Surviving the Storms of Life: Caring For A Dying Friend

In my last post about the “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning” reality show, I mentioned that I was absent from the blog for a while due to the death of a close friend.  After receiving a very kind comment from a lady by the name of Susan, I thought it may be helpful to someone out there if I explain what happened.

My husband is originally from the mountains of Virginia (then later the mountains of North Carolina, near the Virginia border) and he had a dear friend there who I’ll call K, who was originally from West Virginia.  K eventually ended up back here, along with my husband; my husband and I met shortly thereafter.  K worked for my husband for many years, in his construction business.  They spent lots of time together outside of work as well, and they and their wives at that time (both ladies are now sadly deceased) even took vacations together.  They were best friends for over 30 years, so K was family to us.

Last year, K became very sick with lung cancer, though he was only about 50 years old.  This was his second round with the disease, and this time, they removed his entire lung.  If you’ve never seen the scar from lung-removal surgery, it’s really horrendous.  It actually looks like a giant shark took a bite out of the person, from their neck to the bottom of their ribs, and curving down around to their side.  In fact, we referred to K’s surgery scar as his “shark bite”.

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Catfish Man of the Woods

Catfish Man of the Woods

When I was a child, I remember my grandparents taking me to see an Appalachian herbalist named Catfish Man of the Woods (his real name was Clarence Gray, but everyone called him Catfish).  He was quite the character, to say the very least, LOL.  He kept a canning jar filled with his own urine on his mantle, and I remember that it was clear as water, which he attributed to his herbs having long past cleansed his body of toxins, and he would drink it because he believed drinking ones own urine had health benefits.

Do I drink my own urine?  Absolutely not, LOL.

So Catfish was a very unusual person, to say the very least.  He lived in Mason County, which is very rural to this day.  He was barely literate, having been declared ineducable by the third grade, and he talked a mile a minute so you had to listen carefully to understand what he was saying, but he had an encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.  His knowledge of herbs was so advanced, in fact, and he was such an unusual and interesting person, that a documentary was made about him, and he was even once a guest on The Johnny Carson Show.

Some have said that Catfish was an autistic savant.  Back when he was a child, an autistic child would (incorrectly, obviously) indeed have been considered ineducable, especially in rural schools.  I cannot say whether he was an autistic savant, since I am not a doctor.  However, having met him many times, what I can say is that it is very possible, and even somewhat probable.  Either way, Catfish was a great guy, very funny and very friendly – he never met a stranger – and I thought the world of him.

Catfish combined traditional Appalachian folk medicine with traditional Native American medicine, and many people absolutely swore by him and his treatments.  Even today, many folks in West Virginia use traditional Appalachian herbal medicine, including me.

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Our quest for an effective hip dysplasia treatment

Napoleon

We are big animal lovers here at my house.  We have had lots of pets over the years, of pretty much every imaginable description, and they are family members to us, not just pets.  None of them are outside pets, they all live in the house with us.

We have a big dog – a Rottweiler / German Shepherd mix – named Napoleon.  We should have named him Bear, because in reality, he kind of looks like a bear since he has a huge body, and a much smaller head with a pointy snout, LOL.

We got Napoleon in an unusual way, in that he chose us.  We had gone to eat at a local restaurant which had karaoke, because at the time my son was dating a girl who aspired to become a singer, and we thought it would be good practice for her to sing in front of an audience of strangers.  When hubby went out onto the patio to get some fresh air (and a break from some of the horrendously bad singing, LOL), he found that a couple of employees were out there with a puppy on a leash.

As the story was told to us, this puppy had been owned by some people out in the holler whose house got busted for making meth.  When the cops burst into the house, the puppy ran like crazy, out into the woods.  The owners went to jail, and the neighbors started looking for the puppy, since there are some wildcats and bears in that area, which meant the poor puppy was in danger.  They eventually found him days later, half starved, and this young couple (relatives of the folks who found him) took him in, only to find that their landlord would not allow them to have any pets.  It was obvious even then that he was going to be huge, after all.

So, they took him to work in the hope that someone there would take him in, and they would not have to take him to the pound.

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Hatfields & McCoys: Could genetics have contributed to the feud?

I ran across this article years ago, and thought those watching the Hatfields & McCoys may find it interesting.

The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited disease that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other “fight or flight” stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan’s notorious behavior.

You can read the article in its entirety at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-04-05-hatfield-mccloy-disease_N.htm