HOSPITAL FOOD

Freaking A…fib!  What’s next?  Sciatica then shingles, now afib?  This aging sh!t is for the birds.  My childlike brain encapsulated within this bag of crumbling organs.  I feel like a blivit…never heard of a blivit…rhymes with ‘live it’?  It is ten pounds of pooh in a five-pound bag.

It was to be a simple, three-hour process…just a little shock to put the ole ticker back into rhythm…so simple.  Like Gilligan’s three-hour cruise, it didn’t turn out like it was supposed to.  Four hospital days later, my heart is back in rhythm but I’m taking a cure that may be worse than the disease, have seen four different doctors and am waiting to see if I need a pacemaker.  My choices bother me but not nearly as much as four days of hospital food…especially hospital food concocted for a cardiac patient.  Um, yum.  Gilligan and his merry crew of castaways ate much better.

I have attempted to reach a happy medium between doing the things necessary to extend my life, providing I don’t step out in front of a beer truck while enjoying my life.  I did have that heart attack thing.  Eating healthy, smart exercises six or seven times a week, reducing stress…most of the time, although there are those days I walk with Hawk.  Cigarsssssss!  Only once in a blue moon.  Speaking of Blue Moon, less than a six pack a week.  Most days eating food with the consistency of wet cardboard and the taste of unseasoned butcher paper so that once a month I can trip the light fandango…or is it skip the light fantastic?  I’m reminded of a question, “How is the best way to prepare carp?  Easy! Nail the carp to an old barn board. Cover it in moist cow manure and bake until done.  Allow the board and carp to cool until you can handle it.  Throw the carp away and eat the board.”  A lot of the healthier food choices I eat seem to taste the way I imagine a manure covered board might taste.

I’m just not going to eat that way…every day.  There must be a certain joy to life or it is not worth living.  For instance, I have reduced my salt intake but not on grits and eggs…I also don’t eat eggs and grits every day…or even every week.  Occasionally I’m going to eat eggs and grits covered in cheddar cheese and running in butter…real butter…just to remind me of what life has to offer.  I’m going to eat it with salt…and a side of bacon or sausage.  But not every day.  Some days, I’m going to eat slow cooked pork that has been marinated in a brine mixture and then covered in a special rub…but, not every day.  I am never going to eat tofu…ever.

The hospital food reminded me of the good things I was missing…because it was so terrible.  Honestly, it was good hospital food, which is like saying Mississippi River mud taste better than Colorado River mud.  Well, I’m home now.  No pacemaker, no flutter in my atrium and no hospital food.  Also, no cigar, no beer…today…may be tomorrow…and tomorrow, I’ll probably eat oatmeal for breakfast…with no salt…and no taste.

FOR LAURA…AND ME

 

I’ve tried to write this tribute a thousand times.  In my head, as I put it on paper, the words never come as easily as I would like and never seem to do her justice.  You asked simply, “Tell me about my mother.  I never got to know her.”  Laura, it is a huge task because I never got to know her as well as I would have wished either.  I empathize because I lost my mother at an early age and wish I had time to know my own mother better.  I do know where your question comes from.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, specifically the week of September 10th and I feel led to write about the woman who prevented one suicide and possibly a second, one at the cost of her own life.  I need to write it for both you and for me…maybe more for me.  I remember that terrible morning…and still feel the sense of loss accompanying it.  I can only imagine the loss you feel and the hardships that go with that feeling.

Laura, I have suffered from clinical depression for the past forty years…this year.  In the spring of 1977, I had no idea what was causing my anxiety and despair.  I feared I was just going “crazy.”  Had your mother not interceded in my “craziness” I may never have been diagnosed, or worse, may have followed through with a terrifying, soul-searching debate involving myself and a pistol.  It was she who consoled me, quieted my tears and suggested I go to my doctor.  Suggested is not a strong enough word but the only word I have.  She gave me a fighting chance, one I have not squandered…yet.

I remember her deep laugh and somewhat gravelly voice due in part from too many Virginia Slims.  It was a different time.  A pixie in stature and butterfly in personality, she never-the-less cast a huge shadow over all those she touched…and not because of the awards she had won but because of the person she was.  As a second-year teacher, I was terrified of her until she disarmed my fear with her laugh…and her care for an immature, twenty-four-year-old child.  Your mother was never too busy to give council.  She was a mentor, a friend, and a mother figure.

I remember so many conversations, many involving you.  I remember those first few years of my career, dutifully reporting to the storage room behind the lab that contained her “very cluttered” desk.  Asking questions, trying to understand how electrons could be both a particle and a wave, or how I could have such a good life and feel so depressed.  She, teaching me right before I had to teach a class that could have cared less about quantum mechanics or why all objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass.  Somehow making it all understandable to a history major masquerading as a physical science teacher.  Until the afternoon after I had fallen apart.  The afternoon after my conversation with my pistol.  She cried with me as I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain what I was feeling…despair, hopelessness, and desperation, not realizing she was living on the other side of suicide until a morning when it was too late.

She was proud of you, that you can be assured.  More importantly, she would be proud of you now.  I remember an impish or elfin little freshman from so long ago…so much the image of her mother I now realize.  Your mother was so very delighted and content to have you close by.  Lugging a huge musical instrument from class to class, from our conversations I realize, as a grown woman, you have been lugging around a huge burden all your life.  In some ways, the same burden your mother carried around, never letting on.

Your mother was a loving person and person who was loved…by students, her teaching peers, and her administrators.  She was respectful to her classes and her classes were respectful of her…not to say she didn’t believe in tough love in some, necessary situations.  She looked for the best in people and I believe she was rarely disappointed.  In many cases, you get exactly what you look for, something we should all remember.  The most important thing you need to remember about your mother is that she loved you and she was proud of you.  I believe she is proud of you now and the sacrifices you have had to make.  You have been a loving and dutiful daughter.  She would also be sad because of those same sacrifices and would tell you to unburden yourself.

Laura, your mother had a very profound effect on not only me but everyone she mentored, and most assuredly those students she encountered.  I am saddened you didn’t get to know her as well as I did as an adult, but I’m also confident she taught you lessons you don’t even know you learned.  I believe the best way to learn about your mother is to consider the “metaphorical” mirror.  If you gaze into it you will see more of her than you realize.  I believe you are a lot like her…in the most positive of ways.

With love, Don.

This is National Suicide Prevention Month.  To learn how you can support suicide prevention, please use the following link:  https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide and you feel you have no one to talk to please call their life line at 1-800-273-8255

To read more from Don Miller please use the following link to his author’s page:  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

IN HONOR…SUPPORT THE CAUSE

March is colon cancer awareness month. In 2010 a former player of mine, Tim Bright, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Despite a valiant effort, Tim fell to the terrible disease in 2014. Later that same year I found out former player and baseball “Daddy”, Brian Kuykendall was also diagnosed with the same disease. He fell in 2015.

To honor them and others unknown to me, I will donate all profits from book sales for the month of March to the Institute for Translational Oncology Research (ITOR) Greenville Hospital System, Greenville, SC.

Don Miller’s books may be downloaded on any Kindle supported app or purchased at http://goo.gl/lomuQf.

MY COLONOSCOPY …OBSERVATIONS OF HUMOR

No, No, No, No! Don’t let me wake up! DON’T LET ME WAKE UP! Just let me finish this dream…SH@T FIRE! It was such a great dream. It was about…okay you will have to take my word for it…actually I will have to take my own word for it. How quickly a drug induced dream disintegrates. My colonoscopy has completed my 100 000-mile checkup. Drat! I just remembered I have to have that other test. Glad my GP has slender fingers.

All is well except the lost memory of my dream and I DO understand why people become drug addicts. I wonder if I can have another colonoscopy next week without the prep…OR MAYBE JUST THE DRUGS. Why is the prep timed so it will hit in the middle of the night and how much Miralax can be dissolved in Gatorade?
My doctor says he found nothing so I guess I can’t have another one next week or the drugs. I am surprised he didn’t find something. I would say from the way I feel he should have found Amelia Earhart’s missing airplane or Genghis Khan’s burial site. Wow, he even took pictures. No I will not share them with you but I always knew I had an inner beauty and now I have the pictures to prove it. I also have a bad taste in my mouth. You don’t suppose…?

I am in recovery now with a chorus of other recovering patients. I say chorus because we are serenading each other with “Trumpets (NON) Voluntary!” Who knew air being forced up your intestinal tract would cause such “music.” You know when you blow up a balloon and let the air escape by stretching the little opening? I am sure the nurses would prefer rooms with real doors instead of the pull around dividers. They must be used to the trumpeting and thank goodness it is not very noxious. My recovery nurse did not laugh when I asked if she wanted to pull my finger.

There is something demeaning about lying on your side and having a video camera threaded up a couple of dozen feet of intestine through your…well, you know. Especially demeaning when one of the “team” members is a cute, young brunette. I know, I know I am a happily married male in my late summer or early autumn years. But I ain’t dead and I would prefer to put my best foot forward…or six inches forward. In a way I guess it is. I wonder who has to clean the camera? You went to college for four years to do this?

I wonder if the five-person team jokes about MY predicament? Why does it take five people? More embarrassment or more jokes. Little snide remarks like “Hey and now you know how a puppet feels” or “In some states we’d be married now.” “I’m at the top of my game but at the bottom of yours.” I wonder if my wife asked my doctor to check for my head? She did tell me she didn’t understand why I even need a colonoscopy. With my head so far up my butt I should be able to check for myself.

When I had my first colonoscopy I embarrassed my wife when I asked my doctor if I had heard him correctly? “Did you say I had a perfect asshole or I was a perfect asshole?” Those of you who know me will agree that it was probably NOT THE DRUGS talking and will agree on what the doctor actually said. Those who don’t know me, IT WAS NOT THE DRUGS talking. I promised my wife this time around I would not embarrass her…and I didn’t. Hope she doesn’t read this.

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM