Ginger, the Dances, and the Lady
It Is All About Determination

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Ginger at three weeks

  This is a story that starts out about Ginger.  Nevertheless, it is about more than just Ginger.  Allow me to explain.  Nearly a half century ago when I was much younger than I am now, I got an Irish Setter puppy.  Her name was Ginger.  She was an extremely loving and caring dog who helped each of my three children learn how to walk.  She was there as they toddled, and they would often grab hold of her ears or collar to avoid falling.  Ginger saw it as her job caring for her  litter. 

I am an emotionally controlled person and can name three times that I cried in nearly 74-years.  One time was when Ginger died.  I loved Ginger.  However, that was at the beginning of my adult life.  Nearly at the end of my yellow brick road, I remember back then.  I am haunted by my many memories of times past.  To deal with this haunting, I decided to get another Irish Setter.  I searched the Internet for a breeder, found one, and paid in advance for another female Irish Setter puppy that I would pick up a couple of days before Christmas. 

In those handful of decades, much has happened to me, like dancing with death a couple of times.  I have written over 150-essays about those two dances.  While I don't wish to replicate either dance, I wouldn't delete either one from my life's experiences.  While doing the dances, I came alive.  Unless you have done the dance with death, you think you are alive even though you have not been on the dance floor with death.  Well, ignorance is bliss.  Just wait. 

I was like most of you; I believed that I was alive without doing either dance.  I, too, lived in a bliss-filled world.  Nonetheless, reality is seen from a totally different perspective after doing a dance.  Trust me.  If you don't believe me, read some articles on my website like this one or go to the Last Lecture and watch Randy Pausch's video. 

I am alive, driven, happy, and free to be me at 73...or rather 74 in a couple of weeks.   This was true, until I started getting dull headaches behind my right ear and a type of sore throat on the right side of my throat.  My awareness of either issue was intermittent.  Sometimes, only my headache was present and other times only my sore throat was felt.  Then again, sometimes, I felt both while still other times, I felt neither.  Go figure.  I knew the routine.  I went to see my internist for the answer.  My doctor went through his diagnosis of my dance, which resulted in a diagnosis: glossopharyngeal neuralgia.  What?  I have never known anyone with this medical problem, which I cannot even pronounce. 

I asked my doctor what causes this form of neuralgia.  There are several causes like old age, bullet or knife wounds, and cancer.  I had metastasized prostate cancer.  However, due to surgery, radiation, and drugs, I am five years into being prostate cancer free.  I surely don't want to upset my successful dance with that cancer by having another type of cancer lurking in my brain. 

Therefore, the convergence of getting another Irish Setter puppy and some sort of brain cancer all came together at the same time.  Man, there I was haunted by the realization of extremely bad news mixing with extremely good news.  I was excited about another Ginger and depressed about another cancer. 

Before I could process all this, my internist was writing down what was needed to determine whether the cause of glossopharyngeal neuralgia had to do with cancer.  I had to get a creatinine blood test, a CT neck with contrast, MRA head without contrast, and an MRI brain with and without contrast.  Well, I can't recall which medical school I might have attended nor if I took a class dealing with glossopharyngeal neuralgia.  As a result, I needed to trust my internist to employ the correct procedure to determine what is wrong with my brain.  Even my medical research, looking on the Internet, disclosed that a cause could be a tumor pressing on the ninth cranial nerve. 

Additionally, another of my concerns regarded the wisdom of the purchasing of an Irish Setter if doctors must address dealing with a brain tumor or having to cut the ninth cranial nerve in my neck.  An Irish Setter pup will take a lot of care for the first several months.

There I was pondering my haunting when an old friend of mine called with an extremely personal problem.  I told him that I wanted to talk with him and his wife.  I have known the couple for several decades.  We talked about a problem, which tragically occurred in their family.  I have talked with many people facing problems over the years, however this situation was the most gut-wrenching problem, which they faced.  How would the two of them deal with something that happened over which they had no control?  They were going through hell.   

To say that I was looking for a parallel to use to help them deal with the grief is an understatement.  Then it dawned on me.  I changed the subject...for a moment.  I told them of my love for Ginger and my decision to get another Irish Setter and even showed them a new crate that just arrived.  They were delighted and happy for me.  Then I added that I was in the middle of a series of tests to determine whether my glossopharyngeal neuralgia was due to several causes including brain cancer over which I had no control.   

I realized that some sort of brain cancer might mean months of daily treatment like it did with radiation and hormone therapy due to the metastasized prostate cancer.  However, despite all sorts of potential medical problems, I went through paying for Ginger before I even had the results of all my tests.  Therefore, my desire to get Ginger was my arrogant  and defiant response  to my medical unknown.  I acted.  I suggested that my response also could be their response to their problem. 

Interestingly, others have faced fear also.  Sometimes, they succeed.  However, sometimes, some failed.  Teddy Roosevelt addressed this issue in what is called, Man in the Arena paragraph.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

 None of us will always succeed.  We will fail.  I might fail on this dance floor with death and my friends might fail, but, at least, we tried with an arrogant and defiant response.

Trying and failing isn't a goal of mine.  However, not trying will result in failure regardless.  One of my goals that I have had for nearly two decades is to interview Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Lady.  Her father, General Aung San, got the British to leave Burma in 1948.  However, a local Burmese assassinated him when the Lady was only two and a half years old.  Nonetheless, when she grew up, she took on her father's mantel.  This time, she has worked to make her country a democracy by taking rule away from the military dictatorship.  Interviewing the most important person in the world when it comes to human rights is my goal. 


The Lady

However, why would she wish to be interviewed by me?  I believe that we see life differently than most people due to our dancing with death.  I would love to share our thoughts regarding doing our dances.  That discussion would be a great experience and the most important thing that I will ever do in my entire life.  Trust me.  I am driven to obtain that goal.  Nonetheless, the other goal of getting Ginger has been accomplished, and my friends are adjusting to their tragedy.

PS  By the way, since I wrote this essay, I got the results from the radiologist who analyzed the tests.  The MRI with and without contrast, MRA without contrast, CT with contrast, and creatinine were all unremarkable .  The term, unremarkable, was the word used by the person looking at the MRI and MRA.  I am glad that my condition isn't caused by cancer, but, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't consider my young, debonair face as unremarkable .

In addition, this photo was taken on Ginger's two-month birthday.  Ginger told me that she was glad that I am fine.  Additionally, she thought that I have a remarkable  face.  I told her that I love her remarkable face also.

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Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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Thus Ginger Spoke

Thus Ginger Spoke

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My Hauntings

My Hauntings

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Man in the Arena

Man in the Arena

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