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Saturday, December 3, 2011

National Day Noncoincidences

December 1, 2011
Valer came with me to Boston today, both to back me up as a driver lest the oral surgery I was scheduled to have left me uncomfortable or impaired, and to meet with Dr. Davis of Bentley University regarding their Ph.D. program.  As I shall explain below, the surgery was postponed.  Our appointment with Prof. Davis was not until 2:00 PM, so the two of us had a late morning and early afternoon free to wander through Boston on a beautiful autumn day.  We left the car at the Dental School, and took a bus into South Station, from which we walked through Downtown Crossing to the Boston Common, across the Common to the State House, and headed down Beacon Street.  

Site of the John Hancock House, Boston
 Adjacent to the State House is an historical marker at the former site of the home of John Hancock, famous as the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence, and thus the first to put his neck in a noose, had the subsequent American War for Independence been lost.

The next building on Beacon Street had a bronze sign on it that read, "Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations."  It turned out to be the national headquarters of that religious group.  The door had a sign saying, "Walk In," so we did.
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Building

Well, back in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, I had heard that the very first Unitarian congregation was founded in Cluj during the Reformation.  I told Valer, "This is my chance to see if that was a rumor, or an historical fact."

Inside, we inquired of the receptionist, who called upstairs to the Office of Information and Public Witness, from which a young woman named Rachel appeared, and invited us to sit and ask whatever we had on our minds.  I explained my curiosity, and my history in Cluj.  She then told us of two major strains of theological thought, the Unitarians and the Universalists, and how they had merged into the present-day Association.

Then Rachel said, "The Unitarian movement traces its origins to Transylvania in the 1600s, and to the congregation in Cluj."  So, dear Romanian readers, I think you may consider it to be historical fact that Cluj is the wellspring of Unitarianism.

Now, to be fair to Rachel, I should also report that she briefed us on the theological reason for the schism that caused that Transylvanian congregation to break with established Christianity of the time.  The Unitarians in Cluj believed in One God, and they believed the Bible to be a Holy Book, but nowhere in The Bible did they see belief in The Holy Trinity to be a necessary element of faith in God.  Hence, voicing the Nicene Creed made them feel hypocritical, an intolerable state for them.  And thus, they chose to worship God, a Creator big enough to relate to us all without need of the trappings and formal rituals of the established and emerging churches, be they Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Romanian Orthodox, Lutheran, or other Protestant churches.  'Twas Reformist thinking of a fundamental kind.
Gate to Harvard Yard (Normally, open to the public.)
Vali and I then re-boarded the Red Line, and rode the subway to Harvard Square, where we were blocked from entering Harvard Yard, temporarily closed to the public because the Occupy Wall Street enthusiasts had a protest demonstration going on there, and the University had decided to keep it orderly by admitting only people with a Harvard University ID.  I was told by the officer at the gate that as an alumnus, I could secure a temporary ID at Holyoke Center, but we decided time was too short, and we were hungry.  So, we ate a good lunch at a pub on JFK Ave., then rode the "T" back into Kendall Square, where we enjoyed a good meeting with Dr. Davis over coffee at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Dental Disappointment

Back home that evening, I wrote the following e-mail to inform three of my doctors of the morning's events at Boston University's Dental School.  It was addressed to my ophthalmologist, a retinal specialist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, to whom I had written a few days earlier regarding my left eye problems.  I sent copies to my primary physician and my B.U. periodontist, whose work had been postponed that morning.
Dear Dr. C:
In my philosophy, there are no coincidences, so I have a hunch that my dental disappointment of today may prove to be a blessing in disguise for my eyes.

Today I was refused a scheduled oral surgery (three implants) at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine.  I'd already been fully draped and given Novocaine when the overseeing professor, one Dr. M, asked me, "Have you taken any aspirin in the past 24 hours?"  When I told her, "Yes, my nightly dose of 975 mg," she looked startled, asked me to explain that dosage, then canceled the procedure, citing a risk of excessive bleeding.  My implant surgery has been rescheduled for January 23, 2012.

As my medical record at your office will show, I have been taking three 325 mg Enteric-coated aspirin tablets nightly.  I have done so since about 1984, when my arthritic finger pain (from typing many HBS doctoral program papers) had caused me to ask my family doctor (at the time in Westborough, Massachusetts), what to do about it.  He recommended aspirin in that dosage, which he termed "the minimum anti-inflammatory dose," and it worked.  Hence, I have been taking 975 mg of enteric-coated aspirin nightly, ever since.

Now, it occurs to me that the thin blood induced by this high dose of aspirin may be contributing to the slow healing of my current cloudy vision in my left eye, especially since I have on many occasions seen a reddish cast in the blur, as well as occasional new dark floaters.  It may be that one (or more) of my burst retinal microaneurisms has been bleeding into my eye repeatedly, ever since October 6, when my current vision problem arose.

Action Plan

For the two weeks prior to my December 16 visit to your office at DHMC, I shall reduce my aspirin intake to one 325 mg aspirin tablet per day.  I hope that this reduced intake of aspirin will improve my blood's clotting ability, and thus speed the recovery of full vision in my left eye.

I am not at present planning to go off aspirin entirely, as it may have heart-protective effects, and at my age it makes little sense to risk trading one problem for a potentially more serious one.

I am copying this message to Dr. R., my primary physician in Plymouth, NH, and to Dr. "Tina", my periodontist at BU.  I shall keep you good doctors all posted if I experience any major effects, for good or ill.  Please let me know if any of you has specific advice contrary to my stated plan.

Thank you for your caring, and for your excellent work in treating my diabetic retinopathy over the past several years.

Sincerely yours,

Duncan McDougall
 So, dear readers, please wish me, and my eyes, and my teeth, "Noroc și sănătate!" 

Thus went Romania's National Day, 2011, just another day in the life of your humble blogger.  Da, da, da, da! 

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