Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Story: Dying At The Library by David C Russell

Hello Grafted In Reader,

I am posting a fictionalized story centered around the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis. The title is, "Dying At The Library", by myself, David C Russell. In this real-life scenario, lead levels in the drinking water have become quite concerning! Names are fictitious though there may be some geographic coincidence herein. My feelings and opinion are stated within the story itself. I provide it here for entertainment and personal reflection. Thank you!

Dying At The Library
by David C Russell

This is a fictional account based in part on the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan due to high levels of lead found in the drinking water.

Radio, TV stations, and newspapers across mid-Michigan ran the following notice

"Luncheon to be held at main branch of Flint Library. Topic will focus on the water crises and who is taking the lead to reduce the lead. The luncheon will feature plum dishes and plum jam or jelly sandwiches on Monday at 11:30 a.m. First come, first serve."

Jay Smith was a rugged-looking senior citizen who did volunteer work in and around Flint. He had it with all the news coverage about the water crises and would take matters into his own hands.

"Jay, I am glad you are helping us get this luncheon in order. You are very important to us," stated Janet the head librarian.

"Janet, I want to give back in life because I have been given too," Jay said.

"Please fill the water pitchers at each table from the special fount set up here. Ice-cubes will be added automatically from the fount," Janet instructed.

An hour went by as Jay got involved in reading a recent issue of "Sports Illustrated" and its projections for the 2016 baseball season across north America.

"Oh darn it all! I forgot to add the water from the fount. What fount was I supposed to add the water from," Jay said to himself.

Walking the corridor he found an over-sized fountain. He filled each pitcher with Flint drinking water and added ice-cubes from the main refrigerator. Within fifteen minutes, the filled pitchers were replaced on tables as people were beginning to arrive.

The luncheon began on schedule, but by 1 o'clock the scene became much different. Since it was a family event, young children expressed complaints of pain or vomiting. Pregnant women began to have contractions and feared the worse. A couple people passed out from excess hypertension, and one elderly lady died from a heart attack.

"Jay, did you not fill the pitchers from the fount here in the room," asked Jan.

"Nope. I toured the corridor and used the over-sized fountain. What the hell was wrong with that? You got the water."

"That water is contaminated - Jay. How could you?"

"Very easy. Want me to show you?"

"No, Jay that won't be necessary. By the way your volunteer efforts henceforth won't be necessary either."

At that instant, three deputies from the Michigan State Police approached and arrested Jay on charges of first-degree murder. He was led away to the Flint City Jail.

Several weeks later a trial was held. An outspoken lawyer defended Jay Smith. He was found guilty by reason of insanity. Jay would live out his life in a minimum security Federal prison where plum pudding and pie were on the dessert menu every Monday with spam and eggs as the main lunch course. For a job, Jay began working in the prison wood shop. Daily, he made and packaged pencils to send to schools across the state. He was placed in a minimum security cell. cellHe was given the task to annually apply a coat of lead-based paint by his own hand and supervision from one of the prison staff who monitored the project from a nearby TV room.

Soon after the luncheon incident and trial, findings showed other Michigan cities contained lead in their respective water supplies. Men began complaining of having abdominal pain, constipation, low or abnormal sperm counts, and a state health initiative was passed by the legislature to treat all affected on the Government's dime. Agencies concerned with environmental issues would undergo closure or major structural revision.


Mellow Roc

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cool Clear Water (Acoustic song, 1940s)

Hello Grafted In Reader,

I do appreciate your time and your visits be they frequent, occasional, or sporadic. Of late, I have been placing some emphasis on health matters, and this post is no exception. Flint, Michigan is in my state and a short drive from where this blog originates by the way. Lead in the water has been a concern for this community for several months. This evidently began when Flint decided to get its water supply from its own river rather than the Detroit River. Well, according to MLive, an on line news source, other Michigan cities are facing similar lead-based issues. See quote.

Michigan cities with lead at or above the WHO benchmark include Kalamazoo, Muskegon Heights, Benton Harbor, Owosso, Ionia, Marysville and St. Louis.
The statewide lead records underscore a widespread problem with American drinking water infrastructure that, in communities with homes and commercial buildings constructed prior to the mid-1980s, continues to supply vital tap water through private service line connections that leach lead into the liquid.-

-I receive the newsletter, Housecall, from Mayo Clinic, and a very recent issue has a short article about lead poisoning. In children signs and symptoms can be learning difficulties or slow physical growth in newborns. According to Housecall, the symptoms of lead poisoning for adults are more far reaching. They include miscarriage or premature births in women who are pregnant, reduced sperm count or abnormal sperm in men, joint or muscle pain as well as painful extremities, high blood pressure, constipation and abdominal pain.

-Let's hope and ask our officials to get us back to cool clear water. If Fed Agencies cannot do their job than perhaps they need to be restructured in a very, very major way.

Kevod Yeheveh, the Presence of the Lord be with you in every area of life.

Mellow Roc

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

***** Up For A Stroke (Revised) by David Russell

Hello Grafted In Readers,

On December 11, I suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a mini-stroke. Below, is a fictional accounting of my experience and early stages of recovery that followed. I deleted the former post, have made editorial revisions and am reposting. It is my hope you may share this story with others who are recovering from a stroke or life setback. Unlike meal preparation, life recovery is not instant. It takes our time, effort, and is often marked by periods of forging ahead mixed with periods of feeling behind. Names are changed to allow those involved to retain private identity. Yet, the care exhibited by the referenced people herein is truly worth remembering.

Up For A Stroke
by David Russell

"I am beat this morning. Our granddaughter ket us up late." Jefferson stated, eagerly lifting the fresh brewed coffee to his lips.

"One more day of preschool. Then, she is off to her parents for the weekend," Leah said.

"I notice your pace is slower than usual. Are you feeling okay?"

"just sleep deprived," Jefferson said.

"Look at the time. Wendy, we need to get ready for preschool," Leah stated, turning toward the sofa where Wendy had been watching morning cartoons.

Wendy said, "All right Grandma," a slight whine to her tone. Within twenty minutes Wendy had been dressed and readied for the day ahead and said her usual good-bye to Jefferson.

By early afternoon Jefferson mused,
"My walk feels unsteady. My left leg may give out. What on earth is this?" Each trip to the coffeepot from his office combined increased difficulty walking with increased concern. A little while later he looked up stroke symptoms on webMD. Though balance was a major sign, he delayed calling 9-1-1 as was recommended.

Later Afternoon
Following late afternoon dinner out, Jefferson was helping Leah clean up her office. New carpeting would be installed over the ensuing weekend.
"Jefferson, why are you face down on the floor," Leah asked exhibiting a concerned expression and tone.

"I cannot support myself on my knees. You think we better go to the hospital?"

"Which one?"

"Let's go to the main one since they have a past treatment record on me."

Leah was assuming her clinical role, though inside she had reason for anxiety. She had not seen Jefferson show a problem with gait or balance in the 20 years they had known one another. The drive to the hospital was about twenty minutes from where they were.

Within an hour post admission, a few personnel entered the ER to take temperature, administer EKG, or do simple neurologic testing. Jefferson felt a little overwhelmed by the seeming several supportive personnel; each with a specific task to render. High blood pressure, CT scan, EKG and brief visit with the ER physician were activity enough over a couple hours until he was wheeled to his room on Select Care. Jan, the admitting nurse met with Jefferson and Leah for several minutes.

"Jan, I will tell you and my wife that this weekend could be like a welcomed get-away at a posh hotel. Room service, food brought in, TV and other amenities, who could want for more."

"I have never heard it put that way. You sure are upbeat," Jan said.

"Honey, I will come back later this morning and bring some things. I love you very much," Leah said.

"I love you too honey, try and get some sleep and I will to," Jefferson said. They parted with a kiss.

A few short hours later, a technician was at Jefferson's bedside to administer a carotid ultrasound, which was followed by one of the self-care aides assisting him with bathing.

Mid afternoon, Jefferson was wheeled to the lab where a brain MRI was performed. On return to his room, Leah waited and they watched the annual Army Navy football game together.
Around dinnertime, Dr. Schmitabossen quietly entered the room with clipboard in hand, neutral facial expression, casually dressed and casual bedside manner.

"Jefferson, the MRI shows you had a mini-stroke in the brain-stem. Your cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides are way out of normal. I am holding you here fore two or three more days."

"Doctor, is he going to stay in this room," Leah asked.

"Oh yes, he is in Selective Care and they will watch him closely."

"I don't want a boat-load of medications, so keep them at a minimum."

"We will give you what you need, Jefferson."

Jefferson thought of how he felt powerless over a system and yet resolved to stand up for his own healthcare measures. After all, this was his body, his life, his acute illness to master with temerity.

Over the next three days in the hospital, Jefferson's son, daughter, wife, minister, brothers, and other family and friends came to visit. His older sister came to visit during her short stint in Michigan. She had been looking at property and wanted to find a small home near her place of birth. For the past four decades, home had been Australia, New York, and New Mexico, respectively. Thus, the visits and collective support were pleasantries to Jefferson and Leah.

Moving On

"Hey Jefferson, you will be going to Independence Point for rehab. You are being discharged and your wife will pick you up later this afternoon," Mandy stated. She was one of the regular day nurses. Jefferson found her pleasant manner was endearing.

"Mandy, know that I am grateful for the care you and the other staff have given me. I will remember each of you. Also, thanks for letting Wendy assist with little things."

"She is a smart little girl and a sweetie. Wendy can come help out anytime," Mandy said smiling.
The Next Plateau
The night hours passed quietly as Jefferson settled into his room at Independence Point. Millicent was quite accommodating in assisting with administrative details for admission, and the sound of carts and ring tones from the nearby nursing station became background as the hours ticked by.

"Good morning Jefferson. I am Mira and this is Lisa with me. We want to evaluate you for OT and PT."

"Nice to meet you both. I hope you both might be assigned to work with me."

"Mira can I nicname you the dancing queen, after that song by the Swedish group Abba?"

"Dancing queen, yeah, I am sure," Mira said.

By the fourth day of therapy, Lisa made sure the portable keyboard was in the therapy room where Jefferson provided piano music for other residents once it was known he had that excellent ability.

"Would you play me a prelude or two by Chopin? You have done well this morning," Mira asked. She and Jefferson walked across the therapy gym to where the piano had been placed.

"When am I going to hear you play some classical, Mira?"

"Oh, the weekend day you come here and entertain, and I decide to work those hours," she said.

During Jefferson's daily living skills evaluation Lisa observed,
"I have never seen anyone put on their socks on all fours. That's a first,"

"Some people make things happen, others watch things happen, and a third group wonder what happened," Jefferson replied to Lisa.

"I like that. Are you always this optimistic?"

"I try to be but my wife may differ."

"Hey, slow down you are walking to fast," Lisa advised during one of Jefferson's therapy sessions. Other residents utilized the therapy room simultaneously throughout the day and made small talk amongst themselves.

On another occasion, Lisa and Jefferson indulged in small talk as he did marching in place.
"My granddaughter calls burgers hangerburgers."

"My son says restaurnot for restaurant, He is only three and too cute to correct."

"I know what you mean. Forever, Wendy can say hangerburgers as far as I'm concerned," Jefferson said.

Jefferson was at Independence Point for almost fourteen days. Gradually, staff allowed him to transport himself from his room to the dining room and back. Using a cane and wheelchair to get around became easier with repetition.

"Jefferson, it's 5 a.m. and I need to take your vitals," Rene, overnight nurse stated.

"This is it. In about four hours I'm out of here and plan to be sleeping from now on at 5 a.m."

"I'm sorry. It's just the way things are done here," Rene said.

Returning Home
Leah picked Jefferson up, got him released and made the short drive home. Over 400 messages were in his email. Several were offering words of support to him during this time. Others were the general information emails he signed up for and used this time to unsubscribe from most. Wendy was glad to have him back home, and Leah felt more at ease from knowing routine was slowly returning. Jefferson and Leah both enjoy intimacy that is theirs alone after nearly 20 years of marriage.

Within days, home therapy services were established, and Jefferson grew to appreciate those assigned to work with him. Michelle was intrigued with his writing and talent, Christie executed the exercise regime each time she came to visit, and Melissa discussed the ins and outs of integrated medicine with him.

Up for a stroke with recovery is quite possible for those when care-givers who exhibit care and compassion are genuinely caring and compassionate.

Note: This story is true based on the author's own recollection. Names have been changed to respect personal privacy.


Comments welcomed.

David C Russell

Blogger Name: Mellow Roc

Monday, January 18, 2016

Going Out To Eat?

Hello Grafted In Readers,

I want to thank those of you who have read or asked others to read my last post. The post is a story about my recent experience of having a minor stroke and the rehab that has ensued. The post and story title is, Up For A Stroke. I will keep it here for a while!

Meantime, we are focusing somewhat on health issues to get off on the right foot nutritionally speaking this year. I found an article at webMD on the topic of eating out. These may be common sense but worth putting in the back of your mind.

-Have a couple glasses of water, H2O before you eat that restaurant meal.
-Avoid the fried foods on the menu: pan, butter, deep, other.
-Instead of those delicious rolls where the butter just melts, try melba toast or whole-grain rolls. Honestly, that will take some effort..
-Order food that is steamed, broiled, roasted or grilled like veggies and fish, chicken or red meat. Lay off the fries.
-Dessert, Consider sorbet or fruit.

OK, those are the health site recommendations. They are worth considering.

Mayo Clinic has a newsletter via email called Housecall.

For a flat stomach the letter suggests aerobic exercises to burn fat, or core exercises such as Pilates and a fitness ball, plank poses, bridge poses, abdominal crunches and leg lifts. Sorry, need to look up plank poses and bridge poses on your time.

Kevod Yeheveh, Here is to healthy choices during waking hours with the help of Adonai.

Mellow Roc