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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )

Archive for the ‘health’ Category

the in-sight joke

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Conversation with Wife 33

On possible cancer in her eye, she sez:

Well, this is going to be interesting.
I have a tumor in my eyeball!

If they have to treat my eye with enucleation,
I want a cat’s eye prosthesis!

What did the clavicle say to the breast bone?
‘What’s necks?’

Why did the eyeball laugh at her tumor?
Because she was in on the in-sight joke.

Q: “What’s a tumor?”
A: “A massive inconvenience.”

– Lady & Smith, 2.20.2017

Lady was told Friday she has a large mass in her left eye. Have a Cleveland Clinic appointment tomorrow with Dr Singh, whom we are told may be the world’s top doc for eye tumors.

Not enough data and too many possibilities to dwell on – some benign, some nasty – so must await more data.

Scary. Yet Lady K’s taking it well – on the surface at least what with her joking, but I can see the stress creeping into her. I’ve been there too many times and know how inner worry quietly alters outer perception.

Could be cancer, could be not, could be surgery, could be not, could be lost eye, could be not, but the dark side of the prognosis research is grim.

Whatever – we’ll deal with it. She’s my sweetie.

Here are the doctor’s serious sounding notes:

1. Large ciliary body mass OS:
Small area of bleeding into posterior chamber.
On gonio exam (after dilation) small area of bleed inferior temporally – mass appears to be invading anteriorly as well.
Concern for iris melanoma.
Discussed patient with ocular tumor fellow.

2. Cataract:
Critical changes in the same quadrant.
Small notch in lens in same quadrant as the mass – lens coloboma?

3. Vit heme:
Small not affecting vision.

A more-than-possible cause is her cell fone. A Swedish study I read 11 years ago in Croatia found a high correlation between cell fone use and head tumors over the previous 20 years in major cities. But the coup de grâce was the rural statistics – since users are farther from the towers, the transmitting power inside the fone is turned up to reach them, and the higher fone power caused greatly increased tumor growth versus the lower-powered city fones, which in turn saw more tumors than before cell fone use.

Her in the US they keep saying the cell fone tumor studies are inconclusive, there’s nothing to be concerned about, we need more studies – but that’s bullcrap… according to the studies, cell fones almost certainly cause tumors and nothing can be done about it because mobile fones have became an essential part of world commerce and we can’t go back. So once again corporations are killing customers for profit. Gotta love capitalism.


posterior cervical fusion today

Thursday, January 12th, 2017


Going in for surgery this morning – a posterior cervical fusion. buzzed my scalp and took down most the beard to meake it easier on them.

They open the back of my neck, remove the back of two neckbones, cut off a burr bruising my spinal cord, screw two chrome & carbon rods to my neck, smear it with bone dust from my hip, sew me back up, and put my neck in a hard collar so I don’t go biting myself.

They may also being removing something from the front of my neck. Been told two different scenarios, so don’t know.

Have to do this because my arthritic neckbones are grinding against each other, bruising my spinal cord, causing my balance to be off, and leaving my fingertips about 10% numb.

Low risk operation, with recovery difficulty somewhere between the nothing of the hip replacement and the brutality of the shoulder replacement.

I already set off metal detecters.



today: beekeepers 1 year, sober 25 years

Thursday, April 21st, 2016


Considering I was supposed to be in the hospital right now getting ready to have the back of my neck cut open so the doc could go in and scrape protruding bone and cartilage from the inside of my spinal column before screwing two metal rods onto my spine, I’d say this was a good day.

It’s likely I’ll have to have the neck surgery in a couple months anyway after they rule out B-12 vitamin deficiency as the villain, but I’ve decided the reprieve is nice.

Today is our one-year anniversary of being beekeepers – even though our hive died off in February after nine months beekeeping, we still got the experience, plus 125 pounds of honey, which is a LOT of honey for a first year hive. Waiting for our new bees to arrive any day now. We had to burn the old hive, so there’s another $300 hive expense. Honey ain’t cheap the first year, need successive successful years to reduce the per year cost of the hardware.

Today is also my 25th year anniversary of being sober. No one believed I could be sober, nobody believed I’d live past 50, yet here I am 70 yrs old, 25 years sober.

I didn’t drink alcohol my first 20 years, drank responsibly for five years, drank like a fish for 20 years, now sober 25.

Status Report 203

Dear, I found the lost.

Your missing black nightgown is
on the floor
behind the black bike rack
in the shadows
to the left of the air conditioner
in the closet.

Shall I help you change?

– Smith, 4.21.2016





Tuesday, April 19th, 2016


Spring’s watercolor renewal:
wood buds, floods green
over winter’s pencil palimpsest
which is fading, fading, fading,

The old king is here

~ Lady


my spine’s on my mind

Monday, April 18th, 2016


Strange pre-surgery preparations . . . carried two 40-pound bags of birdseed up the stairs . . . bicycled over to West Side Market for ingredients for two large batches of soup . . . three loads laundry . . . finishing up my Holmden Hill Community Garden sign . . . gather and send next month’s batch of poems/fotos/songs to Medusa’s Kitchen . . . all stuff I won’t be allowed or want to do in a couple days when I pain pill surf after surgery.

My spine’s on my mind.

Thursday I’m undergoing a laminectomy and spinal fusion . . . they need to scrap away mutant bone and cartilage that’s pushing against my spinal cord causing slight numbness and tingling in my finger tips, throws my balance a little off, and causes me to drop things.

They’re putting two metal rods in my neck to keep it from degenerating further (and maybe even make it better) . . . this will nicely complement my metal hip and shoulder which have already set off metal detectors in courthouses, airports, and Social Security offices.

I’ll be in a hard plastic neck collar for two weeks, a flexible collar for four weeks, and who knows when I’ll be functional again.

Not looking forward to the operation, nor the recovery, nor the worry both cause Lady, but it is what it is so what you gonna do?

Tired of my body being repaired, but grateful it can be. Now if I can only find a repair shop for my mind, one for my soul.

~ ~ ~

The Simplex Things in Life

From the darkness of my third floor window
I watch the traffic light below
go from green
to two seconds of yellow
to short red
whereupon the side street light waits 2 seconds
to turn 12 second green
before 2 second yellow goes back to long red.

2 seconds later
my 16 second red turns long green again
and again and again
night and day year after year
yellow red green
green yellow red
you can bet on the color
bet on the living
bet on the dead.

It’s simple
life is complex.

– Smith, 4.18.2016



here comes Smith, the new Tin Man

Monday, April 4th, 2016


I’m getting more body metal.

The doc’s going in the end of April through the back of my neck to scrap extruding bone spur and cartilage off the inside of my spinal column because the protrusion is pushing against my spinal cord and has bruised it.

Have had tingling and slight numbness in my finger tips since November, and I drop things, find my balance a bit off, and my nerves are stretched tight because of it.

They’ll insert 2 rods and some screws to stop my arthritis bone degeneration, then put me in a hard collar for two weeks . . . when the doc said that, Lady piped up, “Oh like one of those dog collars so he can’t bite himself?”

Don’t like being fixed all the time, but am grateful I’m fixable. Thank goodness for Medicare. And we’re poor enough the hospital will absorb what Medicare doesn’t cover, otherwise we couldn’t do it.

Forgot to ask what metal the rods will be . . . my hip is titanium, and my shoulder is cobalt and chrome. Doc says since I like posting my x-ray fotos, I’ll really like the rod and screws version of my head. Now when folks say I’ve a screw loose, I can show them the x-ray and say no, I’m screwed fine.

Status Report 199

One neck bone’s not connected right
to next neck bone jammed too tight

so Doc’s going in with micro knife
to straighten my serial spinal strife

going to add two rods and some screws
increase my metal density too

got one titanium hip screwed alone
one shoulder built of cobalt and chrome

two hernias covered with synthetic mesh
keep me from being tossed with the trash

my eyes have metal and plastic glasses
my teeth ceramic and metal for noshes

grass for my brain, love for my heart
help keep me from falling apart

so I lumber on in stumbling style
trying to reach one more mile

gotta live at least 31 years more
to keep my wife from the misery store

imagine my clink and clanking then
here comes Smith, the new Tin Man

– Smith, 4.4.2016




dark mass on right at curve pushing into white is going to go


time to check my warrantee

Thursday, January 28th, 2016


either Derek Hess or Hess inspired

Status Report 167

Caffeine and codeine
make for fine pre-sun buzz
thanks to broken knee.

Down the trail of broken bones:

Nose, five ribs, right hand, right wrist,
left wrist, right elbow, left elbow, collar bone,
big toe, left knee, small toes,
cracked pelvis, innumerable cracked ribs…

Time to check my warrantee.

– Smith, 1.28.2016



I hear my bone break

Thursday, January 14th, 2016


Another Smith adventure one wouldn’t wish to have . . . broken kneecap, wrong bus, closed bus stops, walking downtown in leg cast seeking phantom bus, pain increasing, script for pain pills in pocket but no way to get to pharmacy.

But first, an ego commercial.

Medusa’s Kitchen (what a cool name) published 6 fotos and 8 poems of mine yesterday. Once again I’m impressed by Kathy Kieth’s marvelous feel for layout. Poet D.R. Wagner snuck me into the Kitchen last fall, and this is the 3rd time Kathy Kieth’s published me since. May this relationship continue — Medusa’s Kitchen >

I touched the surface of my own leg bone when I was ten (see below), and now 60 years later I hear my kneecap break.

Taking my bicycle down to the basement yesterday, the front tire turned sideways when it reached the floor and jerked to a stop while this jerk kept going and landed left knee on concrete floor. Heard a crisp, sharp CRACK and thought gee that doesn’t sound encouraging, but got up, walked around, everything seemed to work though it did hurt. Spent next few hours trying to ignore what that CRACK had to mean, hoping the famous Smith luck would save me yet again, but knee got bigger and bigger until this morning I went to the ExpressCare. That’s the second time I’ve broken myself one day and waited till the next to go to the doctor. Last time was 1985 when I broke both wrists and elbows doing an art installation – you should have seen me driving myself to the hospital next morning with double breaks in both arms — turning corners and parking were pure hell. Within the week had to change a flat tire in the rain with broken appendages while the car jack kept sinking into the mud – took so long and hurt so bad I broke out laughing at how well the gods got me.

Broke my patella (knee cap). They immobilized my left knee with a cast on which I hobbled three blocks to a bus stop and got on the wrong bus. Got off, found right bus to downtown to catch another bus home. But downtown is all torn up to fix stuff before the Republicans get here for their Presidential convention next year, so I hobbled on my broken knee a couple blocks only to see sign saying “This bus stop was closed 10 months ago due to construction, you idiot.” Wishing I had the crutches waiting at home, I cane my pain leg another two block to where I know my home bus stops, only to find it no longer goes anywhere near there. I’m starting to think I’m in one of those Twilight Zone hell shows, in increasing pain, aware I have a prescription for codeine in my pocket but no way to get to the pharmacy until wife comes home from work hours from now. I walk another two blocks to where the taxis wait, but due to construction, they’re no longer there. Walk more and more and more on broken knee, finally find cab, friendly Algerian driver gets me home for 5 times what my bus costs, but at least I’m home.

Find out more when I go to the doctor Tuesday when they suck some of the swollen blood and juices out with a needle. Internet says six weeks in cast, though some replace the cast with a brace after 2-3 weeks to get rehab started sooner. The bad news is I only went out in the 17 degree cold to buy a billion dollar Powerball lottery ticket, and I got but one number right.

So far have broken at least eight ribs, right hand, right wrist, left wrist, right elbow, left elbow, collar bone, big toe, left knee, and cracked my pelvis . . . there are likely more I’ve forgotten.

As for the time I touched my exposed shin bone 60 years ago — from the memoir:

My biggest and best scar is the six inch curve below my right knee. I ran and jumped a block wall and crashed leg first into the top edge of a second hidden block wall. I got up and had trouble walking, so I sat down and pulled my pants leg up to take a look. My flesh had separated into a six inch open bloodless “V” all the way down to bone. The exposed tibia was pure incredible glowing whiteness in the sun. I was so fascinated that I touched it. I touched my own living skeleton bone with my finger flesh. It felt cool, hard, slick.



bitz & piecez

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Mary E. Weems

Poet, Professor, Playwright

Reading Mary Weems’
serial daily haiku
I grin, nod head yes.

– Smith, 11.18.2014

Mary E. Weems

We were outside this morning in 12° . . . Lady was going running but couldn’t see because her glasses fogged up, so I offered to take them upstairs and put them in my pocket. As she left, I took a couple fotos, walked less than 100 feet, moved the car, came upstairs. When she returned and asked for her glasses, they weren’t in my pocket.

Went out and closely searched my entire route. No glasses. I felt like a pile of do-doo. She was graciously forgiving. Still felt like crap. Took flashlight and broom back out, swept the leaves, looked in the shadows, and finally found them under a parked car. No logic for them being there. No logic for them falling out of my jacket pocket.

But for once logic ruled. I had a finite path from the front of the house to the back. If second search hadn’t succeeded, I was going to crawl the route sifting everything with my frozen fingers. I am so grateful for the amazing luck I’ve been gifted my entire life. No fame, no money, but good friends, good adventures (and bad), good parents, good luck.

foto I took before I lost her glasses

Last night I got sick, probably food poisoning. Lost my inner ear balance so as I walked, I fell to the left, had to hang onto items to walk. Got a little scared, researched things like stroke symptoms (not even close) and the closest I could come was inner ear damage.

Suspected food poisoning though because it happened once before when we lived in Mexico — the room was spinning so badly I leaned left holding myself up by the wall as I walked . . . in between walls, I had to crawl. That episode was way worse than this one.

Woke up this morning with minor vertigo, but as soon as I ate, It was gone.


morning window


12 days pain haze daze

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

taking my breast shot

12 days pain haze daze.

To go through massive flesh pain to get rid of constant pain?
Or avoid new pain by living with forever increasing old pain?
That is the question.

Every time I’d tell the doctors I’d gone through hip replacement surgery, they would darkly hint how much harder a shoulder replacement is, so I figured I was in for a bit of a slog.

Started down pain road during prep when one doc said she’d gone through two shoulder ops, one with a neck nerve block and one without, and the one thing she knew was I did NOT want to be cut open without a block.

So they brought in an ultra-sound machine to help find my phantom neck vein, injected a bunch of uncomfortable stuff in through a needle while saying things I didn’t want to hear like “you don’t want to miss this because that’d mess with his heart.”

When they were done I told them it hadn’t worked because I could still feel, but they said it was too dangerous to do twice and maybe it’d kick in later. Never did. Never worked. Never blocked pain, which was nasty because they assumed when I was coming to in recovery I was pain-free when in fact I hurt so much I thought something had gone seriously wrong and was trying to explain to them through the anesthesia that the block had failed.

Once recovered they gave me percoset or oxy-codone every 4 hours which got rid of most of the pain, followed 2 hours later by a shot of liquid Dilaudid (Elvis’ favorite drug) which zapped all the pain and made me happy for 2 hours.

I was ecstatic I’d woken from the operation because of course had had small thoughts of not making it, so the day before just in case I did the dishes and a couple loads of laundry to tidy up.

Talked myself out of the hospital 24 hours after operation.

Doc said it was particularly difficult session because my arm ball-joint had holes in it, more than half of it worn away, and it and my shoulder socket somehow had wedged together, which doesn’t compute because I don’t see how I could even move my arm from what he showed me.

First nine days were pretty bad. Pain. Trapped in arm sling. Sleeping upright in chair (12 nights so far) because horizontal hurts. Kept getting chills, uncontrolled hypothermic shaking rattling my teeth and skeleton, often while stuck on the toilet with massive constipation from pain pills and body trauma.

Not a lot of fun.

But it turned the corner three days ago, every aspect getting better, except it’s rather like those nested matryoshka or babushka Russian dolls where each doll breaks open to reveal a smaller doll inside — every level of pain reduction after a brief celebration reveals itself to be another vast sea of just slightly smaller pains and discomforts, so you’re happy you feel better except you still feel bad.

Now feeling near human, running out of pain pills while heading for painful rehab in a couple days, but at least the bad bad’s mostly done while the bad’s good is waiting somewhere down the lane.

But I’m tired of this. Four operations in four years is enough.


I’ve been often bit,
but will not again by these
particular teeth.

– Smith, 10.12.2014

One nasty note: after 4-5 hours of operation, they called Lady into a special room so the doctor could talk to her. This hadn’t happened before, and when she saw the box of tissues, she assumed something had gone real wrong. The doc just wanted to explain that once they’d gone in, they saw I was too far gone for normal repair so they’d had to turn my replacement ball and socket upside down to make it work. They’d wanted to explain a difficult operation had gone well, while she thought they were trying to tell her I was gone. Not nice.

Thanks to Lady for her loving care, thanks to the docs for their skill, thanks to the pain pills for getting me this far, and thanks to grass for easing the potentially too much bodymind distress over all.

better day down the line


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