John Grindrod: The importance of wing persons

By John Grindrod - Guest Columnist

While I’ve generally been pretty doggone healthy compared to so many, this past spring some challenges arose with my blood pressure and prostate.

As for the former, while certainly during my childhood, I would have celebrated some rising numbers, say, adding some extra verticality that would that was destined to fall significantly short of the 6 feet promised by my mother’s Chicago pediatrician, Dr. Corcoran, I sure didn’t need spikes in my blood-pressure readings. At its most dangerous, I rang up on my home cuff a 243/103, which, frankly, I didn’t even think was possible.

That led to an unscheduled day off work and same-day visit to my family physician, followed by a trip to the hospital for an EKG. More importantly, it led to a drastic revision in my blood-pressure medication to a new cocktail of three different meds and a whole lot of extra milligrams.

Once back in the normal range, a recent blood test encouraged for all dudes over 50 revealed yet another age-related issue, an elevated PSA number that led to a family-doctor referral to a urologist and, ultimately, a biopsy. Given the high PSA reading, I was told there was a high likelihood, as in a 75 percent likelihood, that I would have to hear that word that none of us ever want to hear, and, sadly, one so many have had to hear.

Being the marshmallow that I am and, given its inevitability, the illogical terror that I have of dying, of course, I was really apprehensive heading into the procedure. However, I had a lot going for me that, apparently, given the eventual negative biopsy verdict — and in such medical jargon, the sweet sound of “negative” is a positive to your ears — quelled my fears.

I relied on the prayers and positive energy from so many wing persons, I’ll call them to be politically correct, a collection of folks that included my church’s pastor, my fellow Yankee fan and retired family physician Frank Baldauf, and many male and female friends as well as, of course, my loved ones, Lady Jane and my family.

I’m pretty certain I drove most of them crazy during the nearly month-long run up to the actual procedure. One, in particular, I want to single out, and that is my brother-in-law, John, who is, far and away, the best of those with whom my sis Joanie consorted back in her youthful dating days. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Sis was parading a bunch of knuckle-draggers in front of Mom and Dad; rather, it’s just that John, the man from Tiffin, is quite simply several cuts above.

It was he who was my wheelman on biopsy day. John, a prostate-cancer survivor himself, was such a steadying influence and had committed to continue to be on my wing should treatments have been needed. Since this could certainly arise again in the future, I am definitely keeping him warming up in my bullpen.

After apprehensions made sleep a mortal enemy the night before the Wednesday procedure, John and I sat in the urologist’s waiting room, a room markedly different than that of any family physician’s waiting room. While many in a family physician’s waiting room are merely there for a checkup and present a demeanor of insouciance, so many in a specialist’s office have been referred, potentially, for a big concern, so the countenances are a bit grimmer and laughs a bit harder to come by.

However, my wing and I did find some humor. For one thing, we sat right behind a lady reading “The Lima News,” specifically my weekly Wednesday rant, and I found it amusing staring at my own byline and photo as she read. I was gratified she periodically chuckled, hopefully, for the right reasons and in the right places I intended!

I also found humor in another wing man’s helping “his guy” just off to our right. A 50-something-year-old son was helping by filling out his dad’s questionnaire. The question was, “Do you have a snoring issue?” to which Dad responded negatively, to which the son jerked his head up and said, “Ahh, Dad, you want to try that again, this time truthfully?” and suddenly John and I saw a pair of heaving shoulders and heard some poorly suppressed giggles.

When it came time for Dad to be called back, of course, his wing-man was going with him. When his name was called, Dad said to the nurse, “Is it OK if he comes back with me? He’s my ears.” Before the nurse had a chance to answer affirmatively, the son looked up and said, “I’m sorry, Dad, did you say something?”

Even in our toughest times, a chuckle helps, especially when you’ve got some special people on your wing!

By John Grindrod

Guest Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

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