How Do You Feel?…

Here in Fla La Land, the biggest no no is to ask someone how they feel? They usually tell you in great detail. Known as an “Organ Recital” you get far more information than you really want to know. It happened to yours truly yesterday at the Martin Health Urgent Care. 

I have been gradually getting sicker by the day with flu symptoms but true to form I wanted to avoid any contact with the medical profession. Not because of any fear or disdain but rather it would be admitting that I am no longer invincible. It is a status I have treasured for a long time even if it is my own mind. 

A nice nurse went through the litany of forms and asked I how felt? I was going to say “like shit” but we had just met so I kept it semi classy. Fever? Check. Stuffy nose? Ditto. Achy? Oh yeah. She asked on a scale of one to ten I blurted 7 without hesitation. I was really hurting. At least for me

images-10As I sat staring at the walls of a functional but boring treatment room I thought about my response. Was it really that bad? Was I acting like a wuss? I got the guilts. There are a helluva lot of people with more pain than I was experiencing in this man’s world. The last thing I wanted to be known as is a wimp. 

I figured I would just get the “six pack” and be on my way but the doc thought otherwise. I was prescribed a thing called Tamiflu and steroids. Steroids? I could see my lovely wife now suing this operation for mental cruelty. Ted The Great on Steroids? I thought he already was? Turns out these little white wonders reduced inflammation. Better living through chemistry. More on that later. 

This whole concept of pain started cogitating in my various cranial lobes  as the day wore on. It is so profound in everything psychological as well as physiological and yet it is completely subjective. My buddy Pete is getting a new knee tomorrow. Rest assured his level of discomfort post op is going to be a lot worse than mine. The Bushes feel the pain of loss but what about that for the woman that was killed by a freak accident on that Southwest flight? 

images-11I looked up the medical definition: a state of physical, emotional, or mental lack of well-being or uneasiness that ranges from mild discomfort or dull distress to acute often unbearable agony that may be generalized or localized. That covers a lot of  waterfront and appropriately so. It is the number one reason for people seeking medical help. 

By default pain relief from OTC analgesics to prescriptive opioids is off the charts in the United States. Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin etc are in everyone’s medicine chest. But now opiods,Oxy, Percaset etal, are written  to the astounding number of 150,000,000 prescriptions per annum. That is not capsules but just the  scrips for who knows how many pills? 

If you add in emotional pain, ergo antidepressants, you get the idea that billions upon billions in drug dosages and who knows how much more on therapeutic sessions go into us being free from pain. I can really get philosophical by adding in how much we spend on booze, pornography and overeating to make our troubles go away? Ridiculous you say. I say not.

Now neither I nor you want to see people hurting but going back to the subjective aspect of all this, isn’t it ripe for hype and malfeasance? What concerns me most is the siren’s call of carefree living might go against everything we know to be true of our world and its real life. 

images-9Life is not a bowl of cherries. Nirvana or Edens are lofty goals but not really attainable. Things go wrong by our own mistakes, those of others or just life itself. That woman yesterday who lost her life on that plane, happened to be sitting next to a window of which there were probably 150 just like it throughout the aircraft. The odds of a piece of the engine flying off from a protective cowling and hitting at that exact spot to where the window broke were ridiculous. 

We  Americans, have been lulled by our good fortune, technology and modern medicine into believing that we can be insulated from anything bad happening to us. We really don’t know the strife that is rampant in other parts of our planet. I am not saying we have to don a hair shirt but Geez Louise let’s try to define what is really difficult and what is a minor distraction.

I mentioned the steroids I was prescribed for my achiness. Now I abuse my body by among other things, over exercising. Why shouldn’t I at the ripe old age of now 73, work out, hit golf balls and maybe take a three or four mile walk or run? So I hurt a little? Big deal. I will only be popping pills for a strictly regimented 4 days but I can’t begin to tell you how my overall soreness has abated after 36 hours. 

I would be a bold faced liar if I told I didn’t consider what life would be like if I took a few of these babies  long term. I consulted my good buddy and golfing friend, Dr. Pat about this and he just smiled. Wonder drugs he said and yet they are ripe for abuse. Got it, Coach. I’ll take my medicine in the form of recurring pain.images-15
How do I feel? What do you think? I am lucky beyond all contemplation. Do I have setbacks? Of course. But just think about how I am doing  not just as a resident of Harbour Ridge, or whatever percent of the economic scale I am in or even just a resident of the United States and the free world in general? Pretty damn good, aching bones and all. I’ll take that any day and keep my mouth shut.

As always 

Ted The Great


The US population of 320 million is approximately 5% of the world and we consume over 80% of the supply of opio.images-7We have 27% of the world’s overdose deaths.  Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people

U.S. health care spending increased 4.3 percent to reach $3.3 trillion, or $10,348 per person in 2016. 32%($1.1trilion )of that cost was for hospital stays. 20%($665billion) for physician and clinical care and 10% ($330billion) was for drugs. 

As per 2018 Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world,[20] with Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland holding the next top positions. We came in 19th because of reduced social support and corruption. Does money buy happiness? Of the 30 richest Finland is 30 and the US is 13th? As usual my info is sometimes useless but always interesting. At least to me.



I spend Monday mornings at Hospice as a volunteer. When I mention this, people get sort of weird. Some profess they could never do what I do, which is really not thatextraordinary. You just be yourself and reach out to people.


Sometimes they accept and other times they reject and even give you dirty looks. That’s okay it’s their call and for once in my life it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It is completely and utterly about them.

A couple of weeks ago I had “jumper” duty. We are single story operation so nobody was leaping from the window sills. It seems two of our residents had a wanderlust in their final hours of life. In their confused state they took to roaming the halls in their wheelchairs much to the dismay of staff. When I arrived at 7:30 one poor soul had been on the go since 2:00AM and was now in the nurses station for his protection and the on duty’s sanity. I occupied their time for several hours by just talking about everything under the sun. I am always grateful for an audience. It’s what I do.

Point being, you never know what to expect. We have had munchkins visiting Kathy and me for the last two weeks with the last crew leaving Easter Sunday morning. I have to admit I wasn’t totally bright eyed and bushy tailed as I walked through the door for my tour of duty. The nurses told me they had two patients whose families could use some TLC. They had a ways to go in the process and were a bit at sea. I introduced myself and engaged in some small talk to see if they were approachable.

images-1One woman was there with her husband. I could tell right away she got it and as it turns out had been through this before with a previous spouse. As we talked she kept a close eye on her beloved for any signs of discomfort or stress. She told me of their life story and their love was beyond evident. Nothing fancy but as satisfying and fulfilling as two people could get. Just a wonderful couple. Pretty neat.

I had other rounds to make so I told her I would be back in awhile. I went and chatted with an Italian family who had started in Brooklyn. Where else? Dad had been a WW II vet and at 93 his time had come. Everyone was beyond accepting and a little self consciously the room took on an air of a Sunday night dinner with the sedate Vito as the guest of honor. Pass the red and some pasta please. But something that I can’t describe kept me wanting to go back to Room 11. I bade arriverdverci to my paisanos and and moved back down the hall.

When I entered the room again my woman friend was in a chair reading the newspaper. Her husband was on his side and his breaths had become measurably shorter in a relatively short period of time. Not totally unusual but noticeable. We talked of the news and the challenges we all feel even in this horn of plenty. She was a pragmatic optimist not unlike myself.

All of a sudden she stood up and went to her husband’s side as if something was terribly amiss. I sensed it at the exact same instant. He had transitioned in a matter of moments and the end was near. I know this may sound creepy but it isn’t. You are all of a sudden witnessing the end of life’s journey that began so long ago at one’s birth. It really is a celebration of life as we know it.

In a spontaneous moment we started saying prayers. Turned out they were Catholic and the Our Fathers and Holy Marys flowed easily. Not just the monotone recitals we all do but really praying from the heart. “Now and the hour of our death, Amen” became incredibly poignant.


I moved to the back of the room and left her to her thoughts and a cry that had been building for weeks. I remember many years ago when my son Scott was born. In those days the father being in the delivery room was still new. The ob/gyn wanted to meet me to make sure I was not going to my knees during the process. As we talked he related how incredible it was. There are four or five in the birthing room and then all of a sudden there are six. Today I mused there were three of us in this hospice room and all of sudden there were two. The cycle of life was complete.

In my many years of volunteering I have been through that final breath several times. It is always a particularly privileged moment. But this one struck me in such a different way. Usually I have known the patient and his or her family for weeks if not months. We are friends who have shared for awhile. This was like a lightning strike. No time to prepare. Everything off the cuff…and without time for calculation.

images-11What struck me most was the willingness of human beings to open up and to share. To feel our own mortality and vulnerablity. To be human in every sense of the word. In this crazy impersonal world we live in, it was a testament that it could be done. I am incredibly fortunate to have been there. I hope I got this right because it hit me so beautifully. Life is good.Live it and let it happen, my friends.

As always
Ted The Great


Every year approximately 2.6 million pass on in the US. Over 93% are due to natural causes versus death by accident, murder or suicide. Still over 80% choses to die in hospitals as opposed to Hospice or home health care.

No matter the locale there are caregivers. I work one shift a week for a few hours. The dedicated professionals work 12 hours shifts. They really are the angels of mercy and are beyond loving and caring. There is a sign in the nurse’s station in Denver, “Angels Gather Here.” How true.

After I walked that woman to her car I came back in to the nurses and pronounced to the RN and CNA, “We done good, kids!” We sure did.