Oct 21

A small, planned, surgery

Everyone is fine. Everything was scheduled and everything went just as expected and everyone is healthy and happy.

But we’re at the Cleveland Clinic because The Yankee finally found the proper diagnosis for a leg issue that’s vexed her for years. She’s gone through many doctors — some doing diligent troubleshooting to eliminate possibilities, others stymied by the problem and at least one that said “Oh, that’s just stress” — and it finally led to an answer, and a reminder of what it means for some people who are ‘practicing medicine.’

Anyway, one doctor somewhere along the way uttered a medical term and she came back to the house and looked it up and read about it and then, mindful of her training as a social scientist, she deliberately stopped reading about it, hoping to avoid confirmation bias. We talked about it at great length, medical doctors that we aren’t. And we went to see a guy here:

Because one of the things we know how to do is research. And when you have a tricky and difficult and rare circumstance you want the very best specialist in the game. There are two figures at the top of the list on this particular artery problem, and one of them works at the Cleveland Clinic. So we went over for a visit in July and met The Expert, Dr. Sean Lyden, and part of his team.

He heard the story, even guessed at some of it, as he explained how this came to be his specialty, and did some demos on our arms to demonstrate the problem in a different way. He drew a picture of how it was all supposed to work and a picture of how it probably looked. Then he sent my lovely bride off for some scans. And, wouldn’t you know, the scans came back exactly as his drawings. He’s The Expert, you see.

You have five arteries in your leg. One of them, the popliteal, is the focus here. It’s a rare thing, but in some people the muscles surrounding that artery can move it out of position. That can cause problems with the circulation into your calf and foot. So you get tingling, numbness, discoloration and some other uncomfortable complications. It’s a lot like crimping a water hose, if the water hose was moving blood around your body.

So this week, today, was the time for a small surgery to correct the problem in one leg. We came to Cleveland yesterday and had the pre-op meetings with a physician’s assistant, an anesthesiology fellow (or maybe he was a hospital painter, the uniforms make it hard to tell) and to do some bloodwork. All of the pre-op stuff was perfect, of course. So, this morning, we got up at 5-something and she was admitted and had the surgery at 6-something.

I sat in an uncrowded waiting room and read for a while. Then I dozed off because who can sleep in the nights before a loved one’s surgery? They give you pagers while you wait. You get text updates about the procedure and, eventually there’s a message that says come to the desk for a surgical update. At the front desk a woman who has what I will always think of as the most peaceful stroll in the world walks you back to a room to wait for the doctor.

There’s a love seat there, and two chairs. There’s a coffee table with a giant sketch pad and a phone. There are two doors. Everything is gray or brown. It’s a deliberately muted space. Eventually the doctor comes in from the other door. He re-introduced himself, sits down next to me and again makes his drawing on the sketch pad. Everything went just as planned, he said, and the rest of it doesn’t matter too much, plus he is, by now, also deeply into his morning’s ration of Red Bulls. “You’ll get to go back and see her,” he says, “in about an hour.” And then we chat about last weekend’s Ironman. I told him she won the whole thing because it’s a mental thing and she’s very strong.

So I stepped outside and called my mother-in-law to share the good news. And I called my mom with the good news and texted the rest of the people on the update list. By the time all of that was done it was time to be reunited. Up one floor, through some double doors and then sit in the step-down area. She wasn’t in pain, very calm and entirely lucid — but that part of mental processing that’s important for writing memories was still foggy from the anesthesia. After a while, she got a room elsewhere in the hospital, where we spent the rest of the day starting the recuperation.

She’s staying there overnight. All part of the plan. She has wonderful nurses and everyone in this place is incredibly helpful and kind. The only downside is that I couldn’t stay. Visiting hours ended at 9 p.m.

Almost all of the hospital stuff we’ve done over the years has been outpatient — modern medicine and insurance and good fortune. The one time she had an overnight hospital stay I spent a long, restless night in an uncomfortable recliner, just two weeks after a surgery of my own. (I can’t recommend that sequence of events.) Tonight, though, I had to leave her in her hospital room all alone, which is, to me, one of the worst sounding things imaginable.

We said our goodnights and managed not to cause a scene. I walked two blocks to the right to the drug store to get a snack and then the four blocks the other way to our hotel room. I turned the volume on my phone all the way up, wishing I could turn it up louder. I’ll go back in the morning, of course. The plan is to check out, staying local one more night, before leaving C-Town for B-Town. Tomorrow, we can rest.

Oct 21

A stationary front

The signs of summer are still with us. Saw this lovely little bit of shrubbery on a walk late last evening.

The signs of fall are coming slowly, and then suddenly. Same walk, just a little farther up on the same path.

So today my pocket square is autumnal.

Two years ago we observed Halloween and a snowfall. I’m going to try to not think about that every day between now and then. Each day in the next week or two when we have temperatures in the 70s and low 80s are a gift. A confusing gift.

But that weather out there? My friend Caroline Klare told me it would be like this.

In 2017 IUSTV decided to incorporate some weather into their newscasts. Someone knew someone studying atmospheric sciences. The first student-meteorologist was great, figured the TV thing out very quickly and did a fantastic job right up to graduation and went out into the world and got a job at BAMWX, a weather tech company. Two more students came through, one went to graduate school out west. One landed a great TV job in North Carolina, and Caroline is the last of that original cohort. Incredibly smart woman, wise beyond her years. She’s had a meteorology job waiting for her since her junior year.

Often as not, she orders me up some lovely weather, too.

I’m thinking about going to study atmosphere sciences.

Sep 21

Puck and Oberon do not appear in this post, but other fossils do

Here are a few of the crinoids I found down on the lake shore on Friday, or, as I’ve lately come to think of it, My Struggles With White Balance.

I shot all of these on my phone, because that’s convenient, isn’t it? But, next time, a real camera. There’s just far too much variation, and at the same time, a poor representation of the fossils colors.

Here are a few small samples of the 340-million-or-so year old columnal segments which became a part of sedimentary rock.

At first I wrote that in the present tense. Like it was happening before our eyes. How many millions of years ago did all those lumps freeze up as one?

You don’t often find samples, at this site anyway, which demonstrate the animal’s branches.

And a bunch of the typically small artifacts you’ll find on a public and oft-used site.

But, hey, not everyone comes here for the fossils.

No one does.

Some of you want to see things that are living.

Or at least pretending!

So here’s a rugged bit of damage on a young tree just trying to make do in the shadows of its elders.

(It’s doing well, in fact.)

Somewhere after noticing fall, and all of its pleasures, it’s time to notice the falling away of the ubiquities of summer. It’s the moment after Lileks’ annual observation of the apogee of summer and before Camus’ proclamation of the second spring, and you can see it easiest in the flowers we still have now.

All year, these two walnuts have been together. I wonder how far apart they’ll be when they eventually fall from the branches. I’m not saying it’s Midnight Summer’s Dream in those woods, but if you think of Hermia at the end of the second act, I would understand.

And, if it’s too late in the month for a bad Shakespeare reference, here’s something more prosaic. Anna Black is doing standups for What’s Up Weekly and I somehow managed to get all the signs in one shot. And she isn’t even blinking here!

That was this evening, one of two shows the news division of IUSTV produced this evening. I’ll share them in this space when they make it online, which should be sometime tomorrow.

Sep 21

Another multimedia Tuesday — or as we call it, a Tuesday

Did something a bit different this morning, and it worked out well.

It’s National Clean Energy Week, and so I talked with a guy who researches bioenergy and land-use and the impact of changing vehicle fleets and we talked about some of these things and a whole lot more, like ethanol, switchgrass, private use, government programs and so on. It’s delightfully nerdy, so please press that little orange play button in the top left corner.

We did that one over Zoom, which is the part that was different. I (finally) discovered an ingenious setting for my computer, Zoom and mixer. So, on my end, it sounds like a studio. On Dr. Jerome Dumortier’s end, it sounds like he was in his home office in Indianapolis. You can hear the sound of his voice bouncing off the drywall, but it’s much better than the typical compression you experience when I record these as a phone call.

So I am pleased both by the outcome of the interview, and the aural quality. I’m only kicking myself, a little, for not doing that interview earlier, and discovering how I could integrate Zoom audio much sooner into these episodes.

Today’s what not the best look, I think. I like the pocket square. It works with the jacket and the shirt.

And I like the cufflinks, which worked well as a contrasting splash of color on the shirt.

But I think three points of contrast are too many for my limited style.

They can’t all be the best combinations, I tell myself. And I was a bit rushed this morning, I keep telling myself.

But my mother-in-law said she liked the cufflinks, so I’ve nothing to worry about on the day, right?

Studio tonight. News time, and so we go the desk …

It occurred to me this evening that I need to think up a few new ways to shoot studio gifs.

There’s always next week. And tomorrow.

And tonight! This is our view of the cloud-covered harvest moon.

Sep 21

We count our Olympians on this site

Another Tuesday, another Olympian comes into the studio to take part in an IUSTV shoot. Just another day at the office.

That’s Andrew Capobianco, who won the silver in the 3-meter synchronized diving in Tokyo, and he goes to school at IU.

Capobianco tells us about a cool tradition you don’t hear about all that often.

He’s talking about his Olympic diver partner Michael Hixon, and Hixon’s former dive partner Sam Dorman.

The full interview will be in a program you can see online a bit later this week.

Today’s pocket square combo:

Also, here are a pair of my new, bespoke cufflinks I made this summer.

Pretty snazy, huh?

More videos and fashion and such tomorrow.

If you have some more time to kill right now, though, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. Speaking of On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do. Check them out.