Friday, October 6, 2017

To Suture or Not to Suture: That was the Question

Like most mothers of boys I have a box full of first-aid supplies! Most of the time (thankfully) they sit unused in my cabinet. But, have you ever noticed how accidents happen at the most unexpected time?? Seriously.

The marching band director called last evening to say that the gong fell over on Samuel and cut his head. A what, you say.  Yeah, that was me a few years ago, so here's a visual.

After the blood stopped flowing, a one-inch laceration, greeted me.

It was almost 7 pm and my only option was urgent care, as I don't deem "needing stitches" Emergency Department worthy, unless of course, you're losing a limb. Then, that's fine! Go on in! 
I've taken my boys to urgent care before, but they've only used glue or in one case, nothing. And, that time was worse than this! But, I digress.

After cleansing it thoroughly and spraying Banda-Sil on it, I was still lamenting that, in my opinion, this still needed closed. I felt certain that I could protect it against infection, but it was going to leave a nasty scar.  Samuel, at age 17, was quite opposed to my shaving his head and using steri-strips to hold it together. And, while a scar is fine hidden by lovely locks, what about when those locks begin to fall out?  They might not, but we do have a genetic tendency toward male-pattern baldness, and I'm always thinking ahead.

My local pharmacist told me that it's the same chemicals in the medical grade Dermabond as in plain-ole super glue. and he felt confident that I could use that.  But, there was that "sterile" factor and I wasn't keen on putting super glue into his scalp! And, Samuel wasn't keen on me shaving his head. Impasse!

My 13 year-old thinks like most kiddos his age these days: Let's look on YouTube.  It can, after all, answer most of life's problems, or in this case, close his brother's head.  But, he found it! By tying Samuel's hair together, I could then put super glue on the hair, thereby protecting direct contact with his scalp. And, here's what it looks like today:

I'll keep monitoring it for redness or other signs of infection, but here, on day one, I'm happy with the results. His vaccines are up-to-date so I think I can rest assured he won't get tetanus from it.  

Samuel-dear, someday if your hair falls out, and you see a little scar, thank your mother  brother!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Travel First Aid

Jekyll Island, September, 2017

Seth has been looking forward to his school field trip to Jekyll Island for months.
 He's my THIRD child, but my baby and, oh, I find this hard.
 So, I came along.
 Kind of.
 I'm staying nearby,
The blades are whirring just in case he needs me.

 I packed my usual "just-in-case" first-aid kit.

Here are some of the items that I might have packed in his suitcase:

An assortment of bandages, gauze, and tape
3M Coban wrap
cleansing towelettes
syringe of saline to cleanse a wound
antibiotic ointment
insect repellent
cold medication

I'm too embarrassed to say what else I've also packed  "just-in-case."
 I'll just leave it at there's no need to call in medical supplies for anyone.
I have enough for the whole middle school.

Have mercy, I need help. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 6: Mind the Gap

Zac and I have heard this phrase so many times this week that it has become a running joke. Whenever one of us messes up, the other one says,  "Mind the gap." We hear the expression at least 100 times a day while riding the tube. Sometimes the train station platform is not completely level with the train itself, leaving a high step, or a gap of several inches. For those of you following along in "American," the warning means to watch your step. We have found that the phrase applies nicely to all sorts of situations with which we are intimately familiar: spilling drinks, dropping coins (which happens a lot because I have to stare intently at every coin to determine its value), to actually making a misstep. Yesterday while staring intently at a landmark, I failed to "mind the gap," stepping off a curb and nearly falling. 

 But that was yesterday.

Today we began at Tower Hill, looking out at the infamous Tower of London. 

The sky was uncooperative and a bit foreboding, the perfect backdrop for this location.

The tower has been standing for nearly 1000 years, but it was not the oldest brick structure that we saw today. Adjacent to the tower is the remaining section of the original wall around the city of London. When the Romans invaded present-day England (approximately 15 years after the resurrection of Christ), they quickly built bridges across the Thames in order to control the flow of river traffic and to make money from tolls.  Then they enclosed 2 miles with a wall. Here stands the remaining vestige of that nearly 2000-year old wall.

The Romans left 450 years later, but the wall remained intact. 300 years later, the Vikings attacked and were able to conquer most of the rest of England, but never London. 

Even after William of Normandy defeated the English king, Harold Godwinson, in the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066, William never attempted to take London because he considered it virtually impregnable. In fact, when he marched up to the city in 1066, he famously threw his sword on the ground and made a deal with the Londoners: William would not fight against London, nor would he kill any of the people, but in return, the Londoners had to proclaim that William was the King of England. 

King William built the Tower of London as his way of being able to look over the walls and observe London. Although William lived in the Tower, it was not intended to be his Royal residence.

The manner in which the people of the city of London flex their muscles against the monarchy will be repeated before the story is over.

 When people refer to London today, they are referring to the world's largest city, spread over hundreds of sqare miles. The original city of London can be distinguished today by these markers. Whenever you pass one of these markers you know that you're in the old city.

The sword in the upper left quadrant represents William's sword.

After leaving the tower, we walked past All Hallows Church. The church was erected in 675 A.D. and has had many famous attendees. Sir Thomas Moore attended this church before he was beheaded by Henry VIII in 1535. In 1645, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was baptized here. In 1666, William Pepys, the father of the British Navy, stood in the belltower and watched the fire of London. Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was married here in 1797. In the 20th century, Albert Schweitzer made musical recordings in this church.

I mentioned that Samuel Pepys attended this church. Directly across the street is an area where criminals were hung and their bodies mutilated. Notice the quote on the plaque.

From church we went to Monument Hill, the area where London remembers the great fire of 1666. One reason that the fire was so distructive is because some of the politicians underestimated the extent of the blaze. 

Pardon my language, but I must share a quote. When the Lord Mayor was asked what he was going to do to try to contain the fire, he said (on the record), "The fire is so small a woman could piss it out." 

Apparently the Lord Mayor could never find that woman, because the fire burned 80% of London. 

(Note: bad language isn't bad if it's historical.)

Christopher Wren, the mathematician/architect who designed so many structures, also designed the monument that commemorates the fire. The huge monument, 102 feet tall, has an area where Wren has inscribed in Latin that nobody should be blamed for setting the fire. Then in the last line he says that the Pope  and Catholics are responsible. That last line has been chiseled off.

I did not have a good angle to get a picture of it, so I included this Google pic:

After leaving the monument, we encountered three "oldests."

Here is London's oldest tea and coffee shop, "Jamaica Wine House." And would you believe that King Charles II tried to close down this coffee shop because he said that coffee was making the British women too "excitable and hedonistic." 

Almost next-door to the Jamaica was London's oldest men's suit making shop: "Cad and the Dandy." Our tour guide said that it is not uncommon to walk past and see parliamentarians standing inside in their underwear ("dressed down to their knickers"), being fitted for suits. Sad.

The last "oldest" was the oldest restaurant: Simpsons. 

We walked through several of Old London's narrow streets 

until we came to the dome of Saint Paul's Cathedral. 

I could not stand far enough away from the church in an unobstructed area where I could get the entire church in a single picture. I have never seen anything like it.

I did see a couple of interesting signs today.

I'm not exactly sure what constitutes a good vehicle, but driving one seems a distinct advantage in England.

And then there was the 30 pence restroom.

I want to note out a couple of literary points, too. If you have read Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, you may remember the name of this pub. It was a pub frequented by Charles Dickens.

At the very end of the tour, I found this statue of Samuel Johnson, a man who painstakingly compiled a dictionary.

Johnson is described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history." 

Johnson struggled against tremendous odds. As a baby, Johnson did not cry, prompting his aunt to observe that young Samuel was such an odd child that she would not have even picked him up in the street. He was extremely eccentric and had few friends. At 26, he married a widow 20 years older than himself. They lived in extreme poverty. Johnson was accepted into Oxford, and succeeded brilliantly as a student, but never had enough money to finish his degree. That lack of a degree kept him out of many jobs.

That Johnson was unique, nobody disputes. One biographer notes that children and adults would gather around Dr. Johnson and laugh in derision at his words and gestures. In fact, researchers suspect that he had Tourette's syndrome far before the condition was ever labeled.  

But Johnson persevered. He spent years writing definitions on little scraps of paper and organized them into the first great English dictionary. In fact, before the Oxford English Dictionary was published, Dr. Johnson's dictionary was the greatest in the English language. 

One of the finest biographies ever written was by James Boswell. It is titled, Life of  Samuel Johnson.

And then there was a "that was cool" moment today. Zac, a huge guitar fan, sponges up any information about the guitar industry. Case in point: today in a guitar shop, we looked at a case with at least 30 guitar pedals. Zac told me the city in which each of those guitar pedals is manufactured.

On a whim, Zach asked if we could go down to Guildford to visit a guitar shop called Anderton's Music Co. The shop had several guitars that were very expensive, and Zac  wanted to play them. He has followed the website of this guitar shop for a long time, and watches videos made by a guy connected to the shop -- a guy called Captain. 

Captain walked in while we were there. 


I conclude with a short story and three pictures. 

The first picture is of a massive structure called the Royal Courts of Justice, dreamed up and designed by Queen Victoria. I could not get the entire building into a single picture.

Queen Victoria dreamed of having that building inside the old city of London; however, the Londoners did not want monarchal influence in their city in the 1800's  any more than they had wanted King William's Tower 700 years earlier.

The queen relented. As a sign of goodwill, the  City of London asked if they could create a statue of the queen. Loving both goodwill (the sentiment, not the second-hand store) and self portraits, Queen Victoria agreed to the idea.

Here is the sculpture of Victoria, the queen.

And then the Londoners added a bit more:
Look again at the top figure -- a dragon.

With this statue the city was saying, "The monarchy will NEVER be in a position of authority over London."

And so ends our last evening in London. I just got off the phone with Seth, and he asked me if London was all that I had dreamed it would be. 

I told him, "Yes, and so much more."

Day 5: British Museum, St. Helens, and Greenwich

On this trip, Zac and I have adopted the "inductive tourism" strategy. We begin with the big picture, and then learn several smaller details along the way. General to specific.

Today's big picture was the British Museum of history.

After about five minutes we realized that there was not a chance in the eternal history of time that we were going to be able to see a very large percentage of this museum today. We narrowed the parameters significantly and spent over two hours visiting exhibits from 1000 BC to 1000 AD -- of European history alone. To put that experience into perspective, we visited three or four rooms on one floor.

There are at least six levels in this museum.

In my opinion, history can be really tedious if I cannot find someway to humanize it. Today I looked for the humanity of the displays.

Take, for instance, this piece of lead. 

Unseen is a curse written during the time of Roman occupation of England;

What an insight into human nature! 

And then there was this late Byzantine period Solo cup dispenser.

Just joking. 

The treasures below were from the Anglo-Saxon period, extracted from the archeological excavations at Sutton Hoo.
Can you imagine facing off against a group of warriors with helmets like these?

The next picture is of the same helmet, but the close-up shows a boar's head approximately where the left eyebrow would be. Boars supposedly gave protection to Warriors in battle. So much for that belief, because the Anglo-Saxons were eventually defeated by the Vikings.

The boar is laying across the eyebrow of the helmet, with the eye and snout in the middle of this picture. Those of you familiar with Beowulf probably recall references to the boar's head helmets. 

Old English lit also recounts how tribal leaders expressed appreciation by bestowing golden gifts on the Warriors. This picture shows several belt clasps, a necklace, four coins, a bracelet, a sword, and a couple of other objects.

I thought the next picture was interesting because we have evidence that Anglo-Saxon Warriors were "gamers." We have a picture of the game pieces followed by a description of the activity.

Notice the second half of the paragraph below, beginning with the word "often."

The picture below is of a section of a belt, followed by a picture of a belt buckle.

My last comment about the British Museum revolves around this picture. 

This very large silver platter was found at the Sutton Hoo site when the burial mound was excavated in the 1930's. Interestingly, this platter would have already been 100 years old at the time that it was buried. It is from the Byzantine period, and was silver plated in Constantinople. 

How in the world did it get into the possession of an Anglo-Saxon king who is buried in a field in northeastern England? (I don't know either, but I suspect King Ragnar purchased it on Amazon.)

From the British museum we went to a wonderful restaurant that Zac had read about in the New York Times. The name of it is Pieminister (like Prime Minister). They specialize in making English pies, much like  the American version of a pot pie.

Just imagine these succulent ingredients: beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, smashed peas, cheddar, and crispy shallots.

It looks better than it sounds, doesn't it!

I do not expect to see anything like this very soon in the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook. Somehow, British food seems appropriate to offset the weather: warm, hearty, filling.

After lunch we walked to Saint Helen's Bishopsgate Church. William Shakespeare attending this church a few times when he lived in this parish. He would have attended in the early 1590's.

The church said nothing on the outside about William Shakespeare, nor did it offer any tours, but I figured the worst thing that would happen if I knocked on the door was to be told to go away. 

On the contrary, a smiling receptionist opened and told me that I could take all the pictures that I wanted. I have followed this church online for a few years now, and I am always impressed by how the church has attempted to meet the needs of its congregation. I say that because so many of the big, dignified churches are empty now.

The church has small group ministry on Sunday nights. The tables were still set up.

From St. Helen's we tubed out to Greenwich. What a wonderful town. I had read about it on a website called the "Top 10 Overlooked Jewels of London." Quaint, narrow streets drew us back to a market with open air restaurants. 

Then the shops ended, and we came to a beautiful, sprawling park, so reminiscent of many of the luxurious green spaces in London. 

This park surrounded and separated the National Observatory from the Maritime Museum and one of the Queen's houses.

Day 5 is almost in the books. Zac is already asleep. He can't keep up with the old man, but don't tell him I said so. 

I am so proud of him. He planned and paid for this trip, working a f/t job at a law office, 20+ hours many weeks at Truett's, as well as taking an overloaded college schedule. In addition, he plays the guitar almost every Sunday morning at church as well as many Wednesday nights. Often on Saturday mornings, when he is not working for the chicken palace, he is delivering furniture to needy people in Henry County. Two nights ago the wifi was not working, so Zac had to get up at 4:00 to get his assignments posted on time. He is maxed out. 

He has become a man.