It’s time for all of us to start talking about P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

What is written below was born from a single sentence spoken to me one day after what was essentially a rough call. A group of us gathered with a well-known, well liked chaplain within our department to ensure no one either needed or didn’t need to discuss the day’s traumatic events. All was fine, we all spoke a little, shared our feelings the way we always do with a little sadness submerged inside of humor and yet; this one sentence has lingered in my head for months now, and like an aching back that needs to be stretched or an itch that you just can’t reach, I finally felt the overwhelming need to move or scratch, leading to this chaotic rant.

Driving to work at times is more difficult than you may think. I get up in the morning like everyone else does, make coffee and breakfast for my wife so she can take her medications. (My wife is suffering from GvHD or Graft vs Host Disease after a Bone Marrow Transplant) Without missing a beat my tired achy body rousts the rest of our clan from a good nights slumber. One heads out to feed animals, the other two work on breakfast, lunches and packing up homework. After a cup of coffee for myself, getting dressed and brushing teeth, I find myself making sure the entire snack drawer hasn’t been loaded into only one backpack while ensuring the teenage boy has gathered up his crap as well. I meet with the wife one last time, making sure she has taken her medications, she has enough food and supplies to last her until our oldest gets home from work and that she has a charged phone to call me in case of an emergency. Then we all hit the road, them to school and I am off to work.

We live out in the country and it is a ten mile drive to town. Some would say it’s far, I think it is just far enough. Some mornings I may point out the beauty in a sunrise, or a unique cloud formation during a storm coming over the mountain. Other mornings depending on the time of year it may be the Almond trees in blossom, Geese overhead (we live just west of the flyway) or the simple, still, eerie way fog lays upon the ground. But the reality is every turn, every stretch of roadway we travel, it is there; like a kick in the teeth or a punch to the stomach. It is always there reminding me of my life, the hidden lie we all live in regards to life and the fact that everything comes to an end in death.

I became a full-fledged probationary firefighter on June 7th, 1995. When we started we were young, brash and full of ourselves. We heard all the stories from the old timers and we couldn’t wait to step onto an engine. Through diligent hard work we successfully graduated our academy. We didn’t drop out when it got hard, we didn’t cringe or flounder through basic medical training, we thought we knew full well what we were getting into and we were damn proud to be doing it! Much like the majority of our academy class, all I ever wanted to do was help people. I have always known there was something more for me, and I still feel that way today.

When we started in station I followed the senior guys around. Dumb, ignorant with no experience what so ever, I made every effort to learn as much as I could! To listen and emulate those who paved this glorious road before me. I also went straight back to school, obtaining an E.M.T. or Emergency Medical Technician’s certification and started working on learning about the fire engineers job so I better understood what was happening at the other end of my hose line during a fire. I spent hundreds of hours soaking up firefighter skills and responsibilities, hoping to be good enough so one day the senior guys would trust me to carry out important tasks on any emergency scene. It was (the job) and still is, everything I hoped becoming a firefighter would be.

They (the old guys) really do try preparing you for every conceivable situation be it fire, vehicle accident, medical aid, haz-mat, flood, rescue etc… but there is one thing you can never be prepared for, one thing no one really wants to talk about, and that is the constant never ending death. It is not the fires, or the car accidents or even the medicals that wear down your body over time, it is the constant death that wears down your mind and even at times your resolve.

In their defense these seasoned veterans only knew from what had been passed down to them. They try, oh yes they try in their own weird humor filled way. A way we adopted as we got older, supposedly wiser with more runs under our belts. Our chief at the time warned us during our graduation ceremony with one sentence that went something like this; You can never prepare yourself for the things you will see.

How true he was, but as young kids we just laughed! You know that nervous, I am a tough bad ass laugh you usually hear right before the laughing idiot gets their teeth kicked in? Yeah that laugh. We were naïve, dumb and blinded to the realities of our world. Hell! We’d proclaim; we’ve seen death! We have watched enough horror films we knew exactly what death is, (insert chest thumping here) and yet we knew so very little. So shamefully little about death and our both personal and professional responsibility in regards to handling death.

Fast forward 21 years, back to that morning taking kids to school. Every turn on the roadway while talking to my kids a memory reminds me of an accident here, or a death over there. The father of three, ejected and if that wasn’t insult to injury enough the car rolled back over on top of him. The grandfather whose tractor flipped over on him out in that field over there and no one knew until later in the morning because well, grandpa is supposed to be out tractoring. The car that ran the stop sign at this intersection, running off the roadway and striking the culvert thus bursting into flames. Once we cross over the freeway into town, we pass a house where I held a child screaming and crying because no matter what we did, or how hard we tried his mommy died, right there in front of him.  I wonder where that now grown young man is today. That white house over there, we did compressions on a 24 year old drug overdose or two blocks over when the roommate came home to find his best friend had hung himself in the hallway. Drop the kids off at school and I drive by a house where we had the pleasure of searching and dragging the families’ dogs from a house fire. Those dogs were this couple’s world and although some would say they are just dogs, to some people those dogs may as well have been their children. We couldn’t save them, they sobbed on the front lawn as we carried out fire operations. Hey right here at the intersection where I sit at every morning is the site where we did CPR on an elderly man as his wife gently whimpered up against the wall. I can still see him lying there, I can still feel her grief. Those are just a few of the road signs as I call them that I look at every morning on the way into town. There are hundreds more, they are just not on this particular route. Oh well back to meeting with our well respected chaplain.

After every borderline call, or semi disturbing sounding response this one lone sentence, made in jest with no malice inferred what so ever kept nagging away at my inner self. This sentence came from a warm heart, a place of love and respect. And it’s because of this one lone sentence for which I have done nothing about that I feel I must honor its intent and finally respond.

The sentence you ask?

Our chaplain; “Don’t worry about Betty, if something is bothering him he will just write about it and we will read it the next day”

Simple, precise and so true. It is my way, my coping mechanism and beyond those who know me personally and those who follow my blog, a statement of fact. I have so many stories written, never to see the light of day. Locked away on my personal drive for only my eyes to re-read, re-live and suffer through quietly.

So with that being said; this one is for you Jim Wilson. Thank you for always being there for not only our department but our neighboring fire department as well. It is people such as you and your partners that make letting go of the evil demons we hold inside, the ones pulling back our tears, screaming in our heads to keep swallowing the pain just a little easier to handle.

I never realized how badly our job had begun to affect me. I become fairly used to the road signs around town and yes they were beginning to wear me down but it wasn’t until I realized I was terrified of my children going out to play, or my sons learning to drive that I knew I may have a problem. It wasn’t until I began having nightmares, losing sleep, or superimposing my children’s faces on those faces of death swirling around my head that I knew I may have a problem.It wasn’t until I noticed I had a migraine every day for two years and my body hurt all the time that I may have a problem. It wasn’t until I realized I was drinking every single night and even though my wife pointed this fact out to me, I brushed it off as; it’s just beer, it’s hot, we all drink beer, lots of beer, that I began to see I may have a real problem. It wasn’t until I found myself crying at stupid movies, commercials or spacing out, reliving some tragedy in my life be it personal or from the job that I knew I might have a problem. The rain, a wind, a smell, a moment in time surfacing from the unknown can bring about not happiness but disturbing morbid thoughts; yeah thats when I knew I may have a problem. It also wasn’t until my wife was diagnosed with Leukemia and the normally stoic, stiff upper lipped man I had become cried like a baby, uncontrollably, without any knowledge of the severity or options available that I knew I may have a problem.

So I started writing.

And I started talking, to anyone who would listen. I began by reaching out to friends in the business, and a few of my close personal friends. We (the fire service) have spent so many years suppressing these emotions, telling our young firefighters through actions or lack  thereof and not words that it’s NOT ok to feel. We seemingly must be strong all the time for if we fall apart we may become less then what we are and what we are is not heroic, or super hero like, which is what many would have you believe. No what we are is human. Death hurts, losing people hurts, seeing the worst in humanity hurts. Yes we are lucky enough to have those moments that are filled with elation. For four years in a row myself and three others were lucky enough to win the save a life award. The moments are there! But the gruesomeness of what one human can do to another or the after effects of sheer tragedy will always outweigh the good, because you can’t just erase those memories.

I like to tell stories (duh?)

When you see me I am more than happy to tell stories about our job. There is good, and there is just the plain old funny ass, you would never believe it if you hadn’t have lived it stories that go with our job! What good is having a long career if there wasn’t some wonderful memories mixed with humor? But no matter where I go, and as much as I love to share our experiences with anyone who is genuinely interested, there is one question you should never ask any of us. Ever. It is not fair, we know you don’t know why it isn’t fair. But it is not fair to us or the demons we hide deep down inside. So please be understanding and hear me out.

Please don’t ever ask this one question.

WHAT WAS MY WORST CALL EVER?

It happens all the time. We get off work and go home, we take time to assimilate back to a normal existence. Maybe that evening we get dressed up and take our spouses, significant others, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends of friends out for an evening of fun. We have a few drinks, the laughs are rolling, jokes are being told around the table through the sounds of others laughing and having a good time. And then it happens. Usually asked by a newcomer to the group or outsider as one of your inner circle would never cross such dreaded lines.

HEY MAN WHATS THE WORST CALL YOU HAVE EVER BEEN ON?

Or

HEY BRO SERIOUSLY WHAT’S THE MOST GRUESOME THING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN?

Followed by; C’mon tell me I can handle it!!

But here is the thing.

You can’t handle it, nor do I want you to handle it! I cannot even begin to tell you the worst things I have seen, or put into adequate words the most gruesome of images. They are forever trapped inside my head, seared into my brain and in what realm of reality do you even for a minute think you can handle what my hands have touched, the scenes my eyes have witnessed, the sounds that no matter the day or time inexplicably reverberate through my head like a sole hiker yelling across the Grand Canyon just to hear themselves over and over again. No these stories are not for you and pray, I mean get down on your knees and pray that you never, ever witness even a fraction of what I have witnessed in 21 years.

Oh I know, I have heard it all and it usually goes something like this; Hey man its cool I have seen the most gruesome movies of all, I watched SAW like ten times! Or my personal favorite; I have seen Faces of Death so it’s all right you can tell me. But see that’s where the problem really mucks it up, for it isn’t even whether or not you could handle hearing stories about the most gruesome thing I witnessed in my career, it’s about the fact that you want to know because in reality the way I see it, that one question you threw out with that little condescending smirk has in my eyes instantaneously become a dick measuring competition!

That’s right I said it’s a damn dick measuring competition! You don’t give a shit about what I have seen or the emotions that went along with that particular call! You don’t give two shits about the fact those calls haunt me and have changed my life forever, changed my family’s lives forever and changed the lives of those involved forever! You don’t give three shits’ about the nightmares, or night sweats, the fact I have held more dead and disfigured human beings in my career to date than any one person should ever need too!! And you know what? There are hundreds of thousands of firefighters out there in larger metropolitan areas and military personnel who have witnessed so many more than I! No what you give a shit about finding is your bravado, filling your ego by sitting there listening to some watered down version because I damn sure am not going to tell you the truth! You know why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!

No sir this is all about you secretly fulfilling some need to walk away afterwards with shrugging eyebrows and rolling eyes like it was no big deal, followed with under the breath monotone grumblings like; shit that ain’t nothing, man what the hell, that didn’t sound bad at all or Heck I could do that stupid job, I don’t why they make a big deal about firefighters anyways!

Don’t think for one minute I don’t know! Don’t think for one minute I haven’t heard you as you walk away, or seen that smug ass look on your face which makes me want to grab you by the throat hoping you can visualize some of what you just heard simply by looking into my eyes, but in the end you can have that look, you can walk away thinking you can do our job better and someday hopefully you come to your senses finding the need to thank someone like me, or a police officer, highway patrol officer, game warden or every single person who has ever served in the military for ensuring every morning you get to wake up with a clear conscience. That right Mr. Dick never have you struggled through a sleepless night while subconsciously transferring all the absolutely disturbing things that can be done to a human onto the faces of your children! You may care for those around you and if you have kids may even be a great dad. But your kids don’t suffer from all of father’s freakish paranoia. Worrying endlessly every moment of the day, seeing nothing but disaster around every corner and not that Chicago Fire television bullshit either! Real disturbing, disgusting and disheartening disaster. Faces of those who haunt you.

You will never walk down a street and smell burning flesh not food as you pass by a BBQ joint, remembering the guy who intentionally wrecked his car into an overpass beam where it caught on fire and he burned to death. You’ve never had to pull a guy like that out with your crew, grimacing as he came apart one piece at a time like overdone chicken. Or cringe when you see the reflection of a burning fireplace in a window wondering if anyone is home because it looks like a room and contents fire just starting. You can drive through your town oblivious to a memory of a kid run over at one intersection or the family of four that died on the edge of a freeway off ramp! Cruising the very same freeway you don’t see the fuel truck that burned or the semi-truck that crossed four lanes killing two and permanently injuring several others. You most likely also don’t see the road sign that cut a car in half taking the life of the driver and you damn sure don’t pass over the spot in lane number two on a daily basis where I picked up a boy’s face, not his head, nor his skull because those were crushed and lying in the number three lane but his fucking face! Discarded like an old Halloween mask on the first of November!

But hey this is a cool game right? Questions are fun!!!

Never, please ever, ask any of us that one simple, self serving question.

Now in defense of these most dreaded of questions for which I am venting I will say this; I love my job, I have been privileged to participate in caring for the people of this special town. It has been my honor to hold a scared mothers hand, to speak gently to a dying grandfather, to hold and care for a woman beaten by the man who supposedly loves her most, to look into the eyes of a sick veteran and tell him not to worry it’s our turn to take care of him . My life has been blessed with assisting new life brought into this world, extricating people from cars that looked as though a bomb went off inside and then staying by a patient’s side until the ambulance takes them away. Working my way through a structure on fire while it gets hotter and hotter, not knowing for sure if we are going to be pulling someone out or finding the fire first then extinguishing it, because sometimes our job requires we do many things at once. My job has so many plusses that expose a person’s true love for another human being, any human being and even when that person is combative or dislikes us for whatever reason the very same love and compassion comes forth.

It all unfortunately comes at a cost. I have learned over time this career has taken away my ability to see life with a rainbows and unicorns attitude and that really sucks because I really like both RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS!!! The innocence of life long gone from our or my ability to cope.

To those who say; well you knew what you were getting into when you joined.

I say this; you are right, to an extent. Words are one thing, a preconceived notion is another but nothing can prepare you for the reality because no matter how prepared you think you are nothing and I mean nothing can prepare you for what you will actually see, touch, taste and hear. And we (the fire service) are just a small segment of those in public service suffering, struggling to make sense of it all. 

When I see an officer, I thank him, when I see a person in uniform no matter the military branch, I thank them. They are hurting, we are all hurting and we do so in silence. It is killing us. Quite literally and that is something to be so, so very ashamed of. We need to be better, not just for ourselves but for those who love us.

For years there was no one to talk too. If you sought help you are labeled weak, if you brood about it, the answer has always been; let’s have some drinks, you’ll feel better. Joking about it is standard fare and humor is a great thing, it really does help. But humor is a mask for the ugliness hidden beneath. At some point in time you must take the mask off. Are you ready for that? To be revealed?

Thanks to the recognition of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in not only our beloved military but our public servants as well, we have very skilled and wonderful people at our disposal, just waiting to help. These people are trained well but most of all they have been there, right where we are now. Unable to process, lacking the skill necessary to cope with both severe stressors and simple everyday life. We need to open the dialogue, to speak up and begin to heal our insides. For if our insides are dying our outsides are already gone.

From a simple sentence, came all of this, Thank you Jim.

If you know someone who needs help, please, say something, do something, they need you and just don’t know how to tell you, to share, to release their inner pain. We hold it all inside so you don’t have to see it. It is time to stop that trend. We can all share some of the burden through talking, love and understanding.

If you feel as though you have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) please reach out.

  1. Or Call: 911
  2. The National Suicide prevention line 1-800-273-8255
  3. Go to the nearest Emergency room
  4. Contact your local church
  5. Check with your employer for assistance

It is time we moved out of the shadows and into the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so finished with this election and all political parties. 

FINISHED WITH THIS ELECTION? 
Or are we????
I wrote the post down below yesterday and placed it on FB. I wrote it out of fear and disgust. Never in my lifetime do I remember a political season centered on such personal controversy combined with the art of the spin. Never can I remember a nation so divided and filled with hate. Where a news generating machine helped to created such broken factions in our society by throwing impartial news reporting out the window in favor of drama and ratings. 
I have always felt negative campaigning does more harm than good, it turns people’s ability to find the heart of the message off. One becomes so mired in the muck of a negative ad they no longer work to hear the message. Combine that with a negative based, personal attack during a rally speech and no one hears your message at all. Quite the contrary to what advisors believe yet the ears shut off and our Neanderthal, club thumping, must hurt something or someone instinct comes out instead. Before long there is no message just hoards of bobbleheads standing behind their candidate chanting brainlessly. We are now past chanting brainlessly, dialogue has evaporated and each side has dug in deep throwing every value and virtue our country has prided itself on out the window. It is painful to watch and leaves one wondering if we can ever trust either political party again. 
Every move our citizens make and every choice our politicians take from this point forward dictates our next election. We ALL, right here, right now are deciding the future of this country. Will we no longer be the country of hope, freedom and free will or do continue down this dreadful path of exclusion, dissection, ignorance and hate. Our country either pulls together or further pushes each other apart. We are no longer a society that can run away towards a new land in hopes of creating a better life. Through an exploding population our world is becoming smaller by the minute and yet the United States is where people from every other country run too when they want- no they need to understand, taste, and feel what true freedom is. 

I do not think this man who has become our President is the role model we need in such a revered office. His mouth and rapid fire bullying of all groups is insulting and pathetic. There is a large difference between opposing someone, disagreeing with a faction or group and flat out reckless bullying. He does not speak for me in the aspect of:

LGBT rights
Racial equality

Treatment of women

Immigration policies

He did speak to me financially, through rhetoric that centered on ending the long downward economic spiral our country has been taking. 

Either way not what I envisioned for our President

I want nothing more than a female president in office and to be told by the news media as a white male I am the reason she is not in office is insulting to say the least. But what’s even more insulting is to have a person of her stature with such a horrible 30 year past of flip flopping on issues, never standing behind her decisions, pandering to both domestic and foreign interests for money and covering up her husbands many infidelities all in the name of power is pathetic. I don’t care about her damn emails, and as much as Benghazi was a complete utter failure on our governments part it takes more than one sole individual to create incompetence on such a grand scale.

Not what I envisioned for our first female president either and the thought of voting for the lessor of two evils is absurd.

But our land has spoken and he will soon be the president, he is now the voice of this country and we (the populous) put him in that seat. My hopes are he actually holds the ability to bring in the best people, to brainstorm, to have quality advisors with the balls to keep him in check (no more midnight Twittering). I pray he has the ability to grow and I pray our country thrives. If you feel your vote wasn’t heard ask yourself? Is that just because your candidate didn’t get into office? Because your vote was heard, it is a recorded statistic. What wasn’t heard was your voice. Your voice is heard through becoming politically involved. Not screaming on a corner, burning cars and picking fights! Not by keeping hard working Americans from getting to the jobs that pay the bills that keep them going. For your vote to be heard the right way people in lower offices need to be campaigned and voted into office thus working their way into a position of influence.  Therfore it is now up to us as a society to become more involved. Whether the vote went your way or not! We should not be rioting, destroying or terrorizing the very places we live work and sleep through useless protests that only further alienate people from your cause. Work on understanding the issues, putting yourself in that position to make a change politically. Peacefully protest if you must! If we no longer have peace and anarchy rules we all have lost. 

There is an old saying in the fire service; if not you then who?
You can complain, throw tantrums and even cry all you want but until you use that God given brain of yours for something other than just tantrucally protesting, Facebook hate mongering and violence, then you have no gripe! If not you than who?!

Stop believing the news media!! 
This is not conspiracy theory shit! Watch Fox then watch CNN then for shits and giggles? Watch BBC. You will quickly see how video clips are shortened to illicit a reaction, news stories are tweaked with an opinion and news reporters are no longer reporters of the news as much as they believe they are Hollywood personalities with serious journalistic integrity who bring ratings! Such horseshit! 

We as a population are being spoon fed this shit and we are eating it up by the bucket!!! Of course (personal opinion) I believe this is from our Real Housewives/Vanderpump Rules/ Americas next top model society. Where treating other human beings with back stabbing shit talking and disrespect for all others has become the norm for our society. 

Anyways. I am running on. I am sorry if some of this is redundant I just felt an overwhelming urge to let my “Betty” readers know or maybe help understand why I will be MIA for a bit. 
Posted November 11 on FB. 

Well this is day 10 and to be honest I can’t play the thankful game any more. 
Betty and I are taking a break from all social media because if I stay on here watching friends and family members tearing each other apart it is going to permanently ruin me. I have watched people I hold great respect for lower themselves to child like tantrums while others are gloating to the point of absurdity. (Let me remind everyone I did not have a horse in this race)

I get it! Our Nation is divided, but I have lived long enough on this earth to know the changes and hypocrisy we now show and share have been a long time coming as part of many much larger issues that covers current adults and ends with the way our children are being raised. 

The hypocrisy is the worst part.

We state that one candidate is evil for not declaring they will accept the results and then we turn around forcing petitions, recalls and riots.

One party states racism is an issue and there is no justice while I witness race on race beatings after this election from that very same parties members. 

It is stated many times by one party our country will thrive under the direction of a political process and we all understand the importance of adhering to that process while I witness time and again as California (along with a few other states) now have an apparent movement started to secede from the union. 

I listened over and over that WE as a nation are a melting pot filled with wonderful human beings. A populous of intelligent free thinkers who are going to make this world a better place. Yet now it seems that is not true. Only one party is filled with intelligent free thinkers who can make a difference as (and this is a factual statement) white, uneducated without a diploma rural voters came out to vote and ruined everything. Apparently if you are white and you don’t have a diploma you are an uneducated idiot. I am what you would call white, I am uneducated (I don’t have a diploma) but I take great offensive to this hypocrisy the most because I am pretty sure the last time I checked I was not such the idiot my vote meant nothing or through my obvious 

(Remember no diploma) illiteracy i just didn’t understand enough of the big words to make an informed decision one way or the other. 

It bothers me how important the electoral college was pre-election but now post election it needs to be abolished! A movement run by the very same free thinkers, cultured and intelligent people who felt it was so important two days ago. 

It scares me how many people voice their political stances on both sides, emphasizing the importance of politics and yet it is obvious by their statements and subsequent retorts a civics class or a political study they have never partaken. For if they had taken the time to immerse themselves in the political process such anger and hate would not be the basis for argument. 

I can no longer sit and witness such contempt for a political subject.

I don’t care what he did, I don’t care what she did, I am saddened that we as a society fell victim too and allowed the reality show style politics their campaign advisors, the media and themselves used as opposed to actually tackling important issues throughout this entire process. Remember people no matter what either of them did we, the American people placed them on that political stage as representatives of us! 

I can no longer watch as the country I love, one men and women have died to uphold freedoms for implodes at the hands of lunacy. The country whose borders people are lining up and dying to cross because it is better here than where they call home, no matter who has been the face of this country. 

Like this person or dislike this person, he is it. I did not vote for Barrack Obama. His agenda did not appeal to me as a person. But he is the President of these United States and I respect him and the office he holds. I can also say with great conviction he has been a wonderful president as in he has always carried himself with class, dignity and charm. A great representation of our nations diversity. 

And please, don’t start with all the “bashing” of all groups that our current elect did during his campaign. Because you are right it was awful. But it is now our job to ensure he understands the importance of personal change and growth. We do that through our political process. 

Our nation needs to come together, work together, it is why we have multiple party’s. We need to actually live up to the promises we spew, not drown ourself in self loathing hypocrisy. 

Our Nation will always be filled by people from every walk of life, from all over the world with differing views, but we can’t let those views divide us through the hateful eyes and evil hearts of others. 

Instead I challenge you to become politically involved. Work for change don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. Create this country, don’t destroy it. Love you neighbor as yourself for it does not matter the color of their skin or the orientation of their personal lives. We all need love and understanding, we all need acceptance, we all need to feel the sting of loss to help understand the importance of winning graciously and lastly we all know, no matter how many have publicly cried foul or stated they are leaving this is in fact the greatest nation in the world! So act like it!!

And with that I love you all, please don’t hate me for this but for my own personal sanity I am done. The TV is off, my FB and blog are quiet. I can no longer watch as hate continues to spread like wildfire ruining the very thing that makes this country so splendid. It’s diversity. God bless you all, God bless those in pain, God bless those who are struggling and if you don’t believe in God then may peace and wisdom find you so your inner self may rest. Most importantly from my point of view. God bless America.

#trump2016 #Hillary2016
So there it is. Betty is taking a break as her heart just can’t watch as anger, hypocrisy and hate rule both sides destroying the heart of this great land. 

Nana, nana, boo, boo, You hate me and I hate you! Now vote one of us in as President!

I promised I wasn’t going to do it! I swore to heavens and earth above I wouldn’t bite! There was in no way, no how going to be anything spewing forth publicly from this miniscule opinion generating brain. My voice doesn’t matter, my thoughts don’t count, I am but a spec upon this island for no one but time, and sun to erode.

And then we watched the Presidential debates, together, as a family.

Betty has been very quiet, nothing to report on the home front and no great stories to share. But this is too great and it involves family which is what my blog is solely about! Now being an aforementioned on occasion very opinionated individual, there has been thankfully an edge removed by years of experiences and of course age. So before I ramble further into this dissertation let me profess my utmost admiration to those who are so passionate about their political affiliations. So driven, and fueled by a belief system that they would die upon the cross of either blue or red before ever, and I mean ever wavering from the platform for which they stand upon.

I can no longer possess those feelings.

Call it age, temperance, wisdom, having lived 5 generations or personally been a part of 5 elected US Presidents. The thought of voting even today is something not taken for granted, although this year I have slacked and been running a “vote for none of the above” or “vote for me” satirical campaign. It has been purely for fun! Yet voting is one of the most important benefits of living in a free society. The very passion these individuals drive onward with in regards to their personal political affiliation has become the angriest, most overrated and vile show of blinder wearing, eyes covered, ears deafened allegiance I have ever witnessed. If there was ever a time in history when thousands of Americans felt more powerless, as if their vote didn’t count after witnessing through TV, social media and every news or supposed news outlet on the planet this anger, bullying, and condescending political climate thrust upon us every day citizens. It is right now!

Thus we get to the gist of family and why I am expounding away my political angst.

We as a family have watched this circus together as we would for any political process. Doing our very best in explaining to our children how important it is for us to vote in a candidate that best represents us, not the American people, but us! As in their mother and I, as in who my oldest best feels follows his beliefs and how he feels the country should be run. We have tried hard to instill values within our children in regards to hard work equals reward, to always step up and do the right thing, that cheaters never prosper, and as long as you keep honesty in your heart while standing by your convictions you will never fail.

So then how on earth do these two candidates measure up?

One son believes they are both crooked idiots who have no business running this country, the other likes the Donald with no plausible explanation, my daughter isn’t so sure of either but as she put it; between the two I would always vote for the girl and my youngest just looks up funny parodies of both candidates on You tube!

Much like each of the moderators during this debate season it has been a challenge trying to keep not only ourselves but our kids focused on facts and or issues. Never in my life do I remember a series of debates or a presidential run that boiled down to nothing more than supposed political experts arguing over idiotic soundbites, clips, and excerpts of such magnitude! Watching these post-debate bobble heads rattle on with such one sided rhetoric and overwhelming disdain is hard to process as an adult, let alone trying to find some gem of truth or knowledge to help one make an INFORMED (key word) decision or translate any usable information to four children sitting mouth aghast at the verbal carnage they have just witnessed.

One candidate has multiple investigations against them, truths, possible untruths, alleged voter fraud, and supposedly placing in house personnel to incite violence at rallies of their opponent! Of course there is also claims of mishandling money, policies and overseas affairs including military actions. Standing tall this person professes the importance of woman’s rights, protecting women, and highlighting what an example she will set for all women to come while hiding behind a history of allowing then covering up her husband’s multiple infidelities while intimidating those who may oppose her. A candidate with more political experience than many others, a history of also making positive changes not just here in America but around the globe through humanitarian efforts both her and her husband chair. Oh a certain opponent claims Haiti hates this couple but having served in Haiti over two summers I personally know the Haitian people love this family and appreciate all they have provided. She remains someone who by all rights is the single most powerful woman in America and that does not come from portraying oneself as a soft loving Ms. Cleaver type much to the chagrin of several male counterparts! To be a woman of power in today’s tough highly charged political arena I believe one must be much tougher than their male adversaries (which is a sad state of equality), making tough decisions and then standing by them! But it is hard to stand for something by being against something only to stand for it again when the political climate suits you! Another point lost on me during this whole process. It seems we as a society have forgotten it is ok to change one’s mind! It is how we grow as human beings, evolve. But to change it back and forth shows no growth, but weakness to appease a person or group for which you are surrounded. One must also be able to hold their head high and admit when a mistake has or was made, along with answering for any actions or charges if that is what’s owed of that mistake. What message do we send our youth when time and again a political subject continually circumvents the system to their own benefit! Using wealth and power to purchase themselves from a punishment any of us average citizens would be crucified over. You the candidate are by the people, of the people and for the people! So you should answer to the people! Not profess you forgot or just don’t recall!

This candidates responses during each of the debates were well rehearsed, well formulated, with impeccable timing and delivery. They made us feel all warm and fuzzy like a blanket on a cold winter’s night. Protecting. They were so well done, that no one in my house, not even my youngest believed her. Through the eyes of a child I suppose. But when a child listens, looks and proclaims you seem to be lying, you may very well be doing just that, for that declaration comes through the eyes of innocence.

What to do, what to do!

Oh yes, there is the OTHER candidate!

This man, oh lord where to begin? He comes across as a school yard bully, the type that never had anyone punch them right in the nose! Something we as a society have gotten away from with our belief that all violence is bad. I am sorry, but some of the best lessons I ever learned about reading people came in the school yard. Learning when and where to say something and just how far you could push an agenda. This of course came to conclusion at the end of a well-placed fist! Sometimes people just need their reset button tripped! No one has ever tripped his! He says what he wants, when he wants and doesn’t give two shits who is at the receiving end! Although many believe this is what we need in the White House, my personal belief and history says not so. Even the toughest of talking former presidents had tact, he does not. What this man does is not admirable, it’s not awe inspiring, it makes no headway with any one; it is careless, reckless and not Presidential at all. This old saying pops into my head when I think about the power this office holds and what it means to be President of these United States.

Be nice, be nice some more, be as nice as you can be until it is time to no longer be nice. Then make no mistake about your ability to act or incite a change. The smartest person in the room is the one who gets their opponent to thank them for the beating when it is over. Those who stand tall with honor and dignity stand fast.

There is no honor, there is no dignity, and this appears as nothing more than a sideshow playtime for this individual. Another season of a reality show for which he is the star; another episode of the Apprentice! Because in reality that is what he is right now!!! An apprentice to the highest office in our land! He only cares about ratings and tweets! We were all talking about him acting like a child during the debate with such strong retorts as: No you’re a puppet! No you are! You are a puppet! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Why not finish it off with; I know you are but what am I? I’m like oil and you’re like glue, words slip off me and stick to you! ARRRRGGGGGG!!!!

I will say this; this is a business man, not a politician. Both a positive and a curse. He has built something from nothing. I don’t care where he got his loan from to start his business, and even our children were smart enough to understand some of the counter arguments against him fall flat. For as a businessman your loan could be $5000.00 or $5,000000.00 dollars it doesn’t matter, you need to succeed, you must succeed and you are going to take advantage of every loop hole and tax law afforded you to succeed! You are going to outsource to make a profit and there are going to be people you employ who are going to either love you or hate your dam guts! It is the nature of the beast! He has made something from nothing, he has succeeded, you can clamor all you want about bankruptcy, loans, unpaid debt but in the end he has succeeded several times over and I believe our country does need someone like that in a position of power. A person to renegotiate some very bad deals made in the past, someone with the ability to negotiate future upcoming deals or propositions that put our country on the edge both financially and humanitarianly. But for the love of all that is holy, have a plan! Share that plan, all of your plan not just bits and pieces in soundbites or on your web site; and again, much like your counterpart, quit pandering to the middle class! You have no idea what being middle class is like so don’t act like you recognize our strife! Because you both don’t! Please give us something with meat, not just really good quotes, teasing those who refuse to do their homework into believing you are the coming savior! You and you alone are going to ride in on a white unicorn farting skittles rainbows righting all that is wrong! You are not the messiah of financial resurgence within our low income and middle classes; because if you Mr. Candidate truly believe that you are; then Mr. Candidate you haven’t done your homework! The middle class have carried the burden of this country for a very long time and one proposed future president with a few ideas is not going to change that or even make life a little better for us over night as you make it appear!!! We have heard this speech, our parents have heard this speech and none of us are buying it! Explaining to my children while trying my best to read between this candidates lines has been nightmarish to say the least.

So what do we do? No one in my family and that includes those who cannot vote believe either candidate is worthy of this office. Friends and family who are undecided such as ourselves also toss about a resounding vote for the least of two evils.

The problem with that assumption is I can’t bring myself to vote for the lessor! I am trying to teach our children to stand by their convictions, don’t vote for something because you have too! Don’t give up your ethics, or moral beliefs to fill someone else’s needs! Be your own person! Your say matters and if your say is none of the above then so be it! If enough people speak up and scream none of the above then our government needs to listen! Right? A resounding NO means end of story!

Or is it!

You know that pesky little thing us Americans refer to as our Constitution? You know that long, wordy piece of parchment by which our entire country was built upon! Well the U.S. Constitution has something to say about that! As I explained to our children a very, very long time ago there was this group of really old guys who enjoyed wearing wigs (that always gets a chuckle) and besides dressing in funny outfits while donning said wigs they had one thing on their mind. Our country. Our countries ability to evolve over time, grow and become one land run by free thinking men, men with vision, men who understood oppression and the ramifications of leadership built upon power, money and over taxation. These visions involving the ultimate freedom of man empowered them through hard work and an ability to form a constituency that kept those beliefs while moving our country forward.

Hence the 12th amendment.

The 12th Amendment replaced a procedure provided in Article ll, section 1, Clause 3 by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in the elections of 1796 and 1800. The Twelfth Amendment refined this process whereby a President and Vice President are elected by the Electoral College. The Amendment was proposed by Congress on December 9, 1803 and ratified by the requisite three-fourth majority on June 15, 1804 and reads as such;

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

So yes; Hate both candidates all you like, in the end either The House of Representatives will vote one of them into office for you, or the Vice President with the most votes cast will assume office.

With that being said; explaining to our children the importance of our voting process has just become more of a priority than I envisioned. The Electoral College rules the day. In reality WE the people voted for everyone who currently sits in government positions, WE the people chose who WE believe best represents us from the local county commission to a state senate seat. So WE have no one but ourselves to blame if those individuals have now placed these two amazingly entertaining human beings before us. Our votes really do matter, no matter what anyone tells you, though it is unfortunate the majority have come to believe the smaller offices don’t mean as much in the grand scheme of things, and therefore our President and Vice President are all we should really care about when elections come around.

In the end, three years of multiple people pandering for your support, two individuals chosen to represent the two major parties, three debates between those two to hopefully enlighten us, and three chances for us to take off the party aligned blinders so we may look, listen and hear, I mean actually hear what these two are proposing. Three perfectly good chances to exemplify, show our children the majesty that is the electoral process. Hoping in the end they walk away feeling the importance and honor it is to have an opportunity for casting a vote in this wonderful country or ours. Something so many take for granted, including the political thumping die hard party liners. We are blessed to live in a land filled with human beings from around the world searching for freedom, hope and a chance for a better life much as our great grandfathers did many years ago.

Instead, on this evening, the last evening of debate all we walked away with was nana nana boo boo you hate me and I hate you! Yup, that pathetic. Along with four teenage jaws, wide open on the ground at witnessing another deplorable example of our modern day ratings centered, hatred mongering, no class future filled with dishonesty, lack of trust, and all out discord while proving if you bend the rules hard enough, or say enough nasty things about your opponent you too may one day become President of these United States.

God help us all..

 

 

 

 

 

In the rodeo arena; from my point of view.

I read a story today. (I know shocking right) This story was in regards to ethical behavior, sportsman like conduct and the fine art of propping your competitors up instead of tearing them down in and around an arena. It was a great read focusing on industry and personal growth through teamwork, leadership and mentoring. Although its main reference was rodeo or equestrian sports its message can easily be applied to any discipline.

It also got me to thinking.

Our children learn how to behave early on by emulating us, their parents. As they grow and expand, their brains began telling them to separate from mom and dad, create their own identity and show the world an individualistic side. Yet at the end of the day you, your spouse or significant other have created the very foundation for which they stand upon.

In saying this I have taken note on each one of my children and how completely different they all have become. With differing skill sets, likes and dislikes, mannerism and of course beliefs. Yet underneath it all their mom and I expect them to carry on the very values for which we have instilled. They may shape those values, build upon them, add or subtract certain aspects but at the end of the day there had better be some basics that never wain otherwise I feel we as parents have failed.

Today after reading this story titled: 6 reasons to ignore arena chatter. Found on a FB page named Earn Your Spurs, it also became clear to me that I care about your children as well. I may not know them, but I care about them as only a parent can.

Every rodeo you can find me somewhere around the arena. Whether helping at the stripping chutes, manning a gate, working turn back for the cutting, announcing in the small arena or just being there for our kids and their friends behind the bucking chutes. You will undoubtedly find me with a smile on my face and a kind word of encouragement for your kid, my kid, their kid, hell any kid. I don’t need to know you, I don’t need to personally know your kid, and it is just something I have always done for as long as I can remember. Baseball, swimming, soccer, school events, you name it, I can’t keep my mouth shut.

I used to think I enjoyed working the events because I hate sitting still ( I really do hate sitting still!!!) or because as parents we need to put our time in; events don’t run themselves and it takes a small army to put one of these rodeos on! But I was wrong. I enjoy doing all these things because I believe what these kids are doing is amazing! No matter the sport or dedication, and although for this articles reference my point is centered on rodeo, it makes no difference. To have the guts and heart as a child to participate in these activities we put in front of them, to overcome fear and just participate, well that’s amazing in itself. Yet in this instance from the beginner to the seasoned senior, this sport, this way of life, takes drive, dedication and heart. It is not just you and a ball, or a bat or a pair of pads. It is you and a horse, steer or a bull! A 200-1500 pound animal who at any time can either have the best or worst day possible. It takes dedication away from the arena and the power of a positive attitude to even begin dreaming about winning! It takes an even stronger positive attitude to brush off a loss or mistake and move onto the next event ready to accept any challenge with confidence! But what makes this sport even better is knowing there is a wall of support behind you! That’s right everyone and I mean EVERYONE has your back! Your friends, your parents, and your fellow competitors! These are the people you will rodeo with your whole life, and if you are lucky one day you will meet back here at these hallowed rodeo grounds as parents to foster the next generation of athletes! What an amazing honor!

And that’s what it is for me! It is an honor as a parent to be able to participate in these jobs. To work with other dedicated parents! To be by your or my own child’s side with a positive attitude and some kind words whether they nailed it or messed up big time! It is a privilege to catch their horse, pat them on the back, help them shrug off an awful run and even remind them from time to time that in most cases they need to check themselves before becoming angry with their horse. It is our job as parents to nurture that next generation, teach them that winning at all costs is not fulfilling! Winning comes from hard work and drive, fulfillment comes after giving back and if you are lucky as a competitor you will experience both! If we as adults show this attitude then teach our children correctly, we can stand back and watch with pride as it trickles down or is payed forward.

Having our children give or share knowledge with the new kids on the block is the key to success! Never excluding, but always including them into the imaginary “inner” circle. Showing these scared young new kids they a part of something big! Then sharing their secrets on how to succeed, better themselves, maybe ride their horses a little better, come out of that chute centered and solid, or drop into the pocket quicker and smoother or simply offering to practice on one of their own tie down dummies. Giving back at its best!

When you see this happening, it should be fostered. We are a team. Even though these kids are competing against each other, they should always be propping each other up, cheering each other on and never looking down upon another competitor in our arena. Because in reality if we are all working together, (parents as well) we all win! The goal each and every year is to bring our best to state, then front load the National team with as many of our districts kids as possible! That can only be achieved if we take an as a team attitude right here, right now! Not after the season is over, and we are headed to state and definitely not after state is over, because by then the ability to recognize the importance of supporting one another or our “team” is long lost. If that is the case then we as parents, and our children as competitors will head out into the ring of competition with an “it’s all about me” attitude. It’s hard to compete feeling alone, it’s even harder when you are alone. And for a child, nothing is more devastating than learning the people who supposedly had your back are now tearing you down (parents included) from behind you.

So this year, we should all take a moment to say; good job! Tell a kid they did great, doesn’t matter whose kid it is, let your kids see you propping up others. Re-enforce the amazing benefits of being a team player, a mentor or coach to your children. Remind them they started at the bottom once too and point them towards a new kid to the show. Parents make a point of meeting other parents, new parents and help them along the way. A friendly face and helping hand builds trust. Trust builds confidence and confidence breeds winners.

And the way I see it from my point of view that is what we should all be remembered for.

Not just winning an event, but winning at life….

 

Let’s go, let’s show, let’s rodeo.

Red was loaded down. The old truck held every conceivable piece of equipment one needed for a successful weekend. Saddles, bits, hay, shavings, chairs, clothes, food and one 33 foot long trailer. Three horses tucked neatly together separated by aluminum dividers munched on hay pressed into a bag that hung directly before their faces.

As we pulled out of the driveway the truck sputtered a few times, we even had to shut it off once or twice to reset the computer so she would keep dragging this heavy load. But no one cared. Any other weekend old reds antics would bring a look of nervousness upon our faces, an eye roll or two that this 208,000 mile beast was acting up again. But on this day we carried a bit more weight, and with that weight came a feeling of ease. Like we couldn’t do any wrong. I have to admit, even my feelings about whether we would make it or not waned.

For in the back seat, smiling from ear to ear, nestled between her two smallest children with a bag of needed supplies at her feet was Ms. Jacy!

Ms. Jacy had decided after two years of missing out on rodeo, not being a part of her children’s lives, unable to laugh and have fun in camp at night with all our friends, she was going to this rodeo hell or high water! No cancer, no leukemia, no AML, no bone marrow transplant, no GvHD, no nothing!! And so after carefully packing her bags, loading supplies into the trailer, GO, is exactly what she did!

There were plenty of worries/fears to go around. What if it is too dusty for her lungs to handle? What if she has an issue with her breathing? What if she becomes so fatigued she can’t move? What if she develops an infection from being around the animals??? What if, what if, what if?????

What if she was never able to personally witness the joys of her children participating in the one activity they really love ever again? Yeah, we believe that one thought outweighed all the other “what ifs”.

In reality, Ms. Jacy has been getting stronger. Her lungs still don’t want to fully co-operate, and neither does her body, but she has taken the stance of what doesn’t kill me should make me stronger! With that stance also comes a belief that she can look at life two ways.

  1. Sit in the house all day waiting for things to change, hoping they change, praying they change then regretting having done nothing but wait.
  2. Muscle through the pain, the discomfort and focus on what’s important. Living life, any life no matter what that life holds because in the end you can sit and watch it go by or jump on board and ride the wave!

Now as her husband I cannot lie, she worries me constantly. But if you know my wife then you know there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING anyone can say or do to change her stubborn Cuban mind once it is set!

So with that being said, she came along, which is exactly what we all wanted and it was a fabulous weekend! She was so happy to see her close friends, to watch her children perform, their children perform and to just be a part of life again! It was tough at times, by mid to late afternoon her feet would swell, she would be exhausted, but the kids were great, her friends were fantastic, and she never, not even once felt like a burden to anyone!

At one point during the rodeo we came back to find a poster on the side of our trailer! It was created by all the kids and it told of just how much she was missed and loved. It melted her heart.

Each morning she awoke with a smile, ready to watch rodeo, participate in any way possible, drink coffee, take pictures and catch up with people she hadn’t seen in years. It was the very best therapy anyone could have asked for!

The kids all did great! It was the best first rodeo I can remember in a long time! Oh Jessica struggled with her new horse and at one point actually fell off (of course she laughed at herself), Jake had a great Saturday but a stubborn Sunday and Parker didn’t quite get his steer wrestled, but it was a weekend filled with laughter and plenty of smiles.

Sunday night the traveling circus rolled back onto the ranch. Old red made it without a single hiccup which I found unusual. But as we cleared the front gate and rolled towards the barn, there lay three people, all half asleep, all exhausted from the weekend, all with looks of contentment upon their faces. (Jess rode home with friends) It was a thing of beauty.

Now of course this was short lived for as soon as I parked they all abandoned me to unload everything as if I was somehow their personal servant or barn boy which of course sent me into another stratosphere!!! But I digress…. Deep breath…. Phew…. Ok….

The point being, for a weekend, our family was back together, doing what we love, with momma in the stands cheering them on, sending them momma powers, and good mom mojo while I worked the arena, helped get horses ready and coached them along. It was the way it was supposed to be at that very moment in time. A step closer, as if life was almost back to normal.

It was a perfect weekend.

 

 

 

I met a woman today….

I stood nervously rocking back and forth. I don’t know why I still get nervous after all these years but I do. Just another presentation, a dog and pony show as it were but for some strange reason my brain reverts to when probationary was the status written below my helmets crest. Fear of failure, saying the wrong thing, not adequately relaying information to a public mass who in reality is really happy to have us around. Sure there is the occasional grump or bitter individual who for some reason carries a chip on their shoulder whenever we are around (and this night was no different) but the majority simply want to say hello, or thank you, or in some cases words can’t form and they sheepishly smile while politely waving as they pass.

It was a local schools annual harvest festival within our town. Our fire engine had been assigned to appear as part of an ongoing public education effort. We pulled up, met with organizers and took our place upon the basketball courts right next to our local Police department’s display. Doors opened, cabinets exposed, wrinkles shifted from our shirts, plenty of stickers loaded into the upper right pocket and in mere seconds they came and came and kept coming to our delight..

Over the course of two and half hours we helped children into our engine, showed them all our fire gear while explaining what we do along with a little bit of how we do it. Kids make me smile, they are honest, truthful, hilarious and have no filter. They are perfect human beings, their thought processes still untouched by the cruelty of adult life along with hurtful biases or opinions. There are days I wish I could still witness the world through their wide absorbing eyes. Days I wish I could go back and do a lot of things over again, channeling my inner child to greater achievements as an adult. But I can’t, none of us can and so the fun in my job is being surrounded by these fantastic awestruck little people.

Tonight though something else happened. This “something” has been happening more and more and I am not sure what to make of it. It always catches me off guard and I never know quite how to behave or present myself. Much like an acting student who for some unknown reason develops a serious case of behavior altering stage fright, I freeze under the pressure and become extremely uncomfortable.

In the middle of giving demonstrations a line had developed filled with children (and a few adults) waiting to climb into our Fire Engine. As we happily interacted with the masses by placing one child at a time inside the engine for picture opportunities a woman walked up and gently grasped my arm. She looked me in the eye and asked; Are you Betty? To which I replied; I am?

She then explained she had been battling breast cancer and with it how much she thoroughly enjoyed Betty’s writings.

As has been the usual mode of reaction, my cheeks felt flush, my heart rate doubled and I mumbled something. I don’t remember what I said because after I learn someone actually reads and enjoys my writings in person I suddenly feel like a 12 year old boy who has just professed his admiration to the prettiest girl in class and she’s responded by saying she likes me. Awkward and elated all at the same time!

This sweet lady with the kindest smile told me her husband was amazing, and how much she appreciated him along with all he has done for her during this very trying time in their lives. She asked if she could hug me, I said yes and as she did I felt thankful, warm, full of love and humbled.

As I have stated on numerous occasions, this blog took a life of its own when my wife became ill. It morphed into what I hoped would be nothing more than a journal to reflect upon after we hopefully conquered Leukemia. Then as time progressed it changed into an open forum for all to read hoping other spouses in my shoes would know they are not alone. A gnawing deep inside told me to share through my experiences with other spouses or caregivers. A reminder to others they have the power within them to carry on, pick up pieces and provide a solid foundation for not only their family and loved ones but for the countless other lives they touch along the way. Cancer, Leukemia, and Bone Marrow Transplants are no longer something someone else has, a blank face or nameless person looking sad upon a Facebook post or commercial asking for donations either monetary or life altering. But real people you know or someone you know knows! We can no longer turn our backs believing it is someone else’s problem to deal with because trust me the statistics showing those affected are all too real! This power lies within you to open others eyes, to reach out and comfort those who need your help because you my friend have walked this path and survived! These diseases do not curse just those who are carrying them and trust me their fight is hard enough for them to live with and handle on their own. But the entire process both physically and emotionally beats down hard upon all of us who live, love and care for those stricken. It is at times overwhelming at how much our lives change and the inner pain it can bring.

So to hear another human being while holding your arm explain with the warmest of smiles and softest of hearts exactly how your writings have meant something to them. Well that brings up emotions that are hard to contain.

I am not sure why I fumble my words, or feel uncomfortable. Maybe because I am shocked that anyone takes the time to read my blog at all. Helping people is all I have ever wanted to do, I always wonder just how many people actually take the time to read this spattering of words and I always wonder who? Who has it helped, who really needs to hear from someone right now because they feel as though they no longer can? Who? Who is at the end of their rope or feels like God doesn’t have a plan for them and this is all just a miserable dark place in their lives that will never end! Who? Am I reaching enough people? How do I reach more? If I do reach more am I writing the right material or am I even the right person they should be reading about? I really don’t think you can write the wrong material as long as it’s truthful and from the heart. But, what if I am wrong and someone out there is missing the point or thinking if that guy’s in pain, you know the one writing about always having faith and carrying on is in pain then why should anyone have faith things will be any better? I don’t have an answer to that!

Yet it remains so important to me; sharing that is. It has become so paramount there have been nights I lose sleep out of guilt for not having written in a week. Our loved ones and/or caregivers are so important, they bear so much emotional burden and over time people who were helping, slowly fade away. Its ok, they have lives, we as caregivers were and still are extremely blessed for the time any and all assistance was provided! It is how it’s supposed to be and no one expects anyone to still be constantly rescheduling their lives, away from their families and friends for 2, 3 or even 4 years later. Suddenly though one can understand how it is to become isolated and alone. 24/7 your whole world revolves around a single human being. Try as hard as you might at some point even your kids begin to suffer! Your intentions are great, you do the best you can and strive to keep their lives busy and full but trust me they feel it! They feel the isolation and to some extent a bit of emotional disconnect. Nothing changes though, we are still there, handling every aspect of our stricken loved ones lives? It is a job we take a lot of pride in, for if you love someone there is no greater gift than to care for them when they are down. It is what love is, it is what God would want.

So to the woman I met today.

Thank you, for filling my heart with joy, giving my writings meaning, and allowing me the honor of meeting you. I apologize if my response was awkward, it was not my intention.

You reminded me that one of the greatest gifts we as human beings have is the power to share ourselves openly with others. You gleefully shared your story with me by my having shared my story with you over time on these pages. Our lives crossed paths and I will never forget that.

My heart is full.

 

My name is Betty and I have an addiction..

Sitting in the stands watching junior rodeo today I couldn’t help but continually pull my phone from the upper left pocket of my shirt. Now this doesn’t seem like much of a “to do” as it were but as I kept referencing the electronic brain keeper between events it occurred to me I might just have somewhat of a problem. Not a dang it’s not working fast enough or shoot I left the sprinklers on or even an oops my wife texted me I forgot to call her type of a problem. But something much bigger than that! I believe I have an addiction?

Yep an addiction to instant gratification of flowing information spewing forth from this 2×4 inch screen! Every minute I am not moving this “apple” of a device comes out to fill an imagined or ill perceived void within my life! Seriously while I am typing right now my gaze continues to wander over towards this mesmerizing gismo as if it’s going to leave me, run away! You know self-destruct in Mission Impossible grandeur or heaven forbid its screen will just stay black, never to illuminate my life again with such mind bending information like what the hell Ryan Lochte is doing at this very moment or if a cage match has been declared between the two most unfit individuals to ever run a presidential campaign! Better yet I wonder who is posting something awesome on Facebook the “real” reality on the internet! Wait, ok that’s not a bad thing, I really like keeping up with all my friends. Until FB there were lots of people I cared about but lost touch with so the good intent or reason it was created side of FB still keeps a thumbs up from me! But with all of this power to reach out into our world instantaneously at my fingertips (once again I am not saying it is a complete bad thing) I also realized there is a bigger problem than my addiction to reading about Joe from Tennessee’s disgusting racism or Cheryl’s equally disgusting reverse racism or Brock the rapists light sentence (asshole) while along with all the inequalities, injustices and hatred pounding our senses every day making us wonder if we are headed towards anarchy and civil war (which is exactly what every other country hopes for) or if we can pull our heads out of are arses and get things together with love and understanding! Yes people there is a larger problem for me the newly crazed information junkie!!!

You see this open age of rapid fire information has changed my ability to read, absorb and understand! Ok I know that’s not worse than the direction our country is headed but hey, I needed a buildup so cut me some slack!

Yep, information today is fast and spun so well; but with whatever source it comes from who knows if it’s true or not and in reality I don’t think people really care! The way I read through stuff now is more like an Evelyn Wood reading dynamics course (only us older folks will understand that reference) than with retainable substance. If you don’t get me hooked within the first couple of lines well this magic device will find someone or something that will! Hence the ability to feed our minds with miss-information is formed. Don’t think for a second the story writing internet gurus don’t know this! Through careful data collection they have determined sensationalism earns clicks, clicks equal views and views equal a chance for an advertiser to be seen which in turn creates well spent advertising dollars funding the source or writer! The best part is these stories don’t have to be accurate or even good, and judging from the atrocious grammar contained within them it is obvious no one cares. But the damage done is there for all to see! When I read anything now I no longer settle in, gaining traction on whatever the author is describing; no absorbing relevant information or deducing a hypothesis from a well written piece. Nope, my brain begins to rapid fire after the second paragraph, I may stick it out through a couple more paragraphs but you better get to the point and quick or I begin scanning ahead, looking for key words to help me extrapolate what the author is “really” saying because let’s face it there is a hidden agenda in every written internet piece right? I mean that’s what all the commenting, shit stirring trolls who have anything to say about anything on any posting want you to believe while they are throwing emotional grenades in all directions just waiting for the explosion creating more hatred and discontent!

Also don’t get me started on what it has done for my ability to simply relax and enjoy a novel. My brain can no longer sit that long, moving slowly from page to page, waiting for a story to build, characters to develop, a plot to thicken as it were! Nope I might as well read just enough to learn who the characters are and then jump to the back of the book! There novel finished, case closed, I wonder what’s happening in the real world! Great job James Patterson killed your latest work in 42 pages! Don’t really care about the other 326! I Googled a review of the book helping me to plug in the missing clues. Cue me picking up my phone and OH LOOK IT’S A BABY IN A SKUNK COSTUME CRAWLING ON THE FLOOR FREAKING PEOPLE OUT!!!!! AWWWWWWW ISNT THAT CUTE! I MUST SHARE!!! Wait someone has commented it is child abuse, another has commented the child is suffering under the weight of that heavy costume and the parents should be arrested! Oh look a third says its Obamas fault! Yay!!!! Instantaneous gratification of idiot proportion right here at my fingertips!!! Ahhhh the world is right again, just as fucked up as when I put down my phone to try and read this stupid novel! Thank god that 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back is over and I am on to more web surfing! My daily fix is in.

Now this is all happening to me; a 50 year old fairly educated, well-spoken adult who has no problems saying it like it is while being in command of his personal abilities to say yes or no to anything. Time and life experiences have brought me to this point. As an adult yourself I am sure you could probably draw the very same conclusion? Because you’re a smart, witty, thoughtful, educated, filled with life experiences person with the ability to put down that phone, turn off that pad or laptop at any time. Right?

So let me ask you this.

If a phone, pad or laptop with such far reaching potential and the power to change my personal ability to read, disseminate information, come to conclusions, and not just any conclusion but well education conclusions can change the way I learn and retain information, warp my sensibility, and control the extent of my emotions all while allowing me the freedom to say what I want when I want to anyone within the world wide web’s reach without repercussion can do this to me as an adult.

What do you think it is doing to our children?

Put it down, I dare you. Leave it down for the day, two days, a week! I dare you! I double dog dare you!!!

You can’t! Neither can I! We are addicted! Our children are addicted too and it is rewriting the hardwiring program witin their brains! I see it in our youth with emotional outbursts if juniors pad is taken away or it’s nowhere to be found. An inability to work our way through problems of any kind because the answer is on another web page or the YouTube channel! Kids becoming completely disorganized and afraid of trying anything away from their computer devices. I have heard stories of children in their rooms at almost midnight still scanning the internet with eyes either wide open and bloodshot or passed out with an iridescent glow upon their faces.

Teenager’s necks straining downward looking at their phones while walking, riding bikes recklessly, or sitting in their cars. A world of wonder passing them by all why they laugh at an instagramapictuetubeasnapchatamoment. They have no idea where they are when traveling with family because they are focused on their phones and can’t go a minute without texting someone, anyone, about anything. They are continually afraid they are missing some magic social moment, a minute shared between friends while moving blindly through life. Once I heard a story about a child’s phone that was broken and she had no device for a few weeks. According to a friend she was a different child, she was the daughter they had before biting into the apple.

Does any of this sound like addictive personality traits to you?

It is, I recognize it as an adult. I worry about what all of this is doing to our children and I worry what is to become of our country as we continue let the “benefits” of an electronic age rule our very lives.. The dumbing down of a society, the dependence on electronics, an inability to think for ourselves and the desensitizing of our youth. What about us adults? As we become more dependent what is it doing to our abilities to interact with others? We have a shield for our hatred, a hiding place for our sorrows and slowly our abilities to interact with each other are fading too as we sit together but rest alone, everyone focused on our individual portals to the world, ignoring what is right in front of our face. Other human beings.

I am no different, I am not preaching, I am simply stating what appears to me as fact.

My name is Betty and I have an addiction…

 

I can’t…

This morning I sat down, stared at the screen and thought; it has been awhile, I need to write. Hmm? What will I write about today? Maybe something funny, or pertaining to recently turning 50? I certainly do not wish to write anything sad. After reading a few of my last postings, I found my writings to be a tad whiney, or heavy. People certainly must be tired of the same old story.

Then as paragraph after paragraph littered the screen only to be erased by the mighty stroke of a delete button it came to pass I was trying too hard. So I asked myself; Self, why haven’t you written in a while?

And that’s where this posting truly began.

Betty, why haven’t you been writing?

The answer comes from a conversation openly held in the day room of a busy firehouse. Sitting in my recliner listening to others and their crazy busy lives. Camping trips, play dates with friends for themselves and their children. Fantastic vacations or simple evenings at home surrounded by family. Listening to life moving on as it should.

What was my answer?

Because I can’t…

Every time I think about writing lately, I stare at the screen and from the darkest bowels of my inner thinking machine a voice rises above all conscious thought and whispers; you can’t.

Getting up in the morning is a struggle. Oh I received 6-8 hours of sleep, yet the moment I must rise a fight with my inner voice arises. I can’t is all I hear. I may wander over to ensure the kids are up but then against my old daily routine I just climb back into bed, pull the covers over my head and pretend I’m not there because inside I just can’t see myself doing another day. I get over it and most days turn out pretty good after running into some of my favorite parents, co-workers and friends. But it is becoming an increasingly difficult struggle to get past step one of the day.

There is a mile long list of repairs and maintenance around our house. I wrote the list, and continually add to the list, yet I cannot seem to accomplish the list. I may get one or two of the easy things done, but then I panic, feel sick, and want to sit down near Jacy and veg-out. Excuses like needing to pick up the kids in an hour or man I am really tired all come to the forefront. But in the end, I just can’t seem to see myself getting anything done. I am sure it is no different with any other busy father, but for some reason that feeling is more burdensome than ever before.

Ever cry at sappy movies? Apparently the water works now turn on for just about anything! Ok watching the SPCA commercial where Sara McLaughlin is singing while sad eyed, unadoptable, abused animals are trapped at the shelter doesn’t count. You have to be pretty heartless to not squeeze a little water out of those orbital areas of yours after watching puppies cry. I found myself tearing up explaining a reality show the other day where the daughter of the contestant showed up to tell him he won! Kids doing well on Americas got talent, winning a round of American Ninja Warrior, or watching the friend’s episode where Ross and Rachel finally kiss!! Yep they all bring on the rain! WTF???? Hell Tommy Boy was on the other day and I was crying at the passing of Big Tom Callahan!!! I just can’t keep crying at everything it is wearing me out!

My fuse is much shorter and I can’t seem to control it or keep that Irish/Italian temper from rearing its ugly head. Poor Jake has been bearing the brunt lately. Now some of it rightly deserved but in hind sight more than a few times have gone over the line with things said that cannot be taken back. He always smiles at my apologies and says it ok he forgives me but all I can think about is deep inside I am probably hurting him, hurting his ability to grow and handle stressful situations. I am afraid one day I’ll snap over something stupid and he will have had enough. Irreversible damage complete. Then what? Oh well I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the parental complexities of this issue right now because I will start crying again and no one needs to see that here at work.

Everything seems impossible. From completing my monthly budget, paying bills, changing a light bulb or even just being something, anything. It all seems too much right now.

As I am writing this I just realized my heart rate has doubled. I figure it’s my fight or flight response to even mentioning any of this in combination with feelings trapped inside that I can neither recognize nor willingly let out.

I keep using the analogy that I am a bottle filling with sand. Burdensome, gritty, heavy sand. This sand has reached the top and either I am able to upset the bottle, pouring out this heavy, gritty, burdensome property carefully into a container of contentment or it will overflow, and we all know what happens when sand pours upon us against our will. We end up carrying it home, it’s stuck in the crack of our ass and it takes a month of vacuuming to get it out of the car!

Our life has been incredibly hard. It remains that way. Watching my wife suffer daily is taking a toll on me. Of course I have no right to complain in comparison to the toll it is taking on her. It has been a long, long road.

Jacy has had several hospital stays of late. The other day they put a port back in to help with her current treatment which feels like a giant set back. The steroids have doubled the size of her face and left her weaker than normal. The other day while at a friend’s house doing her very best to live life as normal as possible she fell. Yep, a simple walk down a 10 yard path from patio to arena and her legs just quit! She ended up with a bloody, black and blue eye as her sunglasses tore open the fragile flesh under her eye. She feels consistent insult to injury on a daily basis.

My wife has decided to live life, to go to rodeos, make trips to the store, and do her best to become the mom that she was pre-BMT. She doesn’t have the energy or the strength, but she does have the resiliency or ballsy moxie to do exactly what she wants, family or doctors be damned! I admire her on many levels. I do my best to let her accomplish what she wishes within reason, while at the same time worrying if she is doing more harm than good? Once again though, who am I to say? I don’t currently have the body of an elderly woman, no strength, no vision, with pain surging throughout my entire body 24/7. I don’t need to consume 23 meds, three times a day while also partaking in breathing treatments (4 different kinds) wearing oxygen and doing my best to keep myself fed when I either don’t wish to eat at all or only crave crap food of no real substance? I may be her husband, the only person she can truly confide in, the one who promised in sickness and health, till death do us part. Yes that may buy me some vote, but if it was me? If it was me this was all happening too, would I have the strength to make it another day for my kids the way she does every single day? Would I wake up every morning, take my meds, and then do my best to smile while making school lunches even though I really can’t see? Could I sit in a chair for most of the day either passed out from the very same medications or wide awake scanning the internet feeling like shit because I couldn’t go outside with my horses? Could I kiss my kids goodnight with confidence that tomorrow will be a better day like she does? She is angry, she is sad, she is happy, she is resentful, she is hopeful, she still wishes every day for one more day, one more week, one more month, and one more year. Another camping trip or the ability to take a family cruise. She is amazing.

Could I be like her?

I can’t………………………..

 

At the end of the day, whiny or not, dark and gloomy be damned. I decided to write these blog postings journaling my wife so others who may be feeling the same way would know it is ok. It is part of this weird, sometimes unforgiving magical mystery tour we are on and you are not alone. To those currently in treatment. This may be the way your caretaker or spouse is feeling and to know they love you, care about you and will do anything to make your life, your situation easier for you. We will never leave your side, so don’t be afraid to be who you want to be, use what strength you have to enjoy whatever moment you wish to enjoy and know the whole time we will be standing right by your side. Even though right now I feel as though “I can’t” when it comes to many things, I will always believe in the “can” most of us hold deep inside. I also believe that for the most part all people are good caring human beings and no matter the situation we all rise to the occasion.

Ok, I’m done. I can’t write anymore….

 

 

 

 

So this is 50…

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted 30 years of his life”

                                                                                                                                ~Muhammad Ali~

 

I can distinctly remember awakening on my 15th birthday, lying in bed while pondering the importance of this day. You see it was my last year before complete freedom, six months from now with a little effort I would obtain a learners permit, then if I kept my nose clean a full-fledged driver’s license would soon follow. I had dreamed of obtaining my license from the very moment I fell in love with cars and now we were but 12 short months from it becoming a reality!

And that my friends started a habit that has both served me well and left me face first in the dirt wondering why more times than I can count. The habit is known as looking forward.

Most people look forward to a vacation or the purchase of some tangible object. I on the other hand began looking forward to landmark dates and moments in time where my life would hopefully just fall into place. Laying my head upon the pillow at night I would count off the time. 5 years until I turn 20 then I will be able to drink legally, 5 more years and I will be 25, either dead or married but either way that’s 10 years away! Plenty of time in between to explore and have fun! 5 years after that I’ll be a dad that’s if some woman is stupid enough to marry me!! Wow think about that! At 30, 15 short years from now, I will become a father to some snot nosed kid! Ten years after that I will become 40 years old! Who wants to be forty that’s freaking old!! Oh well, I will still be the same just I will have a couple kids to hang out with, go skateboarding, ride bikes and work on cars!! It will be fun, like having your best friends over every day because of course they will see how obviously awesome I am!! Ten years later I will be 50 and then, well then I will be really old! Like the teachers with gray hair I see feebly walking the halls, or the old men that every morning make their way into Fords Café. Pretty sure they are too old to actually have a job, they’re just killing time. Wake up early, go meet with other old dudes who are counting the days until they die, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and repeat! At least when I am 50+ my kids will be grown and gone, and I will be able to party hard once again while watching my ancient body wither away..

 

Ahhh the mind of a young man without a clue. So sure of himself, self-absorbed and completely unrealistic.

I turned 50 years old yesterday. Really not sure what I was expecting to happen, but going to bed the night before was held with great trepidation. Moving my pillow, placing items on my nightstand in perfect unison as if by awaking the following morning to find they were moved held some form of significance in determining my age.

Staring at the ceiling I began my usual looking forward process, except this time I wasn’t looking forward but instead mourning the past. Rolling back in five and ten year segments, memories flooded my conscience and with it joy, pain, fear, sadness and tears. We work so hard at looking forward, to the next conquest, challenge or milestone in our lives I think we forget to honor the past. Not just remember the past but actually honor the past. Without the past we wouldn’t be able to say; hey you remember when we…..???? Or you remember that time….???? And of course; I can’t believe we/I survived……????

We forget to not just remember the good times because all of our good times whether we admit it or not are tempered by that portion of our brain protecting us from pain, but to remember while holding in the highest regards the bad times as well. I know you are thinking what, but I want to forget the bad times! Who needs that kind of grief in their lives? In reality if we don’t take a moment to remember our struggles, relive our pain, relish in strengths formed from having our souls drug through the deepest of dark pits, we would be doing ourselves a huge disservice. It is those struggles and pain that forge the human being we are today. Life is easy and lived well when you are always happy never feeling the burdens life can provide. Life is cherished and held even closer when you struggle then survive, rise above the darkest of times always searching for a better moment to bask under. The struggle helps us to become who we are and creates a human being who cares about others, feels empathy, and knows the importance of tolerance and understanding even during the most challenging of times.

I laid in bed for an hour watching my usual round of The Daily Show, The Amazing Race and Amy Schumer. My eyes were watching but my mind was a million miles away. 50 years old, double the amount of time I really thought I would live. Every person who walked through my life over the last 40 years that was no longer with us crossed my mind. Grandparents, friends of my parents, other family members and of course close personal friends. Human lives never afforded the chance to make it to 50 years of age. Life played out is hand and they were gone way to soon leaving those around them suffering with the stark reality that when it’s over, it’s over. We have no say, no choice and life is not a guarantee. So I ask myself, why am I different? Why did I make it here and the others didn’t? Some lost their lives in accidents while others to cancer, illness or the hard realities of a life not lived well. But here I was getting prepared to embark on this landmark (by societies standards) birthday. 50 years old. Some didn’t make to 20, some 30, others in their early 40’s. Either way they were no longer with us. So why am I still here? What is my purpose? Because if I made it this far there must be a purpose otherwise I may as well be nothing more than the walking dead.

When I awoke, I sat up straight like Bill Murray in Groundhog day! I looked around and everything on my night stand was right where I left it. My phone was already loading up with well wishes from friends and the kids were beginning to rustle for school. Jacy had retreated downstairs as she does most mornings around 3:30/4am due to the wacky schedule her medications have her body beholden too. My morning was fairly uneventful for having just turned 50! No new pains, my joints still working fine and there appeared to be no new grey hairs sprouting mysteriously from my head. I still needed glasses to see and when I stepped on the scale there appeared to be no rapid weight gain possibly warranting the use of suspenders with my belt. Brushing these 50 year old teeth I found myself thankful they were all still there and once my hair was combed it didn’t look as though it had thinned any more than normal. I guess you could say it was turning into an uneventful morning, nothing like what my inner fears told me turning 50 would become.

The 15 year old boy still trapped deep inside calling me an old man was happy none of his premonitions had come true.

Today I am much more cognoscente of my surroundings at 50 years old. Birds, fields, a certain smell or breeze that is just the right temperature hitting my face floods my brain with memories. Good, bad or otherwise. I appreciate life, not just my life, but any life. Animals hold a dear place in my heart, I cannot stand to see any animal mistreated; if you are mistreating an animal rest assured I will mistreat you! Nothing brings more joy than a nuzzle  from a horse, the purr of a cat or the slobbery happiness of a dog. I finally have the patience when fishing I wish I held when I was younger. A morning working a horse can erase an entire day of shit! There is something so calming about learning a horse, its character, abilities and personality. Happiness definitely comes from spending time with my children, whether at a rodeo, playing ball, going to the beach, sitting at a school function or just reading together, they are my world. My overall temperament has changed as well, although those very same children I love can on occasion bring me close to the explosive person I could be when I was younger, I now have the ability to walk away, calm myself down and look at things from another’s point of view.

Understanding the power of commitment. My wife is an amazing human being, she fights every day for the simplest things we all take for granted. Time with her children, the ability to walk outside, go to the store, or even just drive the car without wanting to fall apart physically. She lives in fear of the unknown and wonders if she will ever feel better. Every day she wakes, and works hard at making lunches for her children so they know she is still here and she loves them. She sleeps a lot due to her medications and her body doesn’t help when it comes to walking from point A to point B. She worries about everyone and everything. She is my hero. I am terrified of a life without her.

I miss my dad. Wasn’t sure at times how I would feel about that since we butted heads a lot over my entire life, but I really do miss my dad. I have also come to understand in the circle of life his departure leaves me up to bat as it were. I would rather read than watch TV, sit in a quiet room than listen to music at a million decibels, although there are the occasional times alone in the car or at work in my cubicle I have been known to crank up some Zeppelin or Van Hagar! (only those my age will understand the Van Hagar) I have grown fond of the complexities involved with classical music and nothing brings a smile to face faster than some down and dirty jazz. Real country music not that crap they play today is what is on my channel 80% of the time.

Mornings are amazing! Every morning is a little different and I now wonder why in my younger years I wasted all those mornings sleeping in when I could have been out watching in amazement as the earth rotates bringing a bright glowing sun from beneath the shadows of darkness. I feel the same way about a sunset. Something about dusk just speaks to me. It is the perfect time of day.

I worry about our future and what we are leaving behind for our children. There is so much hate in this world and our outlets for entertainment seem to thrive on exploiting only the negatives of life. We are developing a nation of self-centered glory hungry humans that care for no one but themselves. I know there is lots of good in this world I just wish there was more reporting of positives than negatives. I also feel as though we are ruining this planet and our great grandchildren are going to pay the price. If we don’t hurry up and make some major environmental changes than we will permanently damage this planet. It is our only home.

So as you can see the 15 year old no longer lives here and thank goodness! I think differently, and lord have mercy I look different! But looking forward will still be a part of my life as I grow older, just there will also be many more times where looking behind is just as important. There are many more challenges remaining in this life that I don’t WANT to accomplish but NEED to accomplish for my own growth and wellbeing and if I make it to my 60’s.70’s or god willing my 80’s I hope I still have the ability to dream big, love even bigger and hopefully are still able to help anyone who will listen to navigate this crazy thing called life so they can find out just who they are or are getting ready to become when they to hit the big 50.

[JF1]

Fear

Let’s talk about fear.

Fear is a state induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding or freezing from perceived traumatic events.

Traumatic events?

Like watching your wife wither away to nothing, struggling to find happiness because she never feels as though there is any progress being made. To her it feels as though her body is just not getting any better! Gloom at only having only enough strength to make it from the bed upstairs to the chair downstairs then remain frozen in time as the world passes her by? Nightmares that she is still at Stanford, never to come home again.

A change in behavior?

Oh yes you mean as in a person once vibrant and bubbly now hiding from herself, the mirror and even people, for she no longer sees herself in reflection but the remnants of a weary, pharmaceutically scarred body? She no longer hears the echoes of love resonating but wallows in pictures from what once was feeling nothing but self-doubt. Trying her hardest every day to find a positive reflection only to collapse under the burden of repetitive negativity pounding in her brain.

Induced by perceived danger or threat?

As in cold sweat, elevated heart rate and blood pressure whenever the word “hospital” is uttered. A doctor insisting she walk through sterile front doors to an awaiting isolation room with no timeline for departure. The minute a fever arises or a cough lingers to long.

The thought of our children being alone, again. Waking up to an empty house, no wife to found, sad faces walking like zombies as they know they won’t see dad again for another few days. Family will help, faces will be there for comfort and assistance but it is not their parents. The threat of mom and dad not being home, wondering when they will come home and if mom will come home at all is always lingering.

And so fear grips us again as Jacy has made another journey to Stanford.

Work has been crazy hectic! Coming home on Wednesday after being at work for three days I walked into an empty house. The first day of school was in the books! Jacy’s one wish through all her recent complications was to make the first day of school. To be with her children and tell them she loved them as they exited the car. She accomplished her mission. After two years with me sending first day photos to her in the hospital I came home knowing my wife was going to be ecstatic! Yet one thing I did notice while at work, was she hadn’t posted anything on FB. Seriously! It is a first day tradition across this great nation to post your first day pic’s on Facebook!!!! Something must be wrong…

Making my way through the house what struck me was the utter silence, then as I made my way through the house I realized it was way too quiet. Calling for Jacy I received no answer. I really did expect her to be downstairs in her chair half crying/laughing waiting to tell me just how amazing it had been to drive her children to school and drop them off! She reached a milestone; living long enough to see her kids off to school one more time. But there was nothing, she was nowhere to be seen.

Checking the window to ensure I had in fact passed her car on the way up to the house. I turned and sprinted up the stairs, opened the door to our bedroom and there she lay, in a ball, crying/moaning. She wasn’t shedding tears of joy, but instead tears of pain. After a little conversation and a full patient assessment I asked if she wanted me to call Gayla her nurse coordinator. She asked me to wait until her pain meds kicked in, and so with hesitation I planted myself at the desk and waited. I didn’t need to wait long.

The pain was enormous, her head hurt, her body hurt and she felt nauseous. All bad signs. An immunocompromised subject’s body is constantly doing a fine juggling act between medications that both allow her immunosuppression system to work and drugs that suppress that very system. It is all in an effort to keep harmony while both allowing her white cells to protect the body but since they are not her white cells, keeping them from destroying the body which it sees as foreign all in the same stroke. Confusing, amazing and horrific at times to watch.

She finally stood up, looked me dead in the eye and said; I need to go to the hospital now! I again mentioned Stanford but was rebuffed as she could no longer tolerate the pain. We rapidly loaded a few things and headed to the Kaiser. Kaiser is no more than 5 miles from our home. We feel blessed to be so very close to such a wonderful facility. Arriving at the ER we were put in a room fairly quickly and were warmly greeted by staff. The on duty doctor was one of our favorites and within minutes (a lifetime to Jacy) she had IV pain meds which allowed to her to finally relax and feel some relief.

I stepped outside while a lumbar puncture was performed to call Gayla her nurse coordinator. After a brief explanation of her symptoms along with justification for the stop at Kaiser, Gayla assured me she would grab Dr. Muffly ASAP and call me right back. The phone rang within minutes and a transfer to Stanford was being arranged. Dr. Muffly wanted her there and she wanted her right now!

Of course Jacy wanted nothing to do with this plan! Fear had set in.

It was the first day of school and she wouldn’t be there when her babies returned, she promised she would be there! She didn’t want to be stuck at Stanford again, how long would they keep her, why are they keeping her, can’t she just go home after the headache subsides? She doesn’t feel like an inpatient, whatever they need to do can be on an outpatient status!

Fear makes you overlook the obvious. We all knew she needed to go. She was still in pain, we had no answers as to why her face was swollen, her head hurt so badly, and she was feeling nauseous. But fear can help you justify anything.

The ambulance came.

I had gone home, packed her some clothes and returned to the hospital just in time for the ambulance to arrive. We loaded her up and in usual Jacy fashion, people needed to come say goodbye and good luck. She is always making friends wherever she goes. Kissing her on the cheek, saying goodbye I closed the back doors of the ambulance like I have done a thousand times in my career. It didn’t feel right. I thanked the guys taking her and walked back to the car. Sitting in the driver’s seat with a very heavy heart I watched the ambulance slowly drive away.

My head hurt, my bones began to hurt and I felt nauseous. Here we go again.

I needed to work the next four days and Jacy made me promise I wouldn’t follow her down. I called her family and they agreed to meet her when she arrived so she wouldn’t be alone. I went home, greeted the kids, asked how their first day of school was and after a few jokes and giggles the elephant in the room reared its ugly head to bellow.

Where’s mom?

Now imagine being 10. Knowing your mom has been sick for a very long time, she goes to the hospital one day with the promise of being home in a couple of months. Instead you are living through her being absent from your life for 7 months while you travel back and forth to see her once a week. You now remember at one point it was very bad as nervous and scared adults circled around you, acting weird, treating you differently all because the end looked near. They kept it from you, but you knew because even though you are a kid, you are perceptive. Then you wake up one morning and mom is home! She is home in time for your birthday and all is right within your ten year old mind again. Now every time she goes to the doctor your 11 year old mind starts to worry. She comes back from the doctor each time, which makes you happy, but you still worry, and you are a little distrustful of information provided by adults in regards to your mom’s health.

That was look I had to deal with when asked; where’s mom? That look quickly turned into a squinty face and before I could even say; moms headed back to Stanford, the tears began to flow. They flowed hard and fast. Jessica looked in shock, Jake hung his head and Parker cried and cried some more. This little boy’s fear had come true and my heart was breaking. Some days I feel as though there is a constant grip around my chest and I just can’t take anymore.

The long and the short of it is this, we all face fear, each and every day in one way or another. Fear is gripping, mind bending and often time paralyzing.

I hate fear.

August 13, 2016

Today is day four at Stanford. I didn’t write anything or spread the word right away because I am having a hard time coming to grips with her being there again. It is weighing heavily on me and even though she most likely will go home on Tuesday evening each time it happens fear grips not only her but our entire family. We still have no word on the cause of her body pain or associated headache. Jacy had some severe swelling in her face that was most likely caused by a plugged salivary gland. She is partaking in *photopheresis?dialysis to hopefully clear her blood of any viruses still lingering around. Her steroids have been raised and they are tweaking her medications to be more proactive in this ongoing viral war. Getting her home can’t come soon enough!

More to come….

*Photopheresis

In medicine, photopheresis (aka extracorporeal photopheresis or ECP) is a form of apheresis and photodynamic therapy in which blood is treated with a photosensitizing agent and subsequently irradiated with specified wavelengths of light to achieve an effect.