The Face of It All

I sit here, in my living room, on the day I should be in Virginia. Why? Because of promises broken less than a week into the planning. Originally, my mother-in-law (Ruth) was supposed to help me with the plane tickets and accommodations. Yet, less than a week after she returned to Virginia, she called and asked if I thought I would be able to find my own way.

Knowing how Ruth is, this usually means that she has things other than being a compassionate, understanding person that she feels is more important. This, along with her selfish ideas on what constitutes a memorial service, spurred me into writing a letter to her minister imploring him to try to get her to see how a memorial is really supposed to be and that the wishes of the dead should be honored, despite one’s own feelings.

Subsequently, Ruth unfriended me because I told her that she needed to show more compassion, something she really does not know the meaning of. Oh, sure, she did send money. But that is not borne of a compassionate heart. That was borne from a view that she had a duty. Compassion sees no duty. Born from real love, compassion simply does without personal desires attached. It understands. It accepts the position of the other. And most of all, it treats all with respect.

It is one of the most important components in Love. It is what exemplifies that you have accepted and follow the truth. And that truth is that your wishes do not matter in the grand scheme of things. There are greater forces at work than you. You are finite. At least this physical shell is. Life itself goes on endlessly. And all life is linked.

But, here I sit. No plane tickets, no way to get to where I should be. Perhaps it is for the best. Maybe the universe is protecting those who are in the wrong from my deep mind. Or maybe something is about to happen that I did not need to be involved in. Either way, their little misguided world is safe. I am safe.

Of course, it is supposed to start storming later and I wouldn’t be able to leave Virginia and land in Omaha. Still, I will remember Kelly my way, the way she was. Not my preconceived notion of what I wanted for her. But then, I never expected her to change. To me, she was perfect the way she was, on the path she was on.

From this point on, I will have to remind myself that to stand in judgment of another is to stand in judgment of myself and to condemn another is to condemn myself. If I bind, so shall I be bound.

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Living With Tinnitus

Imagine hearing a low hum constantly. Even in an empty room where there is complete silence.  This is the lower end of the tinnitus spectrum. A constant, almost unnoticeable hum. That never goes away.

Now imagine what I can only describe as having a jet engine’s high pitched whine in one, the other, or both ears. Or, maybe, a tornado. Although this is not an accurate description, it is as close as I can get.

Now imagine going through this on a daily basis at varying degrees. Most days could be at the low end of the spectrum, but the high end could strike at any moment, caused by any sound…or just the wind blowing in your ear. Or nothing at all. Onset can be heralded by a sudden case of vertigo or even a sudden loss of balance for no apparent reason.

Tinnitus, by definition, is the excessive vibration in the inner ear, causing a buzzing or humming sound that can only be heard by the sufferer. Even definitions cannot define or describe the attacks accurately. These minimally descriptive definitions mislead the majority of people into believing that tinnitus and its effects are “imagined” by the sufferer, even though it is very real and very devastating and debilitating to the one who suffers from it.

Side effects include vertigo, migraines, and temporary (sometimes for hours) deafness. Of course, all of this depends on the severity of the attack.  At the very least, someone speaking to a person suffering from an attack will seem muffled. At the very worst, the person will not be heard. Some attacks can make the sufferer physically ill or double over in pain. One famous sufferer, Vincent Van Gogh,  even cut off his ear and eventually went insane.

Upon hearing that one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, has come forward and admitted that he also suffers from it and is going deaf has caused me to reflect back on my own experience with this maddening problem. It also reminds me what can cause the problem. Yet, mine was not caused by fantastically loud guitars and concerts. Mine was caused by something much more mundane and yet, much more abusive.

When I was five, I had to have fluid drained from my middle ear. When it was through, I had extremely acute hearing. The doctor did warn my parents that I would probably have occasional bouts of tinnitus, but he thought it would clear up after my ears got used to not being full of fluid.He also warned them that there should be no loud noises or there could be the possibility that there could be nerve damage or permanent tinnitus.

So acute that I could hear a mousetrap being dropped five rooms away! My father, thinking himself clever, delighted in waiting until I was nearby, then dropping a mousetrap just to watch me jump because of the loud noise. And, as the doc had warned, I began suffering tinnitus. At first, it was the low  hum. But as my dad continued to persecute me with the traps, the tinnitus began to rise in pitch and severity.

It reached a peak when I was in my teens. I did not know when it would hit or at what decibel I would be enjoying my next bout.  People thought it was weird that I would lose my balance for what they thought was absolutely no reason (one of the reasons I never went pro as a boxer) or would have to stop and wait for “the colors” to go away so I could see. Some couldn’t even understand the connection between my migraines and my “inner ear problem”.

Over nearly 40 years (I am only three years short of the 40 year mark), I have staggered, lost balance, nearly fallen down stairs, winced in pain, had to cover my ears, had to stop for no apparent reason, or sit down for a few minutes simply because I was hit by a sudden barrage of sound that no one else can hear. I have gotten sick to my stomach, had to go lay down, had to brace myself, and had to suffer through migraines that caused me to vomit. I have had more times than I care to count where I had to embarrass myself and ask someone to repeat themselves because the tinnitus had started up and I did not hear a thing they had said.

I can attest that, at its worst, tinnitus is enough to make the one who suffers from it want to commit suicide. And yes, the thought had crossed my mind a few times about chopping off my ear just to find a little quiet. Both were never truly options to me, though. A buzz is bearable enough to stagger through life with and I can handle having that 747 take off in my ear from time to time as well. And though I don’t feel comfortable with asking people to repeat themselves, I will patiently do so as long as they are as patient with me as I am with them.

I was lucky enough for three and a half years, to be relatively free of much of the worst of my tinnitus. While Kelly was alive, my tinnitus had died down to a barely noticeable hum. The migraines and vertigo were almost nonexistent. I had stability and someone who understood my problems and was patient with me.

Now, my tinnitus is back with a vengeance. And I have nothing. No way to keep it at a minimum. If you remember, I told you at the beginning that tinnitus does not need a trigger. silent rooms can shriek louder than noisy ones. The irony is, with tinnitus, one learns that the old adage “silence is deafening” is very true because in silence, the plague that is that infernal hum of tinnitus can grow to a deafening roar.

Cataloguing Pain

I supposed I should give a rundown of my history of pain so some might understand why I am not depressed when I say that I am tired. While depression can cause pain, my pain has been ever-present from early in my life.

1975/76(?): I recently had my mother confess that I’d had a horse step on me while I was still a baby. More precisely, on my chest. My first dance with that beautiful lady known as death, though I knew her not. This is probably the origin of some of the pain I now suffer, though I cannot be sure.

1977/78(?): I nearly drown. My second dance with that wonderful lady called death. Had my mother’s friend not found me when he did, I would have been dead. If he had found me just minutes later, I would not be talking to you

I can also note that between 1975 and 1978, I also suffered from nearly every childhood illness that children are now vaccinated for.

1980: Though I suffered from the chicken pox this point, I also had to have ear surgery to drain fluid. was pushed off the top of a playground slide. had to be carried off the playground. (was later told that I was lucky to be alive.)

1980-present: I suffer from tinnitus and occasional bouts of vertigo brought on by the tinnitus. In some ways, my migraines have also been closely tied to these problems. If you have never suffered from tinnitus, imagine id someone were to install a gadget in your ear that could create inner ear noise that could range from a mildly annoying “distant” buzz to a noise that can only be described as multiple jet engines all running at the same time. At its worst, it can be debilitating and paralyzing. Blinding. The vertigo attached to this happens somewhere near the midpoint of the tinnitus scale. recently, my tinnitus made a resounding comeback, leading to an increase in my migraines.

1983: my sister molested me. destroys my innocence and causes me more problems than she should. She spends her life denying my existence and accusing mom of abuse…despite the fact that she also spends her teen years and young adult life being a “run around Sue” and gaining a rep as an easy lay.

1984/85: I survived a case of massive heat stroke coupled with possible heat exhaustion. I still think that I should have died, and they did almost lose me. From that point on, I have been unable to handle extreme heat. I slap suffer my first bout of frostbite waiting on a school bus.

1985/86-1993: I suffer several subsequent bouts, each worse than the last, of frostbite from having to walk to school in sub-zero temps. I also suffer numerous bouts of “Respiratory Infection” that are also more serious and less fixable with each round. By the end, I am immune to nearly all antibiotics used to treat the “infection”.

1988: A cousin, a distant cousin, almost runs me over.

1992: I went to summer camp. Had a canoe come down across my neck and shoulders after slipping during a portage trip. Should have died, but ended up paralyzed for what seemed to be an eternity (about 15 minutes).

1992/93: had “falling dream” where I hit bottom. Was told that I shouldn’t have survived.

1993: had my own father point a gun at me. had it been working and loaded, I know I would have been dead. His expression said it all.

1994: I am involved in a collision (I rear ended a van) after trying to avoid being hit. note to self: never wear slick bottom shoes while driving.

1995-2001: My first marriage. my first wife attempted, several different times, in several different ways (last being trying to drive me crazy), to kill me.  My health begins its decline when I turn 27. I balloon out to well over 220, nearly die hitchhiking back from Tulsa, and become an outcast for trying to start life over.

1998: I have an accident while working as a landscaper in Alabama, accidentally driving a work truck 40 ft off an 80 ft drop. This is the final straw where my back is concerned. I am unable to stand, sit, or lay down for nearly a week. Note to self: It’s not smart to smoke and drive.

2001: I mess up my feet by wearing worn out shoes on the job, working as a gutter-tech. Nearly fall from a 50 ft scaffolding. nearly fall off a tar-shingle roof where the temps are well over 110 (99 in the shade), and suffer yet another bout of heat exhaustion. All while my soon-to-be-ex is in the mental hospital. In June, I am advised by the psychiatrist (who had noticed my flagging health) that I should get a divorce before my wife takes me down with her. I follow Dr’s orders.

2004: My father tries to beat the shit out of me. He fails. Messes up my thumbs. We both scare the shit out of my niece. Later, I go to Omaha as a tutor for a friend’s son only to be sent packing after the hubby gets jealous. (it had a lot to do with lies being told by a cousin who was also staying with that friend.) I returned and worked briefly for a shipping dock. the pain I had to bear was excruciating, though it never went away all the time I was there.

2006-2011: My second marriage. Another round of having someone trying to kill me. this time, it is through keeping me smoking even though I am trying my damnedest to stop. I almost die from complications with my gallbladder. Again, I have another dance with death. I would have my teeth pulled (probably more a symptom of a bad gallbladder than what the dentist attributed my rotten teeth to) and find out that I was extremely close to having a heart attack. (would take statins, at first, to combat this until they damaged my muscles; then would be put on fish oil tabs). In the latter part of the marriage, I would end up on migraine meds that ended up altering my behavior (and I would wean myself off of them as quick as possible).

2011: Gallbladder attacks! I had been suffering from some “intestinal” symptoms for a few years, but had thought nothing of it. I had started college in 2009, after I had initially split from my second wife. Being the forgiving kind, I took her back under one condition. she would move with me to Council Bluffs so I could be closer to classes. In late 2010, my symptoms became much worse and I began to undergo testing to see what was wrong. In December/January, I had gallbladder surgery. After I woke, I was shown just how “bad” it had been. The doctor explained that he could not tell how long it had been dead. He also told me that he could not see how I was still alive, that people who wait that long usually die. My only reply was that I had been in pain all my life, so I could not always tell what was hurting or how bad. AS stated above, I had another tango with death. That lady must love me.

2012-present: still suffer from many of the side effects that I was told would go away after gallbladder surgery. My health has been in a steady decline, the pain I live in has worsened, and I rarely get enough sleep. I have had occasional chest pains since 2001, but these have gotten more frequent. I can’t always breathe, finding myself gasping at times, and I am concerned. I have also had a nervous shake, more noticeable in my right hand than the left, in my hands that has worsened each time it has appeared. Each time my back has slipped out, the effects have been more devastating (the last time, I was paralyzed and had to be helped to the bed by Kelly…just a couple of weeks before she died), leaving me concerned about what’s going to happen if it goes out and I am alone. (Will I be able to drag myself out of the bathroom? Or will I die in there, unable to call for help?)

I no longer have the strength left to fight. I no longer have the energy. The pain, the physical pain, I have had to go through for the entirety of my life has sapped it all out of me. It isn’t out of depression that I desire an end, it is out of a desperate need for rest. A desperate need for peace from the war I have had to fight my whole life. While Kelly was alive, I had a bit of that peace, a bit of that rest. But not enough.

My tinnitus has come back with a vengeance. Now, it is almost as if I have a whole fucking jet in my head, the high pitched whine often growing to a roar without warning. Vertigo hits with irregularity still, but the migraines-often after a bout of tinnitus-are getting worse. As they do so, I only wish for one thing: an end to it all.

 

 

RTZ…Or should I call it “Take Me Back”?

I know that hanging the name of a project is not very nice. It is still called RTZ…kind of. The main series title is actually Take Me Back, but I have named the pilot episode Return To Zero (RTZ). The reason for this is manifold.

First, the original title was a temporary one until I could accurately name the series. It had never been meant as the permanent title. Of course, as the first episode, it heralds what is supposed to be the premise of the overall series.

Second, the name was supposed to give a clue to what would happen in the series as it progressed. It was not a plea to a heartbroken lover, or a success/failure ratio.

Third, “RTZ” signified that the story would be self-explanatory, giving the reader/viewer an idea that the beginning was a result of some event before it begins. And I hinted at this in the dialogue between Jennie, Bette, and John. I even hinted at it in the narrative and the scene directions.

The main title is a reference to something that is yet to come in the story. This episode merely leads up to the next episode through explaining the beginning of it all. It is a bit personal for me, since I am pouring my recent experiences into this episode, so bear with me.

The Quietness of True Loneliness

Silence is not golden. It is in silence that pain and loneliness grows. It is also not until it is completely silent that you know what you had when you had bustle. Silence is deafening.

Most people do not know what they have when they are surrounded by the bustle of their families or loved ones. They do not stop to appreciate the activity. Or the noise. Or the sights and smells associated with those they love.

It isn’t until they lose someone that they realize fully what they had. And sometimes, they still have no clue. Or they just don’t care.

Many have no real concept of loneliness either. They have never experienced the kind of loneliness that comes from losing a piece of your heart and soul. to them, loneliness is just a feeling you get when you are alone.

They think that one becomes lonely when they get divorced or separated from someone. Or because family abandons them. Or because of something that is far less than truly lonely. Even I thought this way before I married the last time. But this is simply not completely true.

While these instances bring on the sting of loneliness, they are not all encompassing. They are not as poignant. Or as painful.

True loneliness arrives when you are suddenly removed from a love that you were fully immersed in. It is strengthened when a full union is suddenly shattered. It  causes the colors to lose their luster. The sun to lose its brightness.

I don’t expect many to understand what it is like to become truly one with their mate. Most probably won’t. To many, love is–well, love is something it is not. We mistake selfish desire, lust, or a passing fancy for love. Love is also not holding power over anyone.

A true marriage is a complete oneness with your mate. Your minds, Souls, and hearts become one making you almost bodily a single unit. You think alike (for the most part) and tend to react the same way to different outside stimuli. You have a single purpose, a single momentum. You defend one another because you are a part of each other. You support each other because you are a part of each other. neither does without the other.

This isn’t saying that you do not disagree. But, I can tell you that there are no arguments or battles between the two because there is always a drive to meet in the middle. There is always a drive to compromise for the sake of the whole. A full immersion in love allows one to see the true meaning of “becoming one” with their mate. It also challenges the traditional male dominant view because once you are fully immersed, there is no differentiation between male and female. There is simply a single unit.

But when this is brought to an abrupt end, that is when true loneliness begins. The remaining member is only one half of the whole and thus is now left incomplete. It is upon this abrupt end that there is a realization that there can never be another, that this was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that could never be duplicated or even attempted. It is a realization that no other “half” would ever fit and that the half that is now gone was supposed to remain to the end. Or as close to the end as possible.

It is at this point the the silence becomes nearly unbearable. It strengthens the loneliness, builds upon the pain, and makes one realize that they do not want to saddle any other with the pain they now feel. As a rule, this kind of love does not end until both halves are near the end of their lives. For those left behind, they never remarry, even if they live for a long time. For some, though, they realize that the end of their “other half” was a warning that their time is also short.

They are often seen as being crazy, but they are not. Something inside them allows them to just know. And they accept it. Even if others do not.

At the moment, I am left with this indescribable loneliness I speak of. I am left with the same deafening silence. The same unrelenting sorrow. The same realization that time is not on my side.

At the same time, I also know that in a little while, I will be reunited with the one who completed me. In a short time, I will find rest. Soon, I will be able to have peace from my battles. Ad these realizations give me a little joy in my sorrow because I am now weary. I now seek rest and peace. I seek shelter from the storms I have endured.

Questions

I have a serious question. What would you infer from the following:

  1. sudden lapses in judgment
  2. sudden lapses in memory
  3. being tired all the time
  4. pain that is a constant 9.5 (the kind of pain that doesn’t allow one to feel illness pain until it is almost too late)
  5. constant migraines with few moments of ease
  6. still feeling hungry after eating a full meal
  7. an increasing stutter (which has never been a norm)
  8. stomach problems that never seem to go away
  9. a growing sense that something is definitely wrong with you

In the past few years, I have had an increase on many of these, especially memory and judgment lapses. I have also become increasingly tired. My pain, on a daily basis, is at a 9.5 and I nearly always have a migraine. I have recently had a problem with feeling hungry even though I have just gotten done eating, I have begun to stutter more than in the past (I didn’t stutter when I was younger), and it takes very little to make me feel nauseated anymore. The pain has always been there. At least since I was in my teens. And so have the migraines.

All the rest recently started with the sudden appearance of a tremor, only noticeable in my hands periodically, and a gall bladder emergency that led to surgery. many of the symptoms that accompanied the gall bladder problem remain. the tremor has gotten worse, but remains unpredictable and uncontrollable when it hits.  The tiredness, being something I have had since the end of my second marriage, is bearable, but has me concerned.

I have had memory lapses in the past, but none were as dangerous as the one I had before Kelly died. We had been out of coffee for several days and decided to go to town to get a can. During a memory lapse, I drove on the wrong side of the road without realizing it. Now, I find that I am having them more often. Along with the lapses in judgment. I am even finding it hard to form thoughts and put words to ideas..unless it is on paper. I am growing concerned. What have I not been told about my health in the past?