The Lord has been exceptionally kind and generous to me for a very long time. Examples of Her generosity include that I live in Texas; that I am privileged to be in love with the most incredible woman I have ever met in my life; and that when something physical becomes compromised, medical services here in Houston are capable of simply fixing it and making it work all over again just like new.
Over the last several years, I have a new neck, most of a new back, and most recently a total replacement new titanium right shoulder. I think of myself as an old pick up truck, not ready for the scrap heap, that you keep fixing by simply putting in a new part once in a while. My neck and back, for example, correspond to new gaskets or suspension system parts. My new shoulder would be a similar parts replacement issue. The amazing thing is that, while these are major surgery events, none represents life threatening surgery when done here in Houston.
Anyone similarly situated should definitely send me an email and I will hook you up with my doctors, all of whom can walk on water and heal with powers of biblical proportions.
In my younger days, places like The Mayo Clinic were thought of as the Mecca sites for specialized medical requirements. My ex father in law, himself an excellent physician, no matter what his other short comings may have been, thought the Mayo Clinic was the bee’s knees of medical practice.
That is not so today. No matter what your ailments are, with the possible exception of emotional illness, Houston is now the Mecca for diagnosis and treatment. Houston is such a fantastic place to live that there simply aint a lot of emotional disorders here. Reality is not that high up on the scale of things that are important to us, so we are seldom ever disappointed. Medical practice is now the industry that takes up the slack and smoothes out the amplitude of economic waves that we lived with when the boom and bust oil industry was our principal economic engine.
There is so much oil money in Houston that no medical project ever goes unfunded, regardless of cost. If you are a social climber here, your fast track to local nouveau riche notoriety includes your hosting “disease balls”. A disease ball is a grand affair thrown at some swanky venue, planned out by one of the world’s most incredible event planners, like our super star Claire Sullivan-Jackson for example, at which the glitterati show up, having bought tickets for outrageous sums to raise money for research on some disease du jour. No event planned by Ms Sullivan-Jackson will ever fail to achieve its goal.
Here in Houston, it is perfectly acceptable for new rich people, regardless of background or business to be acknowledged as nouveau glitterati if they can raise money for a worthy cause. While that may not be the way of life amongst the old families and societies of Boston and Charleston, the atmosphere in Houston is much more accommodating and enjoyable. It also funds incredible institutions and wonderful advances in medicine and related technology.
Recently, say within the last ten years, it has been a close race between new money being available for social advancement of persons who without money couldn’t even get a seat at a sparsely attended no admission charge public event, like a church service, for example, and their being indicted for some form of investment fraud. Recession is nothing compared to grand jury indictments when it comes to putting kinks into the chain of new money social climbing.
Whether it is the debacle of Enron (which needs no explanation) or the latest Stanford Financial Services ponzi scheme collapse for billions, criminals who might otherwise become our leading citizens are finding more and more that their rise to fame is interrupted by their being exposed. In the good old days, exposure usually meant a purposeful display of one’s genitalia in public, usually near a school yard. Nowadays it’s being indicted.
Enormous fraud here in Texas is frequently seasoned with religious salsa. Ken Lay of Enron fame was/is the son of a Baptist minister, that fact being emblazoned across his professional marquee. The Stanford Financial Services building near the Houston Galleria has carved into its stone façade “These companies are dedicated to the glory of God”, with a cross over the inscription. Elsewhere, as in the instance of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scam that cleaned billions from glitterati all over America, there has not been the spiciness of ostentatious, heavy breathing religiosity that we enjoy here. In other words, fraud elsewhere is nowhere near as amusing as fraud in Texas.
We particularly enjoyed the Enron debacle because its principal conspirators would hang out in Muldoon’s every afternoon hatching their schemes. That made the magazine articles and made it into the books on the subject, and helped make Muldoon’s the destination saloon that it has enjoyed being these last several years. (See “Murder At Muldoon’s” elsewhere in this compendium of vignettes on www.SeamusMuldoon.com .)
Where was I? Oh yes. Now I remember.
I suppose my requirement for repair work from time to time results from the hell bent for leather life I have enjoyed leading for so many decades. I have never been able to resist (and I make no apologies for) cross America motorcycle rides, good looking very bright and interesting women who present a challenge every moment of every day, good food, wine and the occasional dry gin martini (stirred gently for just a moment, and never shaken, up, with an olive). The only word in this last sentence that may not be 1000 percent reliable is the word occasional. I have my own quiet and introspective religiosity and my sacramental tippling is encompassed within this paragraph.
This decision to dedicate my life to Christian fellowship has from time to time involved injuries, sometimes associated with exceptional fervor in one direction or another, as being risk averse has never been my strong suit. I always had great faith in my ability to size up any situation, so I could skate close to any edge with confidence that God was guiding my play. That faith was never misplaced. There were, however, occasional incidents calculated to remind me that I am ultimately not without limitations at some level. Get my drift?
One evening, for example, my date and I left the camaraderie of the Washington Square Bar and Grill in San Francisco and walked toward our hotel in China town or the financial district, depending which side of the hotel your room window looked out on. At Columbus and Broadway there was a bar with at least 80 motorcycles parked outside, all Harley-Davidsons, all shined to museum patina. Unable to resist some banter with such a group, we went in and sat down at the bar. Everyone in the place was wearing a motorcycle jacket that said Hells Angels on it. These jackets looked like they had just been taken out of the store. My date, certain that we were in the midst of a gang of drug dealing bank robbers, murderers and rapists, became very excited. Just looking at her you could tell she was gleefully anticipating being torn apart by every man in the place. I suspected differently and began criticizing Harleys and extolling Hondas and Yamahas. There was unanimous negative reaction. She leaned over and said privately to me that she believed my big mouth was about to get me killed. From the way she said it, I could tell the prospect of that was adding greatly to her excitement.
You can appreciate her utter frustration and disappointment when it turned out that, instead of being a gang of cut throats, these were a San Francisco affinity group of gay Harley riding accountants and dentists who just loved aggressive sarcasm. They were no more interested in her gorgeous and willing body than they would be in a dread disease. After a half hour of banter and tequila, she and I continued on our stroll to our hotel where she got to use all than pent up masochistic sexual energy on me. Intimacy with her was the functional equivalent of a slightly serious motorcycle accident.
That and innumerable similar incidents, plus the rare real motorcycle accident and a life of intermittent violence interspersed with great celebrations produced the eventual need for spare parts and tune ups.
After my new neck and the conclusion of my several back repairs, that I affectionately call the Ring Operas, there was a requirement for gentle reconditioning, a build up of capability so graduated as not to undo the delicate work and to rebuild the damage done to certain nerves by compression.
One of the very active medical specialties here in Houston is called Sports Medicine. Texas is chock a block with exuberant people who ride live and mechanical bulls, assorted other violent animals so constrained as to make them exceedingly anxious to throw you off their backs, and who don’t really appreciate it when you jump off your running horse throwing yourself onto them as they try to escape so that you can upend them and tie them up in under eight seconds, plus football and other extreme sports. This is an environment made for neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Rehab following the consequences of such exuberance is a thriving industry here. You can add to that your normal population of victims of stroke, automobile accidents and assorted other misfortunes.
Do a Google search on pain management and post surgery rehab facilities in Houston Texas and you will see what I am talking about. You can have a choice amongst in patient places, therapists who come to your home every few days and out patient resources. The come to your home folks are frequently franchise operations. They are sold to investors on gross misrepresentations about their earnings capabilities, and they fail in droves, sending their owners into bankruptcy. Long before I had need of their services I had them coming to me to get out of their franchise agreements. That is another story for another web site.
Being Texas, these folks are not your old country 250 pound Krankenschvesters who can unload freight cars without the aid of fork lifts and other loading dock equipment. These are very good looking women who are in great shape, highly intelligent, excellently trained and really and sincerely dedicated to getting you back into very fine condition. They make decent money, but for the quality of what they provide no payment would be enough. There are some male therapists in this population, and those I have encountered have all the positive qualities of the women, except that I don’t spend all my session time fantasizing about them. Moreover, they come from every culture on the planet, so you could never ever be bored in their company. It is not only healing and restorative, but stimulating in every other sense of the word. Their techniques include emotional reinforcement care in which they constantly lie to you about how fantastically you are doing and what a great patient you are. Most people are not smart enough to spot that these are nothing but insincere flatteries calculated to make you feel like you are making progress, no matter the realities. They take the gentle and mothering road with patients who need that, and the drill sergeant road with those who require aggressive regimentation. I am in the latter group.
Fortunately for me, I have two pals who required rehab just before I did. They went to a rehab facility just five minutes from my house, and they both raved about the people and the program. So I didn’t have to do any research on something about which I knew nothing. I went where they went, and it was the best possible decision I could have made. I am back there now for rehab on my shoulder replacement surgery, and I have the same therapist.
My primary therapist is a lovely Indian woman who is extremely bright and really professional. She also has a good sense of humor. Without it we could not possibly ever tolerate each other, as I am eternally finding double meanings in everything that happens and discussing the double entendre possibilities with her in a voice calculated to include everyone in the extremely large therapy room in our conversation. Most, but not all the other therapists are amused by this banter. The other rehab patients, being mostly folks who spend their lives being observant of all the rules of political correctness and living in concern lest they say or do anything that someone else might take issue with are mainly shocked at the dialogue.
I will use names for people here, but they aren’t their real names. If I were to use their real names, I would first have to ask permission, which several might be reluctant to give. For the sake of sparing everyone this stress, I will simply use fictitious names.
My main therapist, Saroj, is a very lovely woman with a decided Indian accent. She finds me difficult to tolerate at times, as she was once married to another hard drinking Irishman and has no patience with the personality type. But since there is no danger of our becoming romantically involved, it is something she has worked around.
Saroj, who calls me Mr. Muldoon, and whom I address as Ms Saroj, is a martinet. She works me like a rented mule. She was the principal therapist for both my pals when they were there. They warned me about her, but recommended that I make a special effort to get her as my principal therapist, and they also warned her about me. I gather the place is quite professional when I am not there. Because she is so insistent upon performance, I am in better shape than I would be with anyone who was more sympathetic to my discomfort and less focused on making me do things that are at the edge of my ability to tolerate pain. I respond well to that approach, and quickly start to push myself to go well beyond her demands. According to Belinda, because I really like women like her and Saroj, I am just trying to show off to impress a good looking and very competent woman. Whatever the dynamic may be, it works well for my results.
My relationship with Saroj began with an initial evaluation in which she stripped me to my skivvies and conducted a thorough inspection of surgery scars, body symmetry, range of motion capabilities and general conditions of personal hygiene. She firmly rebuffed my request for reciprocal privileges.
Saroj immediately started the bullshit positive reinforcement commentary, remarking that my nails were well manicured, my hair was neatly cut and that I did not smell bad. Inasmuch as I love bullshit at least as much as the next person, I decided that the way to deal with her “positive reinforcement/bullshit was to give it right back to her.
I compliment her profusely on how wonderfully she manages to keep track of the count on the repetitions of my exercises; on her attention to detail; her knowledge of how the various exercise machines in the place work; her personal appearance and how lovely she smells each time I am there. I express gratitude for the trouble she takes to brush her teeth and comb her hair, and for the condition of her clothing as well as for its enticing fit. Building innuendos into every possible comment, I can actually embarrass her every now and then. At first one of the other therapists took umbrage at my remarks to Saroj and decided to get on my case about that and about everything else, including the fact that Belinda looks so young that it appears as though I am just a nasty old man dating an extremely young and beautiful woman. She later loosened up, possibly at Saroj’s suggestion, and we are now friends because she and Belinda both love and raise cats. Thelma is an extremely erotic looking woman who is bright, no nonsense, and very kind. She insisted while I was there for my back rehab that I accept and use a shoulder harness that would stabilize my shoulder joint and keep it from dislocating every day until I could finish a long and urgent project and attend to getting my new shoulder. She may never appreciate how grateful I am to her for that, and also for the insistence by Saroj that I accept this kindness and not pretend to be tougher than I really am.
Saroj knows that I really like Thelma a lot, and both of them know how madly I am in love with Belinda, so it isn’t an issue. It’s just plain old affection. Saroj also knows how much I enjoy watching all the incredibly lovely women there whenever I come for therapy, and she occasionally comments that I never seem to be hiding the fact that I am so thoroughly enjoying the scenery. Why don’t you at least sneak occasional peeks instead of watching every move so obviously? Now why would I so limit my enjoyment? Saroj asked what it was about Thelma that I admire so much. I told her that one of my very favorite artists is Pierre Renoir and that Thelma looks like Renoir’s women. She commented that to her Renoir’s women seemed to be just overweight farm women. To this I explained that to look at Renoir’s women as photographic depictions is to miss the subtlety and the impressionistic abstractions for which Renoir uses women. They represent – at least to me – vehicles for the expression of erotic curved dimensionality. Every aspect of Renoir’s women expresses some beautiful roundness of femininity that is erotic and exciting. Thelma has every aspect of curved sensuous erotic dimensionality that Renoir’s women have, and watching her is such a wonderful visual feast that I simply cannot resist. Now Belinda is an incredibly beautiful woman, but of a very different kind of beauty. I am, thank goodness, quite capable of complete appreciation of more than one genre of loveliness. When I am around Belinda I can’t take my eyes off of her either. Life is so incredibly beautiful when you can appreciate so many varieties of beauty. Just as there are so many delicious wines and varieties of gastronomy, women represent the most incredible Christmas feast for anyone’s eyes. I am especially fortunate that Belinda does not feel any reservations about anything due to my enjoyment of all this beauty. That our love is that reliable is more valuable than I could ever describe.
All this makes Saroj think I am some kind of nut, and I think she is secretly self conscious because she knows that I enjoy watching her for the same reasons. Oh well. I know she is complimented by it all, even though she won’t actually say it.
In addition to this constantly more lovely passing scene, I am getting the best rehab treatment you could possibly imagine. Is it only in Texas that physical therapy comes with this level of visual excitement? Probably so. I know that Belinda is very happy that I am getting such great care and that my improvement is so obvious. She has to put up with my double entendre tendencies every day, so she knows what I am like. After 19 years, if it was going to get to her, she would long ago have shown me the door.
It seems that in every stage of life there is so much to look forward to and to be grateful for. Hopefully this is the last of the major repairs for a long while. I am about 35 pounds lighter than when all this started a few years ago, and the constant exercising has me feeling really good and wanting to keep it up so I don’t start looking like the old fart I really am. Thank God Belinda is in such great shape. We both have so much to look forward to together.
The point of all this is, other than to have fun writing a hopefully entertaining vignette, that there is so much to be grateful for here. In addition to all the other blessings, we have dedicated professionals with sincerely held commitment to helping people restore themselves to robust usefulness after they become injured. To them it is more than a job. It is a calling.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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