Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Man-Flu Controversy Erupts

(My new book Will There Be Free Appetizers? is now available!)

Back in January I blogged about my experience with the nasty influenza strain that sickened many people across the country this season.  My intense symptoms began on a Sunday, unfortunately I was contagious on Saturday and infected my wife, who fell ill on Monday. 

Therefore, we had two very sick people in one household, my wife downstairs and me upstairs, trying to get through this awful malady.   I began posting “Reports from the Ake Infirmary” on Facebook as an amusing way to update friends and family on our conditions.  Through friends’ responses to these posts I learned just how nasty this flu was, with some people being hospitalized and others stuck at home for three or four weeks.  Most people who got this nasty flu strain were down for at least five days.

By Wednesday, I was worried about my wife. She would need a doctor’s note if she missed one more day of work and neither of us was in any shape to drive.  But then something wonderful happened! We caught a break. Thursday morning my wife felt much better and went back to work.  She was ill for only three days, an exceptional recovery for this virus.

I immediately posted on Facebook that even though I was still very ill, my wife was all better and had returned to work. I thought this was very positive, uplifting news. Just great news. Really, really, positive, great news.  But of course, I was wrong.  Because sometimes when men are communicating with women, they think they are saying something good, but it turns out they are really saying something bad.  My post got a lot of women hot, but not in a good way.  I had somehow touched a sensitive area.  No guys, not that area! A bad area, a very bad area, indeed.

So because I was still be sick, my Facebook feed immediately started to blow up with comments from women such as these:

“That’s because you are male. Sorry, did I just write that out loud?”

“We all thought it. You just said it!”

“What Valerie said (referring to first comment) … sorry Ake-man but it’s the truth! Lol”

“Hmm, imagine that. The female is bouncing back – the male is still not feeling good (wink emoji)”

“We have to. Our men milk a splinter, so a cold knocks them out for six”

“ “Milk a splinter” is the best line I’ve heard in ages!”

Usually when I say something that I feel is positive but is somehow misconstrued by a female, I hack off only my wife. But this comment generated estrogen-fueled rage throughout the country.  I knew somehow I had hit a nerve, a strong nerve, that I had no clue even existed.  Apparently, this is a big deal to women because they were ravaging me despite the following:

1.   These women have an overall positive opinion of me.  I mean they are still my Facebook friends regardless of some of the outrageous things I post. They like me.  And some are close friends, including one from back in high school where we may or may not have engaged in .. ah, well, let’s not go there.

2.   I am happen to be extremely ill at the time of this mock-fest.  The women showed no restraint in “kicking a guy (big emphasis on guy) while he was down”.

At first, I was offended by this but then realized that most women must be super-annoyed at this occurrence. But as a male, this issue breaks down this way:

Women are upset that after suffering from a cold or flu virus they regain their health, and feel much better, faster than men do.

The female response to this statement – Heck, yeah! Whiny man-child!

The male response: What????????????????

This is of course a prime example of “Female Logic”.  Female Logic is a highly complex way of thinking using the mysterious component known as estrogen.  While this logic is considered obviously correct by its formulators, it is totally baffling to the entire male population. Conversely, testosterone-driven “Man Logic” is sometimes not comprehensible to anyone, and is responsible for all the wars ever fought throughout history.

However, there is scientific evidence indicating cold and flu viruses have a more profound impact on men than women, allowing women to suffer less and recover faster.  And I wholeheartedly agree with all scientific studies which confirm my existing beliefs or support my views.  All research which contradicts me is flawed, biased and in a word “wacko”.

Several studies have found that men have more symptoms and higher fevers when confronted with viruses.  And I believe, even though I am not a doctor, I have found the true reason.  A doctor from the University of Kansas said “The female hormone estrogen slows down how fast a virus multiplies”.  Well of course it does!

The virus be like, “Hey, you want to multiply?” 

The female body be like, “Not right now. I have a headache and I’m not in the mood. Go away!”

Where the male body be like, “Multiply!!!!! Let’s get it on!”

And there are probably good, biological and evolutionary reasons for this, which I won’t go into because I would be labeled as a sexist, misogynist, pig-monster. As well as names I would have to look up and I don’t have time for that.

So Ladies, you must admit that if you are all independently observing this phenomenon, and scientific studies back this up, then men do actually get sicker, and so we are all good right?  I sense, no we are not, for one important reason.

Women claim that men excessively whine and complain when they are ill (milk a splinter).  Of course, I have no idea what they are talking about.  I myself suffer in silence and fight off my maladies stoically and machismo-fally like a real man.  

Okay, okay. I do realize that my wife did join into the Facebook banter detailed above with this comment:

“That’s what happens when you give it to your wife (uh, she means the flu). Now I have to deal with his complaining”.

I really don’t know what she is talking about, and may I point out that many people lie on Facebook.  For the record, I was sick for nine days, six days longer than my wife.  And I wasn’t milking no splinters. I may have complained once or twice but only because I was delirious. Yeah, delirious – that’s the

So guys, I would highly recommend that we stop whining and moaning so much when we are ill.  We are not getting any sympathy from our women by complaining.  We are merely torqueing them off.  Which means when we are feeling better and able to resume certain conjugal activities, your urges may be blunted by estrogen-generated resistance.

However, I must remind you ladies it is unproductive to get overly perturbed that you have a biological advantage which allows you to better deal with viruses.  If you disagree, may I point out that it is probably in the same category of biological advantage that enables women to outlive men by a significant number of years (27 in my mother’s case).  And don’t worry, a man, no matter how much of a whiner, has never been able to complain that his wife has outlived him.   

Sunday, February 25, 2018

One Last Look – Part 3 (A Tribute to Midnight, My Dog)

(Writing this series was so difficult for me.  The “bd” designations count the number of times I had stop for “breakdowns” in the process)

Spoiler Alert: Stories about great dogs never end well ….. (Grab a box of tissues – really)

Midnight and I developed a tremendously strong bond over the 16½ years we were together (bd13).  As a first-time dog owner, I was unaware that this bond was even forming.  Midnight just provided fun, companionship and joy on a daily basis. 

This connection between dog and man is so intense because it is a life-long process.  When humans fall in love, there is that huge emotional jolt at the beginning of the relationship. Eventually the intensity eases to a more stable level.  But the dog/man relationship occurs drip by drip, day by day, and it never stops. And the reason it never stops is that the dog won’t let it.  It is the dog that keeps pursuing you and you naturally keep responding back in the same way.

But if the dog is the one responsible for continuously strengthening the bond, this leads me to a startling revelation: Your dog loves you more than you love your dog.  I will let this one settle in for all you dog people out there.  I repeat: Your dog loves you more than you love your dog (bd14).  Of course, I can’t prove this -- but which of you is happier when you are reunited after an absence? Have you ever vigorously waged your tail in this situation? I rest my case.

There were events over the years that solidified the connection between Midnight and me.  When I was unemployed for months during the Great Recession, we spent more time together.  I didn’t realize how much he helped me through that time.  Many days I felt abandoned by the world, but my dog never gave up on me (bd15), although I’m sure he was sad when I returned to work. (Of course, he was the only one to feel this way)

My daughter who was Midnight’s chief caregiver, eventually moved out of the house.  I thought she would take the dog with her but she knew Midnight would be happier being around more people. He missed her, but I was secretly happy that the dog stayed and that he relied more on me now that his favorite person was gone.

After I began working from home in 2013, Midnight and I spent even more time together (detailed in a previous blog post and in my book Just Make Me A Sammich).  My favorite memory is that I would usually take a break around 3 p.m. and we would go play soccer in the backyard.  If I was late, Midnight would come bounding into my office and jump around, informing me it was time to play (bd16).

Quit staring at that stupid screen and get downstairs so we can play ball! You’re working too hard! It’s playtime.

I knew that Midnight and I had bonded, but I was unaware of how powerful this was until the day I realized he was growing old and wouldn’t be around much longer.  Of course, I knew the dog wouldn’t live forever.  I remember one time when we were staring at each other, thinking about how painful it would be to look into his eyes for the last time. (bd17)

However, now realizing this bond was going to break in the near future caused an intensely, dreadful feeling.  This was going to leave a mark.  I certainly never saw this coming. I felt like I had been tricked.  I’d not wanted this dog, but now I’m firmly attached to it. I now see how this will end and it’s going to hurt like hell. (bd18).  I even complained to God about how unfair this was. As if this was more unfair than anything else in life.

I thought Midnight’s physical condition would continue to quickly deteriorate, but it did not.  This was a slow process that took place for almost two years.  His mobility slowed, his hearing declined and he was going blind.  I took some solace in that there would be no painful last look if the dog was unable to see me. (bd19)

There were a few times when he fell ill, that I thought he was finished. I would summon my daughter to return for her final goodbye, but then he would recover.

It amazed me how much this dog squeezed enjoyment out of the last year of his life.  He still liked to go on walks, he still eagerly begged for snacks, he still wanted his head scratched and he still wanted to be near me every morning
when I read the paper.  In a way, he was an inspiration.  I should live so enthusiastically in old age, if I make that far.

He held onto life with all he had.  Sometimes he would get tremors and would walk aimlessly around the house until they stopped. When the tremors came in the evening and he was too tired to walk, I would lay him on my chest – and the tremors would soon cease.  It felt so good comforting him in this way. (bd20)

I want to believe Midnight’s was determined to live on because he didn’t want the bond to break, either.  If your dog loves you more than you love your dog, then the bond between you is stronger for your dog also. (bd21). The dog doesn’t want to leave you – this is extreme devotion.

Living with an aged dog is not pleasant. You end up making many concessions.  At some point the dog causes you more aggravation than happiness.  Some people would have ended it at this point, but I couldn’t do it.  This dog had provided so much joy over his lifetime that I felt I owed him something back in return.  If he was hanging onto life this firmly, then I’ll hang with you, buddy. I’ll hang with you. (bd22)

I had a lot of time to prepare for that final day, although there is nothing you can really do to soften the blow. As if you could prepare for getting run over by a Mack truck.  But I had imagined how that day would play out, and except for one remarkable moment, it went very much as expected.

Midnight was on my lap as I called my wife to explain the dire situation.  She pleaded with me to let her take care of it because she knew how difficult this task would be for me.  But I adamantly refused.  This was my responsibility.  When the dog had a need, he expected me to take care of it and this would be the final one.  Also, my wife could not come home until afternoon, and I had resolved that Midnight would not suffer one minute longer than necessary. (bd23)

I needed to go upstairs to get the number for the veterinarian and I lifted Midnight off me for the next to last time.  However, I wanted to be very gentle with him so I raised him up higher than normal. And then something incredible occurred.  As I held him up, our faces were about a foot apart. Then he widened his right eye as far as it could stretch. I saw his eyeball move as he struggled to focus in on me. With whatever eyesight he had left, he was trying to see me as well as he could. I may not have wanted a last look, but Midnight sure did. (bd24)

And just like 16-½ years ago when we were feeling the same apprehensive at that first look of “hello”, I know we were sharing the same emotions at this last look of “goodbye”.  And it was “goodbye”, as Midnight started to fade out after that.  (bd25) (bd26) (bd27).

That evening, my wife quickly removed all reminders of the dog from the house because she knew this would help me.  But the next morning when I went outside to get the newspaper, I saw his footprints in the snow.  Midnight had made so many impressions on my life and now he got to make just one more.

The bond between Midnight and me was so strong and so rich, however when a tight bond is torn asunder, a piece of you is ripped away.  It leaves a gaping wound that is intensely painful and takes time to heal.  But the worst part of this, which is so cruel, is that the piece of you that is gone is a good piece.  It is kind, and patient and loving, with all the pure traits in you that a dog brings out. Dogs make us better humans, and when they go, we lose something special within ourselves. (bd29) (bd30) (bd31) (bd32)

The Bible introduces to the concept of unconditional love. It is a concept difficult to comprehend in this life.  One of those things best accepted by faith.  But maybe that’s why God created dogs the way He did.  You get to experience unconditional love every day because it is living under your roof. (bd33)

And $450? I complained about spending $450 for this dog?  It’s the best $450 I ever spent in my life.

I never wanted a dog. In the end, I never wanted a dog more.  Rest in peace, Midnight my faithful friend. Rest in peace.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Strong Bond Develops - Part Two - A Tribute To Midnight, My Dog

(In Part One, my daughter gets a new puppy, which I try to ignore.  The dog however forces me to interact with him.)

The more I was around this dog, the more I liked the dog and the dog sensed this.  He thus responded in positive ways which continued to win me over.  Dogs have this strong, basic nature to bond with humans. And humans have a strong desire to bond with anything that wishes to bond with them. I had read about this dog-bonding thing and I had witnessed it in other people, but I never understood it.  I mean it’s just a dog, right? – wrong.

Even though I was his fourth favorite person in the household, (remember, I’m the heavy) Midnight had a desire to bond with me, and me being a human, could not resist this. I noticed that the dog studied my routines and behavior.  He was making an effort to understand me, and then modify his behavior in order to please me.  In response, I tried to figure out what made the dog happy and please him back.

This is not unlike the process couples go through when they enter a serious relationship with a potential spouse. They learn all they can about the other person and then modify their behavior to please that person.  This is an integral part of the human mating/bonding process.

The major difference is that dogs never stop this bonding process.  They watch you and try to faithfully please you their entire lives. Couples, on the other hand, typically transition from trying to please each other, to just tolerating their partner at some point in the relationship.  What would be a good term for that moment? What would it be? Oh yeah, that’s right, it already has a name! It’s called marriage.

So this “man’s best friend” thing is more than just a cliché. Same thing with the term “faithful friend”. And when you pair an intelligent dog (Schnauzers rated around the 11th smartest breed) with an intelligent human, something special happens.  Over many years, Midnight and I developed a tremendously strong bond by spending time together and sharing many of the following activities (bd5).


I shared many meals and snacks with Midnight over the years, but not voluntarily.  Schnauzers do not beg, that’s beneath them. They expect you to share your food with them based on your great relationship and get offended if you don’t.  They assume its “our meal” and thus you are required to provide them with something. 

Here’s the deal Jack, we’re a team. I’m protecting your food from any wild animal that may burst through the door and take it. So, throw me a piece of that delicious roast beef, will ya?  

Where are my chips?

And they will aggressively guard that food as I learned when I stuck my hand in a bag of chips that Midnight and my wife were “sharing”.  My quick reaction resulted in me grabbing no chips, but retaining all five fingers.  Midnight also loved popcorn.  One night he tried to push my wife back into the kitchen so she could tend to the popper instead of watching television. (This event made in into “Dog Gone Funny” in the Marmaduke Sunday comic strip).


We shared affection. I would be seated and Midnight would purposely bump his head into my knee.

Hey, you’re not doing anything. Make yourself useful and scratch my head. C’mon, do you think it’s going to scratch itself?

So, I would scratch his head and he greatly enjoyed this . Often he would nudge his head into my other hand, meaning he wanted me to scratch with both hands.

But Midnight had a strange way of reciprocating. One day I was lying on the floor after wrestling with him. He then started enthusiastically licking my entire shaved head.  I was scared to move, but the scene generated raucous laughter from my wife and daughters. This “head-washing” ritual became standard practice anytime I was on the floor.  I think because Midnight enjoyed me scratching his head, he thought he could return the favor by licking my bald head. I can’t say I really enjoyed it, but I did like the delight it brought to the rest of the family.  Especially when he stuck his tongue in my ear and I would squeal like a little girl.  


And we shared space. Again, the dog expects you concede to his wishes.

You look really comfy in that big ‘ol easy chair. I think I’ll just jump right up on your lap and join you.

He liked sleeping on my lap, but sometimes he would get way too comfortable and refuse to move (and snap) if I tried to get up for any reason.  There were a few times when my wife had to come help me remove the dog in order for my chair to remain dry.

Occasionally he slept in our room at night. He would enthusiastically jump right into the middle of the bed and claim his territory. 

Hey, I’m trying to get comfortable here. I need some more room. So if you could move over to the edge so I could have the entire middle to stretch out in, that would be great.

We mistakenly thought that we could keep him out of the room by closing the door.  But Midnight would not be denied, he would incessantly scratch at the door until we had to open it.

Just wanted to let you know somebody shut door by mistake and I can’t get in. So I’m just going to stay right here and scratch at the door until you realize this and come open it.

And naturally he liked going for walks.

Family Times

We shared being a family (bd6).  Midnight became part of our family and wanted to participate in all activities. He would whimper when we packed for vacation because he could not go along. He liked to play the role of family “protector”. He barked to warn us about the presence of strangers and other animals. He would get agitated if I raised my voice to my daughters (they were teenagers, so higher volumes are often necessary).  One time when my wife and I were having a shouting match from across the room, Midnight strategically positioned himself directly in the middle of us and began barking
loudly and aggressively.

Look I don’t know what all this yelling is about, but you will not use this tone in my house.  So calm it down and start acting like mature adults.

And that ended the argument promptly!


The dog and I played a lot. Midnight’s favorite game was playing “soccer” in our large backyard (bd7). (My dad would have been pleased that my dog had room to run).  I would kick the ball and Midnight (bd8) would wildly sprint after it. He loved to play this game in the winter. Jumping into the mounds of snow, even in frigid temperatures.  Often, he would grab the ball in his mouth and expect me to chase him to get it back.  So I would chase him around the yard, looking like a fool, because it made him happy and his happiness was important to me (bd9).

Over many years, through all this sharing, through all this time spent together, an incredibly strong bond formed between Midnight and I.  My disdain for this dog over time had turned into love. (bd10)

A Favorite Story

And this dog also thought a lot of me. Midnight would always run to the back door, jump wildly, and bark when he wanted go outside to play soccer. But one day it was pouring down rain.  He went to the door, saw the rain, and realized we couldn’t go out and play right now.  He then walked over to me and looked up.  He went back to the door, stared at the rain, and then looked back at me.

I found this amusing and said out loud, “What do you want me to do? Stop the rain?”

And then I realized, Ohhhhhh -- that’s exactly what he expected me to do. (bd11). He was accustomed to me helping him out when he had a problem.  Because of our bond, he expected me to accommodate him.  When my children were small, they thought their father could do some mighty things, but they never thought I was so magnificent that I could stop the rain.  But my dog did! And that made me feel very special. (bd12)

Next: Part Three – One Last Look   

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Tribute To Midnight, My Dog: Part One – I Never Wanted A Dog

(Note: These are the most difficult posts I have ever written. I am counting the number of breakdowns during the series. (bd#))

I never wanted a dog.

My dad grew up in the woods of Pennsylvania and always had dogs as pets, including hunting dogs. But I never had a dog growing up.  We lived in the city and my dad believed that dogs needed freedom and it wasn’t good to coop and chain them up. Dogs were happy when they were free to roam the woods of Pennsylvania, but not in the city. So my dad was willing to forgo any enjoyment we would get from a dog because it would cause discomfort to the dog.  My dad was a great man.

But we had cats, lots of cats, for as long as I can remember.  We never went more than six months without having a cat in the house.  So when I formed my own household, we had cats as pets. 

And my experience with dogs was contentious. I had been cornered, but not attacked, by two vicious dogs at my friend Chuckie’s house as a young teen.  Then I was attacked and bitten by a large German Shepherd when I was 18.  No, I did not like dogs and never desired to own one.

However, my youngest daughter, a pre-teen, now wanted a “puppy”.  We had moved to a large lot in the suburbs, so my dad’s argument about having enough space was less relevant. And of course, my daughter emphasized this would be “her dog” and she would take total responsibility for it.

I still was strongly against this, but my wife and other daughter were enthusiastically on board.  When you live with three females, you tend to lose a lot of family votes by 3-to-1 counts.

But if I am paying for and putting up with this creature, I was choosing the dog breed. Only of course, I knew nothing about dogs. I could only really identify a few breeds, and most of those (including German Shepherds) were not possibilities.  I asked my friend Brent for advice because he owned dogs. Based on my needs, he recommended a Miniature German Schnauzer.

I had no idea what this apparently tiny, foreign dog was, so I Googled it. And after researching the breed, I instructed my wife to get a Schnauzer.  It would cost $450, which I was not at all happy about.  But a father will pay some ridiculous, enormous costs just to make his daughter happy.

The dog entered our lives on a Friday evening.  My daughter would be returning late from a week at church camp and the dog would be a huge surprise. She was delighted to meet her new pet at 11:45 that night.  But the puppy needed a name. She looked at black dog, she looked at the clock, and christened the pooch “Midnight” (bd1).

I was totally unimpressed with my $450 purchase. I saw just a small fur-ball with two big eyes peering out.  The thing couldn’t even walk, it just sort of scooted across the floor.  When I questioned the cost, my wife replied, “He cost that much because he has papers, in case we ever want to show him.” Papers? He has papers all right. They are scattered all over the place and I now have to watch where I step in my own house.  I don’t want to show him, in fact I don’t even want to see him. 

But my daughters enjoyed their new puppy, so maybe it was worth it.  I still totally avoided the “fur-ball with eyes”.

Our relationship (you don’t truly own a dog, you have a relationship) began unexpectedly.  My wife and I were watching television downstairs in the family room, she had Midnight on her lap. 

“I have to go upstairs, so you need to watch the dog,” she said.

Watch the dog?  No, I didn’t sign up to watch this or any dog.  But before I could protest, she placed Midnight on the arm of my large chair and left the room.

I looked down at him nervously, thinking “I am very uncomfortable with this. You are not going to do something stupid, are you?”

Midnight rolled his eyes up and looked at me. He looked distressed. Somehow this dog had already sensed I was unhappy with his presence, his look said:

 “I am very uncomfortable with this. You are not going to do something stupid, are you?”

For the next 15 minutes, we stared at each other nervously.

I continued to avoid interaction with the dog as much as possible. (bd2) I would carry him up the stairs when he was stuck at the bottom – okay I’m not totally heartless, but that was it.

However, soon I was forced to interact with the dog. Because puppies misbehave and need to be disciplined. And the females in the house were not going to do anything that would harm that puppy. But I was still raising two children, so I understood the concept of discipline.   It would go like this:

Puppy does something bad.

All the females express wide-eyed, jaw-drop, worried expressions.

I would then swat the puppy with a rolled-up newspaper.

The females would then turn their wide-eyed, jaw-drop, worried expressions to me, because I had struck their puppy.  To counteract this, I began to carry Midnight to the downstairs hall to administer the punishment.  But the dog learned the routine and when I set him down in the hall, he would lie on his back with his four legs sticking up which said:

Don’t swat me bro! Hey, I’m sorry. Please don’t swat me bro!  C’mon, I know I was bad. Don’t swat me bro!

It was at this point I realized the dog was very intelligent, and it’s really difficult to administer discipline when you are laughing so hard. So to the dog, I was the “heavy”.

But the relationship was about to take a dramatic turn ……

One day I arrived home from work and opened the door from the garage on the lower level. At the top of the half-flight of stairs was Midnight. He was wildly running and jumping from side to side. His tail was wagging so forcefully his whole back end was shaking. I was reluctant to climb the stairs.

“What’s wrong with the dog?” I shout to my wife who was in the kitchen. She sticks her head around the corner, surveys the room, and replies, “I think he’s glad you're home. He’s happy to see you.”

Happy to see me? That is totally ridiculous. Why would this dog be happy to see me when I purposely ignore him and often swat him with a newspaper?  Is the dog actually that stupid? 

I really had no interest in greeting this animal, but he would not let me enter the room until I did.  This greeting became a daily ritual, which of course, I learned to enjoy.  My wife and kids did not greet me with this much enthusiasm, but Midnight did.

And then the dog introduced me to playtime. My wife had bought some dog toys (including a rope contraption that I labeled “ropey toy” (bd3)) and found a few old tennis balls in the garage. I did enjoy watching my daughters have fun playing with the dog.

One day when I was intently reading the newspaper, I felt something against leg.  I lowered the paper to find Midnight staring at me with a tennis ball in his mouth.  He dropped it at my feet and looked at me as if to say:

Hey, let’s play some ball. Now throw the ball, please.

Well let’s not, since I’m busy okay, and I went back to reading the paper.  But I was interrupted again as the dog forcefully thunked the ball down a second time. I put my paper down and the dog looks at me all agitated and is like:

Are you stupid? The game is very simple. You throw the ball and I chase the ball.  Get it? Now just throw the ball.

Well, I guess I can throw this ball one time. Little harm in that.  Except you can’t throw the ball only one time.  Because he aggressively chases it like a mad dog, then races back to you, drops it at your feet and expects you to throw it again, and again, and again.  You end up sometimes throwing the ball ten times or more until the dog has run himself into exhaustion.

And then a few days later, my newspaper reading is interrupted again when I am presented with “ropey toy” and the dog is like:

Hey, got a new game for you today. Here’s the rope, you take it!

But it’s a trick. You grab the rope but the dog grabs the other end and you begin a vigorous game of tug-of -war.  The dog clamps down on the thing with his powerful jaw and growls. He is having a blast! As soon as you let go, the dog revels in his victory and then slyly offers you the rope again so the game can be repeated.

And thus, the bonding process began and as you can see (bd4) it was the dog who was doing all the work to turn this relationship into something special.

Next: Part Two – The Bonding of Man and Dog

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It’s Not Too Late To Get The Flu

I remember reading an article on the flu season beginning in Northeast Ohio. It was expected this year would be “bad”.  It listed the symptoms of the flu: high fevers, body aches, congestion, coughing, and fatigue. It said sufferers were converging on emergency medical facilities and it was expected there would be some deaths.

This all confused me.  A fever? Take some aspirin.  Body aches? How bad could that be?  And why would you go to the emergency room if you already knew you had the flu? Are people that stupid?  And those deaths e are probably just extremely old people and the flu just pushes them over the edge. The article ended by saying “it’s not too late to get a flu shot”.  But I didn’t have to worry about all these terrible things because I had dutifully gotten my flu shot in October, just as I had for the past 24 years.

But Then Something Went Wrong

It started with a cough.  A minor, nuisance, cough upon waking.  I reasoned it was caused by sinus drainage during the night. But the cough persisted throughout the day.  I started running a mild fever that evening.  I sensed I could be getting sick, but the symptoms were rather weak.

The next morning the fever was higher, the cough more persistent and I had a bad headache.  I took some naproxen, naively expecting it to eliminate all my discomfort, like pointing a garden hose at an approaching forest fire.

Then in the afternoon, the body aches arrived.  These were not harmless muscle aches.  It felt like my whole torso had been placed in a vise and I was being crushed.  It hurt to breathe. Coughing resulted in such intense pain that I gasped.  If this had been a torture chamber, I would have quickly confessed to colluding with the Russians. Heck, if they promised to stop this agony, I would have gladly agreed to go collude with the Russians, especially if a hot secret agent named Natasha was involved.

The pain was so intense I did consider going to an emergency facility.  However, this is me, so you would expect there to be complicating factors.  It happened to be 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.  All the doctor’s offices were closed so the doctors could prepare for their exquisite New Year’s Eve parties (no doubt involving loads of shrimp). That meant everyone who had the flu today be descending upon the facility at the same time. I reasoned that the medical operation would be staffed by a skeleton crew, because who the heck wants to work on New Year’s Eve?   

I imagined the crowd to be so massive that cars would be lined up out on the street. I would probably get care sometime around January 3, unless I died first.  I sensed it would have been a waste of time but my dear friend Cheryl suggested that I should have gone and got some Tamiflu. According to the numerous amateur doctors on Facebook, Tamiflu is either a wonder drug or poison.  You decide.  (I went to high school with Tammy Flew.  I never thought she would be much of anything, but now they have named a drug after her.)

I decide to stay home and take some Ibuprofen for the severe body aches. Fortunately, it works and the body aches never return. So no, I did not collude with the Russians and I did not spend the night in a hot dalliance with Natasha. (Those leaked emails are forgeries, fake news!). 

The next morning, the flu hits me with its full sadistic strength. My fever is up to 101.7 degrees.  I stumble downstairs fully expecting to receive pity from my wife.  However, my wife was not in the living room, she had slept in the bottom-floor family room so she would not catch the germ.  But then I heard the cough.  I knew that cough.  It was the same cough I had been experiencing for two days.

I drag myself downstairs and ask “Are you sick?”.  She gives me a menacing glare.  She has a temperature of 101.8, so much for getting any pity.  Now technically, I am much sicker since my normal body temperature is 97.2.  But this is not something you want to argue when you have made your wife this ill. 

I know she is furious at me for giving her the flu. I had also infected her with a bad cold germ last year. But she had given me two nasty germs previous to that. So we are now even, right?  Alas, another argument I’m not going to win.

I labeled our house as the “Ake Infirmary” on Facebook and household duties were handled by whoever wasn’t sickest at the moment.  The most challenging being walking the dog in negative 15-degree wind-chills. The statistician in me hoped my high fever would cancel out the freezing temperatures, and in a way, it did.  When the arctic wind freezes your face, you do temporarily forget how lousy you feel.  I remember thinking “I hope the dog appreciates what I am doing for him.”  Then I realize that he’s my dog, and if the situation were reversed he would faithfully do anything to help me. Because of course, that’s what dogs do.

My wife even made our traditional sauerkraut and knockwurst dinner on January 2. (I tell people my wife always presents me with two large, juicy knockers to start off the new year).  She made the food, but I have no idea who she expected to eat it.  If I had eaten this, I’m sure I would have died.  Therefore, my wife prepared this meal either out of her strong love and devotion to me, or she was so furious at me for giving her the flu that she tried to kill me.  Fine line between love and hate.  I don’t really want to know which one it was.

Fortunately, my wife recovered much faster than did. (I took 6 days longer) When I posted on Facebook that my wife was better, but I was still sick, there was a bizarre reaction which will be the subject of my next blog post.

I now understand how people die from the flu.  There were a couple times when I wondered ….  It usually kills old people, but the new calendar indicates I am no longer a young man.  I was frightened when my subconscious reminded me that I needed to update my will.  I was concerned my subconscious was telling me I was going to die. Then I realized that it was actually good news.  If my subconscious was telling me about something I needed to do in the future, there would be a future. I was going to live! 

This virus is nasty. It dove into my chest and started ravaging my body like a madman.  It is not the B Phuket virus that I wrote about in 2015, although I B-Phuketed up really badly. I have been twice vaccinated against the B Phuket. 

But apparently, I was not protected against the flu I caught because somehow it was not included in this year’s vaccine.  The Center For Disease Control (CDC) never saw this strain coming. This year they whiffed. Whiffed as bad a rookie wailing away over a Corey Kluber sinker. You failed CDC! You failed so very, very, badly.

Now I am a professional forecaster so of course I do understand how difficult these things are to predict. BUT I DON’T CARE BECAUSE SOME DWEEB GUESSED WRONG AND EVEN THOUGH I GOT YOUR STUPID SHOT, I GOT THE #$@&ING FLU!

They will tell you this year’s flu vaccine is only 11% effective. This is a lie based on a guess of what happened earlier this year in Australia. Trust me, this year’s flu vaccine is 0% effective. 0%, none, nada, zippo. Z-freakin’-0.  But they can’t admit it is worthless because this would make them look inept and moronic, which of course they are.

Hello! You are the Center For Disease Control and you are not controlling this disease.  If you need to identify this strain, I have some excess bodily fluids I can send you, provided I can find some bio-waste bags at my local drugstore.  I will find out which strain I had next year when I’m sure it will be included in the new flu shot. The proverbial barn door being sufficiently shut.  

The most ridiculous thing is that medical professionals are still proclaiming: “But it’s not to late to get a flu shot.” Give it up people. just give it up. It may not be too late, but it won’t help you a bit. Z-freakin’-O. And that part about the vaccine offering partial protecting and reducing the symptoms? Not for this strain! Crapola, major crapola.  

Ironically, next October, I will dutifully get my flu shot for the 26th consecutive year. Why? Because anything that gives me any chance of avoiding repeating this awful experience, is well worth it. I just hope the stupid nerdlies at the CDC guess better next year.