“Facing My Own Mortality”
Let me say up front…No, this isn’t a story to evoke letters of support or sympathy from readers!
I’ve put a lot of thought into whether I should reveal what’s going on in my life at this time. My wife is the only other one that knows; I’ve not told other family and friends and at this time have no intensions of doing so but I thought I owed quite a few people in the online world some kind of explanation.
I’m diabetic and have one kidney; I lost the other at age nine and I’m now fifty-five. The first time I heard that I only had so long to live doctors had given me until age seven. The second time was age nine, and the last time was when I was twelve and they said I wouldn’t live beyond twenty…as I said I am now fifty-five so I don’t put a lot of stock into doctors predictions and have not received one of late.
My diabetes was under control, for the most part, until about three weeks ago when my blood sugar started rise and I was unable to control it myself. My single kidney is faltering
I’m weak, tired, sick most of the time, and depressed all of the time so I thought that by putting my feelings down on paper, and on my blog, it may help me sort things out. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the short term and I’m avoiding looking to far forward…in stead I’ve found myself looking back and thinking about how I got here.
So, as I feel well enough and can make myself do it I will be revealing, and shearing with you, some of my life up until now in the days to come.
A Disquieting Passage
I was born on December 25, 1952 the son of a sailor and a housewife. Within the first four years of my life I had become a burden and an embarrassment to my father.
My father was a proud man, his parents had died when he was eleven years old and he lived on his own in the woods, near where his home had been, in rural North Carolina. By the time he was fifteen years old WW II had begun, and he was on a ship headed to war. Because he had to find his own way to survive and do everything for himself he couldn’t understand, nor tolerate, any form of weakness in someone else; not even his four year old son.
At the age of four I was still wetting myself and my mother was convinced that there was something wrong with me; my father on the other hand, sided with the many doctors who said that the only thing wrong was that I was a spoiled brat.
By that summer, when I was four and a half, my mother had found a urologist at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia who said if there was anything physically wrong with me he would find it. So, as my father held me down, the doctor performed a stethoscopy on me in what looked like a gymnasium on a metal table. I remember it well and the screams of pain that projected from my mouth and echoed through the large room.
Later that month, I was to overhear my first death sentence as I heard the doctor say, “There is nothing that could be done…” and “He is not likely to live beyond the age of seven.”
A kind of side note that recently entered an email conversation with a dear friend… 08/01/08
When I was a kid my mom used to take us to church sometimes and she believed in God…I thought cool, that gives me something to believe in.
When I was 7 I had reconstructive bladder surgery and was on the operating table for over 10 hours. During surgery I woke up…everything was blurry but I could make out the doctor and nurses and a bright light. The last thing I remember seeing was a nurse leaning over me with a syringe that had a very long needle and then suddenly I was seeing it all from above and to the side of the bright light which hung over the operating table. It didn’t last but only a couple of seconds and then I woke in the recovery room. From that day on I didn’t think I had anything to believe in. I knew I couldn’t believe in my parents because I had overheard them talking about maybe it would be best for me and everyone else if I did pass away as the doctors predicted I would. I no longer believed in God.
With nothing to believe in and everyone in my life seeming very cruel and uncaring at 8 I tried to jump out of a 7th floor window and was pulled back in by the guy in the bed next to me, he was a sailor…I had told him I was going to jump. Years later I remember seeing on TV people talking about similar experiences except they saw a bright light and knew it was the way to heaven…I knew they were lying! I’ve never believed since.
That sailor was the only real friend I ever had as a kid. Between the age of 4 and 12 I spent most of my time in the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth in the mens ward….I was the only kid. That sailor and I spent almost every day together for over a year as he slowly died of cancer. Every month or two I would get to go home for a couple of days and I hated it. I was always afraid that when I went back to hospital my friend would be gone. I helped him all I could and he helped me all he could…it seemed that all either of us had was each other and when he died I was 9 and all the steam went out of me along with any hope!
I was not supposed to live beyond the age of 20 and had no plans beyond that. I had never really been to school and never had a tutor. I became a anything goes kinda guy and when I kept living I got madder than I already was…I’ve been pretty mad ever since! Oh well, that’s life and it sucks!!!!
Continued-May 24, 2009-05-24
In August of my fourth year of life we went to visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins who lived in Roanoke Rapids, NC; I loved them dearly. This was the place where I received kind words and felt loved.
My cousin Mary who was about five years older than me was so pretty and I would do anything for or with her asked me to go with her back to her house to get something. She got her bicycle and I got on the back finder and we went off the quarter mile through the path in the woods. On the way back she hit some large pine roots that were above groung on the path and the bike jumped to one side and my ankle went into the spokes removing all of the skin from my left ankle.
Scared to death, screaming and crying, Mary ran back to my grandparents to get help. My folks took me to the local hospital where they cleaned and bandaged my foot and we stopped so I could let Mary know that it wasn’t her fault and headed home.
A week later my foot hurt so bad I could not stand on it and my folks took me to the closes Military hospital in Newport News, Va. There they determined that my wound was full of gangrene and admitted me to the hospital.
They hooked me up with an I.V. gave me antibiotics and put me in what seemed to me a very large room full of injured and sick kids. There was constant screaming and crying and as I looked around the room it was easy for even a four year old to see that there was plenty of reason for it.
One child, a black boy about my age was burned all over his body and they kept him naked and in a crib and I rarely saw anyone give him much attention. He was the worse as far as I could and I cried for him, his loneliness, his pain, and the kinship I felt with him by being there and never know what was going to happen to you next…I cried for me too.
I remember there was some talk of amputating my foot and once I found out what that meant it seemed unimaginable. I don’t know how long it was but eventually they cut all of the gangrenous meat out of my ankle and foot and after a month in hospital when I was healing they grafted skin from my upper left leg to use on my ankle. I would spent the next year on crutches.
When I was released from the army hospital I began spending three days out of every week on the urology ward at the navy hospital in Portsmouth. Test after test and every week a stethoscopy twice a week to try and stretch my bladder.
This will be continued as my mood permits.