My week thus far…

Friday I received a call from my new Nephrologist. He had spoken to my Transplant team and it was decided that dialysis was needed immediately, despite the fact that the fistula I had recently had installed was not mature yet. He had made arrangements for me to report to a local hospital on Monday morning at 10 to have a temporary “port” installed. It was also scheduled that I would have my first dialysis treatment the next day. They clearly weren’t playing around.

I spent the weekend in a bit of a funk. Despite knowing that dialysis was inevitable, I still dreaded it. Despite all accounts that it would make me feel better, I had this horrible picture in my head of what it would be like. I was also dreading the surgery.

I reported at 9:45 to registration and was immediately led by the charming and matronly Alicia to the surgical prep area. I dutifully removed my clothes and signed all of the paperwork that I commonly refer to as the “I will not sue your ass if you fuck me up on the table” forms. Alicia was great, very comforting as she explained the process to me. It sounded rather unpleasant but hell, I would be knocked out, right?
“So, who is driving you home?” Alicia asked me.
“Ummmm….I am.”
“Oh dear.” Alicia replied.
“Oh dear, what?” I asked incredulously.
“If you drive yourself home after anesthesia you will be driving under the influence of a narcotic. Your surgery will have to be done with a local only.”
“When I talked to Doc on Friday he gave me the choice of driving myself or getting a ride. Not to be a bother I didn’t ask my mother. The info you just gave me would have been helpful.”
“Sorry, hun.”

I was wheeled into the Surgical room. I was injected with a local and a numbing agent. A tent was put over my face and I was told to lean my head as far to the left as possible. I was then told to relax. Yeah, right. My surgeon then, with the assistance of a radiologist, snaked a tube through my neck, into a major vein stemming from my heart and then pulled it back out my chest. A tube was then attached to my chest. It’s there until my fistula is ready. I felt everything. I can only describe it as having a giant fish hook inserted into my neck and pulled through my chest. My head was screaming, my neck was killing me and the entry point at my neck was excruciating.

Then I was told that it was all over.

“Good job.” I said to the surgeon.
“I should say the same to you.” She replied. “I’ve never done this surgery without full anasthesia. You did great. I’d want to be knocked out until Christmas to do what you just did.”
“Thanks. But remember that there is a fine difference between brave and stupid.”

I was sent home with no painkillers but Tylenol. I was up all night in excruciating pain.

The next morning I arrived at Dialysis. When I pulled into the parking lot part of me wanted to put it in reverse and explore other options. Then I went in anyways.

A sign at the door said ring bell for assistance. As soon as I did a tiny nurse wrapped in scrubs and a mask opened the door and greeted me by name. She was expecting me. To break the ice I said “Hi, I’m here for my oil and filter change.” My tiny nurse laughed.

I went inside. My first reaction was that everyone looked so sick. Yes, I know that I am sick but I really don’t look it. That’s no accident. The patients in this room were fragile, thin, asleep. Not one person was anywhere close to my age. The gentleman next to me looked just like my father…a month before he died.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. I have painted a terrible picture of dialysis when in fact I did feel a little better when I left. In a 2 1/2 hour session I lost 3 lbs of fluid. That’s a good thing. I’m easily carrying 20 lbs of fluid that is doing nothing but putting a strain on my heart. The only thing I don’t like is I’ve never sat in a chair for 4 hours before. By Saturday I will be up to 4 hour sessions. But I’ll manage. I had a TV, headphones. a blanket and a fucking great book written by a fellow blogger that I am almost done with.

I can do this.

Now if I can only get used to this turkey baster sticking out of my shirt and the constant bleeding at the surgical site I will be just fine.

Everyone has been treating me like I’m going somewhere. Allow me to take this opportunity to tell you that I’m not. I still have a lot of shit to do.

Home sweet home…conclusion A Mike Valentine tale

Mike got up, his swollen legs screaming in protest, and moved to the sofa to sit beside his son. Lady dutifully followed and plopped down at his feet. He wrapped his arm around the boy and they watched TV. It wasn’t long before his wife appeared in the doorway and told D that it was bedtime. Mike looked at his watch. It was 9 already. He reminded himself that that’s what happens when you sit in a bar, dreading coming home. He told his wife that he would take care of bedtime. She gave him a sarcastic “thanks” and went back to the kitchen. He forced himself off of the sofa and motioned for D to follow him, told him to brush his teeth and put his pajamas on. He didn’t put up a fuss, he was a great kid.

He went upstairs with the boy, poking his head in his oldest daughter’s room. She was lost in a book. He went into her room, leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“I didn’t hear you come home” she said.
“Next time I’ll make more noise” he joked. He kissed her again. She gave him one of her famous smiles, the gap between her front teeth front and center. He loved that gap, it was cute and reminded him of her as a toddler, mugging for the camera. She was such a happy child. He also observed that she would need braces soon.
“Good job on your report card” he offered. “I’m proud of you.”
“Mom went ape on the boys.”
Mike could only imagine. Yet she took them out to dinner? It must have been her friend Lisa’s idea. Lisa’s kids probably got shitty report cards as well but she didn’t believe in disciplining her kids. She wanted to be their friends. Mark hated that she and his wife were so close. He thought Lisa was a terrible influence, but his wife fucking loved her. Almost to the point that he wondered if she switched teams. He chased all of that out of his head and returned his attention to his daughter.
“Jeez” he said. You couldn’t have saved the old man a chicken finger?”
She laughed. He kissed her again on the forehead and walked down the hall to the boy’s room where he found R at his desk, furiously scribbling on a notebook. He looked miserable.
“Hey bud” he said. “That’s enough for today, nothing will change overnight.”
“Mom is pretty mad.”
“I know. I already bumped into her. See the burn marks?” he said as he showed his bare forearm. It was a bad joke but Ry laughed. He wasn’t trying to denigrate his wife. He just wanted to cheer the kid up. It seemed to work. He sat with the boys as they went through their nightly routine of procrastination. Fearful of his wife getting angry at the time, he went to the banister and listened for signs of life. She was talking to Lisa, the toxic friend. No doubt talking about what an asshole she married.

He went back into the boy’s room and said goodnight. He made a couple of silly faces, drew a laugh and turned the light off. He went downstairs looking for his youngest daughter. He poked his head in her room, she was fast asleep. Shit, he thought. I didn’t see her at all today. He sat on the edge of her bed and just watched her breathe for a while. She looked so peaceful. She was the unplanned one but immediately shot up to I can’t imagine my life without her status. She was cuter than a duck wearing a hat. His heart welled. He got up and closed the door behind him and headed for his comfortable chair. He had to walk through the kitchen in order to get there and he ignored the glare of contempt his wife shot at him as she babbled into the phone.

As he sat down. Britt appeared in the doorway.
“My asthma is acting up. Can I do a treatment?”
Mike got up, went to the closet for the Nebulizer and a capsule of albuterol. He set it up, placed the mask on his daughter’s face and sat down beside her. The hum of the machine soothed him as he watched her, glued to the TV as the mist gently wafted from her breathing treatment. He had changed the channel to Nickelodeon and had found Spongebob. Perfect.

He let her stay with him for about 15 minutes after the treatment was done. He didn’t want the moment to end. He knew, whether she knew he did or not, that she wasn’t really having an asthma attack. It was her sneaky way of getting an extra half hour with her dad.

This, Mike Valentine thought to himself, this is the good stuff. The rest of it doesn’t matter. He squeezed his daughter tight and waited for her to fall asleep.

Fighting the good fight

My mother is a wonderful person. Of course I think so. But a lot of others do as well. Today, someone hurt her feelings and I decided to do something about it.

My mom and dad retired to this house in NH upon my father’s retirement in 2000. My mother, to combat the rampant boredom of the winter months began substitute teaching in the local schools. She has always enjoyed teaching, was able to work it out that she would work with kids no older than 5th grade, and she became a local legend. The kids loved her. She still does it, at age 73 and the kids still love her. She doesn’t do it for the money, she loves the kids. Many become very attached to her, it’s very heartwarming. It’s equally depressing when you see what some of these kids have for a home life.

In 2001, the first of a long line of enamored children latched onto my mother’s leg. Her heart would soon follow. Kris was a a bright girl from an awful family. Both parents were postal workers in town, so money wasn’t the issue. The issue was a drunk, misogynistic father and a absentee mother. They held down the jobs, but they weren’t there for the parenting. Kris’s two older sisters had set the standard of being fat, useless and working in outlet stores and Kris was doomed to the same fate without intervention. Enter my mother.

My mother took her under her wing and made sure that this girl got through school. She tutored her after school and at home. She reviewed all of her work, kept her attitude in check and promised to do everything she could to get through high school. Kris ended up graduating at the top of her class. Mom was at the graduation cheering louder than anyone.

Kris didn’t know about going to college, Mom helped her do all of the applications. 2 years ago she graduated college with a job offer with Fidelity Investments. My mom was a huge part of her success and they are now special friends. It’s a great story, even though she annoys the shit out of me.

She calls all the time. She prattles on like a dipshit junior high-schooler. She is incredibly opinionated on everything. And despite being a 200 lb virgin with baked bean teeth, and engaged to the first guy who ever kissed her, she is also a relationship expert. In particular, on my mom’s relationships. Recently she made it clear that she didn’t like my mother’s boyfriend. Then it came out that she doesn’t want my mother to date at all because she believes that we only get one true love in our life so stop trying for another. Mom politely dismissed this observation. When she tried to get me to come to her side, I told her I thought she was wrong and waaaaay off.

Her wedding is to take place in October. My mom received her invite several months ago. In the “plus one” section she wrote in her boyfriend’s name. Tonight Kris called her on the way home from work and told her that she didn’t want my mother bringing him to the wedding. My mother was shaken by this, I watched her as she was talking on the phone. Kris asked her if she would be upset and my mother said, “Well, I wouldn’t be happy. For starters, who am I going to dance with?” They talked for a few more minutes and then they hung up. Mom filled me in on the details I couldn’t hear. I asked her if she was ok with it, she said she wasn’t.

I told her I’d take care of it. I told her I was going to send her a FB messenger message. I promised Mom that it was coming from me and that I would assume any responsibility for damages if a shitstorm ensued. Here is what I wrote:
Kris:
I want to start by saying that I respect you. You’ve done some great things in your life and I consider you a good person. 
Which is why I must take issue with your request that Dave not be at your wedding. My mother has been by your side since you were a child, almost a second mother to you. She has never asked anything of you. Knowing this. why is she not allowed to bring the plus one of her choice to your wedding? 
I cannot imagine what benefit you find in making the person who treats you like her own daughter unhappy.
I have no influence over you and I don’t generally overstep my boundaries but I’m going to strongly request that you change your mind on this matter.

I let mom proofread it. She shook her head, said “wow” and walked away. I sent it. For three hours I did not get a response.

Mom walked in at about 11PM and asked if I had heard back. I told her that I hadn’t. She told me that Kris’s mother had just texted her that they would love to have Dave be a guest at the wedding.

Mom high-fived me and left the room. She seems happy.

Me? I feel like the right outcome was reached.

Something big between my legs…cont’d

Hopefully you read my last installment and you are hanging on like I did when I was 13 reading Penthouse forum. Unlike those stories, this actually happened. Tune in here for part 1. Here is where I left off
schwing

I had just been propositioned by a beautiful, sensuous and did I mention older (?) woman at work. Up until this point I thought that we were only playing around. Surely a woman ten years my senior is out of my league. It’s akin to a dog chasing a car…what would he do if he caught it? Slowly realizing that this was for real I kicked the remaining vendors the hell off of my dock for lunch. One vendor saw the exchange between us and gave me a coy smile as he left. I locked up, punched out and headed for the Leggs van, or as I have forever known it as, the original “shaggin’ wagon”.

It was running. As I approached the window I saw that the driver’s seat was empty. I looked in and a voice called out

“in the back!”

I went to the back of the van, opened the panel doors and she motioned for me to hop in. After what seemed like seconds of small talk, she began tearing my clothes off. Nothing, I repeat nothing like this had ever happened to me in my life. I immediately knew that every sexual experience I had had up to this point was with girls. I was now with a woman. She truly rocked me to my foundation that afternoon. When it was over, she nonchalantly got dressed and informed that she had to finish her route. I checked my body for skid-marks,  put out a couple of small fires, got dressed and went back to work.

As I walked back to the market I asked myself, was I just used for sex? My brain responded immediately with a profound “what’s your point? Go with it!”
walk-of-shame

For the remainder of the afternoon, and I suppose of the entire week before I would see her again I was consumed by the memory of that day in the van. I was curious what would happen when I saw her again. Was it a one-time thing or the beginning of many? I was a man obsessed. I was also becoming an overnight legend. I was spotted getting in and out of the van and it didn’t take long before my name was immediately followed by “the guy who banged the Leggs lady.” You may choose to believe me or not, but I didn’t welcome the notoriety. I respected women as much then as I do now and I was a gentleman. But it was out there none the less.

Friday afternoon would roll around again and like clockwork, she showed up at 11:30. We exchanged smiles as she came in with her dolly stacked high with product. It was taller than she was. She went about her business and I was very busy with deliveries. As she left she handed me her paperwork to sign. I reviewed everything, signed off on it, kept my copy and gave her back her copies. She handed me a piece of paper and said:”this copy is for you” and winked. I looked down, it was an invitation to meet her at  “The Cove” a popular section of beach in a town nearby at 8:00. Scrolled at the bottom was “bring the bike”.

In the days before cell phones, it was exceedingly difficult to coordinate meetups like this so I asked her how I would find her. She told me to look for the van.

Thus began a tumultous, wild ride that I would never forget. We met up at various places; my house, no-tell motels, and of course the van. But I didn’t take the time to notice that we never actually went in any establishments, we always met outside of places. I figured that she was outdoorsy and loved the summer. I did as well so I went with it. We rode my bike, had incredible sex all over the east coast of MA and hit the repeat button as often as possible. Life was indeed good that summer.

One Friday I decided to take the day off. I had some friends over and we were hanging out in my backyard. My home phone rang (remember no cells then) and it was Cheryl. She was calling from the market.

“Why aren’t you working?” she asked.

“I took the day off. I forgot Friday was your day.”

“I want to see you. I showed up today expecting lunch in the van and you weren’t there. You owe me now.” Her voice was throaty, sexy and incredibly matter of fact. I had never met such an assertive woman. Parts of me were scared stiff. Well, one to be exact.

I explained to her that I had friends over. She simply told me to get on my bike and meet her at a market about 25 miles away. She “needed” me. I told her to hold on and updated my boys on the situation. They unanimously agreed that I would be the world’s biggest putz if I didn’t take this opportunity.
just go
I told her to give me 45 minutes, got rid of the boys and fired up the Honda. It was a hot day, I was in a hurry and I decided that the sneakers, tank top and shorts would have to do. I was off for another afternoon of Van-rocking debauchery.

Little did I know that I wouldn’t make it to see her that day.

to be continued…

Something big between my legs

I was driving on a very scenic, winding road today. I had gone to run some errands and I decided to take the long way home. I was alone on the road for a good while, enjoying the cross-breeze through the open windows of the cab of my truck. Eventually, I approached a group of bikers, all on late-model Harley’s. They were taking their time, driving the speed limit, not in a hurry as they navigated the challenging curves the road offered. Respectfully, I kept a good distance between my bumper and the bike in front of me.

It’s “Bike Week” here in NH. Bikers from many neighboring states visit the Lakes Region of NH, primarily concentrated on the area in and around Lake Winnepesaukee. Bike Week has been a standing institution in NH for decades. It has evolved from a drunken, bloody week of hell-raising to an enormous gathering of bikers from all socio-economic backgrounds, all celebrating everything that is the motorcycle. Local businesses prep, advertise and rely on the revenue of this event. My Mom and Dad used to go as well.

I personally think that nothing screams ‘Murica more than thousands of loud, shiny 2-wheeled stallions ridden by men in helmets or merely bandanas and sunglasses on bikes ranging from choppers to full-dressed cruisers with women of wildly varied levels of attractiveness, decorum and let’s face it, weight class. You are almost guaranteed to get flipped off and flashed at least once during this event. The problem is that some of the “flashers” would be well advised to keep them under the shirt.
fat chick

It is truly a sight and a “people watcher’s” paradise.

Today, as my peaceful road morphed into a crowd of motorcycles I was in no hurry. I let them pass. I respect them and know how to keep my distance. I was now on a different road. Memory Lane.

I once had a bike, and although it was only for a brief, fleeting period it was one of the happiest times of my life. Every time I think about my riding days I’m not going to lie, I get a bit aroused. Seem unusual? Not when you hear this story.

In 1987 I worked at a local supermarket. I had been there for many years and had been promoted to Receiving Manager. The RM is the guy who takes deliveries from vendors and makes sure no monkey business is happening. I dealt with bread guys, the Hostess Guy, the milk guy etc., everything went through me. It was a great job. In the summer months, I would ride my motorcycle, a glimmering Honda CB650 which was a real nice bike in its day and park it on the loading dock so that I could keep an eye on it. It made me happy.

One vendor in particular was the Leggs pantyhose driver. I don’t think they are around anymore but in the day they sold their pantyhose in egg-shaped containers. They were also notorious for almost exclusively hiring smoking hot women to drive their trademark Vans. Our driver was no exception. Cheryl was a gorgeous woman of about 33 years old when I met her (I was 22). Five foot nothing, blonde hair, a cute smile and a posterior cortex that would make Perez Hilton straight (OK I exaggerate). Every time she made a delivery, she would progressively escalate her flirtatiousness towards me a little more. I was helpless to stop it. When she walked away, I truly couldn’t take my eyes off of her. How’s the saying go? “I hate to see you go but I love to watch you leave?”

One day, she motioned to my motorcycle outside and asked me if it was mine. I told her it was. Her reply floored me. “I like motorcycles, it’s something big between my legs.”

My only response, after rolling my tongue up and forcing it back into my mouth was “I”m taking lunch soon, care to join?”

She looked at me and began walking out the back door. Transfixed as always by her gait, I was surprised when she did a hair flip, looked over her shoulder and said “meet me in my van.”
schwing

to be continued…

 

My Walden

Many of our greatest American poets and writers penned their best work while admiring a body of water. Robert Frost was inspired by hiking the woods in both winter and summer and waxed poetic about the beauty of the seasons in New England. Henry David Thoreau was inspired by the serenity of Walden Pond. Reading Walden as a young man I could relate to the notion of hiking through thick woods, to come upon an opening in the thicket and stumble upon an oasis. A body of water, glimmering in the summer sun, or the frozen surface glistening in the sparse hours of daylight while in the throes of winter. They both convey such a calming image that inevitably leads to a moment of reflection and wonder. I have 2 bodies of water that invoke the spirits of Frost and Thoreau. One is Ossipee Lake, which I am not in sight of year round. The other is my beloved duck pond.

The duck pond is the single one thing that makes the lot we live on graduate from great to awesome. It captivated my mom and dad when they bought it in the 80’s. The lot is two acres but is surrounded by wetlands which mean that despite not owning it, we have the luxury of enjoying another three acres with the security that it can’t be built on. Our view is ours to keep.

The house was clearly constructed with a view of the pond in mind. The main entrance, two sliding glass doors, and many windows all face it. I find myself drawn to the pond year round. Many mornings I have had coffee on the deck and spotted a deer or two that ventured to the water line for a drink. It teems with birds of all kinds, mostly Canadian Geese, and Mallards but occasionally the great Heron with the six-foot wingspan will swoop in like a Concorde Jet landing at a Municipal Airport. I love the birds, all of them. It pleases me to the core to see the small V-shaped ripple in water as a solitary duck makes its way across the pond.

At night, the pond shifts gears from quiet oasis to a bustling ecosystem as frogs loudly make their presence known, crickets (Cicadas?) create a cacophonous symphony, and the industrious beavers work tirelessly at their latest monument. It is deafening in early spring but like everything else, you get used to it.

With the late Spring in New England this year, I have looked eagerly to the pond each morning for signs of my favorite season. The pond tells all, year round. In the fall, the decreasing bird population signals the approach of winter. In the early winter, the encroachment of ice indicates the arrival of winter. In the spring, I monitor daily the receding of the ice and the return of my beloved birds. This year, the pond didn’t give me what I wanted, despite my constant pleading. By the middle of April, it was still in the throes of winter. And then, I think this week, Spring suddenly showed up. The ice is gone, my birds are back and last night the Crickets were deafening, much to the pleasure of my ears. Spring is actually here, I saw both a Wasp and a Tick this morning while walking the dog.

This afternoon, I had a coffee on the deck and admired my pond. My ducks are there, the sun reflected on the ripples suddenly brought on by a light but satisfying afternoon breeze. I have not been outside much lately. My sickness has made me tired, weak and cold. On days that I used to wake early and race outside, I have found myself sleeping late and spending my waking hours under a warm blanket. As I sipped my coffee, reflecting on my life recently, it occurred to me that my beloved pond can serve as a powerful metaphor for my life.

The seasons are fundamentally about change. In New England, we always have four seasons (sometimes in one week) and we can count on it. Change is inevitable. I see it coming by studying my pond. This Spring, my pond shed its blanket of ice and welcomed back all of the creatures that depend upon it. It embraced the change and is now doing what it is supposed to. Today, I shed my actual blanket for the first time and took a step, albeit a small one, towards shaking off the cold, grey winter that has occupied my soul for months. Like my duck pond, I let the sun hit me and I eagerly absorbed it, seeking enough light to allow it to warm me, reflect off of me and have enough in the tank to shine it for those that depend and count on me. I need to welcome back the desire to go on as if the urgency of a coming fall and winter was fast approaching. It is indeed that urgent.

Today, like Frost and Thoreau, I have found inspiration. I don’t know if they ever sat on the edge of their beloved oasis’s with a heart as heavy as I have of late but I can see how it inspired them to put it to paper for others to read and enjoy. It has certainly inspired me to do so, and I hope someone will enjoy reading this. It may be just a blog, but it could also be the first entry in a great epiphany in which a lost soul gets his mojo back.

Imagine that, all this about a bunch of ducks.

In my element

I managed to return to work this week for a glorious 2 day stint. I have been away for 2 weeks. School vacation with the kids, a minor concussion from going ass over tea kettle in my icy driveway and about 60 fucking inches of snow have kept me close to home. Fortunately, my head is fine…my head is fine… my head is fine …slaps forehead…yea my head is fine and despite a sore back, I made the trek to MA on Thursday.

The CFO was really happy to see me. Apparently,  she sees the contributions I have made. No one else seems to make them in my absence. So I have a niche. The rank and file were also happy to see me. It seems that morale sucks a bit lately, which confuses me because the owner is a super nice guy. They are very busy and a bit short-staffed so I suppose it makes sense. They need comic relief, which I always provide. Any role is fine, it’s just nice to be somewhere you are appreciated. The worst thing to me is to be the guy who took 2 weeks off and no one noticed.

I am starting to expand my role a bit, taking on tasks that nobody wants or can handle due to time constraints. Most in the building are not aware of the extent of my expertise in the business, they just think I’m some guy the owner knows. But I have jumped right in and handled some delicate stuff of importance, some of which involves the dreaded phone. Most people hate the phone, and a lot of those who don’t really aren’t that good. Myself, I’m like Michael Jackson on the playground, I’m in my element. This week my coworkers saw a new side of me…phone me.

One of my tasks was to call customers who had recently purchased a motorcycle and introduce our company, review the contact information, go over the contract and answer any questions they may have. It usually consists of about 50 calls, 35 that go to voice mail and the remaining 15 can go any direction from a hang-up (they think I’m a telemarketer) or a cooperative call. I have fun with those. I don’t just ask a bunch of boring questions, I talk to them about their bikes. I build excitement by establishing a bond. It’s so easy for me. As I was making calls, I saw that some of the people in the room were taking notice of what I was doing. One call, in particular, was with a gentleman in Texas. His mother raised him right, he was friendly, courteous and didn’t treat me like a schmuck. So I had some fun with him.

“Mr. Beegle, how are you enjoying your new Harley Soft tail?”

“Well, I’ll tell you what buddy, if I was any happier I might damn explode!”

“Great news, enjoy it.”

“Well, I don’t know about that. See my hot little girly, see she’s a Latina. Fiery little thang. She don’t much like riding on the back of it.”

“Mr. Beegle, I want you to listen carefully, ok?”

“Sure, Bill.  Go ahead” he said.

“Mr. Beegle, women are easy to find, but the right bike comes along just once in a lifetime.”

I’m pretty sure he pissed himself laughing. We completed the call and I put the receiver down. All eyes were on me. My CFO said, “Did you just say…?”

I looked at her and said. “Yes, I did. But if it helps, I had absolutely no control over my mouth so it’s not my fault.”

My cell phone rang, I turned around and answered it. I recognized the number.

“Suicide hotline…please hold.”

I’m going to Hell, but for now, at least I’m having some fun. To imagine I’m going to be dating again soon…