Vital Signs

There can be no more powerful sense of well being than the feel of walking out of the hospital under your own power. I know this after a four-day stay, one that turned out to be a little longer than anticipated. I went in Monday morning for a standard procedure, one of those classified as “minor surgery.” Earlier this spring, in the course of a standard, once-every-few-years colonoscopy, my gastroenterologist had spotted a small polyp under my duodenum and suggested it needed removal. It’s the kind of growth that, if left unchecked, can mutate into a cancerous growth and so we took the precaution of scheduling what’s called an endoscopic duodenal adenoma. Basically, they burrow inside of you and pull the thing out without making an external incision. I never got to see the contraption they used since I was under heavy sedation for what turned out to be a wo and a half-hour procedure. But as I came to understand, they basically snake a tube down your esophagus, wend a little cutting device down as they monitor it and maneuver the cutting edge so that they can snip off the polyp. Amazingly, they then fish the polyp out and...Read more


I had forgotten how much I disliked flying. All it took was two recent business trips to the American West and Midwest to remind me. Among the many hidden benefits of enforced nesting during the pandemic was the pleasure of staying home. Now that we are returning to a modicum of normalcy I am determined to limit my ventures on the road to absolutely needed. It’s not for fear of flying. I have long known that flying is actually the safest way to travel compared, say, to driving, taking a train or bus. Credit the FAA and the professionalism of career pilots for that safety record. I know there are lots of people who not feel particularly safe hurtling six miles up in the air at 500 miles per hour, protected from freezing to death and/or asphyxiation by only a ¼-inch thick aluminum tube. The fact is that flying is just about the safest thing in the world you can do. Taking a bath in the comfort of your home is far more dangerous. Not that some folks will be assured by such data. The difference, of course, is the sense of vulnerability and exposure. Still, it’s not the safety...Read more


At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it feels as if we have all been released from some protracted burden. Being able to shed masks has been the least of it, even if the most symbolic. But after fifteen months of avoiding people, staying at home, worrying about family health and hoping the government would finally get things right, it is a great relief to come out from behind the sheltered existence we have had to live and enjoy life again. Especially the outdoors. My wife, Jane, and I were reminded of this the other day during a glorious tour of Elizabeth Park, the 102-acre municipal retreat on the west side of Hartford, CT. The city has its economic troubles, but among its many considerable assets is an extensive park system whose character dates to the late-19th/early 20th century design work of the famed Olmsted Bros. landscape architecture firm. Not the handiwork of Frederick Law Olmsted himself but of his son and son-in-law. Like their father, they had an impressive knack for creating sylvan public spaces, mixing up broad meadows, formal gardens, dense copses, trails, ponds and small streams as well attractive buildings properly scaled for recreational use. Elizabeth Park’s big...Read more