Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Hurlocker.

Dr. James Kenneth Hurlocker was an OB/GYN in Harlan, Kentucky.  He worked out of the Harlan Appalachian Regional Memorial Hospital.

He probably saved my life.

Today is my 51st birthday.  On October 16, 1963, my mother had a doctor's appointment with Dr. Hurlocker.  During the examination, he told her, "You're dilating, and you need to get upstairs, right now."

I can only imagine how scary those words were for my mother.  She was 25, had a child, and wasn't expecting to have this second child for another couple of months.

She got upstairs, and she had to have natural childbirth with me because any anesthesia would have killed her baby.  (I have said to my mother that apparently I've been a pain in the butt to her since before I was born.)

At 3:29 p.m. that day, I was born.

I weighed 4 lbs., 4 ozs.

I spent the first several weeks of my life in an incubator.  (The incubator was invented by a Dr. Martin Couney.  I guess I owe him my life as well, because I probably would not have survived without that invention.)  I have often joked that I am one of the few people that knows exactly where she was when JFK was shot--I was still in the hospital.

I grew up knowing that I was a preemie, but I never thought of the full implications of that until recently.  Even today, preemies have to have special care and special attention.  The medical field has come a long way in their care of preemies in the last 50 years.  Today, we have NICUs that devote themselves to the care of preemies.  I know a little boy at my church who weighed half of what I did when I was born.  Today, he is running around like an active little boy should.

What is it like to be a parent who can't hold their child?  Who worries whether or not their child is going to live?  Who can't take their kid home from the hospital when they normally would?

I was lucky.  I got to go home.  I got to live.

And although I am positive that God saved my life, He used human hands to accomplish that feat.

Dr. Hurlocker died the same year that my father did, and ironically, the same disease that killed my father--ALS--killed him as well.

He has been described as "the best OB/GYN the hospital [HARMC] ever had."  My cousin Susie was a nurse that worked for him, and when she was pregnant with her daughter, she suffered from severe vomiting.  Every Friday, Dr. Hurlocker gave her a quart of IV fluid.  Her daughter probably would not have survived if he had not done that for her.

I don't know how many babies he delivered, and how many other lives that he saved.

I only know that he saved mine.

Thank you, Dr. Hurlocker.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Roll call . . .

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I've never lost a baby, but I know too many who have.  Their grief is real.  No matter whether it was a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a baby who died of SIDS, or a baby who died of other causes, it was a person, and we are all affected by their loss.

In memory of:

Bobbie Lee
John William
Sarah Grace

And the many others whose names I don't know or have forgotten.

Loved much.  Missed greatly.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Bobbie Lee

Her name was Bobbie Lee Chitwood.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  On this day, I think it's appropriate to mention her and the many others who were born sleeping or who died too soon.

Bobbie Lee Chitwood was the third child of my grandparents, Ralph and Ary Chitwood.  She was the younger sister to my Aunt Mary and my mother Thelma, and the older sister of my uncle Jack.

I don't know her birthday.  It would have been sometime in 1938 or 1939.

She was born sleeping.  She was the daughter, sibling, and aunt I would never know.

Granny mentioned her a couple of times, and I think my mother did as well.  It's only been recently that I've wondered what it would have been like if she had lived.

I'm sure not a day went by in my grandmother's life that she didn't remember the child she had lost. And I wonder if my mother, aunt, and uncle asked themselves what it would have been like if she had lived.

Stillborn babies weren't talked about when Bobbie Lee died.  I have no idea if my grandmother ever saw her baby.  I'm sure that her siblings didn't see her.  They probably had no funeral for her, and it's possible that the family was left to grieve in private.  That was just the way things were "back in the day".

But mothers never forget.  Neither do fathers.

Had Bobbie Lee lived, she would have been my aunt.  Possibly she would have married and had children.  I probably would have had cousins from her.  Who knows what she would have done if she had lived.

On this day, I am reminded of a few lines from John Dunne's poem Meditation 17:

No man is an island
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less. 
* * * * * * * *
Each man's death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.

Each baby's death diminishes all of us.

Rest in peace, Bobbie Lee Chitwood.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy 200th birthday to our national anthem . . .

Two hundred years ago today, a man named Francis Scott Key looked over at Fort McHenry in Maryland and saw a sight he'd waited all night to see:  The American flag flying over the fort.

It meant that a British bombardment had not been successful, and that the Americans still held the fort.

He put his reflections down into a poem, which was later set to the tune of "To Ancreon In Heaven", an English drinking song.  How and why the two of them got together, I'll never know.

One of my bucket list items is to either sing, or hear sung, all of the verses of The Star-Spangled Banner.  We all hear the first verse.  No one hears any of the others.  I also have a personal interest in the national anthem:  Francis Scott Key is a great-nephew of one of my direct ancestors, Mary Key Chitwood.  

So, on it's bicentennial, here are the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

For Aimee . . .

Dear Aimee:

I remember William.



Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's it like for her today?

Today has been a bit unpleasant for me.

For one, it's 9/11.  'Nuff said there.  This is a day that is unpleasant for most, if not all Americans.

For another, it's been 21 years since my dad died.  (I also saw on FB that someone I knew from church lost her father on THE 9/11.)

And to top it all off, I had my Pap smear done today.  Ugh.  (All women reading that sentence are probably shuddering right now.)

Today was my annual physical.  Not only did I have my Pap smear done, I had blood drawn, my breasts examined, and an EKG done.

The woman who did my blood draw wears a headdress.  This isn't the first time that she's seen me at my doctor's office.  She had to take the blood out of the backs of BOTH of my hands because when she took it out of the back of my first hand, the blood stopped flowing and she had to stick the other hand.  She then went back into the examining room with me and quizzed me about the different meds/supplements I was on.

During the actual examination, which was done by the physician's assistant, I asked, "Is the young lady who wears the headdress Muslim?"

She said, yes.

I asked, "Is today hard for her?"

She said, no one had made any comments to her yet.

I said, good.

She then said that there were several patients who weren't receptive to being seen by her, because she was Muslim . . . and that it was mostly the men who weren't that receptive to being seen by her.

I was appalled.  I said to the PA, it's not her fault that someone flew the planes into the towers.  I told her that I didn't have a problem with Muslims, but with Muslim terrorists, and that I hoped I was smart enough to know the difference.

She agreed with me.

The Muslim woman came back into the room, and they proceeded with the rest of the exam.  When the PA left, the Muslim lady also left, and then she came back in and did the EKG on me.

What must it be like for her today?

What must it be like for her to know that it was members of her religion that did this terrible thing, that flew airplanes into two towers, into the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania?

What must it be like for her to know that people look at her, because of her headdress, and immediately associate her with terrorists; with an act that she had nothing to do with?

I could never be a Muslim.  I don't believe that there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.  I can't follow a religion where Jesus is only a prophet, not the Son of God.

But just as I dislike it when people lump all Christians together because of the actions such as Westboro Baptist Church, and others of their ilk, I also dislike it when people lump all Muslims together because of the actions of Mohammed Atta and the other men who hijacked four planes and crashed them deliberately.

There are Muslim terrorists.  We saw the actions of 19 of them on 9/11.  We see their actions daily, especially these days, with the rise of ISIS.

My problem, as I said to my PA, is with Muslim terrorists.  Not with Muslims.  It is not the fault of the lady in my doctor's office that the Twin Towers were hit, that the Pentagon was hit, that a plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

And any actions we take should be against those terrorists.

Not against Muslims.

At least one person has said to me that "every single Muslim" should be deported as an enemy of the state.  That is NOT the way to handle the problem of terrorism.

I don't have all of the answers.  I don't know how to stop another attack on this country.  I believe it is a matter, not if we get attacked again, but when.  And I hope, that if the day comes when we are attacked again, that I would call on God and do the best I can as a American citizen to defend myself and my family.

But it's the terrorists we should go after.

Not the Muslims.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Read this book . . .

Every November, I participate in National Novel Writing Month.  The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  It doesn't have to be good or even make sense.  It just has to be 50,000 words and be written in 30 days.

A couple of years ago, my NaNo project was the following:  What would happen to a Christian family if an Islamic terrorist group took over the United States?

The way I began my fictional takeover was to have a simultaneous hit on several schools, similar to the school takeover in Beslan in 2004.  I went on to have the US be conquered and tried to figure out what life would be like after that.

Someone told me that I was going to run into "major believability issues" with my plot.  Although my story would need a great deal of work, I didn't agree with that person about "believability issues" then, and I still don't.

Apparently, another author thought this idea was plausible.

His name is William Forstchen, and he has written a novel called Day of Wrath, which is about an attack on the United States by ISIS, the terrorist group that has been in the news so much lately.

How does the attack start?

With a simultaneous hit on six schools in the United States of America.

Forstchen's book does not go into what would happen after a takeover.  It only details the actual attack.

That, for me, was frightening enough.

Because I could see it happening that way.

Gone are the days where an army of one nation lines up to face an army of another nation, with rules of engagement in place, and waits until the sound of "Fire!" to launch an attack.

Gone are the days of a declaration of war from one country to another country.

Instead, what we have here are groups of men and/or women, who may or may not be affiliated with a particular country, and who may or may not be acting with that country's full knowledge, participation, and blessing.

We have people who are ready and willing to kill for their beliefs, as well as die for them.

And they show not the slightest hint of conscience or remorse as they do so.

My NaNo project needs a great deal of work, and while my idea is a realistic one, I'm not sure if my execution of it is done well.

Forstchen's book is executed well, making his premise both frightening and plausible.

Read. It.

Your future, and the future of the United States of America, could depend on it.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.