Thursday, May 31, 2012

35- Idle Threats

Autumn 2011

My hospital cell should have a revolving door installed.  Yet, the company is not all needles, pricks, and dead people.  My friends and family are here on a constant basis.  Well, they are here during visiting hours, at least.  

Each and every one of them are tremendous, and much needed emotional boosts.  In and out, throughout the day, asking me what I need.  "Anything you need, DWT.  Anything."  

The utterance, "I love you, Donnie" never wears thin, and is at no time heard by an unappreciative ear.  The words don't comfort me for want of attention.  Those words are warming because I know they are truthful.  My team is not holding me up out of pity, even if they don't like seeing me this way.

For unknown reasons, my main requests are peaches, and chocolate milk.  I have always liked both treats, but never to an obsessive extreme as this.  If its not peaches, I want any fruit.  However, in the midst of all of the chaos going through my body and mind, I remember that I should not have any melon.  Apparently, I saw a news story somewhere that spoke of tainted melon.  So then, I wouldn't want to ingest something that might be bad for me.  That's just not in my nature.  Whatever.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Right To Remain Silent

When I was about thirteen years old, my family went to Washington DC. I was very excited at seeing the north of the U.S. At least, that is where I thought we were headed at the time. Back then, my exploration of our country included the eastern edges of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and the western mountains of North Carolina.

I had only experienced flat land, and it was my belief that Columbia, South Carolina was in the mountains. I couldn't wait to see all of the sites. The Washington Monument, and The Lincoln Memorial were all of the sites I had in mind.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was so much more to see. I collected my personal copy of The Declaration of Independence, and even saw where The President lived. The guy that liked the jelly beans. My parents said he was an actor. We had a great time until we approached a different memorial.

Its wasn't a big, white building with statues like the rest. It was just a black, shiny wall with a bunch of names on it. It was names of men who were all brothers, somehow. My brother and I were having a great time running up and down the sidewalk along the wall.

Suddenly, we had to stop. "Be still", my mother said. My brother and I didn't understand, and we were ready to move on. I hadn't noticed how quiet my parents were until Dad snapped at my brother Tim and I. "Stop it, right now!"

Soon after, we hurried back to our car. It kind of looked like Dad was crying, and he really wanted some quiet from the back seat.

I didn't think much of my father's momentary anger with us. Fact is, I never really thought of it again until I became much older. I had heard the word Vietnam, but I didn't have a clue what it was when I was a boy. My father only spoke of it on a few occasions.

He had mentioned how he was in a river when he was a boy, and people were shooting at him. My father said he was afraid, and he was hiding behind a rock. He felt something on his side, and there was blood on his palm. It turned out that he wasn't shot, but when he ran out of the river, he was covered with leaches.

Donnie Wayne Todd, Sr. went to Vietnam when he was 19 years old. I still have his dress uniform, and it is much too small for me. I am a thin man, but he was five feet, nine inches tall. He had a ninth grade education when he was drafted.

Many years after that day at The Vietnam Memorial, my father told me why he was upset that afternoon. He felt that his name should have been in the spot where his companion's was inscribed.
On that fateful day in 1971, a man took my father's place to scope out the trail in front of them. That man was ambushed, and killed. Dad blamed himself for that. He shot the woman who killed his partner. She was hiding behind her child.

After 13 rainy months, in a jungle half way around the world, Senior was told he was going home. He snapped off his dog tags, threw them in a river, and locked the rest inside his mind. He told me of benefits that he was entitled to receive, but he never accepted them.
He said, he didn't want anything for free.
He was just happy his sons didn't have to go to war.
He understood the scars of war.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

34- A Demoralizing Pedestal

Like some kind of bizarre flashback, I have a quick moment where I feel like I am sitting in a fat, cozy recliner.  There is a large screen TV, but its an old rear projection model.  There are aged wooden shelves running along the sides of the set from floor to ceiling.  There are some books, and a clock with a pendulum.  I can't tell what time it is, and I find the pictures on the television uninteresting.

Young women come and go, as if they are here on a lunch break.  Some of them are wearing their scrubs, while others are wearing casual fitness wear, and backpacks wrapped around their shoulders.  They point with their cell phones and coffee drinks, as they talk to one another about current school projects and exams.

I feel like the school bell just rang, and we are in between classes as they come and go.  I hear them in the hallway, and it sounds as if they are in some sort of dining area.  Others are headed out, sucking the last bits of a snack off from their fingertips.  With a glance in the mirror, and a flick of their hair, they head out with purpose.

Hurricane Preseason

Hurricane Preseason

It is not even hurricane season, yet we are experiencing a tropical storm already. Tropical Storm Byrle will bring 30mph winds, some needed rain, and not much else. Hurricane season doesn't officially kick off until June 1, with the most frequent months being August and September.

A tropical storm doesn't stir up too much excitement around here. Even a category 1 storm doesn't get everyone into much of a fuss. We are getting a few bands of heavy rain, and it has been windy, but there was a lot of sunshine today, too.

Now and then, there is The Big One. The last big one that hit Charleston was Hurricane Hugo. That was September 20-21, 1989. The storm was so large the image of it covered the entire state.
It was a slow moving Category 3 storm.

Category 3 is when the weather service begins to call the system a Major Storm. Sustained winds of these monsters are 111 and 129 miles per hour. Yes, sustained winds. When you add the gusts, they could be as fast as 160 mph, and contain many tornadoes.

Hugo hit overnight. It lasted the entire night, and our windows were boarded up on our wood siding house. The steady rumble of the wind was the scariest part, as the wood made high pitched screeching sounds as the wood on the house flexed. The power went out early, and the storm surge covered downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

After the storm passed through, we didn't have water for three days. We couldn't even leave our street for all the trees. We didn't have electricity for 3 weeks, and that led to martial law with a curfew. Too much looting.

When we finally did have water, it smelled and tasted of pine for months. Thousand of pine trees had fallen into the reservoirs. My cross-country team still tried to get practices and meets in, although school was out.

Just when we were starting to get a grip on things with help from The National Guard, The San Francisco/Oakland earthquake hit California a month later.

The National Guard had to leave,
and we were on our own.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Under Our Noses

Under Our Noses

When I was a boy, my mother made yummy spaghetti.
She made it often, and my brother and I cleaned
our plates every time without argument.

Before I left for college, I wanted to know how to make
this delicious recipe. Garlic powder, Onion powder, basil,
oregano, etc. "Italian Seasoning", she said.

One by one, she shook the herb containers like she was making a martini.
"A little of this, this much of that, and about....that much of this."

I'm confused. "How do you know, how much," I ask?

She points at the simmering pot, "That much."

That was my lesson, and it worked well
through the years whenever I wanted a quick spaghetti dinner.

After 20 years of her baby boy being away from home,
I am back. Unexpectedly, but I am here.

The first time she cooked her spaghetti with meat sauce,
I was perplexed. She didn't make a plate for herself.

"Mom. You're not going to eat with us," I asked?

"I'm making something for myself," she replied.
Confused, I asked her why,
and she said, "I don't like pasta."

"Yes, you do," I correct her. "You made it all
the time when I was a kid."

"I know," she said, "I just never liked it."

I have to ask, "Then, why did you make it
all the time?"

She said, "Because you liked it."

"That's it", I ask?

"Well yeah", she said, "You were my little boys."

It took me 38 years to notice she didn't eat pasta.
I need to pay more attention.

Just Like That

I know that it seems damn near impossible for an alcoholic to just quit drinking. I couldn't imagine being without it before. Like I said though, I wasn't always that way. Plain and simple, I am not supposed to be a drunk. Its too bad I can't have just a couple of cocktails like other people. Its nice to end a day with a drink, or nice wine. With all of the vodka I put away, it is actually wine that I will miss the most. Its always been a part of having a nice meal for me.

I wouldn't say that I am not drinking because I am afraid to die. Fact is, it would most likely kill me if I drank again. However, I know that falling off of the wagon would throw me into greater turmoil than before because that would be another wasted chance at life. Getting hammered for not seizing opportunities, while not getting things done because I'm drunk. So, why throw myself back under the bus, after escaping the first one? That would just be flat out, self-centered bullshit. Seeing the way my mother, my brother Tim, and Julie, my sister in law suffered was just too much.

I haven't had the slightest urge to drink. I have been around it, even if not very much.

At first my family was very concerned because I have not been going to AA. I started going, but it was all older people harping on how they struggled everyday, and random ritualistic sayings, and things. It felt like it was a grammar school class or something. Also, at the time, I didn't even realize that everyone still thought that I was going to die. I just knew that I still felt terrible, the building was old, and its dank surroundings reminded me of shit-holes I had partied in.

I still couldn't communicate like I wanted to, at the time. I would have things to say, but I was still having trouble getting words out. Obviously, I find getting things off my chest to be very therapeutic, so that wasn't much help.

I retained a sponsor because that's what you are supposed to do. I didn't know him, and he surely didn't know me. I also have to admit that my ego may have been in the way, too. I just felt like these people were of no use to me. That sounds awful, but its just how I felt.

I had only spoken to my sponsor on two occasions before I had to return to the emergency room. He came to see me in the hospital because I called him. Even though I was ill, I thought it would be the right thing to do. Until then, our conversation time totaled approximately ten minutes. When my nurse came to ask about my pain, I told her my level. This way she knows how much pain medication to administer.

This man that did not know me, my sponsor, interrupted us.

"Nurse, don't you have something else you can give him?
"Something that is not processed by his liver?
"He's an addict, and I know I gave false information
when I was sick just to get pain meds."

She shouldn't have been put in that position, but my nurse defended me.
"Sir, he is allowed to ask for medicine every two hours,
and he asks for some every six hours.
Besides, everything is processed by you liver in some fashion."

Needless to say, I was very upset. I never went to another meeting, and I never spoke to any of them, again. I could be dead, as far as they know, and I feel bad about that. Yet, I was not exactly tip-top on checking my emotions at the time. My last meeting was my ninetieth dry day. Today is number 220. I feel great. I feel more than great. I can't remember the last time I felt so good.

So, I have an appointment with a therapist at the end of the month. It is my first time ever. My main issue with sobriety has been that my mind is so awake, and is overwhelming sometimes. I talked to my doctor about it, and he had me fill out a short questionnaire. "Anxiety," he said. He added, "You've gotta remember also, that you've been sleep deprived for years, and you probably have some PTSD. I mean, you almost died three...." He stopped himself there. He hadn't said that to me before, but I was in the hospital again in late November, and February. My blog is just getting started.

Now, I just need to find out why. Why did I drink so much?
I do not want to ever go back there.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

33- Going Greek

"Time to check your vitals," is my reliable, bi-hourly, wake-up call.  Sleep deprivation has to be an issue by now.  The human body, and mind are not synched for random levels of consciousness.  It seems like a cruel joke when they tell me to get some rest in this hospital.

The young man from the kitchen is here with my food.  I hear the tearing Velcro of the blood pressure cuff as my bed begins to bring me upright.  The humming motor that is lifting me sounds like a trash compactor.  Man, my head hurts.  The mystery L.E.D. number on my finger clip reads 92.  I am still not getting enough oxygen.  I am still dumbfounded because I cannot figure out how the little contraption knows that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

She Makes Me Smile

The love shared with a pet never ends.
Even though, Raider has been gone
for a long time, she still makes me smile.
She was so good, so pretty,
delightful, and happy.
Just one glance
at one of her photos
gives me a sly grin.
Thank you, Raider.
You never showed
displeasure with
the constant camera flashes.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The magnolias
are in full bloom.

Summer flower
that's right at home.

Bound and small
as dusk falls.

Alive and awake
when dawn rises.

Still wet with dew drops
and last night's thunder.

South Carolina

Thursday, May 24, 2012

32- How much?

Autumn 2011

In Charleston, South Carolina, we do not have basements.  Much of today's peninsula use to be marsh.  Yet, somehow this particular hospital room feels subterranean.  The doctor is using what might be the longest needle in his arsenal to suction displaced fluid out of my corporation of guts.  The nurse is still in action, while she is sliding the cold ultrasound wand on my skin.  The medical CGI monitor is ever-changing with scenes of creepiness.

Two liter sized beakers are already filled, and the third isn't far behind.  As the procedure goes on, I have to roll from side to side more frequently.  All the while, the doctor is manipulating the wand that sucks up the interstitial ponds.  

The third beaker is full, and the stream doesn't slow at all.  Finally, when the glass is about 3/4s full, it comes to a squeaky halt.  "Oh, oh", the doctor says.
I wish he would stop saying that when I ask, "What?  What, now?"
He asks the nurse to hold the vacuum, and places eight fingertips on my side.
"This is going to be uncomfortable.  Just a little pressure, OK"?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

31- Retention Detention

Autumn 2011

Plain and simple, my body is disfigured.  I have lost all of the bone and muscle possible, and my paunch is filled.  My belly button is now a smooth star on my tummy.  I need relief soon, and breathing is laborious.

The doctor is here, and begins molesting my my protrusion that used to be a stomach.  I lift my shabby bed sheet of a night gown, and he palms my side with his thumb outstretched.  He waves a closed peace sign with his right hand, and taps on my belly with his rubber mallet fingers.  It is blatantly obvious that my abdomen is distended.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

30- Anaerobic Vulnerability

Autumn 2011

Although I am under constant surveillance, and have some of the best medical care available, I am still not overly concerned with my health.  That is, my condition is exponentially worse than I fear it is.  I have not seen a mirror since I entered the hospital, and I still do not care to.  The longer I can go without catching a glimpse of myself, the better I believe I will hold up mentally.

Now that the detox has a complete grip on my psyche, I doubt that my reflection would be of any use at all.  The fine line between reality and fiction is blurred.  With that, if I were to know all of the ins and outs of my well-being , the truth could very well be stranger than the fiction.

I have just given up on my low sodium lunch of chicken broth, and Jell-o.  My appetite is only worsening, and my limited diet is not helping the matter. Of course, my physical therapist is here.  At least, she is beginning to let me eat before-hand, now.  However, I am guessing that I burn more calories guiding my spoon to my mouth than I am taking in.  More often than not, someone shovels the tasteless nourishment into my mouth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

28- MELD Score

Spring 2012

This story represents present day, now, the past four days.  No time warp at the moment.

Although a MELD score has been mentioned to me repeatedly since I became ill, I had not researched it until today.  From my earliest memories at MUSC my sister-in-law was the most adamant about learning this number.  In hindsight, I believe I haven't looked it up because I have been afraid.

On Friday, May 11, I returned to MUSC to get an update on the status of my health.  Ever since this all began, my prognosis has been very frightening.  I remember hearing phrases like "end-stage" or end of life, yet I ignored them as much as possible.  I wanted nothing of any talk of negativity or my lack of days remaining.

MELD, or Model for End-stage Liver Disease is a system based on the risk, or probability of death, within 3 months, if the patient does not receive a transplant.  The possible value range is between six, and forty.  Six is less ill, while forty is gravely ill.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Empathetic Pratfalls

We are socially programmed to trip over our own words when something dramatic has happened.
Whether it is a near death, a divorce, job loss, or cancer, how are we supposed to behave?
Of course, the first part is easy.
I'm sorry about everything that happened, but it's good to see you.
These are well established reactions to days we won't forget, but we feel strange talking about them.
There is that slight hum of anxiety in the air, and we don't know how to deal with it.
Is it easier when its one on one? Or is it better in a crowd?
Good intentions, gracious thank yous, and a moment of silence.
For now, it will do.
There's no rush at all, to rehash it all.
We'll talk soon.
It's still new

Monday, May 14, 2012

27- Contemptable Delinquent

Autumn 2011 

 It has always been my opinion that any one who might be dying at any moment would be concerned with that misfortune, and nothing else.  However, I still don't see this as a life or death situation, and I have errands to run.  I have to get some things done, or I am going to have a financial mess on my hands when they set me free from my tiny hospital bed.

Its the either the end of October, or the beginning of November.  Either way, I need to pay my rent.  I was counting on working this week, so I am going to miss out on that cash.  My mom tells me not to worry about it, but I can't help it.  I will need to send my mother and step-dad to the bar to get my paycheck.
The moment I speak of sending them on this run, someone reminds me that it is Sunday morning.
"You're going to send them to the bar?  Right now, DWT?  Its brunch, bro."
"Oh yeah.  I guess so," I say.
Crap.  That's right.
 Mom and Ed have never been in the joint.  Plus, Sunday morning always seems to be a continuation of Saturday night.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

26- Inept Acumen

Autumn 2011

The chipper voice pierces the air,  "Good morning!  Bright light!"  It is time for the beginning of my routine with the morning hospital staff.  I have grown used to having a thermometer under my tongue, and a syringe in my arm within minutes of waking.  The ladies tell me that I have a list of chores today.  Breakfast, of course, and physical therapy, which I dislike even more than the moist gravel taste of hospital grits.  Then last, but not least, I am having a  PET scan today.

A PET scan is used to view the brain when there seem to be behavioral problems due to brain function abnormalities.  For instance, shouting and throwing pillows at nonexistent people like I was doing last night.  This scan is better than an MRI at finding out if the tissues are behaving normally.  An MRI only scans for topography issues, therefore the PET scan is more capable of discovering malfunction before there is any physical damage.

The minute I eat my first spoonful of cement mix, the physical therapist is in the doorway.
"You ready", she asks rhetorically?
"I just got my breakfast", I moan.
"Come on, it'll only..."
I finish the sentence for her and say, "...take a minute.  I know."

We are pushing my food tray aside, when the gray-haired black gentleman comes to take me to have my head examined.  He is all smiles, and so am I.  Momentarily, I am spared from my morning workout.  I realize that I need the physical therapy, but I swear my little, blonde ball of energy always shows up when I'm about to eat.  I have to admit, she pushes me hard, and she seems to enjoy it.

 The staff helps me slide my drooping body onto the mobile bed.  One of the interns grabs my rack of IV bags, and we are off.  The hallway is quiet, and I try to lift my head to watch the ride.  I am beginning to think that the stretcher driver is pretty good in the corners, when my foot snags a comment box hanging on the wall.

"Ow.  Take it easy, bro," I tell him.
"Sorry, partner," he says without looking at me.  He has a delivery to make.  Me.

We swing around and backward into the elevator.  I have been thinking that we are on the ground floor, but when the man presses three, we head down.  After a brief wait, we bump the wheels over the gap left by the elevator door and enter the new hall.  We turn left, take a right, a quick left, and we are headed down a long dead-end corridor.  There is no one around.  Its quiet.

I pull my feet in a bit when the man driving smashes the roll a-bed through a set of double doors.  We stop short of the second pair of doors for a moment, and there is a loud rush of air for about four seconds.  We pass through the second set of doors, and the ceiling opens up.  It looks like a Costco with all of the rafters showing, and the same gymnasium lighting.  Everything is bright, except for the graphite colored, cinder block walls.

The PET scan machine is a large white circular machine.  It looks like something that would lead to another dimension in a sci-fi flick.  There is a long line for the device that resembles a Depression Era soup line.  Everyone is standing single-file, looking down at the floor with their arms crossed because of the cold.

My delivery man brings me over to the line, and hands the staff a sheet of paper.
The woman looks down and says, "Full name?"
"Donnie Wayne Todd."
"Date of Birth?"
"June 16th," I reply.
"Alright, sir," she says as she puts medicine in one of the IV's.  "This will help you relax."

I fall back in line until it is my turn to climb the stairs.  The way up could easily pass for a fire escape with its metal grates, and hard steel handrails.  When I get to the top, there is a beam in front of me.  It has a mobile, toddler sized table to carry me down the rail.  I balance myself on the beam, and stretch my chin in the air.  I arch my back and roll my eyes toward my forehead to get a look at where the rail ends behind me.

The beam is long and narrow, and runs all the way through the vortex machine.  They staff tells me to lie down with my arms crossed on my chest.  I have to bring one knee up to keep my balance with my left foot.  Like a ride at an amusement park, the transport lurches forward.  The giant PET scanner starts to whir, and the attendants tell me to, "just relax".

I close my eyes, and the ride is over.  I feel like it was just getting started.
The assistants are almost patting me on the back when they tell me, "You did such a great job."

I let them believe that, but I am fairly certain there was sleep involved on that trip.  No matter.  The man who pushes my bed is ready to head back to my room.  When we arrive, it looks like a different room, again.  I wish they would just let me get used to things around here.  It doesn't have to be a constant challenge.

I see some familiar faces when I notice some of the locals hanging out by my room.  They are waiting to catch a glimpse of my ragged body.  Their reactions are happy, and supportive.  My friends act as though everything is fine.  They are doing a very good job of hiding their emotions.

Before I can call them out for "being to nice", my eyes begin to feel heavy.  I can't imagine the amount of drugs that are flowing through my body.  I have to close my eyes.  I squint hard for a mere moment, and when I reopen my eyes, my friends are gone, once more. 

About These Stories

Thursday, May 10, 2012

25- Detox Manifested

Visiting hours are over early, again.  You would think that a Hospital in Charleston would understand.  Most of my friends are just going to work in the bar right now, and the others in the restaurants are just finishing up.  An eleven o'clock curfew does not suit this crowd well.

The younger nurse is back tonight, but she is on the other side of the chicken wire window.  I completely missed the changing of the guard.  I guess I was asleep, and I'm probably still supposed to be.  

The room hasn't changed on me, and I think of how a goldfish sees things.  There is still the television by the ceiling to my left, and a smaller screen over my right shoulder.  The sound on the rear device is different from the picture on the television, so its just noise to me.  Underneath the psych ward window is some shelving, and I have chairs lining the wall on my left for any visitors that may arrive.

As I am staring into the emptiness of the room, I begin to feel the smallness of my bed.  It seems likeall of my gear is connected on my right side, and leaning over my shoulder.  I try to nudge the equipment over, but it doesn't budge, so I give up and go back to my blank stare.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From This Angle


The details are found
In our own perspectives.
No one can ever
Take our reality.

Monday, May 7, 2012

24- Out of My Control

When my family arrives and gathers around my hospital bed, they are all wearing yellow paper scrubs.  I  don't really take notice until they bring it up.  I am just happy to see them.  They tell me that no one is allowed to visit without wearing some kind of protective gear.
Apparently, alcoholism is airborne now.  I thought Dr. Prick said that this was all my fault when I "chose" to do this to myself.  I now have self-inflicted sickness, and humiliation that has mutated into a contagion.
They say that I either have some kind of infection, or that I am a carrier for something.  I doubt it would have anything to do with the staph infection about a year and a half ago.  Whatever, I'm really not too concerned because my brain is short circuiting again.  I'm really trying to focus and hold a conversation, but its beyond my ability.  

I guess I dozed off because I don't remember them leaving.
When I come around its time for the usual vitals check, and blood sample.  While the crew is attending to their checklists, I suddenly realize that I have to pee.  I don't have the catheter, and my body gives me little heads-up when it comes to expelling waste from my body.  Bladder, colon, or esophagus, I have the barest minimum of control.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

23- Outkast

It seems like I've been in the ICU for months, but it has only been a couple of weeks.  Yet, today is a special day because I'm going to get my first shower since I've been here.  They've kept me clean, but my hair is unwashed and oily.  When I saunter through the recycle-worthy mess with my fingers, my hands feel dirty.  As great as a shampoo sounds, this is going to take tremendous effort from everyone present.

My assistants pull me up by my arms until I'm sitting upright on the side of the bed.  The head nurse pulls over my medicine tree, and starts to discern which tube goes to which needle.  In the meantime, another nurse is detaching all of the wires from the sticky electrodes on my torso.

Friday, May 4, 2012

22- VIP Guest

When I open my eyes the middle-aged Asian woman already has the syringe in my arm.  
"Oh, you're awake.  You slept through the last time I got your blood sample."  This is all she does, so she is the first one I've come to recognize immediately.  She knocks on the door every four hours, and approaches with her little ice cream cooler that carries the samples.  "That's it.  See you this afternoon."

I remembered someone.  This is good news.  With most of the staff, I have to try to discern who they are.  Shaking their hand and looking in their eyes like I want some telekinetic answers.  The messages never come.  I just have to feel them out and lie, trailing off when I say "Oh.  I remember you. Yeah, you're the..."

Speaking of this, a line of white coats  are lining up end to end at the foot of my bed.  They've been doing this a lot.  The one in charge asks me if his colleagues can ask some questions.
First we have introductions.  

Handshake, eye contact, "Hi. Donnie." 
Handshake, eye contact, "Hi. Donnie."
Handshake...nine times this happens.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Memorial Day Mid-West Surge

   14 Memorial Day

  We're going to Folly Beach today.
D is driving a bunch of us in her Porsche SUV.
Its filled with tipsy, windblown, friends, beer, and jello shots.
Jello shots on the beach=gelatinous, watermelon flavored sand.
Its the annual Memorial Day weekend traffic jam.
Cars filled with pale faced grins, and tagged with Ohio plates.
Just one more year, with a weekend of tourists visiting
and leaving all of their trash on the beach.
We go down to 10th block to try to avoid the obese banana hammocks,
and over-filled string bikinis.
Red and white striped from the well intentioned but ill placement of sunblock.
We are the locals.
We are the "classy" ones.
Would you like a jello shot or a Solo cup of canned PBR?
You're welcome, now please don't leave a family sized footprint.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

24- About Face

I'm learning to walk, again.  I never thought this would be an issue for me.  Maybe when I'm older, but now?  I've literally become The Walking (Nearly) Dead.  

As much as I'm enjoying the view of the hospital's courtyard, we have to get back.  Its hard enough to stand and I have to go back the way we came.  I'm still gazing through the window when I try to twist myself clockwise to get moving.  

From my viewpoint, the entire floor suddenly dips downward to my right.  It really feels like the entire building is moving.  Its a good thing my physical therapist is here.  Otherwise, I would have a solid tile burn on my face, and I didn't take any Dramamine.

Stand up straight, don't fall backwards.  No, its this way.  We made two right turns to get here, and I've forgotten how to get back to my room.  I'm sweating profusely, and breathing hard.  My mouth hasn't been this dry since my friend's four day bachelor party in Vegas; in August.  At this point I appreciate the cool and sanitized air. 

When we are almost to my room, my Drill Sargent stops me short.  She's trying to twist my shoulders clockwise when she says, "We're going in here."
Oh.  They switched me to a different room.  "All my stuff is in my room."
"OK.  Its in here, right where you left it.  You've had the same room for the last few days."

Oh, again.

"Since, you were going to walk farther anyway, let's do some stairs."
What?  She can't be serious.  I just want to get back in my bed.  I don't want my buckshot grits anymore.

When we arrive in the stairwell, I look up and then down.  I hope there's not a fire while we're in here.

"Come on. Just one", she says.
It takes every last glimmer of energy for me to pull myself up with my right foot.
"Great!  Now, bring up your left foot."

She's not asking me to go to another stair.  Her only request is that I get both feet on the same step.  I pull with my arms, and rest my body on the handrail.  I can't do it.


This is what I've let alcohol do to me.
For as long as I can remember, I've been active.  For starters, when I was really little, we had 4 channels on the television, and no video games.  We played outside.  Imagine that.

By six years old, it was little league.  Then boxing, and karate.  I started to run competitively at ten years old.  After that, there was soccer, basketball, and swimming.  

By the time I was sixteen, I had finished 333 out of 6,000 in The Cooper River Bridge Run.  I was running 80 miles per week, on the cross country and track teams, and competing in 1/2 marathon races.  All the while, I was earning my Life-guarding license.

By the time, I was 22, I had stopped running.  I began to drink more often, smoking a lot of weed, and an occasional acid trip.  My girlfriend at the time was on my case for it.  She would say to me, "You're going to end up like your Father!"

As you can imagine, I didn't like that. 
"My dad is a good man.  Besides, I would never drink as much as he does.  You're paranoid, and blowing things out of proportion."

For the longest time, I was right.  I'm not saying I didn't go on some serious benders here and there, but I kept my drinking under control.
Well, that was then.  Now, I just want to crawl back in bed.  I don't want to think about it.

When I finally get back to the room, I have to twist around like a drunken ballerina, again.  All of my tubes and wires have to be positioned just right.
I lean back in my bed while they are hooking up a little bag to my IV collection.  They tell me its going to feel a little cool going in.

I don't even catch my breath before I am back in slumber-land.

An Early Mother’s Day Gift

Today was a great day for me,
and even greater for my mother.

Not one, not two, but three
times I was given
six months to live

Alcoholic cirrhosis
there is no going back

A son before his mother
Is not the proper order

Doc gave me the beautiful rubber stamp
Certifying, I don't need a transplant

I saw the little girl she still is
When she bit her lip and grinned

She said I looked so thrilled
That I could be dancing.

"Mom, I am twirling and dancing
at the sight of absolute joy.
I won't worry you again
I'm still your little boy."

The years are flying
but I still see the
little girl in her smile.

I Love You, Mom
Everyday is
Mother's Day

Photo:Blanche Sullivan (Mom)