The Long Road to Now

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, General, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

In late March of 2012, I had visited the Veterans Administration Hospital Clinic in Decatur, Georgia where my doctor after hearing my complaint about a lower back problem ordered a battery of tests and other exams at the main hospital. After X-Ray’s, MRI’s and additional X-Ray’s there was no doubt I had a mess of a problem in the lower back. My back end got mangled after a nasty and rather frightening fall aboard a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer in 1980; that was estimated at about 22 feet. I as a young seaman had walked across the forecastle and had stepped into some liquid, which to my dismay as I later found out was diesel fuel. Some enginemen, while refueling the emergency diesel generator had spilled it but had not cleaned it up; and I stepped in it and as I entered the scuttle which is a small hatch on the top of a larger hatch ended up taking the express route to the bottom.

My butt, smacked to last two steps of the ladder at the very bottom before I slammed feet first into the deck and then bouncing into the anchor windless room of the Charles F. Adams class Guided Missile Destroyer, USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) where I found myself face first on the steel deck pondering just what the hell had happened. A fellow shipmate found me, and helped me to sickbay where the ship’s medic gave me the once over and some aspirin and sent me back to work. So much for that treatment and I would over the years continue to endure the painful reminder of my crash landing on a steel deck that amazingly did not break any bones.

I decided after an additional visit to put in for limited disability compensation, as it was frankly becoming more and more difficult to deal with the pain. I have ended up seeing a pain doctor at the Veterans Hospital in Decatur where I am getting injections to help alleviate the pain. You have not had fun until, you get needles stuck in your spine though once the doctor who is doing the injecting gets done it will at least keep things back there down to a dull roar for the next three months. I put in for the disability in April of 2012, and finally got to see an independent examiner who in February of 2013 took more X-Ray’s, had me try to bend and flex every which way.

Bending and flexing is no longer much of an option nor is heavy lifting the order of the day either. If I have dropped something it is go to the knee’s and hopefully reach it if possible or if at home use the handy-dandy picker upper grabber which unfortunately I can’t carry around one at work so in short it can be a real pain in the back side if I drop something. Being limited now to what I can do, I have not been able to do what I love to do and that is gardening and general yard work. It is hire the local yard work folk and pay them to do it. My trusty John Deere, I have not run in nearly two years now because of the back problems as the pain from man-handling the mower which is self-propelled became too much.

As a Veteran, I am not alone with issues; as other veterans seeking to get disability payments to help with life’s general issues have to go through a long wait and see process. I was told to expect another six month wait for any decision, and there is no guarantee that I will be able to receive the payments. I will have to still endure the pain and get by as best as I can.

I am thankful I am not taking hardcore pain killers, the ones I am taking deal mainly with the nerve and joint pain that is associated with the back issues. Remember the impact that I wrote of? That same impact affected the hips too, and the right side is showing that too now that I am aging. Those that are young and get away with what they think are bruises at first; will be like me when they hit their 50’s. What was I thinking when I did something stupid like that.

    What is next for me? Well I am experiencing both numbness and locking finger joints in both hands, so there is a doctor appoint for a surgeon to examine my hands and arms. I have already had X-Rays too, so problems with my right hand that are growing I have been practicing writing with my left hand. I truly feel like I am back in kindergarten again; trying to write something legible. The results are awful to say the least. Of course as Veteran’s like me age, we face other issues too. Having a heart murmur discovered during a yearly health exam in November of 2012; I had to wait for an exam appoint in February of 2013 to see a specialist. Unlike those who may have insurance that is well off, Veteran’s like me who are now depending on the VA for help have to wait in line.

    As we go forward into the New Year, the government has to of course cut costs. Those that are in Congress are now bitching about those cuts, are the ones with pet projects in their districts. A lot of them seem to forget that Veterans are seeing less support, while the shiny and a lot of times wasteful projects that are being constructed or improved upon seem to be sucking a lot of money away from other issues that need to be addressed. I will hope to see that the wasteful projects are cancelled and the funds being wastefully spent be redirected to the Veterans Administration to help the millions of veterans that need the help. Frankly new and shiny does not always work too well and if the crap costs a Billion Dollars a copy and you want 500 of the stupid things that don’t really work too well at all, then we can send some real estate agents to the Hill and sell them boneheads some beach front property in Nevada. That is of course after we sell off California and break it off at the San Andreas Fault, and the buyer would be China of course since they likely own ninety percent of it already.

    I will keep you posted on my future adventures with the disability issues. The one thing I do want to point out is that surgery is my last option; since the area of the spine in question is the L3 and L4 with a large and nasty cist sitting in there between them. I would have to get full disability just for that option to even be considered. Not a fun thought at the moment.

Have a nice day folks and when you see a Vet, say thanks.

Stephen E Sauls

Chamblee, Georgia USA.

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Panic Perceived and Fear We Show Stupidly

Posted on September 23, 2008. Filed under: Blogroll | Tags: , , , , |

It is only the second day of the week, Tuesday and I frankly think they could replace all the talking heads on the morning edition of CNBC with bobble heads; then play soothing music for the rest of the day. 

It is that or the real bobble heads in Congress, need to figure out a way to help the Wall Street as the Main Street people facing difficulty too want pieces of the pie, even though for some they bought too much house for way too much money and now are seeing the dreams turn into nightmares that end up on the local courthouse steps.

My morning started rather well, despite traffic that had become toast after a Perdue Chicken Truck carrying product caught fire on the local interstate turning the load into roasted and baked chicken with a side of plastic into an inedible mess.

I took a longer route to get a handle on the surrounding area’s gasoline situation. Being that I am riding a thrifty scooter, makes it easier. Most stations were down to only regular unleaded, not a problem for most people except those who needed high test for their sport cars and high performance gas guzzlers.

I look at the situation as a silent panic. I had to get gas for my mother’s car this evening at the local QuikTrip. It looked like folks gassing up for the next hurricane, and not just because they may or may not have needed gas.

There is the problem with gas being sent from Texas, but the bigger issue is the panicked consumption issue in the Atlanta area. While other parts of the state are doing fine, Atlanta gas stations cannot catch a break when it comes to getting gas and keeping it in supply.

Taking that another step is the Wall Street panic. On Monday oil prices went nuts as investors seeking succor from the financials decided to dive back into oil as protection, which resulted in another spike. (Just what no one needed.)

By Tuesday the stuff back down to about $107 kept things somewhat balanced as the bobble heads in Congress bobbled about trying to undo a mess long in play. As this played out we had our own problems locally in the afternoon.

At around 2 PM, the phones start ringing off the hook. One elderly lady asked what was all the commotion was about. We don’t have a television or radio in the office but we were not checking the local news at the moment so one of our fellow co-workers called the emergency center. (Aircraft down, fatalities involved near the city limits.

I brought up a web browser, checked with the local ABC station and on their web page the breaking news about the crash. Uncomfortably close to a high school and a middle school the plane had crashed into the front yard of a house coming to a halt about 20 feet from the porch. Nearby two churches were in the flight path of the ill-fated plane too. The single engine Piper aircraft had the capacity to carry six. It appears for the moment only one person was onboard.

As things progressed into the evening traffic seemed to be about the usual mess as I headed home. Still it was notable to see the continued quest by people getting gas and some stations are limiting how much fuel one can get. Those with gas guzzlers might get enough to make the trip the rest of the way home while those with rice burners and other fuel efficient vehicles could get enough to get around for two weeks if we needed to.

Still as I had supper, it was still disconcerting to here nothing had been finalized about the Wall Street and Main Street bailout. With all the energy that the bobble heads have expended so far, if we could have harnessed it; just think how much that would have saved on the electric bills of folks who need some help.

Finally a bit of humor from a friend of mine in Japan who I chat with by e-mail, we had discussed my recent success at passing the motorcycle safety course. Apparently when it comes to their version of a motorcycle test for driving in Japan, one must ride “length wise” across a board. (Not sure exactly how wide it is supposed to be; perhaps Yoshiro can provide that in his next e-mail.)

Here in Georgia the Motorcycle Safety course teaches use to ride over the object if low enough or evade. I wonder if there is an organization dedicated to prevent wood abuse. Riding across a board on a motorcycle to me would be such a thing.

Anyway have a great week, and don’t panic. It is just in the mind.

Stephen  E Sauls

Chamblee, GA USA









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Two Wheel Bootcamp Ends

Posted on September 18, 2008. Filed under: Blogroll | Tags: , , , , , |

Thursday morning at first appeared to be like the previous two days, cloudy, gray and dull. But by the time, I reached Alpharetta, Georgia and America Honda Headquarters; the clouds were clearing. We started straight into the finals for the class. We had several practice drills to conduct, and one of the instructors had a bit of bad news.

It seems one of the night class students from the previous class had given my ride a bit of a bruising and that I would see blue tape on it. What every the student had done to bring the tiny scooter down on the field was enough to crack the plastic panels on the front. Nothing that I really cared about was damaged, more cosmetic than anything else.

We started the course with obstacle evade and lane changing which included using the turn signals. I discovered that the small Elite had rather loud signal clackers which suited me just fine. The finals were a mix of what we had previously gone through, only this time it was a timed and graded session.

After the riding test, we patted our respective riding machines farewell and then headed for the classroom where the written portion of the test would be taken. The test is 50 questions long.

I admittedly missed one question. It is the question concerning distances, the number of seconds one can use for spacing.

In the Motorcycle Safety Course, it is two-seconds, four-seconds and six-seconds. I consider the two-second rule for spacing to be too little time for reaction and that is only under the best of conditions, that of which is echoed in the course material. I chose the four-second rule over the two-second rule, so I got the question wrong.

Still, one needs to use their respective situation to determine which timing space rule to use as it and every condition is different.

After review and getting my course completion card I headed for the Georgia Department of Driver Services to have my probationary motorcycle license changed and merged to my Georgia license for cars. Though the Department of Driver of Services, on Roswell Road was a bit busy since it was lunch time when I got there, I was in and out in about 25 minutes. I had to pay for a new license plus since I donated to a special help the blind of fund, the total cost was $36.

Arriving home, I had lunch and I took a nap before tackling the lawn and then did a load of laundry.

It will be back to work tomorrow, but the weekend is the fun part as it will be an all day ride for me with other riders from the cop shop.

Have a great week.

Stephen E Sauls

Chamblee, GA USA

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