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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Setting The Record Straight

Today I noticed as I was going through Facebook that there was a post, critical of President Obama' funeral attending practices circulating around. Of course these days, that in itself is nothing unusual. One of the reasons it criticized Obama was  because he had attended the funeral of Senator Daniel Inouye and that this was bad because the Senator was a Democrat and worse...A Liberal. Plus the President had the gall to actually shed tears over the death of this Liberal Monster, truly a super bad person!

This kind of stuff makes me sick because it is blatantly ignoring the truth about this great American and others but it distorts history as well. In our country today we must stop judging people solely because of their political leanings. In doing so, more often then not we let our emotional hysteria distort and even obscure the TRUTH. Certainly this is true in this particular instance.

Senator Inouye served his country honorably as a US Senator from Hawaii for nearly 50 years. Yes he was a Democrat but did you know that as a young man he won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star and other decorations for Valor in WWII as a Captain in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd RCT is one of the most highly decorated units in US Army HISTORY! One of this man's closest life-long friends was fellow Combat Veteran and US Senator Bob Dole...a Republican who served honorably and even ran for President.
Daniel Inouye Official Photo 2009.jpg
The Unit itself is truly remarkable as were many of the brave young men who filled it's ranks. Like Sen. Inouye, members were 2nd generation Americans of Japanese decent...a group that was extremely unpopular following in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Many had family members who were detained in relocation camps, often for the duration of the war. Given the opportunity to enlist, the future Senator volunteered into the 442nd and saw service in the European Theater until he was seriously wounded late in the war. The Unit was not initially trusted to fight the Japanese for fear they might find it difficult to kill members of their own race. In truth more loyal and dedicated men would be hard to find ANYWHERE. These were some real BAD-ASS Soldiers, as good as we had in combat in any Theater...European or Pacific.

Young Inyouye and his unit first saw action in Italy and then later was transferred to The Vosges Mountain region of Southern France where in April of 1945 he  was terribly wounded in action and was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in that fight. His wounds resulted in the amputation of his right arm. So he served the rest of his life as a disabled Veteran as well.

My point in stating all this ( is to remind us all that we cannot define a person because of the political party they belong to. It certainly does not define the type of human being they are and certainly does NOT in this man's case. He happens to be someone that I have always admired for his character and determination....RIP Captain Inouye.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Seeing In The DARK

 Blonde sur Fond DorĂ© by CORNO
I have discovered that long illnesses/recovery periods can actually have a kind of half-assed fringe-benefit in that they can give even a very busy, tight-scheduled person a forced moment of pause...some time too think, to feel....perhaps reflect. I'll admit at this stage of the game I have had WAY more reflection/thinking time then I could ever truly use. I know that this time has allowed me to see what I really appreciate in life and how I could perhaps take better advantage of certain opportunity and yes even adversity. I do see adversity...Yea PROBLEMS as potential opportunities to do life better then before. At least learn from my mistakes....

I never remember a point in my life when I did not have a passionate love affair with art...particularly painting...on canvas, paper wood or really anything. Oils, acrylic, watercolor even forms of mixed media. I tend to lean toward Impressionist works, modern painting along the lines of Matisse, Picasso and my new favorite Canadian artist Corno (Joanne Corneau). I also enjoy the work of an artist I went to High School with Cathy Frick whose paintings of Poppies particularly enchant me. 

Honestly I don't know how I would have survived these past three years of hospitals, surgery, rehab and extended periods of time in bed without my love of art and reading. I spent hour after hour enjoying both for days on end. I'll cop to watching much more television then before but I also enjoyed these other pursuits. 
Blonde on Black by CORNO
My world took on a different hue, I began to see things for other perspectives and to start challenging things I took for granted for years. It is like injury inverted the entire world and I began to see and feel things from the inside-out or from the down-side....up. 

It is one way I can justify what initially felt like a terrible loss of time....Planet living time....the search for TRUTH Time. To me, there is little more criminal then wasting time on the planet. I truly believe we exist for a reason...not just to take up space or suck air.
 Anyway...I want to take time now that I have launched a bit back into posting here on SSS again to share my Vision, the angle in which I perceive things and persevere. Here is to seeing in the Dark and feeling without Touching...

Website of artist CORNO:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Today's Reality

I knew back in the late Autumn of 2014, before my right leg amputation that there were going to be many adjustments that I would have to make and things I would have to adapt to once I became an amputee. But even I'll admit that I still was not even close to being prepared for the reality of it all. That's OK, life is like that...rarely can we anticipate all potential situations when dealing with the potential of adversity.

Here is southern Michigan this week it has been terribly cold with below zero wind chills. I never even considered what extreme cold weather would feel like in the stump of an amputated leg with it's battered and severed nerve endings. Needless to say for the first time in my life I am truly considering the implications of moving permanently to a warm weather climate, at least until Kimmi retires. Then perhaps we could split time. She has always embrassed the idea of living in warm weather...I was the reluctant one. But now I am given to re-considering that stance. 

I cannot even begin to describe the extreme, electrical shock type pain one feels in frigid air, even with the limb bundled up warmly. I never expected this...I knew of Phantom pain, which in my case has gotten much more severe lately and leading to my latest surgical procedure. Unfortunately it remains almost debilitating at this stage. Honestly there are few things as odd as feeling terrible pain or tingling in a foot that no longer exists. But it truly feels like it is there and it really, really hurts.

This week we should start the process of getting fit for a new prosthesis, more permanent and sophisticated and hopefully it feels more natural and trustworthy. We shall most certainly have more on that later, until then....

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Amputee and How Golf saved Him From HIMSELF

I realize that it does sound like a bit of a stretch to say that Golf somehow "SAVED" a person from anything...yet in my particular case it is more true then not.

Technically I am a RBK in I had a Right leg, Below the Knee amputation. I lost my leg a year and a half ago as a result of a badly broken ankle in an accident at home that subsequently became badly infected and eventually the only real choice was to amputate the leg 6 inches below my right knee.

This medical nightmare has now gone on for more then 3 years and in certain ways continues today. I had my 31st related surgery 2 weeks ago to clean up some scar tissue and remove several Neuromas (tumors that form at the end of the severed nerves in the stump) and spent a couple more nights in the hospital.

Simply stated this has been by far the most traumatic and difficult experience in my 53 years of living and I would be less then honest if I didn't admit that it pushed me to the very brink of my endurance: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

I went months without being able to walk without crutches, walkers or wheel-chairs. I was not what I would consider a super active, always moving kind of guy but I was definately active. I really started to miss my freedom of movement.

Not only were there physical limitations related to the surgeries but the infections nearly killed me. I was a very sick man for nearly two years and I often wondered if I may not have been better off dead. Seriously....when you have nothing but time on your hands and the pain is nearly un-endurable plus you are so sick with fever and weakness it's natural to wonder why am I fighting this.

Naturally I searched for reasons to keep moving on and one of those became my desire, my determination to golf again.

I had started golfing again at the age of 50 after not playing for 25 years or so. I live on an island on an inland lake in Southern Michigan that has a nice little 9 hole course right in the middle. 
I had hurt my back and had several surgeries in the early 1990's and thought that I would never play again but I met a local golf teacher and he helped me scratch together a game that I could live with.

Just when it started to be fun and a daily ritual to go out at dawn every morning in our own cart and play 9 holes...I got hurt. It truly looked like I would never again play the game I learned to love a second time around.

But then I started to wonder why I couldn't play. Lots of folks play sports with prosthetics. And so the motivation, the obsession began to take over. There were many sleepless nights, tormented with pain and a rather bleak looking outlook o life when I rescued myself from the abyss with thoughts of the smell of freshly mowed greens, dew on my golf shoes and the luxury of having the entire course to myself while I golfed through sunrise after sunrise.

Though I didn't get my prosthesis until late June of 2015, I managed to get into the groove of playing fairly quickly though I couldn't play more then a few holes at a time. I am a member at this course and help out sometimes so I have the flexibility to play when I can.

The only limitations right now are financial because let's face is expensive and when you play often (as in every day) it runs equipment down rather quickly. Plus I still need to re-build my game...basically from scratch and lessons this time around are just not in the cards...I cannot afford them. 

Though I am finally getting on top of the infections and am able to walk/function pretty well on my artificial leg, all swing movement/stance has been completely thrown into disorder and I need help to learn to swing properly and most importantly, safely. After three years of hospitals, surgeries and countless treatments of every imaginable kind, my wife and I are flat busted due to huge medical expenses...especially early in my illness. We are slowly surviving but there isn't really money in the budget for golf equipment, lessons or a membership. 

But my wife Kim is my biggest fan and pushes me to play golf every day even when I don't feel up to it which is often. She more then anyone, myself included was first to see the value of playing as often as I was able.  

I am so grateful to the game that gave me the motivation to get up in the morning and get back on my feet and go has worked magic on my attitude and greatly improved my physical condition.  Now as I recover from another surgery I still find myself chomping at the bit to get back out there and play. A I did this past Christmas and New Years Days.

So let's get this snow out of the way and maybe I'll be fortunate to get to play again soon...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Is Life Anyway?!

It recently occurred to me that a blog started basically about recovery that then took a hard turn into one covering sexual assault, PTSD and salvaging life from such ordeals has now transformed into an amputation life type blog. I get it's a blog about LIFE blog! How about that?!

The fact is the story of Shell Shock Serenade has always really been about living and most importantly....TRUTH. One man's person's search for Truth. In my humble opinion after 53 plus years of living, that is the purpose of life anyway...The search for TRUTH. After coming to that conclusion I figure the Nuns at Ohio Dominican would sure be proud of me now, haha. But seriously, when one experiences so much adversity, pain and heartbreak....almost as a matter of course, he must find some way to rationalize all this. 

For me the typical spiritual rational that it's God's Will no longer makes sense...truth be told, it really never made any sense but at one time I was so desperate for answers that I latched on to that explanation. For many reasons, way to numerous and complex I won't go into them here. But that life is a journey, a search for answer's with no promises, no expectations...was far easier to accept when one is enduring the seemingly un-endurable. 

Perhaps the Truth is select Humans are made to suffer and life is an experiment to see just how much one particular man can take before he cracks and takes his own life. 

On the other hand, another Truth may be the exact humans experience so much material success, seemingly without effort and their life is an experiment to see how much good fortune, riches and rewards, etc before that person succumbs to greed and selfishness then self-destructs. 

Now I'm not saying any of this is true or what I even believe but that is the nature of a journey. It makes one think, causes them to look at life from multiple angles and reflect back on every experience. I can at least feel like a participant if I see it in such a way as opposed to being a victim of circumstance.

The fact is I am sure that I will never know the answer until this life is complete...or at least this stage of it.

Such is one person's perspective at one specific moment in time....particularly when he has had little else to do except put all of it into words and share it with others.

After writing all of that...I want to change direction here and mention that someone that I care a hell of a lot about is having his left Kidney removed tomorrow morning at the Cleveland Clinic. Cancer was diagnosed last week and the hope is by removing said Kidney they will get all of the Cancer and stop this thing before it gets worse. I'm thinking about and praying for you Brother! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Shadows Rise...The Fog Begins To Clear.

I'll cut to the chase....the meeting with the Doc today went pretty well. The staples came out (I can't really repeat what I was saying as they actually were removed...It FREAKIN' HURT!) and I can begin to start wearing my prosthetic in small doses and work my way into a more comfortable fit.

We will get fitted for a new socket in a couple of weeks and we will be trying a vacuum seal as opposed to the big, bulky rubber outer sleeve. I am excited about that for a couple of reasons: First, the vacuum will provide a much more secure and consistent fit and that will be a great deal more comfortable. Comfort in such a way builds confidence in the leg. is a much more streamlined application...lighter, more flexible and yea, it just looks more BAD-ASS then the old foggy set-up I have used up to this point.

This is a totally new set-up for me so I don't even have a clear idea of exactly what it is and looks like. 

So stay tuned over the next few weeks and we can experience this adventure together. 

Peace OUT!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Perhaps Tomorrow Then...

Another year added to the "legend of the Broken Ankle" saga. I broke my ankle 3 years today in the kitchen of my home, getting in caught in a throw rug while making a bagel for a late night snack.

3 years, 31 operations and nearly 60 nights in the hospital later and I am recovering from yet another surgery. This lasst was to clean up some scar tissue in the stump but typically once the Doc got in there he discovered some serious issues regarding tumors growing at the ends of several of the severed nerves in the leg...these are called Neuromas. Naturally they had to come out making this a much more serious and involved surgery then we had planned for. Actually at this stage of the game I am used to these kinds of surprises. So a potential outpatient procedure became 2 nights in the hospital. Plus I wouldn't come back from anesthesia so I scared the hell out of everyone involved. 

So I see the Doc tomorrow and I am hoping it won't be long before I can put my prosthetic back on. I have to admit I have gotten used to walking on two legs again, haha. We will update later and I hope, as I always say here that I will continue to post more regularly.

Honestly this 3 year ordeal has stolen some of my spirit away and I search for it yet I still haven't found what I am looking for. Perhaps tomorrow then....