Tag Archive: Living Christ


Throughout my years of wandering the hospital as an unknown IT guy, elders would strike up conversations. In nearly identical ways, each lived with loss and disability, yet they remain undefined by them. Almost to a person, they awoke each morning, serenaded the day, ate breakfast, and set out to seize the day or ‘get in trouble’ as one nurse phrased it. Sure, their knees hurt, and some couldn’t perform exercises like they used to. But, old age did not hit them suddenly. Instead, they got used to it, one day at a time. 

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So, you might ask, “What the hell happened to you?” It’s a fair question. Yes, I know. Disappearing for 28 days is not something friends do to friends. Not even a peep. Honestly, I could have said, “Damn those extra shifts at the office.” Or, “Hey, I tripped down a set of stairs and wrecked my knee while attempting to avoid the leopard sleeping on the first floor.” Great story. Not true. I could have stated that I volunteered in some exotic land, assisting clinicians battling COVID. Another great story. All fiction. Instead, my excuse comes down to something easily stated but damn hard to combat: Brain Fog.

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Last Guy in the Room

It’s been 18 months since we last met, but Ms. J. (to whom I wrote many letters, search ‘Dear Ms. J.’ should you care to read) decided several weeks ago that we needed to ‘get together.’ Historically, she’s always set the date, then changes the date, followed by a final cancellation. Two weeks ago, we agreed to meet February 21. Claiming a client desperately needed her, Ms. J. canceled last Tuesday and rescheduled for February 23. And true to form last Thursday, claiming another business opportunity, she withdrew from the rescheduled February 23 dinner. “Can you find a time that’s convenient for us both?” she requested. I said I would, but never did, nor will. Yeah, I get it. I do. It’s not that she doesn’t want to spend time with me. Instead, when one is dying, even a prolonged death, the dying is the last person in the room you want to be with. And, suddenly, when something else arises in the ‘living’ (i.e., the ‘living world’), you no longer need to be with the last person in the room.

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So, I had my first cancer screen test. One was PSA, and the other was CEA. PSA (a Prostate-specific antigen) is made by the prostate and is usually found in semen, with a small amount also detected in the blood. CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) is a protein usually found in high levels of colorectal cancer patients. Most men without prostate cancer have PSA levels under four ng/mL. CEA is generally one or lower.

My PSA was .65 (should be less than <4 ng/mL) and the CEA was 1.0 (should be less than <2.5 ng/mL) “We don’t believe the problem you are experiencing (the improper manufacturing of red blood cells) is likely to be either colorectal cancer or prostate cancer,” the doctor informed. “So, something else is causing your problem. That problem might be multiple myeloma, but we’ll need to perform some further testing.”

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Fun to Find Out

My mother said, “Skip visited last night. (Skip died on August 30th last year.) I had gotten into bed and was ready to fall asleep when I felt his familiar tug. I knew it was Skip. I was so happy he visited. Strange though, there was a couple with him. I asked the couple what they were doing with Skip (implying Skip is her pet). They replied, ‘Skip was available. So, we adopted him.'”

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A 38-year-old man who needs a kidney transplant to survive refuses the required COVID-19 vaccination. The man stated that he was ‘born free’ and would ‘die free.’ Likewise, a 31-year-old Boston father-of-two with a third on the way needs a new heart. He also refuses the vaccine, indicating that it’s his body and his choice. According to news reports, both men continue to receive medical care but are no longer eligible for transplant surgery. A Go Fund Me campaign was initiated for the first, promoting the decision as a fight against tyranny. As a person who is dying, I feel for both men. As a patient though, when it comes to ‘death,’ there is no ‘born-free,’ ‘die free’ mentality. There’s just death.

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Getting Through It

If one has cancer, anemia is a common side effect (or cancer treatment). As a result, your body’s level of red blood cells dips below average, you don’t have enough red blood cells, and your body cannot effectively circulate oxygen. After another $4,000 of blood tests, my body can’t either create enough red blood cells or destroys them.

Feeling like a fancy geologist, the ‘anemic period’ (i.e., my anemia) was first noticed after blood labs in October 2021. (Of course, no one called to discuss the results or recommend treatment. So, I was left being proactive.) After research, I immediately started taking iron tablets. In January (after informing the clinicians they missed the anemia), the second round of tests showed improvement (likely from the iron supplements). But again, no follow-through.

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God Will Find You

“So, we have a couple of hours. What’s your story?” asked the nurse bending over and connecting the radioactive die to enhance the imaging. 

“Well, I started in the military to be one thing, and now I’m here, doing something completely different.”

“Not that story,” she muttered.

“Huh?”

“I don’t want to hear about the job you dreamed of and the job you are now. I want to hear about people. I want to hear about what made you who you are today? Give it to me straight.”

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The patient has to be proactive. May are not. Need an example? when the doctor seemed ready to breeze past initial blood results showing normal white blood cell counts, but red blood cells suddenly below normal, I forced her to opine. “Oh,” she mumbled while looking at the computer. “These results are way out whack. We need to run more through some more blood tests. I need to see if your results are iron-deficient anemia or something else. I don’t believe you have colon cancer, for the blood results are right for Colon Cancer. So, an Iron+TBIC+Ferritin blood test will be the first test.”Proactivity ensured doctors did not miss critical information, but I am unsure what ‘not right means.’

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My body is tired of being alive. My body, mind you, is not dying yet. It’s just tired. Of all the daily aches and pains and the seemingly few restful flu periods this past year, my body is saying, “This sucks.” A May 2021 NPR article noted the irony of living in a pandemic, “If your brain feels foggy and you’re tired all the time, you’re not alone.” A moment of reflection produced, ‘Good. Now I have an excuse.’ I never put a great deal of weight into courage and bravery. Hell, most are clueless about what I am going through. Daily battles of pain, excessive blood loss with every bowel movement, hip, lower back, and knee pain seem to be my ever-present companions. I don’t care about being remembered as a courageous person. I don’t. There’s just an incredible emotional and physical toll in just getting up and heading off to work at this point in life.

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