Today is Saturday, 17 July 2010, and I’m sitting here at my keyboard taking my own advice — counting my blessings.
Just recently I heard someone quip that advice is the only thing that’s given away free but no one takes. You know something? I suspect that’s true. We humans are prone to forget the good things and focus on the bad ones.
That’s all we get on the six o’clock news, isn’t it? We never get any good news.
Maybe it’s true: “No news is good news.”
Anyway, today, instead of looking back over a great life, I’m going to look back just one day. That will let me count one of the genuine blessings of living here in the Rim Country.
Takes just four letters of the alphabet to name it.
Payson Regional Medical Center.
Or the way we usually say it, the hospital. We are blessed lucky to have PRMC up here. And yesterday, once again, I found out just how lucky we are.
Wasn’t the first time I’ve been there, of course. At my age a good hospital, especially one located so close, is a big blessing, maybe the biggest.
Anyway, I took a shower yesterday. Had to. The humidity up here lately has been as high as I have ever seen it, and every time I go outside to do some work I come in covered with sweat. I lived in Texas, right on the Gulf Coast, for eight years, and believe me, the dry air we usually enjoy is another blessing for which I am truly grateful. I’m not complaining about the current humidity though. In Pine, it has come with 1.6 inches of rain so far, and is no doubt cutting down the potential for wildfires.
So I took a shower yesterday. Then I dried off. As I was drying off I noticed my right ear was feeling a little blocked. Both ears, in fact, have been feeling a bit blocked lately. So I shook my head. Uh-oh! Now my right ear wasn’t a little blocked. I couldn’t hear a thing with it. I shook my head again. No better. No worse either because you can’t get worse than stone deaf.
To make a long story short, I did all the usual things, including going against doctor’s orders by putting something “smaller than your elbow” in my ear. Used a cotton bud or two. Got out a little stuff. No difference. Stone deaf in one ear.
What made matters scary, though, was I discovered that my left ear, which had been feeling a little blocked, was almost as bad as the right one. I could barely hear anything. Even a shout!
I was in big trouble. As you may know, I take care of my beloved wife, Lolly, 24 hours a day, and I rely on a system of monitors and receivers I have set up around the house to know how she is doing, and to hear her when she calls me. I could hear nothing over those receivers. Not a thing!
This had happened on Friday — after the ear doctor’s office was closed, naturally. Now, suppose we had no PRMC. I would have been looking at a long, long drive down to the Valley, an even longer wait in some emergency room in a hospital I didn’t know, treatment from people who knew full well they would never see me again, and a long, long drive back home. And that’s assuming I could even make a drive like that with my hearing virtually gone.
Contrast that with this:
I arrived at PRMC at 1:04 p.m. and signed in with Karen at the desk in the Emergency Room, who smiled and told me, “You may have to wait a little while; there are a few people ahead of you.”
There were. Five people in the waiting room and more inside.
At 2:15 I was sitting with Joanne in the little side room off the ER waiting room. She smiled, very quickly and efficiently took down the pertinent facts, checked my record to make sure it was still correct for meds and all, told me how much she enjoys reading this column (which didn’t make me feel any worse, by the way), and had me on a bed in the ER, ready for the doctor in just five minutes.
At 2:25 Dr. Paul Gilbert, M.D., was checking my ears and asking me about other symptoms. “Any pain in the ear?” “No.” “Headache?” “No.” And a few other questions. Then a look in my right ear.
“Well,” he told me, smiling, “the best possible news would be that you have a blocked ear. All the alternates are bad news. And you’ve got a blocked ear. So it’s good news.”
I hadn’t mentioned my left ear, but he took a look at it too.
“This one’s almost blocked too. I’ll do both of them.”
Having Dr. Gilbert “do” both ears was fun.
Did you know that when cold hits your eardrum it gives you vertigo? No? Try it! Fun! Fun! Fun! I’d had a viral inner ear infection a while back, so I was acquainted with vertigo, but I have to tell you, that ER had talent. It could spin like a top.
Anyway, I had my ears scraped a bit and then irrigated, which is when the spinning happened. My that liquid was cold! I always thought they used warm water to clear out ears, but that stuff was downright icy. It certainly did the trick though.
In a few minutes I could hear out of my right ear again. I felt like cheering. The drive down from Pine by myself in eerie silence, not even able to hear the road noise, had taught me how lucky I am to have reasonably good hearing at my age — 78. It’s not perfect, but it looks like I’ll never need hearing aids.
Then my left ear got cleaned out too and I learned I could hear better than I had been able to hear in quite a while. Yippee!
I also learned that Dr. Gilbert was from Chicago, and that he had the typical attitude of those of us up here in Rim Country who come from a big city. “Chicago is a nice place to be from,” he told me. He also told me that the ER people pass the Roundup around to their patients, and that it seems to help.
At 3:20 p.m. I was out in the parking lot at PRMC, enjoying Arizona sunlight and a cool car, and on my way to KFC to pick up something for supper because I wouldn’t have time to cook. Or whatever you want to call what I do with food.
So count a blessing, folks. PRMC. We’re lucky to have it!