Goodbye my friend

Hello Dear reader.

I’ve missed you. Did you miss me? I apologize for not writing, but unfortunately it’s been a really tough couple of months for me physically. While writing is not a physically strenuous task it does require clear thinking. My head is anything but clear when the headaches are bad.

Lots of things have happened since I last wrote, both good things and bad. I won’t bore you with the minor things, just the big stuff.

I’m missing a very close friend who passed away from a heart attack on Sunday, July 23rd. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around how it happened. It’s kind of a long story, but I need to tell it. Brenda had been in the hospital with double-pneumonia. I had been to see her several times just to visit with her. She was really excited about the wedding coming up. The last time I saw her was a Friday. I brought her some food (the food at the hospital here is horrible) and we talked. She looked 100% better than she had on Thursday, and told me she felt much better She told me, laughing, that she couldn’t die because she didn’t want to miss the wedding, but if that happened, she’d come haunt it. I thought nothing of it. Brenda joked like that a lot. Saturday I talked to her on the phone. She hadn’t slept well the night before and was going to take a nap. I told her to call me back after she woke up and I’d come by. I was having a bad headache day myself, and when she called back I was asleep. She left a message on the answering machine (which I can’t make myself delete) saying that I could come by whenever I wanted to. My headache continued to get worse, and by Sunday I couldn’t get out of bed. I got some food together to bring her on Monday. I called the hospital and they told me that Brenda had been discharged. This was great news. So I took the food that I had for her to her house. I was still in excruciating pain, so I was just going to drop it off and then come home and lay back down. Brenda’s husband, Scotty, answered the door when I knocked. Now to understand the rest of this you have to understand a couple of things about Scotty. First of all, Scotty was in a bad car accident a while back that left him blinded. Second, he has terminal cancer. When Scotty opened the door, I said as cheerfully as possible, “I was going to bring Brenda some food at the hospital, but they told me she had gone home so I brought it here instead.” The “cheerfulness” was so Brenda wouldn’t worry about me. Scotty said, “Brenda’s dead. She died last night.” As horrible as it is, I thought he was joking. I said, “That’s not funny.” He said, “No, it’s not.” He then told me the story of what had happened. Apparently, they were going to discharge Brenda Saturday, but decided to keep her over the weekend and get a little more antibiotics into her just to be safe. On Sunday, she got a letter saying that if she didn’t pay her 20% co-pay for her medical bills they were going to take her house. I’m really not clear about who the letter was from or why she got it on a Sunday, but she freaked out. She said she was not staying in the hospital making more medical bills that she might lose her home over and checked herself out of the hospital and went home, which is about three blocks (Leadville blocks) from the hospital. I don’t know why she didn’t call me then, but she didn’t. Scotty said three hours after she got home she went into the bathroom and he heard her fall. He couldn’t wake her up. I’m not real clear on this next part either, but he said he called the hospital. They told him they couldn’t do anything unless he called the police. Scotty then made his way across the street and his neighbor called 911. By the time the ambulance got there, Brenda was dead. Her memorial service is tomorrow at 11 a.m. I thought losing Sampson was bad. I’m still having a hard time believing this is real, much less having a clue how to deal with it.

On a much brighter note, Tim landed a really great job. He is a supervisor for a big roofing company. He gets an annual salary (not huge, but not bad either), with benefits, a company truck, a cell phone, the whole nine yards. We’ll have a year-round income instead of the famine/feast that has always been a part of roofing. The very best part is that he comes home with a smile on his face every evening. He loves the job, and he’s good at it. I’m extremely glad he’s doing something he enjoys.

On the medical front, I’ve had two “trials” of a procedure in which they deaden some of the nerves in my head. The trials involve injecting a deadening solution into the nerves, similar to what a dentist does in your mouth. The effects last roughly five hours each time. Both of the trials were very successful so now we’re going to do it on a permanent basis. To understand this, you have to have an idea of how my headaches work. Most of the time, the pain starts in the base of my skull. On a not-so-bad headache day it stays there. On a bad headache day, the pain then spreads up and around until it feels like my head is in a vice. By that point, moving at all is excruciating. Once I have this procedure done, the nerves which carry the pain from the base of my skull to about halfway up my head will be permanently deadened. The headaches will still come, I just won’t be able to feel them. It should eliminate the pain of the not-so-bad headache days completely. I don’t know about the bad days, whether the pain I won’t feel will still spread to the rest of my head, which I will still feel or not. Either way, this should improve my quality of life immensely. Really exciting stuff!

The countdown is on…25 days to the wedding. Things are coming together nicely, thanks to a lot of really amazing friends.

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough here for a while. Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Until next time…

Advertisements

My Opinions

Hello dear reader.

Today has been an interesting day, to say the least.  I saw Dr. K.  He said my MRI was “as normal as it gets for me.”  Everything is “stable.”  This is good news, and not so good news.  It’s good because it means I don’t have to undergo another surgery, always a good thing, right?   The not so good part is now we have to find out why my symptoms are returning.  With surgery there would be a definite end in sight.  That’s not the case now. 

I remember at one point, when things were really bad with the pain (several years ago), I asked Dr. K. if this disease (Chiari) would kill me.  He told me “not anytime soon.”  I cried for days because that meant there was no end in sight to the pain, the weakness, and the feeling of being useless and a burden.  I  can endure anything as long as I know it will be over at some point.  The hardest part of this is not knowing if that’s the case.  So often it feels like it will never end.

Enough about that…
I’ve been very involved in some research recently which will probably raise a few eyebrows.  I’m studying the Koran.  I’m marking the similarities between it and the Bible.  I intend to write a pretty extensive piece on how much the two religions have in common.  I’ve found many things that are different, but have been amazed at how many stories parallel each other.  I think it’s going to be a really good article.  My hope is to reduce some of the  prejudice toward Muslims by showing the things we have in common.  Every religion has extremists who do horrible things in the name of God, but those are the exceptions, rather than the rule.  I think it is a horrible shame that those people are seen as the norm, as representatives of that  particular religion.  For example, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida decided the “Christian” way to World Outreach was to burn Korans. Then we have Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church who spreads God’s love by encouraging violence against law enforcement officers and especially gays and lesbians. People like that give Christianity a bad name, just as the Boston Bombers and 911, among others, give Muslim a bad name.

Since I’m on a roll with controversial subjects tonight, I would love for someone to explain to me how same-sex marriage will “destroy the sanctity of marriage.” I am a heterosexual who is getting married next month. No matter how many same-sex marriages happen, the sanctity of my marriage will not change.

I simply cannot abide all of the prejudice and judgement I see every time I turn on the news. I’m very sad to say that a large part of it comes from so-called “Christians.” The meaning of the word “Christian” is Christ-like. I’ve studied the Bible my entire life. Christ’s life was about compassion, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness, etc. There is no place in the Bible where He condoned violence or hatred.

What I write here is strictly my opinion. You are certainly entitled to have a differing opinion. As a matter of fact, I would love to discuss these differences with you in a respectful and civil manner.

I have no idea why my writing went this way today, but it just goes to show that you never know what’s going to come out of my head. I’ll try my best to focus on something much more positive next time.

Until then…

A childhood sanctuary

Hello dear reader,

I have no idea what to write about today, so I’m just going to start and see what comes out. 

It’s stopped snowing and the sun is shining brightly.  The sky is that deep blue that I’ve never seen anywhere besides here, with light fluffy clouds floating by.  They’re the kind of clouds that are made for lying on your back in the grass and watching, seeing animals and castles and anything else your imagination can invent.  It’s a perfect day to sit in the sun and read a book, or better yet, lie in a hammock and read a book.  It’s the kind of day sheets should be flapping on a clothesline getting that wonderful smell that can’t be gotten any other way.  It’s a day to have all the windows in the house open, letting the fresh air make everything smell clean.  Very soon the wildflowers will be blooming everywhere.  They bring a rainbow of colors that are constantly changing, making the mountains look like a multi-colored quilt still being made.  It is almost time for camping and hiking, being in the middle of nature and all it’s glory.  Leadville is a very small town, but even here there are the sounds of cars and motorcycles, stereos blasting, and sirens wailing,  In the woods there is none of that.

When I was a young child in Coventry, Connecticut I lived very near Wangumbaug lake.  It was a wonderful place.  In the summer “the shack” would be open.  It was a little building where you could buy candy, chips, soft drinks, and on the weekend they even sold hamburgers and hot dogs. 
To get to the beach from my house, I turned left from the house and went to the end of the dirt road (it was called Fox Trail), then made a left to go down Wangumbaug hill.  This was one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen in my life.  Being able to ride your bike all the way up the hill was a rite of passage, a show of strength and determination.  At the bottom of Wangumbaug hill was another hill.  There was a road down to the beach, but the rest of it was a wonderful grassy hillside.  At the bottom of the road down to the beach was the usual sandy beach and the lake.  On weekends during the summer they would show free movies at the beach.  Everyone would come with their blankets and sit on the grassy hillside to watch the movie.  The shack did a lot of business on movie nights. 

Wangumbaug lake was part of winter fun as well.  The lake would freeze and people would skate on it.  I loved to jump on a sled at the top of Wangumbaug hill, race down it then hit the hill to the beach.  The speed would propel me a good ways onto the lake.  It was worth the huffing and puffing it took to get the sled back to the top for that incredible ride down.

If I were to  turn right from the house and go to the end of Fox Trail, then turn right on the blacktop I would go down a much gentler hill and to wooded area.  A stream ran between the road and the woods.  I caught my first fish in that stream.  To get to the woods, I had to jump from rock to rock across the stream.  On the other side of the stream was a small trail (probably a deer trail) that led into the woods.  It didn’t take long to be surrounded by trees, shaded by all the leaves.  The ground was soft and mossy.   The only sounds were the birds and the crickets.  Following the trail even further,  I would come to a beautiful field.  It was almost a perfect circle with trees surrounding all of it.  In this field were beautiful flowers, grass, and sunshine.   Those woods were my hideaway.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my childhood consisted of misery and abuse.  But in the field, in the woods, there was no screaming, no pain, and most of all no fear.  There was peace and beauty and, as strange as it may sound, love.  There was an incredible sense of freedom.  I could be alone surrounded by beauty.

Even in the winter the woods were full of beauty.  One of my clearest memories is of an ice storm.  Everyone was upset because the power was out and it was hard to get anywhere on the roads.   There was also no school, of course, so I went for a walk to my hideaway.  The sun was shining and everything sparkled brightly.  The trees seemed to be covered with diamonds.  The stream was frozen and the snow wasn’t very deep, so off to my hideaway I went.  There were no birds singing or crickets chirping, just absolute silence and stillness.  There were no flowers, but the field was covered in beautiful pristine snow.  I didn’t go into the field because I didn’t want my footprints to mar the perfection.  I just stood at the edge of the field for a long time basking in the beauty and perfect stillness.

Well, that’s what came out today. Thank you for taking this stroll down memory lane with me.

Until next time….