Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A-Whirl Without End

Photo: Mark Vancleave/Special to the Star Tribune
She perused through the crowds without precision or purpose. Leisurely paced with a comfortable cadence.

He maneuvered through the crowds with caution and care. He halted at her side. On guard without guide.

She slipped her hand into his. Her intimacy startled him. “You okay?” she asked.

“Sure.” He emotionally shied away; he physically stood staid.

She stopped, “Babe what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know where we’re at.” He looked above her eyes.

Her face tensed with concern. “We’re in North East Minneapolis.”

He shook his head and took his palm and rubbed his pate. “No.” A slight sigh and an exhale escaped. “I mean us.”

“We’re at the middle.”

“Okay.” He restarted their pace. He retook her hand.

“You’re trembling.”

He leaked a nervous laugh. “I’m nervous! It’s like fucking puberty!”

She smiled. “Your hands aren’t sweaty.”

“Not the first hand I’ve held.”

“Don’t be nervous.”

“You’re the only one who can make me feel like this.”

“That’s why were in the middle. We’ve been here.”

He stopped walking. “Listen to me. I can’t lose anymore. I can’t.” He took his hand and patted his chest. “This heart isn’t fixed yet. I can’t break it again.” He stopped the pat and made a fist. He dropped it at their sides.

“What are you doing for your birthday?”

“Nothing.”

“Let me make you dinner.”

“I don’t know.”

“Yeah, you do.”

“Do you know how to cook vegan?”

“I know how to order it.”

He laughed. “Okay.”

She slipped her hand into his and guided him back into the crowd.

Friday, May 18, 2018

21 Days

http://veggiecampus.com
So. Three weeks in. The Whole Food Plant Based Diet is part of my life now. It isn't difficult. I don't crave foods. I feel better. I look better.

My weight is down 18.5 lbs.

My glucose before breakfast was 80. The average for the 3 weeks: 95.1

Meds:
Ranexa 1000mg twice a day
Atorvastatin 10mg
Losartan Potassium 100mg
Sotalol HCL 120mg twice a day
Breo Ellipta 200mcg /25mcg
1 low dose aspirin.

Last week I was hospitalized for 3 days. Discharge Diagnosis:

Syncope (fainting)
Acute Kidney Injury
Uremia

All were tied to a medicine.

3 medicines were discontinued.

Furosemide 60mg
Potassium CL 20MEQ
Spironolactone 25mg

I feel drastically improved.

I spoke with a variety of doctors. I mentioned the WFPB diet to each of them and asked for their assessment of the diet. All three doctors were advocates. One doctor - a highly regarded internist - responded to my diet with the judgment: "I'm in favor of anything that controls what we put in our mouths." I love that. I loved his, "you can't outrun a spoon" even more. Calories.

Last evening I went for a small walk down my block. It's the first time I'd ventured out since last autumn. I had difficulty walking the length of the city block and worried I'd be unable to return home. I did. I've got to get off these anti-arrhythmics and beta blockers if I can. WFPB is the best tool to achieve that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Un Done

He heard her in the hall. He didn’t know it was her. He just heard someone fidget with the gown and the gloves. The red sign on his door warned visitors before they came in; no one warned him she was his visitor.

“Hey babe,” she whispered as she walked into his room.

He quickly pulled the hose out of his nostrils and swung his legs off the bed and sat straight. He dropped his hands to his sides and bowed his head. “Oh fuck!” He leaked his humiliation.

She bent and kissed him on the top of his head. “How’re you feeling?”

He scrunched his eyes closed and swallowed his top lip with his bottom. “How did you hear I was here?”

“We know the same people.” She walked to the window and sat on the sofa below it.

He stood up and pulled the gown together with his fist. On his index finger on his left hand he had an oxygen monitor. On the back of his right hand he had an IV. He stood like a marionette tethered to machines. He held the gown closed while he walked around the bed and sat on the edge. “I’m okay. How are you?”

“I’m worried.”

He relaxed. “You don’t need to be. Acute renal failure. Sounds worse than it is.”

“That sounds like something to worry about.”

He took his arm and swung the IV pole out of his peripheral vision. He dropped his hands into his lap. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Why am I dressed for surgery?” she pinched her gown and dropped it.

“Oh I had MRSA in my foot. They’re just cautious.”

She stood up and gently turned his forearm. She looked down at the black and blue and green bruise. “Baby, what happened?”

He looked up at her. Their eyes met and he turned to face the sink on the wall at his left. “Something’s going on with my veins. I dunno. They can’t get a Goddamned IV to work.”

She bent and wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her.

He pulled away. “Not yet.”

She straightened and returned to the sofa. She took her index finger and pulled a tear from the corner of her eye. She started to laugh. She mixed the sounds of sorrow and silliness. “You still have good legs!”

He laughed. “I do.”

A nurse knocked and walked in with a pill cup. He made their introductions. He took the pills and chased them with a sip.

“I saw it.”

“Saw what?”

“The play.”

“When?”

“In Minneapolis.”

He sat straight. “I didn’t see you.”

“It wasn’t the time to talk.”

“Did it upset you?”

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry.” He stood up. He pried the tape off the oxygen monitor and tossed it on the bed. One hand grabbed the back of the gown; one hand grabbed the IV pole. “I’ll be right back.”

“The girl wasn’t me.”

He walked out of the bathroom and edged the bed. “How could she be?”

She stood up and turned to the window. “I don’t think we’re done yet.”

“Couldn’t we have had this conversation when I’m not in a hospital?” He lifted the IV hose and lowered himself on the bed.

She turned toward him. “Are we done?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yeah, you do. Are we done yet?”

“Not yet.”

She sat on the sofa and opened her purse. “Let me show you what I brought you.”

He sealed the tape around his finger and tossed the excess cable off the bed. He pushed the button to raise the head of the bed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Printings

I know I’m earnest to a fault. I do. But it’s so important to me to mark each moment. I think I’m perfectly named. A moment occurs and I mark it on my heart and immortal soul.

I hate being sick. I hate it. But there are so many moments of amazing insight. And maybe my thoughts and realizations are redundant in an enlightened world. But I love learning new things and acquiring new tools to hopefully become a better man. 

People are concerned about a carbon footprint but I think we need to focus even more on our caring footprint. Will the place we stood mark compassion and care and succor? When I’m gone will my example endure through the actions and reactions of those I treated as true brethren created by the same benevolent God? That’s important to me.

Yesterday I learned a tremendous lesson. Throughout my health crisis I’ve learned how to cope with fear. The fear of death. The fear of the loss of hope. The fear of the loss of security. In some ways it’s a synchronized moment of Divinity that I’m ill at the same moments as my parents. 

Yesterday I became so dizzy that I fainted and fell. I’ve bruised myself physically but I’ve also injured my sense of confidence. This morning I’m afraid to walk. Even from chair to chair. I’m so afraid to fall. 

And I’ve considered my parents today. I hold their hands or they hold my arm or I guide their backs as they negotiate their tasks. And today I know the fear and the loss of a sense of security and the loss of confidence. I know I see the elderly with more empathy and sympathy and I know I see their fragility as a mirror of all humanity.

I hate being sick. But I love seeing that we’re all connected as children in the communion of Divinity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Eating Vegetables & Not Evolving Into One

I’m sitting here typing with two bruised arms and a bruised back of my hand. The phlebotomists have trouble drawing my blood. And it’s not incompetence; all of them have the same trouble. Apparently my veins don’t like to be stabbed. During my last hospitalization, I had 7 IVs.

And that’s a new fuel. I have to become as healthy as I can possibly be. So. Whole Foods Plant Based Diet.

It’s the evening of the 13th day. I’m used to the diet. It’s too restrictive. It’s ridiculously restrictive. (Give me some kind of oil.) But I’m keeping it. The more I read the more I learn that adaptions are allowed. “Do it to your comfort level.” Well, my comfort level is steak. So. No. I’ll error on the side of the extreme. I feel the same way about morality. If you believe a Commandment is true, wouldn’t you keep it to the utmost instead of looking for loopholes? I vowed three months. For three months I’m extreme.

14.5 lbs lost in 13 days.

I went to my primary care doctor and requested blood work so I’d have a foundation for comparison. She looked at the numbers and considered kidney injury. More tests. She confirmed it. So now we see the extent. Tomorrow I’m having a renal ultrasound. Friday more blood work. And I’ve been referred to a nephrologist.

And that’s a new fuel. I have to become as healthy as I can possibly be. So. Whole Foods Plant Based Diet.

I shopped at Trader Joes. They haven’t embraced WFPB and the supporting products are limited. Yesterday I read the label on a lemon pepper canister. So many chemicals. I decided to make my own. I googled a recipe and grated a lemon. I liked it. As a man who rarely cooks, I felt ridiculously proud and accomplished.

You need a heart. You need a brain. You need kidneys. You need lungs. Only my brain is unsoiled. Fuck.

Friday, May 4, 2018

By The Numbers

Yesterday I asked my primary care doctor to do the blood work so I’d have a foundation for the Whole Foods Plant Based diet. She did. She also cautioned me that although I’d feel remarkably better, I shouldn’t get my hopes too high. Congestive heart failure and premature ventricular contractions can’t be cured by diet alone. Disappointed? Indeed. Dissuaded? Never. I’m still committed.

The diet itself is becoming increasingly more natural. The only thing this diet is going to harm is my social life. Beers Buddies Bullshits will be in my rear view. No one wants to sit with someone who makes them feel self-conscious or remorseful. It’s okay. You want to know what I crave? Quiet talks with substance. I’m shedding the substances that suppress the quiet.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Day 7: And On The Seventh Day

Yesterday was horrific. After speaking with my cardiology team, it turns out the sweating and the spins and the nausea weren’t the diet. The culprit? The new med Ranexa. Classic side effects. I actually used a walker yesterday because I kept tipping and stumbling from the dizziness. My cardiologist changed the dosage. Now that’s exactly why I’m doing WFPB. I want off the meds. Or off as many as possible.

Down 0.5 lb. 10 lbs total.

My glucose is 98.

Seven days of the Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) diet. I’ve been told I should have eased into this. Began changing my breakfast habits the first week. My lunch pattern the next. But that’s not this Trost’s way. I’m an all-or-nothin’ guy.

Last night I sat on my front porch and a stranger walked by and he began our conversation. He told me he lives near a corner grocery store in our neighborhood. He likes shopping there because they’re bringing in a nice selection of organic foods. It began a conversation about prices and proximity. He reminded me we live near a wonderful food co-op: Mississippi Market. That’s where I’ll shop. Synchronicity.

I’m not going to post about my progress on a daily basis. I will absolutely post weekly. Frankly there just isn’t enough interesting for a daily update. Oh but make no mistake. A mangled foot and a horrific yesterday are motivations to endure. I will not cheat, slide, or cease. A fundamental truism: Trost hates the liars and the half-assed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Day 6: Hump

Down 1 lb. 9.5 total.

My glucose is 99. Excellent.

Yesterday I went over the hump. I didn’t feel as ill. Now I still feel jittery and nauseous but that may just be my heart.

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I wanted alternatives. I leave near 2 affluent stores. I couldn’t find  anything WFPB. I asked for the vegan section. I was told by a manager that they didn’t have one. Products were just mingled thought the store. But he did point me to a small concentrated spot in frozen foods. I inspected. Nothing appropriate. WFPB is much more restrictive than vegan. I even looked at Walmart. I hate Walmart but frankly their medical supplies are ridiculously cheaper and my wallet demands I shop there. Yeah, exactly. Nothing there. So I bought fresh vegetables at my local store and headed home. Small stone in this road: consider how many meds I take, how often I’ve been hospitalized, and how much work I’m able to do with a spinning/jittery mind. Now consider the lining of my wallet. Yes. I’ve never been this poor. Spices are expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables are pricey. So. Recipes? Not yet. Whole Foods Stores are a necessity. But very pricey.

I’m past the water ick factor. This is doable.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Sometimes I wonder if I’m marking my life or my death.

Day 5: Heave Ho

Down 1.5 lbs 8.5 lbs total.

My glucose was 127 before breakfast. It's the highest it's been. I don't know why. I'll talk to the internist on Thursday at my appointment. Also I don't know how to correct the time/date on the monitor. I don't have the booklet anymore and I haven't mustered enough interest to investigate. It functions; I know what date it is.

The water thing - doesn't bother me anymore. I added a slice of lemon to kill that tap water taste. And the Hint Water is being delivered today.

I'm not hungry. The diet portion of this event doesn't bother me. It's just ONE MORE THING.

Yesterday was rough; last night was horrific. Dry heaves.

Three things motivate me to endure:

1. I hate liars. I gave my word to a doctor who's most likely forgotten me. But I gave my word. I know that; God knows that.

2. Every morning I wrap my mangled foot. I don't directly look at it, but I still mark the missings. I want to keep my leg. I will not murder this leg. And that's what it is. When I make bad health choices or coddle habits that physically harm me, I'm murdering myself. It's suicide. I can pretend it's not. But, it is. And it's just another form of chronic masturbation. It's habitually pleasuring and satiating oneself to the point of self-abuse.

And how can I bitch about healthcare costs when I am choosing to make them rise? And who's going to take care of me? Who gets the burden of my decaying? Family? A Nurse? Healthcare aids who make a bit more than minimum wage? You want to lower the cost of healthcare in America? Put down the coffee and the donuts and walk away from the wine. Or shut up about the costs.

3. I owe my parents. My foundations were perfect. A fairy tale childhood. Both my parents were thin and active. Now they're just old. I simply cannot shirk their justly due care.

I will say - I have more empathy for addicts. I'm simultaneously kicking caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, dairy products, soda, meat, and deliciousness. And throw in alcohol. From the late 2000's it's been very rare that I drank less than 3-4 drinks a night. And not so much beer. Hard alcohol. And now - nothing. Zip. A huge bonus: doesn't bother me a bit. The loss of my social life will bother me. But not so much I'll alter my choices.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 4: Addiction

Down 1 lb. 7 lbs total.

My glucose was 119 before breakfast.

Yesterday was a very difficult day. I think (assume) it was caffeine withdrawal. I've never felt so tired. Not just lethargic - sleepy. My responsibilities prevented me from bed - so I trudged along. My mind was fuzzy. My vision was blurred. And I felt jittery and agitated. I felt worse than the flu. I pushed water.

My friend Amy turned me on to Hint. It's "Hint Water is a line of all-natural, unsweetened, ultra-pure water that's infused with a variety of natural fruit flavors, and is made without sugar, diet sweeteners, preservatives, calories, trace minerals, or GMO ingredients. On top of this, Hint Water is vegan and gluten free." I bought one bottle at the grocery. Peach. It has hints of flavor. It's above tap water. So I ordered a variety pack from Amazon. It might be a nice occasional addition.

Okay I can't learn cooking in one day - and I'd have to buy a helluva assortment of spices to follow any recipes (I will when I'm more mobile) - so I don't cook as much a combine. I found a nice combination of vegetables for the navy beans. Palatable.

Yesterday I realized that food and alcohol have become my entertainment. Yeah, enough of that. And I realized how similar dieting and gluttony are to each other. Both are a constant concentration on intake. Both are disproportional. Food should be a necessity and not an activity. And that's one aspect of my spiritual cleanse I'm working on.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Day 3: Withdrawal

Down 1.5 lbs. 6 lbs total.

My glucose was 121 before breakfast.

Yesterday I cooked: brussels sprouts, beans, and sweet potato. The beans are horrific. Today I’ll research a recipe.

I feel awful. Nauseous / headache. I suspect this has nothing to do with the diet (WFPB) and everything to do with my meds. I can’t imagine 2 complete days would physically alter me like this. It would be like a bad weekend. I guess for now I’ll use weight loss and glucose levels to measure progress. I don’t know enough about this to know. I wonder if there are classes? Worth the investigation.

I don’t care about the food. I hate the water aspect. But, I’m in for 90 days. Sometimes it sucks to have integrity.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Day 2: Water Water Everywhere

My glucose before breakfast was 110. That’s down 13 from yesterday. That may or may not have anything to do with the new eating lifestyle.
At the weigh-in this morning I had dropped 4.5 lbs. Wonderful. But I don’t anticipate that’ll happen every day. I don't even anticipate that'll regularly happen.

I bought an app: Glucose Companion ($1.99) I want to closely monitor my levels.

The only aspect of my life that’s changed (and yes, I know it’s been a single day) is the water. I hate water. Always have. Now I have to embrace it. I will; I have. My buddy Grant (he’s dropped at least ½ himself) urged me to drink a lot of water. Obviously he knows. I’m drinking it. Usually I’d crawl out of bed and drink a soda (Diet Mtn Dew.) In the winter I would have coffee loaded with Splenda. I only drank the coffee for the warmth. Until yesterday I drank at least 4 diet sodas a day. Well, not anymore. I'm apprehensive about the withdrawal. So water. I don’t like it but I don’t like being ill. And I gave my word. So water it is.

Last night I swayed my feet at the end of my bed and read recipes and nutritional facts. I will do this. I gave my word. But I need two things to make this enjoyable: weight loss and knowledge. I love to learn.

I’ve made an appointment with my primary care doctor for Thursday. I’ll get my numbers from her.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Day #1: Beginning

Okay so here's the plan: Whole Foods Plant Based Diet.

I told a physician (Karen Williams, MD) that I'd blog my experience. People say they're going to do something like this and half-ass it. I promised I wouldn't compromise so she could have a true sense of the restorative nature of the plan. In three months I'll have a physical and see the numbers. My hope? Get off the meds.

I bought the book. I vowed 3 months.

So today at the beginning:

My glucose before breakfast was 123.

My A1C is 6.2%

Meds:
Ranexa 1000mg twice a day
Spironolactone 25mg
Atorvastatin 10mg
Losartan Potassium 100mg
Sotalol HCL 120mg twice a day
Breo Ellipta 200mcg /25mcg
Furosemide 60mg
Potassium CL 20MEQ
1 low dose aspirin.

I’m off all antibiotics as of this morning. Unfortunately I don’t have all the numbers from my last physical. I’ll ask at my next doctor appointment.

I began this morning. I’m unaccustomed to a coffeeles, milkless, sodaless morning. It was odd to have water. I raced with an empty stomach to my podiatric appointment. Not a good plan. Too many morning meds on an empty stomach. Baby steps here. I’m not much of a cook. Okay. I’m not a cook. At all. So recipes will have to come. I had a piece of 100% whole grain organic bread with a wave of organic peanut butter. For lunch I had a sweet potato. I bought provisions at the store. The store wasn't a happy place. I felt overwhelmed and confused by the choices. I bought bread (I think it's not right but I'll work on it,) peanut butter, brussels sprouts, and beans.

Tomorrow – meals. But I have to learn. Today I learned organic is goddamned expensive.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Edited For Contemporary Consumption

Tonight might be my last evening confined to my heel. It's exhausting to walk any sort of distance while grounded to a heel. So I surfed Flipboard and I saw a review for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh." O'Neill is a difficult read and an equally difficult view. But he's worthy of our attention and deemed worthy by the Nobel Committee (Literature 1936.) While reading, I read this sentence:


What?

O'Neill was edited for contemporary consumption.

I read that sentence and swung my feet to the floor - grabbed my IPad and posted an update on Facebook: "Agree or not: Eugene O’Neill is the greatest playwright of the modern age. For the love of Christ read him before you throw contemporary shit in the air."

I swung my feet back on my bed, surfed Comcast for anything to consume my time until sleep, and watched an episode of "Mom" and I had a think. "Mom" is about family and addiction. Sound familiar?

Eugene O’Neill is the father of modern theater and theater is the foundation of television.

O'Neill took the tragedies of the throne and set them on bar stools and kitchen tables. The servant became dethroned by addiction or poverty. "Long Day's Journey Into Night is arguably the greatest play of the modern age.

There would be no "A Streetcar Named Desire" without O’Neill.  Tennessee Williams added skin and sex and stirred.

Arthur Miller took tragedy and put it above blue collar shoulders. "Death of A Salesman" redefined theater because it dealt with people who were above the poverty line yet below the theater's bottom line. 

Theater was in revolution (but not evolution) until Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin In The Sun." Hansberry shifted hope from the burdened Caucasian shoulders and placed it firmly on the struggling shoulders of Blacks. She dispelled the separate-but-equal bullshit and said - not separate at all. And frankly, she wrote men as well as men. 

Now theater revolved again until Mart Crowley's "The Boys In The Band." Gay men (characters of comic relief) were moved from stage left and put center stage.

Next evolution: Michael Bennett's (He didn't write it but he conceived it) "A Chorus Line." No set. No lead. Fragments of universal story lines. Redefined the musical. 

But - widely forgotten and obscenely ignored -  Ntozake Shange's "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf." Shange took music and tragedy and poetry and rap and broke every rule of theater. Black women as leads? Black women leading. There would be no "Hamilton" without Shange. 

And we’d still be seeing the aristocracy staged without O’Neill. You don't edit O'Neill. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Sync

Each morning as I head to the bathroom - I give my ass a good scratch, I tuck myself, I wash my hands, and I decide. Will I lift my head and reflect? Or will I refuse introspection and bow my head and tend to my teeth.

I reflected on that this morning. I don't see myself in contemporary culture. I'm as absent as the back teeth stolen from my smile by diabetes: my place remains but the space merely marks the missing. 

I'm out of sync. I don't fit. And as I gaze into society, I don't see my beliefs reflected. I don't fit emotionally, spiritually, or ideologically. I haven't felt like this since, oh hell, high school? No. College.

In high school I didn't fit the mold of masculinity.
In the seminary I didn't fit the mold of spirituality.

But I soothed myself with the notion of subsets. I was confined in a subculture of anachronism. And I dreamt of a bigger set. I envisioned inclusion in a global catholicism. So I remained set in my ways; my beliefs set in a stone: solid, spherical, secured.

I remain in a subset. I don't feel unfit. I just feel alone.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Never Endings

A good writer who’ll never be read.

A good playwright who’ll never be seen.

A good man who’ll never be loved.

Sometimes sorrows never end.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sick Of It

So, I just took a shower. I wrapped my whittled foot in a trash sack and duct taped it closed. Because of my parents, I have guard rails in my bathroom. So, I climbed into the shower and climbed out without assistance. I got out of the shower, dried myself, and sat on my bed and wept. Yeah, I'm not a man who cries. I cried because I was physically weak. I didn't cry tears of sorrow; I cried tears of exhaustion. I’ve always thought tears were weak. Well, I was wrong. So, first lesson.

I felt too exhausted to dress so I sprawled across my bed and grabbed my phone. I played Words With Friends with my friend. And then I looked at my apps. On this exact date - 3 years ago before I got sick - I bicycled over 35 miles. Today I break into a thick gooey sweat just walking to a chair. I lost my temper and deleted the bicycle app.

After I controlled myself, I thought about illness. We're all going to get ill. Unless your death is violent or accidental - you're going to get sick. So, in the smallest of ways, (and I emphasize smallest) I see the benefit, no wait, lesson of my illness. It's taught me to be a better man to the elderly. I'm more compassionate. I'm more empathetic. 

Illness is a great math lesson. Get sick and add up your accomplishments and tally your failures and subtract the useless worries that no longer matter a flea fuck. 

I've learned the courage of the ill. It takes stones of steel to endure each day.

I feel sicker this week than I ever have in my life. My cardiologist is titrating my meds - and by Christ (not in vain. I mean it) I hope he gets it right soon. I don't know how the ill get out of bed each day. I don't even understand the physical achievement of it. 

I watch my sister Carol tend for us and I see the heroic achievement of those who are caregivers.

Today was the first time I couldn't take my Mother to her doctor's appt. It broke my heart. I thought God and I had this agreement. Obviously, He didn't.

But maybe our agreement is He teaches me; I learn and become a better man. Am I better man? Yeah, no I don't think so. So maybe I'm the one breaking our agreement. But today I feel useless. Without purpose.

I’m sick of being sick; I’m sick of me.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

His Last Remains

MedicareMD
He lined the items on the table beside him: pads, gauze, bromine, Q-Tips. He laid the white towel - bleachable and sterile - beside him as his shroud. He inhaled and blew the anticipation from his quaking lungs. Slowly he unwrapped the ace bandage. He untwined the gauze strip. He untucked the sterile separators that padded his two tiny toes at its end. Finally he pulled the pads off the scars and saw the carcass. Tears trembled down his cheeks and mucus bathed his upper lip. He couldn’t silence his sorrow. Sadness mingled with despair and he stacattoed shallow throaty wails. He removed his hands from his face and pedestaled himself with his palms by his sides. When his eyes were as dry as the skin surrounding his incision, he sat upright and sterilized his hands with alcohol.  He dabbed bromide in each crevice, wrapped his foot tight, tossed the bloodied bandages into the trash, stood erect, and walked out of the room.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Finite of The Infinite

You know what I love? I love when I meet someone and all of a sudden he/she matters to me. He's/she's in my life. Within it. I love that. 

A secret I’ve learned at 55: they can leave just as quickly. 

See I believe love is often finite. 

I love. 
Someone makes a choice I find intolerable.
I unlove. 

But in those moments of synchronicity, it’s still love.  It’s still communion.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fake Knews & Social Sins

Maybe it's because I'm 55. Or maybe it's my heart. Or maybe it's just because my soul is still Catholic. But I examine my conscience each day. Well, I don't know if that's true. I do it with each verb I conjugate. That isn't new. My yardstick is.

I want to become a better man.

Incidents / Reflections

* I'm using a walker. When I'm able to graduate to a cast, I will. But for now I'm hunched over the horizontal bar and alternating between a hop and a slide. I often lift the area rug or hit the furniture that bumpers my path. I remember when my father first slid from a cane to a walker. I felt irritated when he disrupted the rugs. I felt angry when he collided with the chairs. I didn't see the degree of difficulty. I'm ashamed I wasn't more patient. I'm contrite I became an obstacle. Each slide of mine is filled with remorse. You can't go back with a walker; fortunately you can move forward.

* Last year I stared at the ceiling in a hospital room. I had been hospitalized because of the complications of congestive heart failure and I awaited an ablation in the morning. I received a text from a woman I know. Oh you know her type. She wanted to use my social connections to make new social contacts. She asked me if my friend needed her to help him set up for his party. Now catch that. I was in a hospital and she wanted to know if I could arrange for her to help him. Seriously. Now I've never been that masturbatory but I have neglected a need to participate in a joy. I was too thunderstruck to be hurt or angry. But I wasn't too ill to be aware. I considered her while I was hospitalized last week. She was a great example. I'm a better man because I make great efforts to avoid the occasion of her sin. She wanted me to contact him from my hospital bed to see if she could help him. Really.

* I've realized that I often seek a sympathetic ear - and then resent the intrusion of advice. Now recently I've considered this. If I tell you I have a problem, then I make it your business too. For instance: if I tell you peanuts make me ill and lament their potential loss in my diet yet continue to eat them, you have the right to question why I'm snacking on them regardless of the consequences. It's morally wrong to ask for empathy when I have no intention of ending my behavior. It's my choice to continue the chew and not your responsibility to silently clean up the vomit.

* In the last year two people - who rarely and barely know me - have started arguments with me about judgments they've made about my behavior or motivation. "Well the reason you do that ..." or "No that's not what you're like ..."  I found myself justifying my motivation to people who had no real knowledge of my impetuses or inclinations. I actually said the sentence, "you don't get a vote." I've considered this at length. We don't actually know why anyone chooses to behave in the manner he chooses. We don't really know the situations people experience or the impulses that propel people through decisions. I think we need to realize that in most situations - we don't have a vote.  My cardinal rules: 1. if it isn't necessary - shut up. 2. Unless you can point to a diploma, you're not an expert. Here's a truth: everyone participates in fake knews. We don't know everything. Or hell, most things. I'll give us some things. And that's something but not everything.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Keeping Limber

It didn’t bother me until it was time to leave. I wrapped my head around the loss of a big toe. Just a toe. A toe. The podiatry department dropped a surgical shoe off while I slept. It was time to go home.  And I picked up the plastic bag and slid the surgical shoe out and I saw the size: men’s large. A size smaller. I lost a shoe size.

I remembered. Years ago I waited as the podiatric nurse located a surgical shoe that would fit my foot. An XL surgical shoe is an oddity. But she found one. 

I lost a size; I gained shame.

Okay.

Enough of that.

A new goal: keep the leg. It was a problematic toe. Each step risked the leg. 

So. First step: a whole food plant based diet. The dietician said I need protein to heal the foot. When it’s healed, I begin. I’ll blog it. 

A leg. I want the leg. 

Some times I can be so goddamned stupid. I spent the last 16 months worried about a heart and I’d completely forgotten my foot. Each morning for 17 months I cleaned the ulcer, slathered it with antibiotic ointment, and wrapped it. But I did it without a thought. I cared for it; I didn’t care about it. 

It’s time to be more careful. I have no clever ending. I want the leg. That’s the pot at the end of this monochromatic rainbow.  

I want the leg.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Forked: The Halved Not

Lamentations is a great word but rather antiquated. And frankly I think of plastically protected memories and that’s apt. And yes I know the difference of the words. Laminating. I’m not stupid.  But they are similar. Both are about distance. So. Lamenting / laminating. Things that were, could’ve. It all doesn’t matter. It’s all isn’t. All removed.

I’m sitting in a hospital room. Feet perched. Awaiting surgery. So tomorrow it’s about the half. Tomorrow I lose the piece of my foot that enabled my foot to look like a foot and not a block. So tonight is about failure. I didn’t save it. Whether I could have saved it or not is not debatable. I could not. But how long I could have kept is, well ... let’s go with longer.  I could have kept it longer.  I didn’t. But. I’m not lamenting that.

I thought today about nouns. We noun everything. We make everything a was/is. There’s no evolution in a noun. No becoming in a noun. We noun everything. Yeah, I used noun as a verb. But that’s my plan. From this now and on: verbs. Change. Improve. Impress. Express. Evolution.  

So up first: heal.  4 weeks to heal the foot. I’m going to foot the foot. It’s a new foundation. More solid. More stable. 

I met an amazing physician Karen Williams, MD over my stay at Regions. She redescribed my heart to me. So. New eyes. A revision. A review.  

Secondly, I’m going to redesign my body. A new machine that puts my heart and soul into motion.  I’m going to try A plant based diet. I’ll watch the documentary Forks Over Knives on Netflix when I have WiFi strong enough to avoid the spinning cog.  

I died in my fall of 2016. I buried my hopes and happy and my confidence and my coulds and I laminated them in this carnal casket. I’ve allowed my body and soul to rot. 

Today is Easter Sunday. Today I resurrect my cans and wills.  

Apri 1, 2018: And now I rise. 
Amen 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Among

You walk into a clinic and you see the sorrow and the sadness and the worried. And you feel sympathy. Removed. Behind glass. And then one day you sit and wait your turn and you know you belong there. And then you feel that sadness. Dank sorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

If I Should Die Before I Wake


PVCs -  Premature Ventricular Contractions.  Too many heartbeats.  Irregular. Rapid. Random.

What do they feel like? Motion sickness. Like reading in the backseat of your dad's car. You got queasy.  Do you remember?

Congestive Heart Failure.  Too much blood.  Not enough emptying. What do you feel like?  Bloated. Like your legs will burst.  Touching them hurts. Extended. You rub your legs but it hurts when you do. But they hurt anyway. Shoes hurt. Socks hurt. Breezes hurt. Hurt.

Diuretics. Nauseating. Like motion sickness.  Like reading in the backseat of your dad's car. You got queasy.  Do you remember?

Bed spins. Like drunk. Leg cramps.  Jumping out of bed onto extended - bloated - painfilled legs.  A hangover that doesn't end. Ever.

I'm going to tell you the secret of death.

See they tell you that you're sick and you worry.  No. Not worry.  Panic.

Death.  How does that work? How can you do that?  How can you face it? How can you avoid this?

And then one day - when they don't offer solutions anymore - and they use words like "maxed out" and "maintain" and "let's go with this for a while and see what happens."

And then you worry.  No.  Not worry.  Panic.

Life. How is this going to work?  How can I do this? How can I face this as my future?  How can I avoid this?

How can I get that this is the new me?

At least death has a definite end.