The Toothbrush Roadie

Baby Boy has been learning a lot of new skills lately. As his father, I too am learning a few new tricks of the trade. If you’ve ever been to a concert, you certainly have seen a “roadie” at work. They are the individuals who haul pieces of musical equipment to various venues, set it up, and make sure it is ready to go for the night’s performance.

I too am a “roadie,” except I work a little closer to home each night. In fact, I don’t have to leave my bathroom. Baby Boy has a set of toothbrushes. One features Sesame Street’s “Cookie Monster,” while the other has a picture of “Elmo.” It is my job to fine tune these instruments. Essentially, that means putting a dab of training toothpaste on each brush, as he likes to use both each night. Then it is time to watch the maestro at work.

I wish I could say it is like watching a great guitar virtuoso perform a jaw-dropping solo. However, it is more like viewing a road construction crew on an Illinois highway in the dead of summer. Lots of digging around in holes, but not much actual work being done. I think the best part is watching him rinse each brush and toss it back in the drawer. For this is when he usually finds both of Amanda’s brushes and decides he will perform an encore for his audience of one. This is generally done sans toothpaste.

It makes me nervous when he exits the bathroom while eyeing the toilet brush. I begin to wondering if he thinks he should grab that and end the night with a real showstopper. If that happens, I think I’ll take a page out of Jimi Hendrix’s notebook and set fire to all of the brushes in the house.

Still Life at 80mph

As I write this I am laying in bed in a hotel room in Florham Park, New Jersey. The TV is on and I am unwinding after a long day of travel. On Tuesday we will head south with my brother and his family to spend a few days along the Jersey Shore. Travelling is something that we love to do, as it is a great way to make memories.

Yesterday, we left home, picked up my mother, who lives just a few blocks away from us. We then headed for Strongsville, Ohio. This is approximately halfway between our home in Illinois and my brother’s house in New Jersey. Memories have already been made, and a third-degree misdemeanor was accidently committed.

After hitting the road around 8 a.m. this morning, we made our way across the eastern side of Ohio. We then entered Pennsylvania, which is actually quite a beautiful state through which to travel. Around noon we stopped for lunch at a Dutch Pantry. This appears to be a franchise popular along I-80 in Pennsylvania.

This chain of restaurants could best be described as Pennsylvania’s version of the Cracker Barrel. In other words, the lobby was filled with chachkies no one needs, and the menu was filled with dishes considered, “homestyle.” However, the silverware was really nice, as one of us (not me) decided to walk out with a set. Sadly, this was not the most heinous crime of the day.

My mother, who is in her 70’s, has a smartphone. Today, as we passed particular landmarks, she would snap photos with the camera on her phone. I’m not sure she was very successful. She takes decent photos with her when she is stationary. However, get her in an SUV going down the highway at 80 mph and things are not so pretty, especially through a bug-spattered windshield. By the time a subject was in focus, we were already passed it by a mile or two. When I asked my mom to send me a few of the shots she took she refused. My suspicion is that she got some nice candids of insects entrails and nothing else.

We travelled over 400 miles today, a restaurant is down one set of silverware, I’m exhausted, but I am still curious to see what the rest of this week brings. Tomorrow, we begin with an Independence Day parade. The pictures should be better, as my mom will be standing still.

The “Escape Room”

Have you ever just wanted to disappear for a bit so that no one could find you? I often find myself trying to “escape” for a few minutes of serenity. However, I’ve discovered this is next to impossible with a toddler. For instance, a trip to the bathroom by myself is rare these days.

The bathroom used to be a good place to escape and catch a few minutes of peace. Now, I usually have company. Fortunately, Baby Boy shuts the door behind us. The only problem is, there are sometimes he doesn’t want to open it when our time in the “escape room” has come to an end. It truly becomes a situation where I truly am desperate to escape from the “escape room.”

Maybe next time we go in I’ll teach Baby Boy how to clean. He already knows how to use the TV remote, so why not put a mop in his hands and put him to work. Perhaps, I then can escape to the bedroom while he is not looking. I certainly can find some peace in there. Oh wait, the cats are always in the bedroom!

Toilet Cucumbers

Having a toddler is a learning experience. Baby Boy is always on the go when he is awake. I love his sense of wonder and his willingness to try new things. However, I have learned to be cautious when he is around, especially when he tries to hand me things.

I am now the keeper of half-eaten bananas, empty applesauce pouches, and anything else he decides to hand me. Keeping my mouth closed when Baby Boy is around is a good idea. This is because he likes to share his food with me. I guess he thinks I am a baby bird that needs to be fed. For instance, yesterday, he was eating cucumbers. This is a vegetable of which I am not fond. However, he came running towards me with a slice of cucumber and jammed it into my mouth.

This is where I must tell you that Baby Boy has also recently discovered how much fun it is to play with the toilet seat in the bathroom. He loves to open and shut it. Likewise, if it is up he has been known to drop things in the toilet. It doesn’t matter what it is, he’ll dunk it and then retrieve it. We try to keep the bathroom door shut when he is on the prowl. However, he is now tall enough to open the door.

Yesterday, when he was snacking on cucumbers he made a trip into the bathroom. I was blissfully unaware of this, as I was getting ready to leave the house. As I noted above, he came running towards me with a slice of cucumber and jammed it into my mouth. I had no time to react! It went straight in and I swallowed it after a couple of quick chews. This is when I was informed by Amanda that Baby Boy had just come from the bathroom.

I am trying to avoid thoughts that it had been dipped in the toilet, but I don’t know for sure. All that I know is that I went to bed last night with a bad stomachache. Fortunately, it subsided by this morning. I guess I am immune to just about everything now. Who wouldn’t be after eating a toilet cucumber?

Paducah – Day 1

Amanda, Baby Boy, and I set out on a trip yesterday. I thought I’d chronicle our adventures over the next week here in my blog.

We left our home in Sterling, Illinois last night around 6:00 p.m. Our final destination will be Panama City Beach, Florida. However, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, we thought we’d do the 1,003 mile journey in stages. Last night we stopped in Paducah, Kentucky. We arrived at our hotel just after midnight. Fortunately, Baby Boy slept quite a bit in the car.

On the way down through Illinois there was a lot of road construction, which means there was also a plethora of flashing lights. There also seemed to be quite a few cars broken down along the highway. I am not sure if I have ever seen so many flashing lights in one night. We were even “lucky” enough to have a flashing light in our hotel room!

As I write this I am running on about 3 hours of sleep. That is because in addition to the flashing light blaring in my eyes, I also had a little boy keeping me awake. He has learned how to play peek-a-boo, which he was doing with me. We left his “pack ‘n play” in the car and he slept with me. Amanda had a bed to herself. I could tell Baby Boy had his eyes open, as our room was almost bright as day. When he saw me look at him he’d quickly put his head under the covers and giggle. I love this little boy so much. Anyway, after about thirty minutes of this we both settled down for a restless night sleep.

I think I was elbowed in the face at least ten times. I was also almost disembowled by Baby Boy’s dagger-like toenails. He will be getting these trimmed before we beddown in Montgomery, Alabama tonight.

After our three hour “nap” we were awoken by the rumbling of Harley Davidsons leaving the hotel parking lot. This was just like being at home, as a Harley barrels down our street every morning at 6:30.

I am looking forward to seeing some of the historical sites around Montgomery. Tropical Storm Claudette looks like it has drenched the Gulf Coast, which is where we are headed. I believe by the time we reach the coast on Sunday things will be okay, at least I hope. Stay tuned for more of our travelogue.

Day 2 – Paducah

After a fitful night’s sleep in Paducah, Kentucky, Amanda went and got us all some breakfast of powdered donuts. I believe this was Baby Boy’s first time experiencing those. Powdered donuts always bring back memories of a “staycation” my family and I had when I was a kid.

We stayed at a local hotel for a weekend and did a lot of swimming. Afterwards, we ate powdered donuts by the pool. The Ramada Inn and powdered donuts will forever be linked in my head, but I digress.

Paducah is a town with a lot of nice, little shops. If I was a shopper it would be a great weekend getaway spot. It is also home to Hancock’s of Paducah, which apparently is popular with those who quilt. Amanda and Baby Boy went in for a look while I stayed in the car. The ladies at Hancock’s were nice enough to give Baby Boy a fabric sample. We then went for some sandwiches at Kirchoff’s Deli & Bakery. If you are ever in Paducah, it is worth a stop here. The sandwiches were delicious, and so were the cookies.

After lunch it was time to get back on the road. Our destination for day two of our travels was Montgomery, Alabama. Despite hours of torrential rain, we eventually reached Montgomery last night around eight. After so much travelling, we were all pretty worn out. Well, Amanda and I were anyway. Baby Boy was ready to bounce on the bed, after which he procedeed to vomit. I guess the comedian Ray Romano was right when he said, “Having children is like living in a frat house. Nobody sleeps, everything is broken, and there’s lots of throwing up.” I am ready to see where else this “frat party” takes us.

Doctoring in the Time of COVID

Going to the doctor in 2020 feels more like how going to the airport used to feel when we still went places. You check in and are “wanded” across the forehead so that your temperature can be checked. Fortunately, mine has been holding steady at 98.7 degrees or so. You are then “interrogated” about your health, with whom you’ve been in contact, if you experienced body aches or chills recently, and then you are allowed to pass through to your “gate.”

I think I might just get a t-shirt made that has my full name and date of birth printed on it so that I can just point to the front as they take me in for yet another test. Today, it was an ultrasound on my neck and arm to check for a blood clot. The area around the entrance to the PICC line that I had inserted into my arm a few weeks ago looked suspicious to my home nurse as she visited today. Therefore, I was sent to see my doctor, who at first thought I had an infection in the line. However, as noted above, it turned out to be a blood clot. Fortunately, it is was not a clot that tends to cause any problems.

So, tonight I find a pressure bandage around my right arm. Warm compresses will be used as I climb into bed. Then tomorrow another PICC line will be placed in the opposite arm so that I can continue to receive my daily dose of antibiotics. I sometimes wonder if all of this is real. Each week of 2020 just seems to get more odd.

Amanda got a flat tire this past Friday. I layed on my glasses last night in bed, which bent the frame and popped out a lens, then news of a blood clot in my arm today just seemed to be the icing on the cake.

I think tomorrow when I go in for my procedure, I’ll pretend like I truly am at the airport. I’ll check my bags, and ask for a glass of champagne as I take my seat in first class, then I’ll recline my seat and drift off to sleep. Perhaps, when I wake up it will be 2021. Then again, I’ll probably just be asked, “what is your full name and date of birth?”

Just a Little Vitreous Humor

This past Saturday my eyes started playing tricks on me. When I woke up I saw flashes of light in the corner of my left eye. These flashes were accompanied by floating specks and pin-point sized dots. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I thought perhaps I might be having a stroke. Despite this, I decided I’d wait to see if it would all just go away. Likewise, I consulted Google to see what my symptoms might mean.

I decided that I probably had a tear in my retina, or there was a chance that it was diabetic retinopathy. However, I tried to put these things out of my mind. I then spent the rest of the day on Saturday trying to rest my eyes as much as I could.

On Sunday, I woke up and the same flashes of light were there, as were the “floaters.” Again, I thought I’d wait another day to see if my symptoms would subside. However, by yesterday morning they had not. Well, the flashes of light had disappeared but the “floaters” were still present. This is when I decided I’d call my doctor. My doctor got me in almost right away.

Going to the doctor in the midst of a global pandemic is quite the experience. Obviously, you are required to wear a mask. After you fill out the paperwork they give you at reception, you are allowed to keep the pen. If I’d have known there was a free pen involved I’d have not hesitated for a second about scheduling an appointment. However, my favorite part of the day was the card I was handed before I sat down.

It looked like a flashcard that school children would use to practice their sight words. On the card was the word “dirty,” printed in nice block letters. I thought I smelled pretty good, but apparently not. Anyway, I was instructed to leave this card on my seat in the waiting room after I was called back for my exam. This was so the receptionist would be reminded to disinfect my seat.

Fortunately, nothing abnormal was detected during my exam. The doctor explained to me that the eye contains a jelly-like fluid called vitreous humor. This fluid fills the space between the lens and the retina in the eye. Apparently, as a person gets older the vitreous humour begins to liquify and shrink. The collagen and proteins that are present within the vitreous humor then become stringy and can begin to float around the eye. So, I basically found out I am becoming an old man who will see “floaters” in his eye for at least a little while.

Better still, I will be getting my first pair of bifocals in a few weeks. I am not sure how I feel about this. I am going to have a difficult time adjusting to them, I imagine. However, at least now I won’t have to take my glasses off to read things that are close to my face.

Hopefully, I won’t have to go to the doctor again anytime soon. Although, it might be a great way to start a new pen collection.

100!

When I started writing this blog back in January of 2019, I wasn’t sure where it would lead. At first my goal was to focus on issues related to my disability. However, my life really isn’t defined by having spina bifida. Therefore, this blog has expanded to be a place where I can share my thoughts on current events, give insights on what living life with a disability is like, and just share humorus observations of the world around me. I hope you have enjoyed following me on this journey.

This particular post will be the 100th post that I have written. I thought in keeping with that, I’d create a list of 100 lessons that I have learned, observations that I’ve made, or opinions that I have formed. Every day there are new lessons to be learned and new experiences to be had. These are just a few of the things I have picked up along the way. Let me know if I have missed anything. Here is my list in no particular order.

  • 100. Never take a hansom cab ride in New York City.
  • 99. Never be afraid to try something new (except for that hansom cab ride in New York City).
  • 98. Holding a grudge against anyone is pointless.
  • 97. God will indeed give you more than you can handle at times.
  • 96. Don’t ever give up. Things will get better. It might just take time.
  • 95. Life is unfair.
  • 94. Anxiety can make you feel like you need to do everything all at once. You actually don’t need to do this. Just slow down and take things one step at a time.
  • 93. The smell of the air just before it rains is one of the best scents.
  • 92. The smell of a baby’s head just after they have had a bath is THE best scent there is.
  • 91. The love that a dog has for its master is one of the purest forms of love there is.
  • 90. Losing someone that you love is one of the most painful things you can ever experience.
  • 89. Working hard to achieve a goal is one of the greatest feelings that you will have.
  • 88. Sitting outside in the winter in a place where there is very little, if any, light pollution and looking up at the stars on a clear night is something everyone should try at least once.
  • 87. Going on a road trip with someone you love is a lot of fun.
  • 86. Dorothy was right, “there is no place like home.“
  • 85. Take time to pray every day.
  • 84. Dirt tastes like dirt (yes, I have tried dirt before).
  • 83. Beets taste like dirt.
  • 82. Walnuts taste like dirt.
  • 81. The taste of soap is not pleasant. (Yes, I have had my mouth washed out with soap. It was at church no less).
  • 80. Cilantro tastes like soap.
  • 79. Eating a bag of peanuts on a warm, summer day at baseball game is one if the most relaxing experiences there is.
  • 78. Take time to listen to the stories that your grandparents tell. I am fortunate that I did. I will treasure these memories for as long as I live.
  • 77. Learn about the things that have happened in the past. You can learn a lot from history.
  • 76. You can never read enough books.
  • 75. Learning to adapt to change is difficult, but it is well worth the effort.
  • 74. Being a homeowner is both a blessing and a curse.
  • 73. It pays to do things correctly the first time.
  • 72. I’d rather have more time to do the things that I want to do in life than to make more money. Time is far more valuable than money.
  • 71. There are still very kind people in the world. Many of them live in the U.K.
  • 70. Listen to your parents. They know more than you do.
  • 69. Do at least one thing you enjoy doing every day.
  • 68. Never pray for patience. God just might answer your prayers in ways you don’t expect.
  • 67. When working with others it is often best to let them speak first. You just might gain some new perspective.
  • 66. Donuts are little bites of heaven.
  • 65. Mashed potatoes are the best food ever!
  • 64. Chick-fil-A is overrated.
  • 63. Fountain Coke at McDonald’s is the best.
  • 62. Hot McDonald’s french fries are the best.
  • 61. The Blues Brothers is one of the best films ever made.
  • 60. Somedays you just have to listen to the Beatles.
  • 59. You will never get everyone to like you.
  • 58. Pancakes made at home are better than you can get in any restaurant.
  • 57. NASCAR is not a sport.
  • 56. Everyone should make a trip to the ocean at least once.
  • 55. Everyone should travel overseas. You will gain a new perspective on life.
  • 54. There is nothing like a good night’s sleep.
  • 53. Spending time in the mountains is one of the most peaceful things you can do.
  • 52. Disney World is overrated.
  • 51. Bacon tastes best when crispy.
  • 50. Cats can indeed be needy (I live with two who are very needy).
  • 49. Sunny days are the best kind of days.
  • 48. Never have your eyes dilated on a sunny day.
  • 47. You can’t properly eat Oreo cookies without a glass of milk.
  • 46. Getting an unexpected package in the mail is better than gifts on Christmas Day.
  • 45. No one has ever sang the National Anthem better than Whitney Houston.
  • 44. No one’s instrumental version of the National Anthem has been better than Jimi Hendrix’s rendition from the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
  • 43. September is the best month when it comes to weather, at least here in Illinois.
  • 42. Rollercoasters are not fun!
  • 41. There is no ceremony quite as somber as the “changing of the guard” at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
  • 40. Ken Burns knows how to make a documentary film better than anyone else. If baseball doesn’t start soon I might have to dive into his 23-hour epic on the sport.
  • 39. Don’t ever try smoking.
  • 38. Tell the people you love how you feel while you still can.
  • 37. Sometimes you just need to eat a big, greasy, cheeseburger.
  • 36. It is never too cold to eat ice cream.
  • 35. Read to your kids when they are young.
  • 34. Walter Payton is the best football player I ever saw play the game.
  • 33. Hot dogs should never be eaten with ketchup.
  • 32. Thanksgiving is the best holiday.
  • 31. Christmas becomes less fun the older you get. However, I suspect this changes once you start having your own children.
  • 30. One of the best sounds you can hear is a baby’s laugh.
  • 29. Many of the best things in life are free.
  • 28. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • 27. A soft answer often turns away wrath.
  • 26. Sometimes it best just to remain silent.
  • 25. Autumn is the best season.
  • 24. Always apologize when you are wrong.
  • 23. Michael Jordan was the best basketball player I have ever seen play the game.
  • 22. Don’t argue about politics on social media.
  • 21. Forgive others when they wrong you.
  • 20. Don’t pour gasoline on a fire.
  • 19. Voting for the lesser of the two evils still brings you evil.
  • 18. Finish your work first then you can enjoy your play all the more.
  • 17. You often get what you give.
  • 16. Cynicism isn’t always a bad thing.
  • 15. Always finish what you start.
  • 14. Let your yes be yes and let your no be no.
  • 13. Family is important.
  • 12. Steak is best when cooked medium. Anything else and you cook the flavor out of it.
  • 11. Help others when and where you can.
  • 10. As long as you are alive there is always hope.
  • 09. Nothing quenches your thirst better than water.
  • 08. Admit your mistakes and learn from them.
  • 07. Always tell the truth.
  • 06. Don’t expect others to respect you if you don’t show respect yourself.
  • 05. Every thing should be done in moderation.
  • 04. Always say “please” and “thank you.”
  • 03. You get what you pay for.
  • 02. Fear can be a good motivator.
  • 01. The love of a good woman is a very special thing.

On the Road Again

If you have followed this blog for a while you know that I ride a hand-powered trike. It is something that I enjoy quite a bit. However, I’ve not been out for a while, as I have had some back pain. The problems with my back have greatly limited my mobility over the past few months.

Fortunately, I am beginning to regain my strength. Today, I went for my first ride since last August, or so the app that I use to track my rides tells me. It is difficult to imagine that it was the end of August last year when I stopped riding. I struggled today to get back into a rhythm. However, muscle memory is a great thing. It was not long before I was gaining back some of my momentum.

It was a short ride today. I did just under 4 miles. Last summer my average ride was about 10-12 miles. It will be a while until I am back up to those distances. I think for now I’ll just focus on building up my endurance. These last few months have not been kind to my body. I’ve not focused on my health in quite some time. Working from home and leading a largely sedentary lifestyle is what led to my back problems, I believe.

I hope today was the start of turning things around and becoming more active. I know my mental health could use a boost. Plus, it is fun to watch all the people stop and just watch as I go by, like I am some being that has landed here from another planet. I am just a guy who pedals his bike with his hands. If you see me out, give me a honk. Although, I may not hear you, as I usually am wearing my headphones. After all, I do have to be on standby in case the Mothership calls me back to our landing site.

Me on my “alien craft”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑