Telling My Own Stories Department:Continued from Wednesday.
Home from Thanksgiving, I pondered my puffy face and the rest of my complaints, and made an appointment with my family doctor.
The puffy face? Mild edema. He never speculated as to the cause; he told me to cut down on my salt intake and to spend half an hour every day riding my exercise bike. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug for my achy knee. And he just laughed off the weight gain. "You're getting older, your metabolism is slowing down. You can't eat like a teenager anymore." He did order some blood tests, but he didn't expect to find much.
About that same time, I started waking up in the early morning hours (a former boss referred to that time of day as "0-dark-thirty"), unable to get back to sleep. It gave me plenty of time to ride the exercise bike, but it was another curious symptom that seemed to point nowhere.
In mid-December, I shaved my beard because of a role I was playing in a church Christmas program. I was shocked to discover that I had a double-chin.
The anti-inflammatory drug was doing nothing for my knee, and the edema was getting worse rather than better, and my doctor was ready to admit that something was going on, but that he was stumped. The blood tests he had run didn't show anything out of the ordinary except that my thyroid was a bit on the sluggish side, which wasn't enough to explain everything I was experiencing. He said he was going to refer me to an interist.
This was beginning to get worrisome. I was not used to my doctor not being able to give me answers.
One year ago today, the United States military began it's famous race to Bagdad, launching the beginning of the end of the first Gulf War. (Yes, the first, not the second. What we have had for the past decade is a really long cease fire, but not the cessation of hostilities.) Over at the Corner, Michael Graham observes that one year ago today, a whole lot of things did not happen. Just a few examples:
One year ago today, terrorists in the West Bank were not mailed a $50,000 check after blowing up a pizza parlor filled with families.
And no 16-year-old girls were picked up by Uday Hussein's henchmen one year ago today. Soldiers were too busy stockpiling weapons to re-stock Uday's rape rooms.
One year ago today, there were no successful terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Or on an American embassy, ship or military barracks. That was 365 days ago...and counting.
One year ago today, there was still a brutal dictator governing Iraq, one who had spent his life sponsoring terror, training and harboring terrorists, and using terror against neighbors, his citizens and his enemies abroad.
But on this day, one year ago, did he have any hope of continuing his war of terror?
Taking A Test Drive Department: I've been playing with a new "online web publishing service" called Squarespace. It offers rather a lot more than Blogger/Blogspot, including discussions, photo albums, and some really cool site management features. So far, I really like what I see. Head over to my test-drive site and let me know what you think. I may be moving in soon.
Telling My Own Stories Department: (Continued from yesterday.)
It’s impossible to say when it started, really; the nature of this thing was such that its onset was almost imperceptible. I’ll just say it started Thanksgiving, 1989, when my wife’s aunt Irene asked why my face was so puffy.
“Is my face puffy?” I asked. I had used a mirror already that day and hadn’t noticed anything, but I looked again. My face was puffy, markedly so, and I had no idea why. I was 29 years old, and I had always thought I enjoyed excellent health. Why did my face look like that?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were other peculiar things going on with my body, some that had been going on for several months. For example, my back and shoulders were covered with a peculiarly ugly collection of blemishes. I’d had acne on my back in my teens, but not like this.
I would perspire profusely with the slightest exertion. When Paula and I went for walks, the sweat would literally drip off my face.
My right knee was giving me problems, too: a nagging, almost constant ache.
And without making any real changes in my activity level or eating habits, I had put on about 20 pounds in a short period. My eldest brother was greatly amused by my weight gain. He was convinced that it was nothing more than my metabolism slowing down, that age was catching up to me, and that I was in denial about it. But something about all this just didn’t seem right.
And Furthermore Department: Coming back for a moment to the same-sex "marriage" discussion that Jon and I have been having, here are a couple more views on this. First from Thomas Sowell, a discussion of the legal questions involved:
The last refuge of the gay marriage advocates is that this is an issue of equal rights. But marriage is not an individual right. Otherwise, why limit marriage to unions of two people instead of three or four or five? Why limit it to adult humans, if some want to be united with others of various ages, sexes and species?
Marriage is a social contract because the issues involved go beyond the particular individuals. Unions of a man and a woman produce the future generations on whom the fate of the whole society depends. Society has something to say about that.
Marriage is primarily a social institution, not a religious one. That is, marriage is a universal phenomenon of human cultures in all times and places, regardless of the religion of the people concerned, and has taken the same basic form in all those cultures. Marriage existed long before Abraham, Jesus or any other religious figure. The institution of marriage is literally prehistoric.
The three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) actually recognize this explicitly in their holy writings. The book of Genesis ascribes the foundation of marriage in the very acts of God himself in the creation of the world: "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him. . . . A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:18, 24).
The three great religions base their definition of marriage on these verses and others that echo them. In Christian theological terms, the definition of marriage is part of the natural law of the creation; therefore, the definition may not be changed by human will except in peril to the health of human community.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
The human body is a thing of mind-boggling complexity. Even if you just consider the mechanical aspects of the muscle and skeletal system, how it all works together in something as simple as walking... Strike that. There's nothing simple about walking. (Just ask the people trying to design a walking robot.)
Or have you ever considered what it is that makes you feel thirst? Our cells and our bodies need the right amount of water to function properly; too much can be as fatal as too little. And we're not just sponges that soak up water when it's available. The systems that maintain the proper balance of water in the body are dazzling in their elegance and intricacy Just one component of these systems are a group of cells in the hypothalmus that are sensitive to the water needs of the body. How do they do this? It appears that they can tell when cells shrink due to water loss. When that happens, these cells trigger the release of the hormone vasopressin by another group of cells. Vassopressin then causes the kidneys to absorb more water from the urine it's producing, and it also triggers the thirst center of the hypothalamus.
And then there's the endocrine system. Let me tell you a story...