About me

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The last bottle

So last late fall, I bought several bottles of cheap wine. The name also intrigued me, and I sent a picture to my bud, Peter, in DC. I believe his brother is named something like this wine, but I could just be old and forgetful.

Peter found the picture funny because of the name.

That was the last coherent text message I received from Peter. He died a very few weeks later following the unexpected onset of CNS lymphoma. 

This last bottle has been sitting here for several months now. With my recent efforts to be good, I doubt I'd drink it, even if I could get past that memory. Peter was a bit of a nutrition buff, and he avoided the empty calories of wine and such. I doubt he'll be upset with me giving this bottle away, and I think I'll be better off not seeing it anymore.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grandpa ran the Warrior Dash

Yes, Grandpa ran another mudder. 5K. 14 obstacles. They called this one the Warrior Dash. (Recall that last month it was Rugged Maniac.) This time, I ran the entire distance and engaged all the obstacles. This was much better than last month, and I'm closer than I was, but I'm still not ready for Tough Mudder. Fortunately, I have five months remaining to get ready.

This race seemed easier, and I believe there were three reasons for that. First, I spent last week at the beach getting my mileage up. Being able to run the distance made a huge difference, as you might expect. Second, the obstacles were far more “in your head.” Not that any were trivial. It's just to say that it was easy to think the one in front of you might be too much, and I saw several runners fall into that trap. Third, this was not my first time, and that was likely as important as the first two.

My attire was better this time around. I dressed in UnderArmour HeatGear compression, top and bottom, long sleeved and long legged. Socks too. The only cotton I wore was my t-shirt. I wore the same minimalist shoes as last time. Although I'm convinced that the Five Fingers would have been superior for most of the run, I still worry about losing them in the deep mud.

I had registered as a member of the team from the LGBT Center in Raleigh, and spoke of the event as “Running with the Homos.” However, there had not been much organizational activity, at least the I noticed, and as the wave gathered, I held to the back. No need to be trampled by all the other runners. Along the way, I recognized several team members by their t-shirts, but as I didn't know any of them, my introverted self saw little reason for an introduction on the course. Besides, if I needed help along the way, it'd be just as easy to call upon someone nearby. Camaraderie and esprit de corps are generally high in such events. This world could use more of those things. As it turned out, the obstacles didn't require much team effort, not like that last event, and probably not like Tough Mudder.

Well, I did make one exception in the introduction to the LGBT Center's team. Early on in the run, I caught up with Leah. I remember that name because (1) she had to say it twice for me, and (2) A Miss Leah used to get her hair done at my mother's beauty shop. Leah quickly introduced me to someone else, maybe Nick, but within those few moments, I discovered that the pace needed to stay with them was not at my natural gate, and so I left them to their own devices. I saw them again milling about the finish line with big smiles on their faces. 

There were no tunnels in this event. I can't say this absence upset me, even if I was ready for them. The first obstacle appeared at the end of the first mile. It was scaffolding. A ramp up. Two or three lengths horizontal and maybe 10 feet off the ground. Then a ramp down. I paused briefly after starting, and then realized that was a mistake. My mantra became, then, just walk. Just keep walking. I did, and there were no problems.

Several obstacles involved ropes, and I was glad I remembered the gloves this time. Ropes up a long muddy incline. Ropes up a wooden incline. Ropes up a vertical wall. Ropes down an incline. The ropes were not an issue, though I did slip on the one where we had to scale a vertical 15-foot wall. After the eye-popping slip, I recomposed and went up like you're supposed to. One of the walls involved the small grips and footholds you see on rock climbing walls. That was not much of a problem. Neither was the next wall with the cargo netting. In both cases, the trick, at least for me, was to realize that the next best step was not necessarily the next step forward. The sparring footwork came back quickly.

One of those walls had a variation on the get-down side: fire poles. Fire poles just a few inches away to be completely comfortable. There was a 40-something woman facing the poles, and she was afraid. She was also very vocal about it. I suggested she had to reach out and just do it, like everything else, but my sagacity was lost on this peep. A ranger arrived behind me, and gave her a quick lesson that didn't really take. I finally moved on. Reach. Grab. Slide. It's a lightly controlled fall. I looked back about 100 feet out and saw that she had finally made it. We all clapped.

The most difficult obstacle involved square containers tied and floating in 6-feet of water. I didn't try to go under the barrels, mostly because the water was thick with mud and water grass. That left me crawling up on the barrels using the short lengths of yellow ropes available. Lacking sufficient grip and upper body strength to pull myself completely, I had to use frog kicks to push myself up. To my knowledge, I didn't injure anyone with those kicks. There were three sets of barrels, and the water was too deep to walk easily, leaving us to swim the 15 feet between them.

The fire was just like last time. Logs burning on the trail. Jump. Keep running.

Oh yes, much of the trail was through the woods and creeks with plenty of roots to serve as impromptu obstacles. I managed to miss all of those special delights this time, though I did take a tumble approaching the water slide that was not slippery. After seeing that, I stood up and jogged down the incline.

The last obstacle was the mud, deep, red, slick as goose shit on a wet dock, very slippery mud. Yes, with barbed wire over it. I started that section on my belly, but I quickly realized that I had sufficient clearance to get on my hands and knees. I cleared that one quickly. With 20 feet to go, I was about to run to the finish line, but then I noticed the surface was 30 feet of more slick red mud. Running seemed imprudent, and I walked out.

Note 1: Most of these events involved getting extremely dirty. That appears to be a large part of the selling point. There are usually some manner of showers available, but not enough to be worth the trouble. We had a man with a fire hose spraying a large crowd. You should prepare your car with thick seat covers because the mud will not wash out easily.

Note 2: Most of these events have an ancillary fund raising arm. This event was affiliated with St. Jude's Hospital, and if you collected enough money, you could make use of the Jude's facilities. These included a bag drop and some showers. The bag drop was fine, and the line was short than the main bag drop. The showers might have been fine, but I didn't go in. I was sixth or so in line, and it was painfully obvious that I'd be an hour or more in that line. I went home dirty. I do not begrudge St. Jude the money, but I did make a note to not believe further claims of clean up facilities. Instead, just make sure the car seats are wrapped well, and maybe have some minor cleaning supplies in the trunk.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What do you suppose he meant?

Last weekend was Danger's ERAU graduation and USAF commissioning, both three years after we dropped him off at his dorm. Like his sister, he has come a long way in a very short time. One might expect this from a boy who could fly an airplane before he could drive a car.

The commissioning ceremony was smaller and more solemn than graduation. That came as no surprise. Maybe two dozen of the 750 graduates stuck with AFROTC to the end, and here they were, pledging their lives in defense of the country. Unlike the graduation, there was not a single beach ball bouncing across the assembly. Also unlike the graduation, there was not a single boring speaker droning on in the assured glory of hearing his own voice.

The program for commissioning included a page for each student. On this page, they wrote a brief history of themselves, or at least someone wrote it. I suspect a lot of parents were involved. Mind you, I was not. The pages generally ended with the student thanking people, mostly family, but not always. I scanned the several pages with light interest.

I studied Danger's page with an unexpected intensity.

The man is a Certified Southern Smartass. He uses the language differently and to his own design, which doesn't come as much of a surprise, and I know it gets him into more trouble than he needs, but he does appear to have some skill with negotiating his way out.

The initial lines and paragraphs were what I expected. A brief history using adjectives that I attribute to the maternal unit. In the final paragraph, he thanks people, listing particular family members for the special things they've done for him. For instance, he thanked his siblings for not keeping his ego in check. I'm not sure who wrote that, but it did make me laugh inopportunely during the commissioning. Fortunately, the sabers involved were not all that sharp. Just pointy. Very pointy.

At the end of the paragraph, he gets to me. I'm intentionally not speed reading because I want to follow his word choice. What does he credit to me? Mental resiliency. I reread that brief sentence several times. He said that I reared him to have mental resiliency.

There are a million ways I can interpret that, and for the time being, I'm going with the more pleasant meanings. However, coming up with a gay dad cannot be a walk in the park, especially through the teen years, and I know the scouts were none to gentle with him. One day, we'll share a private meal, and the conversation will turn and drift as it always does. Perhaps then, that day some time distant from now, I'll have the nerve to ask, and he'll have the nerve to tell.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So I had my second colonoscopy.

So I had my second colonoscopy. If you're not old enough to have this routine screening, you have a treat waiting. The procedure itself is no big deal. It's the prep that's the attention getter. Last time, I took the little pills. This time, I received the industrial strength Epsom salts, which tastes horrible. I expressed a preference for the potential kidney damage from the pills, but my words fell on deaf ears.

The procedure is done under anesthesia so they don't have to listen to me rattle along. The prep is done alone so the rest of the world doesn't have to listen to me swear for five hours. Well, the neighbor had to listen, but he has moved away now.

To assist in helping everyone understand this Great Mystery of the Old Fart, I live tweeted the prep. Here you do, in chronological order. You are warned.

As part of our punishment for living too long, the medical establishment requires a periodic shoving of rubber hoses up our butts.

Yes, Grandpa is headed back in for his second colonoscopy. 

Apparently, I was such a delight the first time that they want a second go, here some five years later.

Of course, there's way more too it than the moment of anesthesia. Oh yes, we have the evening before. The Prep.

I'm live tweeting this glory. Brace yourself.

Towards 4 P.M. Thursday, I slammed down a fist full of Ducolax with a pint of water. The joy begins soon.

And Desitin. Lots of Desitin.

On the way home, I stopped at Food Lion for some sugar-free, flavored, carbonated water.

12 liters. I'll drink a lot of that in the next 12 hours or so.

6 P. M. I open the bowel prep kit. This cannot end well. I'm thinking a better name is in order. Maybe I'll call the company later.

I have a six ounce bottle of sulfate of sodium, potassium, and magnesium that I'll mix with water to 16 ounces.

I'm also starving. That feeling will end soon, I expect.

Why do I think I'll be cursing the periodic chart before this is over?

A bushel of Ruffles would work well about now. With onion dip. Lots of onion dip.

There's a safety seal on the bowl prep solution bottle. I feel so warm and secure.

You might think they'd do something to make this crap taste better.

The stuffed jalapenos from last week had the necessary effect and tasted a whole sight better.

It took 20 minutes to swallow those 16 ounces. Someone should do the math.

Working on the additional fluid drinking now. Rum would work well here.

I'm thinking now the bowel prep salts improved the flavor of the sugar-free, flavored, carbonated water.

There is a freakin' magnesium bot on Twitter. I have nothing left to be excited over.

I'm also thinking we're going to need some verbal code here very soon, lest I rile some delicate ears.

6:38 P.M. And here we go.

And again.

Do you suppose the physicians are in cahoots with the water company?

I wonder how this might happen in a world without running water and indoor plumbing.

And again. The orchid on the towel rack has not yet complained.

I hope it'll be okay if I sit on this towel for the next while.

Again. I'm not going to be able to count this fast. Maybe someone could come over with a chalk board or something.

It would be better if I didn't sneeze again for a day or so.

And all but one common adverse reaction is in place. No puking yet. I miss all the fun.

Fun Fact: The total volume of liquid required for colon cleansing is three quarts. Reminds me of when I was slinging chitlins.

Do you suppose an air fern would help with the atmosphere in here?

These Tony Gurley political ads are worse than this colonoscopy prep. And more nauseating.

A 24-hour plumber from the UK has started following me. This is just too surreal for me to engage tonight.

And there's one of those hateful, Bible-filled pro-amendment ads. I think I might puke now.

I wonder if they'll just burn this building tomorrow while I'm out.

Oh, dear God. I have another bottle of that mess to drink. And not a drop of rum in the house.

The second bottle tastes no better than the first. I was born to suffer. So was my neighbor having to listen to all this.

This bowel prep mess would work a whole lot better as a rum mixer.

Fun Fact: This bowel prep is contraindicated in the event that you have a toxic megacolon. Whodathunkit?

Here I go again. Cramping better than a body has a right to. Sing along, children.

And to think I'm paying good money for all this ribaldry.

A large pan of lasagna would really hit the spot right now.

A large pan of lasagna would really hit the spot right now.

Come to think of it, that'd be a gold mine. Lasagna-flavored (and textured) colonoscopy prep.

I wonder how the bowel prep would have done blended as a frozen margarita.

I might never drink sugar-free, flavored, carbonated water again.

9:30. Probably one of the most moving events of my life.

And so we retire briefly for the evening.

Somehow, I managed to survive the night. Haven't slept on a towel like that since early college.

You'd think they'd offer something useful such as liposuction while the colonoscopy is going on.

We can credit Desitin for the continuation of the Human Species.

I suppose I should take a shower or something before going to the clinic. A drink would be better.

With this much magnesium and colonoscopy prep in my system, these Tony Gurley ads should be a easier to take. But no. They remain abominations.

And that is that. The ribaldry and colonoscopy are over. Laundry is about done. Sushi is one hour away.

The main event is tweetless. Even if they had let me keep my phone, I doubt the cell signal would have penetrated the building as it's filled with electronic mess. Besides, the real WiFi was locked down and the public WiFi was off. 

Nonetheless, I could not have asked for better treatment while I was there, though I could have asked for certified nurses, but there were none. (They were probably all over at the hospital in a concerted effort to avoid me.) 

My only complaint is that they didn't offer a doggie bag for the Proponol. I could make good use of some milk of amnesia those nights when sleep is slow about coming, and even slower about staying. 

They found nothing of consequence except sign that I have taken too many NSAID tablets for my ancient feets, and they used that excuse to make me return in five years, instead of ten. More likely, the doc has a crush on my sweet rumpus. Yeah, right.