On May 17th of this year, I had a surgical consult for a nasty, invasive skin cancer that decided to make itself known on my right leg. On May 19th, I had surgery to remove that skin cancer.
I then had two subsequent post-surgical visits, May 25th and June 1st, with the latter being my final visit (knock on wood) at the Skin Surgery Center in Bellevue, Washington.
Right before I left I said good-bye to the front desk person, Ashley, and quite truthfully told her, “I’m going to miss you!”
Ashley made my cancer journey – and no doubt those of many of the center’s patients – one that felt less clinical, and more restorative. She always greeted me by my first name, recognizing me among so many that pass through the doors of the surgery center. She also remembered something important about my life – important to me anyway – and brought it up as I left.
“Enjoy your hiking this summer!”
Big deal, right? Yes, it was, because of all the things that bothered me about my cancer, it was not being able to hike that I bemoaned the most. Her farewell greeting put the biggest smile on my face because I was cleared to hit the trails once again, and she was celebrating my ability to do so.
It seems we’re so trained to treat the world as our own personal entertainment venue that when it comes to a mentally challenged man’s fate, we don’t give a shit what happens to him. We the inconvenienced public stand at the base of an 80 foot tree into which he’s climbed in one of the busiest sections of downtown Seattle, Washington and we shout:
What the hell is wrong with us that we so carelessly thrust our complete lack of empathy at this man with words that could very well have ended his life right before our eyes?
those who treated this human being’s frailty with such callousness!
If you are a responsible dog owner who maintains control of your animal and does not allow it to leave your property without being under the control of a leash, you don’t need to read any further.
If your dog or dogs routinely leave your property and have access to any person walking near your property, then please pay attention to what I have to say.
I was bitten by a dog yesterday.
I live in rural Redmond, Washington, a beautiful area providing many scenic areas for residential walks. Many dogs live in my rural neighborhood, and some of their owners have given these dogs carte blanche to freely run around the neighborhood – a neighborhood that has many children I might add. But I digress. Said carte-blanche-provided dogs don’t feel compelled to limit their pooping activity to their owner’s property, therefore when they roam the streets of my neighborhood and feel the urge to purge they do so and because they don’t have opposable thumbs they do not clean up their poop. Disgusting for those of us who enjoy walking through the neighborhood. But again, I digress.
These same dogs whose owners disobey the local leash law have full access to any child, adult or older adult person they come across. Now to the point of my story. I am a prolific walker and there is no street in my rural neighborhood that I have not traveled. Yesterday afternoon I was minding my own business, enjoying a break in the rainy weather by taking a walk, when I turned onto 272nd Avenue NE, Redmond, WA 98053, when half-way down the block my walk was interrupted by two white-haired maltese-like dogs running out of their human’s property directly into my path. My normal modis operandi in these instances is to tell the dog “No! No!” or words to that effect, and casually continue on my way.
Not this time. These two dogs stayed at my heels, not letting me proceed on my own, bearing their teeth, barking like there was no tomorrow, and in a progressive show of defiance, one of them jumped up and bit me on the back of my left calf. Okay, now I’m mad. I’m screaming at these dogs to get away so I can leave the area, and they’re not buying it. Where’s their human? I guess the human was yelling for her dogs, although I couldn’t hear her over their barking, because one of them ran back onto the human’s property, leaving the other dog to continue on its terroristic rant at my expense. (Perhaps said dog has “small dog syndrome”?) Anyway, I was going to use my pepper spray on the remaining mutt but it was acting so vicious, I feared I would only aggravate the situation.
I finally heard a female human’s voice calling the remaining hairy terrorist, and that dog ran back onto the owner’s property. At this point I am approximately 25 feet way from the gravel driveway and did not see the human, nor did I want to exchange conversational pleasantries. I feared that if I walked back to the foot of the driveway to confront the human, her maltese-like dogs would consider me a threat and demand a pound of flesh from me. Instead I yelled, “Your dog bit me!” to which she replied, “Sorry.” She did not walk off her property to the street to see if I was okay. I walked slowly away, looking back to see if she would do so, and she did not.
The balance of my day: at the advice of my doctor’s office when I called to tell them about my dog bite – 3 puncture wounds on my calf, drawing blood – I drove to the nearest hospital emergency room to receive any treatment the ER physician deemed necessary. Fortunately no stitches were required and because there have been no confirmed rabies cases reported in King County – the county in which I live – in the past 30 years, there was no need for preventative rabies treatment. The physician did prescribe an antibiotic, however, should the dog bite become infected.
Come on people! Be responsible dog owners!
You owe it to the general public, and you owe it to your animals, to be responsible. To their animals you ask? Of course, because a complaint such as I filed with Animal Control, including photos of the injured leg, will initiate an investigation that might result in your dog or dogs to be removed from your house.
Bottom line: If you love Fluffy, you must protect Fluffy and all with whom he may come in contact.
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is us.
What these two disasters and many like them have in common is that billions of us can say that they didn’t happen to us. I live in a suburb of Seattle, approximately 60 miles south of Oso, Washington – the town that was buried by a landslide that killed at least twenty four people as of this writing. This landslide didn’t physically happen to my town of Redmond, Washington, but it did happen to us.
The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 took the lives of 239 people and affected thousands of people who lost one of the 239. This crash appears to have happened over the Indian Ocean, many, many miles away from where you and I live, and most of us can say that we weren’t connected to any of those victims, but we would be wrong, because that crash happened to you and me as well.
I don’t take comfort in the fact that so many of the disasters that occur in the world haven’t personally or physically happened to me. There is no distinct separation between me and those pointedly affected by the tragedy that has inserted itself into their lives; no safety shield between my location, and theirs. They are me, and I am them.
It is far too easy to sit comfortably at home and simply be grateful that such tragedies didn’t directly happen to me. You know that saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I think the intent of that statement is well-meaning but it must be said and felt purposefully so that we truly recognize that another misfortune, at another time, could be our own. All of us are vulnerable, and we are all connected. What happens elsewhere, happens to us.
The reason for this article is to express my hope that all of us, wherever and whomever we are, may more readily and clearly identify with all of humanity: the “them” or “they” to whom tragedies befall.
Empathy trumps distance, nationality, or circumstances.
My adult life has been an open book; just ask my husband. He would tell you that on our very first dinner date at a Kirkland, Washington waterfront restaurant, I pretty much told him my life from A to Z, and then some. That’s why it was so astounding that at the end of our date he asked, “Would you like to do this again?”
Wow, I didn’t scare him off.
I’m pretty sure my open book living started quite young for this girl who is one of the most talkative people I know. What can I say? Apparently a lot. As a youngster, I recall engaging my parents’ dinner guests in conversation, even sitting on their laps, without much hesitation or shyness. And along with my brother and my sister, we would sing and dance for any person who would sit down long enough for us to entertain them. I’m quite certain this ability is a Desonier family trait that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Being talkative is one thing, but if your words don’t account for much, that’s all they are – just words.
I admire those who are able to change the world – or at least improve someone’s day – with an economy of words that have more impact than any vomiting of words that I can spew during the course of an hour. My husband, Jerry, is one of those talented people. Forgive me for sounding morose, but I guarantee that years, and years, and years from now, those attending my husband’s funeral will remark on how he was a man of few words – but the words he spoke were golden.
At our wedding reception – a family-only party at our residence – I told both families that one of the things I admired most about Jerry is that he is a man of very few words, but what he says is worth listening to. Of course seeing as his siblings were also at the reception, one of his sisters yelled out, “Yah, he’s an empty book!”
That’s humorous, but far from the truth. My husband’s story is one of family, commitment, and protectiveness. He’s always thinking about what he can do to protect his two adult daughters and how he can keep me safe, wherever I may be. I love taking walks – rain or shine – in our rural neighborhood where dogs, bobcats, and even black bears, have been known to present themselves when you least expect it – not to mention the inattentive drivers who may not notice that I’m trekking along the side of the road. In the past ten years, my husband has gifted me with: waterproof long pants, a sturdy walking stick, a fluorescent yellow vest, a pair of straps with strobe lights on them that I can either wear around my arms or my ankles, pepper spray, and the list goes on. Some wives may take offense to receiving such practical gifts, bemoaning the fact that he must not love me if these are the types of gifts he thinks I really want. I see those practical gifts as a sign of love from someone who wants me to be around for many years to come.
Words, followed up by actions, have the power to change everyone in your corner of the world. Whether hastily spoken harsh words or well-thought out words of encouragement – your corner of the world will be changed. Many of us need to learn to swallow our words and only let escape those that feed and nourish the recipient. I, for one, can cut my dialogue in half, as long as what remains serves to build up those with whom I come in contact.
One thing is for certain; the less often you open your mouth, the less opportunities exist to stick your foot in it.
Here’s a new category that I thought you might get a kick out of. Each Thursday I’ll write about a bizarre news story that took place in my local area (Washington State) and you counter that news with a story from your state!
A couple months ago, at approximately 11:30 pm, a Seattle area man woke up his six and four year old daughters, put them in the backseat of the car, and told them they were taking a trip to The Dollar Store for some toys.
Driving at a high rate of speed – and hopped up on meth – he proceeded to hit a few cars along the way on one of the main North/South freeways, I-5. When his car finally came to a stop, having crashed into a barrier, other drivers pulled over to provide help. Seeing that two young girls were in the back seat, those who came to the assist yelled at the driver to unlock the doors. The driver initially refused. When he finally allowed access to the vehicle, the girls were removed, and although they had several seat belt bruises across their torsos, they appeared to be okay.
When the Good Samaritans gained access to the driver’s side of the vehicle in an effort to help the methed out driver, they discovered he was wearing a woman’s blouse with prosthetic breasts strapped to his chest. Oh, one other detail: he was naked from the waist down, and had a full bag of urine at his feet.
He is being held on $250,000 bail. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for July 1st.
How about news in your neck of the woods? Anything even half as unbelievable occur near you? The news story you submit doesn’t have to be icky like the one I provided, it can be too stupid to believe as well – as a matter of fact, that’s preferred.
In Washington State, there are currently 150,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the rest of the Nation, more than 5 million have Alzheimer’s disease. That number will jump to 16 million by the year 2050. Most of us envision an elderly person with some sort of dementia. We might even expect it to occur in those 85 or older. Listen to me Baby Boomers – young and not-so-young – the number of people diagnosed before the age of 65 – known as early-onset Alzheimer’s – is more common than you think. In the United States alone, those with early-onset disease currently number 200,000.
That number decreased by one when my exceptional sister-in-law died on July 4, 2012 at the age of 69. Just about the time that Baby Boomers should be anxiously making their final retirement plans – such as was the case with my brother and his wife – they are instead dealing with the challenges of managing a disease for which there is no cure.
Sixty-four year old Lon Cole, a resident of Puyallup, Washington, is one of the 200,000. The local NBC affiliate, King5 in Seattle, Washington, ran a touching story about this gentleman. I hope you will take the time to look at this news article: Alive and Thankful: Living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Those who have managed, or are currently managing, the care of a loved one with early-onset disease, will be touched by this family’s story.
It’s happening again. Churches are being encouraged to get involved in politics by using their worship space as the venue in which worshipers can sign petitions that speak out for, or against, certain governmental policies.
In April 2012, prior to November’s General Election, the Roman Catholic Church in Washington State, and other statewide mainline Christian denominations, held petition signings during their worship services in an attempt to shoot down Referendum 74 which was drafted to acknowledge marriage equality between men and women who chose to marry someone of their own gender. Politics invaded that worship space, thus blurring or obliterating the line that separates spiritual church practices from government policy.
Earlier this week, a local Seattle area church capped off their worship service by offering Letters to the President for church members to sign supporting restrictions regarding gun control. Today, President Obama announced the formation of a commission on gun control and encouraged the American people to help change the current gun laws in an effort to reign in gun violence, and to focus on improving access to mental health services. You’ll hear no argument from me on that effort – I might sign any worthwhile and well-thought out petition that is not being promoted by any religious leader and not being made available in any church organization’s worship space. In today’s statement, however, the President asked for the help of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, Pastors, and the like, to be a part of this effort because he can not do it by himself. It is my hope, however, that these efforts will not be cloaked in the trappings of religious beliefs or precepts. Standing at the pulpit trying to persuade church attendees to support more rigorous gun control measures – or to not support such measures – is an abuse of the pulpit.
Surely there are other non-pastoral men and women who can provide the same well-thought out petition signing opportunities centered around gun control and mental health issues in more public and civic settings.
Retail locations, libraries, city and county government offices, and – dare I say it – school campuses – come to mind as more appropriate locations for such efforts. Those close to me know that I am a well-read, spiritually sensitive, and globally aware human being. I’m outspoken and painstakingly fair in what I believe and in what I support, but on this issue I can not back down: anything politically motivated must be separate from all that is housed within the walls of ones worship space. You don’t have to believe as I do, that’s your right. I am simply, yet passionately, proposing that any efforts such as were introduced today, not be cloaked in the vestments of religion.