Monday, May 21, 2012

Long overdue...

      It's been a while since I last wrote anything and I realized the other day that there are a lot of people out there who are likely concerned. So if you were concerned please accept my sincerest apologies. Here's where things stand as of today, I continue to see a counselor and in fact have just recently extended the number of visits I'm allotted through the VA. That may sound a little strange, so allow me to explain. At the facility closest to me, and I suspect at many more across the country, the number of counselors on staff can't accommodate the number of patients that require counseling more than once a month (I've been seeing mine once a week) so they “farm out” some cases to therapists/counselors outside the VA on what's called a fee-based basis. This means the government pays for a given number of visits during a given time frame. What this boils down to is there aren't enough people to take care of the veterans that need help. Is it any wonder that returning Gulf War/Iraq War/Afghanistan War veterans are having difficulty reintegrating into society? It sure explains why an ever increasing number are hoarding weapons and getting into trouble which leads to them barricading themselves into their home and shooting it out with law enforcement... Please remember that as you vote in the future. These people did as they were told, were asked to do, voluntarily. Sure, maybe the wars in the middle east didn't have anything to do with our safety here at home but if you want to lay blame or punish someone for that, blame the politicians and don't vote for them again. Don't make the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen pay for the mistakes of others. They served honorably, some doing things that most of us could never imagine ourselves doing over and over again, and they did it voluntarily.

      That takes care of the emotional and psychological aspect, now on to the physical part of things. Things have been going very well, in fact so well at times that I cringe in fear waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thankfully my friend Jennifer is there to remind me that there IS no other shoe. Thanks for that, Jen. The boys and I continue to go to Knight's Quest Academy of Chivalry. They go twice a week and I go once a week for one on one lessons. I'm not where I want to be but in all honesty I have not been working at it enough on my own time nor have I been doing any other exercising. I realize now how important that is and will be making a more concerted effort to make some real, effective change. Otherwise it's really been smooth sailing. I go to the VA once a week to have a pint of blood removed. This is done to lower my ferritin (iron) level, which is elevated due to having so many blood transfusions in the years before my stem cell transplant. The procedure is not so intolerable as one might think. As an added bonus I have made a lot of new friends at the VA and get to see them every week and they share a genuine concern for my health.

      We are also planning another trip back to Seattle for my first annual checkup with the transplant doctors. We're also going to be doing some camping along the way, part of making the best of life and making memories that my children can tell their grandchildren about. It's time to enjoy life and take the opportunity to see some of the things that I have always wanted to see and maybe a few places I wasn't even aware of. I've got this really cool card that grants me access to any of the places operated by the Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged. It even grants me discounts at camping facilities that are operated by the government. Time to start really taking advantage of THAT baby!

      I've also been busy around the house. We've converted the dining room into a hobby studio and it's almost finished. I've been cleaning out my desk and finding a lot of stuff that I've been carrying around with me. All of which has caused a lot of internal reflection and deep thought. I've come SO far in my life and SO many things have changed, some very drastically, and I have SO far yet to go. At least I hope so... Where my path will take me I have no clue but I intend to walk it with intention and to take note of the scenery along the way, to live what's left of my life in a very meaningful way and to make it count... Thing is, I don't know how to DO all that and it's a tall order to fill. In addition to finding my path I have to learn HOW to travel it because the way I've been wandering through life has not really gotten me anywhere meaningful. That is to say, I have yet to do things that my children will proudly tell their children, at least not in my eyes. Nothing monumental like my dad was a Navy SEAL war hero or a firefighter who rescued a dozen kids in an orphanage or even that I invented some amazing new technology. Much more down to earth things like remembering the way I would take them hiking, fishing, how I taught them how to fix the lawn mower or even how to grow their own food and cook it. That I was a great dad... That's meaningful enough, for now.

      I'm super excited to go on vacation with Sarah and the kids even though at the same time I'm extremely nervous about seeing the doctors again and finding out where I (we!) go from here. I know, Jen... there IS no other shoe! Still, for me anyway, there's a lot riding on what comes out of this checkup. If things go well it's time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, or at least as I grow older. I have been giving this a lot of thought and I think I'd like to pursue a career as an architect but... that requires going to school and in the mean time I'll need to pay the bills if my disability is gone AND pay for school. SO very many things to think about and try not to worry about. Then there's teaching Connor how to drive (YES, he turned 16 last Saturday!!!), I wish I could have given him the childhood I had, or at least parts of it. Learning to drive while growing up on a farm is, in my opinion, far better and easier than being thrown into a classroom for boring textbook and bloody drinking and driving movies before you get on the actual road. And something as dangerous as driving a car isn't something that should be learned with a bunch of strangers. Then again, what happens on the back roads stays on the back roads, right?

      That's about all I have for now. I've been getting rather antsy to start doing more writing and even some painting and sketching. I know I need to do something other than just sitting around. I have been more active working outside and doing things around the house and have even been designing my own pedal car in my head. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes I'm feeling like this is my rebirth and a second chance to do things better than I was. It is my sincerest wish that you all take at least this part of my experience as an example. Don't put off the things you want most in this world. Get up, get out there and LIVE YOUR LIFE. Live it the way YOU want to. Don't find yourself laying in a hospital bed in 20, 10, 5 years from now or even tomorrow... You can tell yourself it won't happen to you but you'll just be lying to yourself because it COULD! I did things right, for the most part, and it happened to me. Don't waste the chances given too you. Make each day count and do something you'll be proud of tomorrow. You don't have to climb Everest every day but just make the little moments count. Go to bed every night knowing you have done some amount of good in the world and left it a better place for tomorrow. Trust me, you'll thank me for it later...

      Until we meet again either here on the interwebs or in person, I bid you peace.

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