The Bad News First

The Bad News First

meI should consider myself lucky that I’ve made it through life this far. My childhood was filled with accidents and I prob’ly cheated death a few times. Broke several bones, or dislocated them. Pulled some hair-brained stunts and was involved in incidents that any one of them could have taken my life and the lives of others. One of my earliest memories, if not the first one, was the feeling – the fear really – of drowning in a huge snow bank.

That was in Alaska, where I was born an Army brat, and I had dived head first from the porch into the drift that settled in our front yard. The snow, stiff and crusty, held me firm and I couldn’t move. I panicked and screamed for help.

There’s no screaming now, but I am panicked. I shouldn’t be surprised, since I’ve been walking around with a hose in my nose, snorting o2, for the past two and a half years. I knew then that I wouldn’t live to the old age I had hoped for, but somehow it didn’t hit me like it did a couple of days ago.

Dept. of Veterans AffairsMy medical care is through the Veterans Administration. It’s all I get because I was too foolish to get insurance at any time during the last 35 years of my career in floor covering. So anyway, I go to see a pulmonary specialist on the 27th and after about 45 minutes of questions and him methodically tapping out 2 finger style on a keyboard, he tells me that the Emphysema is spread throughout my lungs so much that lung reduction surgery is out of the question. He mentions the possibility of lung transplantation, but wants me to know that it doesn’t have the long-lasting effect they had once hoped for. He talked about the danger of that kind of surgery. He said that only 50% of patients who have the surgery live 5 years.

My hopes weren’t getting up there where I thought they’d be. I asked him what kind of time I might have left without the surgery. “Two, maybe three years,” he said. I was actually surprised I didn’t cry at that news. I remember crying like a baby when they wheeled out my first oxygen tank over 2 years ago. It was a death sentence then, but the other day was the official eviction notice.

I left there thinking I have to do whatever I can to beat that 3 year mark. It was a kind of slow-burn panic. I don’t want to live the way I have been for the last year. I was evicted from a beautiful home I lived in for 17 years because I couldn’t pay the mortgage anymore. My new home is a cracker-box I really should be grateful for. The best friend I’ve ever had has been very generous and supportive, giving me a place to live, giving me an opportunity I would have never gotten to have my mobility device (a Segway) and just being a great friend. But I miss having more than 2 rooms. I miss the nicer things I enjoyed. I miss having a yard all around, fences, a workshop, lots of deck to lounge on and so much more.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time adding Adsense to all my websites (I used it on only one site previously). I set this site up, not only to do this blog, which I have wanted to do for a very long time, but to get some advertising dollars rolling in. My small military pension is less than one-fourth what I used to make and I am sick and tired of being poor. I did my time back in the old days of my youth.

But the day wasn’t only spent trying desperately to generate some income opportunity. I ate healthier. I tried breathing exercises. I walked about 3 blocks. Used considerable energy and strength to move my street tires and some other stuff into a storage unit and did 3 loads of laundry. If I’m true to my habits, I might be good for another day or so before I settle back into my “easier, softer ways.” But I don’t think I can afford that kind of attitude anymore. I think I have some hard work ahead.

We’ll see.

Jim McClain

Born 1949 and not dead yet.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bill Watson

    Hello Jim,

    I was previously only slightly aware of some of the challanges you face.
    Much more so now.
    My respect for you grows daily.
    Bill from TFP

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