Category Archives: It’s My Life

Jordi, a Bird, and No Escape

jordi-bird1-500jpg

jordi-bird2-500.jpg

jordi-bird3-500.jpg

I was sitting out on the screened-in porch, keeping an eye on Jordi, who was laying outside in the grass. I had the door propped open, so he could come and go.

Suddenly–there was a bird. A wren, or sparrow, or something tiny like that. Right there in the porch, trying to figure a way to escape from the enclosure. I saw an opportunity to give Jordi some exercise and high excitement. So I closed the door, then brought Jordi inside, so he could try to catch the bird.

It was lots of fun. The bird flew from one side to the other, with Jordi following closely. It would land on a low ledge, and Jordi would carefully peer over the top, then maybe lunge.

He finally did catch the bird. He grasped it gently in his teeth and then walked to the door, wanting to take his prize inside to show to his sister. Which is when I went to get the camera.

When I came back, the bird was loose again. More fun followed. Jordi didn’t catch the bird a second time, though he came close. The bird discovered some high beams it could rest on, and that’s when the fun pretty much came to an end. I eventually got a broom out and ushered the bird to the door, thanking him for his unwilling participation in our afternoon amusement.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Now Proud Owner of an Endolymphatic Shunt

surgery_steve-jordi500.jpg
Jordi helps me display my big bandage.

surgery_couch-2cats-1000.jpg

Jordi and Molly kept me company throughout the night (click to enlarge).

On April 16, I had an endolymphatic shunt placed behind my left ear. The operation was done by Dr. Jerry House at the Carmel Surgery Center in Indianapolis (by St. Vincent’s Hospital on Meridian, just a couple miles north of the I-465 bypass).

The surgery was done at 2 p.m. and lasted about 70 minutes. Everything went great. We were on the road back home to Fort Wayne about 4:45. Hopefully, the operation will eliminate most of the vertigo and other symptoms of Meniere’s Disease, which I’ve battled since around 2003.

Thus far, I’ve been spared three common side-effects:

  • The operation can trigger severe nausea and vertigo which can last a couple weeks. I’ve had zero nausea.
  • The ear, or whole side of the face, can be puffed out significantly. I have very little swelling.
  • I was warned that there can be significant pain the first day or two. I’m taking Vicodin, but I’m not sure I need to. The discomfort is minimal.

I came home with a big bandage, which we removed Saturday morning. We had to remove the left arm of my glasses in order to fit them on around the bandage.

I spent the evening on the couch in the living room, alternating between dozing and reading Robert Parker’s “Stranger in Paradise.” Since it was plenty comfy, I just stayed there throughout the night. Besides, my sleep patterns were all messed up. I ended up watching “Bangkok Dangerous,” a Nicholas Cage movie, in the early morning hours. Pretty good movie.

The symptoms of Meniere’s Disease started around 2003, though it was a couple years before it was diagnosed. Meniere’s causes frequent vertigo and hearing loss. It only affects my left ear; I’ve lost about 60% of my hearing in that ear and have tinnitus, a constant background roar, which I’ve learned to not really notice.

There is no cure for Meniere’s. However, several surgeries can offset the symptoms. The endolymphatic shunt is the least invasive. When pressure builds up, which brings on the vertigo, fluid (only a couple drops) will now be diverted into this shunt and then absorbed into the surrounding membrane. The surgery is 90% successful immediately, and about 70% successful after 3-5 years (2 out of 10 people revert to how they were before the surgery).

I could have had the surgery done here in Fort Wayne. However, I didn’t have confidence in the doctor here. He’s good, and lots of people speak highly of him, but he didn’t seem to pay much attention to things I told him, and kept prescribing more and more pills. I wrote about that experience.

My family doctor, John Carnes, tracked down the name of Jerry House, whom one of his other patients had used. Pam and I immediately liked him. He’s very personable, quickly acknowledged my symptoms as Meniere’s Disease, and pulled out great metaphors to clearly explain what was happening. He’s done zillions of these operations.

When the nurse at the surgical center was prepping me, I asked, “Do you always work with Dr. House?”

She said, “It just depends on who they assign me to. But when we get assigned to Dr. House, we know it’s going to be a good day.”

She then sang further praises–he was kind, considerate, professional, and was always the same. “With some doctors, you’re not sure what you’ll get that day.”


My various posts about the surgery:

Share Button
2 Comments

On the Phone with Anthem

Anthem Insurance sent me a letter authorizing my MRI. It said that if the date of the MRI changed, I needed to call them. They gave a number to call.

So I did. I listened to the phone options, and took a wild guess about which one applied to me. A Real Person soon came on the line, and I explained my situation.

“I’ll need to transfer you to the department that deals with that,” Real Person said.

A second later, a phone rang, and a woman said in a tentative voice, “Hello?” As if she’d looked at the caller ID and didn’t recognize the number.

I began explaining my situation. “I had an MRI scheduled last Friday, but it had to be rescheduled, so I’m calling….”

She cut me off. “I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number.”

Anthem had transferred me totally out of their system to a private citizen.

So I tried calling the number on my card. After several transfers, each preceded with me explaining why I was calling, I finally reached someone who told me this:

“There was no need for you to call.”

Share Button
Leave a comment

The Brain Game: Using My Trivial Mind

Team500.jpg

L-r: Stephanie, Luke, Jeremy, and me.

stage1200.jpg

The group of teams competing just before us. (Click to enlarge)

onstage500.jpg

There we are, ready to flaunt our trivia knowledge in front of 500 people.

Tonight I participated in The Brain Game, a big fundraiser for the Fort Wayne Center for Learning. It’s a trivia contest. Companies and organizations and anyone else who wants to can sponsor (for a cost) a team in The Brain Game. Pam’s CPA firm, Christen-Souers LLC, entered a team this year. Jeremy and Luke, two of the four partners, along with one of their employees, Stephanie, agreed to be on the team. When they couldn’t think of a fourth, Pam suggested me. And so, this guy who is the total pits with numbers spent the evening representing a CPA firm.

There were over 40 teams. They divided them into groups of about 7, and the winner of each group made it into the finals. Our group went fourth (which means we got to hit the buffet before heading into battle). We were not expecting to do very good, and we started out in line with that expectation.

Our grouping was called the “Bora Bora Brainiacs.” The other teams were from C. Henry Discount Steel, Fort Wayne Metals, Lifeline Youth & Family Services, OmniSource, the Chef’s Academy, and radio station WMEE. Each team member held an electronic device on which you could punch in your answer–A, B, C, or D. There were ten questions, all multiple choice, and a team could gain a maximum of 4 points per question. We had ten seconds to record our answers, and could talk amongst ourselves. After each question, they showed the team standings on a screen.

After the first two questions, we still hadn’t scored. The name “Christen Souers LLC” was nowhere to be found. But we got on a roll, and suddenly, we were in second place. The question that jumped us ahead was one I knew: “Where was Microsoft founded?” Most teams picked Washington or Massachusetts, but I knew it was Albuquerque, NM. We knew what TARP stood for. We knew that Norway had won more gold medals in Winter Olympics (over the years) than any other country. And suddenly, we were in first place, and remained there through the last four questions or so.

Lifeline500.jpg

Two of the team members from Lifeline, who beat us. They had wonderful outfits, and went around the convention hall campaigning to get votes as the Best Dressed.

Going into the last question, we led by three points. The most points you could get on a question was 4. We knew that if we cast a vote on each answer on the last question, the worst that could happen is that we would be tied for the lead. The 10th question asked what Space Shuttle astronauts lost during a spacewalk in a year I can’t remember. The answer was “tools,” or a tool bag, or something like that, but the other answers sounded convincing, too. We cast one vote for each answer. Unfortunately, our closest competitor, Lifeline, gave all four answers on “tools,” and they caught us.

Overtime! The other five teams were dismissed, leaving just us and Lifeline.

Question 11: still tied. Question 12: still tied. Then question 13: “What was the first face to appear on metal school lunchboxes?” Or something like that. The options: The Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and I can’t remember the fourth. We put all four votes on “The Lone Ranger.” The other team put all four votes on “Hopalong Cassidy.” Drum role. Pregnant tension.

It was Hopalong.

We had expected to get trounced. But now, having come so close, we felt really really disappointed. But hey, that’s how it goes. Life is filled with disappointments. But we could at least hold our heads a bit high.

spanishinquisition480.jpg

The Spanish Inquisition guys would have had my vote for best costume…if I had voted.

The teams all came wearing costumes of some kind. There was a beach theme to the night, so we made it simple: matching Hawaiian shirts, khaki shorts, and sneakers or sandals. We had the most basic outfit of any team. There were some very, very elaborate and clever costumes. You could vote on your favorite, and that team automatically made it into the finals. I didn’t vote, but my vote would have gone to The Spanish Inquisition, four guys who represented…well, I have no idea what they represented. I think they were just four guys who pitched in the money to field a team. They wore long, full red robes. But they didn’t need my vote, because they won their “heat” and made it into the finals that way. I think they ultimately placed third.

The final round was a mini program in itself, with dancing acts, jump-roping, a girl ventriloquist, a high school choir, and other things interjected between questions. For a while, I thought the team from Shawnee Construction & Engineering, wearing hardhats, would win. Imagine that–construction workers winning a trivia contest (though they were probably from the engineering wing). But a team called “Parents and Teachers” ultimately won. 

Altogether, it was a very fun night. Definitely the most interesting fundraiser I’ve ever attended.

Share Button
1 Comment

My Articles on UBCentral

I administer the United Brethren denominational news site at UBCentral.org. I wrote a number of articles regarding my recent trip to Honduras. In case you’re interested.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Breakfast with Roger and Marilyn

This morning five of us–three Americans and two Canadians–are having breakfast with Roger and Marilyn Reeck, missionaries here in Honduras. They were instrumental in helping me write the book Tio Archie, the story of Archie Cameron and Honduras Conference. Archie is Marilyn’s dad. He pretty much founded the work here, which now includes nearly 100 churches.

The book was unveiled at the end of the Sunday night service which opened the General Conference. A number of people asked me to autograph their copies. That’s always a joy and a privilege to do.

This meant leaving the hotel at 6:45, instead of 7:45, but I think we’ll manage.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Missing the Bus in Honduras

We ate breakfast Sunday night (January 10) at Pizza Hut, next to our hotel here in La Ceiba, Honduras. I left early, so I could post some news online. But before leaving, I asked Brian Magnus, the chairman of the General Conference, when the meetings started the next day.

“Nine o’clock,” he said. “We meet in the lobby at 8:45.”

Okay. With that information, I left for the hotel.

Sometime after that, it was announced that the conference was providing breakfast. The bus would come to pick us up at 7:45.

However, I blissfully missed this memo. I went to bed thinking 8:45 was my deadline.

The next morning, I arose early to write some news and process photos. I took a shower (no hot water), then grabbed my laptop and headed for what I called the “dlink” room at the northwest corner of the hotel. That’s the only decent internet connection, and it clearly comes not from the hotel, but from a neighboring business.

I posted some news, sent an email to Pam, and then made it to the lobby promptly at 8:45.

Nobody was there. But they’d been looking for a gringo, and I clearly fit the bill. I spotted our friendly Honduran bus driver appeared. He ushered me to a small van, in which I was the only passenger, and whisked me to the Bethel Institute. All the time, I was wondering what had happened. Did the bus leave a few minutes early?

Turns out the bus left at 7:45, and they didn’t miss me at all. Which does nothing for my self-esteem. It finally dawned on somebody that I was missing. They envisioned me lying dead or dying on the floor of my hotel room, remembering the bad fall I’d taken the day before from vertigo (which I told about on my personal blog).

They sent the driver back to the hotel to find me. He had the desk clerks call around to various rooms where members of our group were staying. Of course, nobody answered in my room, because I wasn’t there. I was in the Dlink room. But then I magically appeared on my own.

Tomorrow I will get up a little earlier–not only to catch the 7:45 bus, but to get hot water. 

Share Button
Leave a comment

Reporting from Rainy, Rainy Honduras

I’m writing from La Ceiba, Honduras, where it has been raining constantly for the past day. But I’m not shivering, like folks back in Indiana. We heard there was a hurricane watch in effect yesterday, but I don’t think it’ll amount to anything. Though I’d love to experience a hurricane. I think. Maybe not.

Three wifi networks show up here at the Gran Paris Hotel–the hotel system, the Pizza Hut wifi from next door, and one simply called “dlink” from an anonymous neighboring business. Dlink is the only one that really works. So I’m sitting in a vacant corner room of this hotel, where I can pick up the signal. Last night, I sat outside this room, on the floor, posting somewhere around 1 a.m. Maybe I coulda just walked on into the room for an extra strong signal.

I’m here for the international gathering of United Brethren from probably 14 countries. It’s called General Conference. This is the first time it’s ever been hosted outside of the United States (except for one General Conference long ago held in Canada, but Canada doesn’t count). The Hondurans are very excited about this opportunity. It’s their “coming out” event, just as the Olympics were for the Chinese.

This morning, as we all stood in the lobby downstairs getting ready to head out for breakfast, vertigo hit me very, very fast. I had about a second or two of warning, and “Wham!” The landscape started scrolling, and I had no control. I toppled over backwards, hitting the floor with what people said was a horrible thud. I bruised my tailbone, and think I may have gotten some whiplash as my head whipped and hit the floor. When I opened my eyes, everyone was standing above me looking down. Thought I’d gone to see Jesus, probably.

Even laying on the floor, I felt like I was still upright. Though my keen mind told me, “Hmmm, it feels cool. You must be laying on the floor. So just relax.” After a minute or so, I got up–wobbly, but somewhat functional.

We headed out for breakfast and a service at a beautiful retreat center up in the hills, lush with tropical vegetation. Just gorgeous. I kept waiting for vertigo to hit again, but it didn’t. But it’s not over. And I’ll be here until Thursday.

So I’ll keep taking photos (took 150 this morning), writing stuff, posting stuff with my somewhat reliable internet connection, and having a good time–while also holding onto stuff, in case vertigo should make another surprise visit.

I suspect my back and neck will be hurting a lot in the morning. I’m already feeling some soreness in new places. Don’t have a bump on my head, even though my head hit the tile floor real hard. Whatever. I’m having fun, albeit through a haze.

Share Button
1 Comment

Blood and Geritol at Kohls

Kohls had lots of great sales going today. So while Pam was working, I was spending.

As I grabbed a shirt near the bottom of a stack, a pin stabbed my thumb. Deep. And then it started bleeding…and bleeding…and wouldn’t stop. I finally found a wastebasket with some of that flimsy paper they wrap within dress shirts. Wrapped it around my thumb, and the bleeding finally stopped.

Then I went to pay for my items.

The checkout girl asked, “Do you qualify for the senior discount?”

A few hours before, I’d had a good workout at the Y. I felt young, vigorous, and hale. But now…just how old did I look?

“It depends,” I responded, “on what age the discount starts.” After all, you can join AARP as soon as you turn 50.

“62,” the gal said.

I’m 53. But to her, I looked like I could be at least 62.

I decided I didn’t like Kohls anymore.

Share Button
Leave a comment

I’m Being Sold on Ebay!

ArchieBook.jpgA copy of “Tio Archie,” the book I wrote about missionary Archie Cameron, is being sold on ebay for $10. We’re pretty much giving away our excess stock. But this one is signed by Archie Cameron. Maybe I’ll buy it. Not even I have a copy signed by Archie (who passed away a couple years ago).

I’ll be in Honduras in 2 weeks. They hope to release the Spanish edition of “Tio Archie” at that time.

I see a few copies of my Murphy Law cartoon books are also being sold on ebay. Hadn’t noticed that before.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Receive Posts by Email

If you subscribe to my Feedburner feed, you'll automatically receive new posts by email. Very convenient.

Categories

Facebook

Monthly Archives