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


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…

Happily Ever After

She’s a romantic at heart. Despite all of the ugliness in her world she believes in a Happily Ever After. If anyone should be discouraged by love, it’s her. Yet she persists. She’ll find her White Knight if she has to punch his Noble Steed right in the mouth and knock him off and then drag him away.

He isn’t. He told her at length about how he wanted to believe in a happily ever after but it just wasn’t his nature. He was a man of facts, of pragmatism. Things had to make sense to him. Besides, he didn’t feel he had anything to offer. Women want security, a future. He could offer neither. His final answer was No, he didn’t believe in a Happily ever after. Maybe for someone else but not him. His only cogent offering in the way of explanation was that he was broken beyond repair.

“That’s a shitty answer, coming from you” she said. She was right. He, for the first time had no snappy answer. Not one that would satisfy her.

She asked him to write a Novella. In order to access her big, wonderful heart one must first seduce her mind. He was up to the challenge. After all, it’s just words. He set pen to paper and he wrote a story about a boy and a girl. It was sentimental, it was passionate, and it was genuine. It was also fiction. She loved it. Until the boy dies at the end. It ruined it for her. Where was the happily ever after?

He insisted that this was how the story must be. She insisted that true love always has happy endings. Don’t you see that?, she implored. He didn’t see it. He couldn’t. He could write it, but he didn’t believe it. He’s just not a romantic type.

Then he read what he wrote again. He took in his own words as if reading them for the first time. Who wrote this?, he jokingly asked himself. When he came to the tragic end, he recognized his own voice, his own life, his own tainted and shattered perspective. The boy died at the end because the author refused to believe that he could ever be happy.

Then he read it again. And again. He came to the stunning realization that the guy who wrote this is a romantic. He had to be. He poured his heart out onto paper about what he wanted in his heart of hearts and he called it fiction. He wasn’t fooling anyone, not even himself. He feels unloved, unwanted, unappreciated and lonely to the darkest recesses of his soul. But somehow, through his writing a sliver of light emerged. He believed, he just didn’t feel worthy, and his tactic of shutting people out so that they can’t hurt him simply wasn’t working anymore.

He painfully admitted to himself that yes, he wants love. He wants romance. He wants to savor moments with someone and count the minutes until they are together again. He wants spirited conversation and comfortable silences. He wants passion and intimacy. He wants to give everything to one person without another crushing rejection. He wants crazy. He wants fun. He wants to allow himself to be vulnerable yet unafraid of being hurt.

He wants something he’s never had and until now he thought it was just too late.

Now he wonders if it’s time to tell her that she’s right. She deserves more than anything to have a Happily Ever After. The least that he could do was try to believe with her.

Maybe the boy lives at the end after all…

Showing up

You’ve heard the quote, although the percentages vary, 80% of life is showing up. I agree. Wholeheartedly. I have always shown up, I’ve even been early more often than not. But I’ve always thought about a caveat. After you’ve shown up…then what?

Showing up without pursuant action is a false gesture. It is not enough to wake up and say “I’m here”. You then have to say, “What am I going to do now that I am?”

In my current state I am, on paper, the least able to be a man of action that I have ever been. My health, my time, my remote location have placed so many constraints on my ability to be the involved person that I once was. For a while, as I adjusted to my new lifestyle of scheduled clinic visits that occupied 15-17 hours per week, a new home over 100 miles from my friends, family and my beloved Masonic Lodge, and many additional days of unplanned fatigue and general crappiness I was noticeably absent where I was once omnipresent.

Now, I am happy to say that I am back in full force.

I’m back as a full-time member of my Masonic Lodge. Once word got out about the ordeal it is for me to attend, often while not feeling well, other members felt inspired to follow my lead. In addition, I was able to rejuvenate a Charity of ours that had been without a leader in my absence. In the first day we helped 3 School students fulfill needs not available through traditional programs.

I’m back volunteering at the Food Pantry, I’m not able to do the full shift but I still stay as long as I can.

Our Community Club, consisting of most of the full-time residents of my town is suffering from an aging membership and a drought in people willing to lead. I threw my hat in the ring for Vice President. An older member approached me and thanked me for “stepping up.”

It feels good to get involved, it feels better to get results. It wasn’t enough to go to my meetings, to be a kinda volunteer at a charity. I had to be a part of it. I have to tell you that it feels great. It’s almost enough to take my mind off of the myriad problems that would bring a weaker man to his knees.

This morning I sent 2 texts and made 3 phone calls to friends who are dealing with obstacles in their lives. One of my buddies came home Friday to find that his girlfriend had left him and took her 2 kids, who had been like his own children for the last 8 years. Another lost his job yesterday, no severance package. Another is going through terrible marital problems. The others were ailing friends and brothers. They were all grateful for the call, and more than one asked why I was worried about them with all I have going on. I told them that I’m here, I don’t really have anything else to do, what better way to spend my time than doing something positive with my time?

After all, time spent in service to others is time not spent focusing on yourself.

I’m here. I showed up. But that wasn’t enough. I still have something to offer and as long as I am of value to others then I will continue to value myself.

Don’t just show up. Jump in and make shit happen.

Superman out…

What an ass

How was your yesterday? I bet it was more fun than mine. I did a dialysis treatment and a Colon Blow on the same day.

I have spent most of the week dreading my Colonoscopy. It is a necessary evil because A)I’ve never had one and I’m about 3 years past the normal age to get one. B) It is the last test to complete to be approved for another Transplant.

Knowing that I needed it and that it is a necessary step wasn’t the issue, I was just dreading the prep.

Yesterday I woke knowing that this was the day that I had to start preparing. I had my jug of ready-mix diarrhea powder on the counter, just add water, and I had my instructions laid out on the table. I was going to be behind the 8 ball because I was supposed to begin chugging water first thing in the morning but that was a problem because I had dialysis until 4, and the last thing you can do is go to dialysis full of water. You’re heavy and you have to pee, both no-no’s.

My plan was to have water with me for the ride home. So as soon as I left the clinic I managed to slam down 2 water bottles on the way home. Then when I got home I mixed the “Ready-Blech” and chugged a 8 oz glass every ten minutes until I had consumed 3/4 of a gallon. Then the fun began.

All in all it wasn’t so bad, I was relatively dry because I have semi-fasted all week. I was disappointed that I didn’t see the GI Joe that I swallowed when I was 12 but all in all I got through it. I actually slept through the night. Which was a good thing because I had to get up at 5 to drink another quart of Ready-Blech.

I needed a ride home after so Mom joined me. It was an hour drive to the hospital and it was miserable. In hindsight (hind? no pun intended) I should have brought a cork to sit on. The morning dose was wreaking havoc on me and I nearly ran into the hospital in search of a bathroom when we got there.

Once that episode was over, I was immediately ushered into the staging area to undress, put on a very flattering assless “Johnny” and get my vitals and instructions. The nurses, male and female were very friendly and informative and managed to make a couple of Colonoscopy jokes. I cried foul.
“Here I am behaving, and believe me I got jokes, and you’re doing it.? I’m being good because you have probably heard them all.”
It’s true, you know. Everyone thinks they’re the first one to make the Dad jokes, like when meeting a Funeral Director and saying “how’s business…dead?”
Ba doom doom crash.
Their answer was that, occasionally they hear a new one. I laughed inside, I had yet to spring mine on them.

As I was in the process of succumbing to the anasthesia, they rolled me over onto my side. It was then that they noticed the “post it” note I had stuck to my ass that read…

Exit Only

When I came to in the recovery room I was greeted by a slew of nurses and technicians congratulating me on “the one they’ve never heard before.”

All joking aside, they removed a couple of polyps and I’m fine. Still an asshole, but fine.