Never Stopping . . . Or the Energizer Bunny Rides Again

Good early morning,

Going to bed at 8 o’clock last evening has had a consequence. It is 1:20 in the morning, and I was wide-awake as I can be. I had planned on a two hour nap, but somehow I slept almost four.  So since waking up an hour and a half ago, I completed some other work for our little travel company, because I do not feel I am wide awake enough to grade, I will/dictate//write another blog to do what generally do when I blog, clear my head and make sense of my world, if there is any making sense of this world at the moment.  I must admit it is hard to believe that I am finishing my eighth year here at Bloomsburg University. So much has changed since I first came out here that first May 8 years ago after having been hired and in a tenure-track position. I set up a bank account; I got an apartment; and I began to realize the change this would create not only for me, but for Lydia. Well I was quite sure I could manage the change for myself,  helping her manage the change was going to be something quite different. And quite honestly that scared me. As I finished my last semester at Stout, there was a sense of relief,  and a sense of excitement for what was yet to come for me professionally. There was certainly a sense of sadness and that I would be moving from the little carriage house and from the circle, from the Lacksonens become so important to me. There was a tremendous sense of guilt and trepidation that I was leaving Lydia behind. I also struggled with leaving Erica and knowing and how we supported each other and her life would be much tougher when she had to deal with Lydia on a daily basis. To be honest with you Lydia was not always the kindest, particularly when it came to females. To this day I am grateful to Nathan and his helping my move and beyond.

In the eight years that I’ve been in Bloomsburg, the changes have been monumental; they have been profound. I reconnected with the Deckers.  I know them so much better than when I was in Wisconsin, but  I think they would say the same. I watch Grace go from beginning middle school to being ready to enter college. Mary from elementary school to high school.  Max from starting school to middle school.. Caroline took her first steps when I was here that first May, and Rosie did not exist. Through it all somehow neither Mark or Gayle seem to age.  I am the other hand have aged significantly. How is that? How was it for two people they seem to age more gracefully than any other couple I’ve ever known. And while people still tell me I don’t look my age and that for all the trouble I’ve had with my health I look quite good,  I know I look significantly older and sometimes I feel even older than that. While the work here has been wonderful, and the position in the department rewarding,  there’s always more to do, but barely enough time. I’ll get back to that in a minute. The most profound change my life has been the loss of an entire handful of people. Certainly the most significant change was Lydia. I remember how difficult it was the first day Nathan and I moved her into the memory care unit at Comforts of Home. I think it was as dramatic for us as it was traumatic for her. While she had certainly faded and her struggle with dementia, that was only the beginning of what would come. I learned more about the complexity of that disease that I ever imagined possible. I met amazing people who care daily for those who cannot even remember their name. And some of those amazing people have become my friends. The amount of travel between Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over those four was far more than I ever anticipated, but I do not regret any of it. Memories of Lydia still surround me,  in my home and in my office. Seldom a day goes by when I’m not reminded of her.  I believe it was in the fall of 2013 when I received a call from my closest and best childhood friend, informing me of his diagnosis with ALS. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately I don’t know,  Peter’s battle with this terrible disease, while horrendous as it often is, did not last as long as some. To be honest, I was still reeling from Lydia’s passing when Peter would lose this battle. He was lost too early, somehow again it seems that I need to be reminded of the fragility of life and yet more unexpected and unfair manner. In both the case of Peter and now Rebekah, their losses were much more tragic for their families, but these losses have had a cumulative affect. And now again I’ve lost a mentor. My last blog speaks of him. Throughout my time here I’ve continued to have health problems, surgeries, unexpected diagnoses,  and more complications from Crohn’s than perhaps I have fingers.

All too often I’ve been hit with the cliché of if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. Let me go on the record once and for all. Dammit, just quit it. I have no desire to be that strong. As I often tell people, if someone would’ve told me I could go through all this over 30 years, I would ask unapologetically, “Screw that, may I take what’s behind door number two?” And I’ve had to deal with how things more often and more intentionally and I just want to. I detest having to think about it. I detest having to make allowances for it. And I detest that it has control of my life and my conversations more than I would ever hope. It is forced me into situations and corners I don’t want to be in. . . .

How ironic this is where I was when I was last writing. It seems my title is either prophetic or fortuitous. Last Wednesday I had a cardiac stress test. While I thought it had gone relatively well (I was on the treadmill for over 11 minutes, and while there was some slight pain, I did not have to stop and I never got to the point where breathing seemed labored.). However, that is not exactly the case. It seems my heart was both adding and skipping beats in the echo afterwards. By the next morning my PCP was calling and cardiology was calling shortly thereafter. I had a follow up with cardiology in less than 24 hours (which was Friday) and tomorrow (Monday the 22nd) I will be having a heart catheterization performed early in the morning. While this is not something that comes totally out of left field because of my cardiac genetics, I will admit it is disconcerting. It is certainly my hope that getting things figured out will be perhaps a stent or two, but I am not hoping for anything more complicated, though I know that is a possibility. When I consider the genetic propensity for this, I should be surprised that I made it this far before having something trigger an incident. Speaking with a doctor for whom I have the utmost respect this morning, he, as seems to be the case more often than not, walked me through what is likely happening in my heart and why. What I always appreciate is he is willing to go in depth with me and push me to ask questions and figure out more about my own health. I imagine my diet is going to go through yet another change.

I have another blog to work on (more to edit and revise) yet tonight and there are other things I want to get accomplished. I am planning, though it might be wishful thinking, that this is going to be a couple day speed bump and then I can get back to things, though I am willing to assume there might be a new normal. I will also admit if we need up needing bypass surgery, I will be more than a little concerned, but I also know that has become more routine. I am hoping they do not have to do crazy things, and that includes sawing through a sternum. I have heard they can do it a bit less invasively, but I am not sure if that is available here at Geisinger. They are pretty advanced, however, and cardiology is one of the things they do very well. That is a comforting thing for me at this point.

What I am forced to anticipate, regardless, is my mortality. I am certainly not ready to cash things in and I am not trying to be morbid, but going into my heart is a bit more invasive for me than all the things they have done to my intestines. I remember when my father had a heart attack. He was 57 and this was before bypass and angioplasty. It was a very different world. What would I want people to know at this point. What I hope is that people from whom I might still need forgiveness might find it in their power to forgive. What I also hope is that people will know how deeply blessed I am by the friends and colleagues I have both presently and in the past. I have been richly blessed by so many and I am fortunate. I do not doubt this in any way. I have a wonderful job and I love coming to work. That puts me in a minority. I have tremendous people in my life. Earlier tonight I was speaking with a family I referred to as my Wisconsin family (and misplaced Iowa family). The three of them are so wonderful. He is the epitome of what every man should hope to be, intelligent, strong, gentle, and steady. If I could be half the person he is I would be astounding. She is the most wonderful and thoughtful person. She is talented beyond compare, inquisitive and sensitive at the same time and she as a beauty that sneaks up and overwhelms you. Then there is the next generation of the family. He is beyond brilliant. He is also incredibly talented both in academics and in sports. He can and should be one of the persons who can change the world if he focuses and harnesses the amazing abilities he possesses. Yet, more importantly, they have accepted me into their lives and that is the best gift of all. I am always stunned when I take the time to step back and merely look at what I have around me. So many people have reached out by phone, Facebook or other ways and for that, again, I am only say thank you.

Well, there is much more I could write, but I am going to stop and focus on a couple of other significant things I need to get done. Tonight I will leave you with this song to ponder. While I have posted it before, it is still my favorite song. While I have many pulling for me and I know that. I know there are prayers and other good thoughts and for those things I am grateful. However, tomorrow, I will be on a table and they will be working their way through my heart to figure out what needs to be done. At that point, I am dependent on their care and the grace of something much bigger than me. In the wind is the spirit and I believe in that wind and spirit. Indeed, “nothing lasts forever  but the earth and sky.” While I am certainly not desiring to become dust quite yet, I am ready.

 

Thanks as always for reading, and bless you all.

Michael

Author:

I am a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing minor, a 24 credit certificate for non-degree seeking people, and now a concentration. We are working on a 4+1 Masters Program with Instructional Technology. I love my work and I am content with what life has handed me. I merely try to make a difference for others by what I share here.

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