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Well… it looks like my time is up here…
I’ll never forget you, my little tree house in the sky. It seems as though you’ve cradled me for a long time. The roots of my initially terrifying journey to find myself began with you. As I felt everything outside was crumbling around me, from the many mistakes I made to the letdowns I endured – you always kept me safe within your walls. The past three years you’ve seen every bit of me. Sadness, joy, anger, surprise, frustration, loneliness… all of it. Soon, I hope there will come another person to live here – perhaps one not so unlike me. Someone who is also in need of comfort, safety and tranquility.
Thank you for letting me call you HOME for awhile. Just as I always expected, it’s hard as hell to say goodbye.
Shhhh… remember, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. You just hold your head up now, Bon – and go on home.
(sniff) *nod*… Yeah. Be seein’ ya.
They called you Big O. You were a sailor, businessman, trucker, husband, dad, pawpaw, and friend. I’m not the only one these memories revisit so very often, there are of course others – your wife, your granddaughter, son-in-law and all of your children and grandchildren alike.
You were a man like no other; generous, loving and strong. You see, God really did break the mold when he made you. I’ve never seen a person who loved people in general so much – you just never met a stranger. Nothing pleased you more than to make someone laugh or smile. You were known to go up and put a strong arm around an unknown and give them a jovial ‘shake’ when you thought they might be having a bad day. Only once in a while would it make the person uncomfortable, but I like to think it made the day better for most.
My, how you loved Dale Earnhardt Sr. – and to say you were passionate about your racing was an understatement. At the time, the infamous Daytona 500 was the one big win that had always eluded your driver – and of course you always took a lot of heat for this. I want you to know the following month after you died, Earnhardt drove his car to victory in his very first Daytona 500 win. It was a very emotional day down here to say the least – but a bright spot nonetheless. Sadly, three years later Earnhardt lost his own life in turn 4 at that very track. There wasn’t any bigger fan of Earnhardt as was you. You and he even looked so much alike it was uncanny – I like to think you’ve both met up by now. I can just see you walking together… with your hand on Earnhardt’s shoulder, telling him your stories.
Many different occasions you’d see a girl or lady with their midriff showing, perhaps even bearing a belly-ring. I remember how you loved that opportunity to go up to these females, put an arm around them and say in your southern drawl “I’ll bet that you like sailors, don’t ya?” I can’t remember a time where the female didn’t look stunned, finally responding with a grin and a “Why?” to which you would say “Because you’re showing off your naval base!!”. You’d always laugh heartily and then flash that big Earnhardt smile. Actually, it was Earnhardt that had your smile. 🙂
I could write page after page about your character and the huge impact you had on not only my life but virtually everyone you came into contact with… but it would be further emotionally draining today and… long. I believe, though, that somehow you had an idea of how much everyone loved you. Your guidance, perseverance and faith in me greatly shaped my character. And, you would be so proud of the relationship I have with both my mom and dad today.
That fateful January 6th day of ’98 was to be your last. You had a massive heart attack that morning and went to be with Jesus. I have no doubt in my mind that’s where you are now… not a single doubt.
On the 13th anniversary of your sunset Big O, know that you’re still missed just as terribly today as you were in those moments right after your departure. So enjoy yourself up there, tell Mammaw hey for me – and we’ll being seeing ya…
I’ve had much rest this past holiday season. The joy has been tremendous and the stress very minimal. However, even a beautiful post-holiday beach vacation to bring in the New Year isn’t enough to keep the blood pressure level in check for ole’ Bon. Apparently the second med that was added a couple of weeks ago was an Epic Fail. In lieu of waiting for that one month follow-up visit, I called Doc up yesterday morning. After another failed attempt on acquiring correct triage information between 4-5 phone conversations throughout the day, the last of the conversations went something like this.
Medical Assistant: Dr. Yadada has faxed in a new prescription that’s waiting for you at Your-Pharmacy, USA – you are to immediately quit your current bp meds and replace with this new ‘combination’ prescription.
Bon: What, a combination? So he said to cease taking the blah-blah? Wait – does this new ‘combination’ rx contain a beta-blocker, like the blah-blah I’ve been on for thirteen years?
Medical Assistant: I’m not sure.
Bon: I don’t think Dr. Yadada would just pull me off a beta-blocker which I’ve been on for thirteen years that’s pertinent to my survival. Just the last visit, he told me I’ll be on this one for the rest of my life. Think you could double-check with him?
Medical Assistant: Hmm… from what he said I’m thinking he meant come off of all your prior bp meds and immediately replace with this new one that’s a combo.
Bon: *Shock* Well, what’s the name of it, I’ll see if I can look it up.
Medical Assistant: I don’t really (really??) have access to that, as I don’t work in clinical.
(NOTE: ‘I don’t work in clinical’ most likely translates to ‘I don’t know what the f**k I’m talking about medically’. The title Medical Assistant assigned to her by yours truly is more than likely a very generous title.)
Bon: Look lady. One day off the beta-blocker could literally mean a stroke or worse for me. This is my LIFE we’re talking about here. I don’t want to hear what ‘you’re thinking’. I want to know what HE’S thinking.
Medical Assistant: Okay Ms. (cough-cough) Bitch, I’ll see if I can reach him again and verify if not all, which rx you are to replace with the new one.
You can probably guess the outcome. I was to remain on my beta-blocker and the new ‘combination’ one was once again an addition. It took the remainder of the day for me to calm down from this little ditty. With competent souls like this getting paid to look after your healthfare, will someone please tell me who the heck needs enemies?
Been feeling junky for the past few days, mainly my throat. Since I wanted to make sure I was well for Christmas I decided to pay a visit to the doc yesterday after work. I’m glad I did.
My blood pressure was once again off the charts, and it turns out it was high the last time I was there too. Yesterday it was 151/100, and I had been there for a while so it’s not like I’d just walked in out of a traffic jam. Stage 2 hypertension is not something I feel I should have since I’ve been managed by a beta blocker many years now, but I guess it happens. Sooo, now I get to be on two medicines for bp. I’m just glad it was caught.
My ever-wise daughter: “Oh my gosh, Mom! You have GOT to be more peaceful and calm down. You need to try some relaxation techniques. Meditate. It really does work! Just sit in candle light and do some really deep breathing for 10 minutes every night. You can’t keep being so wound up!”
I got a quick visual of myself getting stuck in a pretzel position, and it struck a funny bone in me. Then I got to thinking maybe she’s actually onto something. Honestly, I know she is. Stop being so wound up. Don’t sweat the petty things. Don’t pet the sweaty things. Yeah, that’s it! Here’s an old dog trying to learn a new trick again… I’ll be sure let ya know how that works out for me.
About two and a half years ago, I lost twenty pounds. I found that success really can be achieved the good old-fashioned way – via eating healthy and exercising my tail off. I worked extremely hard for every pound, and kept it off for a year. I felt better than I ever had felt before – my blood pressure had leveled out and I was even trying to talk my doctor into weaning me off the beta blocker I’ve been on since age 32. Over the past year and a half, I’ve gained twenty five pounds (there should be a heavy black font for that because the bold one just doesn’t cut it). Twenty-five pounds. That’s the equivalent of ‘all that and a bag o’ chips’. No excuses.
Once again, I’ve taken on the difficult task of eating right and exercising – although it’s taken me twenty-five pounds to get to this point. What makes it so difficult to re-acquire that motivation, and why did I lose it in the first place? Anyway, I think I might’ve found it again and only hope it isn’t temporary. I dusted the cobwebs off my treadmill and have since put a couple of miles on it. I weighed in early this morning and was happy to see that I’ve lost two pounds – yay me! Now to just keep it going. I’ve done this once – but something in me relaxed, or something… exercising came to an abrupt halt and my eating habits turned from healthy to down right horrible. Failing so miserably in my endeavor makes me feel awful about myself. I’ve simply GOT to be successful at this, and keep it off this time.
The keys for me are a) weekend management and b) not feeling cheated. If I feel cheated, I’ve proven time and again that I’ll rebel. This is actually the perfect time of year to head to the mountains for a hike… hey, great idea. We survived last nights tornadic storms, and the forecast for the weekend looks optimal…
It was backed up to his apartment when I got home from work Friday afternoon – a U-Haul truck of about mid-sized length. Burt was moving out.
Burt is a nice gentleman that I met shortly after I moved here back in Spring of 2008. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated upon first impression. His clean-shaven head and tattoos up around his neck definitely had me on my guard. I’ve always tried to be non-judgmental, but admittedly there are times when I allow first impressions to put that gate up, albeit temporarily. This seemed especially so upon starting over – I had trouble trusting anyone.
Burt would always be the one in the parking lot helping another resident do something – moving, working on a car, etc. Everyone knew him by first name, and he knew everyone else’s name as well. We used to have a handicapped neighbor who resided here for years that Burt was always helping out in some way. I’d just gotten home from work one day last summer when he walked over and told me our neighbor had passed away that morning. It was obviously emotional for him.
The office staff where I live took in three full grown cats abandoned by former tenants, and paid for their care, spay/neutering and shots. They then had the task of finding them homes. They decided to keep the last one (Mr. Whiskers) as their very own in the office – and trust me, this cat has it very good. One of the other adoptive parents? Burt.
As I walked over Friday to tell him goodbye, it appeared that the move itself was emotional for him. “I’m moving back to the beach where my girlfriend lives. I don’t know… guess this whole thing makes me vulnerable again”. It kind of hit home when he said that. Committing your self wholly to your relationship – giving up your own place to live, many of your belongings, furniture – your own home that you worked so hard to build – feeling as though you’re losing, in a sense, your very own identity. I quickly shook off the Ally McBeal psycho-flash I’d just had, and told him the first thing that came to my mind. “Nothing worth having is without risk. Go for it.”
You truly were a staple of the community, Burt. Good luck – and God speed.
As of last night, Dad’s surgery is supposed to take place some time today. He’s been hospitalized again ever since last Thursday after a brief night of hell at home. I’m hoping they can go ahead and get this thing taken care of so he can get back home, recover, and go back to living his life. He told me last night that he knows this whole thing has been a mess – to which I replied it certainly isn’t his fault. That’s the kind of man he is though, always worried about inconveniencing others.
My aunt (Dad’s sister) is on her way up to Durham this morning to be with him post-surgery and get him back home, as he could be released as soon as tomorrow. I always feel like they release you too soon. Now I know I’m no doctor, but I’ve seen this happen far too many times to even count. People being released that can’t even walk, change their dressing, etc. – sometimes resulting in even more emergency care. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it’s all about insurance and the money part. In any case, my thoughts and prayers will be with him today and I’ll be sure to give an update as soon as I know something!
Everyone here has been so kind with your thoughts and prayers, and I want you to know it means the world to me – and to Dad. 🙂
What a mess. Poor Dad is back to being transported to the Durham VA hospital. Yesterday the Charlotte hospital had released him to go home when they learned he wouldn’t be getting the surgery done with them, and when Durham learned of the release (and also of his life vest continually attempting to go off and shock the ever-loving #%*! out of him) they advised him he was not safe at home and instead needed to be there.
I’m hoping to get a phone call from him when he gets to his destination, poor fella’s gotta be wore slap out since I heard he hasn’t slept since Wednesday night. Preliminary schedule for surgery is still late in the week next week, and we’re all hoping that date’ll improve. I know he so appreciates the prayers.
Dad was supposed to have surgery this morning at 10:30. A lot happened yesterday that changed that.
It started with a phone call from the cardiovascular VA hospital in Durham. Now, I’m not gonna call out any names of hospitals that have most currently been involved with his care, but the cardiovascular team that is familiar with him in Durham were livid about a few things. For one, a more risky (to say the least) procedure was scheduled for this morning – one that could’ve ended up in open-heart surgery. Secondly, Durham could not believe that his defibrillator had been deactivated since Monday, and he was not fitted with a life vest (I wasn’t aware of what one was until yesterday). A life vest in medical terminology is basically a defibrillator within a vest. The question was asked, ‘but he’s in a hospital and being monitored – if anything happened, they’d be right there anyway’. Durham’s response was, ‘by the time a team got into his room with the proper equipment, a minimum of 2.5-3 minutes would have passed – would you really want to chance that time lapse?’ Guess I never thought about it like that…
Needless to say, Dad made the decision to go to Durham instead. The two teams (Durham and Charlotte) disagreed on his options, and in the end Durham was able to offer him more options as to the types of procedures for this most delicate position he’s in. They were going to transport him by ambulance the 3+ hour trip – but the surgery couldn’t be scheduled immediately so that wasn’t needed. The Charlotte hospital released him to go home (with life vest in tow) to await the surgery scheduling in Durham. Until then, I’m sure he’s glad to be home for a brief time – and I’m willing to bet his little dog Pedro most certainly agrees.
My sweet Daddy is in the hospital again. He called me at work yesterday, and when my coworker said “it’s your father on the phone” I immediately knew something was up since he never calls me at work.
Several years back, we almost lost him. In fact, did lose him twice on the operating table, and God brought him back. Okay, I’ll give props to the doctors too – but their handiwork was lead solely and completely by our Lord’s will. Period.
It all started out with having a bad heart for years. Then came the respiratory ailments, which escalated into pneumonia then finally a terrible abscess in one of his lungs. The docs tried for months on end to clear it up to no avail – finally the decision was made to remove most of the lung. He was so very sick by this point, they didn’t give a good prognosis for the outcome of the operation. It was, in fact, grim. He came through the operation with multiple complications and they ended up having to go BACK in months later and get the rest of the lung. It frustrated me that he had to go through all that twice, the second time harder because it was a second go-round – I still wonder why it just wasn’t all done at one time. The recovery time it took for him amazed me, he’s just a trooper and loves life so much that nothing seems to keep him down.
In between all this, the heart issue had to be addressed as well. Dad was given a pacemaker/defibrillator amidst all the lung issues. I don’t know if any of you are aware of what’s called “Ejection Fraction” (Ef). This is the medical terminology that refers to the fraction of blood pumped out of ventricles with each heart beat. Your heart circulates blood through two separate systems. The two chambers on top (atriums) are the receiving stations for your blood. The two lower chambers (ventricles) are pumping stations. When the left ventricle contracts, forcing blood out into the body, it’s called “ejection” since it is “ejecting” the blood out into your arteries. Since the big pumper on the lower left is the one that pushes blood throughout your body, that is where they usually measure heart function – the left ventricle. That’s the “ejection” part. The “fraction” part is because that pumping chamber (the left ventricle) never quite manages to pump out all the blood inside it – there’s always a little bit left behind that lies around waiting for the next contraction. The amount your left ventricle does pump out per beat is called the “ejection fraction”. It’s X% (the amount pumped out) of the total amount of blood in the ventricle per heart beat. If your heart pumps out 55% or more of the blood in your left ventricle on each beat, you have good heart function. When it falls below 55%, you’re slipping. My Dad’s was 15%. Believe it or not, it can improve over time. If I remember correctly, at the last reading he had gotten back up to 25%, maybe even higher – my memory eludes me so I’ll have to ask him.
Back to the pacemaker/defibrillator. Most of us are aware of the pacemaker’s purpose, which is to regulate the heartbeat. You can adjust the pacemaker so that it can be suitable for either the top or bottom heart chambers or both, depending on what type of pacemaker it is and the needs of the patient. It also will only work if it is needed, it doesn’t work all the time. An implanted defibrillator is a larger device. It is there to prevent death from a cardiac arrest. The device shocks the heart if it needs to be shocked, because of a life-threatening rhythm disturbance from the lower chambers of the heart. It can correct this rhythm. Because it has a pacemaker built into it, a defibrillator also has the capability of stimulating the heart like a pacemaker, to help stop fast rhythms, at times, and to prevent the heart from getting too slow. Okay, I know I’m being long-winded on this (pardon the pun).
When Dad originally had the device implanted, it wasn’t long at all (2007) before they made the startling discovery that his was one of Medtronics pacemaker/defibrillator devices that had bad ‘leads’ in it. Sure enough, it was only discovered after the device went on a rampage and violently ‘shocked’ Dad continually for almost 24 full hours. I cannot imagine the trauma of enduring this. They ended up replacing the leads, I believe, shortly after this happened.
You can view a short video here on the history of the malfunctioning leads. Pretty darned interesting. Medtronics Defibrillator Video on bad leads
The reason he’s back in the hospital? The hospital called him back yesterday morning, and said the leads are once again malfunctioning… and for him to get to the hospital asap. Right now, they’re unsure which gameplan they’re going to take – currently two different procedures are being decided on. The outcome will depend on several factors, decided by the test results from later today.
Like I said before, he’s a trooper and a champ! He’s been riding his new bike (tryke) for several months now and enjoying it immensley. He’ll get back on it and go back to life as usual before I know it. He’s honestly the biggest lover of life that I know, and loves our precious Lord so very dearly. Any and all prayers will be so appreciated. Many blessings to all!