Saturday, March 15, 2014

Moving In part 2


After two twelve hour days we were ready to sleep in our heavenly bed.




All we had to do was unpack.



"Forget unpacking," the dog said. "It's spring, the creeks are high, the birds are singing and we should say hello to our new neighbors across the road. 
I think they're Spanish."



 "You ever run with the bulls, Bob?"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dr. Debora Phillips 1938-2014


  One of America’s most important and innovative therapists, Dr. Debora Phillips, died Wednesday in San Francisco.
Best known for her book, still in print 36 years after its first publication, “How to Fall Out of Love,” her many appearances on Oprah, and her hundreds of academic articles, lectures, and for her famous patients, Dr. Phillips insisted that therapy should be held to the same standards as medicine; that therapy should be fast, specific, and effective.  Many of her innovations are used by therapists around the world today.

 Dr. Phillips was born and grew up in Brooklyn where she won her first beauty contest at age 3. The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper commented at the time that “she was the first 3 year old we’ve met who could discuss Corot’s use of green.”

Dr. Phillips was educated at Barnard, with a masters from Rutgers and a doctorate from San Francisco’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.  She was six months short of finishing her Ph. D. thesis in Princeton, frustrated with the inefficiency of conventional therapy, she left to do a residency under Joseph Wolpe, the “father” of Behavior Therapy at Temple University Medical School.
Despite a prolific and productive career as an academic, a therapist, an author and a teacher, the center of Dr. Phillips life was always her family. “Nothing,” she said, “is as intellectually challenging, physically demanding or as emotionally rewarding as raising a child.”
Her deep compassion led her to become a therapist, to heal the anguish and suffering in, as she said, “the problems of being human.” She treated friends (and they remained friends) and it was not unusual for a patient at the conclusion of therapy to ask if they might become friends.
           Dr. Phillips began her academic career as Assistant Clinical Professor at the Temple University School of Medicine and was the Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at USC’s medical school, and the Assistant Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.   
   
         She was a Director of the Princeton Center for Behavior Therapy, a Director of Clinical Training at Temple University School of Medicine, a Director of Princeton's student counseling program and a director of Temple University School of Medicine’s sex therapy program and a director of the Beverly Hills Center for Anxiety and Depression.  Most recently, she was the Director of End Teen Cruelty in New York City, a program she developed to end bullying after the shootings at Columbine.
     
         She had a private practice in New York City, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Paris.
    
         Dr. Phillips wrote three books, How to Fall Out of Love, Sexual Confidence, and How to Give your Child a Great Self Image.

         How to Fall Out of Love with Robert Judd, first published in 1978 and re-issued in a revised 2nd edition last year, and How to Give your Child a Great Self Image, 1989, are both still in print. As Oprah said, “I love your stuff because I know it works. If I had a broken heart I know you could fix it.”

        Dr. Phillips also published widely in academic journals, published articles in Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Redbook, Glamour, and The New York Times.  She was a consultant to NBC-TV Children’s Television Workshop, the Wesley-Westminster Foundation at Princeton, and Charles of the Ritz.  Her invited lectures (for IBM, American Bar Association, R. F. Kennedy Foundation, American Psychiatric Foundation, etc. etc.), her papers presented, courses developed, and her popular workshops (for Princeton, The Kinsey Institute, Temple University, University of North Carolina, etc. etc.) filled sixteen pages of her C. V.

              She has also appeared on Today, Oprah, Good Morning America, the Phil Donohue Show etc. etc. and has been the subject of innumerable radio interviews.

             Her first marriage to Physicist William Phillips, Ph.D., ended in divorce. Her second husband, Psychiatrist Dennis Munjack, Ph.D., died of cancer in 2008 after of 24 years of marriage.    

              Dr. Phillips is survived by her son Ronald Phillips, his wife Frances and their children Lily, Lenora, and Berry.  And by her daughter, Wendy Phillips. And by her brother Michael Phillips and his wife, Karen

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Moving In

 
We had professional help moving in last weekend.  Zach Willis, a former running back at MSU, and his buddy, former MSU offensive tackle Walt Glover, both huge and powerful men with a delightful sense of humor, loaded up the truck at the trailer where we were living and drove a quarter mile to our new house.

 
 
 
Unfortunately as they were backing in . . .
 



They got stuck.
 
 
 
Really stuck. The U-Haul had bald tires. Zach and Walt wailed on the ice with sledge hammers and a pick axe for an hour but
 

 
 
it was still blocking the road.



 
Then, Brad Visser, who lives in the stone house on the ranch and did our beautiful new oak floors came along in his 1 ton diesel pickup. After a couple of violent yanks .  . .
(to be continued tomorrow)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Back Op





They were in a hurry. I was flat on my back on a gurney, getting drowsy, wheeling down a long hall. Wearing a fetching little blue and white cotton cocktail dress open at the back for inspection and blue paper booties on my feet. Medics in front and behind with another alongside holding a drip bag, all of them serious behind gauze masks.  The one with the drip bag asks “are you allergic to . . .” 

         And the next second I was flat on my back on another gurney, wheeling down another long hall. The medics have pulled down their masks and one of them is saying, “just an hour in the recovery room.”  Ten seconds later I was rolling  into a hospital room with electronic screens and tubes and wires drooling from the walls. Kathryn, God Bless Kathryn, patiently waiting.  The Clock says 9 PM, the operation started at 3.
          So I missed it.  I missed the foot long incision, the high spurt of spinal fluid, the sawing of back bone, chipping away at the cysts and the slow lapidary build up of bone cement followed by the insertion of a titanium hinge fusing lower lumbar 3 and 4. 
          Just as well.  If I’d been awake for the sawing, shaving, cutting drilling and stapling I’d have been saying hurry up, goddamnit I haven’t got all night.
Of course I did have all night and all day now and I am so happy to be able to walk again without the old nails and needles of pain.  And oh joy, the strength coming back into my legs.
          The first day after the op, leftover anesthetic made me feel good, kind of a hangover in reverse.  I could walk, all by myself, down the hospital hall and back.  The second day the pain kicked in.  Not major league pain, more like minor league pain.  Lifting a leg, for example, took planning.  A giant razor- clawed centipede had its hooks in my back.  Actually it was just staples instead of stitches.  But since the only possible position was lying flat on the staples, that did command your attention. 

            The nurses were exceptional, kind, patient.  And often beautiful.  One, a blonde 26 year old absolute replica of my high school girlfriend, was so pretty and so solemn.  She’d had kidney cancer the year before and wanted to write about her Airedale hound.  The dog had gone on long walks with her during her treatment and was a great healer, she said.  And the stunningly beautiful version of Cameron Diaz, a little taller, a little more voluptuous, said in the middle of the night that it would take a lot to make her unhappy.  And after a pause, a lot to make her happy.  I had a dozen answers to that but was asleep before I got to the first one.


 
Then there was Ali McCraw at 35.  On duty as a night nurse, she answered my call for help at 2 AM.  Who knew catheters could be so tricky.  Or that they are anchored by a balloon that if you attempt to pull it out, it will feel like you are dragging a melon through your weenie.  Fortunately I didn’t try that.  But I did have a desperate need to pee, couldn’t pee, and was drooling blood out of my penis. 
           I’d met her the night before, and we’d talked like old friends.  She is bent over me at 2 AM, wiping the blood away and pushing and prodding my little shriveled thing to see what helps.  “Lucky I heard your call,” she said.   “Always happy to see my handler,” I said as she prodded my shrunken pecker impaled on the catheter tube.
           “That is offensive,” she said through clenched teeth.
            I felt like a dog, a cur.   How do you talk to a stranger when she has her hands on your willie? I was lucky she didn’t stab me with my own catheter.
         Then there was my new friend, the lovely drug, Oxycodone, warm as a beach in Belize, bearer of tropical scents and dreams. 


My first Oxycodone dream was a trip to London where a square mile of ugly brick buildings had been pulverized.  The brick dust had been left in high mounds and valleys and instead of the old dark grim buildings there was a new soft and fluid architecture made of huge sheets (probably steel) of pastel blues and greens.  London was a Magical Mystery Tour, enchanted innocence.
         After a week, the warmth and calm of the Oxycodone dreams remain, but the dreams are getting darker and shot in black and white instead of color.  It’s the old bait and switch of drugs, the promise of sweetness and delight fading as need rises into craving. 
         There is another dark side to Oxycodone; my new love, my passion, my new need.  The drug contains “sphincterlock.”  After a few days you are longing, dreaming of not a Ferrari and days of wine and roses in a daffy pastel London, that can wait.  What you long for, dream of, crave is oh please, let me have a turd.  Can we please just get things moving again.?  After a week, you push and you try.  And finally with the help of Draino, one finally appears oh joy, oh glory, how beautiful it is.  Of course, to you, it’s just stinky ol’ poop. But to me, this little baby is my offspring. (offshoot?)
        Other happinesses include having the drainpipe that drooled blood and cloudy fluids into a gallon baggie detached from the gash in my back.  And even better, the 50  staples pulled out from the foot long cut.  Pop pop pop of wasp stings. Oh joy.

              Even better, the strength in my legs is coming back.  “You won’t get better lying on your back,” the surgeon said. “The way to get better is to get off your back and walk.”  

And the dog is here now, feet up on my chair, tail wagging, saying “get off your butt Bob, we got a lot of ground to cover.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Good Grief, Kathryn, What Have You Done to Our Car?

Kathryn was driving home from work last Friday evening when another car came out of a cross street and drove right in front of her.  The air bag blew up and saved Kathryn from serious injury.  Still, she took a whack.  She has some neck pain, as Fox Evening News reported, but she's getting better.  Suzy Lipstick, our ol Turbo Subaru is unlikely to recover.
 
Meanwhile our new house is coming right along.  And tomorrow, I'll have back surgery.
We'll have more news after this . . .