Tag Archive: Life Lessons


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

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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Some are criticized for lack of forthright principles or are looked upon with scornful eyes as  we compromise some political position. However, many engage in the fine art of conciliating, balancing, and interpreting facets of opinion. We mentally thread the needle, balance the justification, and mold the means to justify the ends. I did it. I’m sure many do it today. And damn, we are not profiles of courage.

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Some Missourians claim that after departing the state for better waters, one eventually returns ‘Home’ to the ‘Show Me State.’ (We’ll ignore the fact that Missouri’s statehood originated from the 1820 Missouri Compromise that allowed slavery.) After listening to friends describe the wonders of their home state, I neither lingered nor mixed words. “Well, St. Louis has an arch and a muddy river.” What originated as a ‘do the one-year of hell and get promoted’ turned into ten-years. However, one form of Missouri entertainment remains unique: Politics.

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Many moments in professional sports bear witness to the “F**k you. It’s about me, dipstick.” Last week ten members of the Kansas City Royals could not make the trip to Canada. Why? Well, they have not completed Canadian vaccination requirements. This week, three members of the St. Louis Cardinals bowed out of the team’s upcoming Toronto games for the same reason. Most either claimed “Personal choice” or something to the effect of “I made a decision that’s best for my family.”

Congratulations assholes! You are the epitome that shows formal education gets drained somewhere in-between long hours of training and boring cross-country flights. As noted in countless reports, COVID-19 vaccine risk is negligible and keeping yourself vaccinated (plus booster) is the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID. But none of that matters, as life is about personal choice.

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Searching for Meaning

Grief is universal. Everyone encounters some form of depression at some point in suffering. That moment (or moments) may occur after the Death of a loved one, job loss, strained relationship, or any other traumatic experience. For example, when called by a physician to discuss test results, you could be elated one moment or spiral into massive despair another. Just as no two experiences are similar, depression is personal. My experience was not very neat and indeed followed no rules or schedule. 

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COVID Strikes Back

I once wrote that COVID would get me. And throughout the past several years, I have been thoroughly surprised that COVID has not infected me. Unfortunately, that no longer is the case. After two Pfizer vaccines and two additional booster shots, COVID decided to knock upon my door. My experience is not unlike others. I will summarize my experience using Martha Snell Nicholson’s poem Guests snippet.

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A New Normal

Eventually, everything in the body becomes unreliable,” my neuro stated. It’s a hidden truth of nature. In our teen’s we laugh at it. In our twenties, any notion of time is philosophized over during bartender’s last call. In our thirties, the term slowing down was bantered watching old geezers struggle playing softball at company games. In our forties, we begin to struggle when a few kick the bucket, usually due to cancer or maybe a car wreck. It hits home in our sixties when were told we’re the one dying.

Your body is becoming unreliable,” I repeated walking to my car. “I cannot change that,”  I repeated to myself. Only then do you see the elders of yesteryear stare you in the face and hear the laughter. I swear I heard them. I swear I did. “Sucks to be you,” they snerted (a word my ex invented) at me as I drove drove home. Pulling into my underground parking space, I turn the car off. Pausing for a moment as my hands rested on the steering wheel, I reflected. I have no problem distinguishing the past from the present as Rod Serling narrates, ‘There’s signpost up ahead. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!’ in my mind.

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As new Parkinson’s symptoms peel back any notion that my body can live in some delicate truce, I continue to reassess what I can and cannot do. For example, an Arizona State University study of Muhammad Ali’s public speaking revealed Ali exhibited symptoms of slowed and slurred speech several years before diagnosis. Researchers determined that Ali’s syllables per second slowed by 26 percent over thirteen years. But slurred speech was never my symptom, at least at this moment.

This week, left-hand tremor has become more prominent with the hands at the sides. A ‘Keyesence Detection’ test revealed, “The person has characteristics in their typing similar to people with early to mild Parkinson’s Disease. Tremor and movement exceeded normal ranges. An asymmetrical tremor of 4-6 Hz suggests Parkinson’s Tremor.’ But I already knew this. A tremor while typing has been the bane of my existence for several years. Tremor with the hand at my side has not. That’s new. That means Parkinson’s has progressed, even if ever so slightly.

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