30 days..

Over the next month, I met with doctors, health professionals, and people from work. Every person I met I felt as though I was saying goodbye. I hugged, I smiled, I behaved as though nothing was wrong. Then once alone I would cry.

 My girlfriend was amazing! We did get the very best doctor there was for this procedure due to her efforts. We were told we had a very favorable outcome according to those in the know. After one appointment in particular it was explained that I had the arteries of a 20 year old! All positive things!

Lyn’s helped me finish the will. With my son Cody as the executor and my three best friends all holding certain positions within, I knew the children, ranch and animals were well cared for. Signing it, having it notarized, watching friends sign it, was incredibly sobering.

There were a few fun moments.

At my angiogram the nurse and I were talking and he asked what I would like to listen too as I drifted off to sleep. I responded, can we play some Van Halen please?

As I rolled into the room Sammy was screaming on the overhead speakers. That gentle, gracious kindness to a scared 52 year old man I will never forget. My eyes are wet thinking about how much the gentlemen from that room calmed me down, and let me drift off on my own terms. I am forever grateful.

Lyn’s asked me to list all the things I wanted to do in life but never could. When I asked why? She simply stated, because you have more than earned them!

The reality; it was something else to look forward too. To think about living for beyond the operation date. Something other than worrying about my family, my children, my very small circle of friends, all for whom I have no desire to leave. It was a new tomorrow, sunlight at the end of the tunnel, an umbrella from the rain. She was shielding me while providing mental warmth.

Daily I would melt down, daily she would ask me:

Where am I?

I would respond: right here…

Where am I going?

I would respond: nowhere

Then (not ashamed to say) I would cry again..

She would look me in the eye and say, I expect the same from you. You are not going anywhere, this all will be fine, you have the best surgeon, you are in great shape and healthy. This will all be over soon and you will be back to being you.

I chose during this time to silence myself from social media, and from this blog. To keep this procedure to myself. Some would (actually some did) say it was selfish, I should have asked for help from those who cared. But to me, after all I went through after my first wife Kim passed away, and after running through the gauntlet with Jacy’s battle, I simply wanted to fall away. If the operation went south, if they failed to save my valve or botched the aorta transplant, to me nothing would have been more beautiful than to simply draw myself into darkness. Fade to black. No one needed to know.

I had done things right for once, the kids were to be well taken care of, and my friends are my friends because they would understand. The only things that bothered me most was the loneliness the kids would have for eternity because they had lost so much! Between losing both their moms and now their dad; what a fucking mental train wreck for all of them.

Speaking of mental train wrecks! I ended up telling the kids after my first appointment with the cardiologist. Jake and Cody both were home and I asked them all to please sit down on the couch for a family meeting. The looks on their faces, my god I will never forget the looks on their faces. It took a while for it all to settle in and when it did, there were a few questions. I did my best to answer everything honestly. It was so very hard to look them in the eye. I was ashamed I could not be their strength any longer. I am their father, dad, and the foundation for this family yet here I am, just as vulnerable as both their moms. Not the man they thought or I believed they knew me to be.  

And then there was Lyn’s, this whole surgery thing bothered me for Lyn’s as well. Sure we were a fairly new couple, but simply put; I knew that pain all too well. One day someone you love or care for is there and then they aren’t. It’s mortifying, draining, scary, and leaves you always wondering what if.

What if they had lived a full life? What would they or we have become? What would the world have held in store for them/us? Questions that would never be answered.

A whole month, from diagnosis to operation. One trip to the ER because of some strange chest pains in the middle. A whole, long messy, shitty, emotional month. I was scared to move, to breathe, to cough, to lift, to ride my horse, to sit on my motorcycle, I was terrified of every single ache and pain that moved through my chest, I was afraid to live, in reality I was mentally living to die. My entire mindset was just that, counting down the days until surgery, counting down the days until I die, counting down the seconds until I said my final goodbye.

June 27th 2019

Lyn’s and I head to Mercy hospital. I am having my body shaved today by some stranger in a small room while they poke and prod, take samples of blood and prepare me for tomorrow’s grand finale! Uncomfortable is the word to describe how I feel yet strangely to this day it doesn’t even come close to how I felt.

Clean as a whistle we head out for one last meal. We laugh, we joke, and we have a very good time. Heading home the rest of the evening is spent with kids, family. I still feel like I am saying goodbye. Like a death row inmate having the proverbial last meal.

That evening, I don’t sleep very well.

June 28th 2019

Lying in a cold hallway, staring upwards at the tile ceiling I am waiting my turn.

4 thoughts on “30 days..

  1. Unlike you I tell everyone I am having surgery. I figure the more prayers there are for me the better I will be prepared to meet my God or see my family. I look forward to the next entry.

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  2. Hey, your post lend themselves to helping me find and be okay with my tears.

    My wife often comforts me, while I learn to not feel shame. Not something I’m use too. I am use to being the rock, the go to person. Not just for my wife and kids, but in my own head everyone.

    Learning to take care of ourselves and acknowledging our mental and emotional challenges, has at times been pure torture.

    When I was younger, one of my nicknames was Smiley, somewhere along the way it became Grumpy or Angry MF’er!

    Not acknowledging my emotions, pent up, always ready to explode.

    The worst part for me, and the part I struggle with the most is asking for help, because of those inaccurately labeled weak emotions.

    Asking for help from friends, even if that only means I would simply appreciate seeing them. Asking for anything, is seriously the most heinous mental imagery.

    The worst of the worst runs through my head when I need or want something, not just help. The simple act of wanting anything. Fucking torture!

    Learning to feel, sucks, it hurts. What hurts most is seating alone, when I am scared, yet not recognizing none of us are truly alone.

    I use to cry alone. I would not let anyone see me cry, what a mistake holding in all those emotions.

    Today I search for life, and I stopped dreaming of the peace in dying.

    You are not alone. I am not alone.

    I appreciate much, but resent some.

    I continue to punish myself!

    Learning to be honest, always, and with my emotions that is something new. Lots of pain. Being scared a lot. And often crying.

    Being honest sucks! But the pain goes away, and I continue to heal. I still hate feeling, but feel I will.

    Still overwhelmed to ask for help, reprogramming myself it’s not weak.

    Much better than dying!

    Thanks for sharing!
    David

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  3. Please know James that I am praying for you and your family and that I definitely admire you and your courage so much. And also your honesty. I am waiting to hear that you truly will never give up.   Please do not ever give in or give up. Hang in there!!  Let the Lord take the reins!! Let your prayer warriors (I am one of them), petition the Lord for your health, your future, your family and your life. Susan Joyce, Lincoln, CA and member of Soroptimist Club of Dixon

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