A Thank You Card

February 11

I was very blessed with a good body. Never got hurt. Never was in the hospital. The only time I was in the hospital was when I would get exhausted a little bit, and go in for a check-up or something. ~ Willie Mays

Recognizing not many (OK, none) would confuse my body with Mr. Mays’s, last summer I did reach the advanced age of 75 in surprisingly decent health. Suspecting that may not be necessarily true, I asked my local doctor, Joshua Eken, if I could get a stress test as part of my occasionally annual physical exam. I had concerns such as the morbidly obtuse BMI claiming I was morbidly obese. The fact I prefer pants with elastic waistbands should not lead to a conclusion that my animal doppelganger is a manatee. Nevertheless, it was what it was. So beginning sometime last October, I have made multiple trips to St. Cloud Hospital establishing a close personal relationship with the hospital’s CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center. Since then Dr. Clarence Ojo, and friends, have performed a successful carotid endarterectomy; Dr. Douglas Mellinger, and friends, have performed successful triple bypass surgery; and as I understand things, Dr. Stephen Kidd, and friends, will be installing a stent in the near future. Once that is completed, I will receive a 20-year warranty for parts and labor and can once again go about my business. This is my thanks to all, and an acknowledgment that St. Cloud Hospital more than meets its reputation for excellence when it comes to affairs of the heart.

Suffering is a part of the human condition and must be borne. But misery is a choice. ~ Cormac McCarthy

[Photo with man’s best friend . . . ]

October 18

Never eat at a place called ‘Moms’, but if the only other place in town has a sign that says ‘Eats’, go back to Moms. ~ W. C. Fields

[Among the first trips to St. Cloud for circulatory diagnosis and repair. We would try for lunch at Krewe or Bello Cucina in St. Joseph on the way home . . . ]

The best fame is a writer’s fame. It’s enough to get a table at a good restaurant, but not enough to get you interrupted when you eat. ~ Fran Lebowitz,

[Bello Cucina used to be located in several cities in western Minnesota, but it is now down to this one. The owner said he has difficulty finding chefs and staff. Doh!! . . . ]

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. ~ Aldous Huxley

October 19

I met a keen observer who gave me a tip: ‘If you run across a restaurant where you often see priests eating with priests, or sporting girls with sporting girls, you may be confident that it is good. Those are two classes of people who like to eat well and get their money’s worth.’ ~ A.J. Liebling

[The White Horse Restaurant in St. Cloud . . . ]

[Became the main hang out joint for Ruthie and her sister Rita while performing their oversight duties concerning my healthcare . . . ]

You can’t go wrong with pizza unless it’s terrible pizza. ~ Andy Kindler

October 20

But still they begin, Needles and pins, Because of all my pride, The tears I gotta hide, Oh, needles and pins, Needles and pins, Needles and pins ~ The Searchers

[An angiogram in St. Cloud Hospital, which showed my circulatory system to be not unlike the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area roadways after a snow storm . . . ]

When you’re confined to a hospital bed, there aren’t many appointments you can make. You await visits from friends and family members. You enjoy the coconut ice cream they smuggle in. You tolerate the erratic and invasive visits of doctors and nurses, hoping that one of them will bring you closer to going home. ~ Josh Gondelman

I make terrible jokes every time I go into a hospital. I think it’s a defence mechanism. ~ Sanjeev Bhaskar

I’ve been in the hospital once when I had my daughter, and, oh, when I broke my elbow, but other than that, I’ve been very fortunate. ~ Hillary Clinton

November 29

If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people’, you’d better live real close to a real good hospital. ~ Neal Barnard

[Prepping Nimoy for months of convalescence ahead . . . ]

December 8

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. ~ William Gibson

[On I-94 from Alexandria to St. Cloud in the wee small hours of the morning . . . ]

Millions long for immortality, who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. ~ Susan Ertz

In America, there are two classes of travel: first class, and with children. ~ Robert Benchley

[Approaching St. Cloud, St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph in the distance . . . ]

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say ~ Flannery O’Connor

[Joni James on Sirius XM at a balmy one degree . . . ]

Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection. ~ Florence Nightingale

[The St. Cloud Hospital parking ramp overlooks the Mississippi River . . . ]

Most patients enter a doctor’s office or hospital as if it were a Mayan temple, representing an ancient and mysterious culture with no language in common with the visitor. ~ Tom Brokaw

[It was at some point in my early visits when they came to take my vitals I ‘complained’ that in the last two years I had shrunk from 6 feet tall, to 5′ 11″, to 5′ 10″. I was ‘coached’ into a good reading – 5’10 15/16″, officially 5’11”. I got my inch back!]

[This is Dr. Clarence Ojo . . . ]

[And this is the plaque he removed from my right carotid artery. It has subsequently been sent to Svalbard to determine its chemical composition . . . ]

December 9

The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and the cause and prevention of disease. ~ Thomas A. Edison

[The overnight after surgery from my hospital window. Ruthie stayed at the Gorecki House on the far side of the street from the hospital . . . ]

I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end. ~ Margaret Thatcher

[Showing off my scar . . . ]

If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought. ~ Isaac Newton

January 30

You know, 97 percent of the time, if you come into a hospital, everything goes well. But three percent of the time, we have major complications. ~ Atul Gawande

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande, p. 30

[And now the fun begins . . . ]

An educated patient is empowered; thus, more likely to become healthy. ~ Dean Ornish

[The early morning dog sled ride across Antarctica from Alexandria to St. Cloud Hospital . . . ]

This life is a hospital in which every patient is possessed with a desire to change his bed. ~ Charles Baudelaire

[With Carly Simon on the radio and an outdoor temperature of minus 8 . . . ]

I spent one night in the hospital in my life. I was past 75 when that occurred. ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

January 31

It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm. ~ Florence Nightingale

[Ruthie could hardly wait for the red hair net photo . . . ]

How many desolate creatures on the earth have learnt the simple dues of fellowship and social comfort, in a hospital. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

[Chatting with my heart surgeon, Dr. Douglas Mellinger, in pre-op. He opted for a more conservative hair net color. When local retired surgeon and guitar maker, Terry Kennedy, asked me how old Dr. Mellinger was, I said, “54.” Terry said, “Perfect [mix of youth and experience]” . . . ]

February 1

Keep in mind that if you take a tour through a hospital and look at every machine with on and off switch that is brought into the service of diagnosing the human condition, that machine is based on principles of physics discovered by a physicist in a machine designed by an engineer. ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

[I never knew I had so many orifices?]

As an emergency physician, I can tell you that the best health insurance in the world means nothing if patients can’t reach a hospital in their moment of need. ~ Leana S. Wen

[Lest you hadn’t noticed, my roommates are Nimoy (“Live long and prosper”) and Bloom County Bill the Cat . . . ]

I’m always fascinated by the dedicated monitors in a hospital. Non-standard cables, funny button shapes, odd LED colors, and lots of extra controls. ~ Brad Feld

Please pass the drowsy . . . ~ Me

I was in Congress for six months, and they put me on blood pressure medication. I flew helicopters in combat and I was fine, and I survived 13 months in recovery in the hospital… I got to Congress, and six months later I’m on blood pressure medication. Fourteen months later, they doubled the dosage! ~ Tammy Duckworth

[Displaying the four basic food groups. What I didn’t eat, I turned into a watercolor landscape . . . ]

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. ~ Voltaire

[Sometime it’s hard to tell which is an “in” and which is an “out.”]

I have been told by hospital authorities that more copies of my works are left behind by departing patients than those of any other author. ~ Robert Benchley

[A nap is a nice prelude to the next finger prick . . . ]

There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

[But doesn’t he look so lifelike?]

February 2

Prescription: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient. ~ Ambrose Bierce

I found myself really unfulfilled by the answers that are traditionally offered to questions of why some people suffer and why others suffer so little. ~ John Green

I think I was able to survive five heart attacks because I never postponed going to the hospital when something didn’t feel right. ~ Dick Cheney

I can’t keep track of my hospital time. It all sort of blurs together. ~ Evel Knievel

I’m patient. ~ Michael Jordan

[Oh waiter, there’s a fly in my soup . . . ]

February 3

I’m strongly for a patient Bill of Rights. Decisions ought to be made by doctors, not accountants. ~ Chuck Schumer

[Room with a view – of the Mississippi River . . . ]

I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. ~ Christopher Hitchens

To the patient, any operation is momentous. ~ Joe Murray

[One gains about 20 pounds in surgery, then one spends the next several days trying to get rid of it . . . ]

February 4

If you’re a doctor, what do you promise to do? First, do no harm. If your operating philosophy is do no harm, that’s not a call to imagination. Not only that, if I’m a patient, I don’t want your imagination. I want what works. ~ Jay S. Walker

[The aftermath – you will rightly be advised you will feel like you’re been hit by a bus . . . ]

You’ve never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient. ~ James D. Watson

[The idea behind going for a walk is that you will need the nimbleness to avoid the next bus . . . ]

February 5

For when the wine is in, the wit is out. ~ Thomas Becon

[Meanwhile, The Biddies escaped their caregiving responsibilities long enough to return to Alex for a wine pick up party at Carlos Creek Winery . . . ]

No poem was ever written by a drinker of water. ~ Horace

[Where they were entertained by Donny Brang . . . ]

The patient is not likely to recover who makes the doctor his heir. ~ Thomas Fuller

February 6

I had a patient once who dreamed she kept her husband in the deep freeze except for mating. Lots of men feel that way. ~ Robert Johnson

A person being patient with an insane person is my favorite thing in the world. ~ Bill Hader

[Home again, with Nimoy . . . ]

She got her looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon. ~ Groucho Marx

[The necessary biological corrections . . . ]

I met the surgeon general – he offered me a cigarette. ~ Rodney Dangerfield

On Saturday, I was a surgeon in South Africa, very little known. On Monday, I was world renowned. ~ Christiaan Barnard

Caring for our seniors is perhaps the greatest responsibility we have. Those who walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy. ~ Senator John Hoeven

[The Biddies, in all their glory, with Nimoy, Boone County Bill the Cat, and the autographed heart pillow . . . ]

It is not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it. ~ Lena Horne

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything. ~ Irish proverb

Doctors diagnose, nurses heal, and caregivers make sense of it all. ~ Brett H. Lewis

February 7

People ask me a lot about the values I got from playing for the Cubs for so many years. The value I got out of it was patience. A lot of people these days are not very patient. ~ Ernie Banks

[A mere one week after surgery I still felt it necessary to show up at the Y with a bag of doughnuts for the Fat Boys Walking Club . . . ]

February 8

 Eating together is an occasion that humans have made into a peacemaking ritual. ~ Paul Theroux

[Maybe trying too fast to get back into the action, with the Wednesday Night Fine Dining group at Lure Lakebar . . . ]

If you watch a group of schoolchildren eating lunch together, you cannot help but notice how it is a comically Lilliputian version of the adult thing – the cocked eyebrows of conversation, the reaching for condiments, the shovelling of food into tiny mouths. ~ John Niven

 I have no desire to crow over anybody or to see anybody eating crow, figuratively or otherwise. We should all get together and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases. ~ Harry S Truman

There is no sincerer love than the love of food. ~ George Bernard Shaw

[Alice Anderson’s famous Almond Cake celebrating my survival!]

February 9

Caregiving is a constant learning experience. ~ Vivian Frazier

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. ~ Maya Angelou

February 10

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~ Hippocrates

[I cannot drive for a month; thus, the Super will have to chauffeur the Saturday morning doughnut runs . . . ]

Cards and letters . . .

It’s ludicrous that someone can be fired from their job, refused care at a hospital or denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. ~ John Fetterman

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. ~ A. Whitney Brown

Up Next: There was still a lot of stuff in the cupboard before this all came up . . .

One thought on “A Thank You Card

  1. So glad you are on your way to recovery and have spring to look forward to. Uff da. What a journey you have had. You and Ruthie need to take a mini vacation and have a change of scenery. Maybe travel to a warmer climate for a week or so. Kudos to Rita for taking such good care of you along with Ruthie.

    Liked by 1 person

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