the rabbithole

I am proud to report that I am in an extended period of excellent health. It’s no accident, I have been focusing on it. It all started 2 months ago when my transplant doctor told me that he believes that my new kidney was potentially viable for the rest of my life. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before that moment; I can only surmise that after the crushing and prolonged anger and disappointment I experienced after my previous transplant failed after only 5 years, maybe I was subconsciously waiting for this one to as well. I reacted to this revelation by vowing mentally to double down on my already successful efforts to attain and keep good health. Recently, I had become less anxious and more confident when my monthly appointment arrived that my lab results would be excellent, as they have been consistently since the surgery. I am now 11 months and my numbers are phenomenal.

I left the office that day with a renewed purpose. I knew that I had to do change my remaining bad habits so that I could continue on this path. I changed my diet. No more fast food takeout, watch my salt, cut down on my snacking, cut out the alcohol (not completely but I was falling back into an everyday pattern), and most important I stopped using marijuana. Weed helped me a lot when I was sick on dialysis. It eased my anxiety and helped me sleep. I was an anxious insomniac for quite some time and the health effects of weed didn’t matter to me because I really didn’t care if I died or not at that point. I quit the weed for another reason beyond health. It was affecting my thinking, which was never a problem until recently. Previously, I got stoned at night and watched TV. I was numb and my brain slowed down to a fast walk. I loved it. Until recently. At some undefined point, the high produced more anxiety.

I have been looking for my next gainful employment. Drug testing had already crossed my mind and I was planning on stopping. But when the negative voices began, and I spiraled down “the Rabbithole” of negative thinking my motivation to quit increased. My brain spoke to me. It said things like “you can’t do it.”, “you’re not good enough”, you’re too old and lack the skills”, dangerous shit to a guy who already suffers from anxiety. It scared me. It happened enough when I was sober, it was threefold when high. Weed was now a liability. So last month I just quit it Cold Turkey. In addition to my lungs feeling better, I now have clarity of mind that I have missed for years. I am enjoying it. My job search is going well, I have performed well in interviews, I’m blogging again, so many good things. The job I will likely be taking doesn’t require a drug test. At one recent point, that factoid may have allowed me to light up again. Still, I don’t want to. I may again at some point but not now. I got through the withdrawal period (YES weed is addictive), it wasn’t easy but willpower got me through and now I can even fall asleep. That was my biggest reason for doing it in the first place.

Now I feel absolutely great. Mind and body. I feel strong, fit, and confident. Good things are going to happen for me. For the first time in years, I feel like I have a future. Soon I will be a functioning, contributing member of society again. Look out world, that is all I can say. I and my potential lifetime kidney are going to be a force.

As long as I can avoid going down the rabbit hole of anxiety. But that is a topic for another blog.

Not right away of course, but eventually. That revelations was notable, it was a perfect example of

the tattoo

I recently got my first tattoo. I’m not sure why I waited so long.

When the heavily tatted and pierced young lady at the tattoo parlor learned that it was my first she was genuinely surprised. I suppose in her world; her job, her generation, etc., it may be a bit late but if she knew anything about my generation she would be less surprised. I am the last of the boomers, by that I mean I’m the cutoff age, and my generation was plagued, or blessed I suppose, with “‘cations” as I call them. Ramifications, Identifications, advocation, dedication, indication, and if your parents or peers really got fed up with your shit then you were cursed with abdication, which of course means disowned by your parents or social circles. By this somewhat pedantic rant what I am really saying is that my generation was judgmental as all hell. Tattoos were one of those things that drew criticism and scorn and had social implications (oops I did it again baby). So, in the interest of presentation and reputation, I refrained from inking my body.

But as I have aged and my concern about what people think of me has sharply declined I decided that at age 56 it was time. The question became a matter of what and not when. I decided that my passion, my driving force, the thing that has influenced my life the most in recent years has been my involvement with Freemasonry. It has been the driving force behind most of the improvements I have made in my life that have resulted in me finally liking myself. If you know me at all, that was no small feat. So I decided that the Masonic credo of “Faith, Hope, and Charity” would be my first, prominently displayed on my right forearm. It means “Faith in God, Hope for eternal life, and Charity to all mankind”. I live by it and I now wear it.

My children have been having a blast with me over the word Faith tattooed on me. You see, it was not long ago that I was a pretty strong agnostic, if not a borderline atheist. What can I say, I’ve had a change in position.

Hey, people change.

It was Freemasonry that brought about the change. One of the only requirements for membership, besides a documented history of good character, is a belief in a higher power. No particular denomination or definition of deity is required. You just have to believe in something as the driving force of the Universe. I struggled at first when I researched joining. I disliked the notion of joining a fraternity based upon good character on a falsehood. So I took a hard look at myself. I was one year out of life-saving transplant surgery. Over my lifetime I was a cancer survivor, had flatlined for 2 minutes after contracting a staph infection, walked out of the hospital after I was told I might not walk again after a motorcycle crash, and had suffered a severe head injury as a child. Yet there I was, still standing and still kicking. I had to ask myself, did I survive all of that just on my own? Or did I have help?

I had been seriously grappling with faith for many years before that, my whole life perhaps. The conclusion I was approaching is that what I really had was an aversion to organized religion. You will thank me for leaving it at that. But a deity, an unknown power, a driving force if you will is very believable and doesn’t need to be defined. Atheists believe that there is nothing, zip, zero, squat out there. I believe that nobody can say that for sure and the sheer vanity of that alarms me. So by the laws of deductive reasoning, if you don’t believe there is nothing then there has to be something. Mother Nature, the ocean, Karma, whatever strikes awe in you and demands further explanation. It opened the door for me to accept faith. Many call Spirituality a “Cop-out”. It’s not, it’s faith that lacks a precise definition. I still reject most of the tenets of traditional belief but, quite simply, what I do practice makes me feel good.

So I wear it proud. Without fear of reproach from the judgmental ones of my generation, and free from those who know my past belief system. It is just what a tattoo should be. It means something to me. That’s what matters to me. I now have faith, I would love for there to be some form of eternal life, and the goodness that I try to exemplify in my heart causes me to be charitable.

No matter how long I live I will have it. Unlike most tattoos on people today, I will never look at it one day and ask myself “what was I thinking?” At that moment, my heart, my head and my thinking had never been clearer.

I guess we’re done

*this is the conclusion of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few.*

I had a decent time at the cookout and I put on a good face. But I wasn’t fooling my friend Paul. Paul came up to me with a cold one and said. “Don’t bullshit me, are you ok?”
“Nope, not even close”, I replied.
He had met Cat. “Trouble in paradise?” I told him some of it. He was comforting, as a good friend should be. “You’re probably blaming yourself. I know you. Don’t.” He was right. He knew me, I was blaming myself.
I left soon after.
Several days went by. We had exchanged a couple of texts, mostly about how she was feeling. There was nothing that suggested any intimacy at all. Then we fell into the same pattern, if I didn’t reach out…crickets. The weekend came around and I asked what her plans were and I learned quickly that they didn’t include me. At the end of the second week I finally called her out. I asked if I should stop contacting her. She wanted to know why I said that. I replied that she was clearly ghosting me to which she objected by offering that she always answered me when I reached out. She didn’t get it…she never reached out to me first. Her pathetic answer was that she was going through some stuff. Weak. When I asked her why she didn’t tell me about it she said that it’s not about me. I was pissed at that point. I told her in as much as she was ignoring me over whatever it was then yea, it is about me to an extent.

We didn’t talk for a few hours, then I reached out and told her that I was going to give her some space. 3.2 seconds later she told me that was a good idea. I took off the gloves. “Wow”, I said. “You jumped at that awful quick”. I had pissed her off with that and she shot back “are you giving me fucking space or not!? Because if this is your idea of space then we’re through.”
I was stunned. But my thoughts and emotions were in synch and I shot back, “If you jumped right to ‘we’re done’ that quickly then that’s all I need to know. I guess we are through.”

Believe it or not, that is the last time we spoke. I texted her condolences when her senior dog passed away but I made no attempt at conversation. I don’t want to talk to her. Amazingly, the woman I once thought I was in love with disappointed me so badly, let me down so hard is now a person that even if she wanted to (she won’t) get back together, I wouldn’t want to. I saw too many things in her that tell me that she is bad for me. I thought she was loving, but she’s critical and judgmental. Things that I thought we could work through, her drinking (what was I thinking, that never happens), her fear of commitment, her erratic behavior, the list goes on and I won’t further bore anyone, all came to a head and I know in my heart of hearts that she is not for me.

Still, I miss her. Maybe I just miss the feelings I had for her, feelings that I had every reason to believe were mutual. I miss her falling asleep on my chest and waking up next to her. I miss the intimacy that I never was able to express to anyone, not even my ex-wife in all of my 57 years. And now it’s just plain fucking over. And I don’t know why. Nor do I want to because I know that I will overthink it and blame myself and just feel bad in general.

I have a theory. In all of my moments of neuroses over the job I think she lost respect for me. Because I thought that I could open up to her without being judged. That’s what relationships are about after all, aren’t they? I don’t think I believe that anymore, or at all. She was the first woman I felt comfortable enough to drop my walls and it fucked me over. It will be a cold day in Hell before I set myself up for that again.

To think of all the time spent, mind racing, being pulled between my desire to work and earn and the burning desire to be with someone who made me feel things I had never felt, that I would lose both of them. Wow, just fucking wow.

As I said at the beginning of this series, I once sold a standard shift car that was quite valuable, for one that I could drive with my arm around my then girlfriend. All these years later, I have neither the car or the girl.

If you ask me how I’m doing I’ll tell you I’m fine. But I’m not. Not even close. Big boys don’t cry, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt inside.

THE END

the end was near

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

It was a dark time. My subconscious was beating me down. I had gone against character and left a job without notice, leaving a person that I liked hanging. It would be many days before I would stop replaying the argument that led up to my quitting in my head. I didn’t care about the person involved so much as I cared about my reaction to it. Those of us with anxiety are doomed to replay difficult events over and over in our heads. My only comfort was that I hadn’t changed my assessment of the situation. There was no way that I could show my face in there again. I still haven’t gone in. And this bothers me because I really want to offer Vinny an apology. He deserves that. I know that his behavior towards me, as disrespectful as it was, wasn’t personal. He liked me as a friend, at least in the beginning, and was fairly good to me. It’s not his fault that I refuse to allow myself to be treated poorly. I did him wrong and I will apologize to him. I’m not afraid, I just haven’t picked my moment. I suppose part of me is worried that he won’t let me get it out. It’s unlikely, but he might kick me out of the store and I wouldn’t blame him if he did. But it would bother me.

The bigger problem was my deteriorating relationship with my girl. I was making an effort but she was slipping away. I really couldn’t figure out what I did or was doing wrong (my go-to is always to blame myself) but something was definitely off. We argued at least once every weekend, the sex was decreasing in frequency and in passion (that part was always good) and when apart we barely spoke on the phone. When we did it didn’t feel right. As for our texts, I made the sad realization that if I didn’t reach out I wouldn’t hear from her at all. I knew it was over when I offered to come down during the week and she said no. I finally decided to call her on it. I knew we would fight soon enough and the next weekend didn’t disappoint. During some stupid drunk argument (her not me) I finally said, “Don’t people who are in a relationship want to talk to each other, and to see each other? Don’t people in a serious relationship think about the other when they wake up and go to bed?”
She made a face that said it all. Sort of a self-defeating “you’re right” face. She then began to tell me that we’re going too fast, that I’m too intense (I seem to remember her being the aggressor both sexually and in the ‘I love you’s’ department but whatever). She wanted to slow things down, let it flow organically. I thought it was bullshit but I said ok and asked her to define it. She wouldn’t, and as I knew it would be, going forward I had no fucking idea how to act around her. Which only added to the tension. She didn’t get that I needed more, that knowing the truth would really help me. It was then that she told me I was too sensitive.

A week later I arrived on a Saturday. I went to sit next to her on the sofa to watch a movie with her and she freaked out, started accusing me of “invading her personal space”. I was at a loss and was not prepared for the argument that ensued. She went to bed pissed off and I sat on the sofa thinking real hard about just leaving. But we had plans the next day to go to a cookout where I had (operative word) been excited about introducing her to my Mason friends. So I stuck around until morning.

I wasn’t very surprised to see her stumble out of the bedroom the next morning as pissed off as she went to bed. Like a frickin’ idiot I still stuck around for a couple of hours to see what would happen. Those hours consisted mostly of her playing with her phone as her hangover subsided. Then she went to the bathroom and when she came out she announced that she wasn’t feeling well and that I should leave. No hug. No goodbye. She just closed the door to her room. At that point there wasn’t much doubt. This ship had sailed. So I left.

I went to the cookout as planned. All of my buddies who had seen our supposedly great relationship play out of FB asked me where she was. I lied and told them that she just wasn’t feeling well, despite the fact that I knew what was really going on.

the surprising reaction

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

I called Cat that evening and when she asked how my day was, I replied “I’m all done at the restaurant”. It got very quiet on her end. I asked her if she had any thoughts on the matter. I got a very curt “well, that’s too bad.” I didn’t push it. We talked for a little bit and got off the phone. I was going to see her the next day.

The next day I arrived at her house and we immediately went out to get lunch. I loved having lunch with her. We would always find a place with a good view of the water and we had great conversations as a rule. That day would be an exception to the rule. She was very quiet. To offset the quiet I made the mistake of speaking openly and honestly about what I was feeling. I explained to her that I wasn’t happy with how I had conducted myself, that I wasn’t proud, that I wished it had turned out better, that I hadn’t left Vinny hanging, and that I stood behind my conviction that from a mental health perspective I just couldn’t have handled it any other way. You know how your significant other should be supportive (at least to an extent at least) and focus on what’s good for you and maybe each other? Apparently, she didn’t believe that. And she had me immediately questioning why I did. It got ugly fast. She didn’t agree with me at all and began to tell me how she would have handled it differently, went into great detail about what I should have done, and generally got opinionated as fuck on me. I took it, to a degree, acknowledging that she may have a point but then I offered, “you’re a bookkeeper. You’ve never worked in an environment similar to what I was doing, there is no possible way that you can tell me what you would have done. You weren’t there.” Her answer was. “You didn’t handle it right at all.” She may have had a point. After all, I’ve already acknowledged as much, but I didn’t appreciate her attitude. If nothing else, she could’ve respected the fact that I was upset and not consequently not attack me. I tried to salvage the lunch by changing the subject but she was so cold I could have poured water between her tits and made my own ice cubes.

The rest of the day was no better. As she got drunker (another massive red flag) she somehow found a way to be more critical. As we sat in our favorite dive bar she actually said that my problem was that nobody kissed your ass and begged you to stay. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, you will know this if you have been reading my posts. I was pissed. We got through the night but she went to bed pissed and I slept on the sofa. The next morning was no better so I left after Church. I was beginning to think that our relationship had run its course.

I stayed in NH all week. We texted a bit but there were no phone calls and when it came time to get together again I simply texted her and asked her if she wanted company that weekend. She said yes, so I went to her house. She was better but the tension was still there. I deliberately didn’t bring up anything about the job. I had other problems to deal with. My ex-wife was fighting with my youngest daughter and it was weighing on me. My ex was giving my youngest daughter, who is gay ( for context only) a hard time about her relationship with her girlfriend. She was questioning the relationship, downing her lifestyle, being a fucking wonderful mother all around ( sarcasm duly stated) and really upsetting my daughter. My daughter had been dealing with anorexia and depression and I was outraged that my ex was doing this and causing the friction that she was. I told Cat about it. Surprise, surprise she had an opinion, one that I didn’t necessarily ask for, about that as well.

Let’s just say that my weekend ended early.

the notice

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

One week after giving my notice there was an incident. The guy I was training was a young kid my son’s age. I disliked him from the start. From the day I was introduced to him, I could just tell that he was a wise little prick. His smug expression spoke volumes. I had him pegged and it took very little time to realize it. When I tried to show him things he was dismissive. When I told him the expectations of what we do when it was quiet, clean something, help stock the beer cooler, organize the walk-ins and storage areas, etc., he wanted nothing to do with it. He was a “specialist”, he only wanted to make pizzas and helped no one but himself. I was so glad I wouldn’t have to work with him for long.
I didn’t know that day that it wouldn’t be long at all.

As dinner hour arrived he was working alone. I jumped in to help him. It was par for the course to have help on that station at busy times, no one person could handle it. But when I went to help he burst out, “dude, what are you doing?!” in a very loud voice. The place just stopped. I gave him my best watch your mouth or I’ll pound you into little asshole Mcnuggets look. He persisted with the attitude so I yelled back, “what’s the problem, kid?” He went off on me telling to get the fuck away from him, to get out of his way, to get lost, etc.,” He was shouting for all to hear.
I was floored. At that point, I had two choices. To walk away or rip his fucking head off. I have a thing about how I’m spoken to and this wasn’t happening on my watch. Because I am physically much larger than him, old enough to be his father, and because it is illegal to beat the shit out of someone, I walked away. I was FURIOUS.

The kitchen manager told someone to switch stations with me but that was it. I would think that after all the help and goodwill I had shown to my coworkers that someone would say something to him, but nobody did. They just let it happen. I don’t know what they were supposed to do but I felt very unsupported. I told the manager on duty that when my shift was over I was all done. In hindsight, I should have waited for Vinny but he wasn’t there yet and she had asked me what happened. When Vinny got there I knew that he knew. He ignored me the entire night.

I did what I promised, I worked a very busy night to the completion of my shift. As the night wore on, my decision didn’t weigh on me nor did I consider recanting it. I replayed the events in my head. My conclusion was that even if the little prick was right, in any way, about objecting to my assistance it was the way he handled it that bothered me. Cementing my decision was the fact that I could never work with him again, even for a short period, and that the lack of support I received made me too embarrassed to ever show up for a shift again.
The end of the evening came and as promised I left the building for the last time. I crossed paths with Vinny several times that evening and he didn’t even bother to ask me once what had actually happened. Not even as a courtesy. Allow me to be clear, I was not expecting or hoping that he would try to talk me out of it. Not my style. His failure to even try to acknowledge that I wasn’t the problem was all that I needed to know.

I left not necessarily proud of myself. But I knew there was no other way for me to handle it.

The Short-timer

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

At the end of May, I officially went to 4 days. It wasn’t a huge issue because the store hours had been reduced due to lack of help and to give the existing employees, who had been working around the clock, a break. At that point full-time hours were not that feasible. Somehow, despite the reduced hours, the aggravation level increased. Vinny was unbearable to us as well as the customers. Criticism by customers was greeted by a “it’s my place my rules if you don’t like it there’s the door” mentality. It was so bad that when I offered to make an order for a customer after hours I was told that it was “tough shit” for the customer. I made it anyway. Now, of all the things that I disliked about the place, I could add that my friendly and customer-oriented style wasn’t even welcome.

On the relationship front, I confided in my girl about the job and about how conflicted I was. Yes, I continued to waffle back and forth about staying. I liked the money but, well you know the rest. I got the sense that she was annoyed by it. So I kept it to myself after that. We were starting to argue. I certainly take responsibility for my part of whatever was happening, but I was starting to see a side of her that concerned me. She consistently claimed to be a non-judgmental God-loving woman of grace, but she fought like a pissed-off wombat and was as forgiving as a Southern Baptist minister. I, on the other hand, refused to fight to win, I always sought resolution and harmony above all. Still, things were ok, the fights weren’t constant. But there were red flags that were, in hindsight, bathed in neon light.

We weren’t seeing each other very often at that point because of the job so I tried to focus on the positive and blocked out the rest.

At the beginning of June I was working a particularly busy night and Vinny was chirping in my ear about something so objectionable and poorly timed that I got into it with him. He replied with a “shut the fuck up”. I knew at that moment it was over. At this point in my life I had enough money (enough is big with me, I don’t need or desire a lot, just enough) and enough self-respect that I simply refused to be talked to like that. I knew what I was as a person and a worker; friendly, hard-working, helpful to all and respectful. Simply put my values were not fucking valued.

The next morning I gave my notice. I sat him down and told Vinny that I would work until the end of July as to not leave him in a bad place. He appreciated that and thanked me for not walking out and leaving him hanging. He had an ace in the hole, he had just hired someone for the kitchen and with my training he should be able to pick up where I left off. As we concluded I realized that working until the end of July was a period longer than I had even been there. How was I going to do that?

As usual. I decided that it will work out either way.,

Committed

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

Committed. At least I should be, anyway. I am nothing if not a man of my word and I dove back into the job. My head was a mess. Between the red flags about the viability of the job being a long-term prospect for me, and the flags were plentiful, and my head being all messed-up over my new relationship my mind was racing all over. This may be a good time to interject that, if you have not read me before you may not know that I have moderate to high general anxiety. My temperament could best be described as, despite outward appearances, “everything is a big deal to me”. I am a classic over-thinker.

The red flags were the pace, the people, the physical and the collateral effects. Added to the mix was the realization that customers can really suck the big one sometimes.

The pace was frantic. When I took the job I was excited to make food, plain and simple. I am very good at that. I had no idea how busy the place would start out and continue to be. It was non-stop all the time.

Enter the personalities. Vinny, who was starting to reveal the rude and ill-tempered side of his personality. The Kitchen manager (who I liked overall) loved to accuse people of everything and clung to her knowledge as if it were the National Treasure and refused help with anything. Then there were the various dolts who simply couldn’t do the job or thought they were more important than they were.

Physically, I was getting stronger. Vinny was true to his promise to give me hydration breaks whenever I needed. But I was still struggling and I don’t do well in the heat as it is. I went home in a lot of pain every night.

Then there were the customers. Despite the fact that we were making a herculean effort to keep up with the demand, the customers were less than understanding. The cranky old people in town were bad customers. Demanding, impatient and insufferable. The people that came from surrounding areas were downright impatient and negative. They bitched openly at the exasperated employees and posted negative reviews which only served to send Vinny into a tizzy that was then transferred to us.

After a month of that, and not seeing my lady I realized that something had to give. I broke down and asked to reduce my hours. Surprisingly, Vinny was ok with it.

the results are in

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

I returned home with mixed emotions. I was excited that my numbers were normal. But I had no way of knowing if this was a temporary thing. There was still a very real possibility that I had done permanent damage to my kidney. Only persistent bloodwork would tell the story. In the interim, I needed to go talk to Vinny about my status at the restaurant.

He, and the rest of the staff seemed happy to see me. I assured them that I was fine and I pulled Vinny aside to speak with him. I told him that, pending lab results it could go either way. I told him that, while my doctor was not excited about it, should I stay hydrated he would sign off on it. Vinny promised that he would take me off of the Pizza station and make sure that I had water breaks whenever I wanted. I hated half of that. Pizza making was the only thing I enjoyed about the job. I explained that I didn’t want my position to change but I would welcome the water breaks as offered. The biggest caveat was that if my numbers spiked again, there is no discussion. I would have to leave. I agreed to work the next day provided that I could do labwork in the morning and come in after. I would wait for the results (they usually came in same day) and we would go from there. The next day I went to work after I left the hospital. I would not get my results that day.

The next day, while at work, I got the call. The results were excellent. I was thrilled to say the very least. The indication was that there was no permanent damage. If I could have jumped in the air like a Toyota commercial I would have. The downside, my out should I want to leave was gone. I have to say that at that point, after only a week I really didn’t like it. It was too much for me physically (which I knew would change over time as I got conditioned) and I didn’t like a lot of things about the job. There were too many personalities, too much bitching and complaining and the customers…well, they sucked. The same cranky old people that I had to deal with in town were now cranky old customers and they got on my nerves. Also, I didn’t mention this before, but Vinny was proving to be an asshole to work for. He spoke to me in a way that I didn’t appreciate and I was too old and too experienced to deal with it. He liked to yell at me and that was simply unacceptable.

But, and this is a very BIG but ( I like big buts and I cannot lie), I knew that everything mentioned above was magnified tenfold by the fact that I had a girlfriend 100 miles away that I wanted to be with. At the time, I thought she felt the same. Who knew that she didn’t? (that is called foreshadowing) I sure didn’t. That aside, unless I wanted to lie about the results and walk away (an option I never really considered, making people worry about me falsely is some seriously bad karma) I did the right thing and told Vinny that all was good and that I was staying.

A very dark place

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

There I was, a week after starting a new job, in the Hospital. It was late Friday night, and I was being processed by the Nursing staff. I hated this part, reviewing info that they already had in the system. Having to repeat my name and DOB every time I got an aspirin. I was distracted, and annoyed, I even felt bad for leaving my boss and my coworkers in a bind. I’m stupid like that. To be fair, I was scared. They were all but convinced that I was rejecting my new Kidney. That was something I just couldn’t process. I’m sure I don’t have to explain my concern, but try to grasp the emotions I was grappling with and the thoughts raging in my head. Was I going to lose what I can only describe as the biggest blessing of my life, a fucking rebirth, already? A mere 8 months previous I was on dialysis, sick and depressed with little or no interest in life and no hope for a future. The only thing stopping me from suicide was what it would do to my children. I now had a job, a possibility of a future, a girlfriend that I thought might be the one. Was I really going to lose all of that already? I was in the worst possible place.I had a sleepless night ahead.

I met with my Transplant Doctor the next morning. I really like him and I knew him well. His face said it all. He explained what was ahead. Bloodwork, Infusions of steroids over 2 or more days if needed, all hands on deck to get my creatine down. There were no guarantees that it would work, or if any changes would be permanent. I asked him how concerned he was on a scale of 1-10. He is always honest, he held up 8 fingers.

The only positive was that Cat was coming to see me. I asked her not to but she had already started the two-hour drive to my house to get my mother and then drive another 2 hours to see me. She wasn’t about to be talked out of it so I didn’t try. It warmed my heart that I had found someone that cared that much for me. They visited me, she held my hand the entire time. It was of great comfort. They stayed most of the day. When they left she whispered an “I love you” in my ear. It was a brief but profound moment of happiness. It was certainly a reason to fight, not that I didn’t still have it in me.

The people from work were all concerned. Especially Vinny. He asked about me frequently. He was concerned about me and of course he had to know if I was going to be able to continue. He did have a business to run. I posed the question to my Doctor. He wasn’t a big fan of me continuing. He felt that the heat in the kitchen and the tough working conditions were too harsh for me. But pending the outcome of my treatment, he left it up to me.

On Monday morning I tested below my normal creatine level. It was excellent news. They agreed to release me and I was told that future (immediate) retesting would tell if the damage (if at all) was temporary or permanent. As for work, my Doctor told me that it was still up to me to make the decision.

I made the wrong one.