The Big Day!

I’ve debated about this post since last week but I have decided, on principle, that there is no reason valid enough to willingly isolate myself when I am struggling or fearful. And today is a big day for me.

I spoke last week about the fear of being a “downer” when we are having trials. Whether physical, emotional, mental. Or opening ourselves to surface judgment by anyone not walking in our shoes. And doing so every single day. But, there is also strength in sharing our stories. For us and for others. And there is dignity in owning our story. Our responsibility is not to worry what will be done with it. Our responsibility is to survive for our loved ones.

I am a teacher. My heart and my soul. And I will always be. I had to give up occupying physical space in my classroom in November. But my footprint there remains. I recieve messages from my kids and colleagues over several states every single day. Messages for projects, input, ideas and encouragement. That was my home. And that will be my home again. One day it will. Because that was the life path I chose long ago.

I am a father and grandfather. My heart and my soul. And I will always be. I lost much else of what makes me who I am in November. Some I will regain in time, and some I will never. I can not allow myself to feel ashamed. The four children, now, that I consider “my own” have formed an efficient, self-sustaining machine around me while I heal. I am merely the glue. I remain stolid in that until I am well.

In a matter of minutes, my career, health, independence and physical ability were taken from me. While I don’t feel it is my job to convince anyone of the devastation of that hardship, it is my reality and I, alone, am the one who has to reconcile with it. And my family are the only ones who need to accept the effects or outcome.

In the aftershock of being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I had a heart attack and painful bypass graft in November. My heart stopped twice before I could stabilize into the sterility of a third facility while my insurance was running it’s course and reality was settling in. An infection of my leg incision later led to fluid build up around my heart which is particularly dangerous and scary as a cardiac patient, and something I will continue to manage every day along with my aneurysm.

Since returning home, I have been subjected to embarrassing regular in-home nurse visits and occupational therapy, in part, to manage my tremor which had been controlled previously for almost three years. I can allow myself to feel humiliated, or I can look at it as an obstacle I’m looking forward to overcoming. Because I will.

I am nauseous much of my waking day. To where a chauffered and supervised grocery trip can take me over two hours. During which time I am thinking of nothing but getting home so I don’t get sick in public. I am dizzy often. To where I can not drive, lose vision, regularly miss dinner with my family, and need to lean in to walls while standing. During which time I am thinking of nothing but laying down so no one has to pick me up. I need oxygen more on some days than others. During which time I am thinking of nothing but where I can go because I won’t do it in front of anyone. I have given my entire life plan over to constant medical management as an on-call staff of many help me figure out what best for me, and what is not.

To control the debilitatating post-surgical pain, I was placed on Morphine. A blessing and a curse. Apart from initial issues with hallucination, sleeping around the clock and feeling a loss of purpose in my family, it has led to a stomach bleed that requires ongoing antibiotics that make me so ill I can’t speak. I did not choose to live this way or to step away from my career or be left seeking purpose as the former head of household. I did not choose to be at the mercy of this illness.

More recently, and the trigger for initiating care today, I have been losing word finding ability, thought clarity and lucidity. Instead of allowing this to send me into an emotional tailspin, I have decided to seek care. My grandfather died of Alzheimer’s and I would be lying if I said this was not a terrifying concern for me. I have also made no secret of my struggle with alcoholism throughout 2016. I have never touched a drug in my life but I cared for an addict for years, and that is not a burden or heartbreak I am willing to place on my family, friends or myself. So I am choosing to take control of it as a first step to regain control of my life before I cannot. This cycle can very easily turn into a grip of depression for me which has been the main demon I fight in the past.

In all honesty, a wake up call came when I first went on duty as daytime caretaker for my grandson and could not dose for pain until the night. I felt it. And I fell out of function and was ill until I had it. It was a feeling I learned to recognize long ago and it scared the shit out of me to experience it again at any level for any reason.

Because of my cardiac issues, I am going to have a full medically monitored withdrawal and detoxification process of this drug from my system. I’m nervous of the effects that will take place and scared of the pain and sickness that are yet to come. But I am looking forward to exploring more holistic approaches, physical therapies and stress management with my doctors and therapists. I need to be well aware of a stripped down, baseline level of pain and symptomology post-surgery and I haven’t been able to do that as of yet…so, that is something else to look forward to when this is done. And I will go from there.

Everett’s fat little face is what’s keeping me going and he will be well cared for by his grandma, his surrogate aunt and uncle and their toddler, Cora (and probably some cats). I’m hoping he will have a great experience interacting in a new environment with another “baby” while I am bettering myself for him and my family. His and my quiet days together are what’s brought me this far and I will do just about anything to continue on. And be my best for him. Not eventual memories of a sick granddad who couldn’t play with him out of his armchair.

I’m going to leave it there for now, pay some bills, regroup and finish packing my junk. I’m excited for today. I’m scared shitless. I’m proud. I’m exhausted. I’m overcome with both hope and sadness. I’m ready.

Be well, friends. Talk to you soon!

53 thoughts on “The Big Day!

  1. Suboxone is what helped me when I was caught in the oxycontin mess.
    There’s nothing to hide or feel shame about when our bodies get out of balance or break down. When I was having bowel issues, it was gross and messy and seriously uncomfortable… it was also humbling. But my body has been reminding me that as much as I think I’m a superhero, I’m just a mere mortal. And that’s good. I *should* accept help.

    Take care of you! I’ve gone completely off opiate meds before, so if you have questions I’ll be happy to answer.

    1. Yes, I know I for sure will! Thank you 😣 Because this is all extremely new and daunting to me.
      Oh yeah, we’ve discussed everything for during, but I’m making a decision to wait until I am fully baseline to make choices on the aftercare. I don’t want to travel down any more unnecessary roads that derail physical healing further…or stabs in the dark or…Pandora’s box of new surprise issues! I’m both afraid and excited about what that naked baseline is. I only know what it was before this happened. Which I also hated but seems like a distant dream come true at this point!

  2. Good luck to you, Sam!! You got this!!

    1. Thank you, Robyn! I wish I could fast forward a few weeks but I am actually looking forward to the quiet and relief of the stress of physical responsibility for a bit!

  3. Holy, shit Sam! I’m so sorry. I just have no words. I can completely empathize with the feeling of humiliation when it comes to health issues. It is so not something anyone should have to feel on top of whatever those issues are. I don’t speak about mine outside of my family, mostly out of that fear of what others will think or feel about the issue and fear of bringing on more of that humiliation. I so admire you for stepping forward on this incredibly difficult path you are taking and your willingness to share it with others. Take care my friend and, as always, I have a shoulder for you if you need it.

    1. Thank you, TJ! Like Angie said, it’s so completely humbling but also makes you see where your strength is drawn from. I so hate the word humiliation but as much as I’ve tried, I can’t find one more fitting. I know you understand. There is so much I can not ever fix but this little part I absolutely can change!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I am thinking of you sending you all the love and good Will I can muster.💗💗

    1. Thank you so much. I’ve done my mounds of paperwork and waivers and forty quarts of blood (feels like it) and I get to rest tonight!

  5. I feel like I’ve gotten to know you a little over a couple years of reading—and enjoying—your blog, Sam. I feel like I know you better today. With all the challenges your brain is currently managing, it’s natural for your word-finding ability to slip a bit. I hope you can let that worry go. Thank you for sharing your story; I hope this supportive community can offer you strength and healing. It’s my policy never to give medical advice, but would just suggest that as you look for holistic and complementary modalities, look into acupuncture. For me, it has been incredibly curative (and I went into it a total skeptic). Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Donna. I do hope it’s a stressful time that’s causing my cognitive troubles. I desperately want that to be the case so I’m hoping it returns to a healthier state in the months to come. Oh, I would LOVE that, I’ve always been afraid to try but I’ve heard only good things!

  6. My friend, you will be in my daily prayers. For peace, for healing, strength, and a new way forward.
    As for being a “Debbie downer”- ha! You still don’t have to worry! My shit is dark too! You are a light to many in their darkness and your star ⭐️ will shine even brighter in the future!
    – Promise…
    XO Lisa

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! Even though my world has gotten so much smaller, all the more reason the focus needs to be on longevity right now. I honestly think they were making plans for me to just be comfortable and not necessarily recover. But I can’t do either feeling like I’ve been feeling, completely sick, ticked off and useless. So, I’m excited at the prospect of feeling even marginally better 🤗🤗🤗

      1. I am excited and happy for you to take control!

  7. I commend you for being strong enough to share your experience. I know exactly how it feels to come out of addiction and to live with CHF. It’s not easy. A daily struggle. Good for you for having a great positive mindset about it all. Im just now starting my journey with it and you’ve given me hope and some comfort that I can survive and maybe even thrive. Thank you so much for that! Brilliant writing as well! Stay strong! You can do it! Im rooting for you! Thanks again.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with any of the same struggles 😔 But I am always so glad to hear there is still hopefulness because I honestly feel that changes everything for anyone who is suffering through unknowns! You’re so welcome and thank you again!

  8. You have so much to contend with, it’s very brave of you to talk so openly about everything. I do hope you can have a good detox and start again using less damaging methods to control things.

    1. Thank you, Jill. I hope so as well because I absolutely detest the feeling of being beholden to any substance. This was not supposed to be long term by any means and was not a drug I thought I would hear about until I am in end stage care which I am not! It has only been a very short time in the grand picture but I know me…and I want rid of it!

  9. If this post is exemplary of your having lost word finding ability then I’m illiterate. I will be praying for smooth transition and God’s will in your life. God bless.

    1. Haha, noo! Honestly, on the fly, I have always confidently been able to pull up the proper words to express myself without much hesitation, with the occasional exception of course. Lately…everything is a “thing” or “stuff”…more and more. I hate it. It’s been extremely scary but I do thank you for the encouraging words! I’m hoping for the absolute best outcome in the long term!

  10. Oh Sam….Prayers for you and your family. You can do all things through Christ Jesus.May God bless you with His healing and His peace.

    1. Thank you so much! I am feeling very hopeful and restful which has been a great lift of anxiety. It hasn’t let up much at all this month!

      1. Hang in there. You can do this.

  11. Oh wow, Sam! Thanks for sharing! That took a lot of courage! But you are going to end up on the other side ok! I’m glad you are taking note of your body and working towards getting back to the man you were before! You can do it! “Blugs” 🤗

    1. Thank you, T! Blugs right back 🤗 I’m finally tucking in to regroup for the morning!

  12. I’ll be sending all the healing energy and thoughts I can Sam. You can do this and deserve all the best. Hang tough. You are a hero.

    1. Thank you!! I’m presently trying to look past having been mismanaged and written off as toast by some of the docs, lol. BUT, Forward Ho! Which right now means 😴😴😴

  13. Sending good vibes and prayers your way.

  14. Bravo! What a post! How do you feel after seeing this published? There is the fearful yet freeing aspect of every post, but this one was special. I wish for you peace and clarity as you continue in your journey. It will be hard, but you have MANY supporters. ~Kim

    1. It always feels like word puke (put bluntly) when it’s coming out. And afterwards, I am always glad I did if I’ve taken enough time to consider everything in it. Thank you, Kim!!

  15. I have my one year old twin grandsons once a week for an overnight or two. I had to take a couple weeks off when I was first put in the wheelchair (a month ago), but determination to be a part of their lives did help push through the pain, and tbh I am becoming quite skilled at juggling two little boys while in this damn chair. I sounds like you already know that you need to take care of yourself in order to be good to anyone else, but if you forget…remember the oxygen mask warning on an airplane. Put your mask on BEFORE your children, or you will not be any good to them…. Helps keep it in perspective

    1. OMG that really IS a superpower to manage little twins from your chair! It’s amazing what is borne from necessity, right?! And you’re absolutely right. The determination to be an interactive part of these little ones lives is a driving force like no other!

  16. Oh Sam! I had no idea! You are such a light, even when your own path seems dark. Prayers for you every day. I, and many others, look forward to hearing your victory story!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Deborah!

  17. All the best to you Sam. You’re going to make it, I just know you are. Hang in there and keep believing in yourself. It’s amazing what we can do and how we can heal when we don’t give up and have reasons to fight. I’ve seen it before, and I’ve lived it. We humans have great healing powers.

    1. So true! My drive is getting back to the baby first, and work next! I don’t know if or when the latter will come to be but I’m not giving up one more second with him. Knowing what my own parents missed of my kids and my grandparents missed of my brother and I is really pushing me presently. Thank you, Michele!

  18. Sam, I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this. It sounds horrendous, and you are so brave to share, and you have a really brave outlook. I am sending all the good vibes, prayers, and love to you and yours today. Thank you for letting us be a part of your healing journey.

    1. Thank you, Shelly 🤗 There is still much to manage but I am getting armed with healthy tools and care plan. It’s exciting and alleviating a lot of my fears and worry for my kids!

      1. Good for you, Sam. That is so awesome that you are being proactive. I am sending love and prayers today.

  19. It takes guts to put it all out there, to share your story with us. I’m honored that you trusted us with it. I’ll keep you in my prayers and will be thinking of you. You got this.❤️🙏

    1. Thank you so much for this 🤗🤗🤗!

      1. You’re welcome, Sam! Blessings to you and your beautiful family!🙏❤️

  20. I know that you will continue to get stronger and stronger. You have everything to motivate you and are focused on ALL the right things in all the right ways. I’m proud of you. I’m cheering for you. I’m praying for you. And I’m always, always here for you.

    1. Thank you, Allister! Presently I’m not sure what energy reserve I’m going to draw from. But I’ll be so grateful to know a definitive baseline…even eventually 😧 Just gotta wait it out.

  21. Wow Sam. That took guts! What a road you are travelling. Your resilience, courage and determination will stand you in good stead. In your corner, cheering you on. Sending Big Love x

  22. Sending good thoughts your way

  23. Just catching this post and hoping your days have only gotten better. What a scary experience for you and yours.

    1. Hi there! I am getting by. I’m concentrating on the baby and quiet time for now until I’m feeling a little more confident to take on a bit more 🙄

  24. So I see your name in my Inbox and think, “Oh, good. A visit from Sam. Let me check up on him and the baby.” Holy crap. I had no idea. Sam, I am sorry you are going through this, but so happy you have an ‘out’ plan. Take care of you.

    1. Thank you so much! I am functioning so much…well, differently, without pain meds now. It’s really helped my mental state and that was, without a doubt, the first step I couldn’t go forward, or even maintain steady, without. Taking the rest head on day by day.

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