Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pic of the Day


The first major snowfall of the season began yesterday afternoon. I’m not sure I’m ready for it. I like snow beat when I don’t have to go anywhere, but today, I’ll have to go to work. Hopefully, they will plow my parking lot before I get ready to go. I doubt that will happen since my landlord isn’t the best at thinking ahead or thinking at all for that matter. Anyway, without a doubt, this means I’ll have to go out and get all the snow off my car before I can head to work. Honestly, the fear of the parking lot not being plowed and having to get the snow off my car are really the two major things I hate about winter. I usually don’t mind the cold as long as I don’t have to be in it for long periods of time.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Pic of the Day

Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pic of the Day

Sing for Joy

The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. (KJV) ( Job 29:13 ) 

It's so easy to get consumed with our world and we often overlook other people. But we feel such encouragement when someone we admire takes an interest in us. Believe it or not, you are very powerful as well. You have the ability to make other peoples' hearts sing and flutter, especially to those without hope. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

Pic of the Day

My pic is Brian J. Smith who came out yesterday in an issue of Attitude Magazine. I have loved him as an actor since I first saw him in Hate Crime in 2005. My gaydar always went off with him, so I’m glad he’s out.

Conference Session

Today is the last day of my conference. I will be moderating a session on oral history today. I will essentially be asking questions to three of New England’s best oral historians. I’m hoping that the session goes as I have planned. I did organize it after all, so unless my panelists have other ideas, it should go as planned. My session happens to be the last session of the conference, and if everyone who says they are going goes, then we should have a good crowd.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Pic of the Day

Coffee and Conferences

I’ll definitely need my coffee today. Yesterday started the New England Museum Association Annual Conference. Conferences are not all that exciting. They are most exciting when you get to go somewhere, but NEMA this year is in Burlington. So instead of staying in the conference hotel, I have to commute to Burlington three times this week. Yesterday was interesting, but I didn’t learn much that was new. We will see how today goes.  Tomorrow, I will be moderating one of the sessions.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pic of the Day

Headache Clinic, Aftermath

As I told you on Monday, I went to the headache clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to be assessed for my headaches. I loved my neurologist down there. She was very nice and very thorough, unlike the neurologist I saw here who was just an arrogant ass. This doctor is also a professor at Dartmouth Medical School. Anyway, after a full assessment, she diagnosed me with chronic migraines. She said though I had some of the symptoms of cluster headaches before, I didn’t meet the most critical of the criteria for cluster headaches and had been misdiagnosed. She also said that besides the occasional seasonal sinus headaches, all of my other headaches were actually migraines, some just acting in atypical ways. However, they were migraines nonetheless.

She stopped all previous headache treatments because they were helping but not completely doing away with the headaches. From here on out, I am not even allowed to take any over the counter medications for pain relief. She first prescribed me Emgality, a monthly injection for my migraines. For milder and moderate headaches she prescribed Anaprox and Vistaral. For major headaches, she prescribed me Migranal. This is where it became tricky. First my pharmacist was worried about interactions with my other health issues (diabetes and hypertension) and my other medications. I did discuss with the pharmacist that we had talked about all my medications, but the pharmacist still would not give me the medication without speaking to the doctor. Furthermore, they did not keep Migranal in stock and would have to order it. That’s all well and good, but the other pharmacist called me yesterday and told me that with the coupon that said it “could reduce the cost to as little as $5” it was still going to cost $1900 dollars a month. My insurance had denied the medication. So they are working with the doctor to try and get pre-authorization for the medication. Incidentally, I looked up the cost of one months supply without the discount card or insurance, and it was $16,000 dollars a month. So it is still up in the air about whether or not I will get the Migranal, because even with the coupon, I cannot afford $1900 a month. Now if one of y’all is a benevolent millionaire with money to spare, there is a donate button over there and if you’re willing to pay $1900 a month for my Migranal, I’d greatly appreciate it. Since I doubt that will happen, I will wait and see if the insurance company authorizes this new medication.

My new doctors goal is not to just make me feel better but to totally eliminate the migraines. Oh and one other little side story about Monday. I had seen the doctor which took about an hour and a half, then I saw a research assistant to be enrolled in the National migraine study which took another hour, and then I headed to the pharmacy at the main hospital to pick of my Emgality. The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pharmacy is able to cut through the red tape of insurance companies a lot easier than my local pharmacy for this particular medication. So after another hour of paperwork, I got my first dose of Emgality which I was supposed to take when I got home. By this time, it is lunchtime and I went and had lunch then headed home, which is about an hour away from Dartmouth-Hitchcock. I get about 20 miles from home and the pharmacy calls. They had given me the wrong dosage. I was supposed to take two injections the first month and one each month after that. They had only given me one injection pen. So I had to go to the nearest exit, which was about five miles away and turn around and head back to the hospital. By the time I’d gotten the second dose and back home, I then went to my regular pharmacy to pick up my new prescriptions. By the time this was over, it was after 4 pm. I’d left the house at 7:15 am for my 8:30 appointment. It had been a long day. Add to that, I did have a massive migraines on Monday.