Tag Archive: Life Lessons


Oftentimes we choose badly. We barter on for the best opportunity to continue whatever morsel of time: strength, mental acuity and a life previously known just several weeks before. It is fantasy mind you. Yet we barter it all, even with the risk of a prolonged and terrible death–which is precisely what most will get.

Technically, the operation this old man received was a success. And two weeks later, the 88-year-old man and his 82-year-old wife, sat in the vascular surgeon’s office to hear the prognosis.

Wow,” said Doctor S. “The stent looks great. The ultrasound shows the artery is wide open.”

The wife smiled. The man grunted.

We’ll see you in two months.”

The stroke was significant, and he never recovered. In skilled nursing, the old man could barely remember why he was there; he spoke his son’s name when shown a picture of his dog; he neither say his wife’s name nor his son’s; and looked frail.

That old man is my father.

As I tried to explain to my mother, he could not be cured. Deep down, she knew there was not a cure. But admitting as much and assisting him was beyond her capability. Maybe, just maybe, that stent operation would produce a ‘miracle.’

Death, of course, is not a failure. It’s normal. Throughout the last decade, I repeatedly told my mother that modern scientific and medical marvels can significantly alter the course of human life. We can now push the final moment of many diseases farther outward. People can live longer than any time in history. In doing so, we hide the deeper reality, that such significant extensions do not come without cost. Eventually, the end makes itself known, whether it be in the lungs, brain, spine, kidneys, or heart. From there, there is no cure.

We left the doctor’s office this past Thursday knowing we’d never see dad at home again. Instinctively, my father knew he would never see his favorite lap companion (his dog) and spend Sunday’s petting while simultaneously watching Tiger Woods try for another victory. And, I wondered in the past few nights whether my mother’s ‘miracle was more for her or for my father. She always believed dad was the outlier, the guy who’d have a major injury at ninety and by ninety-one, climb the Himalayas’. Giving up meant giving up the life they built. Now, could either endure.

How did America become a world where we either have to go down with the ship or cede complete control of our life to live in a nursing home? Television is filled with young doctors performing endless miracles. We perform medical procedures (like stents), pat ourselves on the back and dish off our elderly into some unknown distant nursing home.

The reality is that most suffer alone. We depend upon nature and chance. Maybe we toss in a few overly quoted scriptures and beg for a miracle. Instead, society knowingly banishes people to Medicare/Medicaid with little options … too poor … too frail … too senile … or too broken down.

I studied my father for one last moment. “Welcome to your future bitch,” life responded.

In theory, every day is a gift. Actor Richard Evans said, “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” And true to Evans’ words, I have witnessed tremendous kindness and generosity. 

A Buddhist would say our Coronavirus times should remind us of what is essential: Grandparents, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and family. More importantly, is there a call to review personal responsibility? While Presidents, CEO’s and our state leaders speak, cite statistics, and map out a post-COVID world, are we morally and ethically making the ‘right’ sacrifices? As we celebrate Memorial Day, would those (the “Greatest Generation”) agree that this generation is sacrificing anything?

I worry we’re not.

Tom Brokaw referred to the “Greatest Generation” as those men and women of the Great Depression, who had watched their parents lose their businesses, farms, jobs, and hopes and went directly into uniform into the military to fight tyranny. Brokaw noted that very stage of their lives, they were part of historical challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed and credits them with much of the freedom and affluence we experience today.

It wasn’t all good. As many noted, during the early pre-war years against Germany, the government asked more of the public as the nation shifted to an all-out war footing. Like today, defiance of the government’s dictates was not uncommon across ideological boundaries. Just as early appeals to gather scrap metal for munitions production were ignored, today, we find it difficult to social distance and wear a face mask. And just as the Roosevelt administration’s plea for nonstop factory fostered strikes and work stoppages, I can only imagine how a person making more in unemployment than working will become motivated to sacrifice.

While American patriotism and wartime fervor played essential roles in successes, it was active leadership from the Roosevelt administration, especially its rhetoric and propaganda, which secured the buy-in. Today, we have an administration weaponizing division, promoting bogus health prevention (hydroxychloroquine) and refusing to explain what is needed and why.

We have failed to adopt clear, consistent, repeated messaging to encourage Americans in the battle required to slow coronavirus’ spread. I looked at the photos from Osage Beach, Missouri. Osage Beach is in the ‘Lake of The Ozarks.’ I am unsurprised by the crowded bars and disregard for social distancing. Yet, these people will beg medical clinicians to make every effort to save them, while simultaneously professing how innocent they are and how they did nothing wrong. 

The Atlantic summarized my thoughts well.

Some people who carried on with their nonessential weekend outings shared their rationale with reporters. One 40-year-old who went with a friend to their favorite bar on Sunday explained to the Los Angeles Times, “This could be the last bar we go to in a long time.” In Boston, a man in line at a bar with an hour-long wait reasoned to a Boston Globe reporter that, as a pharmacist, he was already going to have a high risk of exposure at work anyway, so “there’s only so much I can do” to avoid the virus. And one compassionate, though still risk-taking, D.C. diner told Washingtonian, “As long as businesses are open and the condition doesn’t worsen, I want to support those folks depending on patrons to make their living.

Writer Joe Pinsker noted, “These are extremely weak justifications for a choice that ultimately puts one’s short-term social enjoyment ahead of the health—and maybe even lives—of countless people who are more vulnerable to the disease. Beyond lacking clear and forceful guidance from President Trump and his administration, … people have failed to apprehend the gravity of the outbreak and the importance of staying in.

What happened to Memorial Day 2020? For first responders, clinicians, and rescue personnel across the country, sorrow will intertwine with pride of service and sacrifice. For those in Osage Beach and others with the same mentality, F••• it. It’s Miller Time.

Unfortunately, I see darker skies on the horizon.

In a world of COVID, we’ve suddenly become confined to small spaces with our spouses, with little to no reprieve. During the ensuing weeks and months, we’ve got to balance work life and personal life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

In a lot of ways, many marriages will receive a glimpse of life in retirement. Spouses will look from different lenses—one may think the sky is falling, the other believes, “Eh, no big deal.” Jada Pinkett Smith related her experience. Smith, who’s been married to actor Will Smith for 23 years, realized she didn’t know him.

“I gotta be honest. I think one of the things that I’ve realized is that I don’t know Will at all. I feel like there’s a layer that you get to, life gets busy, and you create these stories in your head, and then you hold onto these stories, and that is your idea of your partner; that’s not who your partner is. Will and I are in the process of him taking the time to learn to love himself, me taking the time to learn to love myself, and us building a friendship along the way. Let me tell you, that’s been something, to be married to somebody 20-some odd years and realize I don’t know you and you don’t know me and also realizing there’s an aspect of yourself you don’t know either.”

Building friendships is something all must do.

Just before COVID closing the world, I overheard two men discussing their lives. One man was determined to force his wife of 27 years out of the marriage. He hated everything about her, from sunup to sundown. By his logic, if his wife left, he would not lose his children’s honor, and he could marry a younger wife. He wanted a younger wife. A younger wife will fix everything.

My wife says, ‘I just want everything to be back the way it was in the beginning,’” the first man says. “God. My wife is old. Since her chemo is over, she smells old. Her skin sags and nothing she does is satisfying. She disgusts me.

No one can ever go back to the beginning. It will never be, “… the way it was back in the beginning.” Relationships either evolve or devolve. The problem is we misperceived what our futures will be. 

COVID kind of hits that home.

Final Thought

A couple was dining and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. After the meal, the husband presented his wife romantically with a beautiful, ancient gold antique locket on a chain.

Amazingly when his wife opened the locket, a tiny fairy appeared.  

Your forty years of devotion to each other has released me from this locket, and in return, I will grant you both one wish each – anything you want.

Without hesitating, the wife asked, “Please, can I travel to the four corners of the world with my husband, as happy and in love as we’ve always been?

The fairy waved her wand with a flourish, and magically there on the table were two first-class tickets for a round-the-world holiday.

The fairy looked to the husband, “Your turn.

The husband thought for a moment, and said, “Forgive me, but to enjoy that holiday of a lifetime – I yearn for a younger woman – so I wish that my wife be thirty years younger than me.

Shocked, the fairy waved her wand, and the husband became ninety-three.

Last Friday (May 1), MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski read back to Biden his own statement from 2018 about Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades earlier: 

“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”

In February 2020, Forbes Contributor Karlyn Borysenko wrote:

“If you call a woman a liar, even if you didn’t do [what you’re being accused of], you’re guilty of calling a woman a liar, so there’s no way out. If you don’t deny it, you’re thought to be guilty. If you do deny it, you’ve committed an additional political sin, so it’s a trap. And it feels just horrible…They either assume your guilt, or they assume you shouldn’t be asserting your innocence.”

Ms. Borysenko’s words haunt me; I can’t get past them. In my 2017 blog post, The Monica Lewinsky’s of the World Need Us, I wrote from a perspective of my failures – demons, some I might claim to carry even today. My writing exposes deeper truths. Throughout the years, I’ve taken an extensive personal inventory of the man I’ve become. For quite some time, (my stock) wasn’t pretty. Many years later, I take responsibility for speaking out for listening to those who claim to be victims and holding men accountable for their actions.

For Trump, there is no truth. He has written his own rules for years. The irony of Trump Presidency came while watching conservative religious leaders trip over themselves to support a man, that by all accounts, would likely experience the express elevator to the basement. At the same time, I was excommunicated by the church for having the gall to visit a Buddhist monastery. 

Looking at the Biden allegations, I see only caricatures of authoritarian pompousness from everyone. Is the accuser some form of monster: a wasted figure that retreated for nearly thirty-years only to now give up her secret? Were the motivations for potentially destroying Biden’s campaign (or Trump, or Clinton) clear: is it really in the interest of justice? Is the process of scrutiny really to protect the public from an abusive leader? Is so, why did America fail and assert no such strength during the 2016 campaign? And, should an accused resign, is resignation is proof of guilt?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s hard not to leap to the presumption of guilt once a sexual accusation is made. This is 2020, and in dramatic form, we must always believe. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the defense.

For many victims, the #MeToo movement has transformed an assault into something empowering. And for the most part, such movements have netted positive change. Nonetheless, when such allegations occur, all of us (media included) begin a righteous quest to discover our Truth, not necessarily the real Truth. In the end, without evidence, we become trapped by torrents of opposing viewpoints. 

Herein lay our error. 

If we believe we hold the monopoly of Truth, the truth will die. Reality is neither black nor white. Real allegations occur, and false allegations occur. Who do I believe? What is the Truth of this moment or that moment? Will I ever be able to judge this person? Will I ever be able to put this to rest, with a verdict? Can we get closure?

In the end, while most believe sexual assault is unacceptable, when push comes to shove, there are circumstances we’re willing to tolerate simply because other things matter more. That certainly held for Trump. The same for Clinton. But I hope to god it’s not true of Biden.

Feeling Real

A cousin contacts me only when he needs something. Needs tend to vary. 

“We’re having a family reunion (in three days). Can you fly/drive/hike/skateboard/surf half-way across the country and join us?” Other times, “Hey, we’re celebrating my mother’s 50th/60th/70th birthday? (Usually in three to five days). Can you fly/drive/hitchhike/Greyhound/balloon here?”

After a couple of years of silence, he contacted me via email. 

“Hey, I talked to your mother today. I haven’t heard from you. Just checking in on you to see how you’re doing. Let me know.” 

The first thing I did was call my mother, who confirmed that my cousin called. “He said that since he wasn’t allowed to get his mother out of the nursing home, he wanted to know if I could go out and get a ‘Mother’s Day Card’ and send it to her.’

“So,” I asked. “Why would you break Social Distancing in the middle of an epidemic to get a ‘Mother’s Day Card’ on Wednesday for your 90-year-old sister? I presume he understands Mother’s Day is five days away?”

“Don’t know,” my mother retorted.

I wrote to my cousin, informed I was doing well, even though I am working with frontline clinicians. I was tired, tired of ‘flatline’ monitors, tired of being exhausted, that I was working 12 shifts since March 6th, and that we lost one of our team members to COVID.”

“Hey,” my cousin responded. “Glad you’re ok. By the way, Mother’s Day is upon us. Can you send a Mother’s Day Card to Aunt P.?”

I didn’t respond.

Feeling Real

A family settled down for dinner at a restaurant. The waitress first took the order of the adults, then turned to the seven-year-old. “What will you have?” she asked.

The boy looked around the table timidly and said, “I would like to have a hot dog.”

Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted. “No hot dogs,” she said, “Get him a steak with mashed potatoes and carrots.”

The waitress ignored her. “Do you want ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?” she asked the boy.

“Ketchup.”

“Coming up in a minute,” said the waitress as she started for the kitchen.

The boy looked at everyone and said, “Know what? She thinks I’m real!”

Conclusion

When others don’t pay attention to our presence we feel as though we are objects to be maintained or avoided or fixed, rather than real human beings to be treated with respect and dignity. On the other hand, when someone listens to us, we feel loved and we feel real.

In the current COVID world, please ensure everyone is loved and feels real.

Buddhism claims wealth is temporary, is no path to happiness, and may not be the best source for money wisdom. This view obviously struck the devil as odd. He looked upon the Buddha and said, “To test this theory, I create something unusual, something wonderful, something so special everyone will rush to claim one. He created a Goldman Sachs Apple Credit Card.

If you have an Apple Card, its best rewards are achieved when making Apple purchases via the Apple Wallet app on your iPhone. In theory, it’s less a physical card than it is an incentive program for using Apple’s technology. Need et Coke, open your app, press your Apple Credit Card, double the funky power button, and ‘boink’ with a magic checkmark.  Congratulations oh Apple ‘Oneder.’ (Or is One Dur? Maybe Wonder?). 

My titanium slab came FedEx. I’ve never had a credit card delivered FedEx, except that time in 1996 when a Louisiana ATM Machine gnawed my Business Mastercard like a kid high on Happy Meals. Most Apple ‘Oneders’ claim a certain love with the concept. Few mention inherent problems. A few mention the high-interest rate. Others mention the failure to allow the user to download their purchases to Quicken or other software (an issue they’ve reportedly fixed). These two issues were enough for me to rarely use the titanium slab. Most months, I carry no balance. 

I found another issue: dealing with Apple/Goldman Sachs Credit specialists via text. 

Prior to leaving work, I used my iPhone’s Best Buy App to order $100 in office supplies. Everything was in stock and would be ready in an hour. Best Buy asked if I wanted to pay via my titanium slab. “What the h••• I said,” as I pressed the funky power button twice. Immediately thereafter, “Boink” and a magic checkmark. Moments later, I received a text.

Best Buy Order Status: Order BB###-############ is confirmed. Visit http://blah blah, blah blah for order details.

God damn it. This Apple ‘Oneder’ was a happy ‘Oneder.’ Nothing makes a Coronavirus fighter happier than a “Boink” and magic checkmark – Until getting to Best Buy.  No one was in the store. I and ten other ‘Oneder’s’ waited. And waited. And waited. No one came out. None. Nada. Zip. 

I decided to cancel the order. Laughing from his crypt, the Devil said, “Not so fast schmuck-face.” I could not cancel the entire order at once. I actually had to cancel each item in my order one at a time. I found this annoying, but, since Best Buy’s exceptional service was missing in action, I had no choice.  Since Best Buy already charged my Apple ‘Oneder’ account, I contacted Apple, via the Wallet app, to request any Best Buy charge be denied. Turns out, I couldn’t. Since the transaction was pending, “Tough Toenails Toots.

My conversation started with Apple Support, who transferred me to Goldman Sachs, who transferred me back to Apple Support, who then fed me a Little Orphan Annie decoder telephone number that I had to call to confirm my conversation. 

Amie (not her real name) sounded like the same representative I conversed with when my Mastercard was devoured. I literally called the Little Orphan Annie decoder telephone number texted to me. Amie (not her real name) answered.

“Can’t do (s•••) anything Apple ‘Oneder.’ You have to wait until the charge clears, then dispute it. Thanks for calling Apple ‘Oneder.’ Make sure you save your texts to prove your claim. My name is Amie and I’m glad to have assisted you (i.e., in confirming I was F’d).”

Final Thought

The ‘End Literacy Council’ erected a sign, “Learn to read FREE! 222-6325.”

That’s what the Buddha warned. Nothing is free. 

During the drive home, this Apple ‘Oneder’ called his Cell Phone Carrier and ordered a different phone. I used an American Express card.

Kathryn Dill and Te-Ping Chen wrote a great article in The Wall Street Journal.

‘Sometimes the Crisis Makes the Leader’: Andrew Cuomo and Five Lessons on Leadership’

The lessons the want readers to understand are:

  1. Transparency;
  2. Lead and be a field general;
  3. Make people believe you’re in there with them;
  4. There is such a thing as ‘bad television;’ and
  5. Clarity is important

Everyone should read their article. It’s fantastic.

Messaging

Guardian Writers Ed Pilkington and Tom McCarthy wrote a stunning byline.

“When the definitive history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, the date January 20, 2020, is certain to feature prominently. It was on that day that a 35-year-old man in Washington state, recently returned from visiting family in Wuhan in China, became the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the virus.

On the very same day, 5,000 miles away in Asia, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in South Korea. The confluence was striking, but there the similarities ended.

In the two months since that fateful day, the responses to Coronavirus displayed by the U.S. and South Korea have been polar opposites.”

In the months since, U.S. leadership dithered, procrastinated, became mired in chaos and confusion, got distracted by the individual whims of its egotistical leader, and now faces a health emergency of daunting proportions.

Let’s face it, Coronavirus messaging has sucked. On one hand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.) extended the order for non-essential workers to stay home until April 15. One the other, Lt. Governor Patrick (TX) urged a return to work, saying the vulnerable should sacrifice themselves for the greater good. 

In the political world, messaging either looks good or bad. In the real world, messaging is hollow. Until a few hours ago, I didn’t understand how consequential America’s lack of preparation.

I reside in a heavily impacted State. The lake looks peaceful from here. Eerily calm. Inviting. Save for a hearty lone soul; everyone’s disappeared, including Sunday afternoon joggers, walkers, hikers, and lovers. For the residents of my building, messaging meant little. Going to the store, I noticed how empty our underground parking was. Empty parking stalls meant an empty building. Everyone left, probably wishing to spend time with those closest.

Disasters do not respect messaging. Coronavirus has no respect for messaging. Neither does it distinguish victims by age. The economy will return, but a person who dies stays dead. I’m reasonably positive Chef Floyd Cardoz (59) would not appreciate Lt. Gov. Patrick’s message. Neither would CBS Journalist Maria Mercader (54), nor singer Joe Diffie. Likewise, I presume Jeffries Group CFO Peregrine “Peg” Broadbent (56) would have loved a few more years just like the Illinois infant (under a year old).

A March 29 tweet from Trump was different but claimed a similar, yet subtle message.

Because the “Ratings” of my News Conferences etc. are so high, “Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers” according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. “Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.” said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!

If any of you have read my blog posts, I often claim to remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”

“You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.”

Truthfully, part of me wishes that either Trump or Lt. Governor Patrick (TX) would give their ‘message’ to any family having lost a loved to the Coronavirus. I wish Patrick would explain, face-to-face, how that family should be proud that their loved one took it for the team. In the words of Hirschfield, “At least that would be honest.”

On March 27, Dan Patrick published the following tweet. 

“If you encounter any type of fraud or price gouging, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or by email at disaster@leo.gov. You can also contact the @TXAG’s Office here: https://bit.ly/2WMxgA0.”

I called and reported Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was fraudulently posing as a caring politician. “Yeah,” the respondent stated. “You’re not the first.”

In the aftermath of Hurrican Harvey, I was in southern Texas. I worked for several weeks. I will say that when people came to get a hot meal, they’re hungry. They weren’t looking for prayer. Simply giving them a bottle of water and asking them how they are doing provides them an opportunity to talk. And before you know it, you’re hugging people, giving support, and offering something more durable than a blessing.

“Fuck off” is not a spiritual message.

Just prior to summer, my intern informed me he had received an opportunity to interview at Google. Asking for my advice, I told him to, “Go for it.” We went through pro’s and con’s, the fact he may have to ditch his girlfriend should she not find Seattle appealing, and whether he liked Seattle’s Best or Starbucks. (Seems like one on every corner). Inquiring of how to prepare, I told him, “Drink four of your favorite beers in 30 minutes and watch Fantasia backward.” In all seriousness, “There are lots of websites with tons of sample questions out there. Maybe they’ll ask how you would decipher a provider’s ‘Explanation of Benefits (EOB).

An EOB is a health insurance provider statement describing the costs it will cover for the medical care you’ve received. In reality, it’s a ‘swindle sheet.’ I received my EOB (or lack thereof) for February’s tumor surgery this past Saturday. I envision the EOB creator found the most niche way of paraphrasing just how beautiful one’s benefits are while simultaneously informing how much is not covered.

“Greetings, Member. Had you had no insurance, the original cost of this surgery would be over $5 grand. However, since you chose a physician and surgical center under contract, and the fact you chose to check yourself out versus staying overnight, we’ll knock off $2 grand. 

Costs were calculated based upon the full moon cycle during the week your surgery was performed, the associated gravitational pull, multiplied by the total square miles of depleted water in the California basin, then divided by the remaining number of brine shrimp in the artic. In summary, we’re covering half. Therefore, your estimated costs are $1,500.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service. Remember, we believe you’re special, but so are we.”

The exact cost was $1,540, for there was a forty-dollar copay.

The American Bar Association claims healthcare is a human right. Understanding the EOB is not. Having worked in healthcare since 2006, there’s no rhyme or reason for the EOB. The average ‘Joe‘ can’t make sense out of it. The facility would better serve by saying we’re ‘f•••ing you’ for half the bill. ‘Being F’d‘ is something the average ‘Joe‘ understands. Just once I would love a Trump supporter to hand Trump an EOB and ask him to explain it. But here’s the catch, Trump has promised that repeal will end with “a beautiful picture” – a beauty that ends upon receiving the EOB.

Here’s what I wish the hospital said:

“We’re sinking our tentacles into your a••, and we’re going to drain your bank account of every possible dime. And, if that isn’t enough, we’re going to drain the gas from the car used to drive here. We understand you’ll have to push the vehicle upon departure. However, on the positive side, your physical therapy gets off to a great start.”

Next time you receive an EOB, remember that top administrators at U.S. hospitals are paid exceptionally well. CEOs make $400,000 to $500,000 a year, not including benefits (such as stock options). Administrative expenses eat up as much as 25 percent of total hospital expenses we pay (much higher than in other countries). For all the chatter and talk about free healthcare, no single candidate has explained how they will prevent the average ‘Joe‘ from getting tentacled up the a••. Neither GOP, Democrat, Socialist, nor Independent has been able to state how they would turn the good ship ‘Healthcare‘ around.

I’m fortunate. I can pay the bill. Millions can’t. And spiritually speaking, I believe in healthcare reform, but we need a robust framework, not a ninety-second campaign pitch. The average ‘Joe’s‘ of the world demands it.

Because It’s Wednesday

Understanding ‘down days’ has been easy. I ignored them. For the past five or six years, I never understood why I felt great one day while stuck in second the next. Since doctors readily dismissed my symptoms, the only avenue left was ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

Yeah. I get it. The approach wasn’t the best plausible approach, but it was the most effective.

How do you feel today?”
I am feeling slower,” I’d respond.
Any idea why?
Hell, I don’t know. It’s Wednesday.

I’ve written about this before: For close to a decade, pain has been a companion. Legs were stiff as far back as 2010; neck stiffness graced my presence in 2014; neck and shoulder pain announced itself in 2016; and arm spasticity followed in 2019, with on and off twinges of the foot, hand and finger issues. During such times, mental fortitude and daily, a multi-daily dose of pain medications were downed like M&M peanuts in a snack bowl.

As the years drifted by, and while doctors could detect the problem, fortitude and drugs allowed to forget. With them, I was equal. No one knew.

A year ago, I was informed that only two good years remained. “Prognosis is poor,” the report stated. Post-surgery, I thought the surgeon might have bought additional time. Last Friday’s Parkinson’s diagnosis was a shot across the bow, a reminder to accept the frailty, the beauty, and the levity of life.

The tumor was my blessing. Maybe via that and Parkinson’s, I can relearn the opportunities of profound growth and how to access gifts untapped. Maybe in the next year, I get more family photographs, visit Zion and Bryce Canyon, and walk along the Snake River Canyon.

I know there will be some dark days, some scary twists and turns. And I will find comfort in the kindness of others. They will be my angels along the highway – never forgotten. God and Ms. K. will provide strength and support from which I always drew.
Lastly, there’s my internal staff: Fortitude. Always had it, always will.

In whatever you do, I wish everyone health and an appreciation for all that life offers.

If that doesn’t work, blame it on Wednesday.

%d bloggers like this: