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Thursday, March 19, 2015


Spinning violently around emotionally should be old hat for me by now but it is not. No matter how one prepares themselves for a tough time, for pain, for the unexpected, for death...etc, it really does not lesson the impact of such trauma. 

I no longer fully feel human. I'm elastic flesh and bone...I am a scientific experiment gone terribly wrong...I am no longer living in the world of others. My life view has compressed and my focus has narrowed toward just surviving each day. That is  all I see, all I feel...ALL I AM. I am an ANIMAL....and I am beginning to feel dangerous.

I don't know "normal"...I have no clue what IT or "pain free" even means and I suspect that it is a colossal lie. Everyone hurts in this world all the time in some particular way: physical, emotional, psychological or spiritually. And No one is truly "Normal". To deny this simple fact is disingenuous....OK, it is LYING a Majestic Lie perpetuated by the CLOWNS who run the show. And frankly lying to oneself IS DANGEROUS because the odds are the PIPER will come to way or another. And the cost is extraordinarily HIGH.One's dignity, Trampled Under-Foot.

I am not saying that this life is wretched...NO, far from it. Beauty soars unchecked but it isn't FREE. Because the storms WILL set in and CHAOS will RULE DIVINE, with all of it's pain, fear and uncertainty running amok. A Dark Calvary that  compels one to fight...or NOT. Play or Quit. Live or DIE.

I choose to LIVE...

Painting: Pablo Picasso "BLUE NUDE"

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spinning Round & Around

March is now here and my amputation was nearly 4 months ago. It is unfortunate but things just do not look very good right now. I found out yesterday that the leg is infected...AGAIN.This was not what we wanted to hear.

The picture above is deceiving because I look like I wish I really felt....pretty good. But being sick for over 2 years now with infection attacking my body almost the entire time is a trial by fire that I cannot even remotely say I was EVER prepared to deal with. It has certainly taken it's toll physically as well as emotionally and psychologically.

 I'm truly living on the fly. I'm totally reliant on FAITH because the reality of the situation is dark and not too pleasant. I cannot dwell on it because if I do it will drag me into a psychological funk that would be hard to shake off. 

So I raise my glance and look above it helps me to keep any perspective at all. Funny I did not react negatively to the news about this latest set-back. Unfortunately I saw it coming.

It is however effecting my ability to trust the Doctors again. Not a good place to be when you begin to doubt the ability and decisions of your physician.

I'm not sure which way to turn at this point but I do know that each day the sun will rise so I'll just keep pushing on...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Addition By...Subtraction

When one is recovering from a major injury/illness, they often have more then enough time to themselves to think about stuff. Way too much time in my case and I'll be the first to admit that sometimes my own brain is often my own worst enemy. Especially when your Doc is cautioning you not to do too much and it has been my habit in the past to do more then I should physically, often setting my recovery back in some ways.

This time around I have been a pretty good patient...I follow his direction and I've done what I'm supposed to do. As a result, I continue to have way too much time to think. I've found the key is to focus those thoughts on positive things and surprise, surprise...there are many aspects of this ordeal that are positive.

One subject I have pondered is the fact that in a way I have benefited by having this time without the use of my right leg.Yep...that's what I is a good thing (in a way) to experience having just one usable leg for awhile. I imagine I'll appreciate the prosthetic a whole lot more this way! 

Like most people, I took for granted my ability to walk.I had to accept the fact that my leg is gone and though I am working and planning to get a prosthetic, the fact is there are no guarantees that I will be able to use one...there are times that prosthetics just do not take. So it was important that I grieve for the loss of my leg and accept this reality. It isn't being's being realistic and prepared.

In doing so I have found that it puts my life into an interesting perspective that I wouldn't have without losing that leg in the first place. So in a real practical way, I have gained losing a leg.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Staring Into The SHADOWS...Looking For Light

Home again after another week-long stint in the hospital and I admit that I am not really sure how I feel about all of this. The feelings change like sand shifting in the wind. In a way...this latest hospitalization was different then the other recent trips to the land of Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant. 

I actually went in not because I was sick or something had gone awry, like all the other I chose to go have a skin graft to the end of my stump. This visit was a major step in the quest to get into a prosthetic and walk again.

I have learned through hard life experience not to get too up or too down about stuff....especially when recovering from a major injury/illness like mine. Of course that is much easier said then done. But things can change so drastically and so quickly that one must hold back to a degree to protect oneself. That is not to say that I am not excited about finally making some progress here because I am. This is certainly a step in the right direction and I am beginning to feel more hopeful about the future.

It has been a fight at times to see the brighter side of an amputation and multiple infections but to survive one must search for what is often only a sliver of light and hold on tight when you discover it. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's all Quite Hilarious...Except When you're Crying.

Fighter....I am a Fighter, I FIGHT! Isn't that so? I should hang on, I should continue the fight...RIGHT!?

Quite frankly that is what this life is all about...fighting. Fighting for what you believe in, fighting to be one's best, fighting to divide and conquer, fighting one's way to the top, fighting for your rights....hell, some even fight for their right to die.

After my suicide attempt in 2006 and subsequent ongoing recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. And the daily battle in my head and my heart against the demonic nightmare of sexual assault as a young boy...that I realized that the word FIGHT had taken on an entirely new meaning for me.I learned that staying in the fight, as it were was no cliche, it wasn't a joke.

I figured out then and there that one must persevere, push on, hang together and fight whatever enemy we face at that moment: Be it illness, oppression or even those once forbidden memories that haunt us until the day we die..

Now I am fighting a completely different kind of fight...I am now fighting an unforgiving illness that to date has already cost me two years of my life, every dollar and asset I ever owned and right leg, below the knee.

It seems from my perspective that this nightmare shall never end. It was then I realized that I am no longer Thom, no longer the person I always thought I was...nope now I am simply a BKA (Below the Knee Amputation). I'll own that title from now on...with pride and determination.

And considering all I have been through and witnessed with the suicide attempt, subsequent coma and drug/alcohol is this latest fight, believe it or not that frightens me the most...It frightens me to my very core of my being.

I truly know the meaning of powerlessness...of having NO control over the things that are killing me from the inside out. It would be easy, I could see now for a person who suffers so to give surrender to quit. I would be less then honest if I said those thoughts had not entered my mind from time to time.

But I cannot, will not EVER give in. Why, you ask, why not just float downstream into a drug-laced oblivion and let the madness of disease eat me alive? Isn't that the natural way of things: We are BORN/Then we DIE.

Because their were two people in my life, both woman who set the bar so high when it came to fighting their illness (in both cases cancer) with such ferocity, dignity and fervor that I cold never soil my memories of them and our friendships but not fighting back against my own medical monsters.

Christy was just 24 when she died back in the mid 1990's, after several lengthy battles with Cancer. She was my friend and I will never forget those days...the who notion of her dying was so incredibly impossible at the time. Yet die she did. We just could not accept that she was gone from our world.

 The other woman is A*****. Odlly enough I have never seen nor met her in person and probably never will. She is still very much alive and fighting her war against this evil and unforgiving pestilence called Cancer. We met through a mutual FaceBook Friend. I was drawn by her passion, her dignity and absolute positive determination in the face of such terrible odds as her disease progresses. I witness this only through Facebook posts, her own and when she is physically unable,those of her friends. Even as a detached witness...her response to her long, difficult fight humbles me to the very depths of my soul.

It is her determination that has led me to this place where I reside today and continues to educate and inspire me to fight on with humor, dignity and good grace. Certainly if she can maintain her love of life...her joy and sense of humor, then I certainly can as well?

Photos:Kathy Tomson

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fighting the FIGHT...of My Lifetime.

Yea, Yea...sorry to disappoint all of you who were just beginning to think that you wouldn't have to read any more crap from me on Shell Shock Serenade, well I'm still alive....Not necessarily kicking but kind of hopping around a bit like a human Pogo-stick!

I'll be honest, these last 2 months since my amputation have been very rough. Infection has reared it's ugly head again and I have spent nearly 20 additional days in the hospital fighting to save what I have left of my right leg below the knee. The pic below shows the intital affect of the infection.

So far we have been successful but it has not been easy. It is hard for me to spend time on my computer so these posts will be brief. I'll try to fill in more detail in future entries. 

But I am home now after spending 8 days in the hospital this last time and we are hopeful that things are getting better. K works on taking care of me around the clock basically and our life is pretty hard at the moment since she was laid off. Finding money for medication co-pays is hard so healing is made more complex when you don't have your Anti-Biotic on time. The intense pain doesn't help the situation either.

Injuries/illness I have found, isolate a person in a way that they feel alienated from their friends, family and society as a whole. And I am not talking about people not calling or visiting. Remember the old saying: "alone in a crowd?" That is the kind of feeling I am talking about. It is the disability itself that isolates a person and one can get resentful of folks who are perceived to be "normal". 

It's easy to say you're praying for someone, I say or write it all the time and really mean it. But at times, when everyone is always repeating it, well it can lose some of its meaning. Then I realize it is really up to me to change all that. I alone have the ability to not feel sorry for myself and understand that those folks can't really do anything else. They are helpless to change what is happening to me no matter how much they would like to. Only then can a person appreciate that it is just their way of showing that they care. And I am extremely grateful for them and their thoughts/prayers!

This is a delicate emotional dance we do as people recovering from illness/injuries. Especially when we are constantly running into road-blocks to that recovery and it begins to look like we shall never get better. People often lose hope at times like these and kill themselves just because they cannot see beyond their own pain & suffering. That is why it is critical to stay connected to God and those people who love & care about you.....that is what often works for me.

Don't get me wrong....I still hurt, I am still lonely and confused at times but deep down I know that I MUST LIVE and keep pushing matter what. 

I would not survive this fight without K-Sue...she is my EVERYTHING. Words cannot express the depth of my feeling and gratitude honey for all you do and all that you are...I Love you Babe! has to force themselves to look at the positives: We are home, we have each other and our life together, no matter how difficult we shall move on...and the world, believe it or not....WILL TURN! 

I've got these 3 beautiful grandsons who pull me out of my funk every time I hear their voices or see their pics. They live in SC and I don't often get to see them...certainly not everyday like I would desire. But their existence in the world carries me through days when I cannot fathom living another second of such pain & heartache.

I will try and update Shell Shock when I can. Thanks to ALL of you who have contacted me, prayed and pulled for me...I cannot do this alone. I need my fellow soldiers in this battle and I am so grateful that you are all there for me....T

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8 Days & Counting

Amputated leg update here. We have now been in the hospital for over 8 days working on Day #9. These have not been easy days...NO, not by a long shot.

I have had 3 surgeries in that time period. The pain has been incredible. I am not in a position to go on and hurts too much to write.

We have a Wound Vac, which we will where at home with a home nurse too care for me IF the VAC is approved by Medicare. Huge If Man....if any of you have worked with Medicare before getting so called "experimental" devices approved for home then you know what I mean.

Sorry I cannot hang around longer but I am played out. Until we meet again.....T

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Waiting & HEAL

Well hello my Shell Shocked Friends, I'm just checking in with a brief update on my recovery from right leg amputation surgery. Y'all getting sick of hearing about it yet, haha?!

It is hard to sit right now and frankly I am not supposed to. It's quite painful as well. I want to let everyone know how I am but I will refrain from sending the raw pics of the's nasty.

And right now it is exceptionally bad. We found out today that I have a a rather large, infected Hematoma on the outer-side of the stump. It is buried deep in the leg and very hard to get to. Doc E basically did an impromptu office surgery, taking out staples, irrigating and digging out the infected mass. Not fun.

When the first question out of Docs mouth is: "Did you double up on the pain meds before you came"? You know you're in deep dodo....especially considering I hadn't taken ANY Pain meds! 

So we are back on Anti-Biotic and K has to clean this sucker out and pack the wound, then wrap it TWICE each day. Not Fun Folks!

So I am Hanging Tough and frankly I am more determined then ever to kick the hell out of this infection and get walking ASAP. 

Be back around soon, love Y'all!

Painting By Picasso

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ready & Willing

I cannot believe it, I am freaking HOME! And I feel less bombed out, less sick and messed up then after any of the other major surgeries I have had at day #5. Now the pain is way more concentrated and INTENSE (and they say it's normal and expected for awhile) But what can you expect after having your leg chopped off! 

Thanks to the magnificent Docs Etrl & Gorman and the wonderful staff at BMH, you totally ROCK! These are incredibly gifted and very special men, I owe my life to them. 

And to my friends and family, thank you so very much for the thoughts, well wishes and folks are the best!

K and I are settled in and I am getting used to life as an amputee. We are looking at about 6 weeks until we get fitted with the first prosthetic.

I am ready to get on with life...TOMORROW. Tonight I am exhausted and ready for bed...good night all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Other Side of SANITY

The time is drawing near that I can literally feel FATE breathing hard on the back of my neck. The unthinkable, undo-able, the beyond consideration...has become cold, calculating reality and the intentional design of tomorrow's surgical Tea Party at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

What a flowery bunch of literary BULLSHIT that just was. TRUTH IS I am having my right leg cut off about 6" below my knee and  I feel like I have dropped off the edge of the sanity cliff into the Twilight Zone. And I am just fortunate enough to have dragged K-sue with me. And not only is she not kicking and screaming...she actually seems USED to this MADNESS....what a lucky little sucker I am, eh?!

We have been down this path so frequently in the past that we actually have an unspoken game-plan we use to help us prepare for what may turn out to be a rather lengthy stay in Hospital, nearly an 80 minute drive from our home.

I just re-read what I have just written and my initial reaction is I wish I felt half as confident and together as I make it all sound. Truth is that I'm spinning cartwheels at 10,000 MPH in my brain and my heart feels permanently lodged in the back of my throat. 

In some strange, inexplicable way this surgery that always seemed impossible to me is really going to happen. I will walk through a door to the hospital tomorrow on two legs and will leave one there forever when I depart a few days later. That is if Doc E shoots down my morbid obsessive desire to have the bones preserved so that I can bring them home with me for permanent display. And Yea...I'm pretty much serious about it and I have already been told countless times how freaking sick that idea is. I suppose that in some way or another, that is why I like it. Yet I am seriously doubtful it will actually happen so let's not waste any more minutes on the subject for TIME, it seems is getting short.

And that is no joke, my friends. For some time there has been this invisible Hour-Glass that I am distinctly aware of running short of sand. There has been an unspoken, undefined urgency to everything I do.I am not sure why but it is as if there truly is a real possibility that the curtain, as it were could forever close on this particular story....The Story of MY LIFE.

I am not trying to be morbid here and I am not trolling for sympathy. I think it is perfectly natural and for the most part healthy that one would consider their own mortality when having such a serious operation. Even though it 'tis one of the oldest know surgical procedures performed by MAN...the amputation of a limb no longer able to do it's duty.

All in all I am as prepared as I can be. Physically I have gotten as healthy as I physically can. Emotionally and Psychologically I am ready and fully understand and accept what is going to happen to me tomorrow. And Spiritually I know I am prepared to face Fear Itself and I am not and will Never Ever be Alone.

Thank you Readers of Shell Shock Serenade for letting me blow off a wee bit of emotional steam these last twenty minutes or so as I embrace the Folly of written self-expression in an attempt to whittle away a few minutes time keeping my mind and hands occupied.

So long for a few days and we shall see you all when we meet agin on the other side of SANITY.