-essential factories last year, but the demand for those companies’s products never stopped. This year folks are working long and hard to catch up with the demand, and companies will pay plenty to hire and keep folks on the job.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner

    Midday, we paused in packing for another road trip when I asked my husband, “Are you going to get the chicken special today?” Any day of the week, my guy chooses chicken over steak, especially when it is a bargain.

    “No. I lost weight when I had Covid. I want to keep it off, and tomorrow we start traveling.” He sighed. He really likes his chicken.

    “Good idea. Let’s both try to come home weighing the same or less,” I challenged him. The open road of the Interstate can erode any healthy habits resolve. I prepped carrots and celery for the trip. Not exactly chicken, but it would hold off the five pounds we usually gain when traveling. I added apples, granola bars and low-calorie drinks.

    For a couple days, we shared meals and took modest servings of my daughter-in-law’s delightful cooking. As we left our youngest son’s house, he offered us a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. “No, we really ate too much last night. It was so good, but we need to trim back a bit today.” We did take a couple bananas and oranges for breakfast.

    We ate a healthy lunch because the hostess at the restaurant greeted us saying, “It will be a while before you can come in.” We went into a nearby grocery store instead and bought a couple of salads and a vegetable tray. Dear hubby dutifully ate the salad and opened the small tray of vegetables. He crunched down on celery sticks, carrots and tomatoes as I fell asleep.

    When I woke up, all that remained were the broccoli florets. I finished those off. We definitely were eating healthy until about for o’clock that afternoon when we stopped at a roadside rest with a food court. I stared at the offerings inside the doughnut shop. He drooled over the Asian food counter.

    “Do you want an egg roll?” he asked.

    I wanted doughnuts. I didn’t need anything.

    He asked again.

    “Okay, get two.”

    He returned to the car with egg rolls, spring rolls and crab rangoons. I returned with six doughnut bites. We split our purchases. I felt stuffed.

    We arrived at the next older son’s home and suddenly it was an hour later and we had missed supper. “We are okay,” I thought. “We have had enough.”

    Hubby asked, “What about a burrito?”

    “Not me, I had supper.” Sonny said. “Too bad, we passed the burrito place.”

    “What about chicken? We could go there and get a piece of chicken,” my guy persisted.

    “It is late. You really don’t need one,” I said.

    He looked pathetically disappointed.

    “Oh, go get a piece of chicken.”

    He knew exactly where to go. He drove up to the squawk box. “I want a piece of chicken.”

    “We are closed.” said a voice inside the brightly lit restaurant.

    “I just want one dried up piece of chicken.”

    Silence and then, “I could give you a bargain.”

    “Like what?”

    “Eight pieces for half of the usual price.”

    “I’ll take it.”

    “Now you have eight pieces of dried up chicken,” I said.

    “I have chicken.”

    He drove to the window, paid, opened the bag and gloated over his eight pieces of bargain chicken. He pulled out a leg and tore into it. It smelled delicious, but I really had eaten enough.

    He carried his ‘end of the day chicken’ into the hotel room, ate another piece and put the rest away. Our son declined even one piece before my husband drove him back to his house. While he was gone, I slipped over to the tiny fridge and pulled out a piece of chicken. It was still warm, delicious and not one bit dried up. We’re still traveling. We’ll see if we can stick to our “don’t gain any weight” resolve. Those chicken specials get us every time. 

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Estate Sale Nostalgia

The imperfect seams of the yellow baby rompers at the estate sale carried no monetary value. They simply held enough sentimental value to justify keeping them long after the baby boy had children of his own.

The little outfit reminded me of the red rompers I made for my own son. As I struggled to button down the shoulder straps, he wiggled to get down and go play. He didn’t care what he wore. He wanted to run and play.

I’m sure similar memories kept the late seamstress from donating or trashing the rompers. She had made them. Her son had worn them. They meant a lot to her. I bought them for the story of the love she stitched into them.

At another estate sale, I discovered a cherry red, size four, ruffled dress with a ruffled white pinafore: the only child’s clothing in a closet stuffed with women’s clothing. This perfect princess dress for Christmas even had a simple white cotton slip with a white embroidered flower on it. No little girl had worn that outfit in decades. Just as no one had worn the pale yellow, ruffled dress that fit my daughter nearly forty years ago. I have it tucked away somewhere. Nostalgia retains clothing long past its time of usefulness.

I bought the red ruffled dress and pinafore. It spoke to me like paintings speak to art lovers. The image of the child who once fit the tiny outfits lingers. A similar, nostalgic image lingered when my cousin gave me a tiny pair of leather high-top shoes which my father wore in the 1930s. Years ago, my grandmother tied those brown laces into secure knots before letting him down to go play. He ran. He played. He grew too big for the shoes. My father passed more than a decade ago. His baby shoes remain to remind us of him and my grandmother.

Feeling of nostalgia get me in trouble at estate sales. The detritus of decades of memories attracts me. I peruse dishes, linens, furniture, knick knacks and décor – each hinting at one person’s unique story. Some kept everything, changing little over the years. Others evolve over the years. At one sale, a family member reminisced, “she used to love to entertain and set a table with linens, good china and silverware. The last few years, she used paper plates and napkins and plastic utensils.” According to the price tags on everything, none of the family intended to carry on the tradition of elaborate table settings.

Evolving preferences explains why another sale offered the 1940s book for teens, “Your Manners are Showing.”  I discovered it in a corner where someone had tucked it long ago. I put it on my pile of “must have this.” I consider it a good reference book of expectations from the years before my birth and a sharp contrast to today’s acceptable behavior.

Sometimes an item for sale reflects good intentions that died after writing the check for the pristine set of classic literature relegated to the bottom shelf; the records, cassettes and DVDs never opened or the dusty 60 year-old dress with the price tag attached. With each sale, I catch a glimpse of the another family’s past activities, interests and memories of days when their now adult children blithely wore whatever mommy gave them to wear, read books popular at the time or played with toys now long-neglected.

Parents’ memories of a child’s fussy times fade; the clothing and toys remain with memories of the good times wearing the sweet little outfit, playing with a favorite toy or reading a book. We can’t turn the clock back. We can hold the rompers and remember.

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The controversy in the library

Across the nation, kids celebrated Read Across America the week of Dr. Seuss’s March 2 birthday. Students and teachers dress up in red and white striped hats, wear Dr. Seuss inspired clothing and hairdos and read his books as well as many others. The fun week emphasizes books. This year on his birthday, the company controlling the late Dr. Seuss’ estate announced that six of his books will no longer be published because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Facebook lit up with folks protesting “the ban on Dr. Seuss books.”

“No, no, no,” better informed folks wrote, “Not banned and not all Dr. Seuss books. Just six will no longer be published: ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ ‘The Cat’s Quizzer,’ ‘On Beyond Zebra,’ ‘Scrambled Eggs Super,’ ‘And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street’ and ‘McElligot’s Pool’.”

Within hours, Internet book-selling sites like eBay, Amazon and Abebooks saw books which sold for five dollars on Monday leap to four hundred dollars and more on Tuesday. When an acquaintance discovered the price surge, she found several, listed them and quickly sold several at a tidy profit. Another woman listed four as auctions only to have eBay remove each for “offensive material.” A quick look for the books on eBay shows that many more have escaped the censors. Looking at the hundreds of unsold Dr. Seuss books, it’s also obvious that while eBay management removed many listings of the six books, just as many slipped past and sold in the week’s buying frenzy.

Meanwhile, the Amazon and Abebooks websites continued to sell the same books at the astonishing prices without recrimination. Across the country, bookstores sold any Dr. Seuss books they had. Before the announcement and after his “I Can Read Books” held top positions on the best seller lists. In fact, according to, CBR.org, “None of the six (no longer to be published) books are particularly big sellers, with If I Ran the Zoo selling the most copies in 2020 with 7,000. … Some of the books sold as little as single digits in 2020. Seuss’ most popular books, like Green Eggs and Ham, sell over 10,000 copies a week.”

While some folks paid astronomical prices to make sure they have a copy of Mulberry Street or ‘McElligot’s Pool’ for their children, others questioned eBay’s professed, “removal of potentially offensive and hurtful material.” They specifically found and protested that the more blatantly racist books which eBay allowed to be sold such as the serious adult book “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler and light hearted children’s books like “Peter Pan” (remember the Indians on the island?) and the “Little House on the Prairie” series.

EBay management listened and began pulling listings for Mein Kampf. However, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Peter Pan in every form continue to be sold on eBay. Perhaps because both became popular shows with a plethora of spin-off in books and recordings.

Shunning, outlawing or banning books is not new. Remember “Banned in Boston?” That was one city’s quest to refuse the sale of literature, songs or plays with questionable content. Publishing companies welcomed the label – it guaranteed a surge of sales outside Boston. For centuries dictators and absolute authoritarian leaders sought to maintain control by burning certain books. They knew the truth that “that pen is mightier than the sword.”

The power of the written word is exactly why the nation continues to celebrate a national week of reading. We need students to read novels, biographies and essays for enjoyment now and to develop the skills to discern subtle or blatant messages and consider their social, emotional, spiritual and political impact. To that end, dear readers, thank you for reading.

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Tower of Debt destroyed

     Sometimes I wish I could grab a magic wand to wave over my loved ones. I wondered if I needed one the day my son began a conversations saying, “Joy said I should call you.”

    “What did she want us to know?”

    “That we have paid off our school loans.” he said.

    “Congratulations!” I had daydreamed of waving the wand over those loans. “So you only have the house payments left?”

    “Yes. We will have to buy another car pretty soon. Both cars were in the shop last week,” he said. I recalled that last fall he had said, “We hope the van lasts until we get the school loans paid.”

    The van puttered along until the week he paid the last few dollars of school loans.

    We rejoiced to see that monkey off his back.

    His success, like others’ successes in the family, make me glad I never found a wand to transform the rags of indebtedness into the gown of financial freedom. Each has discovered how to make their own magic.

    One family learned to wave away ‘must have’ expenses. “Just because the clothing store sends me a $5 off coupon to use with their credit card, doesn’t mean I have to go there and spend 25 dollars so I can save five,” one said. That magic wand of realization slowly swept away credit card debt.

    “The kids have learned to make their own pizzas for Friday night pizzas and movie,” another said as she spread out ingredients for build-your-own pizza. It saves the cost of carry-out and makes their budget fit better.

    In the past, cost seemed to be no object in one family. Then they realized that buying needed items at a fraction of a cost magically stretches five or ten dollars into twenty. “Now, he always has a coupon when we go out to eat. The other day I was going with a friend, and he asked, ‘do you want a coupon?’” A magical, hard won change from “Sales rack? What sales rack?”

    I discovered the most impressive waving of a personal magic wand four or five years ago when I noticed a Dr. Seuss-looking arrangement of Lego Blocks resting on Nate’s living room shelf.

    “That’s our Tower of Debt. Each block represents so many dollars of debt,” he explained.

    It was not very pretty. Debt never is. Each block represented a small portion of the debt incurred during years of studying for post-graduate degrees, a major medical crisis and the multiplying expenses of a growing family.

    The Tower of Debt visually reminded his family, “This is ‘why’ are not buying everything we want, when we want it.”

    With each payment toward that big debt, Nate removed a few blocks from the Tower of Debt. Every time a major bill reached zero, the family celebrated at a restaurant then returned to home cooked meals. That dedication led to last week’s phone call,

    “Great!” I could quit daydreaming about finding a magic money wand for them.

    I thought of many conversations Nate and I had discussing how they had cut expenses and added work to increase income. I remembered a couple visits at the time they shed another big debt. Each time I watched Nate, his wife and children removed Lego Blocks off the Tower of Debt before dressing up for their ritual celebratory restaurant meal.

    With that in mind, after the last loan payment was made his daughter said, “so this means we are going out to eat?”     Yes. It did and I am sure it tasted much sweeter than any meal a magic wand could ever produce.

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Achilles Heel

    In one memorable episode of Wheel of Fortune, a player spun the million dollar card and called the correct letters to finish the puzzle “Mythological Hero Achilles.” He only had to read it to keep the card. He pronounced the name as “A-Chill – es.” and lost the million dollars. The next player correctly pronounced, “A-kill-eze” to solve the puzzle and collect $1,000.  

    For the player who never studied Greek mythology, that pronunciation was his “Achilles heel.” The phrase ‘Achilles Heel’ originates from a Greek myth about Achilles and his mother Thetis. To protect her son and make him invulnerable, she dipped Achilles into the River Styx. Achilles grew to be a handsome, brave, fearless warrior. He was as invulnerable as Super Man away from Krypton, until an arrow pierced his heel, killing him. The very heel that Thetis held while dipping her baby Achilles into the river to protect him caused his downfall.  

    The unsinkable Titanic sailed across the Atlantic full steam ahead, confident in its engineered invulnerability. An iceberg pierced its hull, teaching future ship builders and captains valuable lessons. Even to this day, cruises begin with a drill instructing passengers on what to do if the Achilles Heel is discovered in these massive symbols of modern technology.

    “The Achilles Heel” phrase came to mind recently as the electrical power grids in Texas failed. The storm of the century found the system’s Achilles Heel. Not that the Texas electrical companies ever declared infallibility. A few years ago a less extensive storm warned those in charge that a potential power challenge existed. This past week, every power source failed: renewable and non-renewable. Even the most eco-friendly forms of harnessing energy failed, as illustrated by a picture of a windmill being de-iced by a helicopter. Several sources, including the El Dorado News-Times, reported that picture originated in Europe several years ago. 

    Some want to emphasize that the green earth philosophy will not work when clouds block the solar panels and ice freezes windmills. The same folks tend to ignore that 75 percent of the energy source in Texas originated from fossil fuels. Those fossil fuel plants also failed during the storm and shut down.

    In Arkansas, Facebook lit up with warnings, complaints and explanations when rolling blackouts abruptly began and ended one evening. The black outs stopped within a couple hours as folks adjusted thermostats, turned off appliances and went to bed.

    With Texas off the grid, hundreds of workers began working on the problem. Long term solutions will follow as engineers and electricians seek to protect the system’s Achilles Heels.    

    It is easy to say that the power company should have handled things differently. With the eternal 20-20 vision of hindsight, an abundance of solutions always exist. However, 2020 has passed. Take time to stop, assess, correct and continue to look for the obvious, inconsequential and hidden flaws

    Thetis could not go back and dip Achilles to include the heel. The Titanic can not be pulled up and set back on course. We can’t go back and make the results from the power failure go away. We can expect the powers that be to spend the time and money to avoid a future repetition. Customers can quit complaining about the outages, the bills and the inconvenience. Customers can also decide to do their part and turn down and turn off sooner when the next storm comes. 

    Checking for flaws, weaknesses and possible points of failure must follow the storm of 2021 because nature will again challenge any arrogant declarations of “unsinkable” or “invulnerable.” With time, the problems of this storm will be addressed, and let’s hope next time nature will not find a new Achilles heel.

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Thanks, doc

A couple of DIY (do-it-yourself) folks live at our house. Hubby made our bed with lumber, a power saw, nails, glue and varnish. Then I stitched together a quilt, and we sleep comfortably.

Our new house needed landscaping. The DIY man of the house raked the dirt yard flat and free of stones, scattered it evenly with seeds and dug holes for the shrubs and trees.

On birthdays, my mixer appears with flour, sugar, eggs and chocolate powder. In no time a baked cake awaits a simple frosting of four ingredients.

Lately we have learned to do simple sewing machine repairs.  I trust my husband with a lot of do-it-yourself projects: roofing, car repairs and more. Despite our determination to fix things ourselves, even we know when to draw the line and call experts.

A few years ago I refused to even consider obliging his requests for me to “just ease into the car yourself” so that he could take me to the hospital after a fall that resulted in compound fractures in my tibia, femur and arm bones. One look at my face, and he knew he had to call 911 then step aside. He could only stare with his mouth open as he saw the finesse of the EMTs quickly picking me up and moving me to the ambulance. He tried to tell them what to do. They ignored him and used their training and experience to do it their way.

Of course, at the hospital, neither of us could access an x-ray machine for a DIY exam, let alone read the x-rays.  So, we put aside our DIY inclinations and waited on more knowledgeable, skilled folks. We welcomed the benefit of the surgeon’s years of training to put this Humpty Dumpty woman back together.

Before the tibia break, neither of us would have ever thought of installing a temporary external rod to my leg.  I had such a shock waking up and seeing that as we waited for the initial swelling to decrease in order to have surgery to fix the bone internally with plates attached to the bones. I compared it to fixing a split wall stud by nailing it to another piece of wood.

Last year after slipping in mud, I encountered the more common surgery of a hip replacement. In the centuries before modern medicine, similar injuries would have left an individual crippled, in a wheelchair, an amputee or declining health.

Thanks to the doctor who performed the first successful hip replacement surgery using a metal prosthetic in 1940, I can walk and move around. Years of research and development have refined the procedure, reduced the recovery time and increased the longevity of the prosthetic. So many have these prosthetics now that it is almost routine for an orthopedic surgeon. In fact, I had to wait on another person to finish hip replacement surgery before I had mine.

Hip replacement may be “routine” and have clear instructions, but it still is not a DIY project. It takes four years of medical school to grasp the body’s complexities. Surgeons then spend years after that studying, practicing and perfecting their skills under close supervision. Thanks to the years that Dr. Daniels spent developing his skills in orthopedic surgery, I stood up using a walker a mere day or two after I slipped in mud and broke my hip. Sure I shuffled down the hall and had to force myself to pick up the foot and move forward. Still, I walked. I did not remain in the bed.

A shuffling gait is ever so much better than the fate of the folks who endured the same injury before WWII. Kudos to the doctors who learned the skills and persist in doing their best to help patients recover. We can’t be DIY-ers in everything, but we can benefit from our doctor’s skills.

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Just like mom and dad

    The big 4-0 creeps ever closer for my darling daughter. The calendar does not measure the big event so much as the change in her mindset. She called me this morning to say, “I am becoming my parents.” and proceeded to tell me a couple stories.

    Yesterday afternoon she was headed to the church where Katie attends Mother’s Day Out. She stopped at a red traffic light and reached over to spit her gum into a paper. “It didn’t take more than a couple seconds,” she said. During that brief glance away, the light changed to green.

    “The person behind me honked her horn at me to get going. No one else had left the intersection; she did not have to wait long. Still she honked her horn. I drove on and went to the church. The person in the car behind me zoomed ahead, went around me, and wove in and out of traffic. We were going the same direction. In fact that impatient lady went to the same place to get her child from the very same Mother’s Day Out.

    “She whipped around looking for a choice parking space. I parked and was inside, picking up my daughter a bit ahead of her. I just had to laugh. So much impatience. I am becoming my parents. I’m like an old lady getting her laughs from watching ‘young whippersnappers’ get their ‘just desserts.’ It was just so much fuss for such a short distance.”

           My daughter is probably thinking about all the times my husband has refused to pass the car going a mile or two slower than he wanted to go. “I am about to turn off the four-lane. It is ridiculous to hurry up and pass someone just to turn off the highway a few seconds later,” he has always insisted while my impatient soul urges him, “Pass ’em!”

   In the same conversation she admitted to copying her parents’ gas saving secret. “I went to fill up my tank at the grocery store station that gives a discount with purchases of groceries. When I got to the gas tank and punched in my numbers, I realized I had 90 cents off per gallon of gas this time!”

    Her gas light was on, so she needed to fill up without delay. She was ready to start filling her tank, but 90 cents! This was too good not to share! She called her husband, “Hey, do you need gas!? We can get 90 cents off a gallon if you do!”

    “I am not too sure. I will have to drive there,”

    “I will pump the gas slowly to give you time to get here.”

    He left for work and met her saying, “My gas light just came on.” They had two vehicles in need of filling. 

    “And if you had had the gas can for your lawn mower, you could have topped it off as well!” I said.

    “Well, you can only get like 35 gallons of gas at the discount rate, and we got almost 34 gallons. This was so much like what you guys do that all the time: Drive up to the gas tank and fill both cars at the discount. I am becoming my parents.”

    “Hey! You saved enough to pay for your whole family to go out to eat,” I reminded her.

    Eventually that child of mine will tap into even more of my favorite ways to stretch a dollar. Meanwhile, her mindset  realizes that sometimes we cannot save money or time. So we may as well sit back and enjoy the ride.

Joan Hershberger, former News-Times Staff member, writing with her daughter Sharon Schulte.

       

   

 

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