Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Hospitals Won't Tell You

I had to go this morning and get a CT scan at our local hospital/beauty parlor/livestock auction.

I've had these done before; I'm old enough to remember when they were called CAT scans and they used live cats.

This time was different.

I'm an easygoing, likable guy. I don't complain much and I like to think I'm pretty gracious, being from the South and raised right. I had to be at work at 11:00, got to the hospital early, and was experienced with the test. No problem, right?

I knew I was in trouble when I got there and they asked me what I was there for. If they didn't know, what did that foretell?

I registered at 9:50 for a 10:00 appointment, which apparently meant nothing. I hadn't eaten anything since last night, which didn't mean much either since I've had cancer and lost forty-five pounds.

The radiology technician asked me if I'd taken the "contrast drink." When I said I hadn't, she told me I'd have to drink it, wait an hour for it to "fill my abdomen", and then they'd come get me for the scan. She brought out two cups of what looked like urine and smelled like a locker room. I thought Jim Jones was still alive and working in the radiology department. That was the first thing they didn't tell me beforehand.

At 11:20 the same technician came out and said she needed to inform me about the side effects of the test. Side effects? Another thing they didn't tell me. She led me to the chapel. Were the side effects so serious we had to pray about it?

Nope. Just a convenient room.

"Some patients experience a warm feeling all over their body." It's been so long since I had a "warm feeling" anywhere in my body I'd welcome one. "Some patients feel the urge to urinate on the table." I told her that if I felt the urge to urinate it was probably too late.

"You may experience a bad taste at the back of your mouth." Uh-oh.

I got on the "table" (an exaggeration), they put in the IV, loaded the contrast dye they were going to inject, and got started. I felt warm. I felt like I had to pee. I felt a bad taste at the back of my mouth.

The bad taste was moving.

"I'm getting nauseated," I told the tech. "Do you need some help?" she replied. "You THINNNKKKKKARRRGAHHHH?" I tried to say.

(Let me clarify something here. When I vomit, I help my stomach out. I'm not quiet or calm. I don't just open my mouth and let it fly. I give it liftoff thrust.)

She hurried out of the control room and got me a little blue bag to throw up in. Too late. Remember, I'm lying on my back inside the machine when all this starts. I've already puked on my face, my neck, my shirt, and "the table." By the time she handed me the bag I was finished, except for the dry heaves (did I mention I hadn't had "anything to eat or drink after midnight"?).

She took the bag back after I finished, looked in it, and said, "Well, that's not too bad." I couldn't breathe. My sinuses had closed up due to the dye reaction.

"Nnutt pur yew," I said.

I finally finished the test, got out of there, and started home to change clothes. I called Jennie and told her, "Nuth upun th blok dur".

Once I got changed and explained to my sweetheart what happened, I, like all good Americans, looked for someone to blame.

I blame General Electric. Their name on the machine is the last thing I saw before the great eruption. If they hadn't made the CT machine I wouldn't have had to have the test, drink the contrast juice, get the IV, or puke my guts out.

I'm feeling better now. Almost well enough to get a lawyer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The End of An Era

I'm copying that headline from this week's Barnesville Herald-Gazette. Davis-Cooper Ford, the only Ford dealership in Lamar County, closed.

My dad worked for Dean Davis and Jimmy Cooper from 1969 until he opened his service station in 1972. He worked for Mr. J. R. Smith before that when Mr. J. R. owned the dealership.

Daddy was a mechanic first, then Service Manager, then Parts Manager. "The Ford place", as everybody called it, was always busy. I can still remember the smell of the new cars and getting to see them before the public did. The cars and trucks came to Barnesville on the train, covered to heighten the suspense. They'd be parked across the railroad tracks at the used car lot on Atlanta Street, just this side of the Dairy Queen, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett.

But I digress. I do that a lot.

What I remember most about Daddy working for the Ford place was how hard he worked and, I found out later, how little he got paid. He'd be at work no later than a quarter til eight and leave most days after six. Except Saturday when they closed at one o'clock. Then he'd come home and the entire family would watch The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Hour. Overture, Hit The Lights.

When Dean and Jimmy took over the Ford place Daddy got a raise. I found all this out when he left there to open "the station", which is what everybody called Berry's Amoco. Before Davis-Cooper took over, Daddy made $75.00. A week. When they bought it out, he made $100. A week. No wonder he worked so hard. Who wouldn't for that kind of money?

But he loved what he did. I would say he had grease under his nails, but he didn't. I still recall him washing his hands with Lava soap, and using a little brush to get under his fingernails. He told me once that working with your hands was no excuse for them being dirty. That was a life lesson broader than soap and water. I should have listened better.

Daddy never passed judgment on any of the girls I dated, except once. A girl I was going out with who shall go nameless (Kristy Torbert) came by the station one time when I was working on a car. She came over but wouldn't hug me because I was elbow-deep in sweat and dirt. Daddy said "If they don't love you when you're dirty they don't love you at all." I should have listened better.

Davis-Cooper Ford moved from "downtown" to "the By-Pass", which is what everybody called US 341, to the corner of the By-Pass and Yatesville Road. That's where they stayed until they closed. The end of an era.

Roscoe Berry, Harold Smith, Clint Swint, Peggy Ogletree, James Brown, Shug Allen, they're all memories to me of a simpler time when the Ford place smelled and sounded of new cars, exhaust, and motor oil. I changed my first tire there. I sat in my first Mustang there. I bought my first car there (a 1965 Ford Falcon, fire-engine red, previously owned by my friend Mike Ruffin's cousin), the first band I ever played in practiced in the showroom, I hauled parts up and down stairs there. I bought Cokes for a dime and used the "honor system" to buy a pack of peanuts to put in my Coke for a nickel, dropping the coin in the tin box next to the jars of peanuts.

I could live there forever. But it's the end of an era.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One-Liners, One Time


I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of payments.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

If God is watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining.

I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

The shinbone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.

I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR". What's my mother going to do?

The sole purpose of a child's middle name, is so he can tell when he's really in trouble.

A bargain is something you don't need at a price you can't resist.

Some people say "If you can't beat them, join them". I say "If you can't beat them, beat them", because they will be expecting you to join them, so you will have the element of surprise.

When in doubt, mumble.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

We have enough gun control. What we need is idiot control.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where's Guy Sharpe When You Need Him?

There are two extremely beautiful, wonderful times to be thankful for living in the North Georgia mountains.

One is fall. The leaves turn a gorgeous, fiery red and yellow overnight. The air is crisp, the apples are ripe, peanuts are boiling, and you can't drive half a mile without seeing some different hue.

The other is when it storms. You can smell the rain before it arrives, as it comes over the hills. Then the thunder starts, lightning follows, and next thing you know, the wind and rain make you think you're going to be blown away.

When we lived in Florida, you could forecast the gravity of the weather simply by watching the weathermen. If they had a coat and tie on, you were okay. If they removed their jacket, be a little concerned. If there was no jacket, their tie was loosened, and their sleeves were rolled up, look out. A hurricane was close at hand.

The closest we get to hurricanes up here are sporadic tornadoes. I know, I know, tornadoes can be deadly. I lived through Hurricane Andrew. No weather scares me.

I read today where Jim Axel, former anchorman for WAGA Channel 5 in Atlanta (the real Channel 5, back when it was a CBS station) has terminal cancer. He retired to South Florida along with about 10 gazillion other folks, mostly Yankees who didn't know how to dress. But I digress.

News was predictable and reassuring when guys like Jim Axel did the reporting. He, along with Ray Moore at WSB (when it was an NBC affiliate) gave even the worst news a calm makeover before it was broadcast. Today, every newscast I watch begins with BREAKING NEWS!, EXCLUSIVE! to whatever station I happen to be watching, full of ACTION! and reporting YOU'LL ONLY SEE HERE!

NEWSFLASH! (pun intended). Everything is not a crisis.

We need Jim Axel.

Guy Sharpe did the weather. He never took his jacket off or loosened his tie. Too unprofessional. The weather was the weather, God was in charge, and there ain't nothing you can do about it. When he spoke at a Baptist Brotherhood meeting Daddy took me to, I watched in awe as he gave his testimony. Without a pointer or a map of Georgia with temperatures on it. Amazing. Then I found out he lived in The Rock, Georgia, halfway between my hometown and Thomaston. We were practically neighbors! I bragged on seeing him in person at school for a solid week. My classmates were impressed. I had met Guy Sharpe!

Ed Thilenius (sports) had grown children living in Barnesville. Ed loved the Bulldogs, Braves, tolerated the Yellow Jackets, and was on the fence about the Falcons. I wonder what he would have said about Michael Vick.

Now I'm stuck with Dagmar Midcap (I am not making this up) as the premier weatherperson in Atlanta. She's not a meteorologist. She's just...well, Google her and you'll see.

Dagmar Midcap is not the most unusual name in news I've ever heard. When we lived in Moultrie, the sports guy at WALB in Albany (pronounced All-benny--trust me) was Ducky Wall. I am not making this up.

Ken Cook is about as close as we come to a real weatherman. Problem is, he doesn't mind breaking in to whatever I'm watching at the most inopportune time to tell me about SEVERE WEATHER. I can change channels, but I'll get ACCU-WEATHER, DOPPLER RADAR, or some variation.

Guy Sharpe would tell me at Noon, Six, and Eleven what my weather was going to be. In the meantime, enjoy the show. I sure do miss him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dentistry Is A Pain In The...

A friend of mine at work was telling me today about a predicament he's in. It seems that while he was eating yesterday one of his fillings came loose and he swallowed it.

That in and of itself is humorous. But wait, there's more.

He has to find it. It's a gold filling.

Just think about this for a minute. This morning my buddy had to, you know, go while he was in the shower. I don't mean he had the urge to go, he HAD to go so he could try and find his gold filling.

What a visual.

He did his business (did I mention he had pizza last night?) and proceeded to "look" for his gold filling.

How do you do that? you ask. I'll be glad to fill you in.

I am fifty-two years old, have lived an adventurous life to say the least, and have heard of all kinds of things happening to people. I have never--never--heard of this.

Imagine a grown man squatting in his bathtub, under the shower, after finishing his bowel movement in the shower, feeling his way through his "stuff", trying to find a gold filling. He told me he started to use a colander to strain the "stuff" (did I mention he had pizza last night?) but realized that wouldn't be a good idea.

Noooooo. The better idea would be to get down on all fours and rummage through his crap looking for gold. It wouldn't be the first time a man has done it.

He tried to place the aforementioned "stuff" near the drain so he wouldn't have so far to push it once he found the filling. He mashed through it--all of it--desperately digging for the gold. Barehanded. I don't know why he didn't think of using gloves. Needless to say, I will not be shaking hands with him anytime soon.

Anyway, he didn't find it. Now that's funny.

Tomorrow he will go through the same procedure, hoping no one walks in on him, hoping and praying he finds gold. And tomorrow he'll come in to work and I'll have to ask him what he found.

I can't wait. I'll keep you posted.