Whirlwind

This past week has placed my mind on a Whirlwind Merry Go Round. This coming week I am headed into a life changing experience that leaves me both exhilarated and terrified at the same time.

My health has deteriorated at a rapid pace these past few months and what I believed for three years to be the sole cause of my circumstances, wound up being a misconception at best by the doctors whose care I was under.

In the last two weeks I have experienced and am still experiencing a pain so profound in my right leg that it can be compared only to that of labor before birth.  It seems I have developed an artery disease that rivals those of an octogenarian’s in poor health.  Undoubtedly, say the doctors due to smoking all those years.  Though one cardiologist agreed with me that is not the only mitigating factor concluding as I do that “genes” is the basic foundation for my current issues. Taking on the responsibility that I am overweight for my height had been another revelation to me since being told for the past three years that exercise was out of the question for me unless it was in water because of the impact on my spine and its condition.  A person cannot lose weight if they are unable to move physically over a long period of time.  The agility and mobility of the human body ceases when inactive.  My recommendation to all is to do everything you can to keep moving and everything else in moderation.

Now getting back to my “whirlwind” of emotions causing me confusion in these past few days.  This recently discovered disease within my body has frightened me more than anything I has ever been presented to me or witnessed by me in the past, with exception of any health issues concerning my sons, this is the most terrifying to me. I have been told that there are blockages and blood clots within my system so severe that they are cutting off circulation to my leg. The specialist from NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC, who I met for the first time yesterday seems to be a kind, concerned, experienced physician/surgeon in his field of vascular diseases and their treatments and remedies.  To say this disease, though known to me in name only, is one that I have the least past experience with is an understatement.  No one knows how another person feels when they learn they have something very serious that could possibly be a life threatening one, so unless one has been through it personally, it is quite overwhelming. I find the hardest emotion to deal with is loss of control, the second is fright of the unknown.  I am trying very hard to remain calm and logical.  Trying to get those who care for me to understand that this is one area where Mama doesn’t have the answers that would somehow alleviate much of their worry.  I am truly hoping for the best outcome and to do my best to believe if I do my part by taking self-responsibility my life will surely improve immensely.

Still waiting on clearance from cardiologist and if it clears him, I will be undergoing the procedure on Wednesday.  I want to get better and I want to celebrate all the milestones ahead, so I will keep my faith, calm the “whirlwind” in my mind and if all goes well, I will write again soon.  Just keep moving, keep dancing, keep smiling!

And that’s The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.

K

 

A New Year

As I sit here reflecting upon the passing of 2014 my mind is clear and clouded both rendering indistinguishable. I always believed life would get better as a person aged. I am finding that it’s truly all an illusion. Life is really what you make of it.

As the body breaks down and the mind grows wisdom, emotions remain the same. Whether you are blessed with health or devastated by disease you stand the same chance of finding economic concerns, memories of past successes and failures, lives lost, lives saved, loves that have faded with time and love that still fans the flame.

Those losses could be the people, or they could be the jobs one held, the career one had or the possessions once believed to be signficant to your well-being.  Perhaps there is a new spiritual connection as one grows older or perhaps it lessons.  Whatever applies to an individual the most is what seems to be the driven force within one’s self.

Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Although not much has changed for me individually in the past year it has changed for many others I am close to.  There have been serious illnesses, weddings, births, graduations, engagements and even deaths.  Their changes have added to my wisdom and have taxed my physiological trials to the max.  My mind had suffered in a way that is surprising even to one as optimistic as myself. Those days where I was too busy to think, I now find I cannot achieve much more than thinking, rethinking and thinking even more.  Can I share those thoughts?  Most probably not, and not because I can’t, but because I don’t choose to share most of them as yet.  They are still indistinguishable and therefore, not easy to distribute nor select here or anywhere.  Insight from them comes to me slowly, yet discernible.  Just putting them into action gives them wings so widely stretched that it covers my rationality from end to end. I suppose it is meant to be this way for most of us and so, in reality, they are  nothing new.

At this stage of life , as I embrace 2015 my desire is to complete a collection of written work that I will pray gives a message and reveals a hidden truth both for myself and for others. Perhaps I will succeed, or perhaps I will fail, but no matter which way it turns out, I will treasure them, believe in them and hold strongly to them.  The illusion I have lived will fade into the past just as 2014 dissolves into oblivion.  From what remains, I will gather and keep the wisest and happiest in order to “not freeze up” as Mr. Wolfe suggests.

Attempting to change  individual choice is futile because the argument isn’t strong and the mind with its newly constructed paths will adjust because it needs  to in order to stay alive. So my life remains as it has with a renewed hope that my words will make a difference to those who may need a rope to cling to or only a hand to hold.

2015 can be whatever we each make it to be. It can revive us or destroy us, give us joy or pain, yet no matter what is to come, those of us who are here in whatever state of our body or mind, we are still here. That realm of existence, within itself, provides the power of hope. Here’s hoping each of us exercise our wills to make our lives better. Ideally to make a difference if not for ourselves, than for others.

Happy New Year!

And that is The Way I See It,here in Brooklyn.

K

 

 

Where’s My Muse?

 

People always say you should write about what you know.  Maybe so.  Lately, however my muse has been missing.  For me a muse can be a person, an idea, a feeling.  I’ve been stuck in a rut and fighting my way out has been a complete uphill battle.  My gut tells me to write everyday, but my physical condition says, “haha” don’t even think about it”.  There has been lots of things in the news of late that I could have expressed my opinion about such as the discrimination issues happening in New York lately and then there is the NFL spousal and child abuse issues, and yet again, there is the ISIS/ISIL situation.  However, each one of those issues would take pages and pages of this blog and frankly, I believe my followers, though few and far, would be bored to tears.  So, Muse,  where are you when I need you?

The last few weeks, (I admit) have been topsy-turvy for my family.  My brother, Tommy developed some major health issues and was hospitalized for two weeks.  The worry about him took its toll on me and I have been filled with stress, which is only now subsiding.   He is out of the woods at the moment, but will need further surgery within the next two months.  Maybe for most people my attachment to my brother would seem strange (to say the least), but he is the one person who has been there with me my entire life.  He is not only a terrific brother, but also a “surrogate” dad to me, and an overall wonderful person.  The thought of him suffering or worse is not a thought I can allow to penetrate my mind or my heart.  I am very grateful that he has come through as he has from this last episode and I am also grateful that I have the wisdom to know things could be much worse.  So yes, the optimistic side of me stays positive and thankful for the little things. Unfortunately, I also have another side, that mostly stays hidden; and every once and while it rears its ugly head trying its’ damnedest to overtake me. That is why I have an inward constant uphill battle these days.

1-05 Let It Go

Maybe writing this today will break the ice for me and I will be able to do what my blog song says very soon, but until then, I am still here grasping at the straws being offered by the Universe. I am hoping that soon my very opinionated expressions about life will come about and my Muse will allow my fingers to fly upon the keyboard to talk about life as I see it.  If not for any other reason, than to keep me sane!

And that is the The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.

K

Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy.  It’s more than an adjective or adverb, noun or verb.  It’s an actual feeling.  It’s hardest to do when you are a young adult because all of the troubles in the world are on your shoulders. However, if one would learn to push the negative out and allow the positive side in, I am willing to bet that happiness will start to infiltrate the soul and before you know it…you will find yourself …happy!  For me, I can jump-start the process of feeling happy by listening to music….happy, uplifting, danceable music!  Maybe for others it would be a movie or perhaps a book, or maybe just a smile from a fellow human being.  Whatever the start is pay heed to it!  Follow it through.  Allow yourself the luxury of feeling happy.    

I decided to be happy even though another year has gone by and I am no better nor worse than I was a year ago!  As I reflect upon my life these days (which I always seem to do around the date of my birth) it becomes more and more apparent that although I have had trials and tribulations, as most of my fellow human beings, for the most part I have had a good life up to now.  A GOOD LIFE, now that isn’t something everyone can say.  As I think back and see my childhood, my teen years, my young adulthood and now, I have had the support of family and friends always in one form or another.  The people I have met have kept my life in perspective.  My life is enriched first and foremost by my family.  I have a terrific family.  Sure we are all a bit nutty here and there, but no more so than most.  My life is enriched further by my friends.  I have made so many wonderful friends.  Sure they are all a bit out there at times, but those are the times that make me laugh the hardest!  So I have concluded that people really do create love.  

Even though it’s about to be my birthday and people tend to be a bit nicer when it’s one’s birthday, I have to honestly say that most of my birthdays have been memorable and happy.  Yep, I said it …happy!  It’s actually a euphoric feeling when one decides to be happy.  It isn’t the same as when something makes you happy.  It isn’t the same when people wish you happiness, either.  It’s more of an inner peace.  A gift to yourself.  Choosing happiness in the face of adversity, choosing happiness in the face of illness, choosing happiness in the face of poverty, is truly a unique and rewarding feeling.  Truth be known, only you can do this for yourself.  Happiness is the one true choice a person can make for themselves.  All it takes is a decision to be happy.  To look at the sadness that surrounds you and the awful things in the world that you can only pray will change and decide that you will do your part to better it by first caring about those things and then do something about them with a happy outlook.  I decided that I can’t change things as I would like them to be, but I can accept them and I can make a difference with every word I write and every smile I give.  That is how I choose to make a difference and give the gift of happiness by being happy.  I have heard through the years that when the person in the household who keeps everything together is happy than the whole household is happy.  Same applies to the person on the job or anywhere.  If that person is happy everyone is happy.  I have tried it and I know firsthand that it works.  Happiness is infectious!  So infect people with happiness wherever you go!

So Happy Trails! Be Happy Together! Smile!  Act as if your life depended on it, because actually it does!

And that’s the Way I See It, here in Brooklyn!

K

Waiting

I am in the waiting room of a laboratory waiting for my sister Gerrie to finish a pet scan. I was told to wait out here because of the exposure to the radioactive dye they are administering to my sister for her test. The technician said it will take about  three hours for everything  to be done.

It feels as if I have spent most of my life in waiting rooms of hospitals, laboratories and other medical environments. Some families are left legacies of wealth, or perhaps good looks, or perhaps intellectual success. My family’s legacy is a lifetime of health issues. It first started when I was six years old and hospitalized for two months and a day. It seems after numerous tests and five spinal taps they finally realized I had bad tonsils and adenoids and it finally became obvious that  the infection caused me to lose the use of my legs. It didn’t help much that they injected me daily,( with what I have not a clue) but after they removed my tonsils and adenoids I was released and a few weeks later I could walk again.  Soon after that when I was seven my sister Joan passed away at the age of 29 from complications after removing a tumor from her brain. It has just been downhill ever since. I have lost my parents ten years apart from each other from a myriad of illnesses, cancer included;  and two more of my sisters passed at ages 46 and 47 respectively.

My four remaining siblings, two sisters and two brothers all have a long list of health issues that they live with everyday. Being the youngest of eight has placed me in a position that allows me to observe, absorb and live beside every medical issue known to man. Even my own children suffer somewhat and my husband’s family as well. As a matter of fact, if I reflect upon my wealth of knowledge as a designated bystander, my thoughts tell me I could have been either a very informed researcher or a very compassionate doctor. Alas, though, I have missed that boat! Instead I sit here reflecting in my usual waiting position–observing, hoping and praying.  My thoughts  about Gerrie are concentrated on her life at this moment in time and a veil of concern (mixed with sadness) overcomes me.

Gerrie has never been able to accept illness or poor health without fear.  She would much rather remain in her own world where not knowing means everything is good. She has such a disdain for the realities in life that she removes herself from it most of the time by telling carefully woven tales where she is either the heroine or the victim, she does this without any sign of malice and therefore her tales are accepted by most as actual events in her life.  I, on the other hand, am a realist who when faced with problems jump right in and research to find the ins and outs of the event, and more so when it deals with health issues.  For the most part we get along well and understand exactly where to draw the lines with one another so that our sister relationship remains intact for both of us.  We do love one another so it truly isn’t too difficult to manage.  Recently, Gerrie has been dealt some really tough blows to deal with. Her husband, Joe’s Alzheimer’s has reached a pivotal stage, one that Gerrie cannot bring herself to believe because she feels better when she doesn’t And her own health is now being threatened at the same time. She fears that she may have cancer and the doctor isn’t ruling it out until these barrage of tests are completed.  She has been a complete wreck of nerves lately, worrying in my opinion, needlessly or actually before she knows for certain that this dreaded disease has invaded her body.  Naturally, with our gene pool, it is a concern in all of us.  Each of us hoping it ended with the generation before us or at the very least with us.  It isn’t that I don’t empathize, I do very much so, but I see things mostly as facts and not what ifs. This act of waiting is for me a time to reflect and to hope that my sister is nervous and worried for nothing.  At least that way we will be able to joke about it afterward or have another story to listen to from Gerrie.

Guess I’ll just have to wait a little while longer.

And that’s the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

Joey

IMG_0796

My brother-in-law Joey is one of those guys who people can easily label as “one of a Kind”. He is a very special person. I have known him for most of my life and I have never known him to be anything other than kind, caring, helpful, quiet, and born with a true heart of gold.

I first saw Joey when he came to get my sister, Gerrie for a date. It was very late at night and he was in the Navy. He came by our tenement with his friend Roger. I was around 11 or 12 at the time. I recall waking up and seeing him by the door with his friend. Both of them in their sailor suits and as handsome as could be.  As soon as he noticed I woke up (our tenement was a railroad apartment and my bed was in the middle of the apartment (no doors and I slept with two of my sisters) he came over to say hello and to introduce Roger. I remember jumping up and hugging him and then falling back to sleep. I didn’t really know Joey well all I knew was that he was totally and madly in love with my sister and that they would soon marry. Back then Joey was not much different from how he is today. After he married Gerrie he had a job at UPS and would work long hard hours. They have a daughter, Barbie Jo and she is the apple of Joey’s eye. He was always fiercely protective and a loving husband and father. No one could mess with either of his girls or their extended family if Joey had anything to say about it. His presence alone demands respect and his good looks are still with him today. No one, except maybe my mother, could find fault with Joey. Then again, my mother found fault with every single guy her daughters ever went out with. She was a tough bird and took no-nonsense from anyone.

Joey continued to work really hard and long hours providing a great life for Gerrie and Barbie. He extended himself to many members of our family as well. He taught my oldest son, Rocky to drive. He loved baseball and other sports. He hunted a little when he was younger and collected baseball memorabilia and hunting rifles. He took his wife and child on a vacation every single year. It is easy to know that Joey cares about us even if he never utters a word in that direction. I have only seen him angry twice in my entire life and both times in defense of either his wife or daughter. Now that is saying a lot, don’t you think?

Well sadly and heartbreakingly Joey has gotten Alzheimer’s disease and the symptoms started about 16 years ago. For quite a long time Joey held his own and with the help of Gerrie and Barbie and now his two grandchildren, he maintains a pretty “normal” life. Recently, he became physically ill and consequently the dementia worsened. Now he needs additional help from a professional staff at a rehabilitation/nursing facility. It breaks my heart to see this happening to anyone and their immediate family. Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease because it takes away the cognizant portion of your mind. It becomes so debilitating and a person afflicted with it cannot survive without help. More has to be done about this disease. Research must be explored further. A cure or at least a better treatment to delay the onset of this disease must be found and soon. I believe half of the population will develop either dementia or Alzheimer’s at some point and no matter what kind of lifestyle one lives, if it happens it will only be the research for the treatment and hopefully the cure that will help.

So as I sit here reminiscing about my wonderful brother-in-law and knowing that somewhere inside the man I now see is that same man, that same caring, kind, loving man who if he could would still defend and protect his family to the bitter end. His handsome, strong body is deceiving, but I am grateful that he still has those qualities.

I chose to write about Joey today because he is on my mind each and everyday lately. I know I could never repay him for all the kindnesses he bestowed upon me throughout my life and I wanted to pay tribute to a great man who deserves to be happy, loved and taken care of in the best possible way. Joey is “one of a Kind” there is no doubt and I am very glad and grateful that I am privileged to be part of his extended family. I will love him always. Thank you, Joey. I am sorry I never took the time to tell you how I felt long before now and I hope that somehow you know all the lives you have touched, changed and made better just by being, Joey.

The song on this post is for Joey because he loves these types of songs and would often listen to them.

1-15 El Paso 1

And that’s the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

Universe What Have You Done to Me Now?

I knew something was wrong, but I kept pushing myself believing that it was just a fluke and would disappear as quickly as it came.   This numbness in my thighs and the constant ache in my back whenever I walked anywhere just kept getting worse. Like a sign from the Universe, one day, while at work, a bolt of lightning pain shot straight down my spine, from my neck to my tailbone and I could no longer deny it was time for my orthopedic doc to take a look! So with all the strength I could muster I phoned him, received an appointment and went to see him that very same day.  Dr. Licciardi is a wonderful man and a fantastic orthopedic surgeon.  He had taken care of me in the past and I felt safe and assured in his care. Rocco, my ever caring husband, picked me up early from work and we drove to the doctor.  By the time I was in the examining room, the pain was so severe that all Dr. Licciardi had to do was look at my face and he instantly knew something was terribly wrong.  He gave me a shot to try and ease the spasms and took some tests.  Finally after a few days and all the tests results came in, I had my answer I had progressive stenosis, degenerative disc disease and a collapsed thecal sac with severe nerve damage.  In other words, I was now disabled and the prognosis of this diagnoses was not very positive.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement!  I was actually devastated, but no one can ever tell when I feel that way, because I can mask that devastation brilliantly.

A series of “fixes” was started immediately, none of them, of course, came with any guarantees, but then neither did this body of mine.  For the next three months or so, I went through cortisone metropaks, injections from pain management physicians, bed rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications.  Trying to stand, sit or walk for a few minutes at a time was becoming an olympian challenge for me.  My entire life had completely changed and I was not ready for it at all.  My inner makings had aged before my years and there was nothing I could do to stop it anymore.  Oh yes, surgery was mentioned to me, but the odds of either surviving them or of them lasting was so slim that it was impossible for me to consider them.  Worst of all was that Dr. Licciardi, himself, didn’t perform the type of surgery that was needed and I would have to be recommended to a different doctor.  I wasn’t ready for that. This Universe that we all live in was certainly having fun with me!  It wasn’t enough that I had Menopause, oh no, that wasn’t enough for my Universe, now I had this debilitating disease that would prove to change the entire way I had existed for the past twenty years!

I have often thought well it could be a lot worse.  I could be dying.  I could have cancer or some other life threatening illness.  I could be paralyzed or any other  number of horrible terrible things that braver people than I are going through every single day, so in a way I always tell myself how lucky I really am and I mean it for about 5 minutes and then I say, no freaking way!  This damn thing I have is as bad as some of those other diseases because my life is no longer my life!  I don’t feel sorry for me, I freaking can’t stand me or my insides or whatever that has taken away my opportunity to hold down my job, to walk for any length, to sit for any amount of time, to lie down without pain, to cook, to bowl, to dance!  I hate this freaking disease and I don’t want to have it.

I am so appreciative of everyone’s good thoughts and attempts at boosting my “blues” by telling me how “fortunate” I am, and at the same time, I want to scream!  No one seems to get it!  Everyone thinks, “aww you have a bad back” and everyone has either experienced a bad back or knows someone who has.  Everyone knows someone or themselves who have had slipped discs, etc. etc….No one and I mean no one, ever realizes that I have had a “bad back” for about thirty-eight years and now it has collapsed!  No one truly understands and I can live with that by  not talking about my disease, by “pretending” that I am just okay with this; going on about my everyday life as if everything is honky dory and normal as can be.  It’s all BS!  I am not honky dory, everyday life for me is no life at all!  Dr. Licciardi doesn’t know what to do for me anymore, except to keep checking me for any changes, giving me  meds and being the great man that he is.  He brings up one of the surgeries I would need, every now and then, but he never pushes me, knowing full well that it would last about six months, if I was one of the lucky ones, and then probably be worse than it is now!  No freaking way will I put myself through that!

By now, you might be saying to yourselves, wow what a selfish bitch this woman is!  She should be grateful,yadda yadda yadda!!! You are probably saying, stop feeling sorry for yourself!   Yet, none of you saying that has been living my life as of late! So hell no, no matter what anyone else thinks, I am doing the very best I can under these forced circumstances!  When I can find some joy in this current life of mine, I am going to take it!  I am not going to complain everyday (just once in this blog)!  I am lucky in one aspect, lucky that I am married to a Saint! and I mean a Saint!  I have the world’s best! Rocco does everything for me now, most of the cooking; all the cleaning; most of the shopping; and thank God he still has a job that supports us and helps us get health insurance.  Yes, I am bringing in some money by getting SS and some disability money so for now we can keep our heads just above the water, but sooner than later we are going to have to sell our home and try to start over somewhere, somehow. I often wonder if anyone can imagine the psychological changes that occur when an active, fun-loving woman like myself, gets hit with a life-changing event like this?  Believe me it takes will power not to punch walls, or throw yourself off the nearest bridge, (if you could get there)!  It takes an iron will not to scream at everyone who says, “it could be worse!” or “you are just feeling sorry for yourself!” Maybe both of those things are true, and if they are “so be it”.  All I know is that I feel like the Universe has played a cruel trick on me and I am neither happy about it or so willing to be a martyr for it!  I wish it didn’t happen, but the reality is that is has.  So now I am taking forever to learn to make the best of it, but I will continue to try to do that for as long as I can, until this Universe decides to try something new with my life.

Whew, thanks blog for letting me get that off my chest!  This is the first and last time I will speak on the subject and so that is The Way I See It.

Forever Brooklyn Bred and Raised,

K