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Monday, August 25, 2014

Stones of Remembrance

'Tis a cliche I know but life, and this most certainly applies to my life...can be an any life that is well lived should be, me thinks. Lately I have been reflecting back on said life....the ups...the downs and all that is in-between. In doing so it occurs to me that there are certain transition points or phases to it. These most often happen on their own accord and in my case it was usually is serious change and often trauma and/or a crisis that instigates and defines these phases.

The best example is when I found sobriety in June of 2006 and then followed that up several years later by becoming a Christian in the winter of 2011. What I have noticed now, much to my joy is that when I experience one of these "Remembrance or Sign-Points" in my life today it seems to be marked by a particular passage of scripture instead of just a major crisis. 

The first and most obvious example to me is how Luke 9:23-25 played such a significant role in my journey toward accepting Christ into my life.

(And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?) Luke 9:23-25
More recently...Joshua 1:9 has played an equally significant part in my transition toward accepting my eventual leg amputation and subsequent life as an amputee. It has made a huge difference in connecting the events happening to me today to the overall Will of God and how I can not only have the courage and perseverance to live through this current adversity but to grow and actually thrive as a Follower of Christ as well.

       "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”      Joshua 1:9      

Scripture.....These "Holy Stepping Stones" have guided me through the torrents of pain/uncertainty and the insidious searing red hot coals of emotional and spiritual chaos. They are now beacons on a dark night, ports of safety in the storm which has become my life of late. Spiritual food I not only now crave but demand for continuous life as a Follower of Christ. Their memory often will mark forever a moment of clarity leading to profound change in me or my life. At times they "only" represent but a brief moment of enlightenment, a twinkle in the Eye of LIFE ITSELF. 

Living all is the good and as hard as I possibly can. And the reason for such a desire to live "hard", to fulfill the cup to it's most FULL? To Honor and GLORIFY the one who brought me here of course. This direction is as clear in my life today as any has ever been. There is NO grey ambiguity or false pretense. 

I no longer accept mediocrity or half measures....and why should I. It is a fact of my life that I got sick and it turns out that this is no ordinary little fact I will lose a portion of my right leg below the knee, at the very least. So what have I got to lose by living to the utmost of my ability, full out with no hesitation to show with certainty why I am here, today, tomorrow and always....and that is to live for HIM.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Intensity of a Hopeful HEART

I have lived life pretty much to the fullest these last 52 years. I've had a vast and broad variety of experiences. From the routine & mundane to the outrageous, exciting and bizarre. I've gone from being shot at in a bar on the Short North End of my home-town, Columbus, Ohio to having the distinct privilege of being named the Godfather of my niece Katie, truly a special honor plus every other type of experience in between. 

But I'd have to say these past 19 months or so take the cake for their sheer madness and emotional upheaval. And honestly that isn't a totally negative me.

Speaking of TRUST, that is an area of my life where the trials and tribulations of recent months have created an amazing change in me in a rather short period of time. Until 5 weeks or so ago I would have to say that I was trapped deeply beneath an avalanche of DEPRESSION related emotion and my attitude and outlook were bordering on suicidal. I was losing HOPE that anything good would result from the catastrophic experience of breaking my leg, having it infected with the infection spreading to bone then blood, getting the ankle fused then having the bone refuse to grow together resulting in the failure of a total non-union surgical result. In addition to the physical pain and difficulty, the endless & crushing medical expenses basically destroyed Kim and I financially. It was and is the single worst series of experiences in my entire life...I never dared to think that we could ever even begin to recover physically, emotionally,  psychologically or spiritually.

Then something deep inside me changed. I don't recall the exact moment and there was no flash of lightening or explosion but the change was sudden and PROFOUND: I suddenly and without hesitation trusted that GOD had a plan for me and that my sole responsibility in this was to soldier on as positively as I possibly could. Hope became a reality again and I started to believe with all my heart that anything was truly possible and that I needed to FIGHT On with all my might...for God was leading the way. Yes, it sounds cliche but frankly my friends...that is exactly how it felt inside.

I have not had a suicidal thought or inclination since that moment. And though nothing about this life, this experience and the very serious life-altering decisions that I must still make within the next 4 weeks is simple or is now obviously POSSIBLE. And I will then move on with my life to live to it's very fullest, first and foremost to honor and glorify GOD, The CREATOR of it all.

Many people continue to ask if I have made the decision to have the right leg removed 6" below the knee or to try another, more intensive and robust Infection Treatment/Fusion Surgery. The honest truth is that if I had to decide today...I would opt for the amputation and get on with my life. Recovery time is a fraction of what the Hardware Removal Surgery, Infection Treatment and finally the second Fusion Surgery would be...about 6 to 12 months (with a working Prosthetic Rt Leg after 2 months) as compared to 18 to 36 MONTHS!

I am not getting any younger and time is beginning to pass me by...I want to LIVE...not just TREAD WATER anymore while I wait for some thing good to happen (which NEVER did!).

Before I sign off here I want to thank EVERYONE involved in my life in any way, shape or form. I would not be here today, moving toward the future without all of the various kinds of support that I have received. I am profoundly GRATEFUL...God Bless all of YOU!

Photo by Kathy Tomson 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This UPDATE is for YOU!!

I  just realized that I should have been recording the days since my original injury because it would have been so much more interesting and dramatic to open these blog entries by writing: "Ankle Fusion/Potential Amputation Update, Day 423..."

Leave it to me of course to assume that simply having the potential to lose my right leg due to injury somehow is not INTERESTING ENOUGH, HaHa.

For those of you who have asked how it's going and want to know if I have made a decision...This Update is for YOU!

All things considered....I am doing pretty darn well. I accept what is happening to me and for the most part I do not sit around feeling sorry for myself. I have found the Amputation Coalition Organization and they have been extremely helpful in providing information and resources to help me make my decision. They even are setting up some meetings with amputees who will share their experience, strength and hope about their amputation. I am in a very good place this early in the game.

I have not made a final decision but honestly, all things considered I am definitely leaning toward removing the leg....6" below the knee.

So that is really all there is to the story at the moment. I have put on a great deal of weight in the last 20 months but I am fearful of changing my diet because I am having so much trouble eating and I am so sick most of the time.

I just really want to get this new stage in my life and start to live again. At the moment, with the knowledge and information available to me right now, amputation seems like by far the best way to make that dream come true...                             

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strangely, The Illusion LIES

The human mind....and in this  specific case this would mean MY human mind in particular...can often play strange tricks on their owner and in this case that would be an understatement to say the least. The challenges and trials inherent in one who is living with a long term, life altering illness are far to numerous to even begin to count. Let us just say that in my nearly 52 years of life & living...I have never come close to the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual hardship and heart-break that I have experienced during this injury and subsequent illness of the last 18 hellish months.

You can even start to believe the foolish notions spinning round in your head.  I know that I can find it difficult at moments to know where reality ends and fantasy begins. 

One area that is not fantasy is the over year long infection that I have been fighting along side the injury, surgery and now subsequent Non-Union of my right ankle. Because of a communication mix-p between the doctor's office and myself, I did not get my refill request in on time for my anti-biotic today. I just took the last dose that I have. Over the past 18 months I have lived in a state of near-terror of  running out of the medicine and now for thew second or third time that night-mare has indeed come to pass.

This is where I am going to challenge my mind to take control over the least until I can get a refill. Typically in this scenario I would feel quite panicky to be faced with the prospect of an entire night and morning without that med. Yet tonight...strangely i have felt completely calm as if I know to the very depths of my soul that my need for this anti-biotic is nothing but an ILLUSION. And I feel almost certain that I can make it through this night without falling so terribly ill.

I most definitely will answer that question for the READER, come morning time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fighting The GOOD FIGHT Begins Right NOW!

I would not consider myself naive when it comes to the reality of this life or living. I have experienced a vast variety of things in my nearly  52 years on the planet...good things, bad things...the surreal and unbelievable, special and not so much. Nothing truly surprises me now or catches me off balance.

And I would honestly say the experiences of the past couple of years fall under that assessment as well. Though I never would have predicted the specifics...broken leg/ankle in a household accident, subsequent infection, multiple (read:9!) follow up surgeries, long term IV and oral Anti-Biotic Treatment and now the  decision making dilemma of a lifetime...I am still not really shocked or unhinged by all that is happening.

But not being thrown for a major loop and freaking out about it doesn't necessarily make it natural or routine to decide to have one's right leg removed...even if it's "JUST" below the knee.

I will say that I have naturally traveled far and wide through the various emotional responses and reactions to difficult and challenging turn of events. Lord knows I have been angry, felt really isolated & lost, knowing only the confusion of the unknown and a boat-load of life and mind altering pain. Yes I have been very open on these pages about my emotional & physical reactions, including the temporary and fleeting desire to end my own life for lack of a realistic solution and the unlikely-hood of a permanent healing.

As the song says: Now "what's a POOR BOY to do?" To use a "surfer-esk" description I would say that it has come the time to just get out there and ride the Big-Ass, F**king wave. It's isn't going away so go and ride the mother....who knows...despite the possibility of major pain/torment, death and/or destruction...I might actually discover that I like it and am good at it.

That's right folks...though I have tried to stay positive and true...there are times that I have failed in that endeavor mightily and slipped into self-pity and feeling sorry for myself. I shall be honest here...considering what's happening, I am NOT going to be too hard on myself for that. Truth is that this situation whether it be "God's Will" or not totally SUCKS and it is not really natural, common or to be "expected". So I am going to continue to cut myself some slack about it.

But the reality is for me that I need to sh*t or get off the freaking pot. Time to acknowledge, confront and then embrace the damn MONKEY On Me Back. I need to begin the acceptance phase...even though I am honestly not yet sure about what I am going to do: Amputate the right leg below the knee or try another Fusion, albeit a much more time consuming, painful and risky procedure then the last attempt.

Either way I am not quitting, shirking my responsibility to live my life fully or dodging reality through the old habits of drug/alcohol abuse. Trust me...the realities of more long term painful recovery or amputation pale in comparison to once again attempting to survive the absolute HORROR of active addiction. God is not ever going to be an option.

I have my Faith and I will let all of you in on a wee little secret...though I have truly been tested to the outer limits of my tolerance and endurance....that once little microscopic sliver of Faith I began with has blown-up into an absolute mountain of it today. 

So the fight begins and I will Freakin' FIGHT...for my life, my sanity, for Kim and lastly....for MYSELF. I have no way of truly knowing if this is just the beginning of more pain and torture or I am embarking on a journey that will ultimately Define and MARK ME for LIFE.

No Matter what....I am more then ready to begin, AGAIN.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Early Morning Meandering

As I sit here this morning, it tis but impossible NOT TO PONDER ALL THAT IS HAPPENING to me right now.  And that is to be expected. I really figured this would be a slam dunk for amputation....ah, it turns out to not be as freaking simple as that :/.  I find myself going back and forth not wanting to make such monumental decision. I keep thinking there should'd more options and much more time. YET the sand runneth ever so quickly from the hour glass of life. In reality I know more then ever that God is present in my life today and though I have questioned why this is happening to me I know there is always a higher purpose. I have a much higher sensitivity to the needs and wants and hurts of others. And I am grateful for that gift of caring and selflessness. Im the better for it for sure.....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Resignation: Not Sure How Quiet....

I suspect that I have mentioned this before in a previous post but it is certainly relevant in light of the recent post: "Cutting To The Chase". Suffering from a serious, long time illness is isolating. Well being faced with the decision on whether one should amputate their right leg below the knee is rather isolating as well.

No one else can really help one make such a decision. Fact is I would probably resent anyone who even presumed to matter how good their intentions were. Only the leg owner can truly decide and even then it is not an easy or simple process. Oh God I never wanted it to get this f-ing far. No shame here folks...I am afraid.

More then anything I just want to close my eyes and have it all just go's a bad....bad dream. I have worked through so many different stages of feelings just trying to accept my situation the way it was. Though deep down I always knew this was a possibility...I never really thought it would happen. I figured we would heal enough hat I would find it acceptable...but it just didn't happen that way, unfortunately.

I will follow this up with more detail but basically I met with the Docs and they determined that without a doubt the ankle is a definite "Non Union"...meaning that it did not fuse I still have an infection. My choices are basically this: I can go through this fusion process all over again and use an even more robust hardware or have it amputated. Some!

This is a terrible blow.....but there it is.....that is what I have to work with so what can one do?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Choking Out Another Goodby

It was indeed another  tough moment....having to say goodbye to my daughter Chelsea and my three grand sons. A real heat breaking, ball~ busting kind of experience.

These goodbyes get more difficult each and every time we do it by the way. I suppose that's natural.....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cutting To The Chase....TRUTH Wins!

In my life today....very few things are more important then TRUTH and The Truth. Getting honest with myself after years of denial, misinformation and out right lying was the critical piece to my eventual recovery from Alcoholism/Addiction. It was not an easy nor pleasant process....there were parts of me that were not very nice or likable looking back on it.

The reason I mention this now is that admitting my mistakes and Identifying areas where I have gotten off the right track are just as important to the quality of my life today as it was in those delicate, chaotic early days of my recovery.

Most readers know that I have been dealing with a serious, life and LIMB threatening illness that is now going on it's second full year in duration. Every aspect of my life: Physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual has been catastrophically impacted way beyond the point of ever totally healing. It has and continues to have scarred me for life.

I know some of these posts here on SSS are not always pleasant but I must remind the Reader that the original and still current rational and reason this blog exists is to promote my own personal healing by providing an outlet for the daily TRUTH of my day to day life to be revealed then shared on these very private and personal pages.

I have written frequently about being pushed to the limit by this ordeal to the point where I will admit that not living anymore had started to sound better at times then the alternative. In this instance there was no real risk that I would actually carry out this plan but My Soul was aching to the core and I could do nothing to stop it.

I began to doubt God then actually accepted the fact that this was his will for me:To hurt and punishing me to the bitter end.

In addition to feeling abandoned or worse...HATED by God, I started to resent my friends and some family members who in my distorted illness influenced way of thinking were coasting through life, traveling, spending money and other then dealing with a sick kid/grand-kid or occasional death of a friend/family member have known no real adversity or pain. While I was financially wiped out (nearly $100,000 worth of OUT OF POCKET medical bills) they ride their motorcycles, go camping, go on cruises and trips out east while I no longer have two nickels to rub together.

They would compound their crime in my mind by suggesting that mere prayer or faith would overcome my malady and pain. It's easy to have faith when you're riding the Gravy-Train every day. Or so I believed....

I fed off the resentment and self-pity...Anger fueling my every thought. This scenario seemed to justify my mistrust and dislike of these Christian HYPOCRITES that i hated and mocked for so long. I was slipping away...heading once again down a tortured path of rage and resentment toward another go at suicide...and who knows...this one may have ended in my death instead of a coma and long-term hospitalization.

And then one of those pesky Hypocrites wrote me a Face-Book message referencing Psalm 18 and how she believed that was relevant to my current ordeal. She continued on about the fact that there was hope and some how through the rage I began to see what was happening to me.

That my Friends is the difference in my life today and my life over 8 years ago...Today I have people in my life who love me enough to step into my world of CHAOS and Madness and directly confront the evil that was devouring me from the inside out.

I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that instead of relying on the old stand by: "Praying" that you see so often on Facebook that she took the risk to wade into the fray and reach and pull me back from the ABYSS. God Bless you M O-S...

Before any one gets upset...I very strongly believe in the power of prayer and appreciate the fact that people all over the world (in my particular case) are praying for me. But like anything else, all of us who believe can get where we don't know what to say to someone and instead of not saying anything at all rely on that old stand by..."Praying" with no other expression of care or concern. 

The problem with that is that no matter how heart felt and sincere that promise of prayer may be...seeing it said over and over again devalues and cheapens the notion of it to some of us who have been ill for a long period of time. It starts to seem like a cliche. This lesson most certainly applies to yours truly as as well as I am guilty of this as much as anyone. I can honestly say it has been a cathartic realization for me too.

In closing I admit that I have learned for myself the danger of resentment and self pity. I do not know when or IF this illness is ever going to go away. But  whether I believe it or not...God is still there and the key is to cling tightly to the promise of HIS great LOVE and our eventual Salvation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Invisible Sun (A Lonely Glimpse into Human Suffering)

Never in my life have I experienced the feeling of utter powerlessness as I have several times in the last few days. For the last 90 minutes or so I hadn't the energy to move from the floor of my bedroom where I had to just stop and lie down because I no longer had the strength to proceed the last 3 feet to my bed. I wanted to get up yet I could not. I recall having the thought: "Is this dying?" And I had no answer because I considered it possible that it just might be....

I cannot keep doing this....clinging desperately to a fantasy of recovery....of HOPE. I'm kidding myself....I am, I know that I am. I repeatedly find myself thinking and saying this. I realize this sounds quite dramatic but I exaggerate NOT...I am far to fatigued right now to find food or or even go to the rest room.

And then a slight uptick in the energy level...just enough to rise, ever so slowly and make my move toward mobility. The hopelessness lessons but never releases it's iron grip on will be a fight to death...I can only cling to the slight possibility that it isn't my own.

I turn my face to the Invisible Sun and pray for the light...the heat, to become the strength to once again...persevere...survive for just one more day.