Day 49 of 84

Me again … you again … so it goes …

As a counselor/therapist I led group sessions for about 40 years. As an educator, I have taught group counseling at a Masters and Doctorate level. I love doing groups. I have been a member of more groups than I can mention. Being on the receiving end makes all the difference.

One of the biggest advantages of group counseling is that it challenges the existential angst/myth that we are all alone. Because we are not. We can isolate ourselves. We can deny the connectedness. But, we are never alone. A long time ago, I wrote that psychological health was being okay when you are alone and social/spiritual health means realizing you never are.

I often feel most comfortable in groups of people where I do not have to explain who I am or why I am the way I am. Being a Seiser man (we are an “acquired taste”) is one of those. Being a martial artist is another. And being a veteran is up there too.

When I first got diagnosed with Hepatitis C I didn’t know much about it and didn’t know anyone who had it but me. Little did I know that I was stepping into an epidemic of people just like me. Viruses don’t care who you are. Viruses are parasitic and have a host that will let them reproduce until they kill the host. That’s the progression of the disease – infection, inflammation, scaring, cirrhosis, liver failure, death. Researchers/doctors are finding that many liver related transplants and death are actually the effects of the Hepatitis virus. We are finding it to be epidemic with the baby-boomer generation and Vietnam-era veterans. Yep – I’m both of those. While we may be a minority of the population, we still are reaching staggering numbers. We are not alone. The Veteran’s Administration had a philosophy of deny-delay-deny-delay-die without treatment. Not so any more.

So, at the end of my 7th of 12 weeks, we move forward together.

Thanks for sharing the journey …

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 48 of 84

Greetings from you know where and you know who to wherever and who ever you are right now …

Just noticed the mirror image of 48 and 84 … not that its important.

A lot going on today. When they say two steps forward and one step back, you are making progress and expecting some set backs. Progress is never straight forward. So you do something and end up having to redo it, it’s still getting done.

I keep mentioning that in the midst of being sick and going through treatment, we are still settling i, and working on the house. The discovery process always means that it’s a constant pattern of finding something new that you weren’t looking for. Yet, its these times that we tend to see our real character and find that our real character is really human and that is always humbling.

Things accumulate. Disappointment enters when things don’t match our expectations and according to Mr. Murphy, nothing will ever go smoothly and meet our expectations. In the mix is our own personal moments of melt down. I am usually the one who gives pep talks and reminds people what it’s all about. I am the strong one everyone turns to when times are rough because they know I can handle it. And, I am usually in a good place so that I can do that for others. I get that when things are going well that people don’t always want me around. they feel no need to include me. I am that one in reserve, in the darkness, who will be there as a supportive stabilizing element (or even a rescuer), but don’t really have the social graces for partying anymore. And I actually like that position, because in the end, how we show up for each other when the chips are down is all that really matters. It’s easy to be there when there is nothing to deal with. It’s much harder when the stuff hits the fan and life is a mess. But, that’s where I am often most comfortable.

So that’s my baseline, but sometimes (just sometimes) I need someone to be there for me too. Someone to remind me what it’s all about and what’s important. That would be m’lady, m’bride, my Pam.

One of my favorite movie scene comes from the old Rocky III. It’s not the fight scenes in the boxing ring. I realize the real fighting is within ourselves and in private. Every once in a while we meet someone and have the courage to let them in that part of our world. So, Rocky is training up to fight Mr. T.  Apollo is training him. Running down the beach Rocky stops and stares off. Everyone says it’s over, all but Adrian. (notice that in all the Rocky movies, the turning point was Adrian) She gets in his face about the truth, because when it’s all over it’s just the two of them and they can live with the truth but they cannot live with the fears. Rocky finally admits that because they can handle it together, he returns to training with her blessing (not permission). We all need someone in our corner. Rocky asked where she got so tough and she says she lives with a fighter.

My wife lives with a fighter. Right now the fight is within me. The fight is the accumulative cause and effect consequences of the mileage of my life. The fight (for 10 years) is with a virus (Hepatitis C). The fight is (for 7 weeks) the medication (Harvoni). The fight is not knowing if I will clear the virus, be cured (that sounds weird) of the disease, and to actually feel good some day.

Years ago, when both parents died within two years of each other, my brother and I did not know the medical conditions/diseases they faced. I decided that I needed to be more open about my health so no one will be surprised. Little did I know that I was about to be given something to let people know about. Being honest with everyone in my life about my Hepatitis has been very humbling. But, if  want people to be honest with me, I need to be honest with them. I have the deepest respect for people who are very human and you see where they are strong and where they are not so invincible. (Nobody does what I have done without some illusions of being invincible because (even from my mother on her death bed) I am still alive despite myself.

So I had a moment of doubt and disappointment  and shared it with my wife. She listened and then told me what she knows I have told so many people so many different times. No matter what happens with the house and no matter what happens with the disease/treatment – we are going to be alright.

I went to Aikido. I went to work. We shared pizza with the family for dinner.

Whatever it is, it’s alright. (It’s just not the way I want it to be right now.)

Yoooo … Pamela … Remember Please Forever I Love You …

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 47 of 84

Another day, another greeting from the sunny Florida Gulf coast …

We worked around the house today. We are trying to feel settled by adding some finishing touches to things. It would be great to feel finished, but in reality, we are not.

Ever see the movie Money Pit with Tom Hanks. Yeah, its like that. It seems that every time we try to get something completed we find more that needs doing. We are very fortunate that we actually do have the time and money to take care of things that come up. But as we pay for some things, it takes the away from funds we wanted for something else.

So its been a busy week. We finally got the pavers put into the patio and side yard. We recently had a fence put up which defined that side of the house as somewhat narrow. One of the things that we started to get done is a relocation of our air conditioner to the side of the house that we just put the fence and pavers on. The unit is huge and the hurricane pad that it needs to sit on is also huge. We will have to have some pavers pulled up and refigure the whole side of the house. Go figure …

We also had some electrical work done that shows we have aluminum wiring that needs to be capped. So we thought there were a few boxes or circuits that needed work and it turned out that the vast majority of the house will need every socket and switch box opened and fixed. Electricians started today and will be back Friday. And we haven’t begun to the actual electric work we wanted done. Go figure …

It rains here – a lot. I mean down pours. We realized that the house does not have gutters. So when we saw a neighbor getting new ones, we decided to go with it. Gutter installers came out today. They got more than half way around the house when they discovered that part of the roof on one side was soft and some of the wood rotten. So they stopped, informed us, and the roofer will be out Saturday. Hopefully the electrical and air conditioning will be done by then. Go figure …

And now is new, 2 month old dryer is not working …

What is amazing is that we are both okay with all of this. I never get too comfortable when things go smoothly because that has not been my experience, especially as a home owner. Remember that last year the sprinkler system in our Atlanta home burst and flooded everything and we were out of the house for 3 months during repair/remodel. Never really moved everything back in before we sold the house, moved out and then moved here.

So in the midst of all this, I am trying to keep on top of being sick and being in treatment. The symptoms and side effects stay the same. I keep not getting around to write a follow-up on the rating appeal with VA. There are several things that I just have not gotten around to. And I am “strangely comfortable” with that.

So, go figure, life goes on without too many finishing touches (guess that shouldn’t be surprising).

Thanks.

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 46 of 84

From us to you, from here to there … greetings.

When life changes, we can change with it or we can fight it. It’s a fight we cannot win, but we can be in denial for a while.

This came up because I didn’t have much to say today. It was another low energy quiet day. Same old symptoms and side-effects, so what was I going to talk about? Then it occurred to me, that perhaps I had set into and accepted a new level of normal and was very content because my outside world matches the inside representation I have of it.

Right now, I am happy just to get things done and get through another day. It’s another day closer to clearing (having the virus be undetected) and another day to healing and health. That’s the one I look forward to. We are such creatures of habit. I get kidded a lot by my colleagues who have very complicated and sophisticated perceptions and concepts of what we are as human beings. They sound very impressive and on a certain level, they sound like they must be true. Yet, when I look I see a very simple easy way to understand approach. We are who we are because we have learned to be that way. And we perpetuate it like inertia and momentum because we are on automatic pilot and our lives have become nothing more than habits. This is not a bad thing.  Habits are learned and anything we learn can be unlearned and relearned. When things get too complicated, I tend to get confused and stop trying. So for me, keeping it simple is the best approach to life.

So my new-normal is my new habitual way to get through the days. Usually my energy level is not too high to too low, I tend to just try to find that middle ground and stay there. I guess that also comes from my Buddhist background. I accept that it’s my perception of things that make them good/right or bad/wrong. In the middle of the road, things are not good/bad or right/wrong, they are just what they are. Accepting the world as it is makes one very quiet inside and out. I heard that while pain is a part of life, suffering was optional because suffering was our refusal to accept the world (and other people) the way they are. (Right – as if we could change it anyway.)

When we accept what is (like having a chronic pain/fatigue illness) we don’t fight it as much. We don’t give into it, but we accept that this  is the new normal and we start from there. It’s not an easy place to cultivate, but I get a glimpse of it from here.

So I woke up tired and with a headache – the new-normal – that’s what is. I had coffee, breakfast, read email, and visited FaceBook – the new normal – that’s what is. Went to Aikido and did my best to retool my fundamentals even though I have trouble moving and can no longer take falls (because I have trouble getting back up) – the new normal – that’s what is. Had some great paver work done on the patio and walkway and I did not do it – the new normal – that’s what is. Internet was slow so my work took a lot longer than it should have – the new normal – that’s what is. Watched our oldest grandson pitch in a college world series on the Internet – the new normal – that’s what is. Now writing the blog for today which sounds much like any other day – the new normal – that’s what is. It’s been a good day, nothing to get too excited about and certainly nothing to complain about – the new normal – that’s what is.

And I don’t feel flat or dissociated from it all. Go figure.

So, the new normal usually means getting more fatigued as the day goes on and the evening rolls in. I tend to go to bed early and wake up often. So it goes – that’s what is.

Thanks for being here … it’s deeply appreciated.

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 45 of 84

Memorial Day …

So many friends. So many funerals. So many graves. So much gratitude.

I often don’t know what to say when people thank me for my service. It wasn’t my choice to be in the last draft call, but it was my choice to show up and do the job they trained me to do. (Though the way people treat veterans, I think they often forget what we were trained to do – LOL) I have learned to just say you’re welcome and move on.

Today, people say have a happy Memorial day. What’s happy about it? For me its a quiet day of reflection. When we think of what it’s really all about (no picnics, barbeques, and beers), it’s not a celebration. It’s a mass funeral. I do not mean to sound negative in any way. I see it as a statement of fact. So many have died fighting in wars. If we look at the numbers, we have to wonder if we are learning or winning anything. There will always be bad guys that need taking out and there will always be good guys who are trained to do it. I saw an old spy movie where a young son just found out his dad was not really a traveling businessman. The young boy asked his father if there were really bad guys out there. The father gently said to his son that to them, we were the bad guys. I thought that who ever wrote that line knew what they were taking about.

I recently got a really nice email from a friend who apparently does read this blog and is following my progress. She has always been supportive with her honesty. So I guess some people do read this and I do not babble to them. When I was a kid no one really listened to me because (well) I was a kid, I had no idea what I was talking about, and I was in trouble a lot. This perception of myself continued even when I was doing major international conferences. I was amazed that people would show up and take what I had to offer seriously. But they did. And their lives improved. Funny how that goes. Our self-perception is often so caught up in history and past judgments that we often are the last to know/see who we really are.

As I said, today is a quiet day of reflection. My wife felt my forehead and knew I was running a temperature because I was so quiet this morning. When I am quiet inside, I don’t really notice that I am also quiet outside, but she (thankfully) does. Same symptoms/side-effects as usual (chronic fatigue and pain). Looking forward to one day feeling better and being able to do more. I guess I wouldn’t mind feeling bad if it didn’t interfere with my life. Ran some errors and did some more small tasks around the house. Had a great talk with my youngest son who is having to learn to set some boundaries to protect what he really loves doing in life – any conversation with him brings me happiness. (People tell me that he is alot like me – which is probably the nicest compliment I could receive.) Finally got on-line and cleared my classroom discussions. Looking forward to another busy week.

All in all, another beautiful day in paradise, just living the dream (LOL – actually, that’s not too far from being  absolutely true).

Thanks for listening/reading whoever you are and for whatever reason you allow me into your life.

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 44 of 84

Happy B’Day from the sunny (rainy afternoon) Florida Gulf coast …

Years ago, on my birthday, we jumped into my Jeep. My wife had quietly inserted the Beatle’s Birthday song into the cassette player. Since then it’s been a family tradition to play the tune. First thing this morning I posted the YouTube version on my wife’s FaceBook page. Today is her birthday.

When we first got (back) together (after 22 years) she said she had never had a home baked birthday cake. How do you let that one go by. So every year I bake her a cake.

When we got up this morning I had a card and a gift waiting for her. It was a small delicate wrist bracelet with a heart. It was from Tiffany’s. I remember the first time we visited Tiffany’s in South Coast Plaza (Coast Mesa, California). The sales people looked at us (okay, me) wondering what I was doing there. The security guard didn’t take his eyes off me. (I have that effect on security guards – I wonder why.) I think it surprised them even more when I bought my wife her first piece of jewelry from there. I think I paid cash and walked out laughing.

We went to a new place for brunch. It is called Steam-Chill over in Blind Pass (Saint Petersburg, Florida). Great vegetarian/vegan menu. A gentleman play acoustic guitar. Even met a waiter from Dearborn (Detroit). The day was off to a good start.

When we got home, we ended up with the grandchildren for the afternoon. Seems they are getting more used to us and feeling comfortable staying with us. We watched the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie.

Another family dinner celebrated my lady’s birthday. She has been receiving phone calls and birthday greetings all day. Well deserved. When she was talking to her mother I wanted to say thank you for having such a wonder daughter.

So today was about her. Rightfully so. Still tired/fatigued with a lot of joint stiffness, but grateful and appreciative that I do not have to walk this walk alone.

So,that’s it for today.

Check back tomorrow and we will see if anything has changed. Another day forward.

Love and pride, strength and honor … (who talks like that?)

Until again,

Lynn

Day 43 of 84

Greetings from the sunny Florida Gulf coast … (I often look for way to say this differently, but tonight, I got nothing new)

Monday is Memorial Day. The day we pay respect to service personnel who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. Read on the Internet/FaceBook that this day was started after the Civil War by a group of freed slaves who dug up the unmarked graves of Union soldiers to give them a proper burial and to thank them. Now there is a powerful thought.

We got up this morning and went out to Bay Pines National Cemetery to put flags on the graves of veterans who are buried there. My parents are buried in a National Cemetery out in Riverside California. We visit every time we go to California. My parents have been dead for over 20 years now and we used to take the grandchildren out to the cemetery on a regular basis. It was/is our way of paying respect to our parents and to all who have served in the military. I guess going to Bay Pines this morning was our way of still being a part of all that. My brother and I will both be buried at the Riverside National Cemetery. Strange how you can feel at home with people you don’t have to explain yourself to. They say there are no ex-soldiers. I think that is true. Experience changes a person.

We have been doing more work around the house. Trying to get more settled. While it has only been two months, at times it feels like we just got here and other times it feels more and more like home. Putting furniture where it belongs and hanging things on the wall have a tendency to make you feel like you just might stay. Some of this stuff we have had for a while. Especially me. I am a well-organized emotional pack-rat. I am emotionally attached to things that I am not sure what they are, or who gave them to me, or what I will ever do with them. But ask me to purge them and I begin to get resistant/defensive. As much as I believe in the abundance of the universe, there still must be some remaining scarcity/poverty mentality left. I’ll have to keep looking at that. When I do die, I know I am not taking any “stuff” with me, just the love and lessons of this temporary opportunity/experience.

Got a call from my VA doctor (Joe) with my viral load. It’s under 12. I guess they can tell the HCV is still there but cannot quantify it below 12. So, it appears I have plateaued for the moment, but am headed in the right direction. I still cannot believe my VA pharmacist who oversees the treatment would call me from his own phone on a Saturday to give me an update. As I keep saying, things are good.

My brother called to check in. He was driving to see his granddaughter and to meet our new granddaughter. I miss getting together with the California Seisers. When I got out of the service in 1974 I packed everything I owned into an old Chevy van and drove to California. My brother settled there and eventually my parents moved out to watch their grandchildren grow up. It was very good talking with him. We have become very close and a good support system for each other. He tells me about riding his horse and his latest writing and I share our latest adventures. He’s my big brother and I have always looked up to him. He’s a Marine and a brilliant lawyer fighting for children’s rights and safety. Doesn’t get any better than that.

When my wife and I first got together, she said that she had never had a home-made birthday cake. So every year I bake her one. Tomorrow is her birthday so tonight I baked a white on white cake with coconut on top. Over the years I have gotten pretty decent at this. Well, tonight was not one of those good baking days. But the thought was there and she is being a good sport about it. We will go to breakfast in the morning and have family over for dinner. I bought her a small present. We have gotten hard to buy for since we already have what we want and live a very quiet, happy, simple life together. Both of us have gotten over past drama and just enjoy each others company. Again, life and love is good.

So I am about to go to bed and see if I can get some rest so tomorrow we can do it all again.

Thanks again.

Love and pride, strength and honor,

Until again,

Lynn

Day 42 of 84

Hard to believe, but I’m halfway through the treatment part …

In running a marathon (26.2 miles), I learned that halfway was actually at the wall (mile 20) and not at mile 13.1 (half-marathon distance). It’s the accumulative wear and tear that makes the last miles the hardest. When you hit the wall it’s like you have nothing left. You dig deep and remind yourself why you are doing this and how bad you want it.

Many people drop out of school or stop a project just before it’s finished. It’s self-sabotaging and self-prophecy. Many times to complete a task you have to see yourself differently. Follow-through changes a person. Quitting allows you to stay the same.

I read people on Hep C forums/boards who have identified so much with this disease that I fear they may quit or do something that will make it ineffective. Hard to believe? I met people in treatment last time who actually drank and smoked and missed dosages and wondered why treatment didn’t work. In program we say, it works if you work it.

This morning I woke up with the usual fatigue and headache. While I am used to night sweats, I don’t usually have them in the morning, but was running a temperature and sweating this morning – it passed. Have been working online on and off all day because we are having some electrical work done and the electrician kept testing the circuits by turning them on and off. Didn’t hear from my VA doc today – but he called the other day – and am still waiting to hear about my current viral load. (Still need to work on that VA rating appeal – another day) Rather slow and laid-back today. Get to babysit our grandchildren for the evening while their parents go to a baseball game. Life is good.

By days count, I am halfway through the treatment. Yet, it ain’t over until it’s over.

Thanks for dropping by and lending a supporting/encouraging ear/eye – whether you are or not, its my blog and I can believe what I want.

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 41 of 84

Again, Greetings from me and mine to you and yours …

Another day late and a dollar short. Seems my days are very busy.

I am a huge Monty Python fan. (For those who may not know or those who try hard to deny it – they were a British Comedy Group). I once put a Pythonizer on my computer that made every key have a different body function sound. I thought it was funny and often used it to get out of writer’s block. My wife didn’t think it was so funny. But that’s not what I am here to talk about, though having a sense of humor is important.

I remember a long time ago I took one of my first long runs and every bone in my feet felt like they had fallen out of place. In fact some had. When I went to a sports podiatrist, he reminded me that I had structurally bad feet (knees and hips) and that if I wanted to continue running, I needed to learn how. I laughed.  It’s easy, just put one foot in front of another. He laughed and I finally had to learn how to run. More of a long distance shuffle, but running.

I have been to Tai Chi workshops when we would spend an entire morning learning how to walk. Yes, those things we do everyday without paying attention to them. Bruce Lee once said that at first a punch is just a punch, then you break it down step by step into a science and practice it, and then again a punch is just a punch, but it’s so very different. Walking is that way too. It’s about alignment of the spine, weight distribution over a center line, feeling the ground before you put weight on it. Paying attention to all the details of how the body was designed to move (instead of how we have habituated bad posture and movement mechanics).

I am often reminded of this since my hips have really taken a beating over the years. They too apparently slipped out of joint and I kept training anyway. X-rays showed nothing was broke but the inflammation/arthritis had found a home there. The wear and tear of life (mileage and wreckage) is unavoidable and inevitable.

Last night I attended an Aikido seminar by a Sensei (teacher) I had not worked with before. And we went back to  basics. You never get enough basics. We go back to footwork. We go back to walking. Nothing is taken for granted. We pay attention to new details of the kinesiology of moving efficiently and effectively. After all these years, you would think I knew how to walk on the mat. But no, some things/points I had heard before and others were interestingly new. It’s enjoyable to learn something new about the stuff you take for granted.

So in case you didn’t guess, the image of the day is a clock featuring Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

It was an interesting day. Woke up with the usual sickness/side-effect of fatigue and headache. Did some work online. Went into Tampa for a chiropractic adjustment. Worked some more. Actually took a nap. In the evening, went to a seminar that allowed me to rethink and retool how I move.

So it goes …

Thanks for listening (okay, unless you sub-vocalize when you read – thanks for reading).

Love and pride, strength and honor …

Until again,

Lynn

Day 40 of 84

Greetings from me to you and from here to there …

Notice the date on this post. Yes, before I went to bed last night, I forgot to write about my day. Perhaps it’s the brain-fog or just being forgetful.

I don’t really lie to myself about not writing things down, because I do. I am a list maker. I keep an appointment book with things I need to do and check them off when done. Remember, I don’t have a private counseling/therapy practice anymore, but I still keep an appointment book without the appointments. Its my way of keeping track of things. And the blog is written down there. Along with everything else. Yet, I forgot until I woke up this morning and tried to remember what I had written about. That was funny because I didn’t question whether I had written anything, but was concerned that I could not remember what it was. Only to find out that I could not remember what I wrote because I didn’t write anything.

I read an article that said that people who write things down get more accomplished. I also read an articles that said the graduates from a business show who had written down their financial/business plans usually made more than the class combined at their 10 year reunion. A friend of mine saw my appointment book one day and decided that I had too much going on and tried to help me delete some of it. He finally gave up by realizing that I do this on purpose and actually enjoy it. There was an old article that said the magic number in information processing/remembering/retrieval was 7 plus/minus 2. If you have only 5 (7-2=5) bits of information, the brain is under-stimulated and shuts-down. If you have 9 (7+2=9) bits of information, the brain is over-stimulated and shuts-down. We can group information into bunches/chunks and make remembering/retrieval easier, or we can just learn to write them down. Works for me. I usually ask people to make sure that I write things down and that if I ever don’t come through on something that it’s probably because I did not write it down, so please just remind me.

Like so many things, I used to think that I should be able to keep everything straight in my head. I often felt somewhat deficit if I got overloaded or forgot something important. Overload often just means the information is not well-organized. I tend to brain-storm/think on paper before I actually begin writing. (Not these blogs though. I just sort of get started and let the free association take over. That’s why I ramble in case you wondered.)

Yesterday I got a call from my VA doctor. Yes, surprisingly, he actually calls me. I took my labs (blood draws) on Wednesday this week because he was going to be out of town. So I am sitting at a luncheon date with my lady and the phone rings. I know its VA because I have a ringtone that is a drill sergeant doing cadence (seems appropriate). The labs were back (minus the viral count) and he said that everything was good. It’s interesting that when you call into VA and are put on hold you always hear the message about the veteran crisis line. Every time I talk with a doctor, they ask if I have thoughts or feelings about hurting myself or others and did I lived in a safe situation. Always reminds me how fortunate I am to not be suicidal or homeless like so many veterans are. I currently have a minor inconvenience (which could be permanent and fatal) but is not a big deal in comparison. Life is good. Life is so good.

Thanks for everything … it’s appreciated.

Love and pride, strength and honor …

(From today writing about yesterday.)

Until again,

Lynn