Saturday, June 5, 2021

Doc's Monthly(ish) Dump

I have so many drafts started. Ideas flower but life and inertia spring (get it?) to the fore, and the ephemeral beauty fades.

Looking back from today, June 5, I can now see with clarity how hard the winter was. The combination of physical and emotional pain is a tough one. Over much of the winter I was in a sense barely hanging on, shuffling forward haltingly. But I did shuffle forward. I had to bring grit and determination but the table was set by God's grace and the love of family.

It'll be 10 months on Thursday. Alexzandra walks with me, day in and day out. Sometimes I get quite cross with her. "Leave me alone! No more hurt!"

She ignores my bullshit whining. Of course.

Thank God.


Okay, here we go with some funny stuff and pondering. I posted this a while back and I recently experienced a bizarre echo of a similar but completely different experience.

To set the scene I'm thinking about, early in my recounting the tale of Grease's interesting day, there was a point where Grease was having a seizure on the deck of the tiny fighter squadron Maintenance Control space on the boat. The squadron's Maintenance Master Chief -- a very senior, very skilled and experienced sailor who had been sailing the briny years and years before veet-jam was even a thing -- had tried his best to help out by finding a large tablespoon. Back in the day "everyone" knew that if a person had a seizure you had to stick a tablespoon in their mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue. I can remember being introduced to the concept in elementary school -- perhaps in second grade.

There's a story behind that introduction. During a high school basketball game one of the local players collapsed and perished on the court. As you can imagine this was a significant emotional event for our small town. The word that we second-graders got was that the lad had swallowed his tongue, and if only someone had stuck a tablespoon in his mouth he would have survived.

What really happened? I have no idea and I'm probably not going to to try to research a tragedy half a century gone. But there could be a grain of truth in there. His tongue might have blocked his airway during a seizure and he might have expired from suffocation. Opening the airway by lifting the tongue with a tablespoon might indeed have saved the day. There are better ways to clear an airway though, and sticking a tablespoon in there is quite a risky thing to do, so I can't come down solidly on the tablespoon side.

Anyway, there I was the other day assembling widgets at the widget foundry. Across from my work station is the work station of another olden duffer. This guy has the old-duffer diabetes and doesn't appear to take it seriously. It's not unusual for him to zone out with low blood sugar, and the local ambulance has responded such incidents several times in the recent past.

Now I don't know the old guy's story, but I do know that I find it irritating when he has an attack of vapors. That irritation is all on me; no one else in the universe is responsible for for me being selfishly irritated. In my incomplete world view he should be taking better care of himself so as not to put me in an uncomfortable position.

That uncomfortable position rests in the perspective of a former first responder who still feels responsible for responding. And also knows he's long out of cert. And also knows that it's not his job to super-corpsman his ass into every sniffle that appears in the world.

On the one hand I still want to be the man, on the other hand I don't want to be bothered, especially by the antics of an olden duffer who in my judgement needs to step up to the plate and execute some personal responsibility.

Yep, you got it in one! I'm an asshole!

Now where was I.....?

Kay. Olden duffer begins to zone out. There's a flurry of activity as line leaders, the foundry's self-certified medical response team, bored widget assemblers, and most of the community's dog population converge and begin milling about smartly, shouting advice and encouragement at each other. The crowd makes it impossible to work, and impossible for me to help, unless I decide to use my super-corpsman command voice and take charge. Which I do not want to do.

A fleeting thought is this -- being unconscious and at the mercy of such a bizarrely remarkable crowd is an awful thing. I try to imagine myself in the olden duffer's place and decide that I must, at my very next opportunity, visit my favorite tattoo parlor and have "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" inked across my chest. And across my forehead.

I also think -- again fleetingly -- that the price of not taking care of oneself is sometimes its own reward.

Crap! It has been a hard winter!

At this point it's nearly break time and I have a date with step running, so I slide past the circus and get on with some cardio. Within a couple of minutes I have a good sweat going and my heart rate is up to 180 or so. Feels good.

Then the plant PA system erupts with a call. "Anyone who knows CPR please join the circus immediately!!!"

I'm internally pulled in a couple of different directions. What are the chances that CPR is actually required just now to save olden duffer's life? If so, what are the chances that he can be resuscitated? What are the chances that an out of cert paramedic will be savaged if the circus goes south?

Tiny. Essentially impossible. Highly likely.

I keep running steps.

The plant door bangs open and a circus member rushes out. "Shaun, come quick, olden duffer needs CPR!"

Oh, firetruck me.

Inside the circus crowd has grown and now includes most of the population of the nearby villages of Dix and Bushnell. There are even a few latecomers from Fort Morgan, down in Colorado. It's a festive circus. No ambulance yet though.

I eyeball the situation. Olden duffer is leaned back in his chair. He's clearly breathing and I'm reasonably certain his heart is ticking along. One of the circus acrobats has thoughtfully stuffed an ink pen in olden duffer's mouth, because it's what you do.

I return to my cardio. The best thing I can do to shield myself from the tender mercies of the circus is to stay fit and healthy. Sucks to be olden duffer, but at least he's presenting an object lesson in how not to do it.

Man, am I an asshole or what?

Postscript. The ambulance arrives. Olden duffer gets glucose gel under the tongue. He comes around, signs AMA (against medical advice) for the fifth or sixth time in the last 60 days, and goes home for beer and pretzels. He's back at work the next day.


And now for something entirely more funner.

The first of the cattle arrived yesterday. What's better than cows savaging fresh grass in early June?

Earlier in the day I came across an earless lizard. More properly a Common Lesser Earless Lizard, Holbrookia maculata. Beautiful lizard. If the herp experts are correct, the golden hue on this one identifies her as a female ready for egg laying.


After that adventure I came across a Pronghorn giving birth. I was a quarter-mile away and the optical zoom wasn't quite up to sharp images, especially with shimmering heat waves in the mix.

I left the new pair alone for about an hour and a half, then drove back by just in case I might be able to get some decent video of the baby.

Which I did!

Quite a beautiful springtime day which included lots of physical labor and bumping into nature's springtime rebirth.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



  1. Your "Olden Duffer" story reminds me of something I've heard many times:
    "If you don't do what you are supposed to do, you will do what you know how to do."
    Olden duffers, if they live long enough, are prime examples.

    I envy you that green grass. We're already black and tan here.

    1. In so many ways I'm the pot calling the kettle carbonized! "Reverting to training" would be exactly the wrong thing for me to do, so I'm fortunate to be too stubborn to give in.

      It's certainly lovely and green here, at least for the moment. I'm enjoying it a lot.

      Thanks Skip.

  2. Hey! You're still kicking, still ornery too. I like that.

    1. Still kicking indeed. And ornery is one of my many middle names. Pretty much what I got, kicking and ornery.

      Thanks Chris.

  3. It is good to see that you are out and about. I love to see the little ones just starting out in the world. Thank you and as a follow on to Sarge’s thought – stay ornery and keep on livin’.

    1. Nature's annual awakening is a beautiful thing to experience. I'm so blessed and fortunate to be able to directly experience such things. I shall endeavour to keep on livin', and I suspect the ornery thing is completely out of my control. Well, that's my working hypotenuse anyway...

      Thanks Mark.

  4. Interesting insights on varied topics. Good!
    Antelope life cycle and weird lizards, and cows on the move.

    I hope the kids get to go along on some of your field trips so you can pass along your knowledge and love of nature and all God's creatures. Won't hurt to have them see actual ranch work and getting involved at an early age. Heck, take them to the widget factory, like they take city kids to prison "And, if you mess up, this is what will happen to you when you grow up...."
    John Blackshoe

    1. Thanks John,

      I need to put more effort into dragging the kids along to see and experience stuff. I'm not so sure about the widget foundry -- I don't think it would survive contact with children. They've hired summer help high school kids and they're barely hanging on with exposure to 16/17 year olds!

      Sometimes life stuff is hard but the hard is always a blessing. Then God throws springtime at me as a priceless bonus. I am so very blessed.