Hello Again! (And Thank You, Jesus)
You might have noticed I’ve only posted twice over the last 18 months. Well, thrice if you include this one, I suppose. There’s a very interesting story that explains why.
In February 2021, as we were entering week 48 of “two weeks to stop the spread,” I was told the blood clots in my lungs needed to be removed ASAP. The procedure would be difficult but not especially dangerous. Oh, and for good measure, there were only two hospitals in the country capable of doing it. Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, and UCSD in San Diego. We opted for Temple since flying cross-country during the pandemic was virtually impossible. Thus began 7 intense weeks of testing, doctors appointments, consultations, a couple of minor procedures to prepare for the actual surgery, and more tests.
Finally, the day for the actual surgery arrived. April 7, 2021, was the day my life changed. Due to the pandemic, my wife wasn’t allowed to come with me, but the doctors had assured me I would awake the following day and they would try to arrange a visit. I was apprehensive, my wife more so. But I needed the operation or I would be dead within the year, so I arrived ready for the surgery at 6AM that morning.
Only, I didn’t wake up the following day. Or the day after that. Or even the week after that. Instead, I slipped into a coma and didn’t wake up until June 26. I was awake for two days but then slipped back into a coma for another ten. I didn’t finally come about earnestly until July 7 – a full three months after the surgery.
Now, I obviously don’t know all that happened during that three months. Nobody even knows why I went into a coma.* But there are a few things I do know. While I was asleep, I suffered a series of trans-ischemic events (mini-strokes for the rest of us). I know at one point, the doctors were certain I was dead, only being kept alive by machines. My wife, knowing that wasn’t how I never wanted to live in that condition, made the heart-rending decision to terminate life support. I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil she was going through over those days. Only 3 years prior she had been tasked with making the same decision for her brother; he died within minutes. Now she was tasked with making the same decision for her husband.
Thankfully, I survived. They “pulled the plug” and expected me to expire. God had other plans – I just kept right on breathing. That brings up another thing I discovered about my time in my coma. When my wife announced on social media that she had to make an impossible decision, she asked for prayer. Boy, did you all respond! I have heard from literally hundreds of people, including a whole bunch of you I’ve never met, who told me they spent time pleading with the Almighty for Him to allow me to live.
I spent another 2 1/2 months in rehab. I had to learn to eat and talk. When I first awoke, it was as if I were paralyzed. I couldn’t even move my arms and legs. It was a difficult process that I again went almost alone. Almost, but not quite. Even though I was despondent and begging God to just let me die, he gave me the strength to push through. Finally, 25 weeks after going in for a difficult but not particularly dangerous procedure (except, you know, for the almost killing me part), I returned home. I still couldn’t walk, or even stand up. My left hand was virtually useless. I could barely grasp a spoon with my right. Even sitting up for a few hours exhausted me. But I WAS HOME. And alive.
The past 8 1/2 months have been difficult, to say the least. It is, I hope, understandable that I haven’t posted much recently. My rehab is going well. I can walk some – up to a half-mile, although it is slow and painful. The neurological damage from the strokes and, as we’ve since discovered, very poor care while in the coma forces me to wear a leg brace. It’s also badly disfigured my hands and wrists, so even common tasks like shaving and using a fork and knife have required many hours of therapy and experimentation. My speech is a little more slurred than it used to be unless I concentrate.
I’m not complaining, though. Quite the opposite. I’ve had people ask me how I can be actually happy with all the last 18 months have brought me. I think the answer should be obvious.
I AM ALIVE!
In His infinite wisdom, God has seen fit to give me another chance at life. I don’t know why. It may simply be to strengthen my faith. If that’s the case, He’s succeeded.
Anyway, I’ve mastered the two-fingered typing method. Sort of. I hope to be posting more frequently, although a daily post is probably out of the question. And a final thought: I noticed almost 1400 of you are still following this site, despite not very much content lately. I thank all of you. You are a big part of the reason I’m trying.
There are two other reasons I’m going to attempt returning to blogging. They are two fellow bloggers. First is Beauty Beyond Bones. She has gone through more than I, yet her faith remains strong and her voice, stronger. The other is Peter Venetoklis at Roots of Liberty, whose views don’t always align with mine but whose positions and arguments are always well thought out and reasoned. These people have inspired me to metaphorically pick up my quill and inkwell and get back in the game.
After all, we have a lot to discuss and I can’t wait to get the discussion started.
*My doctors think the coma was a result of systemic shock, but they aren’t sure. If you’re a long-time follower, you’re probably aware I’ve dealt with Crohn’s Disease for 30+ years. The doctors think the combination of being weakened from a few years of pulmonary hypertension and Crohn’s may have left me so weak that the coma was my body’s attempt at shielding me from the pain of the surgery.
Whither the Recovery?
For an economy in recovery, depressing economic news is all around us, it seems. In the past few weeks we’ve been told our home values have declined to 2002 levels. Unemployment ticked up to an official 9.1%, although the majority of non-governmental analysts tell us the real unemployment number is closer to twice that. More Americans are losing their jobs, as 7 of the past 9 weeks have seen new unemployment claims exceeding 400,000. For the fortunate few who are able to find work, they are winding up in the McJob industries. Of the 54,000 jobs created in May, 62,000 were actually McDonald’s hires.
You do the math: McDonald’s hired 62,000. Take away those menial, low-paying, no benefit jobs and the economy actually lost 8,000 jobs. For anyone aspiring to middle class, a McDonald’s job is not exactly high on the career path, either.
We’re told that economic growth has been muted. The truth is, there hasn’t been any real economic growth during the Obama administration. What we’ve experienced is a decline in the rate of recession. In other words, we’re still in an economic slump, it’s just not as bad as it was at the end of 2008. Let me explain, using the charts below. First, is quarterly GDP or the net worth of all goods and services produced:
Yes, that’s right. In the 6 quarters the US economy has been recovering, the net gain in GDP amounts to $900 billion. Under the technical definition of a recovery, even this paltry real rate of growth (about 1% per quarter) qualifies. Yet, inflation over that period remained higher than the growth in GDP. Mind you, these are the Fed’s own numbers:
Why is this notable? If inflation is growing faster than the value of goods and services, then GDP growth has come as a direct result from inflation. In fact, if you readjusted GDP growth to account for inflation, you get this:
And if you look at the growth curve over this same period, you get the dreaded upside-down smiley face:
We’ve never actually any real growth, despite what the spinmeisters in Washington would have you believe. When accounting for the effects of inflationary fiscal policy by both the government and the Federal Reserve, the best the economy has managed is two quarters without decline. The next time you find yourself wondering where the “recovery” is and why it’s left you behind, don’t feel so bad.
There never was one.