NARROW BE THE WAY


“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to damnation and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13


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“The difference between salvation and damnation is small, and getting smaller.” – Richard Kadrey, The Perdition Score


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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

BLOW YE WINDS

The wind out of Cleveland stank. It was a dark, hot wind full of pollutants. It left everything it touched covered with soot and grit. The Man-Who-Would-Be-King, or as Garry calls him “Orange Head,” was a mighty wind. Warning us all that we live in a dreadful, dangerous country and have everything to fear, including fear itself. But he, our self-proclaimed savior and possibly America’s first-ever home-grown fascist demagogue would save us. He — and only he — can Make America Great Again.

It was a real shock to me. I think America is pretty great right now and always has been.

Then the wind started blowing up from the south, up from Philadelphia. A gentler cooling breeze. It carried the scent of hope and a future of which we can be proud. Finally, last night, Hillary Rodham Clinton, America’s first woman major-party presidential candidate gave us a line which resonated.

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“Aah,” I said.

“Ooh,” said Garry.

And suddenly, everyone was picking up the line and passing it around the cyber world.

I wouldn’t trust Donald Trump to not steal my silver on his way out the door. Or stab me with a kitchen knife, dull blade and all. I can’t control the winds that blow. It is the nature of wind to go where it will, but for a few days this week, the wind was fresh, warm, and scented with flowers.

THE DAILY POST | WIND

THE WEEK DRAWS TO A CLOSE

I got to see some really great x-rays of my spine yesterday. Garry got to see them too and I gave him a short course in why Marilyn’s back hurts. And how come what hurts also keeps my spine in one piece.

FYI, I'm a level 4 -- or was at the time of my surgery.

I was level 4 at the time of my surgery.

When I was 20 years old (1967), my vertebrae L3 through L5 were surgically fused. Not the way they do it today using hardware, but by taking a piece of my hip bone, pounding it into paste, and thence into glue. They first removed (to the extent they could back then, before micro instrumentation) the discs which were herniated and ruptured. Not doing me any good anyhow. They did their best to wrap the nerves to protect them from additional damage. Then, they  doped me up, wrapped me in plaster from armpit to knees, and told me not to move for a year.

I was in the hospital for four months. Flat on my back. Then I was at home for a long time. As soon as I felt better, I got pregnant.

They don’t do the surgery like that anymore. Nowadays, the surgery is entirely different. Plus, they get you out of bed and on your feet the day after surgery. But, this was 1967.

Treatment had begun to change even then, but change hadn’t made it to Oceanside, Long Island where I had my surgery. I should have gone to a more up-to-date hospital. I would have saved myself some pain and misery, though I think, in the end, the results would have been pretty much the same.

Fast forward 49 years. The fusion disintegrated decades ago, but nature is creative. My body provided its own version of fusion using calcium. That calcification is called arthritis, but it has effectively stabilized my spine. It hurts, but I’m not falling apart. This back won’t easily break.

There’s also nothing to be done about it. No surgery. My hips are terribly painful, but my hips are fine. The pain is reflected (deflected?) pain from my spine. So how come my back hurts too? If the pain is going to make something else hurt, shouldn’t it not hurt there too?

Spondylolisthesis-1What’s an aging lady to do? I can’t do MRI because I have a pacemaker and it isn’t one of the fancy ones that are immune to magnetism. I should have a warning label that says “Keep away from magnets.” An MRI is all about magnetism, so I’ll have to settle for a simple CAT scan.

Then, off to the spine folks and see if they are able and willing to try injecting cortisone and lidocaine to at least give me a few months of relative comfort. They might not be willing to do it. My back has scared some pretty impressive medical professionals. And if they can and will do it, there’s no guarantee it would help.

The good news? That ugly mass of calcification that has formed a solid sheath around my lower spine also guarantees that I can stand on my own feet. I may not walk well or stand straight, but I’m also not falling apart. It won’t get better, but it seems likely that it won’t get a lot worse, either. It’s pretty much as bad as it can get.

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Who knew falling off horses when I was a teenager would disable me as a senior. They don’t warn you about that … and I wouldn’t have listened anyway. When you’re 15, you don’t see yourself old and broken. Probably, that’s a good thing.

The good news? My back is close to the same as it was seven years ago. It isn’t noticeably worse, though the CAT scan will paint a clearer picture. For me, not worse is good. Great, even. There are worse things than pain.

BIG STUFF IN BLACK & WHITE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Large Subjects

Large is, of course, relative. A sunflower is large compared to the bee gathering its pollen, but a mountain is forever big … unless the other mountains nearby are huge.

We took so many pictures in Arizona, there are still hundreds of them I have yet to process. The first three were taken this past January, but (finally) processed today. Because mountains and deserts and giant cacti … you can’t argue with designating them as “large.” And per Cee’s advice, I’ve been having fun playing with filters.

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear …

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro ... and that wonderful, big sky ...

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro … and that wonderful, big sky …

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And here, we have a pretty big boat in the driveway of a rather small house.

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Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

A BUSY WEEK

This is a crazy busy week. Dogs and doctors.

Two weeks ago, Garry pulled his shoulder (the one on which he had rotator cuff surgery seven years ago) lifting Bishop into the Jeep. He needed to see the ortho doc today.

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I haven’t had the leisure to take many pictures or write posts. I’m surprised I’ve done as much as I have. It’s like dancing between the raindrops.

In answer to your unasked question, Garry is (apparently) okay. He hurts and it’ll take a few more weeks of healing for the pain to diminish. It’s probably a sprain, not a tear. Which doesn’t make it hurt less. As for me, I’m off to the arthritis specialist tomorrow. I’ve been avoiding this for a few years because the news on my spine is never good and the answer is always the same: there’s nothing to be done except control the pain. Bummer.

Garry’s going to be in New York next week. I’ll have plenty of time to write. Meanwhile, as our personal juggernaut drives relentlessly through a personal calendar that barely leaves me time to cook a meal, much less eat one, I’ll be thinking of you.

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Tonight, watching the DNC, I was proud to be a Democrat, the party that talks about inclusion and coming together. We ain’t perfect, but we are not demonizing minorities and spewing hate. We fight among ourselves, but in the end we are for America and for each other. And that makes me feel pretty good in a year when Orange Head is telling everyone we should be afraid of everyone, and especially each other.

I’m not afraid. I bet neither are you.

Today’s Daily Post theme is “unstoppable.” I’m hoping that’s exactly what we are. Unstoppable, brave, and honorable.