Browse Category: Health

stress-reduction, exercise, diet

From Elation to Sorrow

We travelled and camped in far-Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado last week and it was just spectacular. I have finally caught (and released) my first wild Cutthroat Trout in upper Costilla Creek; and I did it with a hand-line. No need for a fancy fly-rig, which I would likely not handle well on such a narrow stream.

It got really cold where we camped last Thursday above 9,000 feet. It even snowed that afternoon as we were making camp.

Surprisingly I was able to carry & chop wood at that elevation, as well as take a couple good long walks.

Unfortunately we got back to Bernalillo and just a couple days later my partner-in-crime “Mister Dog” died in my lap from a stroke as we rushed him to the dog hospital. We think he had a few small strokes, that presented as perhaps a problem with his spine; but the second time we took him to his local doctor she said, “There’s something worse going on here and you need to get him to the ER right away.” It was too late, though. The ER told me he’d been dead ten minutes when I brought him in.

As if that wasn’t enough, my daughter-in-law contacted us to say my oldest son had been a week in ICU struggling with a rare blood disorder – a result of his double-knee surgery nearly 2 years ago – that’s causing blood clots to erupt all over his body and in vital organs. He now has two large clots in his lungs and one in his brain.
This is not a survivable disorder. Doctors have fought it for almost a year and determined last week there are no more options; aside from keeping him comfortable. He’s already developed such a high tolerance to the opioid drugs they are using heavy doses of Fentanyl, an evil drug that’s over 100 times more potent than straight hospital-grade Morphine and nearly 200 times the strength of street-grade Heroin. The pain in his head is evidently intense but the disorder also causes shingles, extreme discomfort, and sloughing of skin.

He’s so embarrassed for how he looks he didn’t want me to go see him. But I am the father and he is the son. Had to remind him of that and remind him I’ve seen much much worse.

I saw my Cardiologist this morning, who gave me strict warnings about the stress in my family’s situation. Arrgh. People complain about my smokin’ so I stop smokin’. They bitch about me drinkin’ so I stop drinkin’. They tell me to exercise and clean up my diet, so I’m back to running a mile on the treadmill and eating no salt and no foods high in LDL cholesterol. It never ends.

At least I’m 116-days sober and well-entrenched with my homegroup, sponsor and therapist. I’ve got excellent support.

Tomorrow I will drive to Lubbock and see my boy. Not sure how long I will be there or how I will pay for a long-time stay; but he and his little family need me there.

There’s a bit of irony, here, because this blood disorder has some cancer-like behavior & characteristics. Both of my sons and their mother lived a long time in the community of Sanderson, which had made a bad settlement deal with Southern Pacific Railroad over the contamination of water wells with diesel, benzene, and other chemicals. My boy’s mother died from Leukemia last Summer and both my boys have had cancer (testicular and tumors in the bladder). A high percentage of longtime residents of the community have died from different types of cancer.

When it rains it fucking pours. Damnit. I’m gonna need to go sit still in the Southern desert for a month after all this trauma.

Portrait of the Artist

Finished this Tuesday and it’s already gotten more than 4000 likes, a dozen good offers, and an offer to hang it at a gallery in Corrales.

Portrait
Gouache and acrylic glaze on canvas; 36×54

I am stunned by the depth of colors and the freedom it ultimately revealed.

I don’t want to sell it but I do need the money. Need to pay a debt to someone in Taos County, get that off my back. Thinking about it.

I’m 100-days sober and free from the burdens of dope and nicotine. I’ve not been this long without nicotine since I was 14-yrs old.

We’re trying a brand new beta blocker for my heart but it’s making me pretty sick. It’s just taking my blood pressure down wayy too low – so I’m always dizzy, shaky, and too fatigued. My new Cardiology team at Presbyterian is excellent but we’re going to have to go all the way back through testing/experimenting with different meds. Every cardiologist has a slightly different protocol/opinion. The lead, though, is a great guy.

Heading back North next week and I can hardly wait! We have a good little crew going this time. My friend Desiree claims to be hell on trout with a flyrod, so we shall see. D and I like handline fishing.

Northbound Soon!

Thank God!  Debi and Diana going along and hopefully my friend Sean. We fit four in the tent last time (lots of nekkid peeps but no hookups). It’s nice to have that little bit of extra room in the tent but, think about it; you’re there to sleep and hangout a very short time. 

Much better to go lie on the river bank and watch the baby trouts!!!!

97 days today (131 nicotine). 

Love All Y’alI.  I am deeply in debt for the help and generosity you have all brought to my life.  Thank you. 

Groan…

We did an echocardiogram and, immediately, my cardiologists ordered me back for a nuclear medicine stress test early tomorrow morning. Great way to celebrate 90 days, no?
Actually the echo was our first set of imagery since I stopped the smokin’ and drinkin’, so I’m not surprised they’ve spotted a problem or a trend. I was well past my shelf-life when I started drinking – and I drank a helluva lot. It’s a miracle I’m still breathing and able to run around in the hills.
I owe my friend Amelia a huge debt of gratitude as it was obvious I was going to drink myself to death when we lived together and she took action, albeit the beginning of so much sadness in my life; I’m pretty sure I would already be toast. I wanted so badly to see her in Taos last week but I know it would have been extremely stressful for her so I didn’t even try.
I understand clearly that I am now living on borrowed time, that prayer and meditation are my most indispensible activities of the day, and that SOMETHING has my doctors concerned enough to order a very expensive and dangerous test. Short of getting catheters into my heart to measure internal pressures, this is the most accurate test we can do. Last time we did it they accidently triggered a failure event and rushed me back to CICU; but I agree that we need to get good metrics as we proceed with my sober life.
Since all the smoking and drinking is behind me, I’ve been working again on diet. My ldl cholesterol has increased a few points but I’m allergic to statin drugs, so diet is my only option. It’s been a good/effective option for me in the past, but I’ve gotta really be mindful when I cook/eat.
Deb’s been helping me clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry (thank God); and she’s helping me move toward a real vegan diet.
Don’t like it. Not at all.
As long as I can help my sponsees, paint and play piano, I’m a grateful and active participant in this life God has willed. Losing a lot of stamina, though, and still very haunted by thoughts of my time with Mia.

Yeeha Rain!

Had plenty of rain on the trip North, but manageable. As long as the sun comes out in the mornings, it doesn’t take long to dry out any wet sleeping bags or blankets. I got a great 3″ latex mattress that fits the tent perfectly and gives everyone a nice cushie place to sleep. It’s a space-hog in the Buick, but well worth it.

Love my girl Lysa. She’s a great traveller and partner for car camping!

Don’t smoke or drink, don’t eat animals, pray.

We are definitely moving into a monsoon rain pattern, with storms forming over all the mountain ranges. The ones firing off the San Mateo and Jemez bring us wonderful lightning – and occasional rain.

Sober 90 days tomorrow, and my friend Debi is throwing a little party. Beautiful girl with an indelible New York accent.

It’s kinda neato that girls with years and years of sober time want to spend time with me! At least they see/understand/feel the realities of alcoholism. Liars, cheats and thieves we are. Unlike the “normal people” out there, though, we don’t deny our scoundrel ways!

I’d post a photo of Debi dancing naked with sparklers up at Costilla, but she’d shoot me! So I’ll post her picture from before she took off all her clothes!

Northbound Again

Like the Dire Straits song but reverse the direction.

Leaving tomorrow or Friday for a week in the North country, mainly the headwaters of the Costilla River (right on the Colorado border) and the Blanca Peak wilderness area.  I’ve looked at Blanca Peak in awe, studied all the maps, and decided the best place to camp is accessible from the NE side (adding another 3 hours of driving).

My good friends, Debbie and Debi, will be joining us for the last few days of the adventure.  My best friend and sometimes nurse, Lysa, will be riding shotgun for the whole trip.

So how does a guy like me survive two nights in a freakin’ tent with three good-lookin’ women?  I’m thinkin’ the best way is to go to bed earlier than all my wild girlfriends, get settled, and make grunting noises when they bring all that girlpower into the space.  If that doesn’t work, then I go sleep in the car with the doors locked!

I’ve made two bamboo bobber rigs, and I’ve been practicing with my fly rod since April, so I’m gonna go terrorize those wild trout in the Northern Sangres!  All the fish I’ve seen up on the Costilla are really too small to eat; but the little monsters will be fun to catch & release!

Gotta stop in to see friends, too, in Taos and Arroyo Hondo; then the best AA meeting in New Mexico at Questa.  We’re going to hit the little club at San Luis, too.

Yayyy!  Finally going to the high country where it’s cool and we can experience a high-mountain thunderstorm!!!

Sadly I became such a worthless and arrogant prick, before I moved back South from Taos, most of my friends in the Taos area don’t even want to speak to me.

I no longer have the luxury of thinking I might never drink again; but two things give me much hope:  (a) I’ve never submerged myself to this degree in the honesty and humility of working our steps; and (b) I don’t have a lot of time left.  I don’t need to worry about staying sober for years.  Just today.  Just enough.

I want to die sober and surrounded by my loving, caring and TRUE family.  I can attain that.  Not so much to aspire to, based on the condition of my heart; but I’m 77 days sober and totally on fire with my own quirky step-driven spirituality.

Constant and persistent prayers for those of my past whom I have hurt or caused harm.  You are the most important people in my life, the ones to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude.

Que se vaya la paz contigo.