Vote Because You Can

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I have been participating in a local postcard writing campaign for some politicians running for office. We get together as a group at a local establishment to drink coffee, watch the large TVs that are set to the news channels, etc. and talk about the goings-on in Washington and our state as well.

We are quite low-key in our actions and low volume in our conversations.  We are careful to buy coffee, etc. to support the business and to get out before the lunch rush. We have been approached by people who question what we do, who support what we do, and who aren’t too happy about what we do. We haven’t had to defend ourselves, yet, but if we were, I think we could fall back on our first amendment right to freedom of peaceable assembly.

We are trying to mobilize people to vote. This is something that people who become citizens are encouraged to do. Unfortunately, it remains something that some people who are citizens often forget about, put off, or ignore.

There are people who wish they had the freedoms and rights we do. I remember when I was working with refugees, they would tell me that this was the greatest country in the world. Sure, we have our problems, but we have the possibility, and the Ability to change and solve them. The question is, will we choose to do so?

I remember once seeing someone who was having a hard time getting up out of his chair.  He was also using a walker to get around. It got me thinking about all the times I haven’t wanted to go for a walk for whatever reason. But seeing him and the difficulty he had with the seemingly simple act of walking made me think, “Don’t walk because you want to. Walk because you can.”

The same holds true for voting. “Don’t vote because you want to. Vote because you can.”


Listen to my Life

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While sitting in the waiting room of my local Toyota dealership, waiting for my car to be serviced, I thought I was minding my own business. Unfortunately, I was very much mistaken. Everyone in the room was minding someone else’s business, one person in particular.

This was because the woman behind me took and made several calls on her cell phone, very much within earshot of everyone in the room.  I found out several things while listening to her. She and her husband are connected to the military. She has at least five Toyotas, mostly Highlanders. She recently paid $40,000 for a wedding. She was supposed to have lunch with someone but cancelled. She lives in metro Maryland.  She was very upset about the service she received recently when trying to buy another Toyota. She has been in the area since 1964. And her daughter didn’t sign her new husband up for insurance, yet.

She seemed the sort of person who would very much mind if, under other circumstances, someone were to find out these details of her life. But somehow, in the company of These Strangers, she was comfortable enough to use her phone as if she were simply calling people from the comfort of her own living room. She didn’t keep her voice down, or step out into the hall as I have seen other people do to use their phones. I thought it was very rude of her to take and make her calls within hearing distance of about two dozen people.

These days, more often than not, people think they are all alone in a void or vacuum when on their phones in public. How has that become okay or acceptable? Talking about the ins and outs of our lives for all the world to hear is somehow the unfortunate norm. We are all worried about hacks of social media, major corporations and the like. But somehow, when it comes to individual behavior, the floodgates are open to our personal conversations and therefore pieces of personal information in ignorant and selfish ways as demonstrated by this woman at the dealership.

I want to be aware of my surroundings and connected to those around me, but not in this way, and certainly not to this unwitting degree.  In the future, I may start carrying noise cancelling earphones with me in order to “escape” this kind of “it’s all about me” behavior. A shame but a seeming necessity.

Balloons Rise, Birds Fall

balloons calm clouds colorful
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

Whenever I see a whole lot of balloons being released, somehow my first thought isn’t about the celebration they are marking. It is about all the birds, etc. they will injure and possibly kill. Those balloons eventually deflate and fall into the water. There, as brightly colored pieces of plastic, they attract the attention of seabirds and other creatures, who think they are prey, such as squid, etc.  If the seabirds eat enough plastic or mylar, they cannot digest it and they will eventually starve due to lack of nourishment.

Another way balloons can harm birds is if they have strings or ribbons attached. Sometimes the birds fly into the string and get tangled in it. They often use them for making their nests, and unwittingly pose choking or tangling hazards for their chicks. When such tangling occurs, it often stunts chicks’ proper growth.

We can prevent these results from happening by releasing trained doves, using decorative sparklers, or using balloons not filled with helium that will fall so that they can be collected before they do harm to wildlife.

Let’s keep the skies safe for birds and fun for us. 


The Last Straw?

gray and green turtle swimming on water
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When I am in a fast food restaurant, I get a soda of whatever size and I put a cap on it and a straw in it. When I’m through, I often throw the cup, cap and straw away without a second thought. It is amazing to me that I take such little things as being a usual part of at least my weekly, if not daily, life. For a while now, I have been taking the cups home with me to rinse and recycle. (Don’t get me started on how many recyclables I see in restaurant trash…)

Lately, I have started taking my own straws into restaurants, fast food and otherwise. Why? Well, it’s because I saw the video of the sea turtle with the straw being extracted from its nose. It was a gruesome sight complete with blood and a very unhappy animal wincing in pain.

The video is a testament to the literal pain felt by our planet and its other inhabitants when we almost mindlessly toss things away. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, silverware, tires, the list goes one. Almost anything found in a landfill eventually ventures into the lives of wildlife.

In some cases, it goes into waterways and eventually the ocean where seaturtles like the one in the video, and other sea life, have close encounters of the awful kind. There is even a huge whirlpool of sorts in the Pacific Ocean that just circulates lots of accumulated trash and plastic on the surface. Eventually, some of it sinks to the bottom to affect the life going on there as well.

I want to reduce this pain, hence the bringing my own straws into restaurants. But there is more I and others like me can do. For instance, there is the “Give a Sip” movement that will send you a reusable paper straw to use instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones destined for landfills, etc. Stainless steel reusable straws are also available from various organizations for the same purpose.

I feel like we need to be more active and purposeful in our acknowledgement of the effects of our actions on those around us, and by this I mean not just humankind. If something as simple as a changing my straw can help to bring about a somewhat better life for a fellow creature, then why not try it? As the saying goes, “no skin off my nose” and alot less off his.

Closing the Gap

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While I was waiting for my doctor’s appointment recently, two women, one older, one younger, came in to the waiting room. Nothing was terribly notable about this except that the older woman was wearing a hijab and a long black tunic dress. I looked up from the magazine I was reading to notice them.

They both sat down. The older woman looked a little uncomfortable. The younger woman took a call on her cell phone, leaving the woman looking somewhat lost. I said, “Good morning,” to the older woman. When I got no response, I waved at her. She waved back.

I realized that she probably, possibly, did not speak English and so felt out of place. By waving, I hope I had broken the “silence” a bit and helped her feel less left out. I remember my time in South Korea. I did not speak the language but just having someone nod in my direction made me feel less alone. They did not have to say anything.

It is amazing how easy it is to bridge gaps like this, if we choose to. A simple nod or wave can speak volumes. This is a big world made smaller by technology, but still there are spaces between people that are wide and sometimes widening. I like to think that a little step like a nod or wave can go a long way towards closing the gaps between people. It’s worth a try.

Life Post-Cast: Brave New World, Again

person right hand
Photo by Bennie Lukas Bester on

My cast came off! I started therapy. I had lots of questions:
Would I use a splint or brace? (No).
Would I need more time in a new cast? (No).
What would my skin look and feel like? (It was scaly, dry and brownish).
Did I ‘lose’ muscle? (No, just flexibility. My muscles were Very tight!!)
What exercises would I need? (Lots of painful stretches).
How was my range of motion? (Wrist had some. Fingers, there wasn’t much. My fist was non-existent.)

I still had to ice my wrist and hand regularly and both were Very swollen.  I didn’t need the sling anymore except if there was pain.  Mostly, that wasn’t a problem, at least not in my arm. My hand and wrist were another matter.

I tried not to worry about how this would turn out, but I did wonder, a lot, about the end result. Would I get my hand “back” and when? Both in-office therapy and home exercises hurt, A LOT! And this would go on for 12 weeks, three times a week.

I had to keep doing the exercises, regardless of the pain. Otherwise, I might not get back to full function, and that was definitely a concern.

woman holding never stop working print notebook
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A “New” Cast

person putting white bandage on left hand
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One night, my hand was swelling and getting numb/tingling. I called my ortho’s office and they told me to go back to the ER the next day.  I was given a “clamshell” cast. Basically, the cast is cut, front and back of the arm, and wrapped with a bandage. The two halves are strapped together but can be separated and adjusted to make room for the swelling. This was a great improvement. It was much better. It still swelled so I applied lots of ice as often as directed.

Pressure points were still a problem. The cast pushed on a spot at the base of my thumb making it very sore. And hard to get at. Why!? And I have incredibly dry skin on Both hands. Lotion, lotion, lotion!!

Note: I got the cast off after five weeks. I had nasty looking dry skin and no flexibility in my wrist. I was told I must do physical therapy exercises or my hand would end up being just a fly swatter. Certainly a gruesome image. And an incentive to get moving, literally.

This is all new and a bit scary, not knowing what the end result will be, how long it will take to get there.

Take a Number, Be a Number

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I was at my orthopedist’s office not too long ago. I heard him say as he was talking to one of the residents, in my presence, “Have you checked on number 17 yet?” I was shocked at this. He didn’t use the patient’s name but rather their room number.  If he didn’t want to use the patient’s name in front of another patient, then he could simply have taken his conversation into the hall.

Is that all we patients are to clinicians like this, merely a room number to be checked off? What a shame. And truly shameful behavior on their part. Now I realize that they have multiple patients to see and care for in a day. But that’s what they signed on for. To reduce the people in their care (us) to numbers is depersonalizing and unkind.

I didn’t say anything at the time – I guess I was too speechless. I had observed a careless “bedside manner” to say the least. I was told I would be getting a survey to fill out to tell them about my visit. I will no doubt be detailing what I thought of it. I only hope it has some effect and isn’t tossed off like some other annoyance like the “numerous” patients they are responsible for treating.

“A Day in the Life of Me”, Preparing for the Day with One Hand/Arm

selective focus half face closeup photography of female s green eyes
Photo by Jan Krnc on

Here is what it was like getting dressed daily using only one hand/arm. First, I slowly put on my underwear. Then I fastened my bra and pulled it over my head and adjusted it. I picked up my shirt and arranged the sleeves. I put one arm in, then put it over my head, then in went the other arm. I rolled up a pantleg with my good hand and stepped through the hole. I repeated this for the other leg. I pulled up each side and straightened everything out.
For my hair, I pulled a tied bandana (headband) over my head, then arranged my hair, and pulled the bandana over my hair. As it was summer, I would have liked to put my hair up in a ponytail, but that was not possible without help.
For my feet, thank God it was summer so sandals were the rule of the day. I wore Teva sandals almost everyday because they had velcro, which I was very thankful for. Now, I do have elastic laces in my sneakers for “ease of operation”.
My right hand and arm were “out of the loop” and still are playing catch up. I am still not supposed to do anything involving any kind of weight on that side. So, I don’t. Someday, soon I hope, things will be back to normal, on both sides, for getting dressed and everything else.

Therapy begins…

person two hand leaning on wall
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

My right hand was a LARGE shadow of its former self. It was VERY swollen! It still is swollen but I am starting to see veins and tendons which I think is a good sign. Ice and elevation are the name of the game. My left hand is getting a workout but getting increasing assistance from my right. Remedial everything – getting dressed, eating, opening things, hair care, etc. I sometimes forget that I shouldn’t use my right hand too much, then “ouch” – I remember.

Before now, for arm exercise, I was just raising and lowering my arm with some occasional bicep curls. Oh, and wiggling my fingers. Therapy means, among other things, bending the wrist, forwards and backwards and from side to side. It also involves squeezing the fingers into a fist. One word describes all of this – Ouch!

Ice and elevation are still in play. I wrap my hand at least twice a day and sleep with it at an angle, propped by pillows. I am typing with one hand, slowly adding the other one. I am starting to feed myself with my right hand again. It sounds strange and looks stranger, but I am not quite ready for the “real thing” yet. Mostly I am trying not to get too impatient with the process. Recovery is a slow, steady journey and it has to be. Otherwise, it doesn’t have the desired result, full function and use.