Watched Pot

Do not listen to the tick of the clock or watch the hands rotate. Ignore the temptation to focus on the digital numbers that measure time. This is not a long night, this is days. How much longer does it take a watched pot to boil, perhaps, seem to take would be more accurate; although I am not sure there is a difference. Life does not start at a future date, it happens now. So don’t look now, leave for future thought those things that can only be known and experienced in the future.

These thoughts are where I found myself after much needless consternation. I went through all my chemo and radiation treatments knowing it would be  three months before I would be told anything remotely concrete about their effectiveness. My time was almost up, only two days before I headed out for more tests and the all important PET scan which would be the key indicator if I was ok, at least for now.  My phone rang, my tests had been move back almost two weeks. I knew that the delay would have no bearing on my health or the tests results, but I did not want to wait even one day longer. I explained I was from out of town and had everything worked out for the original date. They were sorry, but there was nothing that could be done. After a couple of anxious and rather unpleasant days I had a vivid memory.

I was back in elementary school watching the hands on the clock. It was a school clock, In my school they were big at least to a little kid, round and the minute hand would move in a herky-jerky motion. This fact could only be verified by careful observation. I am sure many of my classmates had never seen the minute hand move. I knew because I always wanted it to move much faster, I was not a fan of school at that time. I always pictured myself as more of a Huck Finn kind of guy. Anyway, in this memory slash daydream I was watching the clock when I heard my Mom’s voice say, “a watched pot never boils”. Since I had time for deeper reflection because what are the chances I was actually listening to the teacher; I began to explore the topic. I was under no illusion that this saying was objectively true, but could there be some underlying wisdom, dare I say truth to the saying. Was it a ‘walking under a ladder is bad luck’ old wive’s tale or more along the lines of the black cat deal. All of my mothers saying I divided up into either the ladder column or the black cat column. Avoiding walking under a ladder sounded like good advice; something might fall on you or you could knock over the ladder. In this case it would be bad luck for the person on the ladder and possibly you, especially if they were big. While the black deal struck me has irrational superstition without merit. So the sayings that made sense I put into the ladder column and the ones that didn’t went into the black cat column. The question now in front of me was in what category does ‘watched pot’ go in.

I decided that to answer the question you must examine the situation from two points of view, the person watching the pot and the clock. I had already decided that the pot and the water were constants for my purposes. The variable if there was one lies in the perception of the event or to be more accurate the length of time before the event. In the case of the person watching the pot it is perfectly reasonable to say time slows down. There are many everyday cases that show this phenomenon; for example when you start getting good at a sport time slows down and you have more time to react. Another instance that shows this principle is  if your not use to driving seventy it seems really fast, but after a while it seems normal. On the other hand, does the clock have to see this way for it to be true? It seems to me there are two possible ways of answering this question. One way would be to ask what is time? You can only see it through its effects on objects or people not by looking at a clock. You can’t hold it or smell it, although young people often talk about the old person smell or conversely that new car smell. Since time is a man made invention devised to improve our interaction with fellow humans and make accurate predictions when certain processes will happen or be completed; the saying is true. Whether you judge five minutes to be long or short depends on the context in which you use it.

In the second case, we know that clock will give you the same answer watched or not, but is it possible that there is an observer effect. While the clock says the same time either way, maybe the hands actually move slower when you are watching the pot. I don’t have an informed opinion on the subject. Anyway mindless rambling is a good way to divert your mind and help pass the time. I could feel bad for wasting your time, but all this run up to the Oscars assures me that I am not the biggest culprit. Then again that is my perspective and may not be true for you. Oh yea, I put it in the ladder column.

Marital Love

  (It)

Silently dormant it lays there and we stay unaware,

while the seasons continue passing by.

Our time seems long, before our health is gone,

and we remember someday we will die.

I move self-absorbed and distracted, Empathy never practiced

not feeling wrong or really right.

Head straight  and tilted down, never moving around

 always keeping it out of sight.

Thinking it is safely put to bed, I mistook it for dead;

while I deliberately averted my eyes.

Although hiding in plain view, I didn’t seem to have a clue,

could not hear its soundless and tragic cries.

It was certainly a shock, when all our busyness got stopped,

 and I was knocked down to my knees.

 This pause in the action, the resulting fear and reaction changed perception from what has been, to what could be.

Awakened from long sleep, love lifted me upon my feet

and still sustains me on the gloomy days.

Past trouble and tears,  washed away like wasted years,

 and side by side we readied for the fray.

Although Desperate and distraught, I found love I had sought;

It seems that joy lies on the other side of pain.

It soon became so clear, as the clouds began to disappear;

 there’s sunshine when once there was only rain.

P.S.

Not the first time, but the first in a very long time

I gladly and freely give you my unprotected heart

Happy Valentine’s Day

Your husband

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandpa Walking

I have a friend that I haven’t seen for a long time and maybe will never see in person again. Life works that way sometimes. I do however read her post on FB. She has a V8 post where she usually says something like, “I just finished my cardio or strength workout and I am ready to start the day”. I find these posts somehow inspiring. Don’t get me wrong,  I don’t like V8 juice unless it contains alcohol nor do I have an urge to jump out of bed to workout; work maybe, but to workout, not so much. I mention this because she still looks young and fit and I find that I have been deconditioned.  That is what the nurses warned me about. I found Mayo to be an outstanding place, but there are three things that bugged me. The first one is deconditioning, is it really even a word. One of the main points emphasizes movement and they were bipolar about that. When I was in the hospital, they freaked out any time I try to move, only to come back a few days later and I asked how much movement I was getting. Because if I didn’t start moving I would no longer be merely deconditioned, I would become severely deconditioned. Make up your mind people and don’t yell at me for following your directions. The other two bone of contentions I had dealt with forms. I will start with the Quality of Life form. This form asked you to rate your quality of life on a ten point scale and doesn’t tell you what to compare it to. I attempted to take this form seriously which was my first mistake. I ask the lady what do I compare it to, for example should I rate quality of life against what I think is a good quality of life because I have never really had a good quality of life. I doubt it ever gets past a six, but that is ok because my expectations are not that high. Perhaps it would make more sense to base it on what my quality of life has been or do I rate it given my current circumstances. The fact that I am here being treated for cancer would cancel out the top six points on the quality of life scale even if  we are using me as a baseline. To you understand what I mean? She replied, ” Yes, just do whatever you want.” The closest I got to an answer was a male nurse practitioner who said, “I think you should be the baseline, but the before or after cancer question is a little tricky. I would suggest that you pick one and stick to it.”  From that day forward I always put a four down. The second form that bugged me was a rate your pain form. I knew there were people who were in more pain than I was so I tended to low ball it. The problem was they did not tell me they use it to decide whether I got pain meds or not.  I explained, as did who ever was there with me, that I tended to low ball the scale and they should add two. Most of the time they would seem to understand and then not give me the pain meds. If they would have added two I would have got my pain meds and everyone would be happy. They did not add two nor would they give me my pain meds.. When I finally realized what they were doing and they were not going to do it the way I suggested;  I explained their method was just teaching people to whine and it was better to under-estimate your pain than to over-estimate it. They would sympathize with me and continue the practice. Eventually, after many unnecessary problems, I adopted their system.  I think I just wanted to hold on to a little self-respect and control. The whole process tends to strip away much of your vanity.

Anyway, between the treatments, sickness and fatigue my body became deconditioned. I didn’t think it would because I swam at the beginning of the treatments when I had access to a pool and walked after that. However, when my white cells crashed and I got pneumonia all that came to an abrupt halt and I went to the ICU. That didn’t last to long but the activity remained limited even after I got home. I was out one afternoon and people were desperately trying to get around me because I walk too slow. One of the young people said move to the side grandpa your holding up traffic. I thought to myself I bet no one ever said that to the V8 lady and decided it was time to start working out. The other consideration that was evoked by this experience was that of Grandpa. I realized I had probably had similar thoughts about elderly people who were slowing me down, but I never thought that about either one of my grandparents. My Papa was healthy until he got sick and died, I spent several summers with him and will always have found memories. My other Grandparent I didn’t see that often and I have two overriding impressions of him. The first was he scared me and the second was that he gave a fifty cent piece when I visited. That was a lot of money for me. Maybe that is why I wasn’t more of a monetary success. I became scared of money in a b mod sort of way, you know, like Pavlov’s Dog. Instead of drooling when I saw money I ran. I don’t think so, but it is an interesting excuse.

So that brings us to this morning when I started on the long road of reconditioning. I set the tread mill to as flat as it would go and turn the speed to one of the slowest setting and that is really slow. This would be considered grandpa speed and definitively cause the people wanting to get around you to be annoyed. Then I put one foot in front of the other at a laggardly pace for twenty minutes. Then I took a set of ten pound dumbbells and did some sets. My grand finale was doing push ups using the steps. Now that it is evening every muscle in my body hurts. It is a long road, but I will feel blessed if I am able to travel it for a while with no major interruptions.