Goodbye faithful friend

You’ve been struggling for a while. The spring in your step wasn’t quite there. Your deep brown eyes lost a bit of their sparkle. Your playfulness had begun to wane.

We tried to call it a phase. We woke each day hoping that we would see that spark. Occasionally you showed us glimpses of your old self. But you were tired. You were in pain. Life wasn’t fun for you anymore. It eventually began clear to us that you were never going to come out of this.

This last week you provided us with no glimpses of former you. You moved slowly. Your pain was obvious. When you fell on the stairs and needed help to get up we knew that a terrible but necessary decision was made.

It was time to put you to sleep.

For 13 years you were the loyal family dog. You weren’t a pet, my heart can only be this broken for a family member or a dear friend. You were always happy to see me, even when no one else was. You were always by my side so that I never felt alone. When the house was empty, I had wonderful companionship sleeping at my feet. As only a dog could do, your friendship was omnipresent and unconditional. I was one of your pack.

As one of your pack, I vowed that when your time of need came that I would be by your side, tirelessly and unconditionally. That promise was called in today as we woke to find you listless on the kitchen floor. Your sad brown eyes said it all. You were done, you needed relief from your pain and we had to do what was right for you despite how hard it would be for us. We called the veterinarian and asked to bring you in.

I carried you in to the office. You never let me pick you up until today. The waiting room full of people knew why you were there. They avoided eye contact out of respect and the knowledge of what we were there to do. They let us right in and we placed you on a cold metal table. I put your favorite blanket under you. They gave you a sedative and fed you treats until you put your head down. We patted your head and told you what a good boy you are, and have always been. The Dr. asked us if we were ready. Mom was sobbing. I teared up a little. But I held your little paw and stroked your ears in your favorite spot as they shaved a small section of your leg and gave you an injection.

As you stood by me in life, I stood by you at the end of yours.

“He’s gone”, the Dr. gingerly uttered a few moments later. We were asked if we wanted a private moment. I left my mother alone with him. I had said my goodbyes.

He leaves a hole that can never be filled for reasons that can never be explained. I will cherish the memories, for that is all that remains of my loyal, silly, loveable little furry friend. He is in a better place, at peace and free of pain. Somewhere over the Rainbow Bridge.

Unlike those of us who wish he was still here.

Bad things to great people

I woke this morning to an absolutely beautiful, cloudless day. Spring and Summer have largely evaded the Northeast so far this year so I deduced that I really had no choice but to take the iron steed to my Nephrology appointment. I saddled up for the 50 mile ride south.

As my window had suggested, it was nothing short of a glorious hour ride and I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole way. I made excellent time so I rode around a bit before I pulled into the Medical building the suggested ten minutes early. I parked Bella, wiped the dust and pollen off of her and went inside.

After I checked in I went to sit in the waiting room. Seeing the helmet, several people struck up conversation with me about riding, the weather, etc. I’m still amazed at what a conversation starter a helmet is. After several minutes of small talk, I was called in.

My doctor, who handles most of my needs including monitoring my progress on dialysis, glanced at the helmet, surveyed my jeans, boots, tanned arms and face and said “Well, I guess I don’t have to ask how you’re feeling, do I?”

“I could lie to you, Doc but I feel great.”

After a thorough 30 minute evaluation he concluded that indeed, I was feeling great. He ordered some routine tests and sent his Nurse in to do some follow-up exams. Her name was Madison.

Madison was very good at talking to patients and we immediately began talking as she breezed through her routine. It didn’t take long for her to start talking about her fiancé, and how he was critically injured at work. He is a tow driver and he was hit by a car. I suggested that maybe it was the opening for him to maybe get a better, safer job someday. That’s what I do, put a posi spin on things. She agreed. Then she said something that really resonated with me,
“It seems bad things happen to the best people. As a nurse I see it every day.”
“Can I expound on that?” I asked.
“Sure.”
“It’s been my experience that the illnesses and accidents create the best people.”‘
She was visibly intriguedby what I said. I kept it as brief as I could as I told her what Chronic Illness and my experiences in the blogosphere with the many Chronically ill bloggers that I loyally follow and interact with have shown me. That illness and injury bring out the best of us. I have stopped short of calling it a blessing, but it is undeniable that when faced with unpleasantness and uncertainty many people develop a true appreciation and zest for life that “healthy” people may never achieve. We love more, fight less, forgive more easily, breathe more deeply and waste fewer moments because we don’t have the luxury of guaranteed longevity.

Madison is young, I would guess no older than 23. She was enthralled by my thoughts but I suspect she is taking my word for it to a large degree. She is too young to have seen a lot of the ugly in the world. But I know that I gave her something to think about. She is a good nurse and I’m sure she is decent and kind to all of her patients. But I hope that she will learn to treat her more hardscrabble patients not with pity or sympathy, but instead as the warriors that they are.

Every day is a beautiful day if you take the time to find the beauty. It beats waiting for a better day that you may not be around to see.

The inconvenience of being happy

This happiness shit is wreaking havoc on my blog.

Yesterday my daughter said, “How’s the blog going, Dad?”
Without thinking much about it I replied, “I haven’t done much with it.”
“Why?”
“I guess I’ve been too happy.”

Even I had to take a moment to absorb what I had just said. Do I only blog when I’m unhappy?

I had a nice long ride to think about this on the way home and my answer is a sound, firm, fairly certain and resounding maybe.

I’ve written a lot of posts considered positive and uplifting and I have to have been in a good state of mind when I wrote them. But most of my earlier posts, in fact the inspiration for creating my blog in the first place was born out of a deep disharmony in my life. I was extraordinarily unhappy, dealing with illness, a divorce and consequent feelings of rejection, and having to move in with my mother. I had plenty to write about.

Nearly 2 years later I have completely reconciled those things within my control and have a firm grip on those that I don’t. Where once stood a confused, insecure and nearly defeated man now stands a man in a total Zen state with the world. I have forgiven everyone and everything. Even the most difficult of events and people. Everyone knows where they stand with me and I leave everyone as if I may never see them again. I am open to everything and kind to all. I walk around like a man with a secret when it’s no secret at all. My happiness is being free of negativity, resentment and hate. I am at peace with myself and in harmony with the world.

I spent years trying to find myself and I was me all along.

Ironically, my illness has progressed since I started my blog but I am in a better place with it than before. Dialysis, once a worse-case scenario is now my lifestyle. Some people live and act it, but not me. I am rocking it. I jump into the chair and 4 hours later I spring out of it. Instead of merely existing between treatments I instead pause my wonderful life just long enough to get a treatment. Last week I was asked to be a Patient Advocate for Dialysis patients. I asked why me and the Nurse Manager said,
“You ride a motorcycle to treatments. You ask us how we’re doing. You always feel good. You laugh and joke through your treatments. You do what you’re told. You’re the ideal patient to help someone else through this.”
I was deeply humbled. I’m also going to do it.

I feel so good I have to be reminded sometimes that I am sick.

Lastly, and by no means least important, Superman has found his Lois. A woman who has made me feel desirable, worthy and loved. It is a nice departure from feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and loneliness. She may be my Phone Booth.

I’m not ready for a format change or a new name for my blog just yet. I’m sure I have plenty of good blogs left in me. But for now, I won’t be taking up my keyboard to exorcise fresh demons. I’m too busy enjoying my wonderful family and friends, spending time with my exciting lady friend, riding my motorcycle through the winding hills of NH, and being out living my life every minute that I am not strapped to a machine.

On paper I have so many reasons to be unhappy. But I have to tell you…

Life is good


Why not you?

I’ve talked about it before. The prevalent “victim” mentality that surrounds us. Maybe it’s a lack of general toughness in today’s world, a lack of people who, like me, were raised with a “suck it up” mentality. My parents taught me that everyone has problems to deal with, how we deal with our own will define us. Toughness was a virtue. Toughness evolved into kindness as we evolved into empathetic creatures who learned to treat all they meet with basic courtesy with the understanding that they are dealing with their own problems.

I’m a pretty tough bastard by all accounts. I’ve even been told that I’ve inspired a few people as I continue to persist against and fight like hell the constant obstacles in my path. I’m stubborn as a bull and I hate to lose. I may someday be the conquered, but I will never be the victim. It starts with one simple learned behavior. Never utter the words “Why me?”

Why NOT you? is the question that begs to be asked.

What makes me, you, or anyone so special? Whether it is pre-ordained or written in the stars, fate or karma what happens to you is your story and there is nothing you can do about it except deal with it. I choose to deal with it by defining it as my mortal enemy. Illness and death are foes to be vanquished, the bastards that cannot win as long as I have anything to say about it. Happiness is the ultimate prize, the Holy Grail.

I admire the strong among us. Today, I am downright enamored of one beautiful woman who is ten times stronger than I will ever be. She has been dealt one giant shitburger after another and has come back for seconds. Her story saddens me, angers me and inspires me. One thing I will never do is pity her because she is anything but helpless.

If I hadn’t actually seen her I would think she looks like one of the Amazon women from the comic books. Tall, packed with glorious muscles and adorned with a cape and wings. But she is not, she is a normal, if not beautiful woman with the heart of a warrior and her cape is only visible if you hold her delicate hand. There you see the scars. The scars of fighting back, of refusing to be the victim, the battle scars that come from never, ever giving up.

You are my hero. My inspiration. My partner in the fight against those bastards. It will be my honor to march headlong into battle together, as a team that can never be vanquished. Your strength will empower me. The bastards will never beat us.

“Why me?” will never be uttered by our lips.

You know who you are, now you know what you mean to me. You are my Lois.

The open road

You may or not believe me when I tell you this, but 32 years ago as I was lying in traction with 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 broken ribs and a nurse picking gravel out of my ass, that I was dreaming of my next motorcycle (and of course about the hot chick I was going to see when I crashed). I had to dream of the next bike because the one that I had just crashed was a mere pile of twisted metal.

People were amazed that even during my recovery I still loved the notion of the motorcycle. I was unfazed by my injuries, the lure of the open road always called to me since my boyhood days of clutching to my father’s waist as we roared around on his bike. I was barely 17 when I got my first one and only 23 when I had my crash.

I stayed away from the call of the road through my late 20’s and by 30 I was married with no expendable income and a wife that never entertained the notion even if I could afford one. She was amazed that after what I had been through I wanted another and just a bit fearful of me making her a widow. For the time being I had to be satisfied with daydreaming and slobbering over every bike that I saw go by. I craved the wind in my face and driving as if I were a very part of the road itself. I romanticized it to say the least.

Not needing the approval of anyone, I bought one last fall. Once I started her for the first time this Spring, I knew that I hadn’t romanticized it enough. It shook as if it were the heavy breaths of the mighty steed. It required taming and finesse. We name our steel steeds after a woman, because it’s a thing of beauty and at the same time, the moment we lose respect for her it will buck you off. I named mine Bella.

Bella and I have spent a lot of time together and have earned a mutual respect. We have learned to ride the bumps and hang the curves in unison. We are enjoying our trips and are experiencing an unexpected bonus. We are both celebrities and members of a very exclusive club.

Celebrity status comes in the form of strangers asking me at gas stations and stores what year she is and commenting on how pretty she is. In the form of people seeing the helmet and saying “Oh, I’m jealous.” Bored husbands in minivans teeming with screaming rugrats looking at me at stoplights with pure envy.

The exclusive club is other bikers. Apparently, it is courtesy and custom to wave at passing bikes as we zoom by each other on highways and side roads. We all do it. Harleys to Hondas, we’re all in the same wonderful club. And we watch out for each other, should a car mess with a bike it’s a lot like when a hockey player knocks over a goalie. Shit hits the fan as the protectors come off the bench.

I can’t tell you how much joy I have already gotten from Bella. She’s made a routine commute a religious experience. A ride to and from dialysis a complete and meaningful experience. It has become an escape, a way to become one with nature and a way to make an ordinary day one for the books.

I suppose one additional perk is that it is one giant FUCK YOU to those who say that someone in my position shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve had cancer twice, 2 near fatal accidents, 2 near fatal staph infections, a kidney transplant and I’m still going. Nothing has killed me yet, I’ll be damned if I’ll take the “safer” road for my own benefit. I want to die having lived, with a giant goddamn smile on my face.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is out and Bella is beckoning to me to ride her…

This thing of ours

“Is it love? she asked.
It was so soon
but wonderful
and new
to define
he couldn’t label
wasn’t quite able
to say what “it” is

“Is it enough?”, he asked
that you’re my first thought
when I wake
my last before I retire
that my heart feels
as if it’s on fire
your text, your call
my smile says it all

“But is it love?” she implored
she wouldn’t be ignored
then she was sorry
she began to worry
about pushing him too far
she began to cry
he asked her to stop

What she didn’t understand
his feelings were fine
they were all about her
and her fragile state

“Will you love me someday?”
he had to concede
he was sure in his heart
that this was the start
of the life he desired

“Yes, I will love you someday.”
then asked to pump the brakes
he had weighed the stakes
and wanted to take it slow
to get to know her
to savor the newness
only fools rush in
and only a fool would blow this

First on his mind
he had to decide
if he just wanted to fix her
be a magic elixir
for all of the hurt of her past
or was it really love
on its own merit
what he wouldn’t do
to clean her slate
to undo the damage
her tormentors had given
instead of love

She reluctantly agreed
he knew it incensed her
she was too intense for him
she knew they were destined
she felt the connection
across the many miles

“I love you”, she said
“that’s how I feel”
he wanted to say it
but it had to be real
there would be no return
should he misread
this exciting reprieve
from loneliness for love

“I’m falling for you,” he said
she cried tears of joy
but it wasn’t enough
he was just being tough
she deserved better
he had the power to let her
find happiness at last
he knew what he had to do
and picked his moment

“Do you like me more each day?”
he nodded his head no
“I love you more each day”
“Did you just say…?”
“Yes, my sweet. It is love.”
She was joyous, relieved
filled with delight
He soaked it all in
it finally felt right








Music Challenge

Pensitivity 101 has asked me to participate in the weekly music challenge. It looked interest so I’m giving it a shot.

Time once again for Laura Venturini’s Weekly Song Challenge! Here, as always, are the rules:

Copy rules and add to your own post, pinging back to this post.
Post music videos for your answers to the musical questions.
Tag two people to participate!

Post a video of a song that makes you think of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Trace Adkins, and don’t tell me you don’t like Country, wrote this beautiful song from the perspective of a fallen soldier in his final resting place. If it doesn’t bring out powerful emotions then you may not be human…

this song is a beautiful homage to the fallen hero, in his or her final resting place

Post a video of a song that has the word war in title or lyrics.

this song was conceived while the band was touring Afghanistan and saw the war play out before them. This is for the soldier, about the soldier and the horrors they endure

Post a video of a song that is part of a movie soundtrack that had something to do with war.

this song is not about War, but as a critical part of the soundtrack of Good Morning Vietnam it has taken on a whole new context for me , and I suspect for many more who saw this powerful movie. As it played, horrific, visceral scenes of warfare, carnage and bloodshed that was the Vietnam War played out in front of us. Never has there been such a paradox to have such a beautiful song as a backdrop to senseless death and destruction

I nominate my lovely Bella and Good Buddy Steve if they feel so inclined to participate…