Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sometimes Michele's A Hoot

Today was a little different. My dear wife and adviser Michele went in for a procedure that sounds scary, yucky, and unpleasant. It renders one defenseless and reluctant to talk about unless one's name is Ben. We'll leave it at that.

So now, let's talk about it.

Michele informed me after the event was finished and she was back to her old self that I was not to talk about it or my life would be less than favorable for the next month. However, since she is not a fan of my blog, I'm going to take a chance and narrate the colo...uh, the day's happenings. Do not, I repeat, Do not talk to my dear wife about this particular post. I will gradually clue her in to it's existence in the decades to come. If any of you break our code of silence, I will hunt you down and bore you with more of my stories.

So she was supposed to prepare for the event by fasting a complete day before the "thing." Let's call it that, shall we?

Uncharacteristic for her and and more in line with what I normally try to do when the doc tells me I gotta fast, she forgot and chowed down for breakfast and lunch. In the late afternoon, we went for an 8-mile bike ride and halfway through, she remembered. She had pigged out through over half of her fast. It was too late to call the doctor so she forged into the fast thinking, as she often does, that she is superwoman and therefore able to perform a miracle (which she often does). And no I'm not talking about staying married.

To cut to the chase, she drank all the potions and did the numbers (in a manner of speaking) and things ran smoothly (in a manner of speaking).

She was pretty concerned the next morning if everything was going to be ok. We stopped at Walmart to get a prescription filled...Ok, I'm going to stop here. If by chance, Michele does read this blog, even I do not want the Walmart thing shared.

So we got to the clinic. There is a big question about whether our insurance is going to pay this $1800 bill so before we started, I told the receptionist that I would be glad to assist in the procedure if they would give us a discount. She told me to go back to my seat.

After Michele was taken away, friends of ours walked into the clinic. This particular fellow (just to preserve his anonymity and because of all the privacy laws in today's world, I'll just pick a random name and call him Lared) has had some major health struggles relating to this very clinic. He told me that he has to come in every year and get checked.

In a bit, a lady came out and called for Lared. The guy across the room who must have been waiting for his wife got up and headed through the door. I think he thought they were finished with her. We were all kind of shocked. Lared looked at me with a funny look on his face, apparently puzzled that there were two dudes named Lared in the same clinic. Pretty quick the other guy emerged with an expression that told us his name was not Lared. He muttered something about his name was Larry. He must have realized something was amiss when the nurse pulled out the big needle and the long hose.

Lared left for the periscope adventure. His wife and I sat and talked about random stuff. It just so happens that her son and my baby son were good friends, played on the football team together and are now serving missions. In fact, and this is no lie, they were born in the same hospital, a day apart. This was not the first time we had been in a medical facility together, both for the same exact same reason. 

In short order, an old guy came into the office from Hermiston. He was very loud which is how I picked up the preceding and following information. He had no one with him (which is breaking a cardinal rule in these type of clinics.) They won't work their magic on you unless you bring a designated driver to haul you home afterward. People are pretty dopey when they get through with the exam.

I know this is true because after I had my colo...opps, procedure a couple of years ago, the nurse tried to wake me up to drink some juice. She said they had apple and orange juice. Which did I want? I told her I wanted pomegranate juice. We got into an argument because they were out of what I wanted. The doc then came in and told me I had a slight condition and told me what it was. I said yes, we've been to Ennis before. They have fine furniture. The doctor said "No, I didn't say Ennis, I said..." (You get the idea.)

At that time, Michele got a kick out of my loopiness. Soon I would get a kick out of hers. As you can see, no patient should drive after the work over.

Well, this old guy from Hermy Town  said he'd had it done 4 times before. He knew how to handle himself. But the receptionist wouldn't budge. He absolutely would not be worked on unless he had someone with him. I felt kind of sorry for the guy. Those feelings would soon change.

He said he had no car or keys and therefore she didn't need to worry about him driving. Still no way. She asked if he had family in the area. He said he had 4 daughters but they were all strung out on meth or heroin or cocaine.

Kim (another fictitious name and one that I'll use for Lared's wife right now) and I looked at each other. I said he must have been a lousy father. Kim said that one kid upside down is understandable, all four shows a lack of parental guidance.  It was apparent immediately afterward that he also lacked integrity.

He repeated several more times he had no keys but they refused to take him in unless he had someone to be there to take him after he woke up. He finally got disgusted and walked out the door. I watched him as he walked over to a pickup, fished around in his pocket and came up with a set of keys. He got in, started it up and drove away. We were both shocked but I don't think the office girls were. They told us that quite a few of their valued customers are always trying to pull that type of stunt.

Finally they had me go in and retrieve Michele. She was sacked out and about as dozy as I've ever seen her. Sensing an opportunity, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote "I, Michele Casper, do hereby state that my husband Ben Casper is always right and I will never argue with him again."

I then woke her up and placed the pen in her hand. "Here, hon, sign this paper and then they'll let you out of here." I coaxed. "Shouldn't I read it before I sign it?" she asked dozily as she repeatedly dropped the pen. I assured her that it was ok and stayed busy trying to hold the paper up and keep the pen in her hand. She was unable to even start on the M.

I felt a little like a criminal so I looked around and noticed behind me there was a nurse standing with a wheelchair watching my shenanigans. She didn't have a pleased look on her face. I'm sure she was aware of some medical rule about unconscious people being forced to sign confessions. I muttered something about just trying to make the pen work and I asked her if there was a wastebasket where I could throw the pen. I crumpled the paper up so she wouldn't be privy to our legal document. Maybe I would get a signature later before Mitch awoke from her coma.

We hauled Michele out in a wheelchair that was a good 3 and a half feet wide. I commented about how jumbo the wheelchair was and how they could fit 2 normal sized people in it and economize their trips to the parking lot. She informed me that they had an even larger one and often had to use it because the one she was pushing was even too small for some patients.

Michele was back asleep. I woke her to move her into the chair and she started muttering, for the next 3 hours..."It is scary to have someone put you under sedation." "What did the doctor say?" "When do I have to get the next one?"  "Are my pants on?" (Each comment and question was repeated again and again, all the way home.) Finally, I started telling her, "The doctor said you're a goner." "You have to get the next one tomorrow." "No, your pants aren't on."

I told her that since her pants weren't on, she should wear some sunglasses so no one would recognize her. She slapped the glasses on.

Michele was about as loopy as I've ever seen her. As many of you know, she is a voracious reader. Even at this time of her drugged-up state, after I put her to bed, I came back after a few minutes and she was reading a book. I am not kidding about any of this. To verify my story, here's a picture. Notice she still had the glasses on.

Michele wouldn't have needed the dark glasses if she would have just shut the lamp off.

When I informed her she should take the sunglasses off since she was home and tucked snugly in bed, she told me that she wasn't wearing any sunglasses. She was as bad as that guy from Hermiston. Finally she dozed off with the glasses on. My good wife was pretty funny in this experience. I'm thinking about calling the clinic and seeing how soon we can schedule her for another one. She's still denying she wore sunglasses in bed. Even after I showed her the picture.

Since I'm on a roll, permit me to share a couple of other experiences...

The next Sunday after Michele tickled my funny bone, I walked out of church after the Second Ward meetings were over. As I walked to my pickup, I noticed the ball field sprinklers had come on and there was a strong likelihood that 2 or 3 First Warders were soon going to lose their Sunday spirit. A sprinkler with a massive stream was moving slowly around, first filling up a helmet that was hung upside down, then drenching a motorcycle, and finally blasting through an open window of a car parked next to the bike, before finishing the job by squirting a power pole.

I felt bad for the people who were going to have to sit on a soaked seat or get their head wet when they tried to put their helmet on. So I grabbed the bike and rolled it back and out of the sprinkler. I then took the car out of gear and rolled it back since the window wouldn't close. However, before I did the moving, I drove home, grabbed my camera, returned and snapped a picture. Most of the folks from First Ward think they're so all fired smart but I now have a picture that will prove otherwise.

This sprinkler put out an impressive stream. Notice the dry spot on the concrete directly under the helmet that is upside down. All the water that should have gone on the driveway was pooled up inside the helmet. These were two wet First Warder vehicles!

To finish up this post, I made a call to Beneficial Life Insurance this morning. We bought a whole life policy on Michele some 30 years ago and after we paid the 10 year required premiums, we quit paying and the policy has just kind of held it's own. If Michele kicks before I do, I win the lotto. If I go before her, she wins even bigger. Whatever happens, one of us is going to be in hog heaven.

We get a bill every year on her policy for 400 bucks but don't pay it because I don't have the money and the policy stays in force from our previous payments.

Well, last year Michele must have thought we had more money than we knew what to do with so she sent them 400 smackers. I couldn't believe she didn't check with me before cutting the check. I've been a little irritated over the loss of funds ever since.

So today we got another bill. I wrestled the bill and the checkbook out of Michele's hands and dialed Beneficial Life. A nice lady answered the phone. I briefly explained the situation and then asked if we could get our 400 bucks back. She said no. I commenced (and this is true) telling her that I wanted her to send me the policy amount of 50 grand because my wife was soon going to be pushing up daisies for sending Ben Life the 400 dollars a year ago.

I wasn't agitated but very calm. I thought it was a funny little comment but the lady took me serious. After 20 or 30 seconds of silence, I started to get the feeling that she was calling 911 to report me so they didn't have to pay the claim. Did she really think the Salt Lake cops would make it to Basin City in time to save Michele? 

I decided I better inform the lady that I was just kidding. She sounded relieved. I looked over at Michele and noticed a look of relief on her face also. This day I will spare her but she better not ever write out another check to Beneficial or I will be cashing a much bigger check from Beneficial Life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome Back Will

Before I proceed, let me finish a detail from my last post. The City of High Point, NC called this morning and paid the $77 and change bill I sent them last week. I finally beat The Man! This marks the first time that I have ever been paid by a government entity to fill out their own mindless paperwork. Since all government employees are paid to do this stuff every day, I guess I'm now just like them.

The lesson I have learned from this experience is that any time I am asked to fill out paperwork, I'm going charge for it. I don't care if it's a driver's license renewal, income tax form or food stamp application, I'm charging a hundred bucks an hour. Thanks, High Point, NC!

I remember getting off my mission from PA in April of 1976. One of the hot songs at the time was called "Welcome Back" from the tv show Welcome Back Kotter. I always think of that song when I think of my homecoming. "Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back..."

Anyway, today we welcomed back one of our sons from two years in the mission field, North Carolina Raleigh. Will served well and honorably. He has matured immensely and I sense our time with him in the future will be very pleasant. He's grown up a lot as have I a little.

I know it looks like I haven't eaten for days but we took care of that right after we left the airport. It was a special dinner to honor Will and keep me from malnutrition.

About an hour before we left to pick him up at the airport, I thought back of when we welcomed Derek back from Japan. We made a big banner for him...so I felt obligated to continue the tradition. I love my Xerox printer. It's really the only thing I have of value in this life...Oh, besides my wife and kids.

I had a few other things to do besides making banners before we went to pick Will up at the airport. We stopped at the shop and I invented a thing or two and finally after Michele's incessant honking, we headed south.

On the freeway, I got a call from one of my family that Will had landed and I better hurry. I was surprised that Michele would be frowning on the very day that her son was returning home.

I put the petal to the medal.

As we were picking up the gate ticket to get the barricade to raise, I got another call. Another family member was screaming that we better hurry as Will was inside the terminal and heading for our family group that had been waiting to see their missionary relative. Most of them had been there for hours.

I screeched the tires, we jumped out of the van before it slid to a stop and we ran into the airport like we were late for a plane.

No more than 15 seconds elapsed from the time we rushed through the dispensible family crowd, (knocking a few of them over) till Will walked through the security aisle and hugged Michele. What a auspicious arrival! I couldn't believe Michele was still frowning.

Me? I was smiling and happy as a clam as I felt my timing had been el perfecto. There was no time wasted in waiting and yet we were not late. Very few people could time an arrival that well. Maybe it's just a man thing but there isn't much in this world that can beat an arrival that precise.

(I guess a little part of my smile was related to the fact that Will was home.)

3 days later I got Michele to smile.