Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The other day I peed my pants like a little boy and survived to tell the tale.

It all started with breakfast at the Avenue Club, a venerable Madison supper club on East Washington Avenue. We went there to take advantage of their New Year’s unlimited pancake breakfast. They brought each of us two freshly-baked pancakes as big as a dinner plate, invited us to visit the table where they had set up dishes heaped with toppings such as pecans, almond slivers, chocolate chips and the like, and said if we wanted more, we could help ourselves to the mountain of hot cakes on the steam table they were continually refreshing.

As it turned out, “all you can eat” means the two giant pancakes they brought me in the beginning. This was a classic “eyes bigger than head” situation. I was really very proud of myself just for finishing those two.

I ordered a tall glass of orange juice with my breakfast, and after we stuffed ourselves full of pancakes, we lingered over coffee for a little while. That was my third coffee of the day, after our customary hot cuppa (or two) to wake up as soon as we got out of bed. My kidneys were doing their best to keep up, and I made a couple stops at the club and again as soon as we got home, so I sincerely thought output had caught up with input. I was so very wrong.

I was maybe four blocks from home when I began to replan my route. I’d thought of going as far as the library, which reminded me there were no public buildings open anywhere today. Maybe not such a good idea to get too far from home. By the time I was walking along Winnequah Road down by the shore of Squaw Bay, I was sure than shortening my route was a good idea.

I had the stop sign at Maywood Road in sight, two blocks away, so picked that as my turnaround point, hung a right at Kelly Place and squiggled through its twisty turns until I got to Panther Trail, which I followed up to Bridge Road, a total of maybe three blocks. By the time I got to Bridge Road there were enough alarm bells going off in my hind brain to make me nervous.

It’s a two-block walk up Bridge Road to Frost Woods Road, and one block along Frost Woods to Sylvan Lane. I was speed-walking all the way. By the time I was in the home stretch I was sure there was going to be an accident in plain sight of the whole neighborhood, but I managed to hang on until I unlocked the front door of our house and stepped inside.

I remember playing in the living room with our son Sean when he was maybe three or four years old. We were on the floor setting up a skirmish with a bunch of plastic dinosaurs or something like that when all at once he jumped up and began a fast march across the room as if he’d just received a coded message by radio wave from the mother ship. Halfway across the room he yanked his pants down and tried to manually stop himself from emptying his bladder on the way but failed, squirting a trail that pointed into the hallway and continued into the bathroom.

That was me as I ran across the living room. It’s kind of funny when it’s a four-year-old, not nearly as funny when it’s a fifty-six-year-old.

kegle | 6:29 am CST
Category: daily drivel, falling apart, random idiocy, Seanster, TMI Tuesday | Tags:
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Monday, January 2nd, 2017

The hardest thing about growing old, or at least the stage of growing old that takes place in one’s 50s, is bending over. I think I can say that in all confidence. Lots of other things suck, too: eyesight’s getting fuzzy, hearing’s going bad, can’t remember the word I want to use, my nostrils are in a race to grow bushier hair than my eyebrows.

But bending over is something I have to do dozens of times a day to tie my shoes, to scoop kibble out for the cats, to sweep dust and dirt into a pan, to empty and load the dishwasher. Each day is an endless series of calisthenics. You’d think I’d be getting better at bending over, not worse. But my hamstrings say otherwise.

Such a simple function: a fold at the waist. I can do it if I concentrate, but if I stop thinking about it for one damn second, my knees bend of their own will, I take half a step back with my right foot, and I’m genuflecting before I know it. I was raised Catholic but it didn’t take. In spite of that, the nuns would be pretty happy with the way I genuflect these days. It’s pretty much the only way I can bend all the way to the floor.

I’d like to say that the yoga classes I’ve been going to have made it easier for me to bend over, and maybe they have. Sometimes I get to feeling cocky about how much easier it seems to be, and then the instructor challenges me to do staff pose, and I realize I’m about as flexible as a block of concrete.

gumby | 9:42 am CST
Category: daily drivel, falling apart
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Monday, April 20th, 2015

teethI have only ever heard old people talk about their crowns. I am about to talk about my crown. Ergo, I am now an old people.

One of my molars was giving me twinges when I bit down on it and had become super-sensitive to temperature. Worried that it might be infected, I went to see the dentist right away.

No infection, he told me. It’s just cracked. Perfectly normal. Teeth crack all the time.

To him it was just a cracked tooth. To me it was a potential root canal. To me, teeth are chunks of bone that stick out of my head. Most of them are riddled with holes, and now one of them had a crack in it. To see just how badly it was cracked, he put a “bite stick” on the tooth and asked me to bite down on it. I bit down rather gingerly, because I knew I was going to get what felt like an electric shock right through the top of my head.

Anything you can do about that? I asked him. He said he could put a crown on it. I’ve heard people talking about crowns for as long as I can remember, but I had only the vaguest idea what they were. On the other hand, I now had a very clear idea what a cracked tooth was, so I said, Let’s go for the crown.

Turns out that a crown is a replacement tooth they make out of porcelain and glue into your mouth to replace the cracked one. They weren’t going to remove the cracked one, though. They just wanted to grind it down to a stump.

When I think about medical science, I tend to imagine skilled professionals delicately working my tender living tissues with precision instruments that do not produce smoke and noise. That was not the image I got when he told me he was going to grind my tooth down to a stump. And the reality of the operation was pretty much smoke and noise, just as I imagined. Maybe someday they’ll have those neat little flashlights and salt shakers that Doctor McCoy pointed at his patients to make them all better, but today they’re still grinding and glueing.

They also had to take an impression of the cracked tooth, before and after they ground it to a stump, and impressions of all my upper and lower teeth. That was kind of cool, except when they filled a big tray with goop and schlupped it up against the roof of my mouth to get an impression of the uppers. A long finger of the goop oozed down the back of my throat and I came close to gagging up my stomach, liver, gall bladder and kidneys.

It took two weeks for the lab to make the crown. In the meantime I had a plastic cap on the stump that I was afraid to chew on. They said it was okay, but with the caveat that I couldn’t chew on anything hard or anything really sticky. I knew that if I let myself chew on it at all, I would probably forget, bear down on an unpopped popcorn seed and CRUNCH! There goes my temporary. So for almost three weeks I chewed on only one side of my mouth. That gets old after just two or three days.

You’ll be able to chew on this as soon as you leave, they told me after they glued my crown in place this morning, so I went straight to Java Cat, bought myself a walnut scone and tried it out right away. No electric shock, and the other side of my mouth has never been so relieved.

crowned | 11:07 am CST
Category: falling apart
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