Friday, June 24, 2011

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE

One of the most remarkable abilities remains the capacity to distinguish objects in the physical world from one another. Although it is possible to separate items from one another by odor, by feeling them through touch, by hearing the sound they emit or by other sensory means, yet seeing the image of the object remains in most settings the clearest distinguishing characteristic.

In spite of this commonality of viewing the same objects, why do different persons not see identical images? Let us examine some of the factors that result in differentiation in spite of what is obviously viewed.

Let us look for example at a red-haired lady. What others see is a person with a temper easily let loose on any provocation. Angry outbursts spew forth with little cause. A tongue that readily offers sharp barbs or nasty comments is part of the perception.

What I see is a beautiful countenance remarkable for its calm beauty. The easy smile and the calmness that attaches to every situation are observable. Placing a noticeable positive slant on the matter being talked about is the norm. A tongue that speaks kindly when describing others is calm and without bitterness,

Seeing another type of situation brings up the matter of past experience. The 1969 Grand Prix Pontiac had the reputation of being one of the muscle cars of its era. It carried a reputation for power, beauty and dependability to those who saw it. Those who purchased it widely acclaimed its qualities.

My perceptions of it as a used auto were significantly different. I experienced some doubts about it as a trailer-pulling vehicle early on. They were confirmed on the trip to Washington from New York later on as a tow truck hauled the ailing auto to a garage in Moses Lake and later at a Sears in Seattle. When a 1970 Olds showed up in a Wellsville garage later, my perceptions of used autos altered. It seemed to me to be in mint condition and to have the appearance to match it. These experiences altered my view of used autos.

When it comes to vegetables, broccoli is scorned, viewed as a weed from the the plant kingdom. To my friend it is an ungainly plant that offers little to recommend it as a source of attractive nourishment. Both the foliage and stalk have nothing to offer to a hungry individual. His preference is to avoid it at all meals.

I see broccoli as a real treat from the garden. Its tender stalk topped with a cluster of green buds offers gustatory satisfaction akin to few others. It is like green candy from the garden and the first choice on my plate. No other vegetable is as tasty and succulent as the stalks of this premier product. It really tickles my palate.

My rancher friend looks out at a hillside covered with a yellow shrub. He sees scotch broome to be a cancer on the landscape. His preference is to view the beauty of green grass covering the slopes and providing feed for his cattle. Yellow to him is a sign of caution. Hard to eradicate, it spreads quickly to the surrounding areas and can quickly take over a wide area. To him it equates to much work to eliminate this unwanted intruder.

The beauty of this prolific shrub brightens the roadsides and otherwise barren areas with a touch of gold. It requires no careful pruning or special attention to cause it to flower. The blooms last quite a long time with no attention. It blooms at summer's beginning and is a beacon of the coming season. With a light heart
I welcome this harbinger of summer.

So what you see offers the result of what you are looking for. To each person what is seen may differ when viewing the identical object. Contented is the individual who looks constantly at the bright side.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

THE STRUGGLE BACK

On the evening of March 15, 2006, I was listening to Betty read to me, a pleasant time of relaxation. All at once I lost my ability to respond. Seeing me slumped in my chair and getting no response, I was aware of her calling 911. In less than five minutes the local rescue team was at our door and there followed a blur of conversation before the vehicle left for the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Everett, Washington.

At the hospital Betty gave a rundown on what had happened. The attending doctor eventually decided on an MRI. Off I went down endless corridors but soon was returned to the ER. Meantime Rev. Patrick Vance had arrived. I could hear them conversing about what could be done. The outcome didn't appear promising as the "what if''s" were considered. As I listened, Rev. Vance was considering what to say at my memorial service. That is a luxury not usually afforded the average person. That I could be listening but unable to respond never occurred to them.

As my condition remained stable, it was decided to admit me. I was transported to a hospital room to see if my condition stabilized and hoped rehab would be possible. Betty was with me every day. However my conscious awareness of what was happening to me was fragmentary and lacked coherence. My mind struggled with what was occurring and why as I was taken here and there for a variety of tests. At one point I believed that two young fellows took me to the top of a long slide and sent me zooming to the bottom. Eventually I realized I was back in my bed with Betty beside me. After six days those supervising my care determined that I would live and arranged to have me transferred to the rehabilitation unit of the hospital on Pacific Avenue.

Given a single room, I began a new regimen lasting twelve days. I progressed to bathing myself and conveying myself to the dining room for the handicapped. It became my challenge to sit at a table supervised by an attendant. With a big bib covering me to protect from spilling the food on myself or on the table. I was turned loose to ingest what I could. My right arm didn't operate as it used to do, even at reduced speed. Gradually I was able to get more food in my mouth than I was accustomed to after the stroke. To my surprise Betty arranged for my 84th birthday at my table on March 29th. Glenda was there too, as she had stayed on after Dan had left. Cami and Andy brought a decorated cupcake.

At this point in time it was deemed that I be taken for an outing with Betty being given the responsibility of operating my wheelchair. That turned out to be a difficult time as it involved going over some curbs. Up and down the entrance ramp to Anthony's Betty practiced wheeling me. Daily I would be given exercise using my walker under a variety of conditions up and down stairs. I had pulled out my catheter and was getting impatient to go home. Certain I wa s that recovery would proceed more quickly there than in the hospital. To accomplish this would require that I pass muster with a jury of the supervising woman doctor plus all others concerned. That was no easy task but my determination won out. On April 3rd I finally made it home.

The immediate concern became transportation. Our need to reach doctor appointments, get groceries and do banking became critical. Sometimes friends were helpful. We also appreciated the privilege of being picked up by the Dial-a-ride bus at our home and transported to where we needed to go. But this became difficult when the bus was scheduled to return by way of Granite Falls, Arlington and Stanwood to reach Warm Beach on the return trip. A short trip could become very long. For example, a simple stop to pick up a prescription at Safeway might end up taking all day.

As I continued to improve, it occurred to me that I could resume driving myself. When Dan was home the next time I broached the subject of his going with me to verify that my abilities to drive were still intact. He declined to be a part of this arrangement lest it result in sad misfortune. So I took the risk. I continued to do so for the next four years until January 2011 when my eyesight began to decline.Then it appeared to be the prudent thing to turn over the driving to Danny.

Keeping in touch on a personal basis has presented more of a challenge. Fewer people stop in to chat. I believe that my inability to converse fluently has been a main factor. Carrying on more than one line of conversation at a time has been responsible for this. I found that people turned to Betty to ask how doing instead of asking me directly. It I became clear that I must work must work to overcome this deficiency. Regular sessions with Jay Kelly have been most welcome as this turns out to be one on one. If a similar arrangement with some others could be worked out, I would appreciate it. However in this process in no way do I want to deprive Betty of chance to participate in talking with others. She carries on a conversation very ably.

As time went on, it became more difficult to keep productively active. Reading was more tiring because the left eye had no sight and the right eye was significantly impaired. According to the ophthalmologist, it was like a broken windshield. My attempt to use Talking Books was frustrated by receiving selections not ordered. My handwriting was illegible. That led to one alternative: Writing. Previously having authored two books, why not start writing again with the computer using larger print? This alternative was suggested by two friends from church - Cathy Main and Patti Kelly. For a year and a half I had been turning out articles almost weekly for our blog: ABC NATURE REFLECTIONS as well as participating in the bi-weekly writing class. I anticipate continuing this as long as I am able.

At this point I do not consider having completed my struggle. However I wanted to mark this as progress towards that goal.