Monday, September 29, 2008

The Question

We were at Melissa's grandfather's house on Saturday to celebrate his 85th birthday and Aric surprised one of the wild rabbits that lives there when he chased a football under a shrub. He was startled but also elated. Now keep in mind, Aric is the child who ponders things for weeks on end. Last year he had to research Orioles for a project at school and he talked about them for months. For the last several weeks or more everything had been about the olympics. So just as this is starting to wear off this bunny thing occurs and so he has rabbits on the brain.

He informs Melissa yesterday that he want to raise rabbits for the 4-H livestock show this year. Melissa tells him that we don't know anything about raising rabbits. To this he quickly replies, "Mom, that's what they created the internet for!" Seriously. And he's only nine years old. It occured to me then that my children will never know a world without the internet. Or a world without cell phones or iPods or GPS. Or even video games. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Unlike the generation before me, I've never known a world without telephones or television. Or a world without washing machines and automatic driers. How about no microwave ovens or coffee makers? I love to hear my mother talk about what it was like when she was growing up and I often wish that I could go back to that time just for a little while and experience what it was like. But am I better off having grown up with all the materials that existed and were available to me during my informative years. Better yet, how will all the technology of today mold and shape the person that my child turns out to be?

It's a question I'm not likely to answer, but will never stop asking myself. I guess that as a parent, all I can do is teach my children responsible use of the resources to which they have access and pray that they will make the right decisions when utilizing the tools that are available to them in today's world and in the world of the future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Escape

Needless to say, things have been busy in our life lately. So busy that I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, not that I blog all that often anyway. Melissa and I decided several weeks ago that there was so much going on in our lives and things were moving so fast that we just needed a little break. We decided to plan a weekend "mystery trip" for the whole family to get away and just relax a bit. But where should we go?

You may or may not know that I graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Every fall people from across the state converge on OKC (Oklahoma City) for the annual Oklahoma State Fair. Having come from such a large state with several major metropolitan areas, it was always a unique experience to be at an event that is attended by a majority of the state. Anyway, we have talked about taking the kids to the fair for several years and so it made the perfect choice for our weekend away.

As it turns out, our destination ended up not being much of a mystery. I slipped the location of our "mystery trip" not once but THREE times before we got there! Melissa was not happy with me. Aric wanted her to make clues to give him along the way so that he could guess where we were going. She did a great job making the clues and the boys enjoyed them thoroughly, especially the one that included spending money. They would have been surprised if only I could have kept my big mouth shut, but they were thrilled none the less.

We stopped in Shamrock on the way to take pictures of the boys in front of the famous Tower Conoco and as soon as we did three vintage Ford Thunderbirds pulled up. They were making a treck through all 48 continental U.S. states and just happened to arrive at the Route 66 landmark at the same time we did which was at 7:00 on Saturday morning. Since the building was used as a model for the Pixar movie "Cars" and since Aric is a huge "Cars" fan, it couldn't have been more perfect. And it made the photo op even more memorable.

When we arrive in OKC we headed straight for the fairgrounds. While standing in line we watched five airplanes "skytyping" messages in the sky. Once we were inside the gate, we headed directly to the midway. Every carnival ride I had ever seen was on this midway, but we decided to go to some of the shows and exhibits first. We went in the car show and saw all the latest models and even got to sit in some of them. We saw a sea lion show and a dog show called "Jump!" and even a tropical bird show. We walked through several exhibit halls and ate plenty of fair food. We had a funnel cake, an Indian taco, a calzone, snow cones, and cotton candy not to mention several sodas. Before we knew it, it was 3:00 and we were exhausted. When we got back to the midway and saw the long lines the boys decided we should just go back to the hotel and swim. Sounded good to me.

The hotel, however, didn't quite live up to our expectations. When we finally found it, it was undergoing major renovations and as a result, the pool was not heated. I never realized just how cold an unheated, indoor pool could be. I dipped one foot in the "ice pool" as it came to be known and I knew there was no way I was going to be taking a dip. The boys, though, were undetered. They both braved the cold water, but didn't last long. Fifteen minutes later and they were both still shivering, so we headed back to the room to get ready to go eat dinner. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants called Charleston's. It was a satisfying ending to long but enjoyable day.

We woke the next morning and did a little shopping before heading home. We went to Penn Square mall and I got to go to my first Apple Store. Wow! It was great. Even the boys loved it. There were iMacs, MacBooks, iPods, and iPhones everywhere and you could play with all of them. We almost couldn't get Alex and Aric out of there. After a few more stops we decided that it was time make our way back to Childress.

The trip was so successful that we decided we needed to do it again. In fact we are going to try to do it at least tree times a year. It certainly served its purpose. We all felt better because we were able to relax and not think about the everyday pressures of life for just a little while. I don't know where we'll go on our next "mystery trip", and since I can't seem to keep a secret I'm pretty sure Melissa will keep it a mystery to me as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Test

Well, following a minor episode I had a few weeks ago after running, my wife insisted I see my doctor. I had, after all, recently stopped taking my blood pressure medicine. Yes, with my doctors permission of course. It really kind of scared me at first and so it didn't take much prodding to get me to go. It had been a year since I had seen him so it was time for a check-up anyway. He didn't think it was anything to worry about, but for precautionary purposes he ordered a stress test to determine if I had any blockage.

I guess I wasn't really privy to all that was involved in a stress test. My mother had one several years ago, but didn't really elaborate on the details of the procedure. I was actually admitted to the hospital as an outpatient and had to go through the whole insurance approval process. Let me tell you a stress test isn't cheap! Anyway, after being admitted I was taken back to what I believe was an MRI apparatus. The technician put in an IV for giving injections and injected me with a radioactive substance so that images could be taken of my heart. I have to tell you that this unnerved me just a little but that's how it's done so what can you do?

After lying with my hands over my head for 20 minutes while the MRI was taken, I was then taken to another room for the treadmill portion of this procedure. I was hooked up to a heart monitor with 8 probes that were glued to various parts of my abdomen and then had to get on a treadmill until my heart rate reached a certain "target". As the test proceeded the speed and incline of the treadmill were both progressively increased to attain the desired heart rate. Every 2 minutes another technician took my blood presure which isn't easy to do while running on a treadmill mind you. Then during the most strenuous portion of the test, the radiology technician had to inject me with the second round of radioactive "stuff". So one of them had my right arm, the other had my left hand while I am running uphill on a treadmill that is going fast enough to raise my heartbeat to this "desired" level. No wonder the doctor had to be present during the test.

I was on the treadmill for around 12 minutes which is no time to me, but evidently much longer than most people require to elevate their heart rate to the target level. I was then returned to the MRI machine for another 20 minute session of lying still with my hands over my head. Now, maybe I have bad circulation or something, but after 20 minutes with my arms in the position they were in, my arms were as limp as spagetti. I could barely even feel them, much less use them to get up. Somehow I managed though and was finally finished. Let me just say that now I completely understand why it's called a "stress" test and believe me -- my stress was tested!

I am happy to report that the next day my doctor called and said that the test showed my heart to be in perfectly good condition and certainly not the cause of my little incident. He said that my blood pressure probably just dropped from a combination of the heat and exercise and that he has experienced the same thing on occasion. I am very thankful to the CRMC staff and Dr. Darter for the care they showed for me. I can joke about it now but I was actually pretty worried about it, especially that morning. They were compassionate and helpful in every way and we are lucky to have such wonderful people working at our hospital.