“Meanderings about Surgery” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peters recently underwent a serious medical procedure but we know that he’s bounced back quickly since he’s now submitted a blog post about the experience:

I have come to some very specific ideas about being operated on by very good doctors.  I recently had surgery with Dr. Read at the Lahey and I tried to be prepared for something that he said would be “very risky” surgery.  I am still here, so I came on the upside of it, and I wanted to take a few minutes to say a few things about it.

     The first thing I noticed is that preparing for risky surgery does not mean that the chances are you are going to die.  I was prepared to, had all of my eggs in the basket, and deigned it my lot to have all of the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed as I got ready to go into surgery.  So my priest knows exactly which songs to use when I really do go to my end.  I picked out my gravesites years ago, long before my brother-in-law died, and they are next to his.  I like the spot because it overlooks the historic Concord River, one of my favorite spots.  I wanted the view of the Concord River because I want people who visit the area to be swept away by the fast-moving water.
     I had  taped a few extra shows in case it took me longer to recover, but recovery does not seem to be a problem.  So I have some extra shows taped and ready at the Lowell Telecommunications Corporation on Market Street.  I cannot drive, but I made allowances even for that.
     The “risky” part of the surgery was because of pre-existing conditions that hampered my prognosis.  These included a tendency to clot, and I would be off of Warfarin for a few days, and previous heart and stroke histories as well as my diagnosis for lymphoma.  I just chose to go through it, even though Dr. Read offered to not do the surgery.  My operative biopsy results, or Pathology results, showed that I was not cancerous, which was a great relief, since that had been my main fear.  That was such a high, getting that news from the Doctor.
     I read Winik’s “April, 1865, the Month that Saved the Country.”   It was fascinating and part of my agreement with Dick Howe Jr. to write a story about the months of April, May, and June of 1865 as written up in the Lowell Courier.  When I first moved to Lowell, I got the opportunity to go down to the newspaper files and look up dates in the newspaper books on file; literally.  The books contained the actual newspapers on file at the time of Lincoln’s death.  Those newspapers are now on file in the microfilm depositories in the Memorial Library.
   I learned from the microfilm, and from reading Winik’s book, about the months of activity in Lowell at this time.  I also learned that Lowell took a lot of time making certain that these indescribably important dates are carefully preserved in the microfilm files in the Library.
     It is devastating to see the hundreds of dead listed in the granite walls of the Library.  It is sobering to think of the tremendous loss of life that occurred not just in Lowell, but in every town in the Commonwealth when Governor Andrew persuaded our own General Butler to  proceed to Baltimore, There, as you undoubtedly know,  he lost the first two soldiers of the Union Army to lose their life, Ladd and Whitney.  So many more died.
   That was the major thrust of my recovery process, reading of the losses listed by Winik in his book.  There were battles right to the end, and an uncommonly strong effort to make the Confederate Army into a guerilla force designed to keep the war going for a long time to come.  Lee is given credit for saving the country by his regal efforts to protect his troops, and make an effort to control the direction of the Army of Virginia.  He comes out of all of this smelling like a rose.  When his horse died, they buried his horse, named “Traveler,” with him.  They lie together until this day.  Go down to Arlington Cemetery and visit the Lee estate.  He is buried on it.
 Anyway, there is a lot that is going to be in the report on Lowell’s preparations and character after the war ended.  I cannot wait to get the first installment ready and let you see the tremendous conflicts that occurred as a result of our designation as one of the most active cities in the war.  While it is true that we had to hone our swords, and calm our looms and  make English cotton goods because of the disappearance of men and material during the war, it is a fact that the Lowell Superintendent of Schools stated that he would rather teach the boys left their studies in night school than have them become responsible for picking up horse droppings in the streets as their job.  Few know how dedicated Lowell was to industrial education.  We were the first city to teach Night School.  And, we were dedicated to teaching at a higher level  Thus, we have the Lowell Technological Institute, to further their training.
     I will try to sum up what I have found in later blogs as I get more deeply into it.  But if you have a chance to read more about 1865, read Winik’s book.  It reads like fiction, but is all fact.  It is not the only source I will use, but it is bound to be the major one.

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