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By Joan Barron
Copyright 2002

Chuck Tu, Southern Flying Squirrel
pocketchuck.jpg
Keeping an eye on Joan, his HOFs

(Warning to Non-HOFs Physicians) To the untrained eye, HOFs (Humans Owned by Flying Squirrels) look pretty much like other people. But, upon examination, there are physical characteristics that make them stand out from Non-HOFs.
 
On examination of the skin, there are diffuse, tiny "tracking" marks that mainly are confined to the upper torso. These marks often run in circular patterns around the HOFs' abdominal, chest and shoulder areas. Minute scabbing is visible upon close examination. If the HOFs are owned by multiple FS, the "tracks" are usually easily invisible to the naked eye. These areas are painless, but chronic in nature. The areas are palpable with light touch and in various stages of healing. Rarely do HOFs complain and indeed some are unaware of the condition until pointed out by the physician. There is no treatment indicated (unless infected).
 
An interesting aside is the pride some HOFs display when "tracking" is pointed out to them. Non-HOFs physicians need to be alerted to the fact that HOFs are so attached to their owners that they often secrete them on their bodies ... frequently during cursory physical exam which does not require disrobing. This is an important fact to know or else the physician may be unduly shocked to hear a "clicking" noise when listening to heart sounds. If it is known that the owner is "aboard," an unnecessary hospitalization of the HOFs for an acute heart valve murmur can be avoided.
 
Non-HOFs orthopedic specialists are often confronted by HOFs with a variety of muscular-skeletal abnormalities due to driving, sitting and lying down in unnatural positions in attempts to avoid "squashing" their owners. Most HOFs learn to adjust their owners and gently move them aside with the "sliding hand technique", but some are unable to bring themselves to move a comfortably situated owner and instead misalign their bodies to accommodate the comfort of the owner.
 
A rather serious neurological problem that can develop is a rigid straightening of the arm (sometimes both arms) at a 90 degree angle to the body. Frequently the arm(s) shake lightly in an up and down motion while the HOFs utter, "Come on baby ... jump".
 
Other neuropsychological problems include sleep disorders and tics. HOFs often have disturbed circadian rhythms and find it difficult to sleep when their owners are active. A new HOFs will frequently go for several days without sleep due to excitement and constantly checking on itsowner. For retired and self employed HOFs, this condition can become self regulated so that enough sleep is obtained. But for students and daytime employed HOFs, falling grades, unfavorable evaluations and loss of social contacts (due to sleeping in on days off and holidays) are negative results. It is difficult to convince the HOFs that this is a problem as they are content to focus all energy on their owners.
 
Tics that distress Non-HOFs observers include self-pat-downs with mutterings of, "Where are you?" This is the only tic where the HOFs seems anxious. Immediate relief occurs when the owner is found.
 
Combing through the hair in a seeking manner is frequent, but does not lead to hair loss. Non-HOFs psychologists are concerned about the age inappropriate games/hobbies that adult HOFs engage in. Hide and Seek is a favorite along with Peek-a-boo and a strange dance-like gyration where the feet are stomped up and down.
 
Collection of stuffed/plush FS toys along with a myriad of "collectibles" that have no practical value, lead to financial fighting between spouses and are often bought and hidden from Non-HOFs relatives and friends. This lead some Non-HOFs professionals to suggest that a 12 step program needs to be developed. Some Non-HOFs psychoanalysts believe that a "special" auto-syncratic language develops between FS and HOFs. It consists mainly of strange squeaks, clucks, murmurs, chips and trills that are often followed by "baby talk."
 
Prenatal nutritional deprivation is being fully investigated as a possible cause by biological-oriented Non-HOFs psychiatrists. Often an educational approach is all that is needed to correct these clinical signs and symptoms. Explaining that healthy HOFs provide the best care is sometimes the only thing needed to correct these various problems. Of course, HOFs physicians of all specialty areas have repeatedly stated that too much emphasis is placed on negative evaluation of such behaviors/symptoms. As members of Physicians for a Humanistic Society (PHS), as a group they are writing funding grants to NIH and NIMH in hopes of obtaining monies to research the positive aspects of being a HOFs.
 
In the meantime, HOFs members of PHS unanimously state that they will continue to carry their owners in the front pockets of their white lab coats and will not remove the embroidering of Chuckie's (or whatever) Doc.

A Latent HOF
Just returned from visiting my doctor (sinus infection .. thank you Alaska). First thing she says is, "Do you have 'our' baby?" I pull Chuck out of my shirt and she takes him and starts kissing all over him and rubbing his ears. He shirt dives her and finds a nice place in her bra under her arm. She finally gets him out, he's fussing about the removal, and gives him back. Then she calls in a new nurse because she hasn't seen him and goes into a long story about how small he was when she first saw him, how he's grown and what a sweet boy he is. Then I leave.
 
Think I'll go to the vet and get something for my sinuses.