Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pain Might Be Your Last Warning

I am scheduled to have coronary bypass surgery because I was lucky enough to have bronchitis. Sound funny, but it’s the truth. If not for the bronchitis I might have delayed seeing a cardiologist until after a heart attack.

In most ways, I’m a typical man, and my type of behavior is predictable. Though older than I admit and heavier than I should be, I have always considered myself capable of answering any challenge regardless of a few aches and pains.

Over the years, I have modified my exercise routines to avoid injury and pain risks. As an aging martial artist, my tournament-training days of tornado-like spinning heel kicks are behind me. In their place, I’ve adapted to a routine of lower and shorter-reaching but effective techniques to both promote fitness and maintain something of an emergency arsenal should the occasion arise. I have enough skeletal issues to discourage running, but walking has been enjoyable, until recently.

At first I found myself out breath much quicker than in the past, and then my blood pressure elevated after even short workouts. As fate would have it, a flare-up of reoccurring bronchitis emerged. Naturally, I credited my bronchitis with the exercise-induced shortness of breath and elevated blood pressure. Wisely, I decided to lay off my exercise routine until the bronchitis cleared up.

Then it snowed in Louisiana. My four-year-old grandson had never seen snow, and the idea of going outside into the white stuff captured his imagination.

After I gave him a demonstration of how to make a snowball, he quickly became an expert, too. Of course, I had to help him make his first snowman. What kind of grandpa would pass up such an opportunity?

As the base of the snowman grew to sufficient size, I realized that I was in trouble. I leaned on a nearby fence while I encouraged my breathing to return to normal and for an angry tightness in my chest to relax. The closest thing I’d had to this level of discomfort had been during the last few hundred yards of an Alabama 10K in 1985. Back then, I had the good, or you might say, bad timing of approaching the finish line beside another runner, who was as determined to finish in front of me as I was to be in front of him. Understandable consequence for then, but this time, all I’d done was roll up a medium-sized snowball.

After I recovered my breath, and the pain left me, I blamed the bronchitis and rolled another ball to make the middle of our snowman. Then it happened again.

When I recovered, we finished the snowman. My grandson thought it was a great invention. I think he’ll remember at least a little about his first time whenever he makes another snowman, or as he called it, a snow dragon. Because his grandpa writes books with dragons in them, he often sees dragons where others can't. 

When I explained the breathing, blood pressure, and pain issues as part of a plea to get my desired antibiotics, my doctor suspected more than bronchitis. A flurry of test and procedures: EKG, x-rays, stress test, and eventual heart catheter confirmed the suspicions.

I have many blockages, some quite serious. The doctor told me that the good news was that my heart was healthy. Sounds funny to you and me, but in cardiologist talk, that means I haven’t had a heart attack. I presume many of their patients wait too long. Good thing I didn’t.

When there isn’t enough oxygen-carrying blood flowing to a part of your heart, you get pain, sometimes called angina. Fortunately, the pain goes away when you rest. It’s not a heart attack, but it’s a sign you might have one.

It’s not always an indication that you’ve allowed yourself to get out of shape and need to push yourself to the next level. Telling yourself, “pain is weakness leaving the body,” and then trying to push through the barrier can very well kill you. I think that may be what happened to a few of my old friends. I didn’t understand it until now. As demonstrated, a typical man may not be able to distinguish the nature of these pains until he gets some help from a cardiologist.

Not all problems like this require coronary bypass surgery. Depending on the severity, some solutions are relatively simple, but you need a trained professional to make the determination.

Naturally, my story is not a substitute for qualified medical advice, but I hope it serves as a warning to all those typical folks like many of friends who chose to push back at the pain.

Think of pain as a light on the master caution panel. Don’t push it and forget it, hoping it stays away. Investigate it; you might have multiple problems confusing your symptoms. Take the proper action.

Be good to your heart. Talk to a doctor about chest pain and shortness of breath.

It might not be what you want it to be.

The Chronicles of Susah

If you haven't already done so, check out my antediluvian novels at Amazon. You'll be glad you did.

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They're also available for your Nook and iBook.

The Dragoneers
The Lost Dragoneer
The Last Dragoneer

Friday, March 20, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Constitution Says So

A dear friend of mine and I were discussing forms of government and the question, "what is the United States" came up.

I said, "Republic."

He countered by declaring, "We're a Federal, Presidential, Constitutional Republic because we have a democratic, representative, and electoral congress. Nothing is simple in what he have. Perhaps there's some despotic legislation in there, too. What's a legislature called where the head of the executive branch has his hand in the cookie jar?"

As usual, the correct answer was mine, but here's the explanatory version of it.

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America; it delineates the national frame of the federal government. Anything the federal government does, to include the President (a.k.a. head of the executive branch of the government) outside of the Constitution is illegal. The violations are myriad, but they do not make them legal. 

The Constitution of the United States is the first constitution of its kind, and has influenced the constitutions of other nations. That's American Exceptionalism. 

The people of the States existed first, and then created the federal government to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. The central government has no legal authority to grant rights to the people, the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

By being a member of the union, the States are not allowed to violate the provisions of the Constitution. For example, Alabama may not have slaves and Illinois may not infringe the right of the people to bear arms. 

Ah, but one might argue that they do. 

Alabama has slaves? No! Of course not, if they did the Federal government would take legal and if required move Federal troops into to prevent Alabama from having slaves. Not only would they free the slaves, but also they would intern those who organized, planned, and executed the slave-holding provisions. No state may violate the Constitution and get away with it, unless both the State and the Federal government work in tandem to violate the civil right of the people.

"Not Alabama," one might response to such a statement, supposing it was either a diversion or a misunderstanding.

Some States and cities infringe on the right of the people to bear arms. Maryland is one, Illinois does or at least used to, D.C. has some anti-gun laws, New York City, Detroit and others have some restrictions. So those places do it, how do they get away with it?

As I said, when the State and the Federal government work in tandem to violate the civil right of the people, then they appear to get away with it, but it doesn't make it legal. 

In Nazi Germany, everything the central government did was legal, even though it wasn't right. If the central government did that sort of things here, it wouldn't be legal, even if they wore badges and carried guns. As long as the Constitution has people willing to defend it, there is the hope of freedom. Keeping the federal government purposefully weak is part of the Constitution's design.

The Constitution provides protection for the people by dividing the federal government into three branches, supposedly with three separate functions, but with overlapping checks and balances.

In the landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller it was found that D.C.'s handgun ban and trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violated the Second Amendment. The total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of arms that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. This prohibition would fail constitutional muster under any standard of scrutiny. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and was, therefore, unconstitutional.

When the citizens elect people to office who compromise on the basic freedoms of the citizens, certain rights are never taken away. They are merely being infringed. 

For example, you have the right to life, which demands the implied right to breathe. If the President ordered his Secret Police or an ATF officer to choke you until you could no longer breathe, and they complied, they still haven't taken away your right to life. It is still your right, but they would be illegally infringing on your right to do so. Throughout history, governments have denied people their rights under the guise of sovereign authority. The illusion of legality is supported by the lethal force the governments use to control the people. In the United States, the federal government is only legal when it operates within the constraints of the Constitution. Therefore, when people, using the cover of an office, infringe your rights, it's not legal. When the government people commit crimes against you, you have a few options. 

Your choices would be to summon your state police, a sheriff, or even the local police to intervene, as it is their duty to protect your right to life, but sometimes they can't get to you in time. Law enforcement is focused primarily on the public at large and sometimes individuals are left to fend for themselves. If you had time you could have your lawyer by paying him or her to file suit, hoping to make it to the supreme court for them to declare the act unconstitutional in the hopes the offenders would obey the SCOTUS. 

Lacking the ability to do those things, you might decide to take action on your own. To take up arms and fight for your rights, with the full realization that when you act as an individual to violently defend your God-given rights against out of control government agents, they are probably going to kill you. 

Maybe your death would spawn a local uprising, convincing the local police to join in the battle, maybe the State would follow, and then maybe other States would join in. What a mess. 

Stop the madness. There has to be a better way.

The better way is for the citizens to elect people of good character who honestly mean it when they swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Much better to have a limited government as directed by the supreme law of the land than to depend on self-serving office holders, who want to parcel your rights to you when and where as they see fit, when by their actions they are neither fit to control your rights nor to hold office.

Elections have consequences. 

Dr. James McHenry reported, at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation the Constitutional Convention. 

A person who had been anxiously waiting outside shouted, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Benjamin Franklin tipped his hat and said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

We're a Republic. 

It's as simple as that. Keeping it is the challenge.

The Chronicles of Susah

If you haven't already done so, check out my antediluvian novels at Amazon. You'll be glad you did.

If you have read them, then I ask you to consider posting a review wherever you acquired the books. Thanks for reading my books.

They're also available for your Nook and iBook.

The Dragoneers
The Lost Dragoneer