Apparently I coulda died Christmas Eve. Not in a facetious way, like, "I coulda DIED if I hadn't found the shower brush and loofa set at Bed, Bath and Beyond" or anything like that. Literally died.
At least that was what the doctor at Patient First said to me Sunday evening. As some friends know, I'd been down last Tuesday through Saturday with the flu. Felt better Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, only to plummet Sunday afternoon. Burning sinuses and pressure on the chest and face and rattling breath and phlegmmy cough. So I went to Patient First with this sudden and severe onset of symptoms.
When I went into intake and my vitals were checked, my blood pressure was 185 over 105. The tech thought it was a mistake and checked the reading about 15 minutes later. It was the same. So when the doctor came in, before talking with me about why I came in, he talked to me about my pre-existing risk factors (for me, weight/BMI and family history) and about how I was kinda lucky to be walking. I'm sure some things were said with the express purpose of grabbing my attention; but nevertheless, when I came home and looked up the significance of my blood pressure reading and saw the words "Stage 2 hypertension" and "high risk for stroke and heart attack", I kinda took heed. And yes, I do keep track of my pressure (it normally runs 140/90 without meds, 130/80 with) and although I could rationalize the high reading away, I could not ignore its significance.
So on Christmas Eve night, I spent some time thinking about things. Maybe, for the first time, I thought about what would really happen were I not to be here any longer. Not living in Howard County. Living. Such thoughts bring themselves to taking an inventory of the important things in life-- relationships, arrangements, business affairs, obligations, responsibilities-- the things that would need to be in order. And really, the things that need to be in order every single day in one's life. Not just, potentially, on the last day. Because who knows when that day arrives?
And those thoughts brought me to how I express my opinions and views. I certainly intend to continue to do so after this blog ends next December. Am I happy, completely happy, with how I express myself? And note: I didn't say, Am I beloved by all? Does everyone bow and genuflect to my wisdom and evenhandedness? I've never done this to win popularity contests or to further an agenda or enhance a political or community career. I've upset a good number of people over the almost 10 years I've written this blog and 99% of the time, I'm glad that's happened. Because I'm not shy about speaking uncomfortable truths. And that's part of the thing I bring that others can't or don't or won't.
But, the fact I did come upon the other evening is that I tend to own to many other people's stuff. A number of times, I have taken on the causes of others and have gotten my own views and beliefs and opinions muddled up in the waters. It's something I open myself up to, in large measure because in lack of a true local media, I have found for some reason, a responsibility to take this up. And I talk to people who fall outside of the "Howard County 1000"-- the term some friends use for the approximate number of people in Howard County who truly hold some level of influence in its affairs. And over the last couple weeks I've had people who represent both the far right and far left of local politics pitch blog topic ideas by me.
I've come to the conclusion that, while I appreciate the effort and I believe that people are generally being good-natured and trying to push things into the local consciousness that should exist there, I think I have to respectfully decline those advances from hereon out. I always appreciate talking with people on background and learning more. But to become their champion--- not so sure I'm there anymore. There are no end of avenues through social media where someone can advance their beliefs. And Lord knows, enough has gone on to expose the seamy underbelly of this county in the past several years that it doesn't need my help any longer.
Now, being a finance person, I tend to note my assets as well as my liabilities. And in taking that inventory it occurs to me that I am and have been at my best when I have been bearing first-hand witness to what's going on around me. And so, why exactly do I want to abandon that? To use a sports analogy, I'm going to run my plays until you stop them. And the fun part is, since we're talking about this medium, you can't stop them!
And so this takes some more work on my part-- attending hearings in person rather than watching on TV, more evenings out (and I hate these long nights in the winter!), talking to more people, etc.-- I believe the saying is, "waaaaah, me". I'm lucky to be in a place where access to civic engagement comes with fairly low barriers. And, there is a fascinating scene unfolding in our political landscape as we head into 2018. I certainly know how I want it all to play out, but very unsure as to how it will. I can't turn down a front-row seat to all of this-- indeed, the opportunity to be part of it!
The take-home message of this post is that for the remainder of its duration, this blog shall reflect the OPINIONS of the blog writer only. As someone who used to write a blog here used to indicate, it doesn't reflect the opinions of my family, friends, employer, probation officer, etc. And that if you want objective writing, read a newspaper. (I think that's a close approximation to what WB wrote.) And of course, local beat reporters change around here about as often as I change my socks, which is a shame. Because maybe some of these "untold stories" that exist here that I can't see first-hand would benefit from some solid professional journalism here. May even help build a young reporter's career. As opposed to what seems to be the current pattern at the Sun, which is to hire someone for two years, burn them out and bring them to the edge of hating the profession, make them move on, and repeat.
I hope those who celebrate have had a wonderful Christmas and that those who observe have a Happy Kwanzaa and an enjoyable Boxing Day!
Let's be careful out there.
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