Saturday, December 17, 2016

Time, Who Cares?

Everyday I think of my past, what I can remember. Age, getting old, is by far the impetus for such incessant remembering. The journey from one time, youth, to another time, now, is littered with sign posts. Some were heeded, others obviously not. Now, retrospectively, I can analyze choices made, and the ramifications which occurred. Which brings me to regret. I have to admit, I have many regrets, but what, if any, role do they play in my everyday life. No role whatsoever I say. Sitting here, at this computer, writing what I think, is a blessing. A blessing, because I made a wrong choice, or many wrong choices, long ago? Maybe, a decision which in turn led me to these words. So should I regret that, as a wrong turn somewhere in the past. No. Value is defined in one sense, the quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable. Now able to express myself, is most desirable, therefore has a great deal of value for me. Hence the journey of life, following or avoiding sign posts, zigging and zagging whimsically, or despairingly, is defined by the desire of that moment. All valuable in the end.
     It's the Christmas season. When I think of seasons, I think of Nature's seasons, or a baseball season, in other words a lengthy period of time. The Christmas season has become, or maybe it always was, much too long. But what is intrinsically desirable (valuable) about Christmas is the convergence of family and friends. I like Christmas movies. Movies that depict grown children returning to their family homes. The notion of wallowing in familiar sights and aromas. Seeing a bedroom untouched by time, or a dad snug in a worn chair watching football, a mom stirring a holiday tradition in a large bowl, siblings arriving with presents and smiles, is what we anticipate and desire. The value of the season.
into the sunset I go
     Sentimental. I'm sentimental for memories and experiences in the future. A regret, of course. I'd love to witness my grandchildren returning to their childhood homes as adults. When I visit my son's homes, I see the incubation, the embryonic stages of holiday traditions. It warms my heart, simply because they are extensions of our traditions, desires, values and they will nurture and augment them for posterity. As I slip and slide off this mortal coil, I'm blessed with family, sentiment, regrets, extremely valuable. I guess I'm valuable!
the future I'll miss

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hep C Add I'm adding this link to HEPMAG.COM, because it's the edited version for publication, and it has the answers to the survey questions. I like those and think they should be included.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fog City

A life ride

I noticed a hardness in my midsection. I didn’t worry because I assumed it would go away. A few weeks passed and the condition seemed slightly worse. I decided to go to the doctor. It had been awhile since my last physical, so my visit would provide a proper overview. After I explained my concern, my doctor conducted his brief examination. To my surprise, he asked if I’d experienced intravenous drug use. I said yes, some 35 years earlier, why? My liver was enlarged and blood work was immediately ordered. Boom! I had Hepatitis C and some cirrhosis.
Shock! How could this be? I knew but still couldn’t believe it. My mind reeled. There wasn’t a cure. My liver would deteriorate until it no longer functioned, and I would die. This thought wracked my mind. I was tormented by the notion of my youthful indiscretions, stupidity and arrogance. The anger and futility of not knowing until it was too late, haunted me. Why would a virus wait 35 years to raise its ugly head. Certainly this was a cruel and unusual punishment for such a minor infraction.
Hmmm…resilience, courage, sense of humor! Good judgement comes from experience… experience comes from bad judgement.
I look in the mirror. I shudder to think a disease is working overtime to kill me. I look so normal and vibrant. I feel cheated, cheated out of a good portion of my life. I didn’t do anything wrong. I feel like I’m on death row, for a crime I didn’t commit. Worry!
Time passes. More tests. Explanations about treatment. Wait!
How will it come this death? I only hope suddenly and unexpected. But I dare say that probably won’t be the case. Yet, I don’t want to linger, feeble, with staring eyes reminding me of what I’ll miss. Dying is fearful, but paradoxically has a calming affect. Simply put, all my other incidental manias and anxieties have been relegated trivial.
Never discount prayer. I invoke the Prayer of St. Francis: grant that I may not so much seek to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving, that I receive, and it is in dying, that I’m born to eternal life.
The night time is the worse. Sleep comes grudgingly. I think of the death process. The blood flow dammed in the liver, nutrients never reaching their destination. Toxins build and spread, I turn yellow. Sleep!
Daily life goes on. Family obligations and social functions, all provide necessary distractions from my self examination. Never the less it continues. I think of the books I haven’t read, and the ideas I haven’t said. All the unseen components which are me, and I’m saddened.
Now begins the treatment. Interferon and Ribavirin. Pills and injections, constantly for a full year, with a success rate of maybe 30%. Needless to say the side affects were significant. The earlier mental anguish, was replaced or expanded by pharmaceutical induced depression, fatigue, nausea, anemia and all manner of grumpiness. Denying depression and moodiness, when questioned by loving family members, became difficult. Trying to act normal or enthusiastic about others, when I didn’t want to be bothered, was a concern. At any rate, everyone weathered the storm, including me. Unfortunately, the first blood test after completion of treatment showed high levels of the virus. So it was all for nought.
I was glad it was over. My attitude changed. I figured the slow pace of the virus would still allow me a relatively long life. I rid my psyche of negativity, and focused on all that’s positive. Grandkids. Exercise. Sons. Dear Wife. Extended Family. Nature. Goodness. Mindfulness. Humor. and the list goes on! I decided to get on with it, and I did. Although, I did keep abreast of what was happening with Hep C trials. I knew companies were close, and FDA approval was all that was necessary for new drugs. I lived my life like nothing was the matter. Lo and behold, as 2014 drew to a close, Harvoni came on the market. It was exciting because the treatment was only three months, one pill a day. The success rate was nearly 100%. I believe I was one of the early recipients. I was skeptical of course. But three months after completion, the benchmark, the virus was gone, kaput, undetectable, cured!
I was sixty years old when this roller coaster ride began. My wife and I raised three sons and they have given me four grandchildren. I worked all my life. Reminiscing about the random chaos of the late sixties and early seventies, and how I successfully survived, gives me peace of mind. Now at sixty eight, another bout won, I’m pleased to witness my progeny, and proclaim, Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fog City

For some reason my attention span, my due diligence, my ability to concentrate, have been under attack. My will power has mysteriously abandoned me. I've done some soul searching, and analyzing daily habits or lack of, and have come to the conclusion, social media and it's addicting capacity, is the very culprit. I've been spending unnecessary amounts of time wandering in cyber space. For what? Not very much indeed. A lot of trivia, some useful, most not. An overwhelming amount of depressing politics, and entertainment news that I can't even relate to. I need to step back, push away, set down the iPhone, and go to the book store for long delayed purchases, and write, here.

50 years! A long time right? I look around and one social phenomenon trending for quite awhile now, is tattoo art, or ink. The reason I've pondered ink, is I've witnessed the evolution, or devolution, of this form of personal statement. Which I find, certainly from a distance, indecipherable, but sometimes attractive. Why would I care, well I have a tattoo. It is a daily reminder of a time etched in my memory. A time of rebellion, a time of stress, a time of upheaval, a time of aloneness, experiencing the rawness of life. A time of actions without regard for consequences, and there were many. One such reckless act was drinking beer as a teenager, in a car full of buddies, riding around at night, trying hopelessly to impress each other. Well it seems we were impressing a police cruiser, who happened to be following us. As we turned a corner, the only recourse was to hurl a six pack of beer out the window. Needless to say that ploy didn't save us from detection, as the cops saw what happened, and immediately flashed their lights, and hit the siren, pulling us over. Busted! Well this was the first step in getting a tattoo.

Naturally I was arrested, detained and charged with possession of alcohol as a minor. I was 17, a senior in high school, but had, I thought undeservedly, in the eyes and attitudes of the authority, a reputation as a juvenile delinquent. Needless to say I was made an example, to deter other potential delinquents, and received the rather harsh sentence, of 90 days in the county jail. One education was ending and another was beginning. The finality of a jail cell door clanging shut, requires an immediate mental adjustment. At 17 I learned stoicism and silence were tools needed to guard against chaos. I settled in and watched. After some time, a gregarious character approached and asked if I wanted a tattoo. I was aware, jail and the military were the only places tattoos were accepted and encouraged. I asked questions about the method, and he told me it was simple enough. Wrap a wad of thread around the point of needle, and dip it in a small bottle of India ink. He would then dab the needle point into my arm repeatedly. Time consuming for sure, but we had plenty of that.

What should it be? I didn't know, but common in jail houses were the usual: mom, a girl friend's name, born to lose, different numbers, hearts, assorted simplistic ink, vacant of any intellectual depth. Since I was at rock bottom and didn't give damn, I chose born to lose. And since marijuana or refer madness, was associated with outcasts and delinquents, the number 13 was added. You see M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Jail house mentality at it's finest. So I sat there day after day, while he poked at my arm. I felt I was sitting for a portrait. Only my tattoo would last longer.  Do I regret it, sure, it's one of many regrets. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, who really cares. On the balance sheet of life I've gained far more than I ever lost.