Doc, Doc. Who’s There?

Doc, Doc. Who’s There? Fifteen. Fifteen who? Fifteen minutes is all the time I have for you.

In the past few months I have tried a new primary care doc, a podiatrist, an orthepedic surgeon, two rectal surgeons (don’t ask), a dermatologist, an opthamologist and a dentist. Of that list only the dentist I had seen before. In virtually all the cases these docs came highly recommended. All I can say is that you never know what you will get but it is more likely than not that you will be disappointed.

My primary complaints apply to virtually all on the list. They put you though standard procedures to tell if there is anything extremely obvious. Hell the primary care doc did the same things that docs have done for decades. He listened to my chest, looked in my ears and nose and had me say Ahhhh as he looked down my throat. He then ordered the standard blood panel and that was my annual physical. He listened more to my breathing than to anything I had to say about my health or symptoms.

In these days of diagnostic tests all I got fingers up my butt from the rectal guys (as opposed to a scope which might actually allow the doc to see what the problem was) The first guy wanted to do surgery and did not even tell me of the potential problems that the second guy did. After wrenching my lower back, the orthopod had me bend in each of 4 directions, took x-rays and gave me three sets of pills– steroids, muscle relaxers and a  narcotic for the pain. He had no idea what was wrong with me. Of course if I took all the pills I would be a vegetable, albeit a comfortable one.

Of all of the docs only one treated me like a modestly intelligent consumer of medical advice. The podiatrist explained what he was doing and why. He explained what he found and what it meant. And finally what we would try for now and the next course of action if the first one did or did not work. He had no great bedside manner but he did spend more than 15 minutes with me and I came away feeling like he would help.

I assume it is the fee for service approach discussed during the Congressional health care debate that drives the behavior of “let me see if you are within two standard deviations of the mean.” If so I Dr. Doctor do not need to figure out if your problem is caused by something outside the norm. I can just send you on your way telling you that as long as you can cope with the pain not to worry.

How come I did not even get all those cover your ass tests I read about in the health care debate?  Where is my share of the excess. At least I would feel as if someone is paying attention.

BTW. If anyone has a good Doc, Doc joke please submit it. I have to admit I could not come up with a good one.

Heaven Is Down

I am not making a theologic argument about the juxtaposition of Heaven and Hell– though that would make an interesting post.

Down today is not about direction but the warmth of goose down. Some nights it becomes more critically important than others. Such as last night.

Let’s take another angle to this story.

54 degrees in December in Chicago. Most times that would mean an unusual confluence of atmospheric anomalies occurred to provide Springlike temps in Winter. All true if I was referring to the temperature outside. Nope. That was a frigid 23 degrees yesterday.

It was 54 degrees INSIDE MY HOUSE. Things were toasty when we left the house at 4 pm and frigid when we returned at 6:30 on Saturday night.

Yes, I am cheap and I keep the thermostat at a lower setting than my wife and son prefer– I claim it is my part to slow global warming; always a matter of perspective. But no, I do not keep the thermostat at 54 degrees. Typically 68.

Every two years or so the electric starter on our gas boiler goes out. Almost always on a weekend. A time of double or triple rates for service calls. So our idea was to tough it out until Monday morning.

So we put on several layers of clothes and pulled our down comforter tightly around us. I was actually comfortably warm all night. I even took off my sweatshirt and slept in a T-shirt and shorts.

The upside of this adventure was that we stayed in bed until 10. How decadent. Neither of us wanted to get out from under the warmth of the down. While there was lots of snuggling, that is where that activity ended. Neither of us was willing to take off any additional layers. Oh well.

By Sunday morning we knew we could not make it 24 more hours without heat regardless of the cost. I cursed the technician who had installed the electric starter. When we first moved into the house, the boiler had a 24/7 pilot light. If that ever went out, I could relight the boiler myself.

Fortunately the first technician that returned my call (I tried 3 places) had no more desire to come to me that I had to pay the $250 for the service call (a premium of $150 over normal office hours). He talked me through some options though most of the time he was speaking a foreign language– someone will need to show me what the damper looks like. Finally he let me know that it was OK to relight the furnace. I will have to do that several times today since it is only a temporary fix. That should however get us through until tomorrow.

The temperature is climbing slowly. After 3 hours we are only at 58 degrees. I think it is time to take a nap and get back under that down comforter. Ahhh.

Better Than Sex

Dinner and conversation with my son. Certainly less frequent than sex, not that sex is all that …never mind. I was born to be a dad. I have to work to be a good spouse.

My son arrived home from his first term of college two days before Thanksgiving. Due to my work and travel schedule and his social calendar it took until December 23 for us to spend time together…just the two of us. The plan was to have at least two just-the-two-of-us events. The one yet to come, if it happens in his last week at home, will involve something that we do together other than eat.  I have found that if we get out of the house then there is a better chance of having real and meaningful interaction.

He could not decide on a restaurant or even the type of food to consume so I picked Wholly Frijoles since I knew he liked Mexican food and he had not been there before. It was a small place with good food. I good place to talk.

D and I often have trouble discussing tough issues. There were some out there. Typically I am the tough parent or in his mind the bad parent. Therefore, the question in my head was do I tackle these on the first and possibly only night we had together? I want some of his memories to be of the few great times we shared as Father and Son. I want to set a good example for when he is in my role. I decided to play it by ear.

We talked about things big and small for a long time. I shared some stories from his Mom’s side of the family that I had heard earlier that night from his grandparents. We talked about school, girls, which actresses we found attractive, Elf (I had seen it the night before on a plane), other movies and just stuff.

The food came. It was plentiful and tasty. Just the way I like food.

I decided to go for the tough conversation. I let him know that I might have saved this for another time if I knew there would be one. I asked him to listen. In return I got defensive body language and at one time a statement that he would prefer to not talk about it. In the end he did listen. I think he even heard. He shared ideas and overall it was a positive and productive talk. One that did not take away from the overall good feelings of the evening. I even got a hug at the end of the night.

I wish I could have these moments consistently at least twice a month instead of once in a blue moon. Same way I fell about…oh never mind.

Even Limo Drivers Have Facets

Often I forget why I started a blog titled 48 Facets. Then I run into interesting, multi-faceted people in the least expected places.

Let me share a prejudice.  When I encounter a limo driver speaking heavily Spanish accented English I make assumptions. Mexican. Uneducated. Driving because this is the best he can do to work toward the American dream.

I was with the same driver three times in two days. First trip nary a word was spoken. This morning we had some modest polite conversation. He mentioned that he had lived in NYC and been in Orlando for a while. The last trip was to the airport that would lead to my journey home.

I spoke of the snowstorm in Chicago and how it might be nice to stay in the moderate temps of central Florida for another day or two. He wisely suggested that this was the time to be with family.  He was right and for some reason that got me talking.

I learned that he was from Chile. Moved to Log Island in his mid-20s, was a civil engineer by training, worked for many years in his father-in-law’s construction business, left because his relationship with his father-in-law was deteriorating (though he liked the man on a personal level), moved to Orlando 14 years ago with six other families, does not think he would have made it there without the group sharing and support of the other families, and has a son grown son and daughter.  (Quite a sentence, huh.)

Both his son and daughter graduated from a strong, local college even though they could have attended nationally known schools (one  had been accepted by Columbia and the other by NYU). They both have advanced degrees — and jobs. The daughter is working locally and the son is in LA but will be home just after Christmas.

I considered asking him why a civil engineer was driving a limo . I did not. Whatever the answer is was not important. We were just two guys talking about our lives and our families. I thought the question would be  demeaning and neither in the spirit of our moment together or the holiday season.

The point is that once more I was surprised by how the reality of a person far surpassed any suppositions I make about them by the surface impressions. Another reminder that when I push pass my shy nature  I am almost always greatly rewarded.

Christmas By Jews

From the Facebook page of Mark Michaels comes an article about the best Christmas songs written by my Jewish brethren. The story appears here in Tablet and is written by Marc Tracy. I have excerpted the top 10.

10. “The Christmas Waltz,” music and lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne. “Listen to Sinatra’s version of this interestingly self-referential lyric.”

9. “Silver Bells,” music by Jay Livingston, lyrics by Ray Evans.

8. “Winter Wonderland,” music and lyrics by Felix Bernard. “Michael Feinstein was my source on this one. And I’m surprised! The lyrics involve an impromptu wedding ceremony performed by a Parson Brown. The most interesting lyrical moment is the rhyme of ’snow man’ and ‘no, man.’”

7. “Santa Baby,” music and lyrics by Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer. “Very enjoyable song. The closest thing to a jazz song here. ‘Santa Baby, hurry down the chimney to me.’ It adapts the conventions of Christmas songs to become a kind of love and seduction song. Eartha Kitt sings a swell version.”

6. “Sleigh Ride,” lyrics by Mitchell Parrish. “Sometimes people encounter it as a musical backdrop. On a personal note, I remember flying between the U.S. and England in the 1970s, and at Heathrow or Gatwick or JFK, you would always hear that. I had never liked it particularly, but because of the association it is very dear to me. Parrish—born Michael Hyman Pashelinsky in Lithuania—wrote the lyrics to one of the most famous of all jazz standards, Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust.’”

5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” music by Buck Ram, lyrics by Walter Kent. “Like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Have Yourself,’ this song was popular during World War II, and it appeals to a certain nostalgia and homesickness, not only on the parts of the troops abroad, but the loved ones at home.”

4. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. “This is a great song that is sometimes overlooked when people think of great Christmas songs, in part because of the other major Berlin effort in this category, and in part because it is one of the few songs on this list that can be done come snow or shine, year in and year out.”

3. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” lyrics by Sammy Cahn, music by Julie Styne. “This is my own favorite of the ‘Jingle Bells’-type Christmas song. I love the way it is used as the exit music in Die Hard.”

2. “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”), music and lyrics by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. “These first two picks are traditional Christmas songs—they mention the holiday explicitly, are full of heartfelt sentiment, and may jerk a few tears.”

1. “White Christmas,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. “Bing Crosby’s version is the best-selling single ever.”

No matter what the religion or level of religiosity you are I hope that this season, and all others, are times of peace and joy.

Happy holidays!

Global Warming

Last Thursday was one of those rare days when it was warmer when I left work than when I left the house in the morning.

Morning:  3 degrees

Late night: 10 degrees

Proof of global warming. Take that Fox News.

Winter Hath Arrived

On Thursday I cleaned snow and ice off my windshield. Then flew to a more moderate climate for a day.

On Friday I could see my breath as I stepped off the plane and onto the jetbridge.

It was the 4th of December, not the 21st of.

Despite the date, Winter has landed in Chicago.