Difficult Goodbyes

My children flew to Florida this past Sunday for my birthday and to hang out for a few days. Seeing those two standing at my door was simply overwhelming. It’s been over a year since I last saw them and gave them huge bear-hugs as they were coming and going from our home.

Drew (my eldest) had to head back on Wednesday evening in order to take care of a customer. He towers over me even more now (as I continue to shrink). I gave him a hug before he headed off to Tampa International…I don’t think he wanted to let go. I know I didn’t. Heather told me she didn’t realize it was a mutual father-son bond that has been somewhat ill for a few years.  He’s grown in so many ways.

I’m currently sitting in one of the procedure rooms at my surgeon’s office (stomach/digestive system surgery). The staples from my recent surgery are gone (thank you!!). I was forced to say goodbye to Lauren from here. Due to time constraints (and unpredictable clinic schedules), Heather left me here and took Lauren to the airport. I just received a message from Heather that she’s heading back this way. Not the way I wanted to see my daughter off. 

Having those kids (yes…I know they’re adults) made my year by coming to visit. It hurts to see them leave. I love and miss them so much. So much about their lives I’m not aware of…prompting the need for more reliable and meaningful conversations. How do I accomplish this? I’m not sure, yet.

Heather took a picture of Drew, Lauren, and myself as we stood out at the end of the Venice Pier. She says my smile in that picture has been missing for a very long time. She was happy to know it still exists. She made a note to let Drew and Lauren both know and understand just how much seeing them (even if for a short period of time) was affecting my life. I hope they know just how much they mean to me…and how much I want and need them in my life.

I think I’m just going to walk out of here. An appointment at 1:15pm for which I showed up thirty minutes early. It’s now 3:18pm and time to leave. My time is valuable as well. For those curious about the update article concerning the abdominal medical procedures that has me here today (for follow-up)…it’s still forthcoming. Editing posts on a cellphone really isn’t the most convenient method.

So many emotions. So many directions. So many unresolved issues. I’ve conquered so many demons in my life…yet daily I facing down an unrelenting army of them. So many memories and events still to be shared. God willing…I’ll be able to post more soon.

Until next time…



Wrap…Wrap…Wrap…Wrap It Up.

Yesterday, Heather and I made another trek to Tampa General Hospital (TGH). This trip was for my Upper GI Endoscopy. This procedure consists of sending a camera down my esophagus then into my stomach, pylorus, and duodenum.

My surgeon noted a moderate amount of residual food in my stomach that is consistent with a gastroparesis diagnosis. The scope was passed through the pylorus (basically the stomach’s emptying valve) and then through the first and second portions of the duodenum. No lesions were found.

The scope was then retracted to the antrum (lower part of the stomach that holds broken down food). My doctor made note of chronic gastritis and the presence of a few “diminutive sessile polyps”. He used endoscopic forceps to grab one of the polyps (biopsy) to be sent for pathological review. So you’re aware…these are usually not a problem. All of the reasons for having stomach polyps fit me to a T. Additionally, my research reveals medications use for acid control (known as proton pump inhibitors) have also been linked to the formation of stomach polyps. Right now, just wait for the pathology report and proceed as planned.

As my surgeon continued the retraction of the scope, he found no lesions in the cardia or fundus, and reported my esophagus was found to be normal. That made me really happy.

Currently, I’m scheduled to have surgery on December 5th. The planned procedures are as follows:

  • Nissen Fundoplication. The left or upper side of my stomach will be wrapped around the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and sutured in place. This creates a one-way valve that puts an end to the contents of my stomach winding up in my lungs. This issue is the cause of one of the two forms of rejection I’m currently experiencing. This form is the Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome (BOS).
  • Hiatal Hernia Prevention. My surgeon will suture my stomach and esophagus so as to prevent the possibility of any future hiatal hernias. This is when your stomach winds up in your diaphragm (organ that makes your lungs breathe in and out).
  • Pyloric Valve Opening. Due to the slow emptying nature of my stomach, the surgeon is going to create a small opening in the pylorus. He’ll suture the pyloric valve so there is a small permanent opening that will permit gastric emptying. This will prevent food from hanging around in my stomach for days at a time.
  • Umbilical Hernia. During my clinic visit with my surgeon, he identified an umbilical hernia of which I hadn’t a clue existed. He’s going to fix that while he’s at it.

The entire surgery is to be performed laparoscopically via about five entry points if he follows the methods used by Heather’s surgeon. And, yes, my wife and I will share similar surgical scars.

All of the above was scheduled and occurred starting on December 5th. And, what’s written above is the way things were supposed occur. Check out a forthcoming update article where I’ll explain the rest of the story.

Same Duck…Different Lyrics

NOTICE: Before this rant begins, a few important disclaimers. First, I am a “sinner”..and know it. Next, I know that I am far from ever being “perfect”.  Also, I know that it is not my place to “judge” others.  Lastly, even so, I know that I am a fallible “human being” and I will continue to make “observations” and “commentary” about people, institutions, etc. who profess a particular motus operandi and then deviate at will.

So, for today’s soapbox issue, I continue to observe a large majority of the Contemporary Christian Music (aka CCM) “business” just as pathetically arrogant (as in maybe a little snobbish), money motivated, and vanity ridden (otherwise tossed in with the boilerplate attitudes and song writing templates) as every other genre of today’s music industry.

Every CCM artist (and video) I watched on “YouTube” this morning was of the “Video-TV Friendly“ variety.  As in, not one Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Angus Young (AC/DC), Steve Tyler (Aerosmith), Lemmy (Motörhead), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana…Yeah Grunge), Freddie Mercury (Queen), or any other <span style=”color: #008080;”>“Pre-MTV Era-Styled” musician/artist sans Botox, perfect teeth, hair, jawlines, eyes, you name it…were to be found. One single word sums it up, “LOOKS”! Indeed it would appear, “Video Killed The CCM Radio Star” as he was going about stabbing all the other “Radio-Era” musicians in the back and changing the face (ha!…a pun!) of music forever. I’ll save that topic for a rainy day when I have nothing else to write about…yep.

If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about, before the “MTV, VH1, YouTube, Internet Video-Era” emerged, music sold to a large extent based on…well…the music itself. Many fans hadn’t a clue what the musicians looked like…nor did they care. They wanted “the music”.  And to be blunt, often times the artists behind the music were “NOT” of the “beautiful people” classification. They were, for the most part, common looking Joe’s like the majority of the human population. And of course, the “idiot tube” and “music videos” where quickly followed by an even worse abomination. Recording studios now had the tools, and skills to convert nearly any decent looking, breathing, human body into a “Superstar”. What?  You mean my favorite Top-40 artist is incapable of performing her new hit song “live”? They’re doing what? Lip-syncing? Blaspheme!

Ok Ok…, so as I dig myself out of this giant rabbit hole and get back on topic, I’d like to offer a few lines from a song released when I was about three years old (and yes, I know…out of context):

“Something touched me deep inside,
…the day the music died.”
— Don McLean’s “American Pie” (1971)

Now, over the course of a few of my previous lives, I had the opportunity to meet both secular and Christian production personalities.  These individuals, and I am referring to the Christian variety… pushing out “Music With A Message”oozed a pungent, arrogant demeanor…as if their particular occupation had somehow elevated them to an “elite level” within the Christian faith.  Basically, I am suggesting, because of their particular places of employment and activity in the music world…somehow made them…“Holier Than Thou.”  Of course, we’re all quite familiar with how these situations typically play out.  I can personally voice knowledge of at least one instance…pride did cometh before the fall.  I take no joy in this knowledge whatsoever.  In fact, as contradictory as I somewhat find myself, I prayed for them to find the strength and wisdom needed to piece their lives back together.

During my ownership of the “Red Rose Coffee House”, I made it a point to invite local CCM artists to perform at my establishment.  Yes, some who came to perform (local bands…often members from church praise & worship teams) exuded this same attitude.  I invited them into an established business I had acquired, a business with a reputation for catering to gay & lesbian clientele.  I put myself in the lion’s den, I established a Bible study, I had long conversations with my college-kid crowd(s), I built a stage and installed a PA system (“Hey Obama…guess what…I built that”).  I mention all these off-topic details, not to brag, but to establish my efforts and for a reason I feel people should know.  The pastor at a local Baptist church just over the rail-road tracks on Middle Tennessee Boulevard ordered his congregation to “stay away” from my business.  He had seen the calendar in a local college’s newspaper showing a lesbian sorority meeting up at my business.

So, I’m asking myself, how can someone sing, praise and profess such love of God, Jesus and His Eleventh Commandment…”to love one another”…and then display an attitude of, “I don’t have time to talk to some peon like you.” ? I know it has to be a tiring job touring and such…but that is the mission they chose. As such, shouldn’t they expect to be approached by their audience(s) and fan(s)? Wouldn’t you think these performers would rise to a higher standard if they’re going to preach (sing) to crowds of thousands of souls?

Music not only touches the soul,
…it is of the soul.” 
— William Turner

And yes, they do indeed preach through their music…and I can imagine people who hear these words and desperately want to discuss the subjects with the artists. When one sings of forgiveness, salvation, and the freedom Jesus Christ offers us to massive crowds…we would all pray that someone’s heart be touched.  We would pray they seek out the musician(s) who just performed and want to know more about Jesus and Salvation?

I will concede, as with every other issue on this planet, my most trivial rant does not cover 100% of the CCM performers, producers, executives, or anything…period.  There are “always” exceptions to every rule.  I should be one to know…I’ve been living life as one of this world’s “exceptions” for quite sometime (and I thank God for making each day I do).  Even so, I must confess, it breaks my heart to see such vanity, greed, and elitism running just as rampantly (…if not more) within the CCM circles as it is with every other division of the music industry.

May God bless those who walk the line of truth…and my he open the eyes and hearts of those who may be walking amongst these disciples yet are deaf to the words they hear.

Psalms 100 (NIV)
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
        It is he who made us, and we are his;
                          we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
      give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

— Bill

The Way It Is…

You know, I really don’t like writing about all the negative aspects of my life…but the thoughts loom large over me daily.  I continue to learn and utilize skills to combat the thoughts…as I will as long as I’m here on Earth.  You’ve seen the pill dispensers stocked with my cocktail of daily medications (minus  the items that don’t fit in there).

The number of doctors telling me “you’re a mess” or “you’re an extremely complicated case” seems to increase on a daily basis.

When I began writing this post, I had finished the first session with my new therapist. Yes, I’m taking several medications to combat the “major depressive disorder”, “PTSD”, “anxiety” and the host of other psychological issues I endure…but these medications are only part of what I and many others require to combat the ugly monsters in our head. One-on-one conversations with a therapist who has no pre-conceived bias or connection to my family and/or friends is the goal.

Hopefully I’m wrong, but given all the data I have…all the research (…”always” peer-reviewed studies and such)…my physical condition…my mental state…all tell me I’ve entered a new stage. This new stage in life; I’ve prayed and hoped it would “never” become reality.

My goals now focus on “damage control”. Essentially…what can I, my physicians, and unimaginable chemical cocktails do to stop the current degradation…or at best…slow it down. Yes. I would gladly accept the “miracle” returning my body to the functional level I was blessed to have enjoyed for fifteen years of my life. Even with all the bumps in the road, I am forced to admit the abundant “time” I’ve enjoyed has been a truly magnificent blessing.  A bless that so many people never had the pleasure of experiencing.

Therefore, it behoves me to focus on the positive aspects of the life I still have and set aside the thoughts that strive to strip me of joy.

— Bill

Pay It Forward…

Well, while I was paid our electric bill today (online). Just before I hit the “Submit” button (…and let me tell…when certainly submitted) I noticed a box where you could contribute $1-$5 or a custom amount to those in need of assistance with their utility bill. I tossed in a fiver. Figured, why not…given the amount I was already handing over…what’s it gonna hurt to help another out?

I’m hoping that next month someone “Pays It Forward” for the next soul in need.

— Bill