Tuesday

Amy and I just finished watching Dancing with the Stars.  I confess – I’ve never seen it before.  The internet is ruining my ability to watch TV.  I hate commercials, but not as much as I hate being manipulated to wait for what I want to see after the break “when we return.”  They don’t mean it.  It will be the very last item on the broadcast.  Local news is the absolute worst.  I refuse to watch it anymore.  I can see what I want – read what I want – when I want to  – on the internet.  As dumb as the purveyors of infotainment think we are it’s ironic they can’t for the life of them understand why viewership is collapsing all around them.  It’s a revolution.

Anyway, I said all that to say I watched the entire episode of Dancing with the Stars to see Wayne Newton dance.  Don’t ask.  Poor thing (Wayne, not craig).  I think I’m going to keep watching because I think it’s likely will get to see ol’ Wayne drop dead on live TV.  My dream job is to be a lounge lizard so I hope to pick up some pointers from watching him work his act – and then apply for his career when the inevitable happens.  Apparently he fears for his life.  It must be that mob thing from a few years ago.  While he was practicing his dance moves and then during the actual performance tonight it looked like he was wearing a heavy duty bullet-proof vest.  Under his skin.

Danke Schoen

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Where I was on 9/11

Another long post.  And another very personal one.  I wrote it because it helps me process things irregardless if it is read or not.  My feelings won’t be hurt one bit if you choose to bypass this one.   

My last visit to this particular doctor was on 9/11.  The 9/11.  I slept through the entire horror of that day.  My wife did try to wake me up to tell me what was happening, but I merely screamed at her to get out and leave me alone.  Later that afternoon I crawled to the doctors office for yet another of many visits.  He scorned me.  He informed me that in his eighteen years of practicing medicine he had never encountered the symptoms I was describing.  His solution on 9/11 was to prescribe a powerful tranqulizer and to tell me I should pray.  Instead I wanted to hit him.  I never saw him again.

My last year at Memorial was a living hell.  I was being treated as bi-polar, clinically depressed and for ADD.  If you’re familiar with these afflictions you will know that’s a lot of meds to be taking.  That didn’t include the sleeping pills, the muscle relaxers, the indigestion and anti-nausea pills and the pain meds.  Twice that year I went to emergency rooms because my resting heart rate was over 160 beats a minute.  Not good.

During the four and half years I was at Memorial I probably went to the doctor more times than I had in my entire life.  Test after test after test and nothing.  X-rays, heart scans, cat scans, cameras in the stomach and  more x-rays.  Nothing.  Pill after new pill after the latest pill and nothing worked.  Woe to the person who has been diagnosed as being depressed.  That person will be treated like an unreliable freak whose every physical symptom was manufactured in the bowels of psychological instability. 

For years and years, before I ever moved to Tulsa I knew something wasn’t right.  It started with my right shoulder burning and aching beyond belief.  Especially when I was driving or standing for any amount of time.  My throat also began to hurt fairly often for no apparent reason.  I wasted good money on several “throat specialists” who used their probes and cameras to tell me I had a sore throat.  I sprayed their cortizone mixtures, popped their antibiotics and gargled with more salt water than is in the Dead Sea to little or no relief.

When I began to experience stomach problems I submitted to more tests, drank more potions and popped more pills.  Yet, they couldn’t tell me why I was vomiting on a nightly basis.  Their eyes told me they thought I was making everything up or forcing myself to vomit.  I was in a perpetual rage because it seemed no one was listening to me.  Or they were treating me like I was crazy.  I told Amy several times, with a raised and frustrated voice, that while I did have a good imagination I didn’t think it was good enough to make this stuff up or powerful enough to conjure up a resting pulse of 160 or higher.  Something was wrong.  I knew it.  Others began to doubt it.  Especially after doctor after doctor visit yielded nothing.  I had no reason to make these things up.

The worst thing for me was the lethargy which was an almost daily companion.  When I look at old pictures they remind me of how I was feeling at the time.  I remember how difficult it was to get out of bed that particular day.  I look at past events which were so good and rewarding but the way I was feeling on the inside was immune to those joys.  I was barely functioning.  I was going through the motions.  My true self was imprisoned.  Was I depressed?  You bet.  However, some of the loudest arguments I had with Amy was over the source of that depression.  She would say at a particularly rough spot, “Maybe you’re depressed.”  This was code for you need to see the counselor and you need to take the pills.  This was enough to send me into orbit.  I’d scream, “Yes, I’m depressed.  But I’m depressed because SOMETHING IS WRONG AND NO ONE WILL BELIEVE ME!”

As I say, my last year at Memorial was a nightmare.  From a physical point of view.  My right arm was becoming virtually useless.  Sometimes I had to use my left arm to lift my right arm up to the key board of my office computer.  One morning as I was putting deoderant on I missed my right arm pit.  I missed it because it was now twisted and facing the rear.  My rib cage had moved to the point I couldn’t even stand up straight.  Swallowing food became an ordeal.  One night I thought I was going to die when a piece of steak became stuck in my throat.  It wasn’t like choking.  More like the passage of my throat was becoming so narrow food simply couldn’t go down.

My shoulder hurt worse than ever.  My throat was a mess.  I couldn’t lift my head off of the pillow and so had to roll out of bed everyday.  My body was physically bent.  And I spent days and days and weeks in bed.  Incapacitiated.  For anyone who has ever been ill for “no apparent reason”  you know what it’s like when family, friends and co-workers look at you that certain way.  Not to mention your own self-doubts.  I wanted to die.

At the suggestion of Terry I went to his chiropracter for my shoulder.  I spent hundred of dollars going.  Although it didn’t do much for my shoulder interestingly enough my first visit permenantly fixed my digestion and vomiting problems.  Makes you think doesn’t it?

Anyway, if you’ve read my blog you know I eventually lost my job, which included our health insurance.  All visits to the doctor ceased.  I only got worse.  Ask Amy.  During the second summer after I was terminated I became a virtual recluse.  I wasn’t working and I had no energy for anything.  Just getting out of bed required a monumental effort.  It was a beautiful Summer.  We had just moved into a new home.  We had a swimming pool in our back yard.  I didn’t care.  When we had company I would spend a good part of my day on the floor of my closet.  I simply had no desire for anything.

Anyway, when I started working at Mcdonalds we once again had health insurance.  Before long the hours spent on my feet began to take their toll on my already weak right side.  Amy suggested I go to the doctor again and I went merely for her sake.  I knew they would find nothing.  I was wrong.

My new doctor sent me to yet another orthopedic specialist.  More x-rays.  While he was looking at them I sat praying in a cold examination room.  When he entered I said, “Doctor I’m desperate.  No one believes me and my own wife is beginning to doubt me.  Please help me.”  After dozens of doctor visits, thousands of dollars, innumerable pills, the loss of my career, marital woes beyond belief and near insanity on my part he told me what was going on.  He scheduled surgery.

He opened my right shoulder and sawed/ground off part of my shoulder blade.  It was grinding over a rib head every time I moved.  You can imagine the inflammation and damage this would cause.  At home, after the surgery, I was stunned to discover I could actually feel my toes.  I even told Amy, “Hey, I didn’t know you were supposed to feel your toes.”  It shocked me.  Later that week we went out to dinner.  When I began to eat I got a real big grin on my face.  I almost started laughing out loud.  It  was a magical moment of which I will never, ever forget.  Why?  I didn’t know you could taste food. 

A week after surgery we went back to the doctor for a follow-up and to look at the x-rays.  We both sat in the examination room.  As we looked at the x-rays and heard what had been done in surgery the PA off-handedly remarked, “By the way, did you know you had a broken rib at some point in your life?”  I almost fell over.  On the way home I told Amy she better treat me right from now on because my imagination was so powerful I could break bones with it.

Apparently, unknown to me, I broke a rib on my right side.  As it healed a chain reaction began which caused my rib cage to be drawn slowly up and to the right.  It also began to constrict organs, nerves and what not.  This seemingly small incident has determined my entire life to this point.  My rib cage was literally squeezing the life out of me.  But not anymore.

I have spent the last several years agressively flexing and stretching my upper body.  Trying to get my rib cage to expand and take the pressure off of my lungs, heart, stomach, throat and nerves.  I can tell you that I am in the process of feeling better than I ever have.  Now I also know  that I have never felt good in my entire adult life.  It gives me closure and peace with much of my past.  I was an ill man.

  I wonder where I would be if a doctor had listened to me, believed me and aggressively pursued the truth.  I know I’d have a lot more money.  It has been years since I took the anti-depressants, tranquilizers and all other drugs.  For anything.  Normal heart rate.  Arm pit where it belongs.  No more sore throats.  No more stomach problems.  No more lethargy.  I am finally becoming the man I always wanted to be.

I still have a ways to go.  A lot more stretching to do.  I suffered the loss of my career, retarded my marriage and burned many bridges with family and others.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  Especially and most importantly with Amy.  Through all of this she is my hero.  Her life with me has not been easy.  As I feel more of my true self coming “on-line” I’m discovering the energy and desire to fix so many things.  To live again.  I love Jesus for His great patience towards me and for never giving up.  Yep, Him and Amy are the best things going on in my life.

If you know someone who is sick without reason they just might be telling the truth.  No matter what the doctors say.  Believe them and love them.  If you are the one who is ill please know I hurt for you.  I pray for you.  I believe you.  More importantly though, Jesus believes you.  When you are beating yourself up – when the voices of doubt are raging – when you are too sick to leave the house – when you are simply putting one foot in front of the other – when you’re faking it to make it – when you want to hide in your closet – know this – You are impressing Jesus Christ with your heroism.  His thinking is, “Wow!  Look at what he or she is doing.  I know the truth of what they are suffering and I therefore accept the smallest bit of their faith in action as a widows mite.”  And we all know what He thinks of the widow’s mite.

Peace to all,

craig

Dinner and a Movie

Well, last night Amy and I went to dinner and a movie.  Keep in mind her birthday is in a couple of weeks.  While we were eating dinner (I had nachos and Milk Duds.  She had popcorn and Junior Mints. If you care to know) and waiting for the movie to start I turned to her and told her I had a surprise and couldn’t wait until the movie was over to tell her.  I’m like that with Christmas gifts too.  It KILLS me.

Anyway I said,

 “Amy, I wanted to wait until the end of the movie to tell you this because it’s supposed to be a surprise.  So if you promise to act surprised I’ll tell you now.  Amy…

“Surprise!  This is your birthday present!”

I don’t know what to do now.  Used movies tickets are non-refundable or even exchangeable.  I blew all my cash (I work at McDonalds)  And I can tell you this was one birthday present that did not fit.

But, it didn’t stop me from whispering “Surprise,” at the conclusion of the movie.  And then I ducked.

-We saw the movie Stardust.  If you haven’t seen it go, go,go!  It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time.  It was funny and moving.  Little to no cussing.  No nudity.  No on screen sex.  Great story.  Family friendly.  Unless someone in your family is afraid of witches.

-My “Books I Read” list is terrible.  It reveals how shallow I really am.  For some reason I just can’t get into inspirational type books.  Or even the deeper theological books.  I do like Brennan Manning and Terry Rush (of course).  Most of the books I read in “real life” are filled with names like Bannerman, Bosch, Davenport, Reacher, Rapp and others.  Their idea of self-help is to kill, kill, kill.  Church growth?  Amazing how many people you can get to church at gun point.

-Aslan is my favorite fictional character.  But, then again I think he’s real.

-I’m still reading all your comments.  Thank you so much.  Knowing my blog friends and family are praying for me and accepting me as I am makes me want to not stay “as I am.”

-Go see Stardust!

craig

How to liven up a conversation. Especially if you’re bored.

I don’t know why but every once in awhile I’ll hear or read something that won’t let go of my brain.  Just a sentence or two.  They are probably taking up room  I need but I can’t get rid of them.  However, even though they have nothing to do with my life, I do find ways of using them in conversations.  Even though they have nothing to do with the conversation either.  Here are a few.  They’re not exact quotes but close enough to suit my purposes.

– “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” Whoa Nellie!  Never good to speak for everybody.  Someone did.

– “Senator, I knew President Kennedy.  President Kennedy was my friend.  Senator, you’re no John Kennedy!” Bentsen to Quayle. Vice-presidential debate.  The look on Quayles face. Priceless.

-“Hu…hu…honey,  you’ve already had it.  Ah…Ah…Ah’ve already kizzed you.  Jess be patient.  Eveeerbudy’s gonna get it.” Elvis to fan (female). In concert in Las Vegas.  Greedy little thing for wanting “it” again, don’t you think?

-“A recession is when your neighbor loses their job.  A depression is when you lose yours.”  Reagan. 

Like I said I like to pepper (NO John!) my conversations with comments like these.  The person will be jabbering along and then I will interject, very seriously, one of the above.  Something like, “Well you know what they say,  insert non-relevant comment.”  It’s a lot of fun to watch them try to understand what I said and how it pertains to the current conversation.  Of course most people probably have the same problem when I’m teaching.

The insertion of mindless, irrelevant comments into a conversation.  You should try it sometime.

Good news.  It’s raining in Tulsa today.  The drought is over boys.  It hasn’t rained a drop since part of May, all of June and most of July.  We’re saved!  Now go find the paddles.