Saturday, May 31, 2014

End of Mayhem

The Not So Merry, Merry Month of May is almost over.  We both got out of some pretty nasty anniversary remembrances relatively unscathed, dead readers.   At least I did.  I do apologize for any continued wound licking that be ongoing with any of you.  Occasionally, the pen does leak poison.  Hence, its power. Rejoice!  We have concluded this leg of our journey.
 
What is next?  A little more dedication to posting.  Those who have been following since my original blog are accustomed to multiple posts a day on a wide range of topics.  I am now working through some spiritual and emotional issues which are invading all my thoughts.  Everything else feels frivolous by comparison.  But even though my thoughts are so consumed, it has been draining to put them down in writing on even so much as a daily basis.  Sporadic posting is not the way to build up a blog.  A little more discipline is in order.

I have outlined posts for the month of June.  There is, of course, thye freedom to post any thing I fill so inclined to toss up here, but anything outside of the outline will be bonus. To regular content.  Daily?  I am shooting for that.  I may miss a day and double up.  But the idea is to get back in the groove of blogging.  Even the old blog, with its loads of posts not relating to anything personal, had much therapeutic value.  Cogito Ergo Doleo needs to take that and kick it up a few notches for my sake.  It might be a wild summer ride.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Cogito Ergo Doleo is mostly about self-discovery and spiritual growth, but a few other things are too important to ignore.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Broken Promises and Winding Roads

It has been exactly one year today since I last saw home.  Or what passed for home the better part of a decade.  Truth be told, home has been gone for a long time.  I have a touch of the nomad in me, so it is difficult to pinpoint any place as home.  All I know is that home cannot be merely where you hang your hat.  I feel too much of a sense of loss about leaving places over the years for such to be true.  But the true definition of home is a matter to explore some other time.  There are two better questions to explore on this anniversary.

 First, can you really be betrayed by someone you expected to stab you in the back eventually?  I am only the most recent5 family member to be cut out of Denise’s life.  You do not have the numbers to do the actual math, but surely you can figure out the number of family she has not alienated yet is tiny.  The forsaken numbered quite heavily before I fell into her lap.  I knew the clock was ticking before the anesthetic wore off my first surgery ten years ago.  It began ticking loud enough to hear a couple months later when I asked how she felt about my presence in her house.  “There is so much sh*t already, I won’t notice,” was her reply.   Not exactly open arms, but I took.  I was not exactly embracing life at that point, anyway.  I had already tried on a plastic bag. 

Things went downhill from there.  Like any person in tough circumstances, I hardened in order to survive them.  I was hard anyway after a lifetime of alcoholic parents leading a parade of many cruel people who wandered in and out of path.  No wonder I am a nomad.  Who would want to stay in one place with all that?  Give then a moving target, I say.  Unfortunately, I became a stationary one.  Denise took aim at the bull’s eye.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone out there is jealous of her.  Then I remember most people are too conceited to care about such things.  Only the warped like you-know-who.

So am I surprised?  Obviously not.  Am I angry?  Of course.  One is entitled to be angry when wronged by a mortal enemy, much less by a blood relative in whom one should trust.  Even though I did trust Denise--barely--out od trust rather than necessity.  So we have answered the first question.  Yes, there is a lingering anger, although it is the kind of back burner pain you carry with you without reliving it constantly, even though I expecte3d the betrayal to happen eventually.

 The second question is what now?  I may have been a nomad,  but I have been goal oriented.  I moved from place to place with the assumption each new locale was a progression in life towards something better.  Well, I have certainly hit a dead stop now.  Progression may not be the case, anymore.  The future, assuming there even is one worth mentioning, is uncertain and scary.  Not a good spot for a drifter who always believed his sacrifices of happiness would pay off big in the future.

Can we answer the what now question as easily as the one about the anger of inevitable betrayal?  (No <I>Firefly</I> jokes, please.)  Well, maybe.  Long term goals are not really in the venue of the nomad, so maybe I was fooling myself there.  Truth be told, I less stationary now than when I was under Denise’s thumb.  There is something to be said for that, as is making it a goal to live day-to-day.  It has not been easy to retrain myself to accept an uncertain future, even if I do realize now my determination to chart my own path regardless of circumstances was folly.  Some lessons can only be learned the hard way.  Both lessons, in this case.   

Monday, May 19, 2014

Downloaded

I know, I know.  As every good Wholigan knows, the proper term with cybermen is upgraded, not downloaded.  But the original question I was asked a while back was if I could be downloaded into a robot body so that my health issues no longer wearied me, would I do it?  I have to use the exact word from the question.  I am weird that way.  Speaking of weird, science fiction fans come up with some weird questions to ask, do they not?

The answer is no.  To the initial question, not whether science fiction fans come up with weird questions.  The answer to that one can only be yes.  

Just to get the least existential reason out of the way first, I am too much of a cynic to think nothing could ever go wrong with a robot body. Even if I wanted to be immortal, the odds are the body could eventually malfunction and be damaged beyond repair. In that case, I would be merely delaying the inevitable. Even worse, there is a possibility the body could be partially damaged, thereby giving me a disability for eternity rather than just by allotted three score and ten and some change if God has other plans. What is the value in that?

But for the rest of my argument, I will cast aside my cynicism--not an easy task, that--and assume the process of downloading my consciousness into a robot body works as planned and I become a perfectly healthy, immortal thingamabob. It does not sound like a good idea, either.

First, I have questions about my soul. I believe I have one, so skeptics need not bother calling me on it. I have heard your arguments from years of engaging in apologetics. You have nothing new to tell and I already know you believe I am ignorant. Save your breath. The human body is greater than the sum of its parts. Whatever that spark of life is, it has something to do with the soul. The consciousness is the closest way I can define it, so removing it from the body sounds like a no-no in the first place. I am not eager to house it in an immortal body, either.

Second, I am no hedonist, but I think I would lose a lot of human pleasures trapped inside a robot body. Even with emotions intact, there is the lost sensation of human touch, food, and drink, an afternoon nap, petting my cat, or a thousand other things I could come up with if I thought about the possibilities. The consequences that come right off the top of my head are the same day because I would not be able to create new memories. enough of a deterrent.

Third, I could not watch the cycle of life and death continue for all eternity, even assuming that would happen. Neurologists now theorize the brain only has the capacity to store about 400 years worth of memory. Assuming my mind in this robot body is still mine, I could wind up like Drew Barrymore in Fifty First Dates. Every day is But even assuming that does not happen, I cannot imagine forming new attachments over and over again, only to watch people I love wither away and die. I would eventually wind up an emotionally dead hermit.

Finally, who wants to live forever? Even Christians rely on the faith God has made heaven stimulating enough for us to want to spend eternity there because of doubts we would want to live anywhere forever. Things have to end, or else the experience gets stale as it becomes too familiar. A person can get bored with anything, but particularly when one has enough time to do everything.

There are too many con arguments with downloading my consciousness into a robot body to seriously consider the pro arguments valid. Near as I can tell, the only pro argument is getting rid of health problems I am currently suffering. That would wind up as temporary relief versus never ending negative consequences even if the transfer works perfectly. I do not see how any reasonable person would go for the option.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Sunday Morning Coming Down"--Johnny Cash


I ought to post some combo breakers from time to time, no?  Surely you all do not want to read nothing but my self-absorned ranting and raving.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Colon Rupture: Ten Years Later

May 13th, 2004 will more than likely go down as the worst day of my life until the day I draw my last breath. No small statement, that.  It has earned more competition in recent times.  This fateful day a decade ago was one of those pivotal days where something unexpected happens that alters your life forever. There are times now when I have to dwell on the randomness of it all. The day as the epitome of the saying you cannot win for losing.

The day actually started a sequence of events which I have no interest in correlating to which date over the following six weeks it took place on. So I am just going to throw it all out there in this post.

Ten years ago today, my colon ruptured. The diverticulitis, which I reiterate no one even knew I had, was so inflamed by the prednisone I had been taking, it literally burnt a hole in my colon. I had been feeling bad since the day before. I was not in pain yet, but I felt like I was coming down with something. I assumed my immune system was just spent from surgery. I was worse the next day, but things really did not hit home until I ate lunch.

I could not hold it down and the pain started. Honestly, it was not the kind of pain you might thing. It felt more like a pressure than any sharp or burning sensation. The fact I could not hold anything down was more of a concern. I had be warned of possible allergic reactions to medication I had been given at Duke, so the first assumption is that was the problem. Within a few hours, I was on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor figuring this is not an allergic reaction. I went to the emergency room.

I have had kidney stones in the past, so anytime I have symptoms that seem remotely like stones, that is the assumption everyone works under. I had never had digestive problems before, so no one even speculated about that. There was even a moment the emergency room physician on call suggested I leave there and go to Charleston to see my neferologist. He was just about to go off shift. Luckily his replacement was wiser. I was obviously in dire straits. No one could quite figure out why.

To add an extra degree of complication, there was a stomach virus going around. One, there was an assumption I caught it and two, the hospital had set up a triage that look like a MASH unit wherever there was space because rooms were all filled up. There were stretchers literally camped out in the hallways with people receiving IV fluids and sleeping off the bug. I wound up spending the night in some make shift tent city. I was doped up and did not care.

The next day, I was finally put in a room. I was still not being actively reated for anything except the pain and nausea. Because I had spent very little time in my hometown since graduating high school, I did not have a regular doctor. I had not had one in my hometown since a pediatrician. When you come in without a regular doctor, he is assigned a doctor on call who has at least fifty other patients just like you. His only goal is to make you someone else’s problem as quickly as possible. When he heard kidney stones in regards to me, that is all he needed to know. He called in a neferologist to take over and wished me the best of luck.

So nothing was going to happen until the next day when the neferologist, Dr. O’Kelly, showed up. I am barfing up nothing but bile at this point about as fast as any fluids be pumped in me. As odd as this all sounds, absolutely no one acts like all signs put to something worse than a kidney stone acting up, if indeed I even had a new one, which I had not in thirteen years.

Normally, I am one to read the riot act on short notice and get people hopping. One of the things that appealed to me most about becoming a lawyer was how I could do that authoritatively and get paid for it rather than just be a jackass as a decicated hobby. Looking back, I realize the pain and nausea medication had clouded my thinking and pacified me to where it not only did not occur to me to insist someone do something now. It would not have mattered ultimately, but considering the severity of what was really going on, in hindsight it makes me angry no one was looking for it.

Here is the kicker. I was going to have a CT scan before O’Kelly even looked at me for the first time. I get taken down to radiology for the scan and they send me back to my room because whoever can read the scan has the day off.

Let me reiterate that. There is apparently only one guy who knows how to read CT scans at our regional medical center. If he is not working, you are screwed. Try not to die until he is back on call. To his credit, O’Kelly, a big city doctor who openly found the small town hospital way of doing things barbaric, exploded. He was the first I had met since arriving in the emergency room two days ago who did. He insisted I have the CT scan now and he would read the darn thing.

So I went through with tescan and was back up I my room. I was not there literally ten minutes before a nurse came in and told me a surgeon was on his way. I needed to be operated on yesterday. Actually, two days ago, but who is counting? O’Kelly had been looking at the scan of my kidney, which was perfectly healthy, and just happened to see the tear in my colon.

Events happened really fast. I had no idea up euntil that point there was ever any problem with my digestive system, much less anything serious enough to be fatal. I was on the verge of a peritonitis infection. Why I had not already had one is beyond most anyone knowledgeable of the subject who has heard this story.

I do not remember much before surgery. No one was dawdling at this point. I do not even recall the operating room. Whatever they gave me beforehand to pacify me knocked me out long before I even got to the operating room. When I awoke, half my colon was gone and I had a lovely colostomy as a souvenir.

I was told it was reversible, was I would have to keep it for at least two months. Considering how tumultuous the recovery process was over the next month, I was not too eager to go through with it even though, lord, you have to whether you want or not. No one chooses to live with something like that! It was a miserable, depressing time. No one talked about it, because it did not seem like a priority, but my eye never improved. The brown tint covering everything that I hoped was gas was actually just the dark of my detached retina no longer reflecting any light. The bitter irony was that little bugger was the only reason I took prednisone in the first place. Not only did my colon rupture for nothing, it was adding insult to injury.

Fate was not through with me though. Months later, it was discovered--on the freaking operating table--that the diverticulitis had spread, so reversing the colostomy was not only pointless, my colon might very well rupture again at some point. Keep in mind I had several tsts done prior to surgery which involved which involved shoving very unpleasantly large items up my butt in order to determine before operating on me whether it can actually be done. Nevertheless, I had to be chopped open on the operating table before it occurred to anyone that, nope, it cannot be done. I guess you could call that the final insult to injury, but it would not include the two subsequent surgeries to repair a hernia that developed post surgery that would not quite stay fixed or the long hospitalization for three, count them, three bowel obstructionsat the same time.

Needless to say, it has been a rough five years. Stuff has just piled on to the point t e attending physician watching over me for my last surgery in 2008 literally asked how I could cope. he was not asking for the secret to my strength so much as wondering why I had not slit my wrists by this point. It is a good question and one I could only answr with my religious beliefs forbid it. I have to admit, I have explored the relationship between my Christianity and the tragedies of life. I am going to write about it, too, but it merits its own poat because there is a lot more about my struggles in faith in recent years than just my decline in health. For now, I just want to mark what was the point of my life at which it all went downhill.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

Yesterday, I wrote about the final eye surgery to repair my detached retina. It was part of a three day remembrance of May 11-13 2004. Today marks the midway point. As far as I knew, nothing bad was happening. Call it on odd breather between two distinct disasters.

I stayed overnight in North Carolina for a post op the next morning. I had this huge bandage that covered the right half of my face. It was packed with enough gauze that I probably could have been hit with a baseball bat on not been aware of it. Then again, I probably would have since my kisser was also swollen to about three times its normal size. I have never engaged in a fistfight in my life, but I am pretty sure I can empathize with the aftermath.

I got the second and third hints something was not quite right about my eye, but I rationalized both away immediately. I still was not ready to face the inevitable. The first instance was when the bandage came off. I had already had one surgery with a gas bubble and knew that I was supposed to see it in my line of vision. It is impossible to fill the entire eye without some escaping before sealing the incision, so there is always some part of your line of sight not covered. It was not so now. I could hardly see a thing, which was expected, but there was a brown tint over my entire line of vision.

I did not even ask about the difference this time from the previous. I lied to myself and said this is Duke University. They know how to fill the entire eye with gas. None leaked out this time. I did not want to hear any other answer, so I did not seek one out.

The second hint is when I was examined to determine if I was attached. The ophthalmologist shined every light in his arsenal while forcing me to contort in all sorts of twisted manner in order to get a good look. He finally said it was too dark in there to get a good look. I took that as confirmation my gas theory was correct. If I cannot see passed it, he surely cannot see through it, either. Today, I am confident he was waiting to hand me off to my regular ophthalmologist so he could give me the bad news instead.

I am being cynical about that. There is no way to at this pint exactly what happened. Like I said yesterday, I was prescribed prednisone, a steroid, to prevent scar tissue from forming. I had been taking it every four hours for two solid days at this point. No one realized I had diverticulitis, an inflammation of the colon, which is severely aggravated by steroids. It only took a little over 24 hours for it to have nasty results.

I already was feeling some effects, but chalked them up to the surgery. I probably did not have all the painkillers or anesthetic out of a system. My immune system was practically gone, too. Who knew what can of germs I might have gotten in the half dozen waiting rooms I had suffered through over the last three days? I thought it was just my luck to come down with a virus after all this mess.

If only.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Personal Detachment

My right retina detached roughly ten years ago today.  I say roughly because the detachment was not the dramatic affair of a "curtain" being pulled over the vision like many people say.  My eye bugged me for a few days until my vision began to noticeably deteriorate.  May 11, 2004 is the day I was actually diagnosed. Ugh.  The second time in the same eye within four years. 

I had a detached retina seventeen years before which left my left eye legally blind, so this was a desperate problem as far as functionality was concerned. The retina in my right eye had already detached once years earlier, but had been repaired with virtually no damage. I was even able to renew my driver’s license with no problem. But the more times a retina detaches, the less likely it can be fixed. Even twice can spell disaster.

I left law school in Virginia Beach to have surgery in Columbia, South Carolina. I kept my fingers crossed. There is a six week period after surgery which is the danger zone for another detachment. If you make it out of that period, conventional wisdom is you are golden. My left eye has stayed repaired even though damaged. My right lasted for four years at least. Pretty much everyone was trying to hide their pessimism the repair job would stay. They were right. It lasted only three weeks.

It was a tough three weeks. The surgeon decided to insert a gas bubble it my eye after laying the retina flat in its proper place. I had to lay face down for the duration so the gas would put pressure on the retina. Hopefully, the pressure would make it seal up permanently. As the gas dissipated, the exposed parts off the retina came undone. There was too much scar tissue from the last surgery and the second detachment for it to stick. The surgeon had hinted numerous times that might happen, so there were no surprises.

He referred me to the Duke University Eye Center. In spite of what anyone says about the superiority of ivy league research, when it comes to medical innovation, there is no place like Duke. Some of the methods described to me to help detached retina and macular degeneration victims sounded almost medieval. I realized it was because this was the place you were sent when all else failed. Desperate people willing to try anything could meet up with researchers willing to do most anything in order to get a feature article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

My expectations were low, but I kept my doubts internal. I did not want to think about going blind at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. For what it is worth, the doctor performing the pre op examination was the last person to ever show an ounce of optimism regarding any health issue I have had in the last five years. He told me the surgical staff was going to insert oil rather than gas this time. The oil would fill the eye completely, putting more pressure on the retina regardless of whether I was laying facedown or not. He said I could see through this oil with only a gassy tint as the only detriment. I was skeptical it could be that easy, but with Duke, you never knew.

The most hopeful bit turned out to be the worst. Scar tissue was going to be the biggest barrier to the surgery’s success. They had much success over the years giving patients the steroid prednisone in order to prevent scarring. The one-two combination of oil pressure and predisone was supposed a sure thing. Ah, if only we had known I had diverticulitis, too. But that is a story for Wednesday.

So I showed up for surgery five years ago today. It was a fascinating experience, all things considered. In the pre op room were a series of recliners in which patients waiting for surgery were put in. I was in the first chair closest to the operating room. A medical student came by to start up an IV to pump some fluids in me. The anesthesiologist came out and explained that I would be awake during the whole procedure, but so doped up I would not care about that huge scalpel that was going to be digging into my eye for the next three hours.

I had been referred to Dr. Brooks McCuen. Dr. McCuen is the head researcher in complicated retinal detachments and macular degenerations. Most of the time, he does lab work and teaches classes on the two subjects. He only performs surgery one day a week. Getting to see him is special. The anesthesiologist, sensing my desperation, I assume, told me that if George W. Bush’s retina detached, Dr. McCuen would be the one to fix it.

He was not exaggerating. The medical staff started scurrying about the moment they knew he was about to arrive. He flung the heavy swinging door open and I swear there was a bright light shining down--an aura, if you will and a hallelujah chorus. Barack Obama could take messianic lessons from this guy. Perhaps if his retina detaches, he will. He walked slowly down the middle of the room between the two rooms of recliners parallel to each other making eye contact with each of the patients he was going to be operating on. he stopped in front of me.

"You’re up first? Are you ready to see again?” he said.

The guy was like Alec Baldwin in Malice. He oozed a God complex out every pore. All I was interested in was having my eye fixed. He could be as arrogant as he wished as long as he got the job done. I assured him I was ready.

It was an experience. The previous two surgeries on my right retina had involved me laying on a regular hospital bed, doped up, but awake while the surgeon worked. This time around, I was strapped down, my head was held fast in what felt like a loose vice grip. Suddenly, Dr. McCuen seemed like a James Bond villain. They usually have a case of egomania, too.

I do not actually remember much of the surgery. Contrary to what I had been told, I started sawing logs almost immediately due to the medication. When it was all said and done, Dr. McCuen himself woke me up--loudly. He does not like being ignored, even by patients who cannot currently identify what planet they are on.

At this point, strong hints started to appear things were not well. He told me he used the gas again rather than the oil. He never explained why, but the usual rationale is gas dissipates on its own while oil requires another procedure to eventually remove it I asked if I was going to have to lay face down another six weeks. He was dismissive of the idea where the first surgeon spoke of it as a matter of life and death. I figured I was too hopeless a case for the oil, there was no reason to risk me having another surgery to remove it on a lost cause, but he used the gas just to say he tried something.

Subsequent events made it impossible to know exactly what happened. The only definite thing is the end result--I have gone blind in my right eye. It has been the most detrimental health issue I have ever faced, hard as that maybe for those who know me to believe. But in some ways, having Dr. McCuen, arguably the best there is, not be able to fix it has given me an odd since resignation. There was obviously nothing else that could be done. Fate was not quite through kicking me in the ribs yet, but the retina detachment made more sense than what was about to come.

Mother's Day Elegy

It was on March 18th 2003 my mother took her own life. If you have been reading my blogging for a while, you understand I have mixed emotions about her. We had a strained relation for over a decade that reached the breaking point in 1997 after my stepfather died. She went over the edge and I had to leave to protect myself. To have some sort of semblance of a life. Yet I still kept coming home for holidays and the like even in spite of the fact it was more often than not the two of us eating leftovers at the video store on either thanksgiving or Christmas day. Towards the end, it was not even that. I would come home and watch her spend the entire time on a drunken bender. I swore in 2002, whether I had the natural instinct to go home for the holidays or not, I never would again. Maybe she sensed I meant it this time. She waited three months, but it is an unanswered question for me.

Everyone grieves in their own way. She used to sit by my stepfather’s grave on a daily basis and talked to him. I swear even six years on she acted as though he died the day before. She was clearly losing her grip, but no one had the patience to help her when she did not want to help herself. One by one, we all left. I take a certain battle scarred pride in telling you I was the last one to go. Since her suicide, I have only been to her grave once. It was right before I went back to Virginia. I have never had the urge to revisit her final resting place. I guess I have always believed goodbye means goodbye. Oftentimes funerals are open casket. It has always creeped me out, but it is a psychological thing to see a loved one as an empty shell. It reminds you they are gone. We could not have this one open casket. I would have refused to have it that way even if circumstances had been better, but I have relieved that decision was taken out of my hands, just to preserve the last memory of her. More precisely, the memory of what she had become. She was not dead yet, but she was as much a shell then as he was in the chapel of that funeral home.

I last saw my mother, alive but hung over, just a few days into January 2003. I was going to catch a ride back to Virginia with a classmate from North Carolina. Momma still fancied herself a closet drinker but there was no hiding the results at this point. I spet a year at home recovering from my first detached retina just before law school. It was the lowest point of my life and clearly contributed to my rough time at Regent University. She went on bender almost like clockwork. She would literally lay in her room for weeks at a time while I tried to figure out how to survive hal blind on my own until she straitened up. Finally leaving for law school in 2001 was a relief I cannot describe. I never in my life wanted to go to Virginia or Regent, but it was the furthest I could get away from her on short notice. I took the opportunity. Yet still I came back for the holidays. No matter how violent she got, no matter how abusive, no matter how cruel, I came back. Like I said above, I determined in my heart 2002 was the last time. I did not tell her that, but she knew it. We sat in a McDonald’s eating breakfast at 6:30 AM waiting for my friend to show up The night before, for the oddest reason, we played two games of Scrabble for the first time in years. I am reasonably sure those were the last gentle words we spoke to each other. I do not even remember saying goodbye or hearing it from her.

I only spoke to her once between then and the time of her death. She called in the middle of February to tell me she was selling the house and asked me where I wanted my stuff to be stored. My jaw dropped, but only. I knew what was happening. It was akin to watching a car accident unfold. You watch it, you have enough time to know what is going to happen, but no way of stopping it. I told her there was no turning back on this. Do not make a rash decision. I knew good and well the only decisions she ever made were rash. It was all part of the hidden drinker in her. She needed people to know she was doing well. If she could not do that, well then she would just leave. She used to do all sorts of irrational things on a euphoria high. Big spending sprees, going on like a wild teenager, or finding some new man. At some point, she would come down, realizing what she had done, and tear on a huge drunk. She had been arrested a number of times for her acts during low points. Selling the house was the biggest and stupidest thing she had ever done on a high and I knew when she came down, she would match her action. Turn out I was very much correct. There was absolutely nothing I could have done about it. I even had to go through with the sell two weeks after she was buried. I assumed the fact the previous owner killed herself in the main closet would deter the buyer and let me keep the place. No such luck. I could have fought it. In hindsight, I wish I had. But I let it go because I thought the future would be so much brighter than the dreariness and pain that place brought me.

Two things stuck out broadly in my mind the afternoon one of the few friends she had left tracked me down in Virginia to tell me she was dead. The first was whether she killed anyone else She did not, by the way. She had wandered into the now empty house days before. Evidently she sat on the floor in the pitch dark for the better part of a week before ending it all. I was not surprised. I was already calculating how to beat off the numerous vultures I am related long enough to sort everything out before they picked her and my bones clean. The second thing I thought about is how to deal with certain estranged family I had no real animosity for. The third was whether to slip out of Virginia without telling anyone from Regent. In hindsight, I wish I had. The final nail in that school‘s coffin was the number of people who ran up to me to ask, “So was your mother a Christian?” I guess I was supposed to answer, “Nah. She is burning in hell right now.. Good luck on your trial brief tomorrow.” My roomate at the time created some drama by taking a collection of money gathered up for me (Unbeknownst to me, I assure you.) and putting it into his personal checking account.. Somehow or another it slipped out, by speulation I assume, she took her own life, so there was that lovely Christian charity about me being somehow tainted because of it. Add in a morbid curiosity about my mother’s will and you can figure couut Regent was a hive of unpleasant weirdos.

But enough about all that. It is far enough in the past to no longer matter. What does matter is the memories that come bubbling to the surface in the middle of the night. Memories of when my mother was still my mother. Memories of her sitting by my hospital bed when no one else did. Memories of scrabble games, of weekends at the beach with just the two of us. Memories of eating supper on lap trays in front of the television. Even the mundane things have more meaning now than I ever thought they would. She used to cook all the time. Lemon pies, cookies, brownies, fudge. Whatever she did not cook, she bought. Right up until the end, there was always loads of food in the house. I never realized how much I cared about that until it was gone. Back in August when I had my obstruction, I could not eat solid food for the duration, but I had all sorts of strange cravings. I found myself raving things my mother used to make. That was one of the first times since her death I felt a deep sense off loss. That aspect of my mother had been gone years prior to her actual death, but I never stopped to mourn it or even recall how much I would miss it. It threw me into a very dark place that I have yet to leave.

For whatever pain she caused, she was still my mother. There was a bond there no matter what. There were a lot of horrible times. I will not lie about it. There was one desperate moment when I started throwing my clothes in my newly bought car ready to drive off until I knew she could never find me. Young people unaware their parents’ feet of clay are not evil do things like that. Do not get me wrong about that either. My mother had an evil streak in her. Days after her funeral, I discovered a sister I never knew I had she abandoned as a toddler. But despite all that, I tolerated momma. I had fun where I could. We had fun where we could. We loved each other. We were not the Waltons, but we loved each other. I always struggled through the bad times with her because I thought the future would be brighter and it would all be worth it. I now know better.

I have whined enough about my present health status to not go into it here. I know my deep sense of loss oozes out of every word I write. No one has to tell me, although you frequently do. If I had known what the future was going to be like, I would have enjoyed the past more. What I terribly regret is not realizing how happy I should have been many more times than I was compared to now. There is nothing I can do about it now except mourn for my pat mistakes and wish fate had been a little less cruel to both my mother and me. For all that has gone before, I miss her. I miss her. She was the first of many great losses to befall me in the last decade and a spell.
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Friday, May 2, 2014

I Fit the Battle of Jericho

We have already established I am an introvert.  I am reserved at even my best moments.  I am self-absorbed at my worst.   Accusatio0ns of being emotional shallow have been common because of my often aloof demeanor.  Reserved I will give them, particularly when I am contentedly deep in thought or even more contentedly internally mocking the folly of the people around me.   Emotionally shallow?  An unfair assessment, that.  Ask anyone who has offended me personally how viciously confrontational I can be.  My deal is that I do not often express my feelings, for better or worse.  I am simply not interested in letting people in.   I can be incredibly hostile if someone tries to force his or her way in.

You can imagine what recent months have been like for me with concerned people hovering around desperate to know what is lurking in my mind.  I have experienced this internal poking and prodding from those concerned personally and professionally.  Well, I am not one to open up to friends solely because they want me to do so.  I am certainly not inclined to pour my heart out to a nurse practitioner rattling a bottle of antidepressants over my head while demanding I open up.   My wagons were officially circled.  I did not want help embracing life in the first place, if you catch my drift.

There are physical manifestations of shutting oneself off in such a manner.  It was pointed out to me, though not expressly, during my second counseling session that I like to put up barriers.  I assumed my therapist meant I was being evasive in our discussions.  Which I was.  I was trying to buy time to figure a way out from under all the scrutiny and go back to the days when I had the freedom to off myself anytime circumstances got to be too much.  But he was actually speaking physically. 

 I did not realize this until one late afternoon when the social worker from one of Oakhaven’s sister nursing homes was sent to talk to me.  She had previously worked in a group home for children.  One of the most common problems she faced there was kids who felt like they had no future.  So here is a stranger coming into my sanctuary of a room already assuming she knows exactly how I feel asking pointed questions in order to bring those feelings all out.  Yes, I was a happy camper that evening.  She was not there for two minutes before I grabbed the pillow from my bed and put it under my arms as we talked.

 She pointed out the pillow in front of my is a symbolic shield protecting something internally that I am attempting to hide.  Her comment caused me to suffer one of those searing moments when you realize someone has you pegged about something you thought--hoped--was a secret.  It dawned on me then what my therapist  had been referring to days before.  I had spent tour entire session clutching on of his couch pillows to my chest in a death grip.  Looking further back, I noted I had engaged in like behavior frequently.  Sometimes it was because of the topic of conversation.  Other times, it was the person to whom I was talking who compelled me to throw the wall up.   I suppose I have done it for a long time, but I have only been consciously aware since it was pointed out.

 I have avoided grabbing any pillows with which to guard misrelate.  I am always on the lookout for anything and everything that could even be remotely looked upon as a barrier, even down to folding my arms in front of me.  Have my communications with others become more open?  Not really.  I have mostly removed any physical evidence of being on guard.  Such a development suits my old, never let anyone in self.  Those around who were aware of my inclination towards barriers consider the change a step in the right direction.  A small step to be sure, but a step nonetheless.  Small steps only force the journey to take a little longer. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Not So Merry, Merry Month of May

Spring was a wonderful time in my younger days.  May was a great springtime month in particular.  The weather was almost always sunny and warm in a reminder summer was just around the corner.  As school wound down, the anticipation of academia’s shackles falling off for three months brought visions of what could be the best vacation ever.  Who would not think May was one of the best months of the year?

 Well, May has been shot all to oblivion for me within the last decade.  May 2004 was the month both my retina detached and colon ruptured, which were not unrelated events, wildly enough.  May 2013 saw me unceremoniously dumped from an actual home to long term care for reasons which still remain a mystery.  The end result from the worst two Mays I have ever experienced have been a complete uprooting o9f my life due to circumstances beyond my control.  One day, life was completely unrecognizable from the previous--twice--and I practically unrecognizable along with it.  Twice, again.

 Expect certain days this month to elicit bad memories and even worse posts.  It is necessary to have such things written down at Cogito Ergo Doleo, not only to have a record here, but to establish the kind of issues I am forced to work through these days.  Will I be beating a dead horse?  Probably.  For longtime readers of my blogging endeavors.  But letting go of my emotional baggage is not one of my strong points.  Yet.  Li8fe is pain, but suffering is optional.  Let us see how well I can cope with the former while foregoing the latter. 

 Fret not, dear readers.  I am not entering one of my famous poisoned pen blue periods in which I shift gears from the main blogging theme in order to condemn the general state of affairs.  Consider the less than pleasant remembrances of Mays past as segues from the general discussions about self-discovery/self-improvement.  Those are the most important things these days.  But it is true you cannot know where you are going until you understand where you have been.