If you're reading this, you've either received my holiday card and are really hard up for something to do; or you've unwittingly stumbled upon this. This is the only warning you'll receive. Stop now before you regret it! My annual “Top Ten List” has been on hiatus for the past few years (OK, since 2000). The following will explain a bit as to how I was occupying my time-or how it was being occupied unwillingly on my behalf. As you read, I think you’ll understand why this just didn’t seem to be the right fodder for the holiday update—even for my dark and maudlin personality.
The other title for this would be a take off on the David Sedaris essay from I think, his first book, "Happy Holidays to my family and; friends". Only what follows here is the truth and not fiction. And this is why you've not heard from me in over 5 years. I'll give the bullet points. Should for some twisted reason you want further detail, ask. I’ll consider expounding upon the story. I'll start the timeline a bit before 2001, as it is set-up for what follows"
Randy’s Medical Saga
May ’98 - Shoulder surgery (R shoulder); rotator cuff, acromioplasty, w/ surgeon I didn’t
like, and didn’t want. I was stuck due to an HMO
Dec ’98 - 2nd shoulder surgery, to fix the botched 1st surgery, with the surgeon I originally wanted.
Summer/Fall/Winter ’01 - a lot of pain problems, mainly running along the sciatic nerve of my L leg, resulting from bulging discs in m y spine; series of painful cortisone injections in my spine, producing no relief.
Winter/Spring ‘02 - Referred to the Chronic Pain Clinic of RIC; month long intensive outpatient program, 8 hrs/day, 5 days/week for 4 weeks, went through a bad narcotic withdrawal because they weened me off too quickly.
April '02 - I had to resign from the best job of my career after surpassing FMLA time off, and being unable to return to work.
April ’02 – Began working for the designer/general contractor who did my kitchen rehab, managing his office.
October ’02 - 1st surgery for pilonidal cysts, very protracted and painful recovery.
May '03 - Start job (.75 FTE) at Hospital System in the suburbs --minimum of 1 hour, one way commute. Third week of work, some woman backs into my brand new MINI Cooper in the parking deck of the hospital. This is an omen.
October ’03 – Exactly 1 year from the date of the 1st surgery, the cyst area starts bleeding again, the cysts have recurred, surgeon is concerned it could be cancerous as “they never recur."
I tell my boss & CEO that I am going in for serious surgery, with a protracted recovery and would like to work from home, once I’m able. The CEO replies with, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to us!”—Exemplifying the core ‘values’ and ‘beliefs’ of this great catholic healthcare institution. If getting hit in the parking garage wasn’t an omen, this sure as fuck was. This also frayed that one last strand of any religious belief systems I previously held. My new pet name for this employer is “5RH” for 5th Ring of Hell.
January ’04 - 2nd surgery for pilonidal cysts (not cancerous); recovery was even more protracted and more painful than before.
August '05 - Trained for and completed a 20 mile walk along LakeShore Drive from dusk to dawn for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I raised $2,500. in pledges, and FINISHED the walk--which a was huge victory for me physically and mentally. It was the first big physically active thing I'd done since the pain episode and surgeries. I also lost some of the weight I’d gained from being sedentary for so long, repeatedly.
December ’05 - Slip on the ice, breaking my arm at the R shoulder It’s a surgical neck fracture of the humerus bone—or as the surgeon described it, “think of your upper arm as an ice cream cone, your fracture is where the ice cream meets the cone”. Fortunately, no surgery was required, but missed (another) 7 weeks of work (AND PAY).
March '06 - After another really bad bronchial infection, unable to see my MD, and see the PA at the practice, who begins to ask different questions, resulting in a battery of blood tests. I am diagnosed with a condition known as CVID-Common Variable Immune Deficiency. My body does not produce antibodies to fight off infections. It is a congenital disorder that is usually diagnosed as a child, or in early-mid 30s (which is when my bad, chronic bronchial and sinus infections started). I now go in once a month (for the rest of my life) for infusions of IgG (a blood product).
I now have an unnatural (but not irrational, imho) fear of surgeries, as it seems it takes 2 times to get it correct; and of December, as it historically has not been a kind month to me.
~end of the shitty part~
October '06 - Begin new Job - which I love. I no long work for assholes! YAY ME!
2007 was a rough year health-wise for the bronch and sinus infections. I was borderline pneumonia at one point and close to hospitalization. But comparatively to the previous 6 years, not quite as hellish. I took 4 trips this year (all work related, but was able to squeeze in some fun. NYC was a favorite. I was there the weekend of the Tony’s and being the work diligent fool that I am, I passed up on a ticket to the Tony’s with my friends Eric & Joel, who met me in NYC for the weekend.) I was able to feed my anemic Broadway fix with 6 shows: Company (FABULOUS!); Journey’s End (Incredibly and numbingly moving); Grey Gardens ( I will never forgive Christine Ebersole for backing out and sticking me with the understudy for the performance I saw the night before the awards); The Drowsy Chaperone (fun, cute show); Spring Awakening (I saw this the night AFTER it won all the Tony’s—it was a theatre experience unparalleled to anything I’ve witnessed before. The energy in that theatre was palpable! Three curtains calls and at least a 10 minute standing ovation! It compensated somewhat for Grey Gardens, but I still will never forgive Christine Ebersole; and The Fantastiks—off Broadway. Spring Awakening was by far the high point. Great music, great story (based on a German play from the 1860s. It’s uncanny how although things change, they remain the same. The same issues of adolescence/young adulthood that existed then, exist today. It was quite the provocative play, and banned/censored, or re-written-edited. It’s just like the Bush Administration of current history.
Also in ’07, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I got a tattoo. (DON’T TELL MY RELATIVES!) It’s a Latin phrase that has been my mantra through much of the past 10 years. It’s between my shoulder blades on my upper back and reads, “non illegitimi corborundum est”, the English translation is “don’t let the bastards grind you down”. I consider my ‘war badge’ for getting through the aforementioned.