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Understanding a world where you believe to be an outsider takes patience, but the payoff is massive. That ‘payoff’ is one of many lessons Craig Foster attempts to teach in My Octopus Teacher, an unusual story of the bond between Foster and a wild octopus encountered while freediving. After watching the film, I admitted to a greater understanding of life in the next world, life here in this world, and the interconnection in all worlds. 

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The shooter who killed six at a Virginia Walmart left a “death note” addressed to God stating the events weren’t planned but felt like evil was leading him. Unfortunately, the ‘evil’ narrative is similar to many other historical accounts of many atrocities. After the shooting, President Joe Biden stated he would try and legislate against automatic weapons. (I concur, but good luck. However, that’s not my broader point.) Mass shootings account for less than 1% of the roughly 40,000 people killed by guns each year. While the number of people killed by guns is way too high, the presumption that ‘Evil’ or ‘Satan’ leads them is more likely a symptom of mental illness.

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Over a month has passed since the last blog post. I am still trying to figure out why. I may be burnt out. “From what?” one might ask. Sometimes I believe the world is tired of hearing about my various medical freefall(s). And while it’s a great relief to talk about such conditions, they are not ‘page-turners’ for readers.

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It’s Wait and See

According to the CDC, 1 in 13 adults in the U.S. (7.5%) have “long COVID” symptoms, defined as symptoms lasting three or more months after first contracting the virus and that they didn’t have before their COVID-19 infection. In addition, the Brookings Institute estimated that 1.6 million full-time equivalent workers could be out of work due to long-COVID. So, though I have not discussed long-COVID in detail, count me as just another traveler on COVID’s road.

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Depression: Five Lights or Four

Post Ménière’s diagnosis has been a life of trial and error. Since my last post (September 21st), numerous problems have been my companion. For example, emptying a dishwasher is considered relatively easy for most folks. However, I have to hold the counter’s edge while bending over. Walking a hallway at night is challenging because I constantly bounce off walls and doorframes. Walking downstairs is a damn nightmare. Will I fall, land my cane correctly, not trip and remain even? Other things scare the crap out of me.

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Finding gratefulness can be damn tricky. The thought comes not from despair or from some illusionary dream busted from a lack of effort. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that one should cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes and give thanks continuously for all things that contributed to your advancement. Phooey to that. Several weeks past cold-turkey of pain medications, listening to persistent tinnitus, and walking like an extra on the set of some zombie episode leaves me sick of it all.

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Finding Gratefulness

I think there’s a lot me of in Anderson Cooper. No, I have no delusions that CNN’s Anderson Cooper is remotely related to me. However, I just finished listening to Mr. Cooper’s podcast about coping with grief. Cooper began recording the podcast while cleaning out his mother’s New York apartment two years after her passing. During the session, he discussed reliving grief from losing his father, brother, and mother. 

In his mother’s last few weeks, Cooper recorded some of the conversations he had with his mother. “I was surprised how lonely I felt as the last surviving member of my immediate family,” Cooper said, “and I discovered that talking with others, who’d moved through grief and spoke the language of loss, was life-changing.” It was in that moment of self-reflection I found an uncommon bond.

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Ménière’s Disease

“Well,” said the audiologist. “Ménière’s Disease will not kill you, but it will suck. Elderly MD patients tend to have a higher prevalence of Tumarkin attacks (when a person falls to the ground with no warning). Phrased as ‘drop attacks,’ they seem to come out of the blue and do not affect everyone. Ménière’s Disease victims usually exhibit faster development of hearing loss and vertigo spells in your age bracket. However, you’ll remain awake during the attack and will not lose consciousness. You will experience neither a heart attack nor stroke, but everything will be a bitch.”

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I Fear the Process, Not the End

Extreme nausea announced itself around 9:00 PM Saturday. Granted, it’s not the visitor you want knocking at your door, but arrive it did. “Hey, there. Mind if I come to visit? I’m just gonna find a comfy spot in your brain and batter you for the next 9 hours and make your life a living hell. What ya’ say?” Beneath the sometimes wickedly sarcastic humor and laughter of this blog lay this writer’s mental awareness of the darkness and horror of dying. This past weekend reiterated that I fear the process more than the destination.

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A friend and I overhead another table repeating a false narrative that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is hiring hires 87,000 new ‘armed’ IRS agents. The keyword (i.e., ‘hook’) is ‘armed.’ The claim is false. Whether the folks repeating was knowledgeable or not, they weren’t alone. Social media folks and news personalities (i.e., FOX News and others) also repeated the falsehood. Even 88-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley repeated. What they are saying is, “Watch out everyone. The IRS Bogeymen are coming.”

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