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Tis But a Scratch

John W. Pinkerton


I don't think that anyone wants to become Monty Python's Black Knight.  But I digress.

As we travel through life…you will notice I did not say “progress through life”---things change, we change.  When I retired from public education, I became an essayist, master of a website, and plastic artist.  These were intentional, willful changes designed to fight off the boredom of retirement.  I judge that these were appropriate choices for me.

However, shortly after retiring, other changes began to be forced on me by a rather rebellious body.  Up to this point, my relationship was a quiet one with me hardly noticing that my body was even there.  My body  demanded little attention and seemed to work day in and day out in a useful manner.

Okay, here is a list of disappointments my body has gifted me.

Severe hyperthyroidism: I only knew that I had a thyroid---not what its function was or what problems it might cause.  It took a while to find a competent doctor, but after months of suffering extreme fatigue, loss of muscle mass, loss weight (25 lbs.), trembling of my hands and legs, and the suspicion that I was probably dying. I started taking pills (a lot).  I slowly began to recover.  Thirteen years later, the doctor declared me cured.

A little before I was declared cured, I developed plural effusion.  It took a while to track this one down, but it was tracked down.  Now, I knew that I had such a thing  as a pleural cavity but only a vague idea of its function and what could go wrong with it.  The pleural cavity always has fluid in it but mine decided to produce an excessive amount which presses against the lungs which makes it difficult to breathe and thus makes one feel as though he or she is dying.  After three lung doctors---one fired me, one changed jobs, and one is still on the job---the problem was remedied.

We never determined what caused my pleural effusion, but the relief was draining the lungs with a needle in the back and then later through a tube cleverly inserted into my chest and into the pleural cavity to siphon off the excess fluid.  (My nephew, an ex-medic, did this for me for thirteen months.)  Suddenly I quit producing excess fluid in my pleural cavity.  The tube was removed and all is well…except for my heart attack.

After three weeks in two hospitals and one operation, I was sent home with a COPD problem.  Holy crap.

My questionable decision to have cataract surgery resulted in the loss of the practical use of one eye…great!

My hearing has diminished greatly over the last several years to the point that without aids I can't understand diddly.

Now I'm trying to get used to depending on oxygen machines to survive and work.

Oh yeah, the other day I developed pneumonia and spent five days in a hospital.  I think the Lord was just firing a warning shot over my head just to remind me that He can take me out at any time He chooses.  Not a biggy, but it suddenly made me realize that I have become the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Unless you're a moron or five years old, you know that  “Monty Python” indicates humor, and the scene I'm thinking of is hilarious:

King Arthur meets the Black Knight in the forest and he offers him an opportunity to join his forces which he declines and the Black Knight immediately challenges Arthur to a sword fight.

Arthur easily avoids the Black Knight's advances and because of the Black Knight's foolish persistence, he finally cuts off one of his arms.  The Black Knight refuses to quit saying that, “Tis but a scratch.”  Arthur cuts off his other arm to which the Black Knight responds, “Just a flesh wound.”  Arthur then cuts off the Black Knight's right leg and then his left to which he responds, “Oh?  All right, we'll call it a draw.”

Today after almost eighty years on earth, I have become the Black Knight; but instead of limbless---I'm blind, deaf, weak, trembling, and breathless…but continue to write, paint, and publish as though all is well.

Oh well, tis but a scratch.  Full speed ahead!