Mama Turtle

Driving down Gulf Road yesterday morning I saw this snapping turtle on the opposite side of the street looking rather busy. It was immediately obvious what she was up to, and it was also immediately obvious what a bad idea it was. This big mama was getting ready to drop a clutch of eggs right here by the side of the road, and you can see in the picture just how close to the pavement she is. She was about one eighth of a mile equidistant from the public boat ramp to the east and the Concordia Boat Yards to the west, a pretty busy stretch of road. Also, this shoulder is heavily traveled by joggers, myself included, which would probably have guaranteed a scrambled egg breakfast for the ants.

All it took was a couple minutes of me getting in her face with my iPhone snapping pics and video and Mama Snapper came to the same conclusion I had; this was a terrible place to raise the little ones! She abandoned the rut she was digging and moved back toward the salt marsh to her right, hopefully finding a more sensible place for her nest.

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CIMG4338I’ve had one hell of a week and now it’s Saturday night, I’m stuck inside alone convalescing, and I’m in pain. I can barely walk to the fridge, but alas, I did manage. Prudent pharmacological standards say I can only have one or the other, and I’m Irish. Hmmm..

CIMG4343Sometimes you have to man-up and make those tough calls in life that require patience, wisdom, and fortitude. And other times, you just have to say, “WTF”. This is one of those “other times”. Cheers.

Shoulda taken the elevator...

Shoulda taken the elevator…


I’m in quite a bit of pain this morning, but nothing compared to this guy. Amazing.

“If man was meant to fly, he’d have wings!”
Yes, and if he was meant to walk upright on two legs, he’d have a better….

Monkey see........

Monkey see……..

In evolutionary terms, Homo sapiens really haven’t been at this upright-walking thing for very long, yet here we are walking, jogging, and running about on two legs like we were made for it. We weren’t. An anatomy designed for trotting about on all fours has been put to the task with satisfactory effect, but there are serious anatomical compromises involved in the act of spending most of our time ambulating about on two legs. I know this first hand. And someone needs to warn our closest cousins, because they are heading for certain trouble.

Monkey do!!

….. Monkey do!!

If one cares to be in the know about such things, one could find reference to a fairly large number of individuals from simian and great ape species who habitually walk about in bipedal fashion. Some of these individuals are fairly notorious amongst zoologist types for their peculiar penchant for upright ambulation. There is one great ape, a chimp whose actual name escapes me (let me call him “Bo Bo”), that was really fond of walking about on two legs. Seeing video of this guy cruising around upright is actually kinda creepy. Still, I couldn’t be happier for Bo Bo, showing off for all the other chimps with his creepy, upright, missing-link two-legged walking act, but what Bo Bo doesn’t know is that his belly, not his legs, is the weakest link in his homonid ambulation aspirations. Bo Bo can walk around on two legs, as can we humans, but neither he nor we are really built for it.

Four years ago, whilst removing a particularly stout and completely debilitated Homo sapiens britannicus from a helicopter, said individual fell onto me full force driving me backwards out of the helicopter and down to the ground four feet below. As this man was already grievously injured, I endeavoured to keep him from an abrupt and traumatic engagement with terra firma. Landing first on both feet then falling flat on my back, I managed to keep the stretcher onto which this guy was securely fastened from hitting the ground. As others immediately came to relieve me of my burden (big guy, full combat gear, vitals monitor, IV set-up, etc.) from my out stretched arms, I rolled to one side and stood to dust myself off. And that’s when it hit me, my intrinsic design flaw.

As the shock load of about three hundred pounds befell me and I strained with all my might to resist it, I felt a tearing sensation in my abdomen. And sure enough, within hours I observed the tell-tale signs of torn fibers in my right lower abdomen.

Who signed off on this?

Who signed off on this?

And here is where my design flaw, really more of a design compromise, comes into play. If we were stomping about on all fours, like a gorilla, the majority of the weight of our internal organs would be born by our wonderfully protective rib cage. But we don’t walk on all fours, we walk around upright on two legs like a bunch of smarty pants, leaving our soft-tissue lower abdominal muscles to keep all our guts inside. To further complicate matters in men, our spermatic ducts take a ridiculously convoluted path north from our testes traveling superficially just under the surface for some distance before truly entering into the abdomen so that this duct can ultimately connect with the business end of the penis. At this point of entry into the body, the spermatic duct passes through muscle, and not just one layer of thick, simple muscle but through the juncture where several different muscles meet and ultimately make attachment to the pelvis. Brilliant design. I hope you’re reading this, Bo Bo.

This is your abdominal muscle on a bad day....

This is your abdominal muscle on a bad day….

This hole in the abdomen, the inguinal ring, is something of an accident just waiting for an excuse to happen. Like, for instance, a big guy and a ton of gear falling out of a helicopter onto you. Really, didn’t Darwin see this coming? Well obviously the vast majority of men go their entire lives without a problem in this area, but given a large enough shock load, pretty much any guy is going to experience a tear (me included and I can rip off 100 situps in two minutes time). The muscle fibers run parallel and have great longitudinal strength, so what actually happens is a fairly weak bond, fiber strand to fiber strand, is pulled apart laterally. Kind of like string cheese. Yummy.

The string cheese on my right side separated pretty traumatically, and so I had that fixed when I got back home almost a year after the event. The string cheese on my left side really put in a gallant effort and I thought I would escape a bilateral repair, but once the integrity of the bond here was also compromised, it just continued to tear more and more over time. And so here I am, status post left inguinal herniorrapphy, laid up with a fresh surgical incision. The peri-operative fentanyl wore off hours ago and now my left side is really singing to me off-key backwards in German and I can’t even go enjoy a Guinness to help shut it up because my liver doesn’t like processing ETOH and APAP at the same time. What a drag.

Go ahead, blame it on THESE guys. You know you wanna!

Go ahead, blame it on THESE guys. You know you wanna!

To make matters worse, “six weeks no heavy lifting”. No running, nor rowing, nor climbing. No hiking, nor biking, nor …. anything fun! Reminds me of “Cat in the Hat”. “All we could do was to sit, sit, sit, sit. And we did not like it, not one little bit.” Well maybe I will just take it easy, enjoy some green eggs and ham, catch up on some reading, type some more rants, do some research on a few things. But I will definitely NOT be sitting for six weeks. I was cautiously up and about in about one week last time as I recall, and really, it’s a matter of using your head to judiciously stay active while still letting your body heal. There are no “one size fits all” parameters. I imagine I will be doing some, if not all, of those action verbs well before my six weeks is out, because I am just really cool like that.

Sorry to have to put you down, but......

Sorry, but I’m gonna hafta put you down…..

But, alas! My recliner beckons. Time now to let the healing begin, and for that I need nutrient dense foods: vitamins, minerals, lipids and protein….perhaps some cheese is in order. Just not string cheese. No. No string cheese. Anything but freakin’ string cheese.

thesurgeonGoing under the knife tomorrow. It would seem turn about IS fair play…….

If you find yourself flying along through life (or dragging along as the case may be) on an undesirable vector, a simple adjustment on the yoke is usually all that’s needed to abandon the previous course and strike out on a new approach angle, thereby bringing a refreshing myriad of possibility back into view.

However…..

If the fecal matter really makes traumatic contact with the oscillating air circulation device, well friend, you’re gonna need one of these:

Ejector-seat-for-sale-2_png

Some problems just require a complete reboot. As of late, I am feeling that my career is one of them. After a huge investment of time in education and clinical experience, all I can say is “stick a fork in me; I’m done….” I have just walked through my front door after sixteen hours of non-stop choas, frustration, and heart break. I am reaching for those black and yellow ejector handles like a teen-age boy fishing around for a bra strap on prom night. No joke.

Every once in a while one of these little monkeys smiles at me and I think all is not lost. monkey smiles Unfortunately, quite often all IS lost. And it wears on me.

I’m thinking maybe I’ll move to Mexico and make shell necklaces on the beach to sell to the tourists. Or maybe become a bull fighter. Stunt driver. Astronaut. Cabana boy. I dunno, I’ll think of something. I always do.

I'M OUTTA HERE!!

Tally Ho!!

So if you’re vacationing down on the Riviera Maya and you see a scraggaly looking Gringo approach you with his finely crafted wares, be kind. I just need enough money for beer and sun screen, then I’ll be on my way.

555999

I have always found A.E. Housman’s poem by the aforementioned title haunting. I first read this work in English Lit when I was perhaps fifteen years old, and despite the simple Clerihew rhyme scheme, I’m still haunted by it today. With the perspective of time now in my favor, I can truly appreciate the depth of loss surrounding the death of a young person, and I have no trouble admitting this, especially the loss of a young person who displayed the promise and potential to be the kind of person who makes this world a better place for everyone else.

Mallorie was the epitome of the popular, energetic scholar athlete. She passed away last month at seventeen years old, at the threshold of her life, after a two-year battle with a debilitating illness. I had the good fortune to have known her, and having known her, I was reminded of the promise of future we all possess as a birthright, or at least should possess as a birthright. Mal was not the one-trick pony of Housman’s poem; Mal had garned both the laurel and the rose in her short life as well as an easy ability to make friends. Her birthright, to grow those gifts and to live up to her potential at whatever capacity she cared to, was simply not to be.

I do not believe in “fate” as a mystic concept, though I will use the word as a crutch to refer to an outcome, pretty much any outcome good, bad, or indifferent, which befalls a person. Mallorie’s fate was literally determined on the molecular level during the genetic transcriptioning that occurred at the moment of her conception. Out of respect, no further details need be added. Suffice it to say that a seemingly perfectly healthy fifteen year old girl had her life turn on a dime in one day when the genetic time bomb within each and every one of her cells detonated. Over the course of the following two years, Mallorie the person slowly disappeared, and her body soon followed.

The entire situation enraged me. It wasn’t fair. Why her? I fostered dark thoughts regarding the relative value of human beings, and figured Mallorie was way up in the highest percentiles of good people who deserved a long, fulfilled life. Why her?

I can not deny the allure of the “why her?” question. My internal monologue is still full of it. Getting past the anger, the sense of loss remains, as does a very real sense of waste, as in, what a waste of a promising young life. What’s left for the living to do but go on living? I suppose that is the million dollar question. What now matters most to me is how I go on living.

In honor of Mallorie’s memory, I have renewed my sense of wonder in the world. I have determined to live a better life and to be a better person. We all tend to squander what we have in abundance. When we believe we have an abundance of time, do we not treat it cheaply? I suppose this to be my biggest take-away: be happy for the time you have, for you never truly know when it will end. Be happy for the people in your life, for you never know when they may become the departed. Cherish your health, especially if you are fortunate enough to be in good health, for even if you should be so fortunate to escape physical calamity and illness, nonetheless, time will eventually overtake you. Enjoy your body. No kidding. Use it. It’s yours. Don’t be afraid to get it scraped up a bit. Play hard. Get dirty. Sweat your ass off. Shiver once in a while, it won’t kill you. Don’t drink crappy beer or wine. Nor weak coffee. Make love like you mean it. And do it often.