“Call 911 and Get Me an IED!”

I was awake at 4:30 this morning. I don’t know if it was the excitement of having to sit through a long day of training, or the fact that Amanda had rolled over to my side of the bed and was squeezing me out of my space. Whatever it was, I knew it was going to be a long day. However, it was also a good day, despite having to sit through a six-hour class on child/adult CPR and first aid. This was one of the last hurdles that Amanda and I had to jump over before we become certified for foster care. Therefore, once the class ended it was a great feeling. Just one background check to complete and one more home visit to go and we should have our certification!

Initially, I was under the impression that today’s class was going to run from 8 a.m. to noon. So, with that in mind I thought it would be a piece of cake. Four hours would go by quickly and we’d be free to enjoy the rest of the day. Our class was about an hour away from home, so we left at 6:45 this morning. That left us plenty of time to get to the hospital where our was class was being held. This is good because once we arrived I needed to use the restroom, where I proceeded to overflow the toilet. This is a specialty of mine. I have overflowed toilets from London to Rock Island, Illinois. Unfortunately, there was no custodian around to notify, which was probably just as well since I was now running late to get to class.

To my relief, Amanda met me in the hallway once I left the bathroom, since I had no idea where I needed to go for our class. Showing up fashionably late is not something I enjoy, as I always feel all eyes are on the stragglers. However, class had not started yet, so we made our way to the front row. Two things I love, being late and sitting in the front row! Once we got situated class was underway.

The first topic was CPR. This part of the class moved rather quickly, as there were lots of activities involving mannequins. It made me feel as if we were recreating an episode of one of my favorite television shows, The Office. In this particular episode things go horrifically wrong as the staff undergoes CPR training. If you are unfamiliar with this show I’d suggest finding it on Netflix and watching the two-part episode called, “Stress Relief” from season five. Fortunately, no mannequins were injured during today’s class, except for the one the instructor dropped on its head at least three or four times. This woman is also a volunteer EMT. I am hoping she never has to come to my aide in an emergency situation.

The CPR portion of the class was over by 10:30, which had me thinking, “yes, only another hour and a half to go and we’d be done!” Oh, was I sadly mistaken. As it turns out, class was not scheduled to be over until 2 p.m. I am actually glad that I did not know this until class had already started. Despite this devastating bit of news, Amanda and I made the best of it, as we learned all about first aid. We actually did learn quite a lot. For instance, in any emergency situation one must first “check the scene for safety” before stopping to help an injured person. This to me makes perfect sense, especially if electrical lines are down.

Then, you should always direct someone to “call 911” while someone else should “go grab an Automated External Defibrillator or AED.” I think after running through several different emergency scenarios I was beginning to get delirious, or perhaps I was just really ready to go home. For instance, as we were practicing proper emergency procedures for someone who is having an allergic reaction I instructed Amanda to “call 911” and “then go find me an IED, instead of an AED.” I am glad the instructor didn’t hear me, otherwise, she might have thought I was asking for some explosives, as IED actually stands for “Improvised Explosive Device.” Again, it was getting late and I was ready to go home after running through what seemed like every emergency situation one could ever possibly face!

However, then came instructions on what to do if bitten by a venomous creature. This led to what seemed like an hour-long discussion on the difference between being bitten by a rattlesnake and a coral snake, followed by what to do if you ever encounter a poisonous tree frog, you know the kind that can excrete toxins directly from its skin. By this point I was actually hoping for a coral snake to crawl up my leg and just start going to town on my thigh. Apparently, the way they deliver their venom is by gnawing on you for a bit. In the end, I learned that rattlesnakes are probably more deadly, as they can just clamp onto you while the coral snake has to actually do some work before it kills you.

All of the questions regarding poisonous reptiles and amphibians were asked by one particular person in the back of the room. I think perhaps she would have been content to stay all day and discuss the stings and bites of various animals. I say this because after we finished discussing snakes and frogs we moved on to jellyfish. Strangely, I knew where her line of questioning was going as she inquired about there “being any truth to the rumor that human urine” is effective in taking the pain out of the sting of a jellyfish. Fortunately, this ended the discussion on all things poisonous when the instructor stated that “urine is indeed useful in relieving the pain of a jellyfish sting.”

In conclusion, I do not want you to think that I am making light of all the useful things that we learned today. Much of the information was very important. It will be helpful to have this knowledge if we are ever faced with a situation in which someone needs CPR or first aid. Likewise, going through this class got us one step closer to our goal of becoming foster parents. However, I can safely say that after today, we will never be going for a hike in the woods. We will have an AED with us at all times, and we will never be visiting the tropics. Finally, if I am ever stung by a jellyfish, just back off and leave me alone. I’ll go find some vinegar, or some meat tenderizer, as that apparently aids in pain relief as well. For now I am off to work on putting together a first aid kit. Where did I put that tourniquet?

https://youtu.be/ssIY8NYwvh4

A Hydrocephalus Thanksgiving

As I’ve mentioned before in earlier blog posts, besides being born with spina bifida, I was also born with hydrocephalus. This is a condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain. To drain this fluid, a shunt often has to be placed in a person’s head. This shunt allows the excess fluid to run down from the brain into the peritoneal cavity (abdomen). I had my first shunt implanted within hours of my birth.

Throughout my life I have been very fortunate to have had little trouble with my shunt. This is not the case for many with hydrocephalus. Shunts can often get infected, or simply break down. Only once has mine needed to be fully replaced. This occurred when I was four-years old.

It was close to Thanksgiving in 1981 when I began to experience some of the worst headaches I had ever had to that point in my life. Along with the headaches, I became very nauseated. These are two very common side effects one can experience when a shunt begins to fail. So, when I began having these headaches and vomiting, my parents took me to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

As we arrived at the hospital my neurologist, Dr. David McLone, did an exam of my eyes and confirmed my shunt would need to be replaced. He knew this, as he could see papilledema. This is a swelling of the optic nerves caused by excess pressure on the brain. Papilledema is yet another sign that there is a problem with a person’s shunt.

Therefore, I was scheduled to have surgery the next day. I don’t know what was more upsetting, the fact that I would need to have surgery, or that I would have to be in the hospital for Thanksgiving. However, what the doctors and nurses didn’t know is that I would not be deterred from having Thanksgiving dinner.

If my memory serves me correctly, I had surgery the morning before Thanksgiving. I then spent the rest of that day in intensive care, where I slept for quite a while.

I then woke up on Thanksgiving morning and was famished. However, I was told that I would only be allowed ice chips. If I was able to tolerate these, I would be allowed to have clear liquids. Not being one to give up easily, I downed the ice chips that I was given. Then, it was on to the clear liquids. I knocked those back as quickly as I could and told the nurses I wanted Thanksgiving dinner! They resisted my pleas at first. However, they consulted my doctor, as I was insistent that I wanted some turkey!

It pays to be persistent. My doctor saw that I had tolerated everything else that I had been fed. Therefore, he thought it wouldn’t hurt to at least let me try some solid foods.

I was given some turkey and scarfed it down almost as quickly as it was placed in front of me. Then I asked for some more, plus some potatoes and stuffing. Nothing was going to stop me from having Thanksgiving dinner. I ate until I was satisfied, much to the astonishment of the nurses. They should have never doubted a Bradshaw with an appetite.

Sometimes doctors do know what they are talking about, and their advice should be followed accordingly. I am glad that most of the ones I have had along the way have taken the time to listen to me. I know my body the best, as I have lived inside of it for 42 years now. Don’t ever let someone with an M.D. behind their name pressure you in to anything that does not feel right. Listen to your body. It will often tell you the right course of action. Sometimes, you just have to eat the turkey and forget about standard operating procedures.

Omphaloskepsis

As I’ve noted before in a previous blog post (see The Summer of Ryan), I enjoy the sitcom Seinfeld. I relate to the character of George Constanza, as I tend to be a bit neurotic at times. It is for this reason that my mind usually goes to extremes after I have had surgery. I worry that there will be complications that will delay healing, which has actually happened a few times after previous surgeries.

Today, I have had some chills and a low-grade fever. In truth, this is probably because I have become a little dehydrated. However, my mind instantly goes to the possibility of infection, despite there being no indications of this. Should I go to the ER, or should I just stay home? I often weigh these questions heavily. I also feel quite run down, but I guess that is to be expected a few days after having surgery.

It is difficult to be patient when you are the patient! I want to be back on my feet doing everything I could do a week ago before my gallbladder became my worst enemy. Despite this, I know that healing takes time. It is just a little frightening when your body is doing things it normally doesn’t do.

For instance, I had a blister inside my belly button that popped this evening. It almost appeared as if someone was trying to blow a bubble from my umbilical area. I was thinking this might be a new party trick that I could unveil at Christmas – “Step right up and watch me blow bubbles from my belly button!” I could even take this show on the road. I’m sure there is an audience somewhere that would appreciate my act.

Having surgery is nothing new to me. I have seen my body in much worse shape than it is tonight. However, the paranoia sets in when something unexpected happens. You’d think I would have learned by now to be more patient as the patient. However, at 42 my mind still wanders to the “what ifs.” What if I do have an infection starting? What if I will never be able to have another bowel movement? What if I feel like going to work on Monday, but I can’t get any pants to sit comfortably over and around my surgical wounds?

This is a busy time of year at work, and I am not there. How big of a stack of things are waiting for me upon my return? I would say probably quite a few.

These are all things that I will pray about. Life will go on and I am sure I will be back to my old routines soon. Until then I’ll continue to navel gaze. I’ll let you know if the bubbles keep coming. I am off to take my temperature…

Four statues which stand in the Louvre, depicting the fine art of naval gazing. I like the Greek word for this practice much better, which is “omphaloskepsis”

Postoperative

The past few days have put me through the ringer. It all started this past Sunday around 4 p.m. That unmistakeable knotting pain began to form just below my sternum. In the past I have had this pain, but it usually lasted just a few hours and it was gone. However, that was not be the case this time. I did not sleep at all on Sunday night as the tightness in my chest was relentless. It seemed like no matter what position I contorted myself into, nothing helped. I knew that I was having a gallbladder attack.

Fortunately, I was off work on Monday due to Veteran’s Day, as most of my time would be spent in the ER. I checked in there around 6 a.m. on Monday where they ran blood cultures, did x-rays, EKG’s, and then sent me home with a prescription for acid reflux medication. I was kind of dumbfounded. Here I was doubled over in pain and I was sent home with instructions to come back if I started feeling nauseated or feverish. At this point the doctor knew that I had gallstones, as the x-rays had shown. However, I was supposed to wait three days before seeing a general surgeon. Perhaps, I did not express succinctly enough just how much pain I was experiencing.

After stopping by the pharmacy and getting the prescription for acid reflux medication, a problem that I didn’t really have, I went home laid down and tried to get comfortable again. However, this was not to be. I did start to feel nauseated. So, just a little over an hour after leaving the ER, I went back and was not going to leave until my pain was addressed. Finally, I made some headway with the ER staff and I was was given some morphine. This allowed me to get some rest as I waited an inordinate amount of time to hear what was next on the docket for treatment. I was sent for more tests, and then it was finally decided that I would be admitted. That was with the caveat that I may or may not have surgery the next morning. I would be put be on the surgery schedule, but only tentatively. They’d get to me if they had an opening on the schedule.

I understand that my case was not critical. I also am aware that most surgeries are scheduled at least weeks in advance. Likewise, I don’t believe that my condition was critical. However, to have to “fly stand-by” while I was in so much pain was not a comforting feeling. It was also frustrating to know that I was truly not listened to the first time I visited the ER. I was having a gallbladder attack, not a problem with acid reflux!

Fortunately, as noted above, I was finally admitted and was kept comfortable throughout the night with morphine. However, I did not get much sleep, as I was connected to an IV, heart monitor, and an oxygen mask. I understand that since I was taking a very potent narcotic, the nurses were interested in keeping a close eye on my respiration. However, with no sleep on Sunday night and very little sleep Monday night, I was at my wits end. The only positive at this point was that the pain in my chest began to fade away early Monday morning. This is good because much of Monday was spent waiting to hear if they could “pencil me” in on the surgery schedule.

I will say that all of the nurses that I had were very caring and professional, but I found there to be a lot of disorganization throughout the whole process from the ER all the way up to the time of my surgery. Feeling that things were not being orchestrated very well behind the scenes produced some anxiety, which is never a great thing when you are in the hospital.

It was around 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon that I was finally wheeled into surgery. Having surgery is not something that scares me. I have had around 30 different procedures throughout my life. So, I know the process once an individual gets to the operating room (OR). The nurses have you transfer to the rock-hard OR table. They then drape warm blankets over you. These actually feel like a little bit of heaven, as the OR is usually the same temperature as a meat locker. I am sure this is to help negate the heat that radiates from the enormous lighting fixtures that are mounted over the OR table.

A mask is then usually placed over your face that is pumping oxygen. Then, in order to put you under for the the procedure, the general anesthetic is sent through the mask. This sends you into a euphoric state that quickly fades while you slide into unconsciousness. I do enjoy that euphoric feeling. It is just too bad that does not last for very long. It seems like almost no time has passed until you are once again awake. That is when the pain from the procedure sets in and seems to get worse before it gets better. That is where I am today.

Currently, I feel as if I have gone a few rounds with Muhammad Ali while he was still in his prime. To have laparoscopic surgery where your gallbladder is removed through your bellybutton is an unusual thing. I don’t like to have my bellybutton poked, much less to have it cut open. I am sure that this too shall pass, as the pain from other surgeries have. It just always seems when your body is healing that it will never get back to the state where it was before. I am ready to be able to move again without pain. No more surgery for me for a while. I have had my share.

Rollin’ Stone

I love blues music, especially the style that originated in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This music is about life, especially the hardships experienced by those who invented this musical form. Robert Johnson was perhaps the best musician to emerge from the Mississippi Delta in the 1930’s. Despite the fact that he recorded only 29 songs, he is considered to be the master of the Delta blues. Several of his recordings have a haunting quality, especially those where he sings about selling his soul to the devil for his musical prowess.

The legend has it that he met the devil late one night where Highways 49 and 61 cross each other in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. It was at these crossroads where Johnson made a pact with the devil to become a master of his craft. This is a story that has been passed down through the years. No one knows for sure if he truly sold his soul to the devil for his musical abilities. However, it does add a mystique to his songs.

Upon a close listen to his recordings, Robert appears to play both lead and rhythm guitar at the same time. This is one thing that makes these songs truly great. He was virtually a one-man show on the guitar. Robert died at the age of 27 under mysterious circumstances, but he left behind a legacy that would influence other musicians that came after him. There are some spiritual truths in his music that are quite profound if you truly listen.

The Delta blues eventually made its way north to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Boston. This occurred during the 1940’s and 1950’s, as poor, black sharecroppers moved to the industrial centers of the north to find jobs in factories. Shortly after travelling north, the Delta blues became electrified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and various other musicians. It is this style of electrified blues that gave birth to rock and roll in the 1950’s.

Perhaps what I like best about the blues is the honesty of it. Life can indeed be difficult, but we can all find ways to rise above. To me this music also has a very spiritual quality to it. It is music that speaks of sin, despair, and oftentimes redemption. Despite the themes of the blues, it is often uplifting. I think that is because much of speaks to the soul of a person. In the most difficult of circumstances there is always a light that shines through the darkness.

Life is indeed difficult at times. We have all been dealt different challenges. However, we can rise above those difficulties. Music is one thing that really speaks to my soul and helps me to rise to the various challenges I have faced in life.

If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you know that I often find myself in the hospital. In fact, as I write this I am laying in yet another hospital bed waiting to be discharged.

I had my gallbladder removed yesterday, as there was no longer any blood flow to it. This is due to the fact that I had three, fairly large gallstones which had formed. These stones blocked the normal functioning of the gallbladder and it shut down.

This is just another curveball that life has thrown my way. However, I have learned to hit the curveballs head on as they come. My faith plays a large part in this, despite the fact that it is often hard to have faith when things go wrong. Ultimately, I know God has a plan and it is my responsibility to look to Him for guidance.

One of my favorite blues muscians is Muddy Waters. As noted above, he is one of those who brought the Delta blues north. A well known song of his is “Rollin’ Stone.” This title was taken from the old proverb which says that a “rolling stone gathers no moss.” I think this means we must all remain active or we will go stagnant.

I certainly have gone stagnant in many areas of my life. For instance, I used to be a fairly healthy person. However, over the last few years I have become someone who has neglected my health. I have eaten poorly and have put on weight. This weight is not healthy for several reasons, especially due to my spina bifida, as it adds extra stress on my hips and legs.

My poor diet is something that I am sure contributed to the problems that I have had with my gallbladder. I plan to learn from this experience and once again become a “Rollin Stone.” My body can’t handle the moss that has gathered on it. If you are a praying person, please pray for strength for me to keep rolling. My gallstones have motivated me to become a “Rollin Stone.”

If you like the blues these recordings are some of the best ever.

Take a Sad Song and Make it Better.

Adapting to change is usually a difficult process. We often like to stay in our comfort zone. That way we don’t have to take any unnecessary risks or encounter difficulties that might prove inconvenient for us. Personally, I have always been a person who is perfectly content to maintain the status quo. Perhaps, this is out of fear. I don’t always enjoy letting others into my inner sanctum. You could say I am like Superman and his Fortress of Solitude. However, I am not a “man of steel.” I have doubts, fears, and insecurities. I have let these hold me back from experiencing many of the things life has to offer. This was especially true when I was younger.

When I was a teenager, girls were my kryptonite. I was perfectly fine hiding behind the walls of my fortress. If I didn’t take any chances then there was no opportunity to get hurt. I approached many of my relationships like this as I grew into adulthood. I’d only let people in so far, never letting them see the real me. I think for a long time I wasn’t even sure who the “real me” was. However, as I reached my 20’s I began to feel like a change needed to occur. I was tired of hiding.

I’ve always enjoyed the music of Pink Floyd. As an angst-ridden teen I could relate to the lyrics of many of their songs. There is a line in a song from their album The Wall that seemed to fit my life perfectly. The name of the song is called “Waiting for the Worms.” The line is: “In perfect isolation here behind my wall.” That is how I often felt as a teen. I was putting walls up around myself so that I’d never have to take risks. Risks, after all, might lead to heartbreak. Therefore, The Wall became the soundtrack for my teenage years. With its themes of abandonment and isolation I felt it perfectly described who I was at the time.

However, no one can truly live their life in such a way and be happy. I realized this after about a year of counseling, which I went through in my early twenties. I had a counselor who helped me to see that it was okay to let others in to my life. The walls could come down. I no longer had to seek out “perfect isolation.” It was okay to be me.

With this new found freedom, I began to open up to new experiences. I even began to date. This is something that I thought I’d never do. For, I used to ask myself “who would want to date a man who walked with crutches, and had other physical challenges?” Fortunately, this was only a misconception. I did find that there were people that wanted to be my friend, and there were even ladies who wanted to date me. I even found one that said “yes” when I asked her to marry me!

I have been married to Amanda for 7 years now. There are times when I still want to hide behind some walls. However, I think we are all like that at times. Together, Amanda and I are about to break down a huge wall. We will soon be foster parents. As I type this tonight, we are getting bedrooms ready to welcome children who need love and support. We are both ready for this challenge.

In the coming days and weeks, bunk beds will be assembled, walls will be painted, and Amanda will pass her FBI background check, at least we hope! The next few months will be all about breaking down walls. I am sure there will be children who will come through our door feeling much the same way I did as a young person. I think maybe we’ll put The Wall away in the closet and pull out some Beatles music instead. After all, it is time to “take a sad song and make it better.” For those who missed that reference, stop reading this and go listen to the song “Hey Jude.” On second thought just stay right here, sit back and watch the video below.

Not So Happy Little Accidents…

I hesitated at first to write about this experience because I feel as if it may be outside the boundaries of what is appropriate to share about myself. However, my intentions when I first started this blog were to provide a humorous perspective on what it means to be disabled. Some of the more challenging situations in life can also produce the most amusing, at least in hindsight. I tend to be a person that can find my way into some of the most absurd predicaments. These usually occur at the most inopportune times. Often it is my own body that creates events that make me want to run and hide. For instance, let me share with you what happened to me at work yesterday.

As I have noted before in this blog, controlling my bowels can be an issue for me. This is a common problem for those with spina bifida. I believe I might also have irritable bowel syndrome (I love to self-diagnose). These two conditions when combined can result in embarrassing situations. One minute I can be sitting down enjoying a conversation with someone and the next my bowels can go on high alert. If I do not hurry to the bathroom I can wind up having an accident, as I did yesterday at work.

I had just settled back down in my cubicle after eating lunch when I felt that unmistakable rumble in my gut. I knew there was little time to spare before I needed to head to the restroom. Fortunately, my cubicle is just a few feet from the restroom. However, that would not save me this time. When I sat down I realized I was going to need a change of clothing. This was going to be a problem. I usually keep a spare of pants in the backpack that I take with me to work. However, my backpack was in my cubicle and there was no way I could go and retrieve it. What was I going to do? My first thought was to scream “FIRE,” run out to my car, and speed home where I’d hide out until the apocalypse occurred. Then I came to my senses and did what anyone would do in this situation. I reached for my cellphone, which was tucked away in my pocket, and called my boss. Yes, I know what you are thinking, no one would actually call their boss in this situation!

I have a very understanding and caring boss who I knew would understand my situation, as she has a son who has special needs. Thankfully, I was able to explain my situation in a calm manner. I requested that she have a male co-worker bring me my backpack, which he graciously did. However, to my horror there were no spare pants in my bag! I then called Amanda, and being the loving wife that that she is, she left work to bring me a change of clothing.

I tell you this story for a few reasons. One, life can be a challenge when your body does not work properly. It is these times that you can choose to feel sorry for yourself, or you can rise above your circumstances and learn from them. Second, I want everyone who reads this to find the humor in it. Don’t feel sorry for me. Laugh with me and enjoy the absurdity that life can bring. Finally, I tell you this story to let you know that I am fortunate to work with such great people. When I go to work next week, I am gonna to ask my boss if she has ever had an employee call her from the restroom. I bet that she hasn’t. I will also bet that she will smile and we will have a good laugh. Life is far too short to take yourself so seriously. Learn to see the humor even in the worst of times. At the very least you’ll have a good story to tell.

Happy Little Accidents…

I have never been the most artistic person in the world. Despite this I appreciate art very much. It is enjoyable to stroll through Chicago’s Art Institute. There you can see paintings by some of the greatest artists who have ever lived, such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. I have often thought that I don’t really have any true talents, at least not to the same degree as these artists.

When I was a teenager, my friend Charlie and I would watch episodes of the “Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross. I know he is not even close to being as great as the artists that I mentioned above. However, he seemed to make things look so easy. It was always sort of a desire of mine to try my hand at doing a class where I could learn how to paint like Bob Ross.

He had such a calm demeanor. Bob also seemed to enjoy everything that he did, especially when it came to “beating the devil” out of his brush as he would dip it in paint thinner and then whack it against the leg of the easel on which his canvas was sitting. While watching Bob, art seemed like something that I could do. Why couldn’t I mix up some phthalo blue and some titanium white and paint some “happy little clouds?” I might even be able to add some Van Dyke brown or some yellow ochre and paint some trees. Why shouldn’t I be able to create a world where mountains and streams live happily side by side on canvas? With these thoughts in mind I did indeed take a class with a “Bob Ross Certified Instructor.” What I didn’t foresee was that my color blindness might be a detriment to creating my own world on canvas.

As a birthday gift, Amanda bought us a session with a certified instructor that would show us how to paint in the style of Bob Ross. My sister-in-law Alice tagged along as well. We were all excited to try our hand at creating a landscape with lots of “little happy trees” and pristine mountains. However, as soon as we got started I knew this was going to be harder than Bob made it look on television. For one, I could not tell the difference between the various shades of red and green that were on our palettes. I have always had a difficult time distinguishing between dark greens and reds. Therefore, it was almost impossible for me to follow along as the instructor was telling us which colors we should mix together to create various parts of the landscape that we were painting. Despite my struggles it was still fun trying to create something.

I can safely say that I will never have any my work hanging in the galleries of any great museums. However, it was fun to fulfill my desire to try my hand at painting. I would definitely take another class. I am just not sure if the results would be any different. I’m certain that my painting would still resemble something that a 2nd grader has done. I’ll stick to writing. It is a place where I can escape. I enjoy putting my thoughts into words. It helps me to create a world in which I feel happy. Plus, I don’t have to clean any brushes afterwards. Oh, and just in case you were curious to see my painting. Just take a look below and tell me what you think. I made lots of “little happy accidents” as you can see. However, I am not to worried about it. I am sure Bob would have something positive to say. I don’t think he ever expressed any negativity. That just might be the best lesson he ever taught.

A Ryan Bradshaw Original

November

November has never been a favorite month of mine. It is the month where the weather usually starts getting much colder here in Illinois. Likewise, it is the month in which we turn the clocks back an hour.

It is nice to have more light in the morning as you are waking up. However, it is not so pleasant when darkness falls around 4:30 in the afternoon. Who wants to come home from work only for it to be too dark and cold to do anything outdoors?

Despite the drawbacks of November, there are still some pretty fantastic things to celebrate. One of them is the birth of my first nephew, Dalen. I was away at college when I got the call that he had been born. That event took place 20 years ago today. I remember going to the chapel of the hospital shortly after seeing Dalen for the first time. I gave thanks to God for him. I still do, as he is a thoughtful and caring young man. I continue to pray that God blesses his life.

It was three years ago today that I got to be a part of another celebration, the Chicago Cubs victory parade and rally. After 108 of futility they finally won the World Series. It was one of the greatest days of my life to be in Chicago on that day. It was a day that I will not ever forget. For more about that day see “Bleeding Cubbie Blue”, a previous post on this blog.

Finally, November is a time to celebrate Thanksgiving. This is not just a holiday for stuffing yourself with lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. It is a time to thank God for His blessings.

I can say that I have been truly blessed with great family, memorable experiences, and a whole host of other things.

Happy Birthday Dalen, and Go Cubs!

This little boy is now 20 years old. Time gets away from us too quickly.

Dimming of the Day

Amanda and I have been married for seven years. We are also coming up on the seventh year of living in the house we bought shortly after getting married. It is a house that has always been cozy and has always felt like home.

I am unable to do much of the maintenance around the house. For instance, I cannot clean out the gutters, mow the lawn, or shovel snow. These things have always bothered me. I feel like I am less than a man for not being able to do these things.

Our house was built in 1935. It is showing its age, especially on the outside. We’ll need a new roof soon. We could use new siding and new windows as well. Plus, our front porch needs to be be painted and restained. These are things that I worry about a lot. However, I know they will get done. There are many things that need to be renovated inside as well.

Despite all of the work that needs to be done we still love our little house. This old house makes me think of a song that I always tell Amanda is “our song.” The name of the song is “Dimming of the Day.” It was written by a musician by the name of Richard Thompson. However, the version that I refer to as “our song” was done my one of my favorite guitarists, David Gilmour. Below is a video of the song. The words fit perfectly as to how I feel about our house. Most importantly, it speaks to how I feel about Amanda. Please give it a listen.

Amanda would tell you that “our song” is “Silly Love Songs” by Wings. Don’t believe her. I despise that song!