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Life Is Loss, Part Two – A Lesson Learned

I posted a few days ago regarding losses – specifically the loss of my daughter, and a good friend’s loss of most of his lower left leg and foot.

Hardly an upbeat read.

However, Life is not just loss.  Life also gives us lessons!

Since I heard from my good friend Bob regarding his diabetic amputation surgery, I’ve tried to contact him.  We exchanged texts initially a couple of times, and he advise me he would call.

Nothing.

I feared the worst.

So, I took it upon myself to call him.  Not to incessantly badger him (thinking he was busy enough) but once a week, just to check-in on him and his condition.  And attitude.

And I ended up leaving messages.  And this concerned me.

Bob returned yesterday’s message last night.  I needn’t have been concerned.

Bob – (my former PI and gun store boss) was in great spirits!  YES, he did lose his left foot and about 12″ of lower leg.  And yes, he has a long, painful recovery and rehab ahead.

But he was not only doing physically well – he was doing well emotionally and spiritually, too!

Now, Bob would be the first to tell you he is not a religious guy.  And not the most spiritual.  But he almost lost his life to sepsis, and took his survival to mean he is supposed to remain here a while longer.

And not wallow in his losses.

He is fortunate to have the great support of his wife and two daughters.  And his brother.  And he reminded of previous losses and near-death experiences he has suffered.

AND HE SEES THIS AS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF!

Or, in the words of his parents (both deceased), “Put on your big boy panties and get on with it!”

And his is and has.

And, he reminded me (indirectly) that I have similar lessons.  I, too, have had losses, and near-death experiences.  And I have wallowed.  Or more specifically whined.

I might lose some benefits.  So what?  Big boy panties are available for the wearing.

Bob has set an example for me to try and emulate.

Starting now.

Just When I Thought It Was Safe, Part Cinco

(If you abhor whining, read no further)

vulturesIt’s my fault, actually.  I had the audacity to turn 62.  And, with that milestone came the vultures.

First, my former employer TMCCC contacted me regarding applying for early retirement.  I’m currently medically retired due to my contracting lymphoma in 2008.  I left active employment in 2009, after six months of chemo.

Obviously, the sooner they can nudge me out, the less pension they will have to pay.  And current calculations are not very promising, regardless of my retiring now or @ 65.

So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when my private medical insurance carrier (thank GOD I paid the premiums when I was working!) contacted me to update their information.

This means contacting my physician with regard to my current condition and ability to work. 

In spite of the fact I was awarded SSDI and private disability due to having cancer, I have many other conditions which make returning to the workforce problematic.  Even though I AM currently in remission! (knock-on-wood!)

Working while diabetic is no biggee,  working with the neuropathy (chronic nerve pain) that comes with it – not so much.  And the arthritis.  There was a time I could stand and sit for long hours.  No longer.  Now, sitting more than an hour or two is painful.  Forget standing and walking much.

Oh, I can (and do) take various prescription pain medications.  Which make me dopey and put me to sleep.  And still only lessen the pain.  They do not take it away.

And my fear is the private insurance company will say, well, you have been in remission over 5 years…SAYONARA!

And the private addition to my SSDI payment isn’t much, but it is 21% of my disability pay.   And the total is still poverty level.

I rent a room in a friend’s home, and drive a clunky 2000 Oldsmobile.  I lost my home of 18 years, 2 1/2 years ago.  I’m not milking the system here.

And now I get to jump through more hoops in hope of keeping that 21%.

Sigh.

Life Is Loss

From the time we are very small, we believe Life is about acquiring things.  Food, warmth, love…stuff.  It’s when we are a little older we realize that Life, too, is about loss.

yin yangThe Yin to the Yang.

And, most of us don’t understand or like that.  In fact, most of us hate it!

And, it becomes a matter of degree.  That toy that broke (with which we didn’t play, anyway), gives way to the lost book.  The dog that died.  The high school girlfriend who moved away.

And we choose to suffer for our loss.

But, there is a larger picture, if we choose to see it.

If we didn’t lose ‘it’, we wouldn’t really appreciate it.

My dear friend Bob (of the many Bobs I know) texted me yesterday, to advise me that on Friday he had his left foot and about six inches of his left leg amputated.  He’s been diabetic for many years, and had already lost a toe.  Even though I lost the use of my right hip when I was 12, I still grieved for him.  I’m certain he has a long and arduous road ahead involving prosetheses, crutches, and much pain.

And grief over the loss of his foot.

Most of us don’t even think of our feet or legs, unless they are giving us difficulty.  A blister, a bunion, a corn.  Calluses.  For me, calluses are difficult, because grinding them off is problematic with a fused hip.  And, I too, am diabetic.

I still am fortunate enough to still have all my extremities, though.  You can bet my nightly cursory examination of said feet was more than cursory last night, though!

Molly 1986 2Today, is my daughter Molly’s 32nd birthday.  I spent most of her 12 years on this planet operating with the assumption that, as nature intends, she would outlive me, and would suffer with my passing.

I was wrong.  And I survive here to do the suffering.

I love you and miss you, Molly.  And sometimes grieve over you.

But, I also appreciate the time I had to know and love you.  I believe so much more than if we had continued in our parallel life paths.  Because of the yin and yang.

And I’ve my memories to keep.

Forever.

Go and hug and kiss those you love, and tell them.  Because you never know.

And, if you are diabetic, check your feet often.

Dentophobia

(I don’t know if that’s the correct term, but, it seems to apply.)

When I was in early elementary school, I had a great dentist.  No pain, trinkets afterward.  When I was in the Second Grade, I got a skull ring with ruby eyes for myself, and a heart ring for Susan Johnson, my girlfriend.

Then my Dad married my stepmother that Summer, and we moved.  And I never saw her again.  Nor the cool dentist. :-(

My adult teeth came in, and in junior high came time for me to revisit a dentist.  My stepmother took me to hers, who had apprenticed under Dr. Mengele!

Not enough anesthetic, no sympathy, my own unfamiliarity with adult teeth.  It was like that movie that set dentistry back 150 years…

And, my stepmother being embarrassed by my ‘carrying-on’ just never took me back.  EVER.

And my teeth, which are very soft (I’m told because I was born premature) just rotted on the vine.  My Dad’s example didn’t help, either.  He had full upper false teeth by the time he was twenty-one!

So, much of my adult life has been avoiding dentists and dentistry, or having no insurance, or funds, and dealing with the wreckage of my past.

My current situation is a lower molar, filling compromised, tooth self-destructing.  Fortunately, tooth pain has been intermittent and dealt with with topical aids.  But recently part of the tooth broke, and the side is chronically abrading the side of my tongue when I speak.

And I like talking.  OW!

I was able to blunt the edge enough to make things more comfortable – but I know a dentist visit is in my future.

And I keep repeating in my head, “Is it SAFE?”

Ya Know – Things Could Be WORSE!

When I started this blog, it was more just an outlet – it was something to do.  Being on medical disability for lymphoma, compounded by arthritis, a fused hip, and diabetes, I told myself I would NOT use the blog as therapy.

Even though, on more than one occasion, I have!  :-)

But one advantage of this window on the world is it can be indeed a window.  And can be observed both directions.

Recently, I posted about Kilted To Kick Cancer.  Cancer charities are especially personal to me, being a lymphoma survivor, and all.  When I was diagnosed, and required chemotherapy, I was actively employed and had quality health insurance.

But, it wasn’t enough to cover the high cost of the chemo.

Enter a charity – who, upon my application, covered the bulk of the cost not absorbed by my insurance.

For this, and for many things, I should be grateful.

But, I get into myself, ongoing chronic pain issues, inability to work, low income, old bad car w/o A/C, yatta, yatta, yatta

Then I get a view into the window!

I’m privileged to have many people follow me on this blog.  I’ve no idea why they do.  And while some are fellow travelers of the libertarian/conservative/gun totin’ kind, there are others.

A recent follower is Caroline, who has a loving husband, and child.  And a horrific cancer, MEN2A.  And her blog!

Talk about an attitude adjustment!  To see what this beautiful woman and her family are going through…

And so many others.

Caroline

Suicide Is Painless

Some of you may recognize the post title as the theme song to the film and TV show M.A.S.H.  It’s ironic.

It’s obvious from the outpouring of emotion that the recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams touched many people.  And caused THEM pain.

As a libertarian, I believe I’ve the right to do with my own body as I wish.  You do, too.  As long as it doesn’t affect other people negatively.

And there’s the rub.

I can eat more than is healthy, eat the ‘wrong’ foods, smoke or drink if I wish, watch ‘questionable’ videos, read unsavory material, and most of this doesn’t directly affect my family, friends, or former coworkers.

But, what if I choose to do something permanent…?

Why is it it appears the more artistic of us are the most tortured?  Or is that a misconception based on the fact famous people get the media attention?

When I heard about Robin Williams, my first thought was he has children.  And based on that fact alone, he should not have taken this path.

And then I thought of Ernest Hemingway, another artistic person with issues who ended his own life.  And Vincent Van Gogh.  And so many others.

If you have such issues, please get help!  Know that there are people out there who care.  And that the World would be lacking without you.

h/t The Actor’s Studio

Friends – Current, Former and Distant

American Mercenary recent wrote regarding the loss of a formerly close Internet friend, or two.

As I’ve been musing about the subject of ‘friends’  he got my attention.

It seems I thought for some time that if one has a friend, one has that friend for life.  The concept of ‘unfriending’ someone with whom you have a disagreement seemed a foreign concept.  I held my friends close.

In my mind.

But, I was wrong in my belief.  I needed to hold my friends, not in my mind, but in my heart.

Over the years, I’ve lost many friends, usually through attrition.  Someone moves into a different social circle, or geographic region.  Or changes jobs.  And the contacts are broken.  Stuff happens.

But it’s only been in recent years that I’ve begun to recognize my actions have taken their toll.  Taking advantage, contacting them only when it was advantageous to me.  Not holding up my half of the friendship. Not being a friend.

Essentially, being an a$$40le!

And this has cost me, dearly.  At least three close friends in the past 15 years.  And, this doesn’t even include the other losses.  Like Mark Bell, who passed away suddenly.  Or special friends – lovers.

I’ve atoned for my sins, but that’s not enough.  I need to continue to be a friend to my friends.  Lest I lose any more.

If you read this blog, you know I always ask you to tell your children and loved ones how you feel.  Include your friends.  Because you never know.

Learn from my errors – cherish your friends, now.

Double Tap (and Stack)

My roomie recently made an impulse buy at our local gun store.  A Double Tap derringer.  In .45 ACP!

click on image for website

(from their website)  DoubleTap Firearms has developed  the world’s smallest and lightest .45 ACP concealed carry pistol on the market today. Also available in 9mm.

Titanium or Aluminium Frames with a MIL-STD finish that resists corrosion
Stainless Steel Barrels
Two rounds in the chamber and integral grips house an additional two spare rounds
Optional Ported barrels reduces muzzle flip and recoil
Small, slim, no-snag hammerless design for easy pocket carry
Ambidextrous thumb latch to eject spent rounds
U.S. Patent No. D686685 and other Patents Pending
 

RE:  Double Action Trigger – She (WE) have not shot her yet, but as it’s 14 oz. and a 1911 is traditionally 39, I suspect it comes-back-a-bit.  (Roomie did not get the comped barrels!)  Her trigger is a long, crunchy pull, which is her only ‘safety’.  If one has the time, I believe the proper way to activate the trigger is by stacking or staging.

That is pulling smoothly until the double-action mechanism takes up slack, then holding and gaining a sight-picture before touching her off.

Even the manufacturer’s own literature says she is NOT a target or competition piece.  I suspect, like the classic Derringer, she’s a ‘put into a gut or orifice and empty’ kind of firearm.

She does come with a clip – a speed strip kind of device holding an additional 6 rounds.  And a two-rounder stored neatly in the butt of the weapon.

Now, if it is only comfortable pain-free not impossible to shoot!

(I will post an AAR after we field test her.)

attn FTC – she bought it, okay?

Some gotta win, some gotta lose…

Guffaw’s got the blues…

I try not to let the state of the World the Nation my life get to me.  I try not to be self-centered.  I do realize that there’s very little I can do regarding the state of either the World or the Nation.  I’ve let my opinions be known, and I voted.  I’ve spoken out on this blog.  In many places on the globe these things are not allowed, and subject to sever penalties.

But, I can do something about my attitude!  I’m approaching a landmark anniversary in my life (if you reckon in Base 10); I’ve no partner to share it with; no money – on disability (which is both a description of lack of funds and physical ability).

I’ve a number of chronic conditions, and seem to acquire more every day.  I owe medical bills.

I drive a 13 year old car, when I can afford gasoline.

And last Summer, because my disability income is 60% lower than my previous meager income,  I lost my home.  (“We lived in a hallway!”  “We dreamed of living in a hallway-we lived in a cardboard box!” – Monty Python)  Fortunately, a good friend offered me a place to stay.

Two weeks ago, my sister had a minor stroke.  (If there is such a thing).  She’s back to work, and coping, but it does get one’s attention.

But all is not lost.

Re: this upcoming calendar mark – My new neighbor and EX-wife (and friend) contacted me, and asked if she could put a little celebration together in my honor!

HOLY SHNIKIES!!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “If you have friends, you have everything!”  You know, like the end of that Christmas movie…

Time to remove my head from it’s regular inverted resting place and get moving.

Thanks for listening.

How the mighty have fallen!

not Ed, but a reasonable facsimile

…and even the lowly like me!

Being a disabled individual most of my life, I’m usually pretty careful about falling.  I have fallen a few times in the past ten years, usually by catching the edge of a kerb with my shoe by not picking up my leg far enough.  Last year, having had additional issues, I purchased a shoe lift for my right leg, making up the missing height with a taller sole and heel.  Except for my fused hip, I can walk almost normally with this shoe.  No walking on the toe or shoulders dropping with my gait.

But, there are occasional  problems.

Yesterday, I became a bit miffed with myself.  I moved June 30, but haven’t yet found places for many boxes, cannot get into my closet and am missing many items.  So I did some work to remedy this.  Or so I thought.

Mid-afternoon, after emptying some boxes, I was repositioning a floor lamp to get better lighting in my room, and promptly tripped on the extension cord with Ed (aka the Really Big Shoe)*.  I fell face-first into the space between my barrister bookcase and my dresser, tweaking my lower back, hitting the edge of the bookcase with my face, bruising my chest, and scraping my right wrist.  My eyeglasses also were reconformed into a modern art piece.  Getting up from almost prone has always been a challenge, and was now more so with the various added injuries.  But we prevailed.

My roomie returned from work and fretted over me, and took me out for beer.  A little alcoholic anesthetic helped, but wasn’t a cure.

At least I didn’t damage the furniture, and no arteries were severed; no bones broken; joints sprained.  I was able to plier-cobble my eyeglasses back into shape.  I do have a cut on my right cheek and two bruises on my chest.  It’s been suggested I make up a fight story.

Naw, just an old guy stumbling.

*for the youngsters, a reference to TV variety show host Ed Sullivan, who often proclaimed he has a really big show for us, but pronounced show as shoe.
"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas - how he got in my pajamas I dunno!" - Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers

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The Four Rules

1. ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.

2. NEVER POINT YOUR MUZZLE AT SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.

3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET AND YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT.

4. KNOW YOUR TARGET AND WHAT'S BEYOND.

Certified EVIL!

FEAR

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Bene Gesserit, from Frank Herbert's Dune

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“F**k Civility. Hyperbole, passion, and metaphor are beautiful parts of rhetoric. The marketplace of ideas cannot be toned down for the insane.” - Penn Jillette

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I'm currently on disability, unable to work, and receive marginal benefits. I've been advised by SSDI I may receive some additional income. Based on their statements, I'm adding a bleg to this blog. Effective 03/06/2012. Thank you for your kindness.

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