This Life Thing

So, friends, here we are. Another new year.

And with it comes a sense of renewal. Of starting over. The slate is clean; we have yet another chance to do this life thing right or, at least, better.

It’s now January 2nd, though. How many resolutions have you already broken?

It’s okay, we’re human. We all need to be more patient with ourselves. And each other.

We are all on our own very individual journeys, at different points along the way. And, as such, we should be more understanding, if not respectful, of where others are.

I know that’s something I need to work to improve. Among other things.

I feel strongly that I want to be more loving this year. To send more love out into the world with my words and actions. Love is such a precious commodity, one that must be freely traded, and more often.

I want to show more kindness to others, as well. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a steady decline of it in our society for a long time, now. We’re all so hung up on ourselves, we forget how interdependent we really are. We forget what a kind word or deed can mean to someone. Or an unkind one, for that matter. What we say and do matters, however trivial we think it to be.

Oh, I know we all have people in our lives who stretch our love and kindness, as well as our patience, to their limits. And many folks have me doing the same thing in their lives. I know I’m grateful to them for loving me through it all, and I bet those people in your life, whether they tell you or not, are just as grateful.

Because, even if you don’t want to be, you are their lifeline.

Also, as some of you are already aware, I need to focus on my health more this year. I’m a diabetic; it’s time I act like one. Sure, I must eat healthier food and get more exercise but most importantly, I’ve got to change my mindset, to acknowledge finally that I can’t continue treating my body as I do. It’ll kill me; that simple.

So, how about you? What do you want to do in 2023? What do you need to do?

What do you want to see happen? Not just to you; to your family, to your friends, to the world.

Do you have resolutions? Objectives? Hopes? Dreams?

Since it’s natural this time of year to evaluate who you are, and who you desire to be, give yourself a little time to do that. Take a moment in your journey to notice where you are on this road, and decide if you’re going to continue on it.

I wish you all a year full of joy, love, peace and good health. Take care. See ya later.

And rest in peace, Barbara Walters. You’ve certainly earned it.

Slow Lane to Acceptance

So, we rejoin our hero as he returns home from an overnight stay in the hospital, due to a sudden onset of memory loss. If you missed reading the previous post, go back now and catch up. I’ll wait.

Okay, we all synced up now? Good.

As I said before, since this happened mere days before Thanksgiving, I certainly had one more thing to be thankful for, that this wasn’t something more serious.

But, this episode is forcing me to face the truth about my health, in a way I never have before.

I have Type 2 diabetes. I got diagnosed with it in 2009. Thirteen years, I’ve known I have it, and the only lifestyle change I’ve made is switching from sodas to diet sodas.

Otherwise, I still eat what I want, when I want, in whatever quantity I want, especially sweets. My exercise regimen mostly consists of getting up from the couch. Oh, I’ll occasionally walk for a few days, but it never becomes a habit.

You get the idea. It’s kinda been 13 years of denial. I get my A1C (3-month blood sugar average) checked at the doctor’s regularly, and I tell myself that as long as that checks good, I can continue all my bad habits. I just keep taking my diabetes medication, my cholesterol medication, my high blood pressure medication, etc.

Yeah. I know. I guess I knew the whole time. But having diabetes is life-changing, and I haven’t wanted my life to change.

In addition, I’ve been telling myself that because my dad and my brother had strokes, I would be spared. No way it would happen to me, too. I mean, my oldest brother hasn’t had one, so I won’t, either. Right?

Right?

Well, here’s the thing, and all you diabetics out there already know this:

People who have diabetes are 2 times as likely to have a stroke compared to people who do not have diabetes. (Which neither my father or brothers had/have) People with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease or have a stroke at an earlier age than people without diabetes. And every 2 minutes, an American adult with diabetes is hospitalized for stroke.

Every. Two. Minutes.

This is serious stuff, that I haven’t taken seriously. But, at age 63, with one TIA on my scorecard, perhaps I’d better, don’t ya think?

I just have to accept, this is my life, and it must change, or I could end up in really bad shape. Or worse.

Okay, but after the holidays. Too many delicious homemade treats around to eat, you see.

Pathetic, I know. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

So, this new year is going to present new challenges, as I endeavor to get myself healthy. It’s gonna be hard, and I know I’ll hate it at the beginning. But I must do this; for my wife as well as myself. And I will.

And you know what? To this day, I have absolutely no recollection of that night my wife took me to the hospital; not the trip there, not the questions she asked me earlier, not my disorientation and confusion, and not a minute of that Elton John concert.

Nothing. Nada. Total blank.

Fortunately, that concert is still streaming on Disney+, so I got to watch it again.

And this time, I remember it. It was awesome.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone. None of us know how many we have left, so let’s make the most of them. Give some love, and take some, too. And, let’s all take better care of ourselves.

Peace and love, y’all. ✌🏻❤

The Driver Hits a Pothole

Sunday night, November 20th.

My wife and I were sitting at home, watching the Elton John concert livestreamed from Dodger Stadium. A concert I’d looked forward to since I first learned of it.

Since the concert didn’t start until 10 PM in our time zone, it ended sometime after midnight.

Around that time, before the show ended, I suddenly became confused and agitated, asking my wife repeatedly, “Is it midnight, already? Did we miss the concert? Did I go to sleep?”

(The concert was still on, mind you.)

“No, dear,” she assured me, “we didn’t miss it.” She had to tell me that over and over. She also said she didn’t know for sure if I fell asleep, because she did, too, briefly.

After the concert, when we went to bed, I didn’t recognize the blanket that had been on there for awhile. Or the box on top of it, where we would usually pet Lizzy.

She asked me where we last went on a cruise. I said, Alaska. Which we did, in 2019.

But we took a New England cruise late September. This year.

She asked me what year it is. I said, “Two thousand…something.”

She asked me who the President is. After a few seconds, I replied…”Obama?” 0 for 3 on this test.

“Okay,” she said, “we’re going to the hospital.” And we did.

Two things you should probably know about me at this point. One, I have Type 2 diabetes. Two, I have a history of stroke in my immediate family.

I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms of a stroke, though; my face wasn’t drooping, my speech wasn’t slurred, I didn’t experience weakness, numbness or loss of balance.

I just suddenly couldn’t remember things.

In the hospital Monday morning, my wife was asking me questions about things we did recently, and I couldn’t remember them. And I kept asking her why we were at the hospital, having forgotten all the times I’d already asked her.

I was getting scared. She, understandably, was already there.

So, I had an MRI done; nothing wrong was found. I had an EEG done; nothing wrong was found. I had a carotid ultrasound done; can you guess how that turned out?

Oh, and I wore a heart monitor overnight to check for atrial fibrillation. Nothing wrong there, either.

They checked my blood sugar when I got there, and it was normal. I did have an elevated blood pressure, though, but who doesn’t when they’re in the emergency room?

So basically, the doctor had no explanation for what happened. Granted, it would probably be easier to determine while it was actually happening, but while they kept me there for observation, it didn’t happen again. And it hasn’t since.

And no, it never had before, either.

I was sent home after one night in the hospital, a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I was a little more thankful this year. Mainly, to still be around.

Well, as it happened, I had an appointment with my primary care doctor the following Monday. He’d already looked over the details from my hospital visit, and concluded I had probably experienced a TIA, or Trans Ischemic Attack.

I knew about these from my father and brother having them.

Also known as a mini-stroke, it leaves no permanent damage; it just serves notice that something bigger might be coming down the line.

So, I guess it’s finally about time to give up this whole denial routine I’ve had going for so long.

There’s more to this story, and I’ll tell you about it in the next post.

Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Bringin’ the Pain

Now I’ve been crying lately
Thinkin’ about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can’t we live in bliss?

Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, “Peace Train”, 1971

Before I get into the real purpose of this post, I want to recommend an absolutely remarkable episode of television. If you’re able to watch the medical drama New Amsterdam (my favorite show, BTW) on demand, catch the episode that just aired this week, titled, “Maybe Tomorrow.” (Season 5, Episode 7) It is unforgettable.

I’ve been really struggling with writing this one, y’all.

There’s been a cloud of self-doubt hanging over me about this blog. I’ve been asking myself, should I keep writing? Do I have anything of value left to say? (Assuming I ever did.) Will anybody read it? Will it make a bit of difference in the whole scheme of things?

And then I recall a comment I once received from my fellow blogger, Jen, whose blog, Dogpaddling Through Life, I follow and highly recommend. She told me:

I hope you continue to write. Share with us your pain as we share our own.

And, trust me, she shares hers. She is compellingly transparent.

And so, here is my pain. Read it or not.

It pains me to see so many people embracing hate, embracing anger, embracing ignorance, embracing fear, embracing violence.

It pains me that the media sees fit to deliver a barrage of bad news, and what pains me about it is, it’s apparently what we want, or they wouldn’t keep giving it to us.

It pains me to watch the steady erosion – recently accelerated and encouraged by the words and actions of donald trump – of such things as compassion, kindness, even simple common courtesy.

It pains me how much astonishing immaturity is being displayed by so many of us regarding an election that was decided – and repeatedly verified – almost two years ago.

To the point of some folks threatening civil war, for Chrissakes, if the midterm elections don’t go their way. Grow the hell up, why don’t you?

It pains me to hear how many absurd, outlandish, jaw-dropping lies are repeated by supposedly responsible adults, and how many supposedly sensible folks willingly, even enthusiastically believe them.

It pains me how many white people, and how many institutions, still view non-whites as somehow inferior, and treat them that way.

And then do whatever they can to keep their children from learning about it.

It pains me to see the the supremely stupefying callousness shown toward children, as proven by the total lack of meaningful gun policy, and to witness so many people more worried about losing their guns than our kids. That is so far beyond unconscionable, it’s obscene.

It pains me that abortions happen; I wish they didn’t. But what pains me even more is the vitriol and the violence directed at anyone who has or performs one, and at anyone who supports a woman’s right to choose. It pains me, also, that the Supreme Court of the United States feels the necessity to interfere with that right.

Incidentally, if all you “pro-life” folks are so concerned with the rights of the unborn, where the f*** is that concern when guns that cut down the lives of children, let alone adults, are so readily available, so fervently protected, and so devotedly worshipped?

It pains me how much humiliation, ostracism, rage and violence is experienced by the LGBTQ+ community. This is not a “chosen lifestyle.” Seriously, how many of you would choose to subject yourself to this kind of cruelty, day after day?

And it really, really pains me that so many so-called “Christians” are at the forefront of all this $#!t. Their behavior is so far away from the teachings of the Jesus they claim to follow, He probably wouldn’t recognize any of them. I would like to think a lot of them are in for a surprise in the afterlife.

And I haven’t even mentioned war, climate change, and a myriad of other pains.

I know this is a lot to take in. But it all causes me pain. Sometimes intense, overwhelming pain.

And, I’m sure telling you about it will ultimately accomplish nothing. Except maybe, spread the misery. Sorry.

Maybe I shouldn’t write anymore.