BlogEd

Family, Faith & Fun

Archive for the category “health”

Award Winning Book

Fun summer reading. “Monkeys In My Coconut Tree” by Ed Thompson, is a compilation of fun, easy-to-read stories of fun, family, and faith. It was a Reader’s Favorite 2016 Silver Medal Winner. So come on, check it out. Read some of the reviews and download your copy by clicking HERE. (Also available at Amazon.com, iTunes and others.)

IMG_6960

Monkeys in My Coconut Tree

There are monkeys in my coconut tree.

No, really.  Little Capuchin monkeys–the “organ-grinder” kind.   We live a few miles from the Miami Metro Zoo and assume they escaped after one of our hurricanes.  If so, they hiked several miles before finding the county-protected wooded area behind our house.  We’re just glad it’s monkeys and not rhinos.  Everyone knows what to feed monkeys.  I have no idea what to feed a rhino.

There are three of them.  We’ve watched as they climb through the trees in the protected wooded area, climb over our back yard fence, and make the quick scamper into one of our coconut trees.  They like to sit on a palm branch and eat the little coconut eggs (or whatever you call them) and chirp with delight.  They actually sound a lot like I do when eating a Heath Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

They showed up quite often before (we assume) the county monkey squad caught them and returned them to the zoo. But for almost a year, we enjoyed sitting on our back porch, sipping coffee while enjoying the traveling zoo.  In fact, I highly recommend that when you have the opportunity, you should sit on your back porch and watch monkeys eat berries in your coconut trees, too.

I have a rather long history with little two-and-a-half pound Capuchin monkeys.  In fact, I grew up with them…and I’m not talking about my three brothers.  As I was sipping coffee and watching the monkeys in my coconut tree, I thought back about the time my monkey broke my arm…

Ed & ReepicheepHis name was Reepicheep and he was named after the pugnacious talking mouse in the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series.  He came to live with us when I was ten years old.  We got Reepicheep from the Amazon — not the online place that sells everything except monkeys — the actual place in South America with jungles, wild animals, and piranha.  Just to make sure, however, I went to Amazon.com and typed in “monkey.”  I was relieved to see they do not sell Capuchins.  At least not yet.

Reepicheep arrived via missionaries traveling on furlough to Miami. But as so often happens when  foreigners get a taste of America, he didn’t want to go back.  So when the missionaries went back to South America, Reepicheep stayed with us and become an illegal alien.

Reepicheep lived outside in a treehouse my Dad built specially for him.  It was a lovely but sparse two story condo with a front porch.  To keep Reepicheep from wandering off and joining a gang, he wore a leather belt around his waist which was attached to a light chain about five feet long.  The  chain was attached to a pulley wheel which was attached to a strong cable with one end anchored to the tree and the other end to the corner of our house about 30 feet away.  Got it?

This set up is important because Reepicheep taught himself the most amazing Tarzan-like trick which he performed all day long.  He would casually stroll to one end of the wire cable and dive off in a headfirst bungee jump.  Knowing exactly how far he could free fall before the five-foot chain would jolt him by the waist, he would deftly grab his chain and swing like Tarzan to the other end.  Honest!  The only thing missing was Tarzan’s jungle yell.  I used to charge the neighborhood kids fifty cents to come over and see our monkey swing.  I made $18.50 the first weekend we had him!

One of my jobs was to feed the monkey. This meant I would have to climb about seven feet up the tree, find his metal food dish, climb back down the tree, walk back inside the house, fill his tray with left-overs from dinner (no Purina Monkey Chow for our chimp), then climb back up the tree and hand over the dish.  At first it was sort of fun, but after six or seven months of this, it lost all its excitement.

So one day, in a moment of adolescent genius, my brothers and I decided to hang a rope swing.  We figured we would not only save gobs of climbing time, but our “speed feeding” system would  actually make feeding the monkey fun again. We attached one end to a thick branch and the other end to a deflated inner-tube tire. The trick was to run as fast as you could and dive into the inner-tube.  If done right, your momentum would carry you all the way up to Reepicheep’s tree-house. Once there, you had to then reach out and grab onto the tree house and hold yourself in the precarious prone position long enough to locate the metal dish.

It was a thrill seekers delight.

It became even more dangerous, however, when Reepicheep turned mean.  I don’t recall exactly when he turned mean, but I think it was right around the time I started throwing mangos at him.  Reepicheep was amazingly agile and hard to hit.  At first I thought he enjoyed our little game of dodge-mango, but as it turns out, it just made him cranky.

Even so, feeding the monkey had now become fun once again.  If Reepicheep was in a good mood, you could swing up and chat and play with him for a while during your search for his food dish.  If, on the other hand, Reepicheep was feeling a bit irritable based upon the amount of mango juice dripping from his fur, it became a rather daunting and terror filled experience.  It’s amazing how scary a two-and-a-half pound ball of fur with fangs can appear at dusk.

So it was, on a particular summer night in Miami, I was trying to coax the little ape away from his treehouse to the other side of his cable by our house.  A couple of near miss mango tosses were doing the trick and Reepicheep was as far from his tree house as he could possibly get.  My plan was to take off for the tire swing, dive into the inner-tube, swoop up to the treehouse, grab the food dish, and swing away to safety before the savage beast reached his house. It looked good on paper.

I lobbed one last mango to distract Reepicheep. My ploy worked as the gullible long-tailed organ grinder wasn’t even looking when I took off for the inner-tube.  My dive was close to perfect as I launched myself into the tube and felt the momentum propel me upwards.  I smiled at how smoothly my plan was working and how easy it was to trick a primate whose brain was much smaller than the mangos he was dodging.  At the same time, I could hear loud snorting coming from the enraged orangutan running as quickly over the cable as his hairy arms and legs would take him.

I grabbed onto the treehouse and began a mad scramble for the metal food dish.  That’s when I swore I heard the little ape let out an evil laugh.  He had purposefully moved his food dish to a little crook in the tree and was closing in fast.  He was almost close enough for me to see some mango dripping of the left side of his face.

Panicking, I tried to reposition myself in order to grab the dish.  To do so, I had to slide my waist out of my perfectly aligned center of gravity position inside the deflated rubber tire and wiggle out to where my thighs were holding me in place. My outstretched fingers were just beginning to close around the metal food dish when the evil monkey leapt off the cable and disappeared in a nose dive.  I temporarily lost sight of him, but I could hear his Tarzan like yell as the pulley wheel whizzed and he thumped his little chest.

Then, to my horror, the gorilla suddenly came swinging up holding onto his Tarzan-like chain and then let go in a perfectly timed move the Flying Wallenda’s would have applauded.  The flying furry fanged beast was hurling straight at my face which caused me to not only let out a bloodcurdling scream, but also let go of my grip on the treehouse.

I remember thinking how much faster I was going down than going up. That’s also when I remembered I had wiggled out of my perfectly aligned center of balance position in the inner-tube.  As the rope swing pulled me away from the crazed gorilla, it also released me to fight gravity all by myself.  Fortunately, I landed on a rather large and rotten mango which sufficiently softened my fall so I only broke the two bones in my left forearm.

Later, as the emergency room doctor was putting a cast on my broken arm and pulling mango out of my hair, he asked if I could once again tell the story of how my monkey broke my arm. But this time, he asked if he could invite a few of his fellow staff members to listen.   Apparently, I was his first patient to have his arm broken by a little two-and-a-half pound monkey.

My arm healed and I stopped throwing mangos at Reepicheep and over time, we made up.  He bit me a few times after that, but never again broke any of my other bones. Thankfully our rope swing remained, but we were no longer allowed to use it to “speed feed” the monkey. Even so, Reepicheep and I never fully trusted each other again.  He, for one, lost his appetite for mangoes, and I lost my desire to be an Acapulco cliff diver.  Perhaps it was all for the better.

###

World’s Greatest Dad

Perhaps you have heard of a man named, Dick Hoyt.  Many have described him as, “The World’s Greatest Dad,” and for good reason.  His son, Rick, suffered severe brain damage at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Understanding the tremendous difficulties that lay ahead, doctors encouraged Dick and his wife to put their son in an institution. “He will be a vegetable all his life” they explained.

If you know their story, you know that Dick and his wife paid no attention to that advice.  In fact, they did the opposite.  Although their son could not speak nor use his arms or legs, they raised him just like any other child. Rick not only graduated from a public high school, he also graduated from Boston University.  Today, he lives in his own apartment aided by personal care givers.

Team Hoyt

Team Hoyt

What makes their story even more remarkable, however, are the almost impossible to believe feats they have achieved together. They are known as “Team Hoyt” and I encourage you to watch Mary Carillo’s “Real Sports” special called, “Labor of Love” regarding this father and son. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roZrT_tciKA

Their running together began some 32 years ago in a 5 mile charity race to help a paralyzed boy in their community.  Rick wanted to be an encouragement to others like him and got his dad to push him in a modified clunky stroller. Most assumed “Team Hoyt” would simply get to the corner, turn around, and come back. But when they got to the corner, they kept going.  They didn’t stop until they finished the entire 5 mile race coming in second from last. (They have never finished in last place.)

When they got home that night, Rick wrote on his computer, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.”  Dick was so moved by the joy his son experienced during the race that from that point forward he told his son, “I’ll be your arms and legs.”

The lengths to which Dick Hoyt has gone to fill his son with joy are truly remarkable.  To be more precise, Over the last 30 plus years, Dick has pushed, pulled, and carried his  son in close to 1,100 races — most of them being marathons, triathlons and ironman events.  If you are able to watch the video, you will see how their story has touched and inspired thousands of others — especially those whose children suffer from disabilities.

As a father, I couldn’t help saying “thank you” to the Lord for healthy children as I watched the video.  I also couldn’t help but wonder to what extent I would go to for my children.  And then, I couldn’t help but consider the unimaginable extent to which my Heavenly Father went for me…and you

“Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32)

I remember a conversation I had with my dad about Lazarus.  We wondered if he was upset when Jesus called him back from the dead (see John 11).  Lazarus’ loved ones were, of course, overjoyed.  But Lazarus?  And then Dad said something I’ve never forgotten, that “…Lazarus had to die again.”  Now that would stink!

Dad then went on to discuss with me how Jesus came to save us, the real us, our souls — not our weak and broken bodies.  Lazarus didn’t need or want that broken down body anymore.  In my minds eye, I think of him going privately to Jesus and saying, “Hey man, thanks, but did you really have to bring me back?”

So I rejoice with “Team Hoyt” and the inspiration they bring.  But just like us, the only ending to their story that will make it all worthwhile is knowing the one who brought Lazarus back to life just by calling his name.

The truth is, as strong as we Dads would like you to think we are, we are very weak, imperfect people with all sorts of issues.  There is only one Father we can truly rely upon.  And this Father loves us so much, He didn’t spare His own Son so that we could live with Him…forever!  There is no other competition.  He is the World’s Greatest Father!

Happy Father’s Day!

Male-icure

Until this past weekend, I had never really questioned my manliness.  I am a happily married, relatively athletic, ESPN addicted male who donated two knees to his college football team and have watched almost all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies no matter how absurd. Plus, I drive a pick-up truck.  If that doesn’t scream “all male,” what does?

David, Ed (center), Jenn

David, Ed (center), Jenn

I have gone 50 years without a “male-icure” and was planning on going another 50.  Then, my daughter, Abby, came home after graduating from college.  She simply batted her beautiful eyes at me and all my tough manliness melted into some strange mango peel exfoliating sauce.

Here’s what happened: we were enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon on our way home from church when we passed a nail salon.  Before I could say, “microdermabrasion,” my wife, daughter, and mother were climbing out of the car and dragging my manly son, David, and me into the salon.  I was anticipating handing over my credit card enabling the ladies in my life to indulge in a feminine nail clipping session while we men strolled over to Home Depot to look at chainsaws and bolt cutters. But then Abby batted her eyes.

The next thing I knew, we were sitting in one of those fancy massage chairs like the ones at Brookstone we men sit in while waiting for our wives to finish their shopping.  But these massage chairs had a little foot Jacuzzi.  We were quickly de-shoed, pant legs pulled up to the knees, and then our feet were placed into a warm, jet propelled whirlpool of delight. Then, a tiny lady sitting on a stool made for short three-year-olds, held up a bottle of something indicating she wanted to add it to the Jacuzzi.  My daughter gave a reassuring nod so in it went.

The pleasant odor mixed with the Jacuzzi jets and pulsating massage chair forced a gentle sigh to escape my lips.  I leaned back into the knuckles of the massage chair and couldn’t help but think, “What have these women been keeping from me all these years?” along with, “This chair would look great in front of the big screen TV at my house.”

I was dangerously close to entering REM sleep when the tiny lady gently lifted my right foot out of the Jacuzzi and began a deep tissue foot massage. This caused my left foot to be extremely jealous and impatient for its turn, which finally came, but only after many delight filled moans caused raised eyebrows from several other salon patrons.

I have no idea what “paraffin wax” is, but I like it.  My feet and calves have never felt better than after she put that wax stuff all over them and wrapped them in hot towels.  The only real problem I had was with the “glycolic foot peel” and callous removal.  As it turns out, I have rather ticklish “glycolics” and just about knocked the tiny lady sitting on the little stool across the room with a karate kick I didn’t know I had.

The final bit of nail snipping and cuticle repositioning wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but I suspect it was due to the calming effects of the paraffin wax and salt scrubs.  I was therefore a bit sad when my pedicure came to an end.

Placing my feet back into my Sperry’s didn’t seem quite as right as the women walking out with Japanese styled flip-flops and toe spacers.  Onlookers would instantly know they just had a pedicure and would be green with envy.  My tingly toes, on the other hand, would remain hidden without giving the faintest hint of calluses scraped or glycolics peeled.  Of course, neither my son nor I, will ever tell.

But next time my wife heads off to the nail saloon, I just might slide my “man-card” out of my wallet and sneak out with her to enjoy a special ladies day out.

###

Miralax Cocktails

Slightly after turning 50, my doctor informed me it was time for me to have a colonoscopy.  He also told me I should lose 30 pounds.  Obviously, I need a new doctor.

I was thinking about his recommendations over lunch while sipping on a chocolate milkshake after eating a double bacon cheeseburger.  I have spent a lifetime filling my colon with vast quantities of (mostly) edible substances and have very few complaints regarding its performance.  So I was a little dubious as to why, just because I turned 50, I should allow a total stranger to, well, explore my nether regions like a Conquistador searching for a “Lost Polyp of Gold.”

Now, I take to heart God’s directions to Noah and his family after the great flood. God blessed them and told them, “All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea… I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables” (Genesis 9:2-3). And while the Bible has much more to say about food (including the sin of gluttony), it does make it clear that food is a blessing and something we should enjoy.  I, for one, am doing my best to do just that.

As I finished off a wonderful Philly Cheesesteak smothered with provolone cheese, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions for dinner, I looked up the benefits of completing the “procedure.”  While the one major “con” makes one rather queazy, there is little debate that early screening is a proven life saver.

So it was, several weeks later with Miralax in hand, I began the process of “cleansing” my fifty year old plumbing in preparation for my “C-Day.”  As a hearty eater with a particular fondness for generous splashes of Tabasco and large gobs of wasabi, I began  my “liquid only” fast and chugged the first 32 ounces of my Miralax/Gatorade cocktail with haughty boldness.

Image

Colonoscopy preparation tool

The first rumblings began a couple hours later.  At first, I wasn’t certain if the audible reverberations were simply a cry for food or caused by the Miralax cocktail.  I quickly learned, it was indeed the cocktail.  This was also about the time I remembered ignoring my wife’s concerns that our septic tank was backing up.

I do not recall reading anywhere in the “colonoscopy preparation” documents about having a plunger handy once the Miralax cocktail has begun to take effect, but that is a serious oversight.  Even more so once the second 32 ounces of the devilish cocktail have been consumed.  Likewise, there really should be suggestions about removing such things as bathroom mats and rugs in the event one is otherwise detained and cannot reach the plunger in time.

Later, as I lay on a gurney awaiting the sweet relief of sleep induced by Propoful, I knew my colon had never been so clean or empty.  When I awoke a moment later, the procedure was over and the doctor informed me all was well.  He then complimented me on the fine job I had done with my preparation.  A gesture I almost forgot to pass on to the plumber.

###

Post Navigation