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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pack O' Wolves

The River Rat Ranger's adventure of the day began late tonight. It was 2200. I was up and slightly late for work so I had to hurridly walk Bay Toe Ven before I left. It was cloudy, overcast and very dark as we went done by the creek. Far off down the valley came the mournful sound of the horn on the freight train as it passed the quarry. From over by Sam, the Outside Dog's house, wild voices answered the horn. It was a pack of coyotes, or "prairie wolves" making their rounds. Bay raised his head in interest. The insane yammering got closer. I realized that they could get between us and the cabin and it could be a problem, especially if one or more had rabies or distemper.

I stated talking loudly so they would know I was there. They hung back yammering with the yips and howls that sound like insane women screaming. I yelled to Mrs. RRR to open the door. Bay slunk into the kitchen. I worried the coyotes might get between me and the car. But they ran off down toward the creek.

For a little while I had forgotten my other troubles. The fact I had awakened with an irregular heartbeat and had to sit on side of bed breathing slow and deeply till it straighted out. Or that despite my diet my wieght is not going down.

I forgot all about the long walk with Mrs. RRR down by the Big Lake.

And got safetly to the Green Hornet and drove in to work....

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Return Begins

The River Rat Ranger returned to the woods today after working all night at the hospital in the Big City. The sun was shining and the temperature predicted to be in the high 50's F. But first things first. The oil and filter needed a long overdue change in the Green Hornet. Then Sam, the outside dog needed fed. My pallet on the floor in front of the fireplace kept calling me and at last I was there. Readers, this is what it is like to work the night shift... you are asleep when the rest of the world wants you to be awake. I had just fallen asleep when the phone rang. I hid my head under a pillow and let the answering machine take it. But it was about an important religious study class coming up so I struggled to my feet and picked it up. Then I began taking notes on the conversation and was wide awake when it was over. Then back to the floor and stared at the ceiling fan whirling over my head and slowly fell back asleep. And the phone rang. A friend in need. We talked for 25 minutes, enough to fully wake me up. I called Mrs. RRR at work. She promised to be home soon.

I watched the fan whirl... and fell asleep to awaken 45 minutes later when she came in the door. Then lunch. Reuben sandwiches with Mrs. RRR's best-in-the-world home made bread, swiss cheese and Argentine corned beef. My consistent cup of frozen mixed fruit. We had devotions. Those of my readers with the Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest should look at the Feb. 27th reading. Awesome, tough-minded Christianity. Then I laid back in my recliner with the heating pad draped over my liver to do my hour of healing meditation. And fell asleep. To awaken when the heating pad shut off automatically. Mrs. RRR headed back to work and the bed was calling, but there was another call too. Nature awaited. The unseasonably warm day awaited. But the bed was winning, till I checked my two hour post meal blood sugar. Way too high at 154. The obvious answer was to utilize the poor man's insulin... a long walk. Bay Toe Ven, the Inside Dog, became excited as I put on my socks and shoes, and ecstatic as I took my walking stick from the corner.

We went out into the sunshine and walked across the field to the woods. I followed a game trail as the dogs scampered side to side and up and down. We paused in a clearing when the shadow of a Bald Eagle swooped over us. I watched him ride the thermals, circling higher and higher. A squirrel cursed us from a tree branch. We left the woods and a Red Tailed Hawk screeched defiance and circled us too, but after carefully waiting till the Eagle was gone. We trudged through the silty dirt toward the river. The first tiny bunches of green have popped up here and there in the field. At the river, the Hawk, who had followed us, once again drifted over head telling us how tough and bad he was. We hiked along the river, then back through another stand of timber, along a stream and I picked up the accumulated mail from the mailbox by the road. Then down the lane, across my homemade bridge and The Returning was waiting in the top of the walnut tree. Five birds huddled on branches, watching me. They were dark, almost black and at first I thought they were starlings, but as I walked under them, they broke into to song. Red Winged Blackbirds. They warbled, "We're back! Spring is coming! We're back! Did you miss us? We're back!" Yes friends... I missed you. Welcome home. I took my pulse. It was slow and steady. Yes friends, I missed you, but most of all I'm glad to still be here to be greeted. The RRR has cheated the Grim Reaper one more time. God is in His Heaven. All is good. Even the blood sugar... 96 after the one hour walk.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The River Rat Ranger Returns

Greetings Ranger Readers. The RRR has been offline for almost two months. Now the truth can be told. The cardiac problems I have been experiencing intermitently, became more serious, ending in going to the cardiac floor at my hospital over and over. I now know more about atrial fibrillation that I ever wanted to. The cardiologists are tired of dealing with me and have told me to carry some extra pills and if this happens again to take a pill and go to bed for 24 hours. If my heart does not return to normal rhythm by then, come in to the office and be "cardioverted", which is to say defibrillated with electricity.

Every incident of a-fib started with being asleep and dreaming the same nasty dream about the war in Vietnam 36 years ago. So today I visited the Veterans Hospital to see if this is all the result of Post Trumatic Stress Disorder. The psychologist says "no". But with all my health problems I need to work on the other stress in my life. However, the a-fib is not happening because of the dreams, the dreams are because of the a-fib. Though I was encouraged to follow procedures to investigate the effects of Agent Orange on my health. Seeing that diabetes, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and occult spina bifida do not run in my family, yet I have the first three and a son born with the latter.

So now I am back. And working on my diet. Down 40 lbs. now from when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Down 14 from when Dr. Ganish said I needed to lose weight. I am also trying to walk an hour a day. My last walk involving taking Bay Toe Ven, the inside dog, out through the woods by the Eagle sanctuary. We saw several Bald Eagles and other wildlife. The best surprise came as we worked our way down a dry stream bed and found a pile of scat from a BIG cat. So either a small cougar or large bobcat. I like not being the only large predator around.