For those of you that have been checking in on our blog on a regular basis wondering where all the content disappeared to, I apologize for not posting more of late. I have been facing some serious life crises of sorts, and I’m frankly drained and burned out from trying to make sense of it all. I think all of us go through periods like this, but I recently got a major scare that has me reevaluating a lot of things, and I have realized I MUST slow down a bit if I want to see the next phase of life. I hope none of you have to go through what I’ve gone through the past few years especially the past few weeks, but here’s the story . . .
My Mother’s Health
First off, my mother has been in a nursing home for the past four years plus with Alzheimer’s, and she was recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her bladder. Her prognosis isn’t good–she has less than a year to live according to the doctors, but it’s realistically a lot less than that (we’re talking days and hours versus weeks and months). Today I received a call from Hospice informing me that her condition is worsening rather rapidly which I have suspected the past four or five visits (I still visit her at least 4 times per week).
I question whether each visit is my last one with her even though she’s oblivious to her own reality and may not even know who I am at times. She’s very feeble and struggles to talk, and her words are often inaudible. Even when they are audible, they don’t form much in terms of a coherent thought even though I believe she’s trying to remind me that she loves me. She’s scared, and I can see that in her eyes, but I’m helpless in this situation which is extremely foreign to me–I’m used to having answers and being able to take quick action. I love my mom dearly, and it pains me to see her go out like this. She was such a go getter in addition to being my biggest fan, supporter, and friend. I’m going to miss her something fierce–heck, I already do miss her even though she’s still living (for now). I regret the fact that I didn’t appreciate her and the times we shared more when I was younger, but our relationship has been a very good one overall.
This past week or so has been extremely trying
Two Sundays ago, June 1, I was awoken at 3:51 AM by someone trying to break into my home so that freaked me out and compounded the stress I was already experiencing. I believe the motion sensor lights I have installed near each door may have scared the would be intruder off before the police arrived. They didn’t find anyone anywhere around the house or in the neighborhood although the local news had a story on the next night about a series of break-ins for this area along with an outline of a suspect. I learned last night that my neighbor experienced something similar the Wednesday before so it wasn’t my imagination like I had hoped.
All week long I noticed tightness in my chest which led me to avoid riding the bike (my major outlet for stress reduction and recharging my batteries). I contemplated going to the doctor or the ER, but I kept thinking “I don’t have 24 hours to give the hospital right now” so I did what most stubborn Type A men do–put it off until a “more convenient” time. That choice was quickly taken from me . . .
Am I REALLY Having a Heart Attack at 37?
This past Sunday (June 8), I ventured down to Captain’s Quarters (a local restaurant/bar on the river) with a buddy of mine around 8:15 or so. We hadn’t been there for more than 5 minutes and one small sip of beer when I noticed my chest really tightening and my fingers beginning to numb and tingle. I went over to the side to sit down for a moment to try to gather myself and began to sweat profusely as if I had just ridden the bike 50 miles in the heat. The surroundings seemingly began to close in on me, and things went rather white although I was still awake and coherent. My buddy tells me that I turned a very pasty white and looked rather fearful that something terrible was taking place.
I honestly felt as if I were having a heart attack so I somehow walked to the nearest police officer and asked him to call an ambulance. About 8 minutes later, EMS arrived and began hooking me up to all these electrodes, inserting an IV (I hate needles), handing me 4 aspirin and a nitro glycerin tablet.
Good Timing or False Alarm?
It took about three minutes after EMS’ arrival and ingesting the pills, but the dizziness and numbness began to subside, and we were on our way in the ambulance to the hospital. The EMT kept telling me that my vital signs were “as normal as normal could be.” That was encouraging, but I still felt extremely weird like this might be the end even though I definitely wasn’t ready to check out.
Test, Test, Test
Once at the hospital, they took some blood (more damn needles) and ran several tests. The doctor came in and informed me that he was “90% sure it’s not your heart.” My enzymes didn’t indicate any heart attack, and the rest of the blood work apparently came back “normal.” Again, that’s nice to hear, but why was I experiencing tingling in my arms and hands, dizziness, sweating, and white stuff? They kept me in the ER area until 2 AM or so then transferred me to the “chest pain observation” area for the remainder of the night. I got no sleep and had to endure a stress test first thing Monday morning to which I should get the results tomorrow (Thursday) at some point.
I feel increasingly confident that my heart is, and will be, fine, but I’m not so sure I wasn’t heading down that heart attack path and that EMS may have gotten there just in time. I could be wrong, but I’m generally very in tune with my body, but I have never experienced anything like that. I mean, I’ve seen black and blue polka dots after a super strenuous ride, but I know that’s just pushing my body to its limits to which it’ll recover rather quickly as long as the purple and blue polka dots aren’t prolonged. The tingling is what frightened the hell out of me because that’s how I have heard heart attacks generally start.
Wait, There’s More . . .
You’re caught up to date on the heavy stuff, but there’s more believe it or not. My family has owned a nice piece of property here in Louisville for over 130 years that has housed a blacksmith shop, general store, and a series of restaurants including one bearing my family’s name (“Bauer’s Since 1870″) for 120 years. It’s that history of exposure to the family business that led me to want to understand as much about it as possible and start my own business at some point. I guess it’s in my blood and heritage, and I’m proud of that.
We’ve been in negotiations to have a Rite Aid moved down the street onto our property for the past few months, but the local neighborhood has taken up the cause to get our property designated “historical” in order to prevent any development (that’s Louisville for you–anything to prevent forward progress especially if you have enough money to throw at creating obstacles). Long story short, they seem to have succeeded for now so our family stands to lose a lot of money because of this. That directly impacts my longer term future so that’s another stressful blow to absorb.
The final chapter hasn’t been written, and I still believe everything will workout, but it’s not helping my stress levels even though my step-brother is handling the negotiations. I’ve been involved very little with the goings on, but it’s of heightened concern to me. Not to the same levels of my mother, but it’s prominent on the radar if you catch my drift.
Why Share This Publicly?
I’m not sharing this to gain anyone’s sympathy or pity (not my style), but I share it to let you in on my life and hopefully demonstrate that life sometimes has a weird way of reminding you to keep things in perspective. I’m hopeful I can post in another 40 years on this blog (if blogs still exist), but I won’t get there at my current pace so I hope you all bare with me and understand that I might be sporadically contributing over these next few weeks.
I think my body has taken all it can take and needs to shut down for awhile. I have been told repeatedly I need a vacation, and that might be a wise move on my behalf, but vacations require money which I don’t have so we’re right back to square one again. I sense myself not caring about much lately, and that concerns me because I’m a very “take life by the horns” sort who makes things happen versus watching from the sidelines. I think I may need to experience the sidelines for a bit.
Thanks for reading my diatribe and your empathy.