So, You want to have a Colonoscopy Eh?

My Doctor here on the Island, Dr. Peter Baute finally convinced me that I should venture to the mainland and have a colonoscopy performed. He had mentioned because of my advanced age 66, and never having had it done before, it would serve me well to know just what was going on up there in the "hinterlands". An appointment was made with a local gastroentroligist(sp). That in and of itself was quite a feat, because I made the appointment in December for the 14th of April. So you can see right off the bat, I had a nice long lead time to get myself all worked into a dither about the upcoming event. Over the intervening four months, the forthcoming event had come up on numerous occassions with a varied list of people who were only to glad to give a ten to fifteen minute discourse on the whole subject. Without fail, everyone who had had the deed done, had all come to the same conclusion, "It was no big deal"! So over time my fears were somewhat allayed and on the morning of the 13th, my wife and I went to the boat for the trip over. There were three or four previous receipients of the procedure there and one of the last comments from one of them was,"Don't forget to ask for the warm blanket when they are all through"! What was that all about I says to myself as I drive onto the boat.
Skip ahead to 7pm of the same day when it is time to imbibe one of the two bottles of a concoction called, Fleet's Phospho-soda Bowel prep. It comes in an innoccuous 1 1/2 bottle and is a clear liquid. In the instructions it tell you to mix the bottle with a half can of ginger ale or sprite and to drink it down in continuous gulp. 'Nuff said, down it goes and then I decided to read the rest of the instructions. They mentioned something about it taking from 30 minutes to six hours for it to take effect. Well their timing was about twenty nine minutes off, for while I'm reading this thing strange and ominious rumblings are emanating from inside of me! I barely had time to drop the paper and make a mad dash for the bathroom while fumbling desperately with a suddenly re-calcitrant belt buckle! Ah, safe arrival, deposition of "product" as predicted, and on to the couch! Well that little sojourn lasted about ten minutes and it was on to repeat the previouly documented trip to the bathroom for the rest of the night. About half way thru the night I got a little smarter and switched to a pair of sweatpants. Now as I sat there awaiting my next lurch to the head, I read some more of the instructions. It said to drink 'copious' amounts of water to replace all that I would be losing. See, this nasty stuff pulls ALL the water from all the sourrounding area, tissues, organs, muscles, hell it even sucked the water right out of a glass I was holding in my hand without waiting for me to drink it! It then goes right into the bowel to assist in the reaming out of that organ by using the 'deluge and hot flush' method! By the time things began to calm down, at four AM, it was time for the second dose! Now I'm telling you, it was a struggle to get this dose down. There was a hell of a fight between the up and down and the in and out factions of my gut, but with a lot of will power and lots of deep breaths it stayed down and immediately started on it's journey to the end of the road so to speak. Well about thirty minutes into this process, I begin to have feelings in my 'right, lower, posterior, quadrant' that no one had mentioned to me as being a consequence of drinking this stuff! Over the next three hours, the pain back there became so intense that I could barely make my way down to the car. My wife then drove us to the South County Hospital where I was admitted to the ER in a state of total and excruciating pain. Well after a few questions etc., it was determined that I was in the process of trying to eject a kidney stone from the right kidney. It seems that all this unusual amount of water rushing thru the old kidney had dislodged a local resident who had been lurking there for some time waiting for the right time to wreak havoc on me! After a few shots of some mysterious, but absolutely welcome "juice" was injected into me along with what was to be 9 big bags of IV solution, a Urologist came along and told me after talking to the colon guy, that if they could control the pain over night with some stuff called "oxycontin", they would proceed to do the colonoscopy the following afternoon. The urology guy then mentioned that they would take care of the "stones" three days hence. So eighteen hours go by during which time I am taking these oxycontin tablets every twelve hours on the dot and it does a wonderful job of keeping the pain at bay. I can see why it has become the drug of choice for so many regular abusers of the stuff. I was in LA LA Land for three days and didn't much care about anything! On to the Colonoscopy lab where as advertised and predicted by all other receipents before me, it went well with no problems, and I received my warm blanket at the end of the procedure,which was a blessing as it was freezing assed cold in there! Especially when only covered with one of those,"my ass is hanging out in the back" Johnnies? they called them?
Well that was much ado about not too much I thought, as I came home on the boat for a couple of days before the next impending disaster. Now over the ensuing three days I was not at all hungry, 'by-product of the oxycontin maybe?', and ate very little. Before I know it, it is the day before the impending, "Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy" treatment. That name alone should scare the shit out of you! Only in my case it didn't!! It seems that one of the detriments to taking oxycontin for an extended period is to lock up all that previously ingested forage into a solid block of nitrogenous waste matter! But, according to this piece of paper I received with instructions for the Lithotripsy, I must have an empty bowel upon presentation of my self for the treatment! Guess what? Eighteen hours before the event you must subject yourself again to the injestion of ANOTHER of those little "soda bottles" of diarrheal death! After another fight between in and out, it stayed there and went to work. This time with completely different results!Man, what is going on? Last time I couldn't get to the head fast enough! This time as I lingered close to the door, ready to "run", nothing happens! Upwards of seven hours later as a severe pain has developed in the lower nether regions and I think I am going to have to go the ER again, this time for exploration of the same orfice for a different reason, the gates of relief clanged open with one hell of an explosion! The rattling of the door to the head alerted all in the other rooms as to the status of the situation, as well as my cries and sighs of contentment! All was well again in the nether realms. Off we go to the OR this time for the treatment. In the mean time I had had to stop taking the oxycontin for some time before the upcoming event, so as the day progressed the pain threshold got lower and lower till it became non-existant and began building at a rapid rate in the other direction. One of the questions the nurses would ask every time before giving you a shot was, "on a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, what is the level you feel you are at right now?"
Now a small discourse in anatomy. The kidney has a little tube about eight inches long that runs from the kidney down to the bladder where it emptis into. The INSIDE diameter of this little tube is about the same as the lead in a mechanical lead pencil. You know, so small that it is hard to pick up, and you almost can't see? Anyway this is the area that kidney stones try to traverse as they attempt to exit the body. Now this little tube for some reason is just innundated and infused, and saturated, and completely engulfed in millions of nerve endings! Getting the picture? Well I have had quite a few ladies who have been affected with stones relate to me that it was worse trying to pass a stone than to have a baby!And so a little more of a graphic illustration may help in picturing and feeling the pain of this all. Think of that little tube as a garden hose of about three quarters of an inch in diameter. Now think of that stone as being the size of a softball and you can feel it start to hurt already no? Now back to the nurse and her questions about pain level. When she asked me what the level now was I replied that it was at the top of her scale and it felt like I was about to have a baby and that the little bastard was covered with razor blades to boot! For some reason this cracked her up and she said this was the best level inidicator she had ever heard. I'm ever the wise ass, even when I think I'm dying. Off I go to the CT scan room to get a picture of the offending stone. After getting on the table and run through the machine a few times the guy says to relax and he'd take me back to the OR poste haste. As I'm lying there I hear this guy say to someone in the little alcove with him," Holy shit Ed look at the size of this sucker, there are two of them, one about 13 mm and one about 8mm!" If you want to know how big that is think of about a 9/16" to a 5/8" nut! Now think of that in relation to the lead pencil. Carry it to the garden hose analogy and it is like trying to drive a Mack Truck through that damn hose. NOW, you might begin to suspect what it feels like to push one of these babies out. Of course something that big won't physically go thru, so it has to be broken up into sand sized grains. This is what the Lithotripsy was for and it worked very well. The only problem will be sweeping all those little grains down the super highway one at a time over a six to seven week period. Not a project I look forward to with much anticipation.
So intrepid future colonoscopy people, when you go to see that doctor for the first time,be sure and mention to him if you are in possession of any of those little calcium or uric acid stones. It just might save you from the torture I underwent for a few days that felt like months!! TIFN Everett



The wife, you know, the 'other' person who wants to rule the Island, and I went out for a Sunday afternoon ride yesterday, and one of us remarked on how more and more of the lots and edges of developed property were cleaned of brush and junk. Well that thought sent me on a little "deja vu all over again" visit to the past. When I was in grade school and high school, the self appointed grassfire lighter, bug burner and noxious weed eliminator, would head to the west side, (the Worst side)over too about Wardens Pond. There abouts, he would accidentally drop his match that he had just lit his cigarette with and also the cig. Damned if it didn't start a little grass fire! Well he would just move a few feet down the road and try again. No sense having that fire licking up his leg and denuding him of leg hair. After going thru the same routine four or five times, he would have a sheet of fast moving flame about about a hundred yards long and tongues of bright orange licking up to about thirty or forty feet in the air. Well pretty soon the siren would go off and all hands in the fire department including all male members of the school, 6th grade and above would report for duty to the fire barn which was where Aldo's is now located. There we would be equipped with a straw broom and a bucket to carry water in. We would then be loaded into trucks and delivered to a site down wind of the impending flames and up wind of a house that might be in peril. Our job was to fill the bucket with water from various sources, wells and cisterns mostly, stick the broom it in to get it, the broom good and wet, and then go get between the flames and the house and defend said edifice from those greedy,hot, devouring little tongues of flame. Most people kept the grass trimmed very short around the perimeter of the house just fore this reason. They used various forms of accoutrement's. Some times it was a scythe and sickle, and in some places a newfangled thing called a lawn mower! Damnedest thing you ever saw! It did nothing useful, but turned perfectly good blades of grass that would have done a fine job filling the haystack, into useless little pieces of grass that the cows wouldn't even eat! But I digress FAR afield. Most folks owned a varied lot of grass eating animals and they did an unusually good job of keeping things trimmed very short. So mostly all we had to defend against were the flying pieces of grass and straw that would find their way to the rooftops, This was a good place for all we nimble youngsters to be positioned so that we didn't accidentally get eaten by those voracious flames.
Daisies you say? What's with the title of "Daisies"? Well some of the good things that happened because of these unexpected fires, was that a lot of the not so good weeds were toasted and that no underbrush was allowed to accumulate. It also did a wonderful job of keeping the stone walls clear of brush. Now early in March, wherever you looked you would see blackened fields all over the Island. In a few places you could even see faint blushes of green trying to break out of their places of hiding. Give these fields a few weeks of rain and some warm weather, and by the time the Graduation exercises at the school rolled around, there were just ab-so-lute-ly millions of daisies of all kinds and colors proliferating in every square inch of Block Island's fields!! It was an awe inspiring sight. The kids at the school would go out with cars and trucks, and scissors and knives, and come back in a few hours with enough daisies to completely cover the wall behind the stage where the Graduation exercises were to take place that night! A grid of thin boards covered with chicken wire was erected against the back wall and the flowers were tucked in the openings by the more artistic of the female members of the school populace. Some times they even spelled out words or even pictures. IT WAS FANTASTIC! It was as close to the Rose Parade as we would ever get to here on BI. And it was "woe" of the highest order if you were afflicted by the pollen distributed throughout the room! There was always a full compliment of June Bugs winging their way busily around the room, to also add too the evenings entertainment. The ladies DID NOT like them landing in their hair. It was always a fun thing to watch them trying to remove them from the hair nest. Some tried to be oh so discreet about it, and others just yanked, hauled,screamed a lot. Sure was funny to us little guys. Damn, they were only June Bugs! But as the farming died out, along with the fishing, and people moved away from the Island, the fields were slowly given over to the assortment of "trees", shad, bayberry etc. That now infest the Island.
So as I ride around the Island on a sunny Sunday afternoon, in my minds eye I can still see those fields loaded with the daisies, and the possibility that in the near future, some semblance of those fields might again re-appear for all to enjoy as much as my generation did! SO THERE! No politics! TIFN Everett


Mr Smith's Letter- Rebuttal- NOT Forthcoming!

Hi All, In the last previous post I said that I was going to have a rebuttal to each of Mr. Smiths points in his letter. I do have one for each, but after talking witha couple of people involved with the West Side plan, it seems that most all of the salient points have been addressed to all those concerneds(sp,use?) satisfaction. So in the best interests of the project going forward without any more setbacks or delays, I am going to drop persuing this whole line of inquiry. Now some of you are going to say that I am chickening out and that may be. BUT! I don't want to be the one that keeps all these twenty families from getting a home!
I only have one other thing to say, and that is that Mr.Smith does not have the intrests of the lower, lower-middleclass people of the Island as his first or even second priority! Enough said!! TIFN Everett



Rebuttal to follow in a day or so....

P.O. Box 984
Block Island RI 02807

February 22, 2005

Gerald Pierce
Block Island Economic Development
PO Box 619
Block Island RI 02807

Dear Gerry:

I am writing to make suggestions about the West Side Road project. My original concerns focused on the environmental impact. Since learning more about the project, I now have grave concerns about the impact on affordable housing, the impact on the owner-residents, and the impact on the community’s affordable housing needs in the future.

This is one of the three largest single building developments in the Island’s entire history. This project involves the town’s resources and public funding. Many of our decisions will be irrevocable. We have to get it right and come up with a plant that a wide consensus of the community supports. My interest, since I first heard about the project, has been to make it one that truly meets our needs, serves the needs of the future owners of the units, and respects the natural environment that each of us here is fortunate to experience.

In that spirit, I make the following suggestions:

1. This site has a steep ravine that the proposed plan seems to make no allowances for. It would be unwise - and incompatible with the values of Block Island – to alter, remove, or flatten the natural contours of the land.

2. This can be done by clustering some of the units and combining four to eight of them into single buildings. This will provide variety in the neighborhood and allow more open space – for recreation, gardening, and a sense of living in sync with the natural environment.

3. With such topography and for other reasons, it is not wise or necessary that every house have a basement.

4. Combining some of the units in one or two buildings allows for some occupants to save on heating costs. It will save on installation of sewer, water, and utilities, making the units more affordable. It will increase the size of yards for owners who want and need them. It will increase the number of residents with great views. As currently planned, the project has 70 percent or more of the homeowners looking at other houses from their windows, not at the Island’s natural beauty. Imaginative siting of the units can take care of this and save money as well.

5. Having all units of identical sizes is not in the interests of the future occupants nor does it help meet the housing needs of the Island to the maximum extent possible. A person living alone may not need two bedrooms, a second floor, and a basement for many years into the future, if ever. Yet to live in the proposed neighborhood, middle-income buyers would have no choice but to buy a two-bedroom unit. It is true that the basements and second floors would be unfinished, but the owners would have heating costs for that unused space. Their mortgage payments would reflect the additional construction costs. And what of buyers who expand their families and need three or four bedrooms? There is no place for them to move. And what of middle-aged couples with children who want to downsize when the children leave home? They will either have to stay in the same two-bedroom residence where they are or move off the Island.

6. By the same token, the lot sizes should not be uniform, but varied according to the unit sizes, to the topography of the land, and to wise planning. Some residents will want a traditional yard, but others will prefer a small plot because they will save on the purchase price and save the time and expense on yard maintenance. If everyone’s lot size is the same, no one’s needs will be met. If every lot size is the same, it is impossible to build within the contours of the land.

7. Clustering and combining some units will open up a significant amount of communal space. This will give young children space to play without having to cross West Side Road to the playground or to be driven elsewhere. It may also allow enough open space so that middle-school children and young teens to play ball or other games in their own neighborhood. It will allow all the children to grow up surrounded by the natural environment, as Island kids have for decades. If we make our single largest housing neighborhood one where this is not possible, we may lose the distinctive Island ethic of appreciation for the natural surroundings. The idea of same-sized lots for everyone is a suburban model, not an Island model. Knowledgeable planners have said that individual front lawns are the most wasted and unused space in America. On an island we obviously have limited space.

8. It’s important that affordable housing have opportunities for owners to downsize or upgrade. But the project as planned does not allow for that. That means that there will be a minimal amount of mobility in the neighborhood. There will be little turnover. Occupants will be locked in, and when we need to locate middle-income school teachers, medical workers, hospitality employees, or town employees in the future, the West Side Road project will have provided us no vacancies at all.

9. One of our most pressing affordable-housing needs is units for new school teachers, police officers, and health center employees who are single or childless and need housing for a couple of years until they decide whether they like living and working here. There are no units for those persons in the current plan.

10. In fact, as I understand the current qualification requirements, the newcomers would not even qualify for the ownership units. That means that we cannot use this new development of 20 affordable ownership units as a recruiting tool for the positions that we need to fill shortly.

11. Our second most pressing need is rental units for short-term employees who come to the Island. There are no units for these persons in the current plan. Substituting three to six rental units of varying sizes, in place of some ownership units, would meet this need and allow prospective buyers to become part of the neighborhood while they wait for an ownership residence to come on the market. It would allow flexibility for owners whose family situations change because of divorce or death or other factors. Management of rental units may be a challenge, but there are creative solutions: One would be to have the owner of one unit act as a rental manager (and thereby offset monthly mortgage payments). Another would be to combine rental management of the Searles Ball and West Side Road developments. A third would be to contract rental management to the Block Island Housing Board. Still a fourth is to contract it to the Women’s Development Corp.

12. The steep grade of the roads in the proposed plan may not meet town specifications. At any rate, it raises risks. And it raises construction and maintenance costs. It would be a shame if the homeowners association of this new neighborhood is saddled immediately with large expenses because of a road washout.

13. It is hard to see that emergency equipment can pass through the inclines currently proposed. Reconfiguring the units will eliminate this risk. The fire department should be asked to take a close look at the road configuration and provide a written report on whether it allows for necessary emergency access. That report should discuss whether the alternative cul-de-sac plan is an acceptable alternative.

14. The road in the current plan does not seem to allow adequate setbacks from the pond and wetlands, as required by town specification. They may not meet state Department of Environmental Management specifications.

15. The proposed plan contemplates an addition of 40 automobiles. The Island’s fragile environment can hardly accommodate that. The plan seems to send a message that two automobiles for each residence is the expected norm. The neighborhood would be enhanced for the residents, especially the children, if accommodations for some motor vehicles are in a cluster lot, much like the Searles Ball housing and the Old Harbor Meadow complex. Not every unit needs to have auto parking right next to it. By clustering some of the cars, there will be less wear and tear on the land, less uncontrolled run-off of oils and other auto discharges into the fragile wetland by West Side Road. And the neighborhood will be improved aesthetically.

16. And yet, the proposed plan seems to have no accommodations for visitor parking. By clustering some of the residents’ parking, that space could be used for owner-occupants and for some visitor parking. This might make the right-of-way to the Greenway trail accessible to more people. Why not provide space for one automobile adjoining some units and create a small cluster lot for other automobiles. The plan could also designate additional space for additional parking if it becomes necessary in the future?

17. A vast amount of the proposed plan is devoted to automobiles, either coming and going to the residences or parked. In fact, there is almost as much space devoted to motor vehicles as to human beings. This is an inefficient use of the acreage, and incompatible with the values of the community.

18. In the current unclustered proposals, most if not all of the units will not have adequate setbacks to allow an owner easily to expand the footprint or otherwise personalize the house. He or she would need to get zoning approval for a modest expansion. This would require moderate-income property owners probably to hire lawyers, engineers, and designers for a modest expansion. Clustering the units eliminates the need for setback variances in the future.

When I met with you and Mary Jane in January, she said that there would be no paving and no central air conditioning; I trust that this remains part of the plan.

Under the Community Development Block Grant interim financing grant, the project managers, before money is spent, must conduct an environmental review, with public comments. This provides the opportunity for us to consider these suggestions – and suggestions from others – and come up with a plan that a wide consensus of Islanders can support. We will then be able to have the plan presented to the Planning Board and Zoning Board with widespread support for it in the community.

The state agencies responsible for funding this project have told me that all of these modifications to the proposal can be considered at this point in the process and that the project plans can be altered accordingly. I plan to present these suggestions to the Planning Board. It would speed the process if we could reach an agreement before the project goes before the Planning Board.

Time is of the essence, for two reasons. The community needs the affordable housing right away. And all of us want to have an Island-based non-profit organization develop this project and fulfill the town’s needs rather than to risk leaving affordable-housing development to commercial developers who may use provisions of state law to bring to the community a bogus “affordable housing” venture.

Yours truly,

Robert Ellis Smith
Member, New Shoreham Town Council

Cc: Mary Jane Balser


Multiplying Blogs

Better beware when you turn on your computer because the Island blogs are multiplying like rabbits! Here is another one. http://www.adriansisle.blogspot.com . Some one with an undecipherable email address sent me this one last night. Well at least he/she is not in my address book so it might well have come from Osama himself! Anyway it is another view although a little hardline!TIFN OK I'm to stupid to make the link work, but if you type the address into the Gogle search block it comes up and then you can
bookmark it!DUH!a