Cool Stuff

Monday, September 30, 2013

No Denial!

Cool damp and quite FOGGY is the early morning weather forecast for Iyopawa Island this morning....temps around 50 and slowly rising with a high today expected around 72 degrees. It is most certainly a typical early Fall day for these parts.

Other then meeting a couple of buddies at 8:30a for coffee across the island, today is free and clear of commitments. I've been thinking a great deal about the upcoming surgery I have scheduled for the 23rd of this month. I want to be prepared spiritually, psychologically, physically and emotionally to the very best of my ability.

That all starts with the spiritual, in my humble opinion. I have discovered over the years if there is a spiritual balance in my life, the the rest of the stuff tends to fall in line after that.   

I believe I am as ready as I'll ever be....I'm at peace with the decision to operate and with the understanding that there might not be enough solid bone for the surgery to succeed there fore requiring the amputation of the right lower leg below the knee.

It's a bit odd but there are several people that are family or close friends who absolutely don't like for me to even discuss this possibility. What they do not understand is that I HAVE to be able to talk about it. It is the only way I can make the decision and be  a peace  with it as well.

It would seem like a form of denial to me not to acknowledge it. It really is an easy choice...I cannot live with the ankle/leg the way it is so if the fusion doesn't work or isn't feasible....I have no real choice but to have it removed then move on with my life...and if that happens then that is exactly what I will do.    

Photo: K. Tomson                                                

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's UP...DOC??!!

It has been almost a week since I had the last of the tests done to verify that I am clear me of the infection and to get a most recent C/T Scan of the Tibia injury so the Doc can know what's going on in there. But I still have not heard anything back about the results and scheduling the surgery so tomorrow I will need to call them and find out what's up for myself.

Needless to say that after dealing with the original ankle injury/surgery and subsequent infection since early March of this year, (That's 6 FREAKIN" months folks!!) I am more then impatient and I want answers and results. And NO I do not think that is asking too's been 6 f***ing months already...c'mon!

The truly odd and funny thing is in reality part of me really doesn't want to get on with it because I am fearful about the outcome. Even if everything thing goes exactly as planned it is going to be extremely difficult, time consuming and painful for a really long, long time. 

Plus I need to give the Doc permission to remove my right leg 6" below my knee if he get's in there and finds that it is much worse then we expect and realistically that could happen. So I have to feel comfortable with that decision or we will have to go through the entire surgical and decision making process all over again and I do not want to go there...PERIOD!

I have to admit I do NOT want to lose my that may not surprise anyone but in some ways this whole thing would be much easier, less painful and much shorter in duration if I just chose amputation out-right from the very beginning. But in my heart I am just NOT there. I am OK making the decision to take it of if once he is in there he sees that it is such a freaking MESS that amputation is the ONLY reasonable choice. But I am not ready to go there if it looks like we might be able to make a Fusion work.

So Tomorrow I'll dig deep and call for the details. Until then my FRIENDS!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Manning Boys
I watched an excellent documentary on ESPN tonight called "The Book of Manning". I highly recommend was a fantastic look at how tragedy in the form of a Father's suicide motivated another father (Archie Manning) to cherish his family and in particular his 3 children (all boys) before all things but the Lord. And he does that through good times and bad.

I just appreciated seeing such a well done movie about family....

Always on My Mind & In My Heart!

As much as I feel for my two (soon to be 3!) Grandsons...I still struggle to put into words exactly what those amazing little boys truly mean to me...their Maternal Grandfather.

I don't mention it much because frankly there is not a great deal I can really do about it at this time but being away from my daughter Chelsea and those two adorable little boys (They live in Easley, SC, near Greenville) has been terribly difficult for me. I'm not the type to smother my children as adults...they have their own lives and I totally respect fact I am quite proud of both Chelsea and her younger brother, Ian.

But as I have gotten older I appreciate things so much more and my family is at the absolute TOP of the list of those things I really value and cherish.

I don't have too much more to say about it this morning, mainly because it is an extremely emotional subject and I don't want to cry (something that is happening with more frequency these days thanks to my injuries and upcoming treatment through surgery). But since I had really been thinking about Mason (on the right in the photo above) & Maddox this morning I thought that was a perfectly good reason to write about them....So I did!

Lot's of love to Chelsea, Maddox and Mr Mason from your dad and Grandpa!

Monday, September 23, 2013

RATS, TV The Great War and That Damn Black DOG (RE-POST From 19 November, 2011)

I am choosing to re-post this blog entry from November of 2011 because I am having issues with these type of dreams again. I am always surprised that when I write posts such as this one that no one ever comments. The idea of reincarnation is odd in our society and controversial so i expected feedback....and mostly NEGATIVE feedback to boot. But it never came to past. 

So here we go with a post I have always been proud of and I still am so here we go AGAIN!

One never gets used to the shellfire. The indescribable fury of sound and air pressure collapses ones memory to milliseconds...your life measured by...luck. You're standing there...then you're not. You'e just turned to vapor...a whisper of blood mist on the wind.

Eleven days now with no relief...due mainly to the incessant rain here in the Salient and the non-stop shell-fire on all key transport routes in and out of Ypres.  We are isolated in the front fact, we probably are safer from the shellfire here in the front-line then the transport men on the roads and reserve trenches trying to bring in daily supplies and reinforcement.

Fritz is in a trench line merely yards away at certain points along the line...we can literally smell the German troops manning the front line's impossible to wash up here.I imagine they can smell us as well...

Because of the proximity to the enemy, the non-stop shellfire and the ceaseless rain, it is all we can do to get the wounded out and to the reserve trenches to get medical treatment...we cannot move the dead out of the we live with literally stacks of corpses now too and the corpses attract the rats. 

I only slept for 45 minutes last night because of those rats. Their incessant feeding on the corpses keeps me awake as the scurry to and fro. The night night was surprisingly free of shell-fire for the first time in quite awhile.

You see the biggest issue with me now is the rats...I have to now leave the TV on at night because if I don't it's pitch dark and I'm convinced that there are RATS all around me...all OVER me.

Dear reader...for many years BEFORE I found recovery these were how I spent my nights...caught in a time-warp between my current reality and what I came to believe were windows in time of a previous life lived and lost as a British Soldier during the Great War on the Western Front. I have not had any Great War dreams in awhile and the rat dreams of the last week or so have come as a very unpleasant and uncomfortable surprise. I can't sleep because if I do I find myself at the FRONT...

Usually something is up with me psychologically if I am having these dreams again. Typically they accompany the Black Dog (Depression) so perhaps that's happening as well. Anyway I often wake not knowing what reality I belong to because the dream life is so incredibly is so disturbing because it is so intense, so real. I fear that perhaps one day this battle will begin...I'll be initially involved in battle just like I always am except this time the battle never ends and I'm trapped in the War Zone forever. That is one of my great fears right now...                               

Brain LOCK City....I'm Losing Sleep Over This Baby!

The most important question about my life these days next to the answer about whether I am Saved or not, is do we remove my right leg 6" below the knee....or take a gamble that a complex, time consuming and (did we mention) incredibly painful surgery will take care of my ankle issues. Gamble is the perfect word here because it is about as close to rolling the freaking dice as one can get.

I would not be honest if I did not admit that I have been second guessing my decision to go ahead and the the second of the two Fusion surgery choices utilizing a long rod up through the bottom of the ankle and anchoring it all along the length of the shaft and then adding an addition rod or long screw through the back of the Achilles and running the length of the foot.

It is really messing with my head at the moment so I ask all my Buds who pray or meditate to send some prayers my way. I can literally use all the help I can get. I think I make up my mind and then I go back the other's frustrating yet understandable considering what we are thinking about doing here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Positive Affirmation

I have spent a good deal of the last two days researching Ankle Fusion's and reading various blogs to get peoples first hand accounts of their experiences. I would like to be as prepared as I can possibly be and I feel like I am starting to get there. I will say there have had a couple of times where I became so engrossed in the photos and blogs that I started to feel deeply depressed by the whole ordeal. I needed to come up for air...

So I have stepped back a bit from all the research because the operation and recovery....even if it goes exactly as planned is very intense and painful. I am as prepared for that as one can be so it is time to stop wallowing in how tough it will be and move on to more positive thoughts of recovery.

I really wish there were time and resources to jump over to Gettysburg for a few days to get a bit of a History to speak. I really miss traveling...I just finished reading a great book about Lawrence Chamberlain who was the Colonel of the 20th Maine Regiment at Gettysburg who single handedly held the Union Left flank against repeated, fierce Confederate attacks.

My plan during my recovery is to blog as frequently as possible, perhaps with an eye toward writing that book (finally!!) that I have been contemplating for the last several years. I also want to continue to catch up on my history studies as there is always a very long line of books I'd love to read.
Well I am off this morning to try and get a bit of exercise...then I leave around 11:30a to head up to Kalamazoo to get a C/T Scan so the Doc can verify the damage in my ankle. If the blood work shows no infection then we should be scheduling  the surgery for some time in the very near future. And that my friends will be an answer to a prayer (many prayers actually) and a very positive thing.

See you all a little later today....  

(Picture by Kathy Tomson)                            

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The END....Of The Beginning!

This nightmare never ends...but now I am beginning to understand that in reality, it has probably only just begun. What was it that Winston Churchill said after the British finally got their first real, substantial victory over General Erwin Rommel and the German Desert Army in WWII?:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

That is about how I feel about this whole leg/ankle injury ordeal. I think we are just now starting the "let's try and fix this thing" part of the process now that we believe the infection is gone.

Yesterday I met for the first time, my Ankle Surgeon Specialist who i'll refer to as Doc G or just Doc or "the Doc". He is located in Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI about 1 hour and 40 minutes away from where I live. I was impressed with him and his staff....for the first time I actually felt compassion along with professional competence. This dude was very precise, strait forward and thorough.
Swollen Rt Ankle
This is the situation in a nutshell: A significant triangular shaped chunk of bone is missing from the bottom of my Tibia where it seats into the Talus bone in the ankle. This has caused the bone to slide out of it's proper place and essentially lock into place. It has significantly swollen and is extremely painful.

Doc believes that this was caused more by my Neuropathy then the infection that I was fighting for several months this Winter, Spring and Summer. That is NOT good news because it lessons the possibility for a Ankle Fusion to succeed because the bone could continue to deteriorate and frankly never stop.

He told me there were three realistic options for this situation and one of those (bracing it and living with it indefinitely) is not practical or realistic after all this time has passed. The second option is an Ankle Fusion and there are two types, each of them shown in the pictures above. The first type involves a plate attached from one direction (above) and the other (at top) is a far more robust method based off a large rod inserted through the bottom of the foot all the way through the ankle joint into the solid (we hope and pray) bone of the Tibia. This is the fusion we would choose. Both involve removing bone and flattening out each end (pictured below) so the bone can eventually grow together, eliminating the joint all together.

The third option was to amputate the leg about 6" below my right knee. this in many ways is the surest and simplest way to solve several of these problems once and for all. But it is obviously very FINAL and not something to choose hastily or without understanding ALL the facts and implications. My heart literally sank when he said this but I was prepared for this because it isn't that unusual for someone to have the Fusion several times only to discover that it will not heal, so they end up having to remove the leg any way.

After many questions and much consideration we have chosen the Fusion using the more robust "rod" method. But as I have discovered this surgery and recovery is no is really serious and very intense and I will not be able to walk for at least 3 months. the recovery could take more then 6 months.

It is extremely painful which means that I would be taking heavy doses of pain medication and for a significant period of time. That means working with my Pharmacist at CVS to avoid the"God Playing" that the SOB Pharmacist at Walgreen's in Coldwater did repeatedly that hurt me so much. His unprofessional, near criminal behavior and dangerous decision making (if you want to know that story email me, I won't risk a law suit and print it here) caused me a great deal of physical pain and set my healing back in a big way. In addition to creating a mind-set where I will NEVER again trust a pharmacist.

So that basically is the background on what is going on. Currently we are doing tests to first: verify that the infection is indeed gone for good. Secondly,  have a C/T Scan Friday in Kalamazoo to take pics to show the exact extent of the damage and measure the bone density to ensure that the bone is solid enough to support the Fusion. Once we get get thumbs up on the infection and get the other tests complete...we will set a surgery date.

My intention is to blog about this whole ordeal from beginning to end, complete with pictures and whatever else will enlighten the reader and give them a better understanding of whats entailed when having an Ankle Fusion Surgery. At this point I am not sure that I will post that here on Shell Shock Serenade or set up a new blog just for that purpose. I am leaning towards doing it here because that would fit in with the original premise and Mission Statement of "The SHOCK": capturing my life in real time, day to  day to give a realistic peak at what life is like for a recovering Addict/Alcoholic.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Follower's Story

Of the vast and varied array of topics that I have written about here on Shell Shock, there is one that I have always religiously avoided. I'm not really sure why....was it shyness? Fear that people may take what I have to say the wrong way and misunderstand where I am coming from? Perhaps...deep down I was embarrassed or sadly, even a bit afraid that I would be judged what I considered the worst thing for a human being to be: A SHEEP. In other words...someone who couldn't think and feel for themselves, who found safety in joining into groups or cliques with others.

Unfortunately that was my opinion of what most Christians really were: Judgmental Sheep.

That is right, the subject I have never really tackled here on the blog is my conversion to Christianity and my status as a proud Follower of Jesus Christ. I think it is natural for me to be a bit reluctant to discuss it because I truly don't judge others and I do not tell other people how they should act, believe or behave. But my life changed drastically for the better and I am not ashamed of that....on the contrary, I think it's important for other people who may be lonely or at the end of their rope, feeling forgotten, abandoned and hopeless to know that there is HOPE. And I found that hope in my relationship with GOD.

What really motivated this post tonight was a Facebook Status I found on the NOT A Fan FB Page. Not A Fan is a 6 part mini-series based on Luke: 9-23 "Anyone who would come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.’"(Luke 9:23).

This video series was the catalyst for my becoming a Christian. I watched this over a 2 day period in January of 2010 and afterward it was obvious to me that something inside of me had drastically changed and I wanted more then anything to FOLLOW I collapsed to my knees and asked HIM into my life. I knew I was a sinner, a HOPELESS, addict/alcoholic who had been sober at that time for 4 years but i knew I needed more to continue.

It is funny now but I openly HATED GOD/Jesus, mocking Him and His Followers every chance I could get. And now, just like that I was one of them. It is still very difficult for me to explain what it was that appealed to me so that is why when I saw the FaceBook Post tonight I knew I had to write this. It does a pretty good job explaining what I found in becoming a Follower of Jesus.

Here it is:

Jesus said, ‘Anyone who would come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.’ (Luke 9:23) ‘Anyone’ is a pretty inclusive word. Anyone can follow Jesus. Anyone who ever thought to themselves, ‘I’ve gone too stains are too big...’. Anyone who has ever lain awake at night and said ‘I can’t believe what I have done’. Anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and said to themselves, ‘I can’t believe what I have become.’ Anyone can follow.

"Anyone can FOLLOW....Anyone is a pretty inclusive word" Anyone....Even ME! It was that realization, that even I was not too BAD or Evil or Selfish or DRUNK or Stoned, etc to Follow my Creator. He Loved Me even when I didn't love myself. And that my friends just blew my still does to this very day. But it is True. This was the real deal I realized: TRUTH...THE Answer of Answers and my experience since then has proven this out.

Is my life always wonderful these days? Readers here on SSS know that it is NOT. As a matter of fact I am currently experiencing the most difficult sustained period of tough times I have ever lived through in my 51 years on this planet. Yet that special something is still there and though I can't say I understand is more worth living today then ever before. It is that simple TRUTH that sustains me...tough day after tough, painful day.

So that, my friends is briefly the story of how I went from an angry, Christian Hater to a Follower of Jesus Christ. What is cool about that is there are millions of stories just like it where unbelievers....Believe.

This was not an easy conversion for me...I was convinced for many years that I was right and Christians had it all very wrong. And there was some truth to that. There were many Hippocrates out there, as well as people taking advantage of the sick and the aged and the poor. Using God and his Word to make themselves rich and famous.

But there were many I have discovered, who walk the walk, they love their neighbors as they would themselves. Feel free to private message me if you have questions or doubts...I'd be happy to share my story.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Acceptance....The Key That Leads to a CHOICE.

Well, I woke once again to another day. And I must honestly say I have mixed feelings about it. It just hurts to live right now...I mean it physically hurts me to be alive...the pain is so intense and so pervasive that there is no escaping it. So one must accept it for what it is.

Actually that really is the KEY...acceptance. I cannot do anything about the happened. I cannot take back the hospitalizations, the treatment, the incorrect decisions by doctors, the mistakes or the incredible pain. No all I can do is live on. And for now I choose to live on!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Can Still Write (sort of)!

This time of year...mid-September is always full of mixed emotions for me. Fall is coming and it is hands down my favorite time of year. But I live on an Island populated heavily by Summer vacationers and their "cottages" (read; Summer Mansions!). So after a few months of streets crowded with kids on golf carts, long lines at the golf course and a lake full of jets ski's and other boats we are now a "Ghost Island".

Usually I don't really consider this happens and life goes on albeit with a tinge of sadness in the air for the "Lost Summer" gone forever. But this year that normal "tinge of sadness" blends into my already heavy emotion due to my Medical issues and just adds to the doom and gloom.

It certainly has become a chore to hold one's head high during this endless series of set-backs and disappointments. The Lost Summer of Misery rolls on into Autumn. I can only hope and pray that this new Surgeon has some answers and willing to initiate surgery right away...for I am MORE THEN READY to get on with it.

My fear is that since he is taking over a case that is brand new (to him) that he will start from scratch with tests and such, delaying the inevitable surgery. But of course I can do nothing about that now except stay positive and focused on the present.

That is difficult because I have some serious issues weighing very heavily on my mind. Typically I would never speak or write about such things for public consumption but this blog is supposed to capture life as I am experiencing it....warts and all. I have written about addiction, deceit and sexual assault because that is reality and needed to be addressed.

I am being overwhelmed with hospital bills and frankly I have expended every option I have. I have worked with creditors, made payments and yet I am more then $25,000 in the hole and haven't even seen the bill from my last hospital stay yet of 6 days. Plus I need major surgery to re-build my right ankle and replace my left knee.

To say I am experiencing some difficult times would be a massive understatement. The phone rings off the hook and it becomes more and more difficult to stay positive. Bills are no longer being paid which bothers me to no end,  yet I have no recourse...I've tried feels like someone wants me dead.

That is why when people ask how I am I cannot answer them honestly...i just smile, lie and say I am fine. Trust me...I am very FAR from fine!

Yet such is the hand I have been dealt and I must go on but I'll be honest..there are days where pulling the plug and ending the harassment seems ....very enticing. Yet I have been down that road before. It is just frustrating to have always paid my bills on time only to have circumstances beyond my control totally wipe me out. And not only that...there is NO END in sight!

People mean well but it gets old to hear the same old "God will Provide" stuff when frankly, sometimes God does NOT PROVIDE and his people die of starvation in Africa and other places. We must lay in the bed we made...ultimately it is my responsibility and i am failing. That does not sit well.

My lot in life may indeed be to suffer terrible pain, every second of my life, harassed by creditors until I die....I won't know that until that time comes.

Sorry but that is all I can write at this point...I need some fresh  air.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Nothing "Civil" About That War

Anyone who has seen this blog must get some idea that I am interested in the Civil War and/or history. The cover photo comes from a movie that will be out next year about the Western Battles of the war from Shiloh to Sherman's March to the Sea. It is called The Civil War: The Untold Story and will be out next year.

Needless to say I am enthralled with history and in only makes sense that the name of this blog itself is a borrowed World War I military slang term for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In the Second World War they called it Battle Fatigue.

I thought it appropriate considering the subject matter I was going to be dealing with in writing and the emotional and psychological effect it had on me through out the years. 

Not sure why I am posting this but I thought a bit of background info might be interesting to some of our readers. The picture on top is from the movie, The bottom from the actual Battlefield at Antietam and the others are from various re-enactments held this year as many Civil War Battles had their 150th anniversary, including Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville and Chickamauga/Chattanooga.

Monday, September 2, 2013


I do realize that my latest run of medical misfortune has basically hijacked Shell Shock Serenade. I never intended to be writing about my health every time I post. But that is my reality and there is NO doubt that writing constructively about my pain, the feelings that go along with it and my spiritual condition as a result of this adventure is absolutely healthy and helpful.

But I still feel bad having the subject of every post be about my freaking feet or an infection of the bone....

The latest twist in the mystery of the Infection From Hell is the emotional toll it has taken on me. Calling it mere Depression or my usual "BLACK DOG" doesn't do it justice though I am in no way trying to minimize the effect of Depression.

I seem completely caught in a web of despair that has me convinced that I will never walk again. And I just cannot shake this feeling of impending DOOM that pervades every aspect of my daily life. No matter how much I appeal to God to save me from this misery or just put me out of it.

I am stuck here unable to feel anything positive about the present or the future.....and then that all morphs into one permanent blast of searing, tormenting PAIN and though I scream....not a SOUND comes forth to be heard.  A silent SCREAM for redemption, for pity, for my SANITY to be returned...So I waited...and still I waited...only to be met, in the end by the DEAFENING...Sound of SILENCE.    

Photo Graphic from Pink Floyd's: The WALL