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 Umberto Eco said, "Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth and to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth."



Men's Health!
(Mine anyway)

    I had decided to pull all the info on my TURP off the site but if anyone needed to talk to me about it I just said to contact me and I'd fill in any blanks....But! Note below, I"ve now written a short version of all of that. c


    So! Attention all men reading this
(and the partners who support them). Men are big into one really bad habit; denial. I have men in my men’s group who are getting up three and four times a night and are not dealing with what this means. This is a “sign”, and not a magical one. This is a swollen prostate! And as you age, you will have to deal with it. Maybe not as intensively as I had to but odds are you may indeed be on the same track if you live long enough. Men over 65 have an 80% chance of wrestling with all of this. My advice, catch it early before you’re holding an 18” tube in your sweaty hand and fearing the worst.


    Latest: December 26th, ...I am cancer free! Next check; June. I'll keep breathing.....easy. (as will we all!)

                                          One More Time       

    I took all the info on my prostate “adventures” off this Men’s Page ‘cause I was sure anyone who would venture here would have already read it, so I dumped it all. And didn’t copy it!
    Yeah I know, dumb.
    “Dumb” because today I got a request for a copy because, “It really spelled it all out and was informative for anyone going through the same struggle.” (paraphrasing a request from my TURP-buddy Jack.) So here’s a rather condensed version of the chain of events and where they led me back in December of ’17.
    I had been dealing with BPE (benign prostate enlargement) “issues” for decades, maybe since my late 30’s, and took all kinds of advice from both medical and non-medical (“alternative”) folks. The medical people mainly did prostate checks, “Yep! You’ve got some enlargement on the right side. But no ‘lumps’ so it’s just a watch-and-wait thing.”
    The alternative folks were into saw palmetto and sundry teas. So I popped pills and drank a lot of teas, with and without sugar & creamer. Did a lot of meditation and even sat, for a time, on a very hard rubber (or plastic) thing that supposedly massaged the prostate into submission.
    I was into bike riding back then and the hard leather saddle was said to help, or not, depending on who I talked to about it.
    The up-to-pee thing really wasn’t too bad early on, maybe two or three times a night but that was about it. Time went on.
    (Making this long story short) I DID have an episode of not being able to pee at all. What a nightmare! I spent 8 hours in the E.R. at the V.A. NOT because they wouldn’t see me but because I downplayed the problem and kept getting bumped to the end of the line.)
    I was cathed at that time (an in-dwelling, that's the bag-on-the-leg) and given Terazosin, a med that lowered my blood pressure and caused some depression. (I finally got the cath out two weeks later.)
    By the way, prior to that prescription med. I was taking an over-the-counter (actually over-the-internet) thing called “Prostate Miracle”. The reason it worked (for a time) was because it had a lot of beta-systerol, which is the most important active ingredient in saw palmetto. This stuff helped for a long time.
    More years went by and one day I discovered blood in my urine. I thought it was a U.T. infection but upon exam, discovered it wasn’t. This was (potentially) very bad news.
    I was referred to a specialty clinic and they discovered that I was retaining urine. They drained two LITRES from me that day. (I lost four pounds and two inches. I do NOT recommend this as an approach to weight loss.) They also recommended (insisted) that I, 1. Start self-cathing. (to give my distended bladder a “rest”) and, 2. Get a cystoscope procedure to look inside my bladder to rule out cancer. I didn’t want to do any of this so I went back to the V.A. for a second opinion.
    They concurred. So, for the next six months I learned to self-cath five times a day! I never thought I’d be able to do it but it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, it just interfered with sleep a bit, as you can imagine…..but it wasn’t painful, just inconvenient since I had to do it…..anywhere. (At a friend’s houses or in public restrooms when we were on the road. The main thing was to avoid all sources of possible infection because if that happened I’d be dealing with an in-dwelling cath again. Yes, that’s the one with the bag-on-the-leg.)
    After the six months of this I went in for the cystiscope, which was done in order to look into my bladder for possible “lesions” (tumors).
Well, sure enough, I had two of them. They were the “bad” kind (aggressive) but they were small (about the size of the nail on your little finger) and they had not penetrated the wall of the bladder.
    They were surgically removed easily and I was set up on a three-month schedule of looking inside with the cystiscope. This is also not painful by the way. (The cameras they use are no longer 35 mm with a telephoto lens. They are now very small.)
    After about a year of no-reoccurrence, I was advised by an old friend of mine (Jack Hebrank) that I might want to consider a TURP procedure. This is a kind of roto-router of the prostate. Technical name is; transurethral resection of the prostate. (TURP.)
    Though the prostate is not totally removed, a good deal of it is taken out. (After five or ten years it can grow back but if it presents a problem again, they just repeat the operation.)
    Problems? Well, it depends. Each individual will have a different experience. Mine was, and is, that erections were a thing of the past….BUT! though the “plumbing” was affected, the electronics were not. i.e. I still had (have) an orgasm and it’s just fine. But no ejaculation accompanies it. (Once again, every individual will have a different outcome and erections may not be off the table for all. And there's always the blue pill. I haven't tried that yet.)
    Frankly, what preceded this, due to my age (over 80) is the fact that my interest in sex was pretty well down the list of pleasurable experiences. In short, I no longer felt “driven” by it. We, my wife and I, are, as usual, in the same place with all of this. Her libido has diminished as well so now and then we will both get interested, and we make the time and effort to physically reconnect. But it has not, in any way, diminished our affection for, or our connection with, each other.
    Having the TURP done has improved my life 100%.....I still return to the V.A. for checks, now down to every six months, and so far all’s well. (As of Dec. 28th, '19.)

“You Americans and Your Guns….”

    ….sighed the Canadian border official as he was confiscating the two pistols I had forgotten I had behind the seat in my truck. I was traveling to Victoria, BC on a sightseeing venture after a Men’s Weekend on Whidbey Island, Washington. It was part of an extended road trip that originated in San Antonio and wound up through Chicago, Milwaukee, Casper, Wyoming and then Whidbey where I was the sweat lodge leader for the weekend. The guns belonged to my San Antonio daughter and I had totally spaced that I had stuck them in my truck and hadn’t really intended to be carrying them on this trip at all. And now they were gone, and they were sort of expensive and, as noted, didn’t even belong to me.
    Embarrassing, and a costly oversight. But what stuck with me, even all these years later, I’d guess that was in the early 90’s, was how we were seen by people outside of our culture. “You Americans and your guns.” Yeah. What th’ hell is that all about anyway?
    Well, we know damned well what it’s about. It’s about our being sold on the concept of fear beginning with the gun manufacturers, the gun lobby, the “Second Amendment” fanatics (and the gross distortion of that bit of our Constitution which serves their own ends) the fear-mongering media, the politicians who have their own vested interests to serve, and our romantic notions of what and who we are as a nation. i.e. we got where we are by virtue of having more and better guns (don’t forget “guts”) than the other guys. We outshot the Brits, the Indians, the Mexicans, the Spanish, the South, the outlaws, the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians….then we got outsmarted by the North Vietnamese…..uh, but let’s not get into that.
    Fact is, GUNS, more and better GUNS will keep us and our families “safe”. (It says that right here in this gun ad and in our Wild West culture.)
    No matter what the statistics say, we are all safer when we are armed and ready. “…..if we’re trained!” says one gun advocate friend of mine. (Let’s not get into the fact that cops are “trained” and yet that hasn’t prevented a few of them from shooting unarmed people when they feel threatened.)
    “All those mass shooting wouldn’t have happened if there had been some good person present who was armed!” goes another claimant. The fact that Gabby Gifford was shot when three “good people” who were armed stood around her and made no difference in the outcome doesn’t seem to enter into this pattern of thinking.
    When that border inspector said what he said, I (sort of) remember thinking, “Hey, I’m not like those gun nuts Americans. I just happen to have a couple of guns in my truck. I don’t do this routinely.” That was true in that scenario. But it wasn’t true a few years later when I did routinely carry a gun. And it changed me for a time.
    If someone got aggressive in traffic there was, somewhere back in my thinking, a thought that went like this, “Hey! You’d better not get pushy, I’ve got a gun.”
    That’s a different response than I would have had if I hadn’t had a gun. Sans fire power I would, and do, think, “What a clown. I’ll just stay away from that one.”
    As it turned out, I preferred the latter response because I realized that the only way the former thought was going to take me would be a road to greater and greater escalation.
    Seems our society is having the same experience.

And add to this:
                        Background Checks, the Political Manipulation

    Let’s face FACTS and not fantasies. Background checks will NOT stop all the gun violence in our country, in fact it won’t stop any of it. Few of these insane killers, “insane” because they did what they did not because they were necessarily diagnosed as such before the fact, would have been stymied in their search for these weapons of mass destruction with a background check. The guy who killed half a hundred in Las Vegas was not a raving maniac, he was a cold-blooded killer for no-one-knows-why. He had no history of “mental illness”.
    Short of confiscating every single gun in America, which will never happen, the only way we can at least make it more cumbersome for someone to carry out these mass murders is to make the tools they use less proficient. In short, stop the sale NOW of all “assault-like” rifles. (By the way, those opposed like to say “They are not really ‘assault weapons’ because they are not fully automatic.” and we’re somehow supposed to feel better about that) The fact is that even if they are not “fully automatic” they can be fired as quickly as anyone can pull the trigger and with high capacity mags. That means that 30 rounds can be fired almost as fast as you can say “Gee! That’s’ awfully fast isn’t it?” Yes, yes I KNOW that someone can load up on standard clips and slap them into a rifle or pistol quickly….so even banning h.c. mags won’t help much, but it’s SOMETHING, and if we can add it to the idea of BG checks, well hooray!
    More to the point, ban the sale and manufacture of these weapons AND of high capacity magazines AND of parts for those weapons…..and require that any current owners of such weapons register them, at a high taxation rate, just as any owners of machine guns must. If they won’t pay, confiscate them.         Period.
    And let’s not get into the stupid argument that gun ownership (of ANY kind of gun) equals “FREEDOM”. If you Mr. Gun owner want or feel the need of having a gun around then you may have one (or two or a dozen for that matter) but the type of gun WILL BE REGULATED….and you are free to stand on any street corner and argue about it all day and night…and thus your right to Free Speech will be respected. But there is no right to be armed to the teeth with high firepower for all….that’s why we don’t want anyone to have a howitzer or a bazooka for that matter.
    This “background check” b.s. is nothing more than a political game being used to buy off those of us who want something done about these killing machines in our society. We are offered the sop of background checks in order to turn off the spotlight and call off the dogs as it were and make us believe we’re getting somewhere…….yet if and when we finally win that fight we will wind up with NOTHNG. And “they”, the gun lobby and NRA supporters, will breath a sigh of relief that those who would “take our guns and our freedoms” have gone away.
Meanwhile, the potential killers will still be able to roam free with high powered weapons and we and our children will still be at high risk to those who will remain, until after the killing spree, unidentified.
    And “Open carry”! What are we teaching our children, mainly young boys? That’s it’s really a good idea, even “manly”, to be walking around with guns on our hips (and shoulders) all over town? Even in Dodge City in the 1800’s it was against the law to do that. And that was called “the wild west”!
And this crazy idea that “Guns don’t kill, people do.” The FACT is, SOME PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL LOTS OF PEOPLE and the only way to at least slow the massacre down is to give them less power and ammunition to do so.
    People driving cars kill people too…but at least we have them register their cars, carry insurance, get a drivers license and require that they be sober. All we do for the OC people is ask them to get a license to carry a lethal weapon into our malls, parks, public meetings…etc. That’s it!
    In response to the marches against gun violence some folks in Montana staged a counter march called, “For our guns”. Montana, the highest death rate for homicide and suicide by guns in the country. This gun worship is one crazy religion.

What we need is; Mother's (Wives-Girlfriends) Against Fathers (Husbands, Boyfriends) Carrying Guns! Not a great acronym but a great idea!


 The fallout for me from a Men’s Weekend

    You’d think, well I’d think, that by the time I hit my 9th decade in life I’d have it all figured out……the “all” being Life & Me of course. But no! It took yet another Men’s Weekend to dredge up some hauntings from the past and exhumations of long buried feelings to make things “interesting” yet again post gathering.
    To wit; despite being told, even assured quite often of late, that I, yes ME, I have made quite a positive difference in a number of lives it was only after “owning” that affirmation in front of people that I was then plunged into some deep work on myself.
    The circumstances were that in the midst of our regular Give-Away Ceremony at the end of the weekend I stood up to have my say about how I saw and experienced the event and somehow got around to admitting that maybe, just maybe, some people came to these things, Long Dance, Vision Quest, Men’s Weekends, etc. not only because we, Elizabeth and I, do interesting stuff, but because of me and what I have to give or “teach”, though I still shrivel at the “teach” thing…offer maybe, but teach, that seems like a stretch too far. Seems like hubris.
    Anyway, there I was, standing up in front of a bunch of people saying, not from ego but from honesty, that maybe some would come to experience……me! This is a tough claim for me to stake.
    Of course I know what I want to do ALWAYS is to be clear and authentic. I know I’m not really the brightest bulb in the Spiritual chandelier, maybe I’m simply a clever guy, not in the manipulative sense, just that I’m able to tell a pretty good story and have got a memory storage unit full for just about any occasion. (None of them fictionalized or embellished to suit some hidden agenda.)
    I’ve got some wisdom about life too, and I really, really want to help. I take that Emerson line, “…to know one person has breathed easier because you lived.” to heart. In the end I want that to be said about me. I can’t imagine a higher honor.
    And, as with any of us I’ve got some crap in the closet, so my work is to keep trying to clear that out, sometimes by ‘fessing up, sometimes by just letting it go. I chose what works best for me and don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.
    But my standing up there and saying that I MIGHT have to accept the possibility that some people being attracted by how I do me and thus how the workshops I, and we, present have some power to support change, seemed incredibly risky. But I did it………and then Pandora’s box was opened. By me.
    And here came the flood of guilt and shame.
    First of all, whenever I end an email to someone I close with; “Love from our OZ! to yours.” I capitalize both letters in Oz to create a picture of those emerald towers, and I add an exclamation to communicate its singular importance, i.e., that the Emerald City represented Hope, and that’s what I “hope” our place and what we create here represents for all who experience it. After all, that’s what it has been for us. But…!
    Yes, there was a “But”, a fly in the ointment, a shadow in the spotlight that always bothered me about that allusion. In the end, the Wizard was unmasked as a fraud and I wondered if deep down inside I wasn’t one too.
    Why would I think that? Because one of the themes of the weekend, or for that matter, many a weekend I and we have created, has been “Who do you THINK you are?” because in that question there is both the power of self-delusion and the potential for change. And who did I think I was? Over the years; a kid who was dancing as fast as he could, working on an honest choreography of life. A kid with so-called shameful secrets, in short, the guy behind the curtain. By the way, in my experience that “shameful secrets” thing is usually very subjective. Though there might be some things any of us would concur ARE things to be ashamed of, many are, objectively, quite ordinary blunders that we, standing outside the experience might see as having little or no real shame potential at all. Often confessions of these things to others might be met with, “What’s the big deal?” responses which are not helpful. Because though the event itself may not objectively seem to be something we would consider to be worthy of condemnation, the power of how we have felt about it, over time, becomes more and more discomforting. What may have been a small weed, fed with enough guilt food, becomes a sequoia.
    So! The guy behind-the-curtain; his being exposed as a fraud, I came to realize, wasn’t the end of the story nor was it how it turned out. In fact he was an honest man, a bit of a bumbler to be sure, but an honest man who had taken on the task of creating a place of Hope, and the job he took on was the promotion of that idea. He didn’t work for personal gain, unless you consider his role as The Great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz! a kind of ego payment. He felt the need to create that fašade because he had little confidence that his simple personage would be able to sell the concept. He wasn’t a “fraud”, he was a man with a great heart who wanted to help in the only way he knew how, with showmanship. We can fault the smoke and mirrors, but certainly not the intent.
    Well, that’s not me, i.e., I don’t do smoke and mirrors, I just do me and I hope there’s enough communicated about the value of honesty and the power of personal risk in the service of highest purpose to be worthy of the title, “The Wiz”.
    As my Italian grandmother used to say to me over and over again, “Non cha be shamed!” At the time, I thought is was something that came out of her experience of being an immigrant in a time when Italians were were seen as “….lower than Negroes.” (an observation made by W.B. Duboise). But now I know that it’s a one-size-fits us all.
    I’m owning that one, and gifting it to you as well. No matter what, when it comes to our self imposed and inflated sense of  guilt about ANYTHING;
“Non cha be shamed!” and love from us here in OZ! and from the guy who stands in front of the curtain.

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