Monday, August 03, 2009

A Raw Nerve at the End of a Bleeding Vein

Dialysis is abhorrent. A virus upon humanity. A festering cyst of insanity. Disgraceful and disgusting, lacking any and all social decorum.

Its home to drug addicts, criminals, and the criminally insane. Schlubs who were too lazy to monitor their blood sugar. Clinically obese knuckleheads who couldn't stop shoveling craptacular food down their overexpanding gullets.

The stench of regret and loneliness permeates the walls. The toilets cry out in fear from the raw sewage flushed down their throats. Ceilings rise and fall in perfect sync to the ever increasing waves of Death.

There are those with colorful pamphlets with cartoonish drawings that will extol the virtues of the entire process. Their eyes tell the lies for them.

Hope vanished after the final brick was laid. Promise and prosperity evaporated just as quickly. Faith in the future was dead on arrival.

Some nights I awaken to visions of little old ladies begging their families to let them cease this torcher. The echoes of cramp induced screaming bounce off the walls of my memory and make my cells their unwilling home.

Anger transforms into fury as I imagine all those peons in the upper echelon of Dialysis clinics visualizing every patient as a giant, Sesame Street like dollar sign. When questioned as to why there is no cure for kidney disease, these same monetary whales insist they don't know, while browsing through the paperwork for their latest Caribbean retreat.

Dialysis is a ruse, a trick, a bad joke peppered with obscenities.

And I'm in on it.

Many will implore that with great suffering comes even greater wisdom.

To that, I respond with the lowest common denominator of responses.

Fuck you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dialysis Uncensored

You're going to regret reading this entry once you're finished.

The smell on the clinic floor is foul, filled with anguish and death and numerous other substances I'd rather not describe.

And I'll be featured in this cesspool for the next three hours.

As I allow my ritual anal retentiveness to align my possessions on the little side table that mocks my need for more space, I glance around slowly.

Obese Gout Dude is dressed in his regular disgusting outfit: stained wife beater shirt and flip flops that expose his gout riddled feet.

Blathering Idiot is trying to impress the more attractive staff members with his unremarkable remarks, unwilling to realize that they are all trying to retreat from him as quickly as possible.

Hairy Playa is speaking as loud as possible on speakerphone so everyone will know undoubtedly that he is the jones with the ladies. When you pose too long, the cracks start to show and nobody's buying anymore.

And the Mexican Twins are two chairs away from one another, so they're jabbering quickly and loudly over the patient in the middle. His suffering is painfully obvious.

Its Monday. The most insufferable day of the week at Dialysis.

And not just because of these Emmy award winners.

I'm really overloaded with fluid.

I'm in a foul mood to begin with, so the last individual on the planet I want to deal with is Overly Positive Tech. He's tall and lanky and full of 1950's advice that buggers the hell out of me.

But most of the time he's pretty expert at sticking needles, so I let it pass.

I've been attending this mind fuck for the last five and a half years. so you'd think most of them would learn by now that if I grunt all my answers, I'm not to be trifled with.

Yes, I freely admit I'm an asshole when I'm sick.

Takemytempthancuffthebloodpressuredealeyandcleantheareaandforceinlidocaineohgoditburnslikehellfuckfuckfuckfuck...

The endless cycle of endless Dialysis.

From time to time when people raise their head out of the latest People magazine and what Jon and Kate are doing, someone will always inquire what it feels like to be on Dialysis.

This unleashes a flurry of sarcasm they probably didn't deserve.

I used to describe it to the unsuspecting inquiree that you take two finely sharpened pencils, jam them into your upper or lower arm (take your pick depending on what access you've been forced to acquire) attach a garden hose to each pencil and connect those to the washing machine. Place machine on Heavy Wash for three hours.

Most of the time I look up to find I'm talking to myself and all that remains is a Road Runner smoke cloud.

But I ceased to describe Dialysis that way years ago. I have a new fully charged description.

Imagine you're a giant sponge. You're full of vim and vitality, vigor and strength. You feel fantastic and everything couldn't be better.

Then you're strapped down into a giant chair that smells of soiled underwear and three day ole parmesan cheese. The chair doesn't adjust properly so you will endure awful back pain in three hours. Which is when your treatment will end.

As those minutes dribble by, you will be unceremoniously squeezed of your essence until all that remains are the pores of your spongy exterior.

Now dry and hollow, weak and shaken, you stumble out of the clinic wondering what you've just left behind.

And whether it will ever return.

After a while the emptiness never fills, not even after you're loaded with less vital, less potent fluid.

Perform this task over and over and over again until all your other organs give out or until you allow yourself to bleed out in the locked bathroom because you've clearly given up.

I told you you'd regret it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

50 Random Things About Stacy

Stacy has lately been sleeping roughly three hours a night, eating one meal a day and losing lots of blood at Dialysis, so yeah, we copied this from Facebook. Stacy will relay the answers and I will type them precisely as stated.

Who I am? Doesn't matter really. Just call me the Blog Bitch.

1. What time did you get up this morning?

--- I remember vividly waking up about 4:30am for a blissful moment, only to subconsciously realize there was a breathing mask on my face. Since Stacy Subconscious is claustrophobic (as well as the Really Annoying Stacy) it was ripped to the floor. I then proceeded to try to sleep without it.

I could have just said "4:30am" but I'm in a talkative mood.

2. How do you like your steak?

Preferably on a plate. Wakka wakka.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

I attended a midnight showing of "Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince" with two geeky friends at work. Honestly, I love midnight showings, but I can't go any longer. I'm getting to the regrettable point in my life where the combination of aging PLUS Dialysis treatments = Death The Next Day.

It was partly a waste of time because I don't remember most of the film. Especially the middle. That's right, the nouget part of the flick.

4. What is your favorite TV show?

The show I can go back again and again and watch the entire run of the show over and over is "The Office." As far as present favorites, I'm watching "Oz" from HBO and "Mad Men" from AMC. Both excellently written and acted.

All three of the above mentioned shows are also fantastic because they devour Dialysis time.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Give me a 400 square foot cabin right on the beach, far from the annals of the human race and I would consider myself a very lucky dweeb.

6. What did you have for breakfast?

I skipped breakfast because I threw up. Again. Until there was nothing left in my abdomen. Then I threw up some more and pulled a stomach muscle.

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

I'm a simple man with simple tastes. Its a very close race between Italian and Mexican. Although I would be Dad's Cuisine: the ever popular Brunch Burger, at the top.

8. What foods do you dislike?

Stew, because my parents always rammed it down my throat when I was a kid. Processed meals like you find in the freezer aisle. And unfortunately, I'm starting to lose my love for cheese because my roommate puts in on everything and stinks up the house. Ugh.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?

Crystal's Corner in Santa Rosa. Its this little hole-in-the-wall owned by this friendly Chinese family that makes just about anything. The Two Egg Breakfast special is awesome and filling. The BLT's are to die for. And the eats are cheap.

To reiterate, I'm a man of simple means.

10. Favorite dressing?

Blue cheese. Every time we went out to eat as a family, my parents always ordered it on their salad, and so did I. It feels nostalgic every time I devour it.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?

I drive the Blue Devil, a 2000 Chevy S-10 Pickup. She's a lot like me: sluggish, slow to accelerate and gets horrible gas mileage. But she's never broken down and she's never failed to start.

12. What are your favorite clothes?

I'd wear jeans and a t-shirt every day for the remainder of my life if certain occasions didn't call for a dressier look.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

I want to travel to Greece. The history, the culture, the beautiful beaches and amazing architecture.

But mostly, for the women.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

Cup was broken years ago and put back together with missing parts.

15. Where would you want to retire?

A little island that nobody has discovered yet. I've had my fill of humans and their ridiculously dangerous technology.

16. Favorite time of day?

The Magic Hour. That moment when the sun just disappears over the horizon and you can hear the clock ticking down the last thirty minutes of light before the day concludes.

17. Where were you born?

The pit of hell in the middle of the California desert: Stockton. Its one big strip mall surrounded by mindless criminals and psychopaths. Why they even bother to try to grab tourist dollars is beyond me.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

The National...Football...League! A purely American sport for mindless American cretins. It has action, drama, pain, defeat, triumph all enjoyed within a three hour time frame. I'll probably pass just as the season is ending with another Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl.

19. Who is your favorite entertainer?

George Carlin. He was a true orchestrator of the English language. He used it to teach, mock, mollify, expose the truth and call out the ridiculous. A true artist who will never be matched.

20. Who in entertainment have you had enough of?

Anyone who stoops to expose their family or friends to a reality show. Unless what you're going through is teaching or inspiring others, get the fuck off my TV.

21. Best TV talk show?

"Late Night with David Letterman." I find that Conan and Ferguson can be hilarious at times, but Dave has kept me laughing since high school. I'm going to miss him when he decides to retire.

22. Bird watcher?

Sorry, but there's a special reserved space in hell for birds and their omnipresent crap. I'm more of a People Watcher because their dopey actions entertain me.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Chipper morning people should be outlawed. I love the evenings when most everyone has shut down by 10pm and I own the night. You can go for late night walks or be the only one in the 24 hour cafe.

24. Do you have pets?

No, but my roommates are like pets. I live with Clinically Obese Woman and Know-It-All Young Punk. One puts cheese on every goddamn thing she shoves down her gullet (you can only guess what the kitchen smells like) and the other cuts his ball hair every other day in our bathroom sink.

To answer your obvious question: because the rent is cheap.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

I've almost bled to death in the Dialysis bathroom two times last week.

I know what you're thinking: Stacy, you're not trying hard enough.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?

Astronaut, race car driver or radio host. Considering how much we change as we grow older, one out of three ain't half bad.

27. What is your best childhood memory?

When I woke up from my first kidney transplant in 1983 and there were balloons and flowers everywhere. The flowers were from my Uncle Buddy and had this planter that was shaped like a closed hand.

Its still on my bookshelf, now beholden to pens and pencils.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?

I love both because I understand where they're both coming from. Dogs just want to play and be loved. Cats really have no use for anyone until they need food or their head scratched.

29. Are you married?

Ha. Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I'm a huge thirty-nine year old never married loser. And will probably never marry. I tell everyone its because I'm on Dialysis, but truly, I'm just annoying.

30. Always wear your seat belt?

Definately. It comforts me to know that I'll be strapped in when I'm crushed by that semi circa 2011.

31. Been in a car accident?

No major ones. Although I do have a tendency to smush the front of my cars by bumping into stationary objects.

32. Any pet peeves?

I have a long list of grievances, but I'll just narrow it down to my number one complaint: Fucking men.

Men cause all the problems. Men primarily commit all the crimes. Men caused the downfall of this country. Men sold most of this nation to foreign countries. Men are disgusting. Men are foul. And most of them are complete fucking idiots.

99% of the women I've met in my lifetime are the complete opposite.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?

Anchovy. Give me a small anchovie pizza and that's pretty much my only meal for the next two days. Delcious and Dad-inspired.

34. Favorite Flower?

Flowers are like fleeting creatures of hope and happiness. One always purchases flowers to celebrate a momentous occasion or make someone happy.

Flowers have always helped me out when I'm in trouble (you know what I'm talking about) and make a room smell ten times better.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a fan of them all.

How fucking sappy.

35. Favorite ice cream?

It was fun to discover a couple years ago that my Dad and me share the same taste in ice cream: Butter Pecan. All other ice creams bow to its greatness.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?

Even after all these years it still has to be McDonalds. When I was young, my sister and me would sometimes keep the Happy Meal boxes and play restaurant. Until Mom found the packaging (that still had aging cheese stuck to it) and throw them out.

The fattening, carb infested, sodium infused Bic Mac only enters my system on rare occasions. But goddamn if isn't three minutes of heaven.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

Ugh, do I have to answer this?

All right. Three times.

The first time I blew a stop sign. I was disappointed when the Clipboard Lady told me to drive back to the DMV immediately.

The second time I had too many points off to pass.

The final time I had a really nice guy who realized I was trying real hard and gave me an 87. I freakin' finally passed.

Thus began a long history of driving into inadimate objects that, I swear, jumped out in front of my car. Honest.

38. From whom did you get your last email?

My best friend Ted, about his trip to Santa Rosa with his family.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Crate & Barrel. They don't have any in Sonoma County, but damn if I still have two lamps and a set of awesome coasters from that place. If I ever have money again, that's where I'll shop.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?

Asked someone out that I'd been dying to spend some time with.

Raven hair. Awesome smile. Dark eyes. And an affinity for silliness.

She turned me down.

41. Like your job?

It has 50% suckitude. The rest is usually enjoyable.

42. Broccoli?

What the hell? Are you asking me if I know about broccoli?

Hell yes I do. And broccoli can suck it.

43. What was your favorite vacation?

It has to be the trip to Yosemite where a big chunk of the family from my Mom's side joined us. The best part was at night when we'd light the campfire, roast some hot dogs and I'd listen intently as all the adults talked.

44. Blonde, Brunette, or Red head?

I've always preferred brunettes my entire life, but redheads are a close second. Something about dark haired women that drives me crazy.

45. I like my coffee?

I like my coffee like I like my Dialysis treatments. Never.

46. Favorite comic book hero?

Batman. How can you not want to take pain and suffering and turn it into a positive influence on the community.

One day I will cross the line of personal suffering and emerge as Dialysis Man. My superpower will be insulting and mocking stupid people wherever they may thrive.

47. Name of first pet?

Caesar. He was a beautiful black German shepherd who had lived with my Dad for years before me and my sister came alone. He passed away in the bushes when I was seven. It was the first time I ever witnessed my Dad cry.

48. When did you find the Internet?

In a library in Stockton. I had to move back home for six months in preparation for my second kidney transplant and I walked by these three computers with the internet set up back in the summer of 1995.

I've been addicted ever since.

49. Favorite CD?

The last four albums from George Carlin were his masterpieces. All his work is great, but with these creations he set a new bar, even for himself.

50. Paper or plastic?

I have to agree with those over legislative goons in San Francisco and take paper. They're much easier to recycle than plastic, and they don't seem to roam the beautiful trails of Sonoma County.

Why do people always have to ruin a good thing?

That's it. That's all. And lets all agree, that's enough about me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

M.I.A. Stacy

I've mentioned in an earlier post that I am God's Action Figure.

To understand fully what I'm talking about, feel free to check out
"God's Action Figure" from last April.

In that earlier post, I theorize that God created me from used parts that He simply had lying around Heaven's Garage. Thus, I look and feel the way I do.

I hope you understand by now that Dialysis, on its own, for the duration I've endured, is more then enough for any one individual to handle.

This year marks over twenty-six years I've been dealing with kidney failure.

And now I have created a corollary to my earlier theory on my personal creation.

God's actually been trying to kill me.

Or push me to the brink so I kill myself.

I had the insurmountable luck to be born in a decade when Dialysis and transplantation had finally become viable. Well, that's just dumb luck really.

Two transplants and a total of six years of all encompassing Dialysis later, I'm still here to annoy my fellow man.

Two years ago I had reached a plateau where I had found a way to balance treatment with what I wished my life to be.

That made God incredibly angry.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Sleep Apnea. To state it simply (and because I don't really care to talk about it all that much) my throat closes up over a hundred times a night. It is during these moments that I stop breathing, my throat closes up, my brain wakes me up (but not to full conscioiusness) and the whole process continues unabated.

All. Night. Long.

Last week I returned to Doughy Sleep Doctor and I took the credit card device that takes my stats on the breathing (CPAP) machine and allows a computer to display and print out the results.

Go ahead. Take a guess as to the average number of hours of sleep I've received each night over the past year.

Six? 5.4? 3.27302938 hours?

Two.

This is where God is laughing hysterically and putting another point on the God vs. Stacy scoreboard.

The machine works fine for those two hours. I rarely wake up because 9ml of air is being pummeled downostrils with a breathing mask.

Somewhere around two hours, the sleep medicine wears off and the Stacy Claustrophobia kicks in.

Without my knowledge, my unconscious mind senses something trapping my head, removes it and then throws it into the carpeted floor below.

God's shaking his belly with uprorious laughter right about now.

My day starts unwillingly at 6:30am when I wake up and discover I'm exhausted. I wander in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours until my alarm shakes reality back into my face.

What God also finds entertaining is that the less sleep I receive, the more nauseous I become, the more vomiting ensues.

So vomiting has returned as my morning ritual.

Once I'm all cleaned out my system makes room for a small amount of appetite.

From a strapping 62kg. last year, I'm down to 56.5.

And the weight keeps dropping.

God thinks He has me on the ropes, but He's mistaken.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty: The Surgery.

It rhymes with "MoveYouUhPlateOrMarniGoNasty."

This is a procedure by which tissues are removed from the throat.

I know. Sounds like a great way to spend a Tuesday.

The following are removed, in no particular order:

--- The tonsils.
--- The Uvula.
--- The soft palate.
--- The adenoids.
--- The pharnyx.

There are many factors in my life that have led up to the possibility of this surgery.

I've been on steroids for a majority of my life to save my transplants, so that could have caused my throat to swell.

The years of radio have developed my pharnyx, so that could also be a culprit.

The fact that my growth was stunted by steroids at the age of twelve could have caused my throat to develop fully while the surrounding area did not. I have small nostrils leading to a narrow nasal cavity as well.

At this point, the "E" in my Username stands for Enough Is Enough.

That's right. Stacy's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it any longer.

To get some minute idea of what I feel like, take a moment to remember the most exhausted day of your life.

Could be a 24 hour shift you had to endure. Or an extremely long birth for your first born.

Whatever it happened to be, multiply it by 730, because that's how many days the two hour sleep days have been continuing.

I'm a mindless, numbed down, former shell of myself. I go through my daily routine unabated, uninterested and mostly unmotivated.

I've gone from the purgatory of Dialysis to the hellfires of Sleep Apnea and every day is a struggle for something in the vicinity of the zip code of the neighborhood of Normal Stacy.

Normal Stacy is an ironic name, for Normal Stacy is simply Original Stacy with a new title.

Normal Stacy is given to flights of silliness. Normal Stacy makes up strange moments on the radio and then laughs at himself. Normal Stacy can be quite charming and fun to be around. Normal Stacy is very energetic and never a fan of vertical resting.

Presently, Dying Stacy is taking his place. And I mean that literally.

If I continue down this path of restless nights and minimal sleep, heart attacks and strokes are designated moments already created for my future.

And God will be laughing the entire time.

Bastard.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Power of Baby Sisters


My baby sister's name is Amy, named ceremoniously after our grandmother on my mother's side Amelia.

The one that had thirteen children, my mother being the final number in that Jon & Kate Plus Eight brood.

I call my sister Amos, just because.

Over the years, our relationship as siblings has been uneven. Somewhere after I began college and Amy graduating from high school, we really lost touch.

I'm as much to blame as she is. But that's not really important.

What's important is the here and now, and that is what I speak of today.


Over the past weekend, with no personal persuasion involved, my sister visited Sonoma County for the weekend.

The English language is not descriptive enough to behold the anticipation I had for my sister's arrival. It was as though Christmas and my birthday had mated and given birth to a new level of anticipation.

Many years ago I adopted Santa Rosa and the backwoods of Sonoma County as my new hometown. This leads to the ultimate joy of being able to share one's love for the county over and over and over again.

I'm ashamed to admit I'd never been to the Charles M. Schulz museum. We went.

Had to show off my favorite hour hiking trail at Howarth Park. Done.

We explored downtown Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. Went antique store shopping. Wolfed down meals at Omelette Express, Flavor and Gary Chu's.

But best of all was just sitting in the presence of my sister and having great conversations. About nothing in particular.
And I loved it.

For three days all the frustration, sadness and depression that migrates through my head daily, evaporated completely.

A fact I didn't realize until after she had departed.

Her plane sped away on Monday evening. I was still feeling pretty good until Wednesday evening.

Then Melancholy stepped in. And He won't get out from under my bed.

If you perchance had met my sister, you'd immediately like her. Everyone does.

She's naturally sweet. Given to flights of silliness and whimsy. Able to speak about anything. Very intelligent.

Quite generous. She tried to pay for everything.


Generosity knows her quite well. In 1995 when my first kidney transplant was failing and I was headed toward the dreaded transplant list, she offered up hers without hesitation.

I like to believe that while it is housed within my frame, my system was able to filter my life through her kidney and somehow grab the best her soul had to offer.
At least, that's my hope.

I miss you Amy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Open Letter to My Fellow Dialysis Patients Regarding the State of the Bathroom

People often ask why I rail against the patients of my clinic so harshly.

To put if succinctly: they're neandarthal pigs.

The following is a list of random occurences that have randomly occured at random times, occuring on the occurence when I begin my treatment:

--- Pool o' Urine

Gentlemen (and quite possibly ladies...and I use both terms extremely loosely) how difficult is it to aim liquid at a cylindrical bowl? Did you never water a garden properly? Play the water shooter into the clowns mouth at the carnival. Sheesh.

I dearly love my Converse. All four pair. I wear them every single stinkin' day to Dialysis because they're comfortable, they're rocking the cool and they make me happy.

Sticky pools of urinary wastes delving into the pores of my favorite feet accessories make me incredibly angry.

And vomit a little in my mouth.

--- Lack of Lever Use

This happens nearly every day. Some nickel and dime IQ dweller doesn't have the common sense or class to dispose of their biggest accomplishment of the day.

So there it sits, clogging up the bowl, teetering on extinction.

And now it becomes my job to send it on its way.

Unfair. Unwise. And totally unnatural.

--- Feces Control

If you're eating something presently, I would avoid the next few sentences.

Feces on the floor. Hanging off the side of the bowl. On the wall. In the sink.

And my personal all-time, five years on Dialysis favorite?

Stuck to the wall next to the lou with toilet paper.

That one was just a few weeks ago.

I thought it was just monkeys that played with their excrement.

No, Dialysis patients do too.

Until I have the Catheter Succubus removed, I need to use that little room to change into my "Dialysis Shirt." (i.e. the flannel shirt I bought in 1988 from Millers Outpost so I don't care what substances are left remaining on its fading cotton)

I beg of you fellow Dialysis zombies: use our treatment bathroom as though she is a fine, delicate woman. Handle her with care. Gently. Don't abuse her. Or throw her around like a rag doll. And don't leave her with the check.

Just one final word to my fellow patients:

Feces is not a toy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Totally Original and Blissfully Exciting Stacy Alphabet Game

I'm most likely not the first to invent the above mentioned game, but since my name is in it, one of my bretheren may have.

Its rather simple really. Feel free to play along in the Comment section of the Adventures of Stacy Without An E blogfest below.

I'm saying my name so many times, I feel like I have something to plug on a talk show. Or develop into a cool online app that people are excited about for a month but then quickly grow tire of (I'm talking to you Twitter.)

The Rules of the Stacy Alphabet Game:

Simple really.

You create an entire sentence using the first letter of the alphabet only.

Thus, twenty-six total words.

I'm done it before, which you can examine
HERE.

So ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, kids of all shapes and sizes, prepare to be mystified by the verbal linguistics from the vocabularic mind of Stacy Without An E.

Altruistic benevolent custodians dutifully eradicate feces grotesquely habitating insidiously jaunty kabuki's. Laborious mandates negate official pandering quietly, restricting serendipitous training undermining vociferous wisenheimer xenophobes yawning zealously.

Its amazing! Its fantastic! Its nearly comprehensible!

I dare you in the comments below to attempt the same.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Uncle Tommy 1936-2009

There is a man I want to take a few moments to introduce you to, because he meant more to me than I'm willing to admit.

And yet, I failed him.

My Uncle Tommy was the one we visited most as a family when I was a child. Youth sometimes dictates that you don't wish to interact with individuals deemed "family."

They won't speak to you like they do the adults. They smell of moth balls and cough syrup. They pontificate when they should be silent.

I'm sure you've a few of your own you don't wish to speak of.

Uncle Tommy was the antithesis of everything I just mentioned.

I was incredibly shy as a child and Tommy would do everything in his power to get me to interact with the family. He never said out loud that you were a guest in his home, because he was welcoming from the start.

He was a father, grandfather, husband, uncle, brother, cousin, Marine and policeman.

He was quick to laugh, prone to wit and towered over me but never talked down to me.

And I'll go ahead and say it, and I don't care who's listening: he was my favorite Uncle.

But again, I failed him.

Tommy grew up with my Mom in Jamestown, North Dakota. The epitome of unbridaled Americana. He was their eleventh child, my mother, the thirteenth. Six years separated them both, but their bond as brother and sister lasted a lifetime.

On June 11, 2009 at exactly 11am, I attended his funeral.

My Mom shed tears before the service began. I placed my hand on her shoulder while my Dad put his arms around her. Supporting her grief as ably as we could.

I honestly didn't know what else to do. But I knew this was one of the worst days of her life. And I was glad I was by her side.

I didn't count, but I would imagine over a hundred people were in attendance. Many, many more wanted to join this somber day, but circumstances beyond their control kept them from honoring my Uncle.

Since I discovered the news over a week ago, I have been flooded with memories of my Uncle. And I'm happy to report, every time I think of him, he's at his best.

Lanky and strong. Tan and fit. Vibrant and happy.

When I was roughly eight or nine, before my illness made its presence known, everyone took a huge family trip to Yosemite.

The lands beneath us were so astonished by the presence of Uncle Tommy, we had earthquakes for most of our visit.

On one of our many hikes, me and my Uncle were standing side by side as we traveled down the trail to catch up with the others. To our right was a giant granite rock with little flecks of limestone coloring its skin.

Another giant rock must have fallen upon it at some point, because it had given birth to a number of smaller rocks, all with the same outer shell.

Tommy bent down, without slowing his stride, and grabbed one.

"Here's a nice one. This one's for you."

He placed it in my hand and I sort of just looked at it without responding.

I glanced up at him with a shy, meager look.

"So you won't forget this trip."

And off we went.

For the last thirty years, wherever I have moved. Or worked. Or travelled to, that rock has followed alongside.

And its never lost its luster. Until now.

It has transformed from a happy childhood memory to a weight upon my soul.

For I failed him.

I was unaware of this, but as the years slipped away, so did Tommy's back.

Two years ago, he was in the hospital and was prescribed a medication that eventually caused his kidneys to fail.

He spent two years on Dialysis until he suffered a heart attack on June 4th, 2009. He had just returned from treatment and was resting in his favorite easy chair. His wife, my Aunt, heard him make a sound similar to a snore.

He never recovered. And never returned.

And why I'll never have a chance to say I'm sorry.

When I first discovered Tommy was on Dialysis, I always meant to contact him to answer any questions he might have or help him ease his life into the treatment chair.

That contact never came.

I'm so wrapped up in my own illness that I rarely poke my head out to see if anyone else needs help.

I failed my Uncle Tommy miserably.

This was a man who was loved, adored and cherished by his family and was taken too soon at the age of 72. His death will reverberate for those who knew him for years to come.

I have so many regrets related to his passing.

Why am I so wrapped up in my illness that I didn't take the time to ask about his?

Why didn't I take the time to drive the two hours to visit more often?

Why does a tainted soul like myself continue to live while someone so loved and cared for was taken too early?

The answers will shadow me for the remainder of my existence.

Thank you for everything Tommy. Laugh, and smile and rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fistulaleakage

Its amazing how many how many words you can create using a device that simply doesn't want to inhabit my body.

Ok, that's not completely true.

All last week was half and half: one 17 gauge needle for the Fistula, one for the Catheter Succubus.

Everything went fine all five days last week (yeah, I skipped a day yo)

This week, starting with the ever popular Monday, we've arrived at two seventeen gauge needles.

Monday's have become the complete bane of my existence. Because of a flavorful combination of tangy sleep apnea and bittersweet Dialysis, I find myself in bed for fourteen to fifteen hours most weekends.

Then when Monday rolls back into my life, I must arise five hours earlier to perform a radio show no one listens to on a radio station that is at the beginning of the end.

Every Monday transforms my bathroom into a Vomitorium. I don't care if I wake my roommate up because he's a Know-It-All Goon. I take a shower, cleanse myself of the previous twenty minutes and celebrate this accomplishment by vomiting again.

Every Monday. Its always the same. No deviation (except for how many times my skinny little toothpick arm reaches for the Snooze button)

So lets return to the present, shall we?

I don't know which it is, but something likes to fuck with me.

Fate. God. The cast of that awful show "According to Jim." You name it.

I was eight days into my new Foolish Fistula. Up to two seventeen gauge needles now. Very little pain. My body was not so agitated upon arrival. I was pretty calm during needle insertion.

But you see, this cannot last. It never does.

Dialysis sits in a corner, waiting to pounce.

And tonight was his night.

I hadn't seen Him in a while. Maybe he's a fan of "American Idol." Who knows?

He's roughly three foot two, barely ninety pounds and his spine has curved so much he resembles a demented letter "C" from Sesame Street. Streaky green hair. Yellowish skin. A bad case of sores and lesions spread across his body like a blanket. His teeth are all sharp and seemingly filed that way every day of His miserable existence.

He used to toy with me using Cramps. As any Dialysis patient will admit to, Cramps can sometimes push your body so far that you cry out like a torture victim.

It happened the other night to Lovely Petite Patient. As her screams and exclamations of pain increased in volume, so did the uncomfortable pit in my stomach.

I felt for her, because I've been in her very same condition.

One item of note that Dialysis gives you a break on is learning how to avoid Cramps. It all comes down to math and gut instinct about your eating and drinking habits for the preceding week.

Dialysis was squealing with glee, bounding from one counter top to the other, speaking without any spaces.

"LookwhatIdidtoherI'mamazingwithmassivepoweroverallofyouandthere'snothingyoucandoyou're
stuckhereforyearsandyearsandyears."

I crank up "Lost" to sixteen in order to ignore his proclamations. His words all slurred like verbal snakes. His grin never leaves His revolting face.

Tonight was my turn.

As I entered the clinic floor and my nose hair curled at the ever present stench of untreated gout and unwashed ass, I caught a glimpse of Him hiding with the fifteen gauge needles. One of his teeth protruded out a little too far past one of the packaged pain sticks and I knew there could be trouble.

Best when you first learn of his presence just to ignore Him. My God and all that is Holy in Heaven, he despises that. Sometimes you can hear a hissing sound, but often that turns out to be him urinating wherever he pleases.

And mocking me for that lack of ability.

I had Jolly Happy Tech tonight and Chatty Cathy Nurse. My goodness that woman is going to talk for three more years after she passes.

I'm still getting used to the return of Burning Lidocaine. We hadn't spent time together for quite some time.

My first mistake was flinching at the second Lidocaine insertion. I could hear him rummaging his way toward me, stalking me in the closest available cabinet.

That awful staccato laugh echoed in my ears as both needles were inserted peacefully and without incident.

For the next two hours, everything was copacetic. I concentrated on the neck bleeding TV's on the ceiling wondering how anyone can watch "The Insider" on a regular basis. Are people so empty in this country they need to know minute-by-minute bowel functions of Gweneth Paltrow? Thank goodness "Family Guy" was elsewhere on the polluted TV landscape.

In case you're wondering aloud why I wasn't watching a DVD. Its because Fate felt that "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" shouldn't be ingested by my entertainment deprived cells.

I love dopey comedies, so sue me.

For the past two months I have been forbidden to lift weight due to the presence of Foolish Fistula, so both arms resemble classic wooden bats.

This becomes an important fact when it came time for needle removal. Dialysis leaped behind the chair next to me and sounded like he was fondling himself He was so excited.

Needle One. Needle Two. Both exited and performed their duties admirably.

That's when Dialysis attacked.

As I was holding the two slices of gauze in place to clot the bleeding, He bit down with voluminous fury on the upper part of Foolish Fistula.

The pain was revolting. My entire body started to mimic a seizure in order to free his powerful grasp.

The only remaining limbs were flailing, so I darted my right leg up quickly and shot him directly over the chair into Section C. I could hear Him stuggling behind me, trying to laugh it off, but it was no use.

As the pain increased exponentially in my arm, Dialysis was struggling to flip back over to my side of the divider. I could hear Him attempting to grasp onto the side of a prepped Dialysis machine, knocking all the clamps and needles to the floor.

One final smack to the clinic floor and Dialysis was done for the night.

And so was I.

I couldn't raise my arm above my waist as I stood. It felt as though Dialysis had left an invisible yet highly powerful iron clamp on my arm and I couldn't shake it loose.

I decided there was no sense wasting time in the chair, so I completed my usual Dialysis return.

My weight had shrunk to 57.3kg which surprised no one in particular. I decided to take a little stroll to where I last heard Dialysis, intending to kick him again in the groinal area just for fun.

The items were all back in their proper place on the machine and nothing was askew.

That bastard Dialysis had won again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5 Year Anniversary of Hell

On May 16, 2009 I marked five years of achingly annoying and highly horrific Dialysis treatments.

I was diagnosed once again with my long lost companion, End Stage Renal Disease (all Dialysis patients say "ESRD" because it sounds like a cool show on the Travel Channel) in March and my nephrologist stated it was going to be a quick slide to eventual Dialysis.

Year One was pure torturous. Every treatment flames of burning ignited by Dialysis himself. 1000mg. of Vicodin doubled. And then tripled.

And still I suffered.

Year Two began the habit of lying on my office floor for 30-45 minutes before and after a show just to keep my job. Everyone believes radio broadcasting is easy, but it takes a tremendous amount of energy.

Energy that my body no longer befriends.

Year Three the staff thought I would never last transferring into a research program and changing my treatments to six days a week, two hour time limit.

Again, I sacrificed my sanity to feel 20% better so, once again, I could keep my job.

Year Four I tried dating again with little success.

"I won't date you unless you always cover up your gross arm."

I never even said goodbye.

Flirting with a cute redhead at the bagel shop ended abruptly when my graft gauze began to express itself in bloody terms.

Everyone just stared. No one even bothered to help.

Damn Yuppies-Who-Used-to-Be-Anti-Establishment-Hippies-Who-Sold-Out-and-Are-Now-Fat-and-Worried-About-Their-Cholesterol.

Year Five has been a rollercoaster teetering on the top of a wooden hill that should have been condemned five years ago.

I had a chance to guest star on Dr. Anonymous' internet show and share my experiences about Dialysis. I even managed to convince the manager at my Dialysis clinic to shut off all the TV speakers so I wouldn't die because none of the tech's could hear me. I even pushed myself to get out of my bed and hang out with friends.

That last one's a major accomplishment.

Better things are on the horizon. My sister is visiting in a month. I'll see my parents later this summer. My best friend and his family are going to spend a weekend here in Sonoma County.

These are all good, positive events that will make Year Six somewhat more bearable.

But I have a little secret I've told no one about and it could ruin all succeeding years.

I'm getting worse.

My muscles screams echo through my entire system, begging, pleading for me to lie back down.

Fatigue is my constant companion. If I do the math (and I rarely do because it makes me sad) some workdays I'm in bed twelve to fourteen hours because I'm just too weak.

And don't ask about weekends.

But its really not the pain that bothers so much. Its a constant companion that whispers its power over me at its own discretion, for sure.

Its my lack of productivity. My lack of sparking purpose.

And what scares me even more? The fact that some days I just don't give a fuck.

I once believed that God was punishing me for past indiscretions. But I feel my sins are minimal at best.

Those thoughts morphed into God possibly trying to teach me some grand lesson that I was too dense to comprehend.

Yet what have I become?

A crazy loner curmudgeon who finds most of the human race lacking in intelligence and grace.

I can't do another five years. I just can't.

I'm unwilling. I'm unable. And I'm just not worth all the medical expense required to keep me alive.

The divisions between Potential Stacy and Present Stacy is so wide, the two shall never meet in my lifetime.

And that saddens me to no end.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"30 Rock" Kidney Now!

Thanks to Kelly Talbert (a fellow Dialysis/kidney patient) for posting this video on her Facebook page. I can't think of a better video to post on my Fifth Anniversary of suffering through endless Dialysis.




If I ever meet Tina Fey in person, I'm giving her a big smoochy kiss like Adrien Broday gave to Halle Berry at the Oscars.

I'm probably get popped by her bodyguard and dragged away, but it will be worth it.

"What's Die-ale-uh-sist?"

People can't pronounce it, and kidney donation doesn't get the press like the high profile diseases do.

That's right. That's Kidney Discrimination.

So thanks Ms. Fey for the props.

Now how about producing my Broadway show "Glomerulonephritis?"

"Glomerulonephritis, its so wonderful to say. Glomerulonephritis, is will break your day!"

I'll work on it and get back to you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fistulatoma

On March 12th a wonderfully annoying yet totally uncooperative vein in my upper left arm was moved about an inch West.

If is now called a Fistula.

At least that's what the doctors like to call it.

Those high priced experts with their fancy-schmancy medical terms.

Once a 17 gauge needle was inserted, allowed to chug for two hours, and then removed, the dialogue changed.

It was now a Fistula with a Hematoma.

Or a Fistulatoma.

Yes, I made up a word. And its mine. You can't have it. And you wouldn't want it.

Dr. Drew (I named him thusly because he could be Dr. Drew's twin) didn't think that term was very funny.

I've been on a wonderful soup of Vicodin, Extra Strength Tylenol and Norco since the Fistulatoma began, I have to find amusement when I can.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Arnett (that's right, he looks just like Will Arnett) and I will remember him for the remainder of my life because he congratulated himself on a job well done when I visited his pristine office a few weeks after the surgery.

Yes. Your pomposity has etched itself upon my long term memory and it will remain there festering because once that appointment was over, you said you didn't need to see me again.

You also won't refill my Norco.

Both Dr. Drew and Dr. Arnett are friends. As most doctors in Nephrology seem to be.

They both have extremely beautiful wives who are also doctors.

I don't fault them for that. Doctors are much more impressive than guys who tell you who's coming up in the next music sweep.

Right after eighteen minutes of commercials, a jingle, a promo and another jingle to get you back into the music.

But I digress.

I've allowed the anger I had over this whole affair to evaporate into infinity, but I believe I made a good point today and it was tossed aside like all the tubing we patients go through endlessly.

Cleaned. Discarded. Recycled. I don't know what they do with it because I'm usually too tired following treatment to care.

One thing I don't care for though, is being dismissed.

I had my circular graft for thirteen years. Thirteen frickin' years. The last five on Dialysis.

It had been used years ago for five months before my second kidney transplant.

Since this Fistulatoma has been less than perfect, I brought that up.

"Well, we don't do those much anymore."

I love it when doctors say, "well" at the beginning of a sentence. It means they don't care for the question. And would rather be playing golf. Or riding horses. Or whatever else they do with the money they make managing my illness.

"Why not?" I asked with a staggered voice. I was pretty dizzy.

"We just don't."

And that was that.

So here I sit, in front of you, with a bum arm keeping me from my life.

Can't ride a bike. Or my scooter. Or lift weights. Or even swim.

All because someone thought it would bea good idea to give me a Fistulatoma.

This dollar sign is going to bed now. If I can get any sleep.

Remember? You wouldn't refill my Norco.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

God's Action Figure

When I use this phrase to describe myself, some people believe that I am typing offense toward "Their God."

Since when does anybody "own" God? Did Wal-Mart sneak up and grab Him as a spokesperson when I wasn't looking? Can you find God in every Starbucks on every corner suggesting overpriced sandwiches? When I'm lost at Home Depot will He find shower heads for me on Aisle 42?

Any time I mention my belief (or lack thereof) in the Almighty, I always get e-mail's from devout Christians saying, "You're going straight to hell and I wish to read no more."

Hell? Well, maybe. I'm definitely serving time in purgatory, that's a given.

Oh wait. I already am. I'm a Dialysis patient. Silly me.

But back to the title of this particular post.

I have a theory as to why God finds me so consistently entertaining.

One lovely Spring day in God's People Factory his duty for the day was almost finished. He had just applied the most succulent lips ever to Angelina Jolie and given John Kerry a head three sizes too big when he had all these random parts just lying around.

He could have gone home to his Cloud Formed Easy Chair (designed by Him of course) and flipped on "Lost" and called it another pleasant day.

But He was in a tinkering mood.

He grabbed a torso that was no longer a boy's, but not quite a man's and placed it in the middle of his workshop table. Since this wasn't skinny enough, he fished out extremely skinny arms and legs to coincide with said Extra Small Man's Torso. A grin came to his face because he knew I'd be wearing Extra Large Boy's Boxers for the remainder of my life.

He continued unabated. He was so entertained by his John Kerry head gaffe that he gave me one nearly as large.

Bright eyes, slightly larger lips and ears that stick out gently. I should probably thank God for those because women are always commenting on my eyes and lips.

All the parts were in place and He was nearly finished when He realized something.

The Almighty Master of Creation had run out of functioning kidneys.

God, on this rare occasion became a little flustered.

He knew that he had a fresh supply earlier, but today hadn't been a great day for kidneys. A number of them had to be discarded and their Inner Energy used for something else.

With little time remaining, because my soul was set to arrive any minute, God chose the best of the rest from the pile of mistakes.

"Forgive me son, for you will know pain and suffering. But you will also discover truth and beauty."

And the kidneys that were God's eventually became mine.

As my soul, fresh and untouched, began to slowly ride a breeze of fate, God found himself amused by this creation.

"I must keep an eye on this one. He could be fun."

My soul arrived and enveloped God's Newest Creation. My eventual adult body was swept away by the calling of the people who would eventually become my parents.

And here I sit today. An experiment gone awry. A body caving in on itself.

And still, God smiles.

For He knows what I have still failed to grasp.

That truth and beauty are still out there.

And I need to forge through and make their acquaintance.

Before its too late.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Redheaded Girl Next Door (And Her Lack of Proximity to Me)

I'm a complete and utter fool.

I rise every morning and apply well worn boots of fear. If courage is applied to my skin, it curls and peels away. I'd vomit up a portion of my soul if even the thought of taking a risk entered my mind.

Today was "Products Day" when I venture to one of the local discount chains to acquire items that seem to cost so much more when you purchase them at the grocery store.

Or so I believe.

I used to despise Rite-Aid because it seemed like every time I entered, management had checked for a pulse and the ability to say, "We don't got that no more" as the application process for employment.

But that has seemed to improve. I can only theorize that the really old people who predominantly shop there put up a giant stink that seeped itself into the upper echelon of the Rite-Aid management corps and things changed.

Yes, apparently I have plenty of time to ponder the pecking order at the local discount branch.

Lucky me.

I was shuffling through the aisle that cuts through all the other aisles in a perpendicular fashion, and there she was in the beach furniture aisle. I caught a glimpse of wispy red hair tied up in what I like to call the "Teddy Bear Look." Incredibly milky skin adorned by a cute tank top and khaki shorts.

But I couldn't see her face.

I made my way around the aisle she was browsing and pretended to be glancing at the same items. She had massively bright eyes and before I knew it, she had caught me glancing at her.

She smiled and held my glance for half past a moment.

As most moronic guys do, I suddenly looked away. I wasn't farther than six feet from her.

And she caught me again. Staring. And she continued to smile.

My Inner Voice was shouting at full volume, "SAY SOMETHING YOU FUCKING MORON. ANYTHING! DOESN'T MATTER. COMMENT ON THE LACK OF QUALITY IN THE BEACH CHAIRS. PRETEND TO BUMP INTO HER. JUST SAY FUCKING HELLO."

"Wait a minute, where the fuck are you going? Huh? The toothpaste aisle? That can wait. You had your chance and you blew it. What the hell is wrong with you?"

And that's the Question of the Night.

What stopped me from taking a frickin' chance? Why didn't I possess the reservoir of courage necessary to introduce myself? And why does this keep happening over and over and over again lately?

After picking out all my crappy items that really had no intrinsic value compared to her smile, I could hear her moving her cart to the checkout lane.

"I'm sorry, that check stand is closed. Its my fault, I forgot to turn off the light."

She giggled gently and responded, "That's ok. I just like driving the cart around. It's fun."

Beautiful, bright-eyed and with a goofy sense of humor? Please, just leave all this stuff behind and lets run away together right now.

There was a rather Stringy Haired Lady browsing through her coupon stash who was a buffer between me and Girl Next Door in the checkout aisle. You could see her whole body change when she realized she had forgotten one of the items. She zipped away and it was just me and her, two feet of fate between us.

Women have this amazing sense when they're being stared at (in my case of course, admired) and she looked up almost surprised that it was me again and smiled.

I returned the favor but THAT'S ALL I DID.

I'm not a grotesque looking guy. Odd looking, but not disgusting. I'm not beefy or tall, but given the chance I can be charismatic and hilarious. Pretty successful in my career too. I work pretty hard and take care of all my responsibilities. I like to believe I have the possibility to be A Catch.

But with all that going for me, I still didn't feel I had the necessary traits to open a conversation and see if she was as sweet as she seemed.

I had one last chance in the parking lot, but something moved me to get to my truck as quickly as possible and exit the parking lot before she became tired of smiling at me and shunned me completely.

Something is truly wrong with me outside of all my health concerns and it disturbs me daily.

Tonight, wherever you happen to be Redheaded Girl Next Door, I hope you're happy.

Because of your presence in the Rite-Aid today, an electricity flowed through my system that I haven't felt in quite some time.

But do me a favor, would you? Stop haunting me. I can't get you out of my mind.

Since that fateful fifteen minutes, I have made a promise to myself. And you'd be surprised how often I keep said promises.

The next woman I meet that strikes me like you did, is going to meet Stacy Without An E.

Whether she likes it or not.