Present Day, April 19th, 2017

8 mm. I live in America and have minimal familiarity with the metric system so it seemed like such a small number to me. Eight. Millimeters.

That is what it took to bring me down three weeks ago (See – Present Day, April 2nd, 2017). To practically derail my life for an entire three-week period. An 8 mm kidney stone. The stone. The wait. The stint. The removal. The recovery.

I will not bore you with all the details (you are welcome), or with any of the images (you are SOOO welcome!). Let’s just keep this simple, straight forward and honest. There are awful combinations in life. Take for instance large amounts of cocaine, heroin and alcohol. Terrible combination.

Well, for those who do not know, Bipolar (or any number of mental illnesses) combined with chronic or pseudo-chronic pain? Bad combination. Throw in morphine and narcotic pain medications? Really bad combination. As a final ingredient to the recipe let’s toss in a splash of a highly physical job that starts at three in the morning? Yeah, I was pretty much fucked.

Things were actually supposed to be quite smooth following the insertion of a stint between my kidney and my bladder. Should be minimal discomfort they said. Shouldn’t hardly be noticeable¬†they said.

I really like my entire medical team including my doctor. There was, however, one problem with just about all of them. They were young. Very young. As in, too young to have ever had a kidney stone. In other words, it was all book knowledge. No experience. Or put another way, they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

The day after. And the day after that. And the day after that. The pain did not go away. The discomfort that was indescribable to my wife. The inexplicable lack of energy. From the Tuesday the stent was placed inside my body until six days later (two days ago), when I grabbed that string and pulled that son of a bitch out of my body, it had become the physically most discouraging period of my life.

The day of the stone was worse than the day of my heart attack. The week after the surgery was worse than the week after my heart attack. Not. Even. Close!

And so I have been sidelined. With no creative energy to write (or think for that matter) as I suffered through day in, day out of blood clots, cramps, and fatigue. As I took over the counter pain killers to stay awake enough to run my route before popping a narcotic to sleep enough to do it again the next day.

But I have survived. Once again my pee is flowing freely and bright (sorry…couldn’t avoid ALL the details), my energy is back, and life is rainbows and unicorns. At least for today. And for today…I’ll take it.

Present Day, March 21st, 2017

I have started playing the piano again. Actually, I should probably say again, again. I gave it a go last year, but it wasn’t a very valiant or persistent effort. I printed out a few rudiments and songs, quickly found myself frustrated by my lack of ability, and surrendered before Christmas arrived.

I decided that a little cash investment might help this time around. So I purchased a book of classical pieces at a beginners level. Less than $10. I did say a “little cash investment.” I have set some practice goals, and so far am sticking to them. Very modest beginnings. A few times a week for a few minutes at a time. Just to develop some consistency.

Consistency is so difficult. Tomorrow is my bi-monthly therapy day. My therapist was proudly touting at my last session that I had never missed an appointment since being released from the hospital last September. I guess that might not be the norm.

I can’t think of a day in that same period of time when I have missed my medications. Been a little late a few times, but tomorrow makes 200 days without missing a beat. And trust me, that is a shit ton of pills. A shit ton of feeling drowsy. A shit ton of battling weight gain. A shit ton of wondering where in the hell my sex drive went. A shit ton of shit tons.

Since September I have not had a week go by where I did not average at least 7 hours of sleep per night. That is kind of a magic number for me, and not always an easy one to achieve with a job that sounds the alarm at 3 a.m. every morning, and a 2nd grader and 8th grader that return from school 12 hours later. But I have found a way to be consistent. To get the job done.

Yoga. Exercise. Reading. Journaling. Oh…and blogging. All things that I find valuable to my mental health and well-being. All things that require an effort at consistency.

And I know this is true for all of us. All of us as people. So this isn’t some attempt at a pity party, but it is a reality check. Because when my consistency fades…things turn bad. Real bad.

Little things aren’t little things when if they aren’t done the next thing on your mind is how to take your own life. Consistency isn’t “optional” when inconsistency creates a crisis that sends your life and all those directly connected to you into a violent tailspin. Checklists are more than check boxes when they are necessary to keep the thoughts between your ears in check.

HOWEVER, it is fatiguing. On a good day. Exhausting on a bad. And much like sitting down at the piano, it can often seem like having to start back where I left off decades ago.