the continuing saga of the misplaced morning wood

I’ve posted a few times about my Mom’s boyfriend. I’ve had some fun at both of their expense. I try to keep it light but it’s actually a pretty sensitive subject for me because I have some concerns.

If you have been following me you know the story. My mother has a boyfriend. He is a decent enough guy, my mother likes him and that is what should matter to me. After burying 2 husbands in a matter of 3 years I encourage her to be happy by any means, including a dating website. After enduring several lunch dates with many men who hadn’t updated their profile pics in 10 years, dodging “I love you’s” via email and politely declining very inappropriate advances she settled on Dave. Not knowing, of course, that he carries more baggage than a Kardashian on a day trip.

It didn’t bother either of them that Dave lived almost 2 hours away. They hit it well enough that Dave was invited to stay the weekend when he came over, because of the distance. I warned my mother, perhaps uninvited, that this was a terrible idea. Once the guy had stayed at your house, you have just gone from a casual, “let’s see where this is going” situation to something else entirely. I was right, the shine is off the apple and she sees it. His issues are coming to the fore.

He makes cracks about the “ghosts” of my father and her second husband. He is very “handsy” and touchy-feely. He doesn’t like her wearing her wedding ring. He constantly makes subtle “jokes” about moving in. 2 weeks ago he tried to lay the wood to my mother at 6 am, prompting a big argument and the impromptu packing of his shit and leaving. I was almost happy, although I kept it to myself and focused on my mother. Historically, she suppresses her emotions and I couldn’t tell if she was ok or not. I was hoping that Mr. Grab ’em by the p*%^y was gone for good. In the days that followed, Mom confided in me her issues with him. She was concerned about the groping, the lack of boundaries, the jealousy and, here’s a new one, her lack of physical attraction to him. I told her that she should take advantage of the break they are on and assess how much these things really bother her. What did she do? She made a lunch date with a persistent fellow she had met before she settled on Dave. She likes him a lot.

And then Dave called, begging for a second chance. And she gave it to him. Now she’s confused what to do and I can’t help her.

He is being better, I will give him that. He is less handsy and more careful with the morning wood (at least so I am told I personally stay away from that topic unless it is brought up). But the underlying issues are still there. Mom is still concerned that there isn’t much of a “spark” (they’re 72, compromise will you?) and he is pressing to make long-term plans with her such as traveling and buying property together and making subtle cracks about moving in. Mom wants none of these things with him and refuses to say something. I want to. I know something is up and when I see him I almost want to tell him what she won’t, it’s only fair. Every time I see him I think to myself here comes Mr. Dead Man Walking. I don’t even want to get close to him because I know it’s temporary.

Of course, there’s another reason that I have cooled off on him. Last month he and my Mom went to California. He wanted to visit his son and my mother’s family is concentrated in the same area so it was a good opportunity to see them. They got along well by all accounts and had a good time. When they returned, my mom was curious what her cousin, whose opinion she respects deeply, thought of Dave. The response was staggering. Apparently, they liked him at first, they later found him to be whiny, selfish and a bit petty. One nugget that my mother regrets relaying to me is that he made a point, when mom left the room, to mention that he’d like a little more privacy but her son (me) is always there. I admit, I fixated on that. Mom heard all she needed to hear to decide that he’s not the one and I was just plain pissed.

Apparently, I’m just a 240-pound cock-block to this guy. Excuse the fuck out of me!?! Forgive me for standing in the way of him walking around our living room at 2 in the afternoon swinging his dick like a yo-yo but yes I do live there so fuck you, buddy. I’m sorry that my life collapsed and that I am sick with nowhere else to go but I do live here so deal with it. This revelation has changed how I act around him. Of course, I’m not supposed to know but I am colder than my ex-wife’s side of the bed to this guy now. I wonder if he know’s that it’s actually my house, per her will. Maybe I’ll work that nugget into conversation over coffee someday.

I saw mom earlier today and asked her what she was up to. She has a lunch date with another guy. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the show for now.

 

 

Kicking the can down the road

Six and a half years ago I came out of anesthesia to find myself in a room draped in plastic, many beeping machines, looking up at a Doctor wearing enough protection to make me think that I had been exposed to Miley Cyrus. Through a mask, he asked me when the last time I had worked.

I clumsily and foggily replied, “what day is it?”

“It is Tuesday evening” he informed me.

“Monday.” It was coming back to me. I had worked until noon on Monday, my donor and I received a huge sendoff (we worked together) and we were at Tufts Medical Center at 6:30 AM the next morning. Deb and I had sat with our families, who made nervous small talk until we were called in for prep. Soon we would be counting down from 10 and hoping to open my eyes again in about 6-8 hours.

“Admirable”, he said with an obnoxious sarcasm, “Have you ever been on dialysis?”

“No, thank God.”

“Sir, we have guidelines for dialysis. A number, if you will, that determines how due, or overdue in cases such as yours, a patient is for dialysis. A typical number would be approximately 10. For conversation’s sake would you care to learn what your number was?

“Sure, indulge me.” His snarky attitude was pissing me off.

“110.” He paused for effect. “I’m glad to see you doing so well sir but your behavior was nothing short of reckless. Please be more careful in the future.” He then patted me on the shoulder with his gloved hand and left the room.

Other people may have been concerned, maybe even felt bad. But what I heard was a chorus of soccer hooligans yelling “YEAH, you pulled it off you wanka! Good job mate!” I had avoided dialysis. Reckless or not, I didn’t give a shit. I did it. His dire warning wasn’t even the first for me. Approximately one month before my surgery I received an email from my doctor. Most doctor’s don’t send personal emails.

Your lab work suggests you may be in danger of a heart attack. Please, Bill if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath or light-headed admit yourself immediately.

I read it and dismissed it. I assured myself that I will make it. Repeat after me, I told myself, Death before dialysis. I was kicking the can down the road and I didn’t care.

I have had Kidney disease since I was a teenager. I have met every single challenge with enough denial and/or bravery to move on to the next obstacle. I always knew that a transplant may be in my future and I even prepared myself for the possibility of death. One thing I refused to entertain was dialysis. The snarky doctor, despite his attempts to minimize my accomplishment, had actually validated it. I had vanquished my enemy.

Until now.

After yesterday’s appointment, my Doctor’s best estimate is that I am 3-6 months from dialysis. My transplant has finally reached the unpleasant milestone of failed. The moment that I have fought, nay, railed against since my diagnosis is upon me. I can’t wrap my head around it.

I am an exceedingly logical person. I believe that when you do the work you reap the benefits. I believe that if an expert says A + B = C then I will do my best to add them properly. In this case, A and B were to strictly follow my Doctor’s orders regarding nutrition, sodium intake, alcohol and caffeine and exercise. C would be the result, C would be extending the life of my transplanted kidney another 3 years (we had this conversation 6 months ago. I did it, all of it, and it accomplished fucking nothing and now I have to finally accept that my life is only going to be as long as the extension cord in my dialysis center.

joke break…

A man and his wife are discussing end of life matters. The husband loudly declares
“when it’s my time, I refuse to be glued to some machine living off of a bottle!”
The wife unplugged the TV, threw his beer in the trash and left the room.

I used to love that joke. It’s dark and twisted and completely inappropriate just like me. It also played into, or to be more clear downplayed, my crippling fear of dialysis

I don’t fear a lot. I always look to the bright side. I haven’t dwelt on the number of years and instead have focused on quality of life. Dialysis represents to me the end of quality of life. It is forcing me to (finally) accept my limitations and to admit that I am finally sick and, to touch on a familiar theme, I’m going to look it.
It represents a complete lack of freedom and independence. I may not have plans to spontaneously pack my shit and just go somewhere but in 3 to 6 months the fantasy is just that. I will need to plan everything based on that extension cord.
I can look forward to infections, setbacks and more hospital stays because dialysis patients always get sick from treatments.
I view it as death’s waiting room. Sit, listen to the machine whirring, wonder where you are on the transplant list (if I’m even eligible), read a book about how it’s not so bad and wait for the next shoe to drop.

I’m not ready for that shoe to drop. Despite how wrong I may be wrong about a lot of what I just said, I can’t change my mind about it. I hate it and I’m scared.

I know that I’ll pull through this as I have everything else. But I’m not there yet. Right now, I’m mad and scared. I know myself enough to know that I have to get this out of my system, regardless of whether my blog has read like a Sylvia Plath poem lately. If I don’t get my anger out of my system I will be unable to move on to fucking dealing with it and moving on with my life. See, I know that overly dwelling on the future only cheats me out of the present but at the moment I don’t see the future in a bright light. I need to finish this blog, go outside and scream with clenched fists some FUCK YOU’s to the universe for kicking me in the ball again and then, and only then, move on to what I’m going to do next.

If you have made it this far, this is not a post fishing for sympathy. I don’t need anyone to offer uplifting sentiment. I just need to get this off of me because I want to move on, get back to a position of strength, loosen up and find Superman again. Before the Kryptonite of Dialysis defeats me.

Thanks for listening…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A familiar view

It’s 3 AM and I’m wide awake. I’d been admitted at midnight.

The clatter in the halls and the soft, incessant beeping of machines, as familiar as they are to me, could not be ignored. Television wasn’t an option, I had turned it off at 2. Canned laugh tracks weren’t masking the all-too-familiar sounds and sensations of the hospital room. I’d never been in this particular room before, but if hospital rooms were hotels, I’d qualify as a certified TripAdvisor reviewer. Trust me, they’re all the same.

I was preparing myself for a sleepless night. Once a huge deal to me, now it was no big deal. In a former life, being awake at 3 AM was panic time. I would be so worried about being able to carry out the responsibilities of my work day on no sleep that I would obsess about it and be up all night. Alas, that was when my life was structured and meaningful. Now, being up all night barely affected me or my meager itinerary. As I sat up in the uncomfortable, narrow bed I looked forward to the one thing I could always count in during a hospital stay, some good thinking time.

The last 3 days had been a blur. After a 3rd day of failing to get out of bed for more than an hour at a time, shivering under blankets, a non-existent appetite, and experiencing complete exhaustion at completing even the most mundane physical tasks I had forced myself to take a shower at 8 PM. The thought of removing the 3 layers of clothes in order to even get in the shower filled me with dread. I ran the water until the bathroom steamed up a bit and I forced myself to get in. As I did that I was already dreading stepping out of the shower to get dressed. I have never felt so vulnerable to cold as I have lately. I ran the water hot, hotter than usual and hoped that it would wash away whatever toxins were stealing my life force from me. The effort that it took to wash my tired body sent me into a coughing fit. I nearly passed out I was so short of breath. I stayed in the shower longer than usual, enjoying the heat and steam, and still dreading the brief but brutal moments of drying off and getting dressed. After mustering the courage to do so, I found myself so winded by the mere act of getting dressed that I had to take a break. That told me all I needed to know, I was going to the ER. I was finally convinced that this wasn’t just another “episode” that CKD patients go through. I was more than run down, I was sick.

The 30-minute drive to the hospital was easy. Sitting was no problem. Walking the long corridor from the main entrance to the ER proved to be more of a challenge. By the time I got to the registration desk, they were already scribbling “shortness of breath” as the cause of my visit. Never having been to this hospital, I had to go through the entire registration process. By offering up “transplant patient” at the beginning of the visit, I certainly sped things along. I was immediately seen by the best doctor they could offer that graduated from the bottom 3rd of his graduating class. I’m not being cruel, it’s a small NH hospital that is only equipped for so much.

I explained my history, as I had done so many other times. They took vitals and made pages of notes. When they didn’t recognize half of the meds on my carefully crafted list I immediately knew I was in Mayberry R.F.D. They got the chest X-Ray done and, as I suspected, it was pneumonia. They immediately, and by that, I mean in 2 hours, admitted me. Which brings me to where I am now, wide awake, without comfort, body worn down and my mind searching for clarity.

Despite my serene surroundings, I am bombarded by my thoughts. The last month has been a blur of illness and disappointments. Flare-ups of symptoms once under control had dominated my time and energy. Medicinal changes and side effects have sidelined me from almost everything I enjoyed doing. I am annoyed that the pneumonia is back. This is the second time I’ve had it and the last time was the final blow that forced me out of employment. I’m annoyed at the perceived quality of care I am going to receive. The staff is nice, but they clearly have very little experience with a patient with a history such as mine. I have enough free time to embrace some bitterness also. I have been so disappointed by the events of the Friday before. I had gone to meet some friends at a long-anticipated event and despite the excitement and the planning, I had felt so miserable that I had to leave early. I had so many questions and things to learn from these people. But my expectations of tales and laughter and stimulating conversation over a bountiful meal turned out to be sipping ice water and picking away unenthusiastically at a meal that barely interested me at all, trying not to show my guests how nauseous, exhausted, cold and dying to get out of there and into my warm bed at all costs I was. It further annoyed me that I was already “writing off” the events of the past week as “just another setback” and a part of the new reality.

Is this my new reality? The silent room gives me no answers, and I haven’t the strength in my lungs to hold my breath for one. I am at the point where I know that I am losing the person I was just a month ago. It’s not the illness talking, I know myself well enough to look past how I’m feeling now but to the future. I have been able to pull myself up from so many of life’s beatdowns, dusted off and told it to Fuck off. But at that time, the good days greatly outnumbered the bad. Am I prepared for the days when my “episodes” outnumber my good days?

I have to do something. I thought I have been eating healthy. I can do better. I thought I have been making good choices. I have to make better. I thought I was feeling pretty good. I must do something better.

When I get out of here, I think to myself, I need to make some changes.

As expected, I was released with an antibiotic after only one day. Left to fend for myself again. Left with time to think, to assess and re-evaluate. Where is my source of power? How do I tap into it again? What needs to happen to make me again crave the challenges outside of my doors more than the comfort of my own bed?

I need to be a conduit of inspiration, not an object of pity. I don’t think I’m overstating this. This morning, when I looked in the mirror…I looked sick. That I cannot accept.

 

pushing it

I went to a blogging party

it was a much anticipated event

I should have listened to my body

And all of the signals that it sent

full of desire to lead a normal life

And to see friends who remove my strife

I took a chance

And had to leave the dance.

Sick and tired of being

Sick and tired

I made the trek

And ended up a wreck

To my fellow attendees

It was so great to see you

The faces behind the words

The heart behind the keyboards

I wish I could have stayed

To laugh and tell tales

But my cards had  been played

And I prematurely set sail

Better days ahead

I keep saying aloud

But something’s gotta give

Either be smart, or stubbornly proud

 

Not so super

The longer you are away the harder it is to come back. But here I am. I offer no promise of quality writing or even linear thought. It’s been 11 days since I have posted and I miss it.

11 days ago I had a good day. I haven’t had one since. Hard to imagine, but my good day consisted of my going in for my bi-weekly lab work. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy going there. I spend over an hour in an infusion center surrounded by some very sick people. I like to think, as I await the results of my labs and a determination is made whether I need a shot or a bag of iron or hemoglobin, that I make some of the nurses smile during my brief stay. I know that I had a pretty big smile on because my lovely Lilliputian Lisa was there. I haven’t seen her since the day I composed a post in her honor entitled Smitten.

Apparently, she doesn’t normally work Friday’s but when the infusion center door opened. there she was. 4 foot 10 of pure sexy awesomeness. And I think she was happy to see me also. We exchanged pleasantries as I dutifully followed her to a seat. I reminded myself to behave. Yes, I am newly divorced but she is married and there is a man-code. She took my BP. It was higher than Willie Nelson. I was reminded of the last time she took it. I had joked that if she walked away it would go down. But I behaved and didn’t do it again. She then said “maybe it’s me?” and gave me a coy smile. I told her that I was being good, she needed to as well. She smiled again and walked away. That’s it, I thought to myself, gloves are off. When she came back I pulled a gem out of my quiver of pick-up lines and said: Are you familiar with Confucius?

“Of course”, she replied.

“My favorite quote by him is ‘He who wants hot nurse must first be patient’.” I could almost hear her underwear falling off.

That was the highlight of my day. I couldn’t get an infusion because of my high BP, a very concerning problem, and she escorted me to the door. I joked with her that she should swap her shift again because I would be there in 2 weeks. She didn’t say no so that’s a sign I guess. To what end I don’t know, all I do know is that she was flirting with me, something that NEVER happens to me and I’ll fucking take it.

I’ve been sick since. My BP is out of control, I am on several new meds and nothing is working. I’ve basically been housebound since. I have missed work, only gone out when I had to and even then I had to force myself. I managed to pull off serving an Easter Breakfast for the die-hards who attended the sunrise service and after 2 hours I was exhausted. I used to be able to work 15 hour days in a kitchen and that 2 hours almost killed me. I went home, napped and went down to MA so see the family for Easter. When I got home I was cooked. I haven’t been out since.

The headaches, the pounding in my head like a John Bonham drum solo, the dizziness, the not-so-patiently-waiting for the new meds to start working is taking a terrible toll. I need to sleep just one night. I hope that night is tonight, I really can’t take much more of this. Old Superman can’t save the day until he remembers how to fly again.

thanks for tolerating my rant. Peace