Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 3:08 AM:
FI want to try to talk about this as logically as possible. Because most people will understand exactly what I'm about to say and yet while they might understand it's going to be very difficult for most people can relate to what I am going to say.
When they did the operation on my spine. In 1968, one of the chain of events that took place or was set into motion was that I would never for the rest of my life ever be pain free. Which is true. I have never known a single second. Since 1969 when I got out of the hospital where I have not had it least 20 or 30 different types of pains going on at any given time.
Now I do have rheumatoid arthritis, but the deformity or rheumatoid deformity that I have which might be or is visible. It is generally limited to my right hand and then it's only that my knuckles, meaning the main knuckles of my hand, are generally a little larger. There is a slight knot on my right hand between my thumb and the index finger where the knot slightly protrudes from that knuckle. But the reality is that partially because of diet and exercise that not is diminishing somewhat slightly.
The consensus over the last number of years regarding my spinal fusion has never been that there has ever been any kind of feeling like the fusion might snap back. Meaning that where I'm now at 35° that might actually snap back to being 75°. At the same time, because my pulmonary function is extremely strong. Where it has actually been rated at 98% as recently as one year ago. Is that the doctors expressed concern because they believe although they can't really test this. That the same rheumatoid arthritis that is affecting my hands is also affecting every other joint, to 1° or another, throughout my body.
This is because when they did the operation on my spine. One of the side effects was that my bones throughout my body basically aged approximately 25 to 30 years. So at age 62. My bones throughout my entire body, in one way or another, actually have the physical characteristics of bones that are approximately 90 years old. Which is one of the reasons I drink so much milk. And also one of the reasons I have always been as athletic as I have always been.
The two major dangers I have always had to live with every single second, since I was 19 and got out of the hospital are the following.
1. The first and most significant danger is that I am basically not allowed under any circumstances to fall down backward in any way, where I might actually strike my back. Because of that happens, the consensus then goes into different directions. The majority of doctors feel that if that happens that the fusion in my thoracic portion of my spine will split or snap at which point I will die instantly. The other portion of doctors believe that because of my being athletic, but mostly also because my bones have become somewhat arthritic. That the density of the actual fusion in the thoracic region of my spine is greater than the rest of my spine. So that if I were to fall backward and strike my back. That it would actually be the lumbar region of my spine. That would snap. In which case I would probably die within a matter of weeks. So, regardless which section of the orthopedic population I pay attention to either I die instantly or in the matter of weeks. Which is one of the reasons why in 45 years I have never fallen once in any way whereby I have fallen backward.
In reality, when I got out of the hospital when all sorts of physical therapy was being applied. I also went through a tremendous amount of training by the physical therapists on how to manipulate my body and literally twist my body almost in mid air. So that if I were in fact falling backward. I could literally manipulate my body so that I could turn that around where I would fall forward. And in fact I was taught over a dozen different techniques for doing exactly that.
2. The other danger which is not really as significant, although the orthopedic people think that it is. Has to do with the age of my bones. And there's two parts to this danger. The first part is that with my bones being approximately 30 years old and the rest of my body any fall that might occur could be rather complicated and potentially dangerous for me. For example, if someone is 90 years old and they fall down and they fracture their hip, you can pretty well bet that their chances of survival are not going to be really great. That's the first part of this other danger. That my bones actually because they are about 30 years older than the rest of my body have a kind of consistency whereby any kind of fall that might impact one of those bones could end up with a fracture or a break that would be extremely physically challenging and complicated. Which again is another reason why I have always consumed on the average five or 6 gallons of milk every week. And also why I have always been as athletic as I have always been, and continue to be to this day. My survival depends on it.
The other part of this second danger is a bit more complicated. Because the orthopedic people believe that the same degree of potential or realized arthritic reaction or danger that is affecting pretty much most of the joints and my body is also affecting the joints in my rib cage. And that's where in my own personal estimation these very talented and extremely brilliant orthopedic doctors remind me of a very bad cartoon. Because the danger that they have projected is that the joints in my rib cage being just as damaged by various aspects of arthritis as the rest of the bones in my body will eventually get to a point where it will be harder for my rib cage to expand into contract due to the arthritic damage. So at one point in one of the many many conversations I've had. I basically look at this one orthopedic surgeon and simply said, so another words are telling me that eventually I'm just going to suffocate? His answer was that it's not really that simple. That simply the bones in my rib cage would get to a point where it would be very difficult for them to expand into contract so that I just wouldn't be able to breathe very well. Because the rib cage just wouldn't expand to accommodate my breathing.
At which point, and this is the absolute truth. I handed the doctor a one dollar bill. And he smiled and asked me what that was for. And I told him to go to the race track and make a bet. Because I said, what's going on with my bones in my spine is not between me and the medical community. It is an issue between me and God.
Now, of course anyone who has any kind of intelligence can very readily see that my darling Aileen and I are so much in love with each other that regardless of whether or not she is on this side of the veil of the other that love just gets stronger every single day. That's just the reality of the miracle of the love that the two of us have for each other. So also, obviously, when Aileen learned about this second type of danger regarding arthritis. Her first response was, of course, that she basically became overwrought with fear. She will basically crying for days. And I kept explaining to her that it's not an issue. Because I said no Dr. was ever going to tell me when I was going to die. I said that's not going to happen. I said I love doctors, but they're not going to be able to do that to me because they are the ones who made me. I told her God made me. And God will be the only one that can break me.
But because of those two conditions. This is why the people who are my extremely close friends, none of which live near me anymore. But when Aileen was alive, and we would ever go out to any kind of public event, I would always either have someone directly standing behind me or I would always be positioned in the room or wherever I was so that there would be nothing behind me. And the reason for that is because since the nerves throughout my spine were basically severed, meaning both of my nervous systems. Not only my central but my autonomic. Both of the nervous systems were completely cut. Now as a result, if someone walks up to me from behind and using their finger specifically. If they use their finger and they touch my back. I nerve reaction instantaneously takes place where the pain level becomes so severe in the matter of perhaps a couple of seconds that my right arm or my left arm will immediately start flailing in a spastic manner completely independently.
At the same time. If someone walks up to my back from behind and they gently lay the palm of their hand on my back. There is absolutely no reaction by my nervous system when they do that. So the law is where the rule is no one touches my back. Nobody. Because the other aspect is that there is one single place on my back. Which is literally off-limits. The matter what. And that is the bottom of the right side of my back where the top of my right hip is. Because if someone actually strikes me at that position, meaning if they were to hit me with their fist at that position of my back where the top of my right hip is even though it might be a very minor strike. I immediately fall on the ground with my entire body shaking in a totally spastic manner which can last for almost a minute. That condition has only ever occurred once and it was done purposely in this whole series of physical therapy sessions. I had when I got out of the hospital.
So, nobody touches my back. No matter what. Like I said when Aileen was alive. If there were three or four of his going out. For example, to a bar or to any kind of gathering somebody was always standing directly behind me at all times. And that's the way it's been not only when Aileen was alive but wherever I was living in this country when I was working as an analyst if I went out in any kind of group anywhere. Someone was always positioned directly behind me to make sure that no one would touch my back. Or I was always positioned whereby no one could get behind me.
And I don't want to get into what it's been like living with that kind of danger. All my life, because that's just stupid. It's no different than any of the millions and millions of amazing people in this world who are dealing with so many tremendously dangerous conditions in their bodies. That what I have in my own estimation means nothing. Nothing at all. Because there is no way I would ever compare what I deal with on an ongoing basis with what other people are in fact dealing with. No way. Because I would consider that the height of being insulting to the millions and millions of people men, women and children in this world who are dealing with a really difficult circumstances. And I'm not insulting and I never will be that way.
But suffice to say it has been a real conceptual and mental challenge to always have to live with those circumstances in the back of my mind.
Now that I have explained as clearly as I can the conditions of what my back really are like. Let me now tried to explain what I wanted to or what I'm trying to in this Journal entry.
So I basically woke up a few hours ago and I was looking at the weather doing an analysis of the weather. Preparing for my walk this morning to the store. Which I'm still going to do. But then I woke up at 2:55 AM and I was having rather severe but subtle pain all up and down my spine and around my rib cage. Now some of that is normal. Which is one of the reasons during the summer months. I will invariably instead of leaning back in my chair. I will attempt to sleep on one side or the other, meaning on one of the two arms of the chair. Generally I try to sleep on my left side, because by doing so, the bottom quarter of my left lung, which is collapsed is not positioned in such a way so that there is any pressure on that portion of my rib cage, which actually makes it a little easier to breathe. And because my head is on a pillow on top of one of the arms of the chair. I am thereby at a 45° or better angle. So again, the danger of my not breathing suddenly is virtually eliminated.
So I woke up and I had this kind of subtle pain going on to my spine and around my left rib cage. And as I said it's a very familiar pain because it's not the pain from my rib cage having any real arthritic issues of expanding or contracting. It's more the kind of pain that is of course arthritic, but more as a result of humidity change then it is as a result of the bones having an issue of movement.
So the first thing I said under my breath when I woke up was, well, thank you, may I have another. Referring to my relationship with God, saying, thanks so much for taking that swipe at me. Why not hit me again. No problem. You keep hitting me and keep knocking me down and out keep getting up. Not a problem. And then I laugh. Because that's what you do. If you want to survive that's what you do. You don't get angry, you don't feel sorry for yourself. You don't get frustrated. You make a joke and then you laugh. Because if you don't mentally it will beat you down. So that's what you do. You make a joke and then you laugh no matter what.
So after I said that I got up and Frankie, our youngest cat was in the room. And all of our cats except for Cleo are Himalayan. So they are all talkers. And Frankie is the big mouth and the group. But he's also the youngest and most insecure. So basically I'm talking to them because it seems like he's very concerned about me. And I'm telling them everything is fine. But I realized that the pain I was having had nothing to do with movement of my bones, but everything to do with the humidity. So I immediately put on the corset brace. And once I did not only did the skin on my back, of course, immediately become warmer. But also, of course, the corset brace is giving me a little more stability and acupressure in various parts of my back. So the pain is of course subsiding. It's not a big deal. Because, again, my pulmonary function is incredibly high. My lungs are unbelievably strong. Because that's how I lived my life. The doctors gave me limitations and I took those limitations and basically said, those are your rules. I said, those are my rules those are yours.
And of course I didn't mean that completely. But I did mean that mostly. So I know my lungs are incredibly strong. I know that my rib cage is really doing great and that basically these pains are nothing more than the very same thing that's going on with my right hand where I have that very slight not on the knuckle between my index finger and my thumb just like I have a slight not on the knuckle of my thumb. But I also know from all that I have read and researched that not only diet but exercise can actually reduce those protrusions or those rheumatoid arthritic mutations. That's one of the reasons I do so many handgrip exercises. I have two or three different types of handgrips. The steel coil handgrip is the one I use most often. But that's generally not only to exercise my hands. But of course to build muscle in my forearms. Because the reality is my forearms or my arms are my life. Because of I begin to fall anywhere. It will be my arms that will prevent or change the type of the fall, which will save my life.
The other defense I have always used to is that when I got out of the hospital. I became a mountain climber. Where I have actually climbed every single major mountain peak in the continental United States. And I have done that to improve how surefooted I am. Because that is in reality another means of survival. The more surefooted I am the more I will always be able to know almost automatically where to put my feet down so that I do not fall and so that I basically will never have any kind of issue with falling. Plus when I got out of the hospital and I began climbing mountains the orthopedic people involved were becoming somewhat hysterical because they were afraid I might fall. And my answer to them was simple. I said, if I'm going to fall I'm going to make sure it is one hell of a good fall. I remember in Tucson this one physical therapist when I said that she immediately started laughing so hard she almost fell out of her chair. She thought that was great. And then we both laughed. I said why not. If falling is an issue. Let's make sure it's a damn good fall.
I still laugh about it to this day. Because she was such a wonderful physical therapist. And she had a great sense of humor. She totally understood.
So I understand. At this moment with it now being 3:52 AM. That the humidity outside is at a point where my joints are going to be somewhat reactive. So I'm going to keep the corset brace on most of the day, including when I do my exercises. Just to provide a little bit of acupressure and warmth to my midsection and lower spine. No big deal.
But this is another reason why my diet has always been similar to what I have illustrated in the last several daily life, reports. There are a number of physical things that are basically wrong with my body as a result of the operation. I don't ever want anyone under any circumstances that think I am making those severe in any way. They are severe for me. They are not severe. In any way compared to what any of the millions and millions of amazing men, women and children throughout this world are dealing with. They have no relevancy to how serious things are from millions of men, women and children in this world. Because many of them will not even survive today. So nothing I have can compare in any way with what they are going through. What I have is serious to me, but that's it. And I take it seriously and then I laugh about it. But I take it seriously. And I do what is necessary to make sure that what has to be done always gets done. No matter what it gets done.
There was actually a time about 13 years ago when I had a kind of freeze taking place with my lower spine where I eventually had to use this technique of self traction, which I illustrated with those pictures a couple of nights ago. But until I did that at one point I actually had to get down on my knees and in order to get the plate of food from the kitchen to the living room. I actually had to push the food on the plate with my teeth and my chin across the floor because I couldn't stand up. At which point Aileen and I began laughing. She told me that if I was going to act this way I would have to give up my job of being an usher at the local theater. And then after we ate. She helped me into that position, which I illustrated a few nights ago where I did the self traction and that particular instance took me almost 40 minutes to move my legs together in order to finally snap those muscles back in place.
So that's the other thing. When confronted with conditions that seem impossible. I generally look up with God and simply tell them if that's the best he can do that. He's really not doing a very good job. And I dare him to hit me harder. And don't think that I don't respect God because I do. But I also know my body. I've had to. I have to know every single thing about my body and about my physical conditions every single second. I don't have a choice. It doesn't make me special. It doesn't make me better than anyone. It's just what I have had to do every single second since 1969, whether I wanted to or not. It is what I have had to do.
So got an I have this very special relationship. Because as far as I'm concerned, and I often refer to God as, the old man. As far as I'm concerned, God can keep smacking at me and knocking me down. And every time he does I will just get right back up. God may be able to knock me down the only time I won't get back up is when God doesn't want me to. And I just know that I will really be aware and know when that happens. And it hasn't happened yet.
And you have to be that determined. Because if you want. You don't have any chance. You have to be. It is your sense of humor and your determination that will get you through. Not any medication not any medical procedure. Because once the original medical procedure has been done. It's no longer up to the doctors. It's up to you and God. You're the one that's going to make the difference, not the doctors. They are the mechanics they are the specialists you're the one that has to be the engine. And you either put up and you shut up and you do it or it doesn't get done and then your life isn't going to be very much fun, and you're not can have a sense of humor and you're not going to enjoy anything. So if you are smart you’re going to have one hell of a sense of humor.
And make no mistake. I love the doctors and therapists I've met all my life and I have nothing but total and complete admiration and respect for them. But in my mind, they had their chance. They had their chance. Once in 1968 to get things right and there were a lot of mistakes that were made. And I don't fault any of them for that. But if the medical community thinks I'm going to let them screw around with my body again. Then the medical community needs to take a very serious look at themselves and realize they will never have the chance to screw around with my body again. Never. I gave them their chance. Now it's my turn.
And as I said I'm saying this with the absolute highest respect for a single person in the medical community, whether they are a physical therapist, an orthopedic surgeon. It doesn't matter. I respect every single person in the medical community. Every single one. And I love them with all of my heart and I am grateful for every single thing they have ever done and that they continue to do. But of the medical community thinks I'm but a give them another chance to screw around my body that even the medical community is drunk or their basically out of their damn mind. Because they are not going to get that chance. Because it's my turn. Now it's up to me. It's up to me and God. And God knows my soul. God knows if he wants to strike me down. He better bring a damn Army.
And that's my attitude. That's how I've always gotten through. I had that attitude when I was dying. I had that attitude when I was a caregiver to a different closed friends and family members who all died of cancer. I had to watch every single one of them die. And as I was their caregiver. I told them the very first thing I told them was nobody knows anything. This is an between you and a doctors visit between you and God. And you had better have that attitude that if you think God's coming for you. You a better tell God the only way he's going to take you is if he brings a damn Army. You have to be that determined because if you don't and if you want. You have no chance.
So where they gave Aileen two months. I got her wanting to keep going. I got her out there to eight months where she could finally sort out her life and go in peace to go with dignity and I am proud of being able to do that and help her to do that. I am proud and honored that I was able to help her find that courage in herself. It's one of the biggest honors I've ever had in my entire life.
And don't make any mistakes. I am not angry, not at all. I'm just determined. Because that's what you have to be. You have to be as determined as I am right this second. And you have to have an incredibly good sense of humor. And you have to be not religious, but extremely spiritual you have to have a connection with your creator. However you define that creator that is so crystal clear that you know in every fiber of the are being exactly what is expected of you so that you know that no matter how God smack set you the only way he will knock you down permanently is when you are not supposed to get back up. And you'll know when that happens. That's why when I have these moments of pain. I always tell God. No problem. If you think that's the best you can do think again.
And then I laugh. And I always say, why, thank you. May I have another? And then I laugh. And I laughed loudly. And I mean it. I put everything into that laughter. Begin his my way of daring God to go ahead and try again. And don't mistake me. I love God. But I mean what I say. If God thinks he's going to knock me down for good. Then he better bring out damn huge army. Because it's not going to happen. Just like nobody touches my back. God smack in a knock me down. Not unless he's been drinking.
And of all the Journal entries I've written recently. This is the one that can actually help any of you who are reading this Journal entry. The most. Because if you don't have the kind of attitude. I'm talking about and that I live my life with your chances of surviving whatever you are dealing with have gone down so dramatically that they practically don't exist. Because if you can't be that tough. If you can't put up and shut up and get your self in gear to keep going, then you have no chance. And I've known a lot of people in this world and not one of them dealt with their situations in any way different than I am dealing with mine.
Now with everything I have said in the above paragraphs. My gut feeling is that I'm not going to do my morning exercises this morning. Because I just have an instinctive feeling that walking these 3 miles today is going to be very interesting. I don't think it's good to be really so strenuous that I'm going to basically be exhausted. I don't see that at all. Because even though it's going to be close to 80. It's not going to be like it was the other day where it was completely direct sunlight and I felt like I was walking in the Sahara desert. Today there's a lot of moisture a lot of cloud cover. So it's really going to be not very difficult. It is going to be somewhat arthritic to the point where if I focus on it. The pain might actually be looked at as being somewhat difficult, or severe. But I'm not going to focus on that. I'm going to focus on getting it done.
Because that's what I have to do. No matter what. That's what I have to do. Because in a host of ways. I am incredibly strong. I am incredibly agile. And I am incredibly strong. And again, that doesn't make me better than anyone. It never has and it never will. It just means I'm strong. I'm strong within myself. I'm strong within my life. And no matter what I get it done. No matter what it just gets done.
So my gut instincts are that I've had one cup of coffee. That has basically woken up my metabolism. To where instead of an old used car it's actually starting to respond a little more like a brand-new car or perhaps a fairly new car. So I'm probably going to have my morning meal of frosted flakes and milk, but I'm probably going to have another cup of coffee with my morning meal. And then, just before my walk, I will probably have a little milk. And of course I will go out with a bottle of water. And I'm probably going to smoke my pipe because smoking my pipe is a relaxing activity. Nobody smokes a pipe when they are nervous. It's not done. Because pipe smoking is different than other types of smoking. For one, you hardly inhale very much at all. Because you are smoking more for the actual taste of tobacco, then you are trying to get as much nicotine from the tobacco. That's what most people don't understand. But it's a very relaxing activity.
Then what I'm also going to do is I'm going to retrain my profile for Dragon NaturallySpeaking, because of course my voice is changing due to the weather. Again, no big deal. Then I'm going to watch some television to put my mind in a very relaxed and humorous state. Also, amazingly enough, I found those arch supports. Which are absolutely miraculous. Because they really do have an effect on your lower spine. Because ever since I put them into my shoes. I can feel the effect of the arch supports on my lower back and hips. So I'm definitely not going to be without them anymore. And I actually might spend the money this morning when I'm at the store getting some better arch supports than the ones I have right now. Just to make sure that my feet have the kind of support I want so that my lower spine has as little impact as possible from my walking.
But the key is that I'm going to watch some TV and put my mind in a better place. And then I will just do it. No matter what. I will do it and I of course will photograph myself when I'm out with my cart and my backpack so that you can get a glimpse of how I look when I'm out doing what most people take for granted. Doing the shopping. Because for most people it's a matter of getting into their car and simply driving to the store. Which means it's a matter of a few minutes. When I go out it's not a matter of a few minutes. It's a matter of a few hours. And it's always a test of will. But that's why I say God knows my heart and God knows my soul. God knows if he wants to strike me down, he better have an entire army to do so. And then I always laugh. Because I know in reality of God wanted to he could strike me down so far, it would take me 10 lifetimes to figure out where I landed. But he's not going to do that. And I know that's true because I know that my life is helping other people. Not because I'm special because I don't give up. No matter what I don't give up.
So that's how my night went. Which is why I'm glad Aileen always comes to me in my dreams. Because we have amazing conversations. And part of what I have written here this morning is a direct result of Aileen and I walking through the garden last night. She always knew and she always still does, know how to knock me around to get my attention. And I'm laughing. Because she really is that.
I sincerely with all my hope, that those of you have been reading my Journal. Especially these daily life. Reports will read this Journal entry. Not because of me, but because of what is going on in your own lives and the lives of people you know. Because you all know someone who is struggling with some really huge difficulty and what you are reading in this Journal entry can help you to help them save their own lives. And that's the importance of this Journal entry. Because most of those lives have so many other lives associated with them. A lot of them have children a lot of them have husbands or wives or parents. What I have talked about in this Journal entry can help them tremendously in many ways to find perhaps just one thing in what I have said that might give them that extra bit of margin or that extra bit of sense of humor or that extra bit of strength or courage to keep going. And that's the object of the game, ladies and gentlemen to keep going no matter what. No matter how it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you look ridiculous to everyone else. It doesn't matter if they are laughing at you are making small of view it doesn't matter. What matters is that you keep going no matter what you just keep going and you get it done, no matter how the matter what you just get it done. That's what matters.
So when I say that I really do love all of you, even though I don't know any of you, you can take that to the bank. Because I don't share what I have shared in this Journal entry with hardly anyone. But I'm sharing it now because I can see that there are a lot of you who are reading my Journal and I take that as a supreme honor and I take it very seriously. The matter how many jokes I might tell I take it very seriously and I am extremely honored and grateful and very thankful and flattered that you think enough to read what I'm writing. That is a very supremely high compliment. It actually brings me to tears. Because it means in all those years that God Knocking me down that there was a reason he did so. And this is one of those reasons.
So let me get started. Nothing gets done around here unless I do it. And all of the cats are in the kitchen because they're waiting for me to give them their morning cat food. Little do they know I'm not giving them their cat food until the appointed time. Because I maintain a schedule. Nothing gets done out of sequence. Sequence is everything. Just like it was when Aileen was dying. Sequence is everything. Nothing gets done out of sequence. That's the way you survive.
So I will write again. Probably just before I leave the house. Because in so many ways, even though I don't know any of you. You really are sort of like a family to me. In my heart you are. Because I've got no family. So those of you who read my Journal in my heart. You are my family. And to me that's an honor that God does to me. That is where God smiles at me and says I'm not going to walk on this road alone. And that's a good thing. It's a very good thing.
If you could see my face, you would see the tears streaming down my cheeks and you would know that those tears are because of my gratitude. I am really grateful that you all are in my life just like I'm grateful every morning that God smiles and says it's okay that I have another day. So I take that day that God gives me and I tell them to just watch. Watch how I use what he gives me.
I'll write later.