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Saturday, September 13, 2014

It Truly Is the Little Things...

Over the last few months, I've shared with you some of the health struggles I've faced and many of the ongoing battles with the Veteran's Administration.  I've shared my joys, my frustrations and even my pain and a couple of my innermost secrets, battles with depression.  So, in this weekend edition, I thought I'd continue that trend...but talk about some of the little things that really get me going.  I hope you enjoy.

A Text Message
Yes, something as simple as a little old text message can make the day a joyous time or it can frustrate the crap out of me.  Receiving a message from my son, Matt in Seattle, just makes me smile - he always ends it with, "I love you, Dad."  Sure, he's 34 and I'm 50, but damn it, it makes me happier than hell to get that message from the boy.  Our relationship hasn't always been stellar but the last couple years or so, it's really blossomed and I thank the heavens for it every day.  He's turned out to be one hell of a father himself, and according to his beautiful wife, Kristina, an excellent husband as well.    The same goes for Mason, Madison too.  A simple message from them and I am elated.

The Library
Yes, the public library.  I've grown fond of the public library, the people who frequent it and the history and essence of the library.  Each of one the books in the building represent a piece of someone's life - something that meant so much to them, they put pen to paper and shared with the rest of the world.  It's an amazing feeling to be surrounded with such work when you think about it that way.  Silly, I know, but I've grown to appreciate just how much effort really goes into the written word since I started work on my history, a book if you will.

Technology
Is technology one of those "little things?"  I think it is because it is so pervasive in our culture and yes, we often take it for granted - at least I know that I do.  Technology in many ways make our lives so much easier, but we're also dependent upon this same technology - hell, Facebook has become a subculture of its own in recent years.  Our smart phones are getting smarter, our ability to stay connected with folks who are thousands of miles away has become easy and frankly, I love every bit of it.

Smile From A Stranger
Have you ever just had a really shitty day and you walk into the grocery store, determined to get in and out quickly, leaving as few casualties as possible, only to see that one person looking at you with a familiar gaze and then, the inevitable happens:  They smile.  It's over.  No longer am I pissed off, no longer am I angry or frustrated, but it seems to wash away because that one person who could be struggling with an even more difficult life than I, but yet found the inner resolve to just smile.  It's refreshing.  I think we all need to do that more often.  Just mile at each other.

An Hour Without Pain
I know it sounds ridiculous, but going for periods of time without pain is an enormous joy and I can usually get a great deal accomplished in that time.  An hour without pain is a God-send.  It's been a long time since I've gone pain-free and every moment that I get, I cherish.

Not really sure why I decided to blog about these things, not sure that any of you reading this (or not reading this) will give a shit one way or the other what I think or feel.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Depression Is Serious

The news of Robin Williams' death was a shocker to most all of us who would consider ourselves fans of the actor/comedian.  He was such a shining star, a happy face and amazing talent that made us all laugh at one point or another.  His serious roles in front of the camera were equally wonderful.  But then, we got the news.

Robin Williams had committed suicide.

His family and close friends knew that he had suffered from bouts of depression, that there were moments where he felt as though he just couldn't go on.  This had apparently been going on for years, perhaps even decades.  All the signs were there, the ones closest to him knew that he was depressed, so how was this allowed to happen?  Why wasn't there some type of intervention or precautionary actions taken?

These are questions that may never be answered, and that my friends, is tragic.

I too suffer from depression, receive medical care for it and coupled with my other health problems, there are really good days and there are really bad days.  I would be lying if I tried to tell you that there are days when I'm pushed to my limit and I consider ending my own life.  I have friends and family who know that there are days like this, and now the whole universe knows, but that doesn't stop the thoughts from crossing my mind.

The leap from "thinking, or considering" to actually "doing" is a long one - and one that isn't traversed easily.  This being said, here are a few thoughts on the whole subject and my advice as to what folks should do if they have a loved one suffering from depression.  Mind you, I'm not a shrink and this advice isn't worth dehydrated dog poop.  But I'm giving it anyway.

1.  Ask questions.  If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong with your loved one, you're probably right.  And if you're wrong, it's not going to hurt to simply ask a few questions about how he/she is feeling, what's going on in there lives.  Do not be afraid to ask.

2.  Stay in touch.  In our crazy world, it's easy to get caught up in our routines and put off a simple text message or social media message or even a phone call.  That one phone call could be the saving grace for that person on that day.  And I know that this is a real long shot, but if you live close by, make the trip and say hello face-to-face.  Your smile, your face your embrace can mean the world to someone who is depressed.

3.  Get help.  If you feel as though you're in over your head, that you're not sure how to deal with someone who is struggling with depression, don't think that you're somehow not a great friend to that person.  Depression is a son of a bitch and not everyone is equipped to handle it in themselves or in a dear one.  Tag-team if you have to.  Bring another friend or family member with you to visit, or ask them for their advice as to how to proceed.  Just like in number 1 above, don't be afraid to ask.

4.  Kiss conventional wisdom goodbye.  You see, guys like me aren't supposed to be depressed.  We're the ones with the good jokes, the smiles and witty retorts.  That's bullshit.  Outgoing people, extroverts suffer from depression just like everyone else.  Sometimes, it's even tougher and hits harder because of the pressure that goes along with the expectation that we're always supposed to be at the top of our game.  That too is bullshit.

Depression is a son of a bitch, and not only can it lead to attempts on one's life, but the side effects are horrific as well. It can destroy the human body, eating away at itself like a flesh-eating virus that begins in the very soul.

Here are a list of resources out there.  Share them, use them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Delay By Any Other Name...

And the continuing saga of the Veteran's Administration hospital in Oklahoma City lingers on, once again, friends.  Today was supposed to be the appointment that brought together answers relating to my health that would potentially give real insight as to what the hell is going on with me.  Of course, the appointment was postponed - but only after a three hour wait and blood work at the hospital.

The level of frustration has almost reached biblical proportions.

First, the appointment had previously been rescheduled/cancelled as a result of an ER visit.  I had no idea that if you go to the ER, all of your appointments get pushed back thirty days. 

Second, I had no idea that when I arrived, I would have to head to another floor for lab work prior to the procedure.  While I had completely the lab work before the set time of the appointment for my procedure, I got pushed to the back of the line, but this was also due in part to an emergency patient who needed his procedure stat. 

Lastly, if the damned near 3 hour wait wasn't enough, when I got called back, I was informed that the appointment had been cancelled and the soonest it could be rescheduled was for a week or so from today.  

Yeah.  I was pretty pissed off.

It took me a while, but eventually, I calmed down and came to the stark realization that I am still very lucky to have any care and I should be thankful.  At least I have some sort of idea as to what my health problems are, and I have to believe that if it were truly bad, they would not ave postponed my biopsies.  So, there.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sometimes We Just Can't Help Ourselves

Walking among us are a handful of truly amazing people.  Their lives seem burden free, they are always smiling, not a single hair out of place and when contrasted with ordinary folks like us, well, they are almost angelic.  You know who they are - they are the ones who command attention when they walk into a room, their fashion sense is always cutting edge and they are, as Marilyn Manson called them, the "beautiful people."

Meanwhile, the rest of us just can't seem to help ourselves - we get into trouble regularly, our clothing is less than fashionable, and it is nothing short of a miracle to actually leave the house with our hair looking even moderately presentable.  We make stupid mistakes, we don't know when to shut our mouths and rather than having the world as an oyster, it's more like a banana peel for us to slip and break our necks upon.  We're the average Joe and Judy and we're the ones who make the world go 'round.

There are a few pretty stark differences between the two classes, so, let's take a gander, shall we?

First, we don't possess a pedigree.  No blue bloods among us, we are the working stiffs.  This doesn't mean, of course, we lack any social graces whatsoever, but it does mean that we are not "A" list of guests to the fancy dinner parties at the Country Club.   Our kids are kids and they get bruised up, scratched up and no, they are not perfect little snowflakes to be pampered and coddled.  We like our kids to have a little bit of grit to them because as adults, we know they are going to have to put up with the beautiful people - as well as those who believe themselves to be beautiful.

Second, we react differently to negative stimuli.  For example, the recent news of the beheading of a second American journalist by the terrorist group, Isis, really pisses us off and we're not afraid to admit it.  We're the type of people who would much rather carpet bomb known areas of terrorist occupation and be done with it.  The beautiful people, however, would prefer to wring their hands and struggle over the politically correct approach and it usually entails a bit of "negotiation."  Even after all of the money spent in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts unknown, the American public is getting fired up again to kick some ass - not talk about ass kicking.  See the difference?

Third, we tend to worry.  Not so much about our revenue stream but we truly fret over the well being of those we love.  When a loved one is sick and disappears off the map for a while, we get concerned, sometimes even frantic with worry.  We know that the love and concern we have for each other cannot be purchased with an American Express Platinum Card, nor can we sit back and appear nonplussed about it.  We worry and you can see it on our faces, in our speech and in our spirit.  We're just not refined enough to hide it.

Fourth, we tend to be far less dogmatic.  Whether it be our religious affections or the fight against GMO's, we hold strong to our beliefs, but don't typically beat people over the head with it.  The beautiful people, however, only associate with the like-minded and they use every means necessary to convert the uninitiated, the little people.  They will use political influence, they will use money, their charm and family connections to do whatever necessary to ensure that their message remains intact regardless of what is happening around them. 

Lastly, we need each other.  Even the greatest introvert among us requires human connections, real meaningful time with loved ones and a circle of friends.  Granted, it may only be a couple times a year, but it is needed.  We need to feel that those within our sphere of influence understands the fact that we're horribly flawed, almost without the possibility of redemption, but ours will always accept us - they may whip our asses, but they are always there.  We feel for one another and there is no high dollar dinner party that could ever replace that feeling.  The beautiful people prefer elegant settings void of real vulnerability.  To them, you see, to show vulnerability is to admit weakness and if you're beautiful, weakness is considered ugliness and there is no way in hell that can be considered acceptable.

I tip my hat to the average folks out there, my brothers and sisters in this struggle we call life.  We make mistakes and often these are really big mistakes that truly change our world and our outlook, but we keep on plugging along, don't we?