Cranky Man down!

Now that's fainting!

Now that’s fainting!

“Carol … Something’s wrong.”

She turned from watching the Phillies’ Cliff Lee on the mound, “What?”

“Something’s not right with me.”  And that quickly, I was out cold.

The next thing I remember is coming out of this fog, my head drooped slightly.  I’m freezing cold.  I sense I’m still at the ballgame; but I can’t figure out how it got so damn cold at Citizens Bank Park.

Ice bags … There are pounds of ice in bags on my neck and shoulders.

Uh oh …

Then the yelling started … “Mike!!  Mike!!  Can you hear me?!?”  Not just one voice either … a lot of them … No, not good.

My surroundings are under water; all these wavy figures are hovering over me.  People … lots of people … standing in the early stages of a Phillies game.

No, not good at all.

As things are become clearer, I try to find Carol.  The look on her face is a glaze of immense relief over deep concern.

Man, am I in trouble …

That fast and a Phillies game on a warm, humid September 11 turned into a six-hour medical ordeal.

The heat had nothing to do with it.  Neither did the one beer I barely touched.   I was feeling fine all day; had cut the grass in the mounting heat the previous evening with no problems.

We arrived just before the start of the game; and I was standing in the aisle minutes before for The National Anthem following the annual 9-11 remembrance.  My only problem at the time was this stabbing pain high on the right side of my ribcage towards my back.

This illustrates something about my thing.

This illustrates something about my thing.

The pain was a couple of days old, self-diagnosed as a pulled muscle …

(Hey, I spent six months pre-pre-med in college, ya know.)

… probably the result of moving boxes or bags of solar salt for the water softener.  It was intermittent and seemed random, but very sharp when it acted up.

For some reason on Wednesday night the pain was driving me nuts.  Couldn’t get comfortable in my seat.  Kept stretching and twisting my back which seemed to help a bit.  It was the worst the pain had been since it started several days ago.

Finally, I get situated in a position that didn’t provoke any spasms and settled down to watch the game.  For all of maybe 10 minutes …

As I’m sitting there, gazing towards the outfield, I suddenly get this weird feeling, a spell of dizziness I expect to pass quickly.  Only it doesn’t.  It starts getting heavier and heavier, as though someone had placed a wet bag of sand on my head.

I feel groggy, not nauseous … But something is definitely wrong.  My vision gets murky.

I start to panic a bit because I can’t figure out what’s going on.  What do I do?

Should I try to make it up to the concourse for help?  Do I tell Carol?  If I tell her, game over … rightfully … with swarming EMS teams and maybe even a medevac extraction from behind second base!

… And a chance to meet Chase and Jimmy!

So – of course – I decide to see if this will pass before I set off The Panic.  Wishful thinking – most times – only gets you so far.

All this took place in the span of maybe 60-90 seconds.

When I broke out into a cold sweat, I gave up the struggle to hide my oncoming Medical Attack (a professional medical term).  That’s when I turned to Carol and this blog post begins.

The episode was scary enough for me.  But I feel terrible for what I put Carol through.  She told me I was out of it, lips blue, face white, at one point convulsing, and unable to speak briefly when I did wake up …

… Minutes later apparently, and I remember not a thing from the moment I turned to her to waking up under all those bags of ice.

There ... That's better ...

There … That’s better …

This was one of those moments when I was glad I married a very beautiful, accomplished, and knowledgeable nurse!

Fortunately, I was still sitting down when the lights when out.  And after a preliminary evaluation at the Citizens Bank Park first-aid station and a more thorough going over at Abington Memorial Hospital’s ER, no obvious physical cause was found.

That’s a bit maddening though.  Not knowing the whats and whys, only a theory.

The predominant theory appears to be the passing of a kidney stone or some other blockage that caused the back pain (which has disappeared since Wednesday’s episode), and triggering something called a vasovagal reaction to the pain.

It’s a weird, somewhat embarrassing explanation that seems to fit the circumstances.  I had never heard of it, but every medical expert we have seen favors the theory.

Could have been a lot worse.

One lesson learned was it ain’t funny – apparently – to the spousal unit left to manage the care and maintenance of a cherished (might be a stretch here …) fainter, especially when there’s no readily available explanation.  Got in Big Trouble posting my little adventure on a favorite social media site in mid-evaluation.

Unknown-3She promptly dislocated my iPhone from my possession.

Lesson:  Never piss off a nurse!

I finish this with very high praise for the guest relations and first-aid personnel at Citizens Bank Park.  They were responsive, professional, and very understanding given the circumstances.  The Phillies guest staff did an excellent job!

Thanks to all!

The “G” word

How things like this start

How things like this get started

This was inevitable … the grandest development of being a Parent once the most active roles of being a Parent have run their natural course.

I’m going to be a Grandfather!

Yikes …

This is Great, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s more than a little intimidating.  Not that I find the “challenges” as difficult or the responsibilities particularly daunting.

It’s that G word …


I guess – after all these years considering the possibility and acknowledging the inevitability – I’m just not quite mentally prepared for such an esteemed and wordly title.

Damn, I’m getting old!

Congrats to Michael & Janelle, Jeanine & Jeff, Carol and Little Old Me!!

The Cranky Hobo

images-1Life at my house is officially in total upheaval.  And like a lot of people, I detest disruption in my daily routine, the fabric of my life.  However, change is the inevitable development of these middle-aged years.

Just as many males will meander through the various temptations of the Mid-Life Crisis … convertibles, sky-diving, yoga, andro-gels, and women much too young to take them seriously;  many females find one significant outlet for their restless middle years …

Home Remodeling!

It’s an age-old phenomena.  Every husband, lover, or significant other will eventually experience the dread, the uncertainty of the day they step through the front door to find paint swatches scattered across the vestibule/bathroom/kitchen or hear the warning claxon of those immortal words, “Honey, I’ve been thinking …”

Yeah, right ...  This has never happened.

Yeah, right … Assuming it’s a married couple, my bet is this never happens.

No fun nor favorable experience ever grew from such innocent beginnings.

That’s not to say that the End Results are not good, uplifting, exciting, renewing …

But no one, who is not a contractor or do-it-themselves nut job, EVER enjoyed the in-between parts.  The preparation, the shopping, the displacement, the mess, the shopping, the selection process, the color wheel migraines, the shopping, the second thoughts, the changes to all the decisions you thought were already made, the re-shopping, and worst of all the construction disruption …

And that’s where I am stuck now … in the worst possible space in the house … my refuge, my quiet place, my comfort zone, my Fortress of Solitude …

Yes, they are tearing apart my master bath.  Bad enough the bedroom, but the bathroom too?!?

Now what am I going to do?

Apparently, it’s living as a Hobo!

Living out of boxes and cardboard “valets” … Nothing where it’s supposed to be.  Nothing where it can be found without crawling around on all fours and opening no less than three 20-gallon sized Rubbermaid containers.

Showering in the Commoners Bathroom (Ew … What is THAT?!?) and soon to be sleeping in a strange, cramped bed.

No man was meant to live like this!

And right about now, there’s this very attractive, extremely gifted housewife, sitting at her desktop Mac, reading this blog with a building whistle of steam leaking from her ears, muttering, “Oh stop being such a baby!  Why can’t you be excited?!? They’ll be done in two weeks!”

Mona Lisa's iconic smile rumored to be the result of Color Wheel Dementia during rehab of her Camden, NJ row house.

Mona Lisa’s iconic smile rumored to be the result of Color Wheel Dementia during rehab of her Camden, NJ row house.

Yeah, right … And I’m Mona Lisa.

It’s already been roughly three months of shopping and searching, searching and sampling, sampling and spending … and we haven’t even gotten to the Color Wheel of Mind Numbing Choices.

“Honey, do you like the Tawny Apricot Caramel (beige) or the Cinnamon Mud Brickle (reddish beige)?”

Of course, it will all look magnificent once it’s completed, as it always does.  She does have a gift for getting it right.

It’s just those intervening 18 weeks in Hobo Hell I dread.

Two weeks?!?  Yeah, right …

Almost Empty Nest Syndrome

Today we moved our youngest son, Alex, into his new digs at Temple University for his freshman year of college.  A great step forward for him, another exercise in letting go for us. 

We’re not empty-nesters yet.  There’s always one who seems to hang around.  But that’s just fine by me.  I have realized I’m not quite ready for The Vacant Inn.

You hear it a lot from people our age.  How great it would be to have an empty nest.  How carefree life would become with no kids.  The freedom that’s enjoyed after nudging that last chick out of the nest.  Funny thing is, I don’t recall very many Mr. and Mrs. New Empty Nesters extolling the virtues of their hollow home.  No, it’s usually those whose lives seem way beyond full that enjoy the Empty Nest Vision that’s still way off in the distance.

You wonder how many feel the same way about it when they finally arrive at the bridge between The Vision and The Reality.

Alex and I have had this little “good night” ritual of high-fives and fist bumps.  Heck, we’re just guys trying to avoid the awkwardness of adult male displays of affection.  Mom still gets the kiss ‘n hug.  We give the fist bump.

Last night, the ritual was different.  Still a male salute for certain.  But this time the handshake, one that lingered a bit longer.  And for some reason I flashed back to Alex as child.  Nothing elaborate, just the size of his hands as an adolescent … then as a child. 

In an instant you realize how much has changed.  It’s all good though … or so you tell yourself.  More so to prevent that newfound hole from growing larger.

Empty nest?  Nah … I’m not really ready for that yet.


Perhaps it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the time of man; but baby, there are times when I feel all of my age and then some!  Of course watching prime time TV does little to assuage my anguish.

ED-living-with-matching-bathtubs … High triglycerides?!?  Where’s my Lovasa? …  Are you feeling a bit Low-T there, fella?!?  …  High cholesterol?  …  Maybe you just need to color that hair!  

Reality dictates that it’s just a natural part of the process  …  That vague awareness that some physical tasks used to be easier to perform  …  The sometimes achy process of unfolding yourself from that a-little-too-comfy spot on the couch …  

Fahgettaboutit!, your Psyche says.  You’ll get over it.  You’ll rebound.  Just drop a few pounds; get back to the gym; remember how well you felt when you worked your program?  Of course I told you to keep working.  I told you not to take the easy way out.  I told you that summertime wasn’t a reason to skip the early morning gym sessions.  I told you not to …. 

Enough with the GUILT already!!  It’s already depressing to think that so much work has to go into wringing every possible ounce of utility out of this  aging machine.  Do I really need to be reminded of all the woulda, coulda, shouldas?!?

Certainly, having my younger brother around the last two weeks ain’t helping!  Only two years younger, he can crank a golf ball much, much farther than I with a ridiculous ability to coil and uncoil it makes my back hurt just watching.  And he claims he’s not coloring HIS hair … Pffttt … To top it off, HE retired this year!  Ugh …

Time to rededicate!  Recalibrate … Inculcate … Without so much as a whisper to remonstrate …

Only this time take it seriously!  Treat it like a life decision, not a life sentence!  Only of course it is a sentence without parole … For to stop, to let up, to take even a little time off …

Insidious is this sense of doom!!  This feeling of impinging gloom … How does anyone keep up the struggle, when all I want are naps to juggle?!?

Nattering nabobs of negativity; Cease betraying my need for alacrity!  Just get me over this imposing ridge!  Or geez, just get my eyes off the ‘fridge!

Double Nickle

I have come to dread the divisible-by-five birthdays. 

Birthdays lost their attraction quite awhile ago, roughly around the time I turned 45.  There is little more sobering than seeing the Big Five-O getting larger and larger in the windshield … unless of course – it’s The Big Six-O. 

Usually these times give me pause to consider where I’ve been; what’s been accomplished; and where I want to go.  Unfortunately, it also elicits regrets over opportunities missed, decisions on which I desperately want a re-do, and  uncertainty about the future.  But if you’re looking for me to answers those questions here tonight … Fahgetaboutit!     

This year, I choose to count the blessings bestowed upon me and those I care for most.

I choose to appreciate the little things in life.  The small triumphs that make all the worrying worthwhile … the worry a silly indulgence in retrospect.

I choose to give thanks for overall good health, sufficient wealth, and the tolerance of those I love for my eccentricities. (Of these I have a few, but then again, too few to mention.) 

I choose to bask in the warmth of family and friends. 

I choose to cherish the love of a patient woman (See eccentricities above).

I choose to continue to have what fun I can get out of life, to enjoy whatever life brings my way.

This should be more than enough.  Enough to keep me going.  Enough to make all the problems manageable.  Maybe enough to make the next five years most fulfilling.


Note:  Although my birthday was celebrated here today with family, it will be observed by the nation tomorrow!  Please feel free to take the day off from work, should you be employed at a place where this national holiday is recognized.


Events in history that occurred on February 20:

1872 – New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opens.

1915 – The World’s Fair, entitled the Panama-Pacific Exhibition, opens in San Francisco, celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal and San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake and fire.

1927 – Golfers in South Carolina arrested for violating Sabbath.

1944 – Batman & Robin comic strip premieres in newspapers.

1975 – Margaret Thatcher elected leader of British Conservative Party.

Ansel Adams, photographer (1902)
Aleksei N Kosygin, Soviet premier (1904)
Sidney Portier, actor (1924)
Patty Hearst Shaw, famous kidnap hostage (1954)
Kelsey Grammer, actor (1955)
Cranky Man, blogger (1956)

Frederick Douglass, escaped slave/anti-slavery leader (1895)
Chester W Nimitz, US Admiral during WWII (1960)
Walter Winchell, writer/actor (1972)
Clarence Nash, voice of Donald Duck (1985)
Richard York, actor-Bewitched (1992)

Die, Winter, die!!

Wonderful … Had ice on top of snow Tuesday. We’ve had at least 3-4 annoyance level snows already, some before it was even officially Winter. And tomorrow we’re supposed to get 2-4 more inches.

So I’m ready to strangle Winter until it is lying limp and lifeless at the feet of Spring. As a result, I will no doubt have to spend the Autumn of my life in a hell much much hotter than any Summer. But at least I’ll be warm!