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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Paying The Price....For TRUTH

The real search for TRUTH in my life began at the age of 44 and started with the simple yet nearly impossible task of just being honest with myself. Being honest about who & what I was, an Alcoholic/Addict, an attempted suicide failure and a survivor of Sexual Assault. In reality that nearly "impossible" task turned out to be the "easy" part...learning to live honestly and be accountable for my behavior on a 24/7, all the freaking time basis was truly the hard part.

And though it's been nearly 8 years since that day I initially got sober and 4 years since publicly acknowledging that I had been raped as a boy I can still find it somewhat difficult to talk about at times. It is an intense and emotional experience every time I go over certain aspects of those events. I nearly lost my life to suicide and though getting clean/sober changed my life incredibly toward the good....getting there was a harrowing and life (and sanity) threatening ordeal....I shall never ever forget that.

So the issue of how do I continue to live my life after all of that began to concern me, actually it was more like haunting the hell out of me if I want to tell the truth. And much to my surprise and chagrin...the simple act of telling the truth in ALL aspects of my being had become more and more important.

Telling the truth did not and does not come natural to me...I had grown accustomed to lying , even when I had no apparent reason to do so. Lying and dishonesty bring a corrosive atmosphere to any relationship...dishonesty is the DESTROYER of relationships...all Four Horseman of the Apocalypse rolled into one. This corrosive nature attacks trust, love, good listening skills and communication among other things. It becomes a habit that rules one's life completely. I was living a lie and incapable of knowing what the simple truth about myself was.

That is why it was so critical to come around full circle & face the truth about myself....WARTS and ALL.

After the initial difficulty of facing one's demon's on a daily basis this not only started to come  more easily to me but I began to  feel much better about ME. It became second nature for me to open up about my past and share details of my past. At that point I noticed that some folks were very moved by my openness and honesty. They encouraged me to do more and so I blogged about it and became very comfortable DOING SO.

What I did not account for or take into consideration was the fact that some folks were not and would never be comfortable hearing someone speak this plainly about those subjects. And they didn't know how to react so they kept me at arms distance and by the very nature of their reaction they ended up ostracizing me. This became particularly true at my church and in all honesty, I understand how that happens and I harbor no ill feelings toward anyone who may feel uncomfortable with this level of honesty and type of subject matter.

What does bother me though is there are a couple individuals whom I have grown to know and trust. They are what I considered very close friends, it is somewhat of a cliche yet it is also  true, they have become brothers. And that is why their reaction to me so painful. communication and just a feeling that they somehow don't like me anymore. I was surprised yet sadly, deep down it is what I have come to expect from people. 

Perhaps there will come a day in the not so distant future when that will no longer be the case. Until then, my friends...

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Shall: LIVE ON!

Painting By Cathy Frick

As the last vague, flickered moments of Thursday the 24th of April in the year 2014 slowly tick away, I am left sitting here to ponder....once again, what the hell this latest chaotic chapter in my life is suppose to mean or represent. Perhaps it means nothing more then 24 plain old hours in each one of these long, traumatic days. Or maybe each and every damn minute of every damn day stands as a stark, unforgettable reminder to never take good health, happiness and good fortune for granted.

I am so grateful just to sit here at this moment and post another blog that mere words of mine cannot possibly do my feelings justice. I know what it now feels like to drift away quickly in a haze of pain, sickness and nausea and watch the sand in the hour glass of my life slowly run empty. All the while staring back at twisted tormented faces silently screaming the very same word out that dominates my thoughts each and everyone of these long suffering days.....WHY?! WHY?!

Now I realize that is most certainly the one question of all the possible questions that I could ask about these difficult days under the unrelenting pressure of painful enduring pressure & time that I am absolutely sure I shall never get an answer to.

For, tonight...specifically for this very precious moment that we human beings we call NOW...I can accept that and LIVE ON.

Original Art Works By Cathy Frick

Monday, April 21, 2014

Putting One Foot, er...WORD in Front Of The Other

The alternate title for this post could just as easily be called: "Just Keep Pluggin' Away". In all honesty...both describe perfectly how I need to approach any writing I do from here on out, especially for Shell Shock Serenade. 

Why do I need to just keep moving forward? I would say the rather common term "Writer's Block" accurately describes what is happening to me concerning my inability to write this past year but in my opinion it doesn't really begin to explain what has truly happened these last 12 months or so. And frankly I am not convinced I need to try and fully explain how I have gotten to this SILENT, scary and unfamiliar place, yet I believe it is important to try and relate that aspect of the story.

Most readers know I suffered a debilitating broken right leg (Fibula) injury in February of 2013. I had emergency surgery to repair it the very next day and by all appearances all was going well and it was healing nicely. That was a misleading illusion leading to a dangerous false sense of security. 

The reality was that it had almost instantly become infected and the infection masked an even more sinister and frightening little secret...The big leg bone next to the Fibula, my Tibia had been shattered at the ankle joint knocking the connection to the foot completely out of whack. The sad and scary truth was that not one of several Physicians (including a couple Orthopedic Surgeons) who saw the X-Rays noticed this and for months while I fought a high fever and other infection symptoms I was basically told that all the swelling, discoloration and excruciating pain was a figment of my imagination! The last straw for me was having one surgeons nurse basically tell me I was being a pain in the ass and I could be referred to a Pain Clinic but they wouldn't treat me any more.

This kind of treatment at the hands of medical professionals that we often must trust our very lives to in de-humanizing and disheartening. I was despondent and at the absolute END of my rope. Long before this...I had become almost Physically, Emotionally, Psychologically and Spiritually NUMB. And I then discovered that I could no longer write more then a few intelligible words in any given sentence. I had become MUTE...suffering from a complete inability to communicate any longer how I felt or what I needed to do. I was LOST!

It was at that moment I once again sought another opinion, much as I had already done several times before with one important difference...I sought it from a doctor who worked in another city and who did not know or work with my original physicians. That my dear readers made all the difference. 

It became immediately clear I had a very serious and yes, limb threatening injury to my right ankle and lower leg bone that somehow had been over-looked or Heaven Forbid...MISSED! On top of that the infection that I had been led to believe was not an infection had advanced to the Life Threatening stage and I was immediately hospitalized in Battle Creek MI for 9 nights/10 days.

The I was sent to one of the best ankle surgeons in the mid-west at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our initial meeting lasted over an hour and I knew right away that this guy meant business. The prognosis was very serious...he gave me two choices: I could have a very intensive Ankle Fusion Surgery where I wouldn't be able to walk for at least 3 months and realistically only had a 30% or so chance of success. Or I could have my right leg amputated 6" below the knee. 

I was stunned...To describe myself as in shock was a total and complete understatement but in reality I was also RELIEVED. Why? Because I now knew pretty much where I stood...I knew what was wrong and I was given a couple treatment options. I learned that I wasn't crazy, that there was indeed something very seriously wrong with me. I now had a surgeon I believed in and though still skeptical and somewhat gun-shy from my previous treatment I made the decision to trust him and follow his treatment program. It has so far proven to be a wise decision.

Though I am currently still dealing with this ordeal and about to embark on a 6 week IV Anti-Biotic Treatment Program at home this morning, I am still positive and optimistic about the results. But I am also not under any false pretensions about this...if this treatment program is unsuccessful in killing off the infection...I will lose my right leg 6" below the knee. That is no is but a simple FACT. But it is a fact I can live with if it indeed comes to that.

That is the back-drop information and behind the scenes accounting of why I found myself so emotionally and spiritually SICK that I could no longer participate in my absolute favorite past-time of all....WRITING. I was too numb, far to deeply in shock from the endless ordeal of pain, heartbreak and dehumanizing treatment at the hands of individuals who saw me only as another PATIENT or God Forbid another in a long list of 15 minute appointment FEE's.

I realize that there will be some that read this and will immediately assume that I am an angry and disgruntled patient, hence I am prone toward exaggerating and unfairly throwing accusations around about the treatment I received. that couldn't be further from the truth. Frankly I was the last one to come around and realize that my doctors did NOT have my health or best interest at heart.  

They simply refused to listen to what I was saying to them...they played GOD and could have killed me in the process. I am beyond fortunate that I survived and am so grateful for the doctor I have today.

Even though it could be easy to get down about beginning a 6 week IV Treatment Program today where I have had a long term PICC LINE inserted into the vein above my heart, preventing me from  even light physical activity for the duration of the treatment. Yea, Yea....that means no Crippled Golf, my main exercise, hobby and sanity retaining activity these days. 

So that is the main reason I have determined that it is even more important then I originally thought to begin writing daily AGAIN...therefore the increased determination to keep moving forward, putting one step word in front of the other.                                                                                                                                                            

Friday, April 18, 2014


Words just do not seem to do justice, representing in any realistic way the value of what our soldiers do on a day by day basis. God love and hold these brave warriors.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Well, well boys and girls....once again we stand with our feet pressed tightly at the edge of the world. Who knows (other then the Good Lord, of course) if this be THE day we move through to the other side or not. I suspect not of course but as Willie and Joe from the old WWII Cartoon by Bill Maulden used to say: "They feel like they are fugitives from the Law Of Averages". Me too!  

Can't write any more I have to eat before the deadline at midnight....since I once again have surgery.                                                                                                                                                      

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Therapy With a BANG!!

Yesterday, Kimmi posted this pic on her Facebook Page and mentioned we were out for some therapeutic Shooting of firearms to blow of steam and relieve stress. I completely agree with that assessment of what we were doing and you know what my friends? It SPADES. Of course it didn't hurt my recently worn-down ego and sense of self when a friend in Arizona commented that I looked like a "Real Bad-A$$!" haha. What can I say...I love'd it and in addition to making me laugh and smile (very rare occurrence during these super dark days of this medical nightmare I'm currently living) but it just made me feel good.

We went out to a buddies property north-west of here (interestingly...right across the street from the church the 3 of us attend) and spent a little over an hour shooting a variety of firearms. What fun. This little experience was significant in another way as well. Kim typically has been quite fearful of guns and afraid to even touch them (even with the help of an ex-cop guiding and teaching her the proper safety procedures for handling, shooting and storing of the various guns).

So imagine my surprise when I mentioned to her that we got an invitation to go out and shoot and she not only agreed to tag along but said she really wanted to learn to shoot. I honestly think her decision was based on "if you can't beat them join them) or (When in Rome do as the Romans do) because quite frankly ALL of our friends these days Shoot and own firearms.

This opportunity to go out doors for some quality friendship and shooting time also happened to come at a very significant time, something I know my buddy was well aware of when he asked me about going yesterday morning.

I was scheduled to be in the hospital yesterday recovering from a follow-up surgery on Tuesday and then a few days stay while they put in a PIC Line for 6 weeks of out-patient IV-Anti-Biotic Treatments daily at a local transfusion Center. What Happened? Honestly I really don't want to share the the true reason we weren't in Kalamazoo at Bronson Methodist Hospital but this blog is about LIFE...Real-Life of a recovering alcoholic/addict.

The truth is we did not have the money (any money actually) for gas to drive the hour and a half each way to the hospital  or so Kim could grab a bite to eat while she stayed with me the following days. It's really sad but that is the reality of this situation. So you can see why I for one was really in need of some time to play and just enjoy the moment for a change.

That is about all I want to say about the recent difficulty and hardship of recent times except the following. This post is about good times with friends and spending some time out of doors. I do think the severity of this winter with it's heavy snowfalls, high winds and many nights of sub-zero temps contributed to the hardship I was experiencing. I am a person that really needs to spend time out of doors and when I can't I begin to feel imprisoned. Being unable to walk the majority of that time, requiring the use of a Knee Walker and later a wheeled Walker limited me even more and contributed to the ever growing notion in my head that I was trapped forever and never going to heal.

So in addition to the extreme physical pain & hardship of this recovery period, It was a rough Psychological experience as well....the good thing going for me even at that time was I knew all this and could mentally and physically prepare for it as best I could. And though it was still helped.

Even though I am still fighting this nasty infection...the physical recovery of the ankle/leg itself is going well. I have more mobility (as far as being able to walk and move around) then I did last year, that's for sure. 

And that is why I continue to push forward and try to keep my chin up...I know it can get better. It is so easy to fall into the trap of despair...and I have along the way during this recent journey. It has challenged me spiritually to the point where If I am being honest i have to say that I am questioning GOD here...whether he exists...if so what possible purpose, after all I have suffered through with my addiction, being sexually assaulted and raped as a boy, past and current medical hardship and last but not least...this financial catastrophe.

Especially in light of all that I have become and tried to do over the last 7 plus years or so after getting clean/sober. It looks as if my life was more stable, productive and yes even happy when I was in the throes of my active addiction then I am now as a Christian with nearly 8 years of sobriety...actively helping others each and every day of my life. So what gives?

I just don't understand it...I want to believe in HIM, to trust Him....but I am getting my A$$ Kicked constantly from all sides during this ordeal. I haven't a clue how to handle this....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Divine Punishment or Education!

With all that has transpired these last 14-15 months from an injury/illness standpoint, it is easy to read something more complex, more sinister into what has happened to me. The possibilities run the whole spectrum: from the easily explainable to the really far-fetched.

I find it interesting, bordering on hysterical that most people I encounter, Christians or not...want to attach some sort of mystical/spiritual reason to why this has happened and continues to happen to me. Am I being punished by God or He is taking all this time to teach some kind of lesson? Am I being held accountable (punished) for sins o the past? Could that really be possible. Or is it Bad Karma...My misbehavior of the past had so unbalanced the (my) universe that all these painful & difficult things are happening to me to "balance things out".

Though it is easy for me in my current physical and psychological state of being to by into such a thought, deep down I don't believe it. The 
circumstances are indeed severe...these symptoms have lasted a very, long time. It has truly been the most difficult and challenging period of my life. Yet I still believe that it is simply LIFE that is responsible. Not bad Karma or misbehavior. Life has been known to kick peoples butts and it was apparently my turn.
As hard as this is...I am determined to persevere. I'll admit that there are moments that my faith is can it not after so much pain and suffering, uncertainty and financial DIFFICULTY.