Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In That Vein

It was once again time for me to have blood work done.  Thyroid, every few months, is standard for me, because i am on a weird dose.  So i walked in for my appointment, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat.

There was only one person in the waiting area at that time, but it quickly changed.  A man and his wife walked in, and i noted her with a bit of surprise.  He looked typical of an older business man.  His wife was a cat of another color.

She was wearing a long shapeless black dress with multicolor socks that had the neatest pattern from the hemline just below her knee to her black walking shoes.  A big, floppy black hat and dark sunglasses, neither of which she removed when she came in, completed her costume.  She carried herself with the aplomb of a woman completely at home with her fashion choices, down to the black handbag and later, when she pulled out her phone, it wasn't a "smart" variety and did have a black case.  In fact, it looked like a model even older than mine, and that's saying something.

Her husband was ushered in, and a mother and daughter came in and were quickly brought to the back also.  They came out so fast i'm thinking it was just a formality to get a physical form for school.  Around that time the lady's phone rang.

In such a close space, you can't help but overhear, and the conversation sounded typical of a mom talking to a teen, questions and comments of "where are you" and "what kind of shirt do you need" and "we're at the doctor's office."  When she hung up, she laughed and said, "My son calls me like that all day!"

Sympathetically i murmured, teenager?

"No, he's 29, but he has post traumatic stress after his two tours in Afghanistan, and he has a job interview today for a graduate assistantship out of town, and so I'm going to have to go with him," she answered quite candidly.

Well, thank him for his service, and i'm sorry he is suffering this for it, i said.

"Thank you.  Yes, he's doing better, but when he went back to school, there were difficult times.  I have to be ready to drive to the school at any time.  It's a good thing the construction between here and there is finished on that stretch of interstate!"

"I couldn't agree more!" the gentleman who had been in the waiting room when i arrived chimed in.  He spoke with a thick "yat" accent that told me right away he was originally from N'Awlins, and wore work clothes that spoke of a man who does manual labor.  His hands, gripping a water bottle, were thick and calloused and looked very capable.  "Sometimes the traffic was so bad I would only go about a half a mile in half an hour!  I never left my shop until 6:30 anymore for a while!"

"Yes, it was bad, but we survived," she said.  "I had to be ready to go any time, and that was okay, it got him through his undergraduate program.  It hasn't been easy, but we're doing better.  I've managed to teach his friends that when they go in a restaurant with him, they can't just sit down, they have to let him pick a seat first so he can be comfortable.  He can't sit with his back to a door or window.  It's hard on him when he takes a young lady on a date, of course.  He wants to seat her first, but it can be difficult if he has to then move around her chair to get behind the table near the wall.

"The school is learning, too.  He couldn't graduate in a normal ceremony, with hundreds of people, of course, so they did a small, private ceremony for him.  It was amazing what they did, just him and the few who were also getting the same degree in the same field, a very small group.  All the professors came in full robes, and we had cake in that same small room.  They made it very special, and we appreciated it."

It's got to be very difficult, i noted.  It's so sad that this is the result of serving your country, and amazing how prevalent it is.

"Yeah, but they all had it," the gentleman noted.  "In past generations, they would just say they had an anger problem or something.  One guy I knew who did two back to back tours in Nam came home and when a guy raped his sister, he went to a bar and killed the guy.  Got off on 'insanity' and spent a month in a mental ward.  He wasn't insane, but he did have a hair trigger and was the strongest man I've ever known.  He was 5'4" and could deck guys a foot or more taller before they knew it.  He never badly hurt anyone else, but he would put them on the floor if they picked on him.  That one guy, he only did it because of the rape.  It all came of doing the tours back to back -- that's what makes them unable to recover."

"You are so right!" the lady was speaking again.  "My father-in-law was in World War II, and I know he has the same thing, he just represses it.  That's what happened then, whether they called it battle fatigue or shell shock or whatever name they gave it, and they were just expected to deal with it, so they repress it.  It's awful."

They get to where they can't get back to normal, i noted, the stress was too much.

"No, they can't, not really," she said.   "In fact, my son would go back if he could.  He already lives with that stress and it's like it has become normal to him.  But he is getting better, and getting treatment."

Her phone rang again, and it was her son.  "Your good white shirt is in the ... oh, you have it.  Okay, well call me again when you are getting gas and I'll walk down to meet you at the door.

"That was a fast shower!" she smiled.

Well, if it got the job done, i noted with a grin.  Then i added, it reminds me of the line of a character in a book, a young boy, who was asked if he was clean and he said, 'everything that shows!'

We all laughed, and she went on.

"You are right!  And he keeps deodorant and body spray in the truck so at least he will smell nice no matter what."

At that moment, the door opened and an older lady came out.  The gentleman in the work clothes jumped up to grab the bag that held her oxygen tank from the nurse.  When he dropped the water bottle, she said, "I don't know why you had to buy that!  There's water right here in the office if you had waited, they told me.  But you always get so impatient!"

The look he gave me and the other lady, and the nurse, bespoke a very patient man indeed, one who is used to the time it takes to do good work.  "I'm sorry, mom, but I didn't know, and so when I passed the machine, I took advantage of it.  I'll know to wait next time."

"Well, I hate that you paid $1.50 for water when they would have given you some here!" she went on.  "I remember when gas was $1.50!"

He sighed, and followed her out, turning to grin at us behind her.  We all smiled back.

The lady's phone rang again.  "Okay, I'll meet you in the parking lot," she said.   Then she went to the window to talk to the receptionist.  "Please tell my husband that our son picked me up and I am going with him to a job interview.  Thank you!"

As she turned to go, i said, please thank your son for me for his service, and tell him i'm sorry he's going through this, that he will be in my prayers.

She and i shook hands, and then i was called into the back.

My veins are so good that it never takes more than one stick, and i filled a tube so fast the nurse was surprised.  "I love patients with good veins," she said.

Yes, i noted, and if i were to ever go to nursing school, i'd be the one everyone would want to practice on, mine are so good.

"Yes, that's what happened to me." she said.  "There.  Done, and we'll have the results in a few days.  Just let me put on this bandage."

 By the time i got to the car, the i was able to discard the bandage, as usual.  It doesn't take long.

Now, i was thinking, if only the mind could heal from trauma as quickly as that bleeding stopped.

Today is:

Accession Day -- United Arab Emirates (accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan)

August Tuesday / Culturama -- St. Kitts and Nevis

Best Elf Awards -- Fairy Calendar

Carnival Tuesday -- Antigua and Barbuda (Last Lap Jump Up)

Esala Perahera (Festival of Buddha's Tooth) -- Sri Lanka (two week festival honoring a relic held in one temple that is supposed to have a tooth of Buddha brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd Century; one of Sri Lanka's most elaborate festivals)

Feast of Everything Green Except Money -- Hooray for veggies! You'll need them before you have that root beer float.

Festival of Nut and Ra; Chief Festival of Thoth -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (date approximate)

Festival Tuesday -- British Virgin Islands

Hiroshima Day

Independence Day / National Day -- Bolivia; Jamaica

National Fresh Breath (Halitosis) Day -- shouldn't that read, anti-halitosis?)

National Night Out -- sponsored by National Association of Town Watch, to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness

National Root Beer Float Day

Peace Festival -- Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan

Sts. Justus and Pastor's Day (Patrons of Alcala, Spain; Madrid, Spain)

Tanabata Festival -- Sendai, Japan (Japan's largest Tanabata 'Star Festival', through the 8th)

Teinne Festival -- Ancient Celtic Calendar (Teinne, the Celtic Holy Fire, sometimes called Tan; date apprximate)

Transfiguration of the Lord -- Orthodox Christian

Wiggle Your Toes Day -- internet generated, and my suggestion is to celebrate it with a cool drink out by the pool!

Birthdays Today:

M. Night Shyamalan, 1970
Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob, 1934
Andy Warhol, 1928
Robert Mitchum, 1817
Lucille Ball, 1911
Clara Bow, 1905
Hoot Gibson, 1892
Alexander Fleming, 1881
Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, 1861
Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809

Today in History:

Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada founds the city of Bogota, Colombia, 1538
Holland (The Dutch Republic) sells Brazil to Portugal and the two
countries sign the Treaty of The Hague, 1661
The first private military school in the US, Norwich University, is
founded in Vermont, 1819
The Russian Geographical Society is founded in Saint Petersburg, 1845
William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed by the electric chair, 1890
Alice Ramsey takes three friends (none of whom could drive) to become the first women to complete a transcontinental auto trip, 1909
Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel, 1926
Prometheus, a bristlecone pine and the world's oldest tree, is cut down by the US National Forest Service, for reasons even they cannot explain, 1964
The Federal Voting Rights Act is signed, 1965
A low-pressure system that redeveloped off the New South Wales coast dumps a record 328 millimeters (13 inches) of rain in a day on Sydney, 1986
The United Nations Security Council orders a global trade embargo against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, 1990
NASA makes the still disputed announcement that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contains evidence of primitive life-forms, 1996
The incoming coalition government of the United Kingdom discontinues the use of the controversial ContactPoint database of all children in that country, 2010


  1. What a shame. To be so traumatized that you have to live on the edge all the time. Bless all of them that come home this way.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  2. Too bad there isn't a simple bandage for the mind.

  3. Sandee, i agree, it's so hard.

    Stephen, i also wish there were.