Light at the end of the tunnel

So relaxed, like never before

My arms nailed to the bed

My legs won’t move

Too numb to speak

No desire to try

Peace hijacks my body

the pain has fled

Is that a light I see?

Am I moving toward it?

I don’t care

I’ve longed for this

Free at last, done with it all

I surrender

Take me now

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Bright lights. Screaming. Calling my name

Come back to us they say

Yelling and prodding at my mortal shell

Are you in there…What is your name?

He’s back! someone says. The questions ensue

I’m back from where? 

It felt so good…

One of my late Grandfather’s favorite jokes was “I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a train.” He was a funny bastard. But I beg to differ, and here is why.

 

“Cellulitis. Isn’t that the stuff that you suck out of the Real Housewive’s fat asses?” My doctor was not amused. I assured her that I was joking, that I was already intimately aware of what cellulitis is. I had it once before and my nervous joking didn’t cover how alarmed I was at this diagnosis. I was prescribed an aggressive antibiotic and given a phone number to call if the infection’s redness crept past the outlines she drew on my wrist and leg. I was on my own for the weekend. Football and bed rest.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the last time I had it. I remember it like yesterday.

I woke at 5:30 AM one morning in July feeling awful. Nauseous, raging fever and confused. My children were small, I knew that they couldn’t be left if my wife drove me to the hospital so I called my father. He rushed over and took me to the hospital. As we pulled into the dropoff area I opened the truck door, fell out and vomited all over the parking lot. Emergency techs got me into the ER. I had a fever of 104. An hour later they still didn’t know why.

I was admitted. In order to get me to relax they gave me morphine. The nurse working with me joked that I, and all men in general, were “big babies.” I wasn’t in the mood to justify myself, I let the morphine do its thing. What happened next will stay with me forever, I will need that long to explain it.

I felt such peace. I felt more relaxed than I had ever felt. My arms and legs felt as if they weighed hundreds of pounds each, I couldn’t move them. And I didn’t want to. All pain left my body. I saw blinding white light and I’m pretty sure I felt as if I was moving towards a tunnel. It was amazing. Until I came back. See, everything I just detailed I recalled later. What actually happened was the morphine attacked my weakened kidneys and I went down. Unresponsive for at least 3 minutes. My heart never stopped but I know that I was dead or awful near it. My nurse had come back in and seen that I was slipping away.

I woke to at least 5 doctors and nurses yelling at me, bright lights and beeping machines, repeated inquiries of “can you hear me?”, and “come back to us”. After what seemed like hours I was able to tell them my name and date of birth. I could see my mother and father’s concerned faces in the sea of people surrounding me. I was back.

After everything quieted down my nurse came in and tearfully apologized for calling me a baby. I didn’t care. As she leaned over my bed she leaned on my right leg and I screamed in pain. She pulled the sheet up and exposed my leg; it was twice as thick around as my other. I was immediately transferred to the ER. Cellulitis.

I spent 8 days in the ER. I almost didn’t make it. They couldn’t stabilize the infection. One hazy memory is of my wife walking in with my then 8-year-old daughter as I vomited all over myself. A bad moment indeed. I spent most of my time in a haze, frantically trying to figure out what I had experienced. I asked my mother about it. She said that I was down for the count. As if I had been dead for hours. She was terrified. As I put the pieces together I realized that I had seen the other side. And I am not afraid of it. I know that I will feel relaxation and peace, 2 things I have never had enough of.

Of course, I recovered, I would not be writing this otherwise. But today I was jolted to think that I could go through that again. I just hope that this new antibiotic works by Monday. Otherwise, I’m getting admitted again.

Oh well, worst case scenario is that I compare notes with my funny grandfather about the whole tunnel/light thing.

 

 

happiness

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You have escaped me
Or I’ve never really had you
You’re all they talk about
all everybody wants
I craved the sensation you give
kid’s books ended with you
and ever after soon followed
Life is not worth living without you
or so I was told
But I’ve lived without you
so it must be a myth
It must be nice
For those that know you
I’ll have to take their word
Until we finally meet
If we don’t it’s ok
It’s not like it matters
It’s been so long I don’t know the difference
For so many years I looked in the window
My life as it happened seemed like a show
On the outside looking in
Disconnected from the moment
the sad clown behind the painted on smile
I know you exist, I see you in others
Not sure if I need you but curiosity remains
Your name is happiness
I’d like to give you a try while there’s time

talking to strangers

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While walking by I say “how are you”

Your look tells me you don’t know what to do

I don’t blame you, I’m scared too

I’m on the lookout for the drop of the next shoe

But consider this, my skeptical stranger

I may be the good guy who poses no danger

I wish I had a badge, some kind of label

That says “I wouldn’t hurt you, I’m simply not able”

But a simple greeting knocks you way off track

Once I’m past you there’s no getting it back

“Your loss”, I will say, under my breath

I will continue to do this until the day of my death

 

Someone has to start a chain of good will

It takes little effort and no special skill

Let’s offset the anger, the hatred and division

With kindness and empathy embark on a mission

Effective immediately, as early as today

Let’s change our thinking and find a new way

To talk and discuss, with respect to each other

Not yell, argue and fight with our brother

This challenge is doable, but not for the weak

Can you halt and taste your words before you speak?

We need to do something, the situation is dire

If cooler heads don’t prevail…well here comes the fire

It’s really quite simple, the words easy to say

Ready, here we go…”have a nice day!”