Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Boi", Oh Boy!

How and when did the term “boi” generate? Who thought this word up? Is there a secret society of homosexuals someplace who sit around and create new identities within the gay culture to ever further segregate the population? I don’t remember getting a memo that said anything like, “From here on out, we will be dropping the ‘y’ from ‘boy’ and be replacing it with an ‘i’ because it’s just more fabulous this way.”

I can only assume (since I am still looking for that memo) that the term “boi” refers to a boyish gay guy and that the word “boy” is now solely to be used as a possessive term, as in “Here comes Master Bulldog and his Boy.” So I guess, chronologically speaking, that it is possible for someone to be a boy, and then become a “boi”, and then grow into being a Boy. Can one be a “boi” and a Boy at the same time? Can one be a “boi” and a Master at the same time? Could a “boi” be his own “Boy”?

To exacerbate this problem, the term “boi” also, apparently, describes a biological female with a male presentation. So now there are also girl “bois” living among us too. Are there also female Masters? Or are these women, or should I say WOMYN, called something else? Sweet Agnes, people, this gets confusing! Even Thom Lynch, the director of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center, says, "The language thing is tricky. I feel sorry for straight people."

People and labels – it’s a love/hate relationship. People hate being categorized as something they don’t identify with, so they end up creating a whole new class for themselves. For example, in the lesbian community some women of color prefer the word "stud" to "butch," meaning a masculine-identified lesbian. Which makes a woman who falls between a stud and a femme -- a more "feminine" lesbian -- a "stem." “Yo, I’m taking my stem camping this weekend.” In Lesbo speak, that means something (but to me it sounds more like a euphemism for wanking).

I guess it all just boils down to respect. People are just going to self-identify. With the universe of gender and sexual identities expanding, a gay youth culture emerging, acceptance of gays rising and label loyalty falling, the gay lexicon has exploded with scores of new words and blended phrases that delineate every conceivable stop on the identity spectrum -- at least for this week.

But to whomever is sending out the memos, I have recently moved and I need a “Change of Address” form.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Selectively Deaf Mothers

HELLO!?!?!?!

Can you not HEAR the toddler screaming your name? Because you seem to be able to hear your girlfriend sitting across the table.

Can you not HEAR the 2 year-old asking “Mommywhatsthat?” every three seconds? Because the IM beep on your laptop appears to be working.

Can you not HEAR the child screaming as it runs up and down the aisle of the train? Because your cell phone seems to be getting pretty good reception.
When your water broke, did your eardrums go with it?

What is it with mothers and the ability to just completely tune out a yelling child? How is this possible? I never see this with fathers. I never see a man completely ignoring a child who is yelling its purple head off. It seems to only be mothers. Are they just as sick of the kid as I am?

I am, clearly, not a parent. I’ve never had a child of my own to love, hold and, apparently, ignore. And I have never been around someone so much who is so dependent on me that there are times I can’t even listen to him.

A few years ago, some people I graduated high school with called me up and we all went to lunch together. There were 5 of us. We all came alone, except one of us brought her child. It became impossible to carry on a conversation as this child’s constant needs seemed to be heard only by us and not his mother, who would just continue talking over the demands/tantrums/screams of her child. When she called me the next day to say how much fun she had and wanted to do it again, I said, “I’d love to, but next time you have to leave your child at home so that we get a chance to talk.” According to the grapevine, Terry was mortified, and I never heard from her again. Just being honest here.

When I go to a restaurant, I sometimes ask for the table next to the screaming infant because that is, invariably, where the host/ess will seat me anyway (so we may as well work as a team here).

Can these mothers also not hear fire engines and police sirens when they choose? Can jack-hammering go unnoticed? If these same mothers were sea captains, would they crash their boats into the rocks because the fog horn may as well have been a whisper?

I am envious. I wish I could choose to hear what I wanted, when I wanted. I wish I could choose to not hear the recycling truck dumping bottles at 6AM. I wish I could choose to not hear the city street repair ripping up the asphalt outside my house each morning. And I wish to God I could choose to not hear the kid talking in the movie theater.

Just like its mother does.



Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fare Thee Well, D of C!

So the time has finally come for me to bid farewell to DC.

I moved to Washington on September 14, 1995. My first living situation was in a group house with two others, one of whom I never saw, at 10th and D, NE. The one roommate I did see had “questionable” friends in and out of the house at all times of the day or night. I ended up moving out after living there for one month.

One of my first nights in DC, I went to Kramerbooks on Dupont Circle and bought the newly published, “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. It was primarily to help me get over my homesickness. I walked across the street and had dinner at The Childe Harold and sat outside, eating my pasta, drinking my red wine, reading my book, and feeling oh so cosmopolitan.

After 10 years, I forsake 2 apartments, 2 houses, and 5 jobs. I leave behind experiences like sharing a pizza on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 2AM, seeing the pink cherry blossoms color a gray dawn at the Tidal Basin, shopping on an autumn Sunday at Eastern Market, biking along the Potomac River, and walking through the streets of the city with thousands of others during an AIDSwalk – all things that could only be experienced in DC.

I blow a kiss to 3 ex-boyfriends, all of whom allowed me to grow and learn and be the person I am today. They showed me love in a city that is known for being unfriendly at times. Each one helped me discover something about myself. And to all the others who showed me love even if it was just one night at a time, I thank them for sharing their lives with me.

And I say “see ya later” to a myriad of friends and acquaintances. There are people in DC who met me 10 years ago and still remember me. I know it has just about everything to do with the fact that I have an interesting name. But to my vanity, I would like to think that I left some kind of lasting impression on them, as everyone I have met has on me, be it good or bad. But there are some, a precious few, with whom I will miss grabbing dinner, drinking Margaritas at Lauriol, singing karaoke drunk, dancing ‘til dawn, shopping in Georgetown, and just hanging out and laughing. Please remember friends that I am a mere 2-hour plane ride away. With room for company.

So onward, but not necessarily upward, I travel to new horizons. With a new lease on life, and a new heart for good measure, I leave behind my youth and look forward to my 40s in Chicago. Perhaps when I am on the cusp of turning 50, it will be time to move to another city, perhaps Boston, perhaps New York, perhaps something smaller, perhaps even DC again.

My flight leaves this morning at 9:45AM. I hope DC will remember me as fondly as I will remember all of it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Lasting Visit to NYC

Thursday and Friday I took off and made a small holiday of it in New York. “One cannot say good-bye to the east coast without saying good-bye to NYC too,” according to my friend Eric. So off I went to do the two things I have always wanted to do there, but have not done. But first things first…

After a grueling train ride (Amtrak really needs overhauling), I arrived at Penn Station just in time to meet my friend Poodle and his boyfriend, Jeff, for a light dinner at Chipotle (eating healthy these days and a black bean burrito seemed to hit the spot). It was important for me to see Poodle so that he could see that I was well and healthy. He, like some other friends who live in other cities, had some difficulty adjusting to my recent health debacle because of the very logical assumption that something could have happened to me in the small hospital at my parents’ house and he would never have known it. Even though I speak of my friends all the time, the only people my family ever remembers are Jeff (my best friend of 15 years who lives near my parents) and Ashley (my roommate of the last 4 years). Neither of them knows all of my other friends, so if something were to happen to me, I guess there would be someone left “out of the know”. And Poodle thought he would be one of those people.

Sidebar: Poodle’s real name is Michael. He and I met online about 4 years ago and became instant soul mates. He was just ending a 15-year relationship with someone and I was just recovering from my stroke. Since speaking was still a little challenge, online became my favourite way to communicate. I am not sure how or why I nicknamed Michael “Poodle”, but I did and it stuck. He refers to himself as Poodle when he speaks or emails me and signs his emails as “Your Little Lap Dog”.

Friday night I spent with another friend named Michael – this one I have nicknamed Bam Bam (there are so many Michaels in my life I HAVE to nickname them to keep them all straight, err… I mean… in order). Bam Bam was my partner in crime to the two things I went to NYC to do: go to the top of the Empire State Building at night, then follow that up with a visit to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum on 42nd Street (clearly, I am a dork).

We snaked through the long line inside the building and hit the roof just as it began to rain. I tried taking some pics of the city, but the flash on my digi just wasn’t strong enough and everything looked like it was on fire (was had a little laugh at the fact that the pic of “Queens was all aflame”). Then we hit the wax museum and we had some fun having our pictures snapped with Brad Pitt, Susan Sarandon, RuPaul, The Dahli Lama, and Christopher Reeve (I would say that Bam Bam is a Superman fanatic, except fanatic is not a strong enough word). Dinner in Chelsea was followed by a visit to the new 8th Avenue bar “Gym”, which looks A LOT like JR’s in DC, and then we called it a night.

Not sure when I will head back to the Big Potato (รก la Rose on The Golden Girls), but it is so cool to have friends like Poodle and Bam Bam for the times when I have/will visit(ed). These are just two of the people in my life that help make life worth living, and its so easy to be strong when you can channel your strength through such great people.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

To Anonymous

This will be my only open letter to the “Anonymous” person who has been leaving such comments on my blog as: “you should have died” and “in no time you will be back in your leather harness parading around the circuit parties” and “no one gives a damn about your mindless, stereotypical white homo banter” and “we both know that you will be back to … making barking noises at guys soon enough” .
First of all, you are right – I should have died! Five arterial blockages, four being over 90%, should just about equal death to a person. But for the grace of God, go I. Apparently there is still work for me to be done on this earth; still things to do, still places to see, still people to meet, love, and I guess, debate. Ours is not to question why, but to simply accept and go on. And that is my plan.

Secondly, I know I might look the part, but I have never worn a leather harness out in public in my life before. I probably never will. Although I fully support the leather community, as well as the drag community, the military community, and even the country western cowboys and their rodeos, I don’t consider myself a member of any of those organizations. I do patronize their dances and events, as most are fundraisers for charities and other needy organizations. Sometimes, it is fun to just play dress up and forget your troubles, even if it’s just for a night now and then. I used to go to circuit parties when I was younger, but then when crystal meth and the other drugs seemed to become too prevalent, I stopped going. Even though I support the causes, I can no longer support the players.

Thirdly, it's a shame you have so much hatred for someone of another race whom you've never even met. My only guess is that someone who looks like me or resembles my “type” has done you wrong somewhere along the line. Or you have been attracted to my type before and it has not been reciprocated. Or, you just choose to be racist when so many of us are trying everyday to end racism in all of its forms. You and I could possibly have been friends since we will both be living in Chicago soon (I have your IP address and I know where you live). I have friends who are of all colours, shades, and ethnic backgrounds.

Also, I do actually agree with you that the barking noises men make towards each other tend to be somewhat bothersome. While I take it as flattery when someone “woofs” at me, I am never really sure what my response is supposed to be. Usually, a shy “thank you” is all I can mutter. I think the “woofing” started with the leather community, but I am not sure. The very cool thing about that community is that if they like you, they let you know it. But if they don’t they don’t even bother to deal with you. That can’t be said for many, many other bars I have walked into. Many gay men are admittedly catty and gossipy. We have all been “talked about” in the “pretty boy bars”, and it hurts. But the only time you get talked about in a leather bar is if they like you. There is something to be said for that, and I think it’s a great thing – certainly a welcome transition from feeling lonely and insecure when standing in a bar alone.

I have chosen not to delete your comments, as I think that defeats the purpose of an open forum. And if you truly feel this way, then you should be able to write what you feel is appropriate. Please don't think it upsets or even bothers me. But if it continues to bother others who read my blog often, then I will block you, which I should not have to do.

I won’t comment on your messages again, but I thought it appropriate now to write something. You also have the option of not reading my blog at all. There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs out there that I am sure you can find entertaining. Or perhaps you could start your own and possibly find others who might feel the same way you do about things as I have.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Gym Again

I worked out (well, curled a few weights) for the first time in weeks this past Friday afternoon. Yesterday, I could hardly straighten my arms. And, following doctor’s orders, I didn’t curl anything heavier than a 10-pound dumbbell which, at the time, felt as if I was lifting practically nothing. But since I have neither a medical degree, nor the 16 plaques hanging on my wall like Dr. Nelson does, I stuck with the 10 pounds. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, I tell myself. The good thing about is it that THIS time, my Rome is already a major city and not the squalored shanty town it was when I first began lifting weights 5 years ago.

It was February 2000. The end of the last millennium had approacheth and I found myself single after two and a half years. Ex#3 and I had split up back before Christmas, New Year’s Eve had come and gone and I was pretty sick of sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I had wanted to join a gym for a few years. It was in my initial plan when I first moved to DC in 1995. Back then I bought a few weights to lift in my bedroom in order to get enough muscle on me so that I could then join a gym with confidence. If you’ve never worked out before, the hardest thing in the world to do is find the courage to walk into a gym that first time where everyone already looks perfect. I still applaud anyone with the courage to do that.

I joined Gold’s Gym then and basically learned by watching. I bought tons of muscle mags to learn technique, and I used to watch World Wide Wrestling on TV to psych myself up before going to the gym (you gotta admit, those boys can really pump the adrenaline). Within 5 months, I had dropped about 20 pounds but gained tons of confidence. I massed up pretty early and based on my genetic code I have been able to maintain my size by going to the gym just twice a week.

And now I start again. I am my own personal New Orleans, waiting for the water to subside so I can get in there and start rebuilding. But this time, it’s not important what size I am, or how big I get again. This time it’s about health – being healthy, not having the biggest arms in the room; being fit, not comparing myself to other men; and being nourished, not eating anything just to keep the size up. I will always be a big guy, that’s just who I am.

But I think I may have been cured of my
"bigorexia".

Monday, September 19, 2005

Transitions, Part III

I spent yesterday and last night with people who reminded me of who I am and who I was before my own personal “9/11” hit so many weeks ago. I went to Ex#5’s housewarming party (technically it was just him showing off his new cockroach-free apartment) after having lunch with Kelly.

Kelly and I sat for about an hour, catching up and talking about the last month or so, then guessing what the next few months will bring. It was nice to do what Kelly and I enjoy doing together – sitting outdoors, drinking margaritas. The world seems to slowly pass by when she and I are together.

We arrived at the party about 2.5 hours after it began, so our friends and our host were well on their way to having a lot of fun. I was greeted by my old gang and, within just a few minutes, it was as if the past month hadn’t happened. No one dwelled on me. No one was overly cautious around me. At first the hugs were light and delicate, and then eventually the usual random embraces became more snuggly.

And for a few hours, I was transported back in time to one year ago, when life was fun, laughter flowed freely, and I was part of close friendships that would last me the rest of my life.

The old gang lifted my spirits. The past two days had been emotionally tough for me. I was feeling pretty alone, and actually was second-guessing my move to Chicago – wondering if this was really the right thing to do. But this party gave me a closure of sorts; not ending the friendships, but changing the relationships I already had. At one point I thought I had lost all of these people, and then Eric called our friendship an “inner circle”. It gave me a sense of security and I realized that no matter where I am, or how long I am gone, these people will be in my life.

I can't imagine how empty my life would be without them. I woke up this morning being exactly where I wanted to be for months. I felt calm. And I hated getting out of bed and letting that feeling go. I thank Ex#5 in my heart for bringing them all to me; and himself, as well. I will miss them all. But I will miss him most.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Transitions, Part II

Today was a little weird for me.

Backstep to yesterday and saying goodbye to Dad and Mom: I tried treating this as if I was just going back to DC again, just like the 100 or so times I had done over the last 10 years. But this time was obviously different. I had spent just about every waking hour with my folks, Mom especially, over the last 4 weeks during my recovery. At 39 years old, I didn’t think that I would be a man who needed his mother so badly. But I seriously don’t know how I would have gotten through without her. Yes, I am a self-proclaimed “momma’s boy”, always will be. So are my two younger brothers. Mom and my sister, Kim, are best friends. Mom is the center of our universe. We put her there and we keep her there – all things revolve around her. And she revolves around us.

Dad adores the fact that we flock to her like we do. It means more to him that we adore this woman that he has loved for the last 45+ years. We are close to Dad too, but Mom is the center of it all.

So saying goodbye to them was very hard. It was a combination of knowing I was going to be moving 1,200 miles away from my family in the next week; it was part realizing that the last 5-week ordeal was coming to a close and that life as we all used to know it would be returning to normal; it was realizing that as hard a time as some people have with this surgery, I came through it so remarkably well that at times I felt almost guilty for not having a more difficult recovery; and it was also realizing that for the last 5 weeks I was surrounded constantly by people who cared about me and now I would be out there in the world doing it all on my own.

The latter realization hit me this morning on the Metro. Yesterday, my youngest brother, Mike, and Kim drove me the 3 hours from the folks’ place back to my house in DC. I took them to dinner at Tunnicliff’s on the Hill, and then we popped in to see my friend Kelly, so that Kim (who had talked to Kelly several times on the phone during my surgery) could meet Kelly face to face. Kim, Mike and I walked through Adams Morgan and then came back and crashed at my place. Saying goodbye to them this morning as they headed back home was the final step.

So on the Metro this morning, I got on the train and had my epiphany that for the first time in many weeks I was surrounded by people who just didn’t know. They had no idea what I had been through or even what I was still facing. And for some reason, I got mad at them. I got mad at each person on my train – people I didn’t even know. I was mad that they didn’t care enough to know. And then I realized that I was alone in this, at least just for a little while anyway.

Ex#5 is having a house-warming on Sunday. That’s going to be my first official outing in DC and it will surely begin the social activities I will face next week. I am looking forward to seeing him, my other friends, and being social again. Until then, I will rest, sleep a lot, and watch some DVDs.

But today, for the rest of the day, it will be a little weird for me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Transitions

Today . . . a transition.

Today I finally head home from my parents’ place to get back to my old life. It’s been almost 5 weeks since the beginning of this entire ordeal – from the initial attack, to the constant pain for a few days, to GWU Hospital, to Sacred Heart Hospital, to the surgery, to my parents place and, subsequently, recovery.

Sometimes at points in my life, I have wondered how life will be different a year from now. When I reflect on this entire 5-week experience, what are the things I will remember most? I have already forgotten about some of the pain I went through. In truth, I don’t really remember much about the hospital at all. And the time at my parents’ place, that I thought would drag on forever, has seemed to pass somewhat quickly and painlessly. I guess the scar down my chest will be the constant reminder, but even that will fade with time, as Dad’s has done in the last 4 years.

Wondering where I will be a year from now also reminds me where I was a year ago. On September 15th, 2004, I was on my first “official” date with Ex#5 (I say “official” because we ended up going out two times before the date we had set as a first date). A year ago, just like today, September 15th seemed full of promise and hope for a bright future, good times and many happy days. In many ways, there are a lot of similarities between Ex#5 and my new heart:

Both gave me refreshing outlooks on life when life seemed bleak and unlivable. Both brought me out of a dark time in my life when everything seemed hopeless. Both filled my life with new possibilities. Both introduced me to a wonderful group of people who dedicated themselves to my happiness. And both will be in my life until my life is no longer – one way or another.

The Ides of September will come to mean a day of transition – when I annually reflect on my year and evaluate from where I have come, and decide to where I shall go. On September 28th, I finally move to Chicago to begin the next phase, if not the next half, of my life. The world again seems full of opportunities and possibilities. And with a new heart, and my friendship with Ex#5, I take a deep breath . . . and step the next step.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thumbs Way Up!

I went to my final appointment with my heart surgeon yesterday afternoon to see how I was healing - almost three and a half weeks after my surgery. I went prepared with a list of questions I had put together over the previous week, writing them down as they came to me: one on Thursday, two on Friday, until I had 12 questions. I might actually have been the first patient to do this with this surgeon, based on his puzzled smile when I took the list out. But the questions helped and I learned a lot.

Among the things I learned is the fact that the heart attack I had on August 9th was classified as "severe". I had 3 or 4 more in the 4 days between the first one and August 13th, the day I checked myself in to George Washington University Hospital. One more like the one I had on the 9th would have done me in. It was a close call.

I was initially told that my blockages were 100%, 90%, 90%, 68% and 68%. But I learned that I had 100% in the main, 3 blockages of 90%, and only one other at 65%. In retrospect, it's amazing that the frisbee game I had a few days before didn't kill me.

After my check-up, I learned that my breastbone is 90% healed. Friday, September 16th, marks 4 weeks after my surgery. Please keep in mind that normal healing time is 6 weeks. So beginning on Friday, the surgeon has allowed me to once again drive a car and sit in the passenger seat (there was fear that an airbag or seatbelt would be too much pressure on my chest). And more importantly, I get to return to the gym, albeit very slowly.

I am still having a "stitch reaction", which is superficial and doesn't affect my incision. Almost all of my bruises have disappeared, and the stitches on my leg look more like cat scratches rather than incisions. And my hair is growing back nicely!

It was good to walk out of there knowing that I was going to be okay. I mean, I already felt better, but my recovery is just about two weeks ahead of schedule. It was good to get the validation from the experts that I was as healthy as I felt.

I can cough now without the pain. I can sneeze without the feeling that my chest will explode. I can turn in bed without it being a big production. I can close a car door by myself. A walk to the end of the driveway doesn't leave me huffing and puffing. Simple movements I couldn't do two weeks ago, I now do without even thinking. Life is returning to normal. And I cannot contain my elation!!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Slight Reprieve

I got my old life back for just one day.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my parents and my family. They have been extremely gracious and hospitable to me over the last 4 weeks. I could not have gotten through this ordeal without them. Mom has never really had the opportunity to dote on me like she has the others (seeing as how I live several hours away and my other siblings all live within two miles of my parents). This was her chance to be my Mom the way she loves to be. I am not used to that kind of mothering from her and it was getting a little cramped for me. She means well and she is full of love, but after 4 full weeks of it, when I am used to seeing my folks for maybe one weekend every other month – it was beginning to choke me a little.

When my best friend Jeff, who lives about 5 miles from my parents, said he was going to go to DC for just one night to attend the gay rodeo stuff, I jumped at the chance to tag along and spend the night – alone – in my own bed in my own house. So excited was I, that the night before the trip, I could not get to sleep. Just the thought of getting back to normalcy for me got me so tanked up that I was still awake at 5AM, and Jeff was picking me up at 8.

He and I drove the three hours to DC and it was like old times. He and I used to spend countless hours and miles together, traveling here and there, laughing at each other, playing CDs in search of the perfect drag queen song. We don’t get much chance to spend time together anymore. We talk on the phone about once a week now and get updated on each other’s lives. And its still important for us to meet the other’s current dating partner – for validation, I guess. I miss his physical company sometimes, and this was a lovely journey back home, via memory lane.

We arrived at my house which didn’t look awful considering my roommate moved to Chicago about three weeks prior. The grass was a little long, but there was no mail dripping out onto the ground like I expected, and no broken windows or vandalism, which is surprising considering my neighborhood. I walked in the front door and I immediately felt 100% better. For the first time in a month, I felt like myself again. And I gave myself the reassurance that I would be okay, and that I could do this – I could go back to my daily routine, such as it is, and feel good again.

Jeff went off to the rodeo stuff, and I went for a walk. I walked around the Dupont Circle area. I stopped in the gym and saw Ex#4, who greeted me with a huge sigh of relief that I looked totally normal and actually healthier. I called my friend Keith, the one who sat with me way back on the night of August 9th when we just thought it was an allergic reaction, and he came to the house with a CD he had made for me, with songs like “Heartbreaker”, “Un-break My Heart”, etc.

After that, it was doing laundry, making myself dinner, checking emails, watching DVDs, downloading music, and all the other boring, but wonderful stuff, that filled my life of ennui. And for the first time since August 10th – exactly one month ago – I cuddled down into my own bed and fell asleep.

Today, Jeff takes me back to my parents place. I go for my final doctor appointment with the surgeon tomorrow morning. Then on Thursday, the 15th, my sister Kim and brother Mike will drive me back down to DC for good this time so that I can once again resume my life and prep for MY move to Chicago on the 28th.

Life’s highway gives you speed bumps, and this was mine. I originally had given my family just a weekend before I would move 1200 miles away. But by the end I will have had 5 weeks with them. Granted it would be nice to change the conditions, but I would not trade that time for anything. How lucky am I to have had that time with my parents at this stage of my life? Oddly, I am almost grateful for the heart attack. Because now, my heart is fuller than its been in a long, long time.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Things They Don't Tell You

While the doctors and nurses at the hospital were extremely helpful to me during my recent surgery, and fully explained everything that was going on, they were a bit lax in telling me what to expect down the road. That is, what might I experience once I leave the hospital, and when.

For example, no one told me that about a week after my surgery, I would end up looking like a plum. Almost suddenly one day, multiple bruises showed up in all kinds of places on my body. There were some on my arms where the IVs had been removed several days prior, there were some on my right leg from which the veins were harvested, some on the foot of that same leg, and the worst one was located on the left side of my groin where the sandbag had been placed after the femoral line had been removed following surgery. These all popped up exactly a week after my surgery, when I had been home for three days.

No one told me that the same leg, that has three two-inch scars down the side of the calf, would swell along with my right foot. This happened almost two weeks after I had come home. It seems that the leg has to adjust to the loss of three of its blood vessels and it takes some time for this adjustment. So while my left foot looks perfectly normal, my right foot looks like it belongs to Fred Flintstone.

No one told me that my left arm and shoulder would hurt almost three weeks to the day following my surgery. It seems that during the operation, the patient is pulled and contorted in such peculiar positions in order to make as much room as possible in the chest cavity. My left arm hurt so bad one night that I actually thought I was having another heart attack (is it even possible to have a heart attack right after bypass surgery?). If you can remember back to freshmen biology class in high school the position the frog was in when it was dissected - this is the same position the surgical patient is in: on your back, legs spread wide, arms pulled way back over your head. I daily check my bottom lip to be sure a pin was not stuck through it to secure me to the table.

No one told me that my left pec would be, and seem to stay, numb. This possibly has something to do with the harvest of the mammary artery used in one of the bypasses. The skin on the left side of my chest feels almost like a bad sunburn, made worse by the hair growing back and being rubbed by any shirt I wear. I have learned that this numbness may possibly not go away at all. Isn’t it bad enough that this was the same pec that lost the nipple ring? Hasn’t it suffered enough?

The hospital gave me a binder full of information that they said would be my bible for the next 6 weeks. I do refer to it often. And it is admittedly chock full of information. However, they need to add a section titled, “Things You May Experience Residually For The Next 6 Weeks”. But perhaps that is what blogs are for.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

God Smiled On Me Today

A gas line needed replacing on the street next to my parents' house. The two men showed up to work on it today. One is a big, muscular daddy type. The other is tall, lean, young with dark hair. I am not sure if I am attracted to one over the other, or just the sight of them together. In any case, they are shirtless, sweating, and right outside the living room window. I've had very little to look at since I have been here recuperating at my folks' place ... until now.

This just might make everything worth it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Is My Neck Red?

It’s been a long time since I have attended an “event” in small town America. Recuperating at my parents’ house has reintroduced me to an Americana that I have completely forgotten about. Things like: craft festivals, county fairs and expos, evening outdoor concerts, church bake sales.

This past weekend, I attended something called the “Street Rod Roundup”. It attracted hundreds of people. Anyone with an automobile that dated back at least 40 years or more, lined their cars up on one end of town at the McDonald’s, then slowly cruised two miles up Main Street, then looped around the Tastee Freeze and drove back down again. Main Street was closed down except for this endless parade of overhauled and reconditioned cars and trucks. People lined the streets, some sat in lawn chairs that they brought, and just watched the vehicles go by.

Most of the businesses along Main Street offered carnival-like food, such as hotdogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and lots and lots of beer. This “event” happens every Labor Day weekend in my parents’ town. You can’t get a hotel room within 20 miles of here.

At first, I think I felt embarrassed. An “event” like this is something I had thought myself to outgrow, living in DC for all these years. I looked around and saw all these innocent people – who were experiencing this night like it was a highlight of the year. And I thought to myself, “Is life this simple? Have I made my life so convoluted that I can’t enjoy something like this without ripping it apart? Is my ego this fragile?”

Once I got over myself, and put my ego in check, I actually enjoyed myself. I walked with my parents (who seem to know everyone in town), my sister, one of my brothers and this two daughters. Everyone we passed seem to know that I had surgery and everyone cared enough to ask me how I was. I ate all the carnival food (this was still in my “you can eat anything you want for the next two weeks only” time period) and checked out the rides. My nephew, Seth, actually had his Trans Am entered in the cruise-by. The whole thing was just fun and charming.

I might actually come home again for it next year.