Anyone who has ever had a serious injury or illness that has left them bed ridden in a hospital, knows there is no place for shame or modesty. Prior to my car accident at the age of 31, I had never experienced such a stay. For the first week, I was in ICU, dosed up on meds and fed through a tube. Once I was moved out of the intensive care unit, I began to be more aware of what was going on around me. The dosage of pain medicine was reduced and the feeding tube removed. I could finally eat, though it wasn't much. When the Doctors decided I was ready to begin rehabilitation, it was then, I realized I could not move my legs. I had paralysis from the waist down as a result of spinal and peripheral nerve damage. Rather than get down about it, I put in a lot of hard work, day in and day out, over the following 3 months of my hospitalization.
My inability to walk, meant I would have to use a bed pan. I had a catheter for about a month, so I didn't have to worry about that for a while, but the first time I had to make a number two, I almost panicked. I called for a nurse and explained I needed to use the restroom. She called for an assistant, they rolled me over, stuck the pan on the bed and rolled me back on top of it. This was such a strange feeling, but one I would unfortunately get used to. I would now be sponged and wiped by 19 year old girls, 60 year old women and........Dudes!
I was repeatedly advised that I needed to be mindful of what I consumed, but I grew tired of the plain bland hospital foods they continued to serve each day. My sister, who was pregnant at the time, visited me each day, and always with a bag of Taco Bell or whatever fast food craving she had at the time. Strangely, I never really had a desire to eat any of it. Then it happened....several ladies from work offered to buy me a steak with all the delicious sides. Anything I wanted, and it was all I could think about. I could not wait for that NY strip, loaded baked potato and the buttery rolls. The salad went straight to the trash, I didn't have time or stomach space to waist on rabbit food. I waited for everyone to leave before I began to indulge. I conquered and devoured every last bite. It was absolutely amazing and I was completely stuffed. Less than 20 minutes passed before my stomach began pressing the "call for help" button. We needed a bed pan "stat"! It's always the time when you need a nurse the most, that they become the busiest. Unfortunately, my belly decided it could no longer wait. There is no worse feeling than erupting like a volcano without the ability to move, while the hot lava spills up your back. By the time the nurse arrived, I didn't have to say a word, the stench told her all she needed to know.
My Mom stayed in my room most nights. I was at the point in my recovery, where I could use a sliding board to slide out of bed and on to a portable toilet as long as I had assistance. Over the course of this particular night, I destroyed about 3 pair of shorts as I was unable to make the transfer in time. My Mom was there for each uncomfortable moment. There were times when friends would give her a break and stay with me, so I was thankful it was her there and not a friend.
The day my catheter was removed, a couple of my buddies came to visit. They sat with me in my room and watched the Cardinals game on tv. The nurse gave me a coke and told me to let her know when I felt the need to urinate. Thirty minutes or so went by, and I felt nothing. I was laying in bed with a sheet covering my gown and we were talking and joking around. One of my buddies pointed towards me and just gave me a strange look. If you've ever been to Vegas and walked by the Bellagio as Celine Dion began blaring and water shot into the sky, you'd understand what was happening to me in this moment. Out of nowhere, a huge stream with a reddish tinted fluid, came shooting out from under the sheet. I had no idea I was doing it, I didn't feel it at all. In normal everyday life, this would be embarrassing, but this kind of thing had become my norm.
I went through about three hours a day of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Many times during physical therapy, as my body was pushed and strained, it was normal for me to crop dust the therapist. It's not something I wanted to do, but it just happens. Sometimes they were odorless booty bombs, and many times they were rich, full-bodied explosions, with notes of sulfur and a hint of Cheddar cheese. Again, normally, an embarrassing moment, yet in the Hospital, just another day.
During Occupational therapy, I had to learn to use the bathroom and how to get in and out of the bathtub. I had to undress myself while in my wheelchair, use a sliding board to transfer to the tub and clean myself. While doing all of this, a young female therapist had to be there watching me. Between stage fright and the lack of manscaping, this was probably the most uncomfortable I had felt during my three month visit at Hotel Mercy.
I was released in October and left with the ability to take steps with the use of a walker. I also left with a better understanding of how to deal with life's embarrassing moments, and there would be many to come.
I hear on a consistent basis, at least twice a week, from my kids, "Dad can we go eat Hibachi or Chinese buffet?" Don't get me wrong, I love both options, however, the wallet and my stomach do not. Honestly, my family doesn't even eat enough from the buffet, for me to justify spending that amount of money. My wife, Emily, usually gets a small portion of General Chicken, some rice and a salad on one plate, then she is done. My youngest gets chicken, rice and those sugary donut things. He eats half the chicken, which he dips in sweet and sour sauce. He consumes half the rice, because the other half ends up on the table, floor and his chair. He devours the sugary donut hole looking whatchamadoodles, then proceeds to look for ice cream or anything else sweet that he can find. My middle son, will load his plate with cucumbers, carrots or any other stupid thing, which I could have fed him at home. His second trip has him throwing things on his plate without reading what he has chosen. He takes a bite of each, then pushes a full plate of food to the side, because he doesn't like any of it. He will then grab some S&S chicken and rice, eat half of it, then load his plate full of every dessert option. Again, he takes about a bite of each, and pushes the plate to the side.....and he's done. My oldest, is the only one who actually eats enough for justification of such a meal. I usually only get one plate of food finished before the evil toilet baby in my belly starts crawling through my intestines as if it were trying to escape Shawshank Prison.
The Hibachi meal is a great option, because everyone gets a lot of food and we have enough leftovers for another full lunch the next day. The problem is, with a family of five, it is expensive. It was a little less costly when the kids were younger and their meals were cheaper. I did make the mistake of trying to cheat the system once. I should have known a family meeting was necessary prior to taking a stab at executing my deceitful ploy. At that time, the kids were 4, 10 and 11. I was pretty sure kids 3 and under were free, and 10 and under were discounted. Naturally, I thought I could bump all of their ages down one, and cash in on the savings. The waitress took our orders and asked ages, to which I replied, "3, 9 and 10." Immediately, my youngest shouts out, "Dad I'm 4!" My middle child shouts out, "I'm 10 and she is 11!" My daughter, the only one who understood the scam I was trying to pull, just put her hands over her face and shook her head. The waitress just looked at me, smiled and said, "so.......4...10 and 11? Got it!" Occasionally, if I see an age related discount on a menu that I think we can obtain, I'll huddle the kids up and let them know the plan. As for now, the Hibachi restaurants are for special occasions only.
Recently, during one of the weekly Chinese buffet beg sessions, I decided to instead take them to a new Korean restaurant that I saw had opened. I had never eaten Korean food, but didn't think it could be much different than what we were used to. I've never been one to branch out and explore different ethnic foods, so neither had my kids. Although.....there was that time, a female date, insisted we eat Indian cuisine at a local restaurant. I have no tolerance for spicy foods, so I shouldn't have been surprised, when the following week, I was admitted to the Hospital with Pancreatitis, Gallstones and had to have my Gallbladder removed. I'm sure the Indian food didn't directly cause all of the above. Nevertheless, the pain I felt from the moment I ingested, digested and egested that diabolical fare, did not stop until the Doctors poked five holes in my stomach, inflated my abdomen, and sucked out my Gallbladder.
We entered the doors of this new establishment. It was a familiar place for us, because it previously had been a Mexican restaurant our family had enjoyed often. The place was very quiet, we were the only customers at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. A lady sat us at a table and took drink orders. We began looking at the one page menu. The first thing I noticed....no kids menu! I did some quick calculations.....yep this was gonna get Hibachi expensive, so it better be good. The only recognizable item I could find for the kids was teriyaki chicken. My youngest, oldest and wife ordered that. I had eaten beef bulgogi before and enjoyed it, so I figured that's what I would go with. I talked my middle son into ordering chicken bulgogi, and I would sample some of his as well. A Korean lady took our order, and said some other things which I did not really understand, so I just kind of nodded and hoped for the best. Soon after, she came out with a tray of different sides, which she began placing on the table. There were four different items, duplicated in eight dishes. My kids were used to chips and salsa or egg rolls and crab Rangoon being served prior to our meals. The look on their faces when pickled radish salad, dried seaweed and squid strips were presented, was priceless. I began taste testing each dish. I knew all eyes were on me, so if I showed any visual acknowledgement of disgust, there was no chance any of them would attempt to try any of it. I used my best poker face to choke a bite of each down. My youngest took a bite of the seaweed and without hesitation, spit it out! The middle child tried the squid, shot me a look of pure horror, then spit it out. The waitress came to the table and asked, "are you enjoying?" Emily, who is still laughing, from witnessing the torture the boys just endured, starts shaking her head no. I quickly distracted the waitress from looking in the direction of my wife, by saying how delicious it was, as I took in another painful bite of pungent pickled radish salad. I doubt she believed me once my entire face puckered, as I struggled to hold my gag reflex.
Our entrees arrived and she asked if she could remove the appetizer plates. Obviously, a quick "yes" would have been the smart and proper response, however, I had told her how delicious it was, and now felt obligated to eat it. Everyone began to dig in as I contemplated how I would make these 8 tiny plates of repulsive provisions disappear. My youngest quickly asked why there was no fried rice. "I don't eat white rice!" he says. My middle child took a few bites, then asked if he could try mine. Clearly he was not digging the chicken bulgogi. My wife and daughter slowly and silently ate their teriyaki. "I've got it!", I thought. I'll Shawshank this sh#%t to the bathroom trash, just like Andy Dufresne had done with the rocks he hammered out inside of his cell. I'll just dump some in napkins, ball them up, and send a family member to the bathroom one at a time, to ditch these vicious vittles.
As I was about to unveil my genius plan, the kids started complaining about upset stomachs. My oldest will not use a public restroom, and began to beg for us to leave. I asked if anyone wanted food to be boxed up, to which they all refused. At this point, getting rid of the apps made no sense, since we were going to leave behind 5 plates of half eaten food. Everyone loaded into the car as I paid the bill. As soon as I got into the vehicle, a wretched stench materialized under my nostrils. Not one of the three kids looked well. As I was about to ask which one of them created the smelly smog, my 6 year old erupted. It was the Coca Cola of farts, just the classic blast of stink gas. About thirty seconds later, my middle son snaked us with a minute long hissing fart which he was unable to control. It was like a deflating balloon, only with a whole lotta stank! I instantly begin to sweat, because if the food is upsetting their stomachs, I know the impending pain I'm in store for. During our 10 minute drive home, each person was calling dibs on the throne they plan to occupy once we arrive. For some reason, I still felt fine, was it possible the Korean chow would not go to war with my insides? We arrived and everyone scurried off to handle their business. I felt bad for everyone, because I knew what they were going through, but I was ecstatic that I felt fine. My daughter came out of the hall bathroom spraying a can of Ocean breeze air freshener. To be honest, it made the house smell like hot dog water and ogar butt. I went to check on my youngest who had just finished up. I sprayed a can of lemon scent freshener, which left his room smelling like Shitrus! After a couple hours and many visits to the porcelain poopers, everyone began to feel much better.
Needless to say, there will not be a second attempt at Korean food for this family.
Besides being a stay at home Dad and Caregiver to my wife, I also get my "Side Hustle" on, and drive for Lyft & Uber on the weekends. I began driving last November when Uber came to the Springfield area. I really have not had to deal with a bunch of craziness from riders up until recently. I guess people are feeling more comfortable with taking these rides than they were when these services first came to our area.
On my first night of driving, I picked up a couple of young men from a local bar. They wanted a ride home, but they also wanted to "think outside the bun", they were ready to "live mas". We went to the drive through, ordered their food and I got back on route to their destination. I was about a block from their home, when the guy in the front seat dumped his order of nachos all over the floor. He was apologetic, and gave me a $10 tip, so no big deal, I could vacuum that up pretty quick. After that, I made sure to check out the policies in case a larger mess were made in the future. I found that if someone were to vomit in my car, I could send photos to Uber, and the passenger would automatically be charged like $150 for cleaning fees.
I've been hit on by Miranda Lambert loving Cougars and pissed off, intoxicated wives. I've had twenty-somethings spewing chunks out the back window as they insist I keep driving so they can get to the next bar to meet up with that HOT guy. I've also had a female stranger jump in and demand I take her home, while picking up passengers who had requested a ride from me. That ended with my fare tossing the girls phone out the window, and as she went to retrieve it, he yelled "Go Go Go!"
All of what I have mentioned sounds a bit crazy, but over the course of 6 months, not too bad. Last Saturday around 6pm, I was sitting at home and received a ride request from a location not too far from me. There was no physical address, just a pin drop on a street near a bridge. As I neared my destination, I could not see anyone. I passed the area where I was supposed to pick up my passenger then turned around, still nobody, no house, nothing. I tried to text the person, but no response. Suddenly, I saw a guy pop up from the guard rails of the bridge, then a young lady as well. I pulled up as they walked toward me waving. In my head I was thinking, I really hope I'm not getting murdered today! They had been floating all day, their skin was burnt and they smelled like Natures Toilet. I don't know what they were floating on or where they left their raft, but they needed a ride back to their car. Fortunately, I survived, and only had to endure their foul stench.
Last night was by far the most insane evening I've had to deal with. The first guy I picked up was leaving work to go home. He worked for one of the pizza joints in Springfield. When he entered the vehicle, I detected the scent of cheese, pepperoni and the aroma of a special kind of herb. This dude had been tossing dough and dancing with maryjane all night. He was pretty calm and relaxed, so it was an easy trip. As soon as I delivered him to his destination, I received a new request from a girl named Sara. The pick up location was a place called "Friends", which is a popular karaoke bar. I pulled up near the entrance and out came a young blonde in jeans and a tiny blouse that barely covered her lovely lady lumps. She recognized my car as her Uber and for whatever reason, she began running towards me. After about 4 drunken strides, down she went, right in front of my car. I heard her say, "I'm ok, l'm ok!", then she popped up. Her right nipple had found its way out from behind the curtain, while the left bosom was center stage and putting on a show! As she stood before me, putting the ladies away, two more friends came out, one more intoxicated than the other. The three of them got in the car. Two of the girls asked me to hold on and wait for a fourth girl who was paying her tab. Sara, who was paying for the ride, says "I'm not paying to wait on that b*#ch!". One of the girls hops out and goes back in. Sara, who had just exposed herself to me, turns and says, "You seem like a normal, cool guy. Do you think my boyfriend would be ok with me bringing a girlfriend home?" Before I could give any response, out came the 3rd and 4th girl along with a 5th and 6th girl. My car seats 5 comfortably including myself, but they started jumping in. So I have 5 girls in short skirts piled on top of each other in the backseat, and one of them says, "we can't leave Stacey". Again, one jumps out and goes in for Stacey. I gathered quickly that Sara and Stacey were not besties, when Sara started calling Stacey names that made me blush! Girl #6 and Stacey come stumbling out, they walk to the back of my car, open the hatch and fall inside. Girl #5 jumps out, closes the hatch, gets in and yells, "Lets Roll Bitches!" Normally I would not allow this, but I checked the destination they entered, and it was about 1 mile away. I figured I could get them all there quickly and safely, so I started driving. Sara and Stacey instantly began screaming at each other about who knows what. Girl number 2 tells me I need to turn right at the light, which is the opposite direction from what I have as the destination. Turns out Sara put in the wrong address, and they want to go downtown. I went ahead and took them. One of the girls spilled the contents of her purse all over the back floorboard. While the ladies were trying to clean up that mess, another was puking in a plastic bag she had brought with her. The sweet stank of "Elizabeth Arden, Provocative", mixed with Vomit now filled the air. I was never so happy to get rid of seven scantily clad ladies in my life.....
My next fare was a young man. For whatever reason, he gets in and sits in the seat right behind mine. As I begin to drive, he says, "Can you scoot your seat up?". I'm thinking, dude, why don't you scoot over to the vacant spot next to you and I'll move the front seat up. Then he says, "I'm 6'3", you are gonna have to scoot your seat more." I replied, "I'm 6'4" and I feel like I'm impregnating the steering wheel, I can't move the seat anymore." He did not say anything else the rest of the trip. Not long after I dropped him off, I received my first 2-star rating..... :-(
For my next adventure of the evening, I picked up two young females from Andy B's bowling center. They were mid to late 20's and all dolled up in their party dresses. One of the ladies, who the friend kept calling CiCi, explained I would be dropping her friend off and then taking her home. They were both intoxicated, though CiCi's friend, much more so. She asked if I could take her to get a $5 box at "The Bell". Oh no, flashbacks to my first night, but I replied, "Of Course." I changed direction and went to the nearest Taco Bell, got in line, and the girl says, "No, let's just go home." So I maneuvered my way out of line and we were on our way. They were both in the backseat talking about cute boys, if the girl one of them made out with was a swinger, and if it was a good idea to drink after taking back pain medications. The next thing I know, there are two feet laying on top of my right arm which is rested upon my arm rest. The friend had taken off her heels and is in some weird laying position in the back with her bare feet touching me. I'm not trying to get a 1-star rating tonight, so I just moved my arm and continued. We arrived at the friends home, they both get out and CiCi says she will walk the friend to the door and be back. These ladies made it about 3 feet, and the friend was down in the grass. CiCi tried to help her friend up, but it just wasn't happening. I had to get out and pull the girl to her feet. They somehow managed to get in the house, I delivered CiCi home safely and called it a night. I decided I'd let someone else deal with the nuttiness of the night.
I just purchase a dash cam which I really need to install. These stories would be so much better with video!
Tuesday was finally the last day of school for my kindergartener and 6th grader. My 7th grader has her last day of Summer school this Friday. I've gotta say, I'm ecstatic that I will no longer have to get up around 6:45am, and can sleep in, until 8, when Emily is ready to get up.
For about the past month, whenever that alarm screams at me to rise, I've been a complete zombie. I literally get out of bed, slip on some sandals, yell "load up" and take the kids to school. This is a complete gamble on my part, because the kids are usually not ready at all. Ive had to turn around several times to retrieve items like backpacks, socks, chrome books and lunch. Since about May 23rd, I've been shuttling the kids to school in the same outfit I roll out of bed in, which is my boxer shorts and a t-shirt. One morning last week, the boys were upset because they didn't have time to eat breakfast. I thought I would be the good Dad, and swing by the convenience store to grab them donuts on the way to school.
I dropped my daughter off to school first, then
pulled into the Caseys General store parking lot. My youngest asked, "Dad what are you doing?". I explained that I was gonna grab breakfast for them. I pulled into a spot up front, opened my car door and slowly got out. I could hear some giggling from the boys in the back seat. I figured they were playing one of the silly games they seem to wanna play way too early in the morning. I shut the door and walked into the store. I looked towards the case filled with sugary treats, and suddenly realized......oh no.....I had forgotten my glasses at home. I had gotten out of bed and failed to put them on. What an idiot!!! I'm standing there squinting, trying to figure out which delicious delights I would treat my children to, when I heard a strange voice behind me. "Did you lose your pants?", a man asked? I looked behind me to see who he was talking to and what moron was walking around without pants. As I turned towards the strange voice, I happened to look down. Oh no.....holy sh!@t!!! I was the imbecile the voice was talking to. I had completely forgotten I strolled out of the house in my undies. I've gotta believe, if my daughter were still in the car, she would not have let me exit the vehicle. My boys on the other hand, they could care less. They just thought it was Dad's newest attempt at humor.
There I am in my old, red, Adidas t-shirt, and my bright blue, striped, boxer shorts. I have a few pair that have the button on the front to keep the barn door shut. This particular pair of "Fruit of the Loom's" did not have the button. I was one awkward movement from letting the turtle poke its head out of its shell. For all I know, it had already gotten a peak. I did not say a word to the man, or anyone else, I just turned and walked out as quickly as I could. I got back into the car where my youngest was quick to point out that he wasn't the only forgetful one.
A week or so earlier, I was rushing to get the boys to their games. My 6 year old had gotten dressed, got into the car, and rode all the way to the fields before realizing he had no shoes on. Obviously, I was frustrated that I had to go back home to get his shoes. He had remembered this, and was letting me know about it.
Needless to say, I've made sure to get myself properly dressed in the morning since.
I am a model!
I am not long and lean with large muscles to coddle.
I am a man of consistency,
for I have two boys who's eyes are always on me.
You won't see me inside some fashion magazine, full of blather and twaddle,
but you may rest assured, I am a model.
I am a father to a beautiful, teenaged girly,
I'm a representation of what her future husband should be.
To three wonderful children, I am a Dad and role model.
The love and joy they provide to me, brings a warmth I wish I could forever bottle.
Today's story is not one of joy or happiness, it's not a fantastic anecdote about the antics of my children, or a sweet narrative about my wife. This is an account of great pain and angst. By no means, will this be for the faint of heart.
We have all been there at one time or another, though few of us ever want to admit or talk about it. It's that unfortunate situation, while away on vacation, when you leave the friendly confines of your local eateries, for all those exotic unfamiliar restaurants you just have to try.
This particular trip I'm about to tell you about, happened a few years ago. A couple of buddies and I flew out to Vegas for a few days in March to watch some college hoops, play poker and relax. This was not our first time in Sin City, though it seems there is always something new each time I go. On this trip, they were remodeling the old Imperial Palace Hotel, which is now, The Linq Hotel & Casino. My buddy Ben, had some weird fascination with a new restaurant he had heard about or saw on some food network tv show. From the moment we landed, Ben would seriously not stop talking about this place. He had the type of infatuation and obsession some men normally reserve for Sapphire Club or Spearmint Rhino, while in Vegas. The restaurant he so eagerly wished to visit, was a place called, "Hash House A Go Go".
The third member of our trio, was a friend of mine I had known since our school days, in Buffalo Mo. Brent and I new immediately, we needed to make a plan as to when we would visit this establishment, or Ben would drive us crazy. We all decided we would wait and go the following day for brunch. We would spend the rest of that evening watching the college basketball tournament, playing Black Jack and poker.
A few weeks before our trip, I had been prescribed a new medication for type 2 diabetes. I had been having some problems with it upsetting my stomach, but I had kinda figured out what types of foods I should stay away from. If I knew I might be eating something questionable or greasy, I would counter the issue with Imodium AD about 2 hours before the feast. I had packed those pills in my bag for just that occasion.
We of course, stayed up really late and overslept. This did not matter in the least to Ben. We had a designated time to drop by this food operation, and we would not be allowed to alter our agreement in any way. We had about an hour to get ready and get a cab to our destination. I took 2 Imodium and prayed they would do their job on short notice.
We arrived at "The Linq", and found our way to Ben's passion pit. His lust and yearning for this place, had reached its ultimate peak. I'm not sure if what I saw was a tear or a bead of sweat rolling down his face, but he was moist nonetheless. The place was packed as expected, so we had a bit of a wait. This gave me the opportunity to scout out the place, and figure out my plan of attack, should my stomach decide to have an altercation with what I was about to introduce to it. We had taken an elevator up to the second floor which opened up into the restaurant. I looked around and was unable to see any restroom signage. I looked for an employee to ask, but they were slammed and unavailable. Oh well, I felt fine, so I would just ask the waitress once we were seated.
Our hostess sat us and our waiter was there to help us relatively quick. As he took our drink orders, I asked him where the men's room was located. His response left me a little nervous. There was no restroom there, but down the elevator, on the first floor, there was. With rising internal fear, I asked him specifically where it was that I would need to go in case of an emergency. I was a few years removed from my auto accident, and walk, as I still do, with a cane. I am not able to run, jog or walk with hurried intent. My walk is pretty much the same regardless of the situation I'm in. As I listened to the directions he gave, and the corrections he made while giving said directions, I looked at Ben and Brent, with hope, that they knew what was said. Brent and I ordered our OJ and coffee while Ben ordered some ridiculous hot chocolate, with arousing exhilaration! The waiter left our table, and I asked if either of them knew where the bathroom was located. Ben said he understood the directions and knew exactly where to go. I felt a little better and was ready to open up the menu and see what all the fuss was about.
We watched as other folks were served their delicious meals. The serving size of some of these collations was insane! I saw a plate of chicken and waffles that had to be two feet tall. I located a stuffed burger and fries on the menu that had my mouth watering and stomach rumbling. With all the action the night before, I had not eaten at all, I was starving. The waiter brought our beverages and took our orders. We sat and watched Ben drink his bowl of hot glutinous chocolate fluid, as we anticipated the entrees we were about to be graced with.
It had arrived! What a sight to behold. This burger was massive and the fries were golden, crunchy and well seasoned. This was not a hamburger you pick up and take a chomp out of, no, this bad boy had to be cut into, and eaten like a steak. As I penetrated through this massive mound of meat, the cheese spilled out and I could not wait for that first bite. The combination of flavors along with the cheesy filling inside each of the two beef patties was everything I had hoped for. My stomach barked at me with excitement, begging for more. I was happy to oblige. I inhaled a few fries and followed them up with another fork full of that juicy burger.
Two bites......just two bites, that's all it took for the brawl in my belly to begin. Apparently, the two bouncers I had hired an hour and a half earlier, to help protect my stomach, were no match for these two beefy blokes. Everything I had been worried about, was now coming to fruition. Ben happened to look up and see the panic in my eyes as my skin began to turn a pale white. "What's wrong? Are you ok?", he asked. I explained to both of them, I was gonna have to get to the bathroom, and asked Ben again, "are you sure you know where the men's room is located?". He assuredly let me know that he did.
My lack of leg function does not allow me to just hop right out of my seat. There is a lot of pushing, pulling and strain, along with the use of my cane and any second sturdy object to get my then 265 lb. body (I'm now 240, thank you) to a standing position. On my first attempt, I immediately sat back down. It was evident that the bouncers were trying to throw those beefy bros out the back door, and fast! I could feel beads of sweat building upon my brow. I frantically told Ben and Brent to find an employee, any employee, and ask if they had a wheel chair available. In my mind, there was no way I was standing up, my best bet was to slide into a chair, and be pushed to the nearest bathroom. No luck, they did not have a wheelchair available. The perspiration is now visible on my arms and I can feel it puddling in my armpits. I just know I'm gonna explode right there, in front of all these people, inside a packed house.
The same disability and weakness I have in my legs, also prevents me from tightly closing and locking the back door if you know what I mean. I came up with a new plan. This time I would have Ben stand behind me as I rose, and act as a shield for the pending disaster. He agreed, and I somehow successfully made it upright. I now had to depend on Ben to get me to the elevator, down to the first floor, and into the bathroom as quick as possible. Brent stayed behind as we made the journey. We made our way to the elevator and with only a slight delay, made our way down. The doors opened, and Ben told me to go left. We walked and walked and walked some more. "Where is the bathroom Ben?", I worriedly shouted. I told him to go ahead of me and see if we are getting close. At this point, I'm hurting, I mean I am a minute or two away from redecorating the walls of this endless hallway. Ben returns, and tells me there is no bathroom in that direction. My heart sinks. I now have to backtrack, then go the other direction and try to find a men's room which neither of us know the location of. I bark at Ben to please go find the damn bathroom as I try to walk with the knowledge that at any point, I'll be single handily shutting this Hotel down for cleaning. He rushes down the hall and back to me. "I found it!", he says. "But......", why is is there a but? I'm doing everything to control my butt, I don't need another! "But, its up some stairs and I don't see an elevator.", he tells me. This can't be happening. At that very moment, my stomach screams out.....actually more of a roar, and people walking by, can hear it. I began to panic, as the back hatch was about to blow open. I needed to sit but there were no seats or benches around. The only thing I could think to do was back that azz up, as the rap artist, "Juvenile", would say. I pressed my hind quarters against a wall, bent forward and leaned heavily on my cane. I assume that all of the people who walked by starring just thought I was another drunk tourist about to puke. The wall worked, I was able to barricade the rear exit. This bought me the extra time I desperately needed. I continued on my way with the direction of Ben, and we made it to the stair case. I could see the men's room, sitting atop the 6 steps I needed to navigate, while carrying a ticking time bomb. As I took each painful step, clothes drenched in sweat, I felt like an Olympic distance runner, closing in on the finish line. I made it! Ben went in and found an empty stall and held it for me. The kind of relief I felt when I sat down to make that dirty deposit, was unlike anything I have ever undergone. To this day, I have no idea how I was able to make it without a disastrous outcome.
Ben and I returned to our table inside Hash House A Go Go, ready to finish the meals we had only began to enjoy. The table, however, was empty. Our plates were gone and Brent was nowhere to be found. Ben had a sad, puppy dog look on his face. The brunch he had desired for so long, had been lost. We then saw Brent come off the elevator, he had been searching for us. "Did you have them box our food up?", Ben asked. "No, I thought you guys were finished." Brent said. "Finished? I only had a couple bites.", Ben explained, with disbelief in his voice. I guess Brent had begun to feel uncomfortable sitting alone at a table while employees wondered when he would cough up the space for other patrons. He paid the tab and left to see where we were and what had taken us so long.
To this day, Ben still bitches about not being able to finish his food. I no longer eat at any restaurant without knowing where the closest restroom is located, and Brent no longer goes on trips in which Ben is included.
Over the course of my 41 years, I've met a lot of great people with fantastic fashion sense. I've known both men and women who enjoy shopping and trying on clothes and always look fabulous. My wife, prior to her accident, was someone who always looked great. Her outfits, shoes and accessories just clicked. She would sometimes come home from shopping and show me things individually, and I'd think, who would wear that? Days later she would come out of the room with that very outfit on, and look stunning. I was always amazed.
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a shorts and t-shirt kinda guy. I wear shorts year round. I prefer a comfortable pair of athletic shorts rather than cargo or jean shorts. When Em and I got married, I owned a few pair of old jeans which immediately went to the trash. They were not even donation worthy because of the age and holes in them. She purchased 3 new pair of jeans for me from some designer I'd never heard of. They certainly did not come from JCP or Gordmans, but these "7 for all mankind" jeans were pretty comfortable. Over the course of the past 7 years, I've probably worn each of the 3 pair of jeans approximately seven times. They are still the only 3 pair of jeans I have.
I would have hoped that my 13 year old daughter would have picked up on Em's fashion sense, however it did not happen. She has a closet full of cute clothing and shoes that came from her Mom's closet or that I went out and bought for her. Rather than learn from Emily's fashion sense, she chose to go the route of her ole Dad......t-shirt and shorts, and the same old pair of Nike shoes, every day. I mean I guess I can understand it, and it would be fine, if only she could understand that a lime green shirt does not go with Forrest green shorts. She has a rotation of about 5 outfits that she will wear day after day, week after week. At one point, as these outfits came through the laundry, I'd wash them, then hide them. She never questioned where her clothes went, nope......she selected her new rotation of 5 outfits to wear out. The one thing she wants to wear all of the time, are high heels. "Dad, can I wear heels to school?", "Dad, can I wear heels to church?", "Dad, can I go to Wal Mart with you and wear my heels?". I'm like, I don't want to be caught on one of those "people of Wal Mart" videos, walking around with a 13 year old, wearing a bright red Nike shirt, neon pink Adidas shorts and purple high heels. I never let her wear heels to school. I just don't feel like it's appropriate in junior high, and maybe I'm wrong, but that's just where I stand.
There was a seventh grade awards ceremony a month ago or so. She had no idea I was going to show up. She actually left the house dressed in an outfit that was completely out of her normal rotation. I just assumed she wanted to look cute, knowing she might get up in front of everyone for an award. After the ceremony, I went to find her. Naturally, she had "borrowed" a pair of high heels from a friend, who told her she "needed" to wear those shoes with that outfit. I know with a teenage daughter, I'm gonna have to pick and choose the appropriate times to fight some battles. I guess as long as she keeps her cheeks in her shorts and cleavage hidden away, I can deal with the heels.
My boys are a complete mess. I'll start with the 12 year old. He is the smallest in his class. In fact, if he were not over the age of 7, according to Missouri Law, he would have to travel in a booster seat. He does not meet the height or weight requirements for someone seven or under, to travel in a car without a booster seat. Emily, at times, will fold laundry and send the clothes of our 6 year old, to his room. A-train will come out of his room some mornings, wearing his size 10 shirt, which still looks way too big on his small frame, and a size 6 pair of athletic pants that belong to his six year old brother. On at least one occasion, he made it out of the house and went to school in this ensemble. I somehow missed it in the chaos of our morning. When I picked him up from school, and noticed the pants were proudly showing off his ankles, I asked him why he wore them. He said "they were in my closet, so I figured they were mine." I've come to realize that if I do the boys' laundry too often, they just grab the pants or shorts that are on top, or the shirt that was hung up last. That means they could and have wore the same attire multiple times a week. For whatever reason, A-train has an issue with seasonal dressing. The kid will try to wear shorts and a t-shirt to school in January, but when it's May and June, he is in a long sleeve shirt and pants.
Neither of the boys know how to use a comb, though his answer for this, is to drench his hair in water, move the hair to the side with his hand and let it air dry. He rides to school in the morning with water dripping down his face.
My youngest absolutely hates clothes. If it were up to him, he would go to school in underwear. When he gets home from school, his clothes immediately come off. If I know there is a repair man coming by the house, or someone we don't know, I have to beg him to put clothes on. If someone rings the doorbell, he is the first one to go sprinting to the door......in his undies! I can not get him to understand the difference between athletic pants, athletic shorts, jeans or cargo shorts. They are all just pants to him. His favorite color is green, so he constantly wants to wear his green shirts. Again, if I wash these shirts too often, he will wear them multiple times within a week. The socks.....don't get me started on the socks. Not a single one of my 3 kids will wear matching socks. At least once a month, I'll go through and put their socks together so they all match. Within days, they are wearing mismatched socks.....I don't get it!
My beautiful wife Emily, who used to have to get up at 5am to get herself ready to be to work by 8am, is a completely different person since her traumatic brain injury. She no longer has that desire to spend all that time to look a certain way. The first time she tried putting on all of her makeup before we went out to dinner, it was a disaster. She was so proud that she had taken the time to apply her own products. It was hard for me to have to tell her we needed to take it off. I tried to help her and convinced her to use just a foundation and some eye liner. I had no clue what I was doing myself. I had to set up an appointment to visit a woman who worked at a cosmetic counter in the mall. We both got a lesson in cleansing, moisturizing and applying makeup. Thankfully, Em caught on quick, and does a great job on her own now.
Before her accident, Em wore XS and small clothing. She was tiny, and her walk in closet was jam packed full of it. She would continue to try to wear her old XS outfits that looked amazing on her 35 lbs ago. It got to the point where I'd ask her to change one XS shirt and she would come back with another. She would get frustrated with me and didn't understand why I was asking her to change. I was probably the least qualified person to shop for a woman who dressed so magnificently, but I had to go out and buy her a new wardrobe. There would be no Nordstrom or Bloomingdales, now she has a closet full of JCP, Gordmans and TJ Maxx. I moved much of her old clothes to my daughters closet or packed it away. Em is in a place mentally, where she is no longer concerned with the name brand or price on the tag, so she is happy with what I buy her. Just like my children, she now struggles with matching colors and not clashing.
I never would have imagined, in a million years, that I would become the "fashion police", in this family of 5. My only goal, is to ensure that our family or any member of it, does not wind up on a "people of Wal Mart" video, in some hideous costume they put together, for all of Facebook to see.
Growing up as a kid, my favorite meal that my Mom made was Spaghetti, closely followed by hamburger patties with mashed potatoes and gravy or Russian Chicken. My Mom, by her own admission, wasn't the greatest cook. I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line, she picked up a recipe book directly from Campbells, and their Cream of Mushroom Soup Department. I swear every meal excluding my top three favorites, were made with COM soup. Nevertheless, we always ate what we were served for dinner. I still get grossed out by the thought of green bean casserole.
Growing up in the '80's, my brother and I were less than two years apart and we didn't have all the cool things my kids have to play with these days. We spent most of our days outside creating games to keep us occupied. But boy, we sure did fight a lot. I'm not talking about arguments or little spats. I'm talking about epic battles that usually ended in bruises and blood. I can think of two occasions which could have ended much worse if our aim was a little better. One time we were fighting about something at lunch and I smacked my brother upside the head. He picked up a butter knife, so I took off running. That knife went whizzing by my head and through the laundry room door. Close call! The other time, we were playing one on one basketball in our tiny bedroom with one of those hoops that hang over the door. It was rare that this activity did not end in a fight. On this day, my brother ended up punching me. As soon as he did it, he knew he was in trouble. He was scrambling to get away from me. He was much smaller and quicker than I was, so I picked up a shoe and threw it at him. I missed! The shoe went through the window.
There was one instance when we were like 4 and 5 years old in which I did not miss. My Grandparents had chicken coops on their farm that we liked to play in. One day, my brother thought it would be fun to lock me inside the coop, which completely freaked me out for whatever reason. I was screaming and crying. I guess he felt bad, unlocked it, and took off running. Again, he was much smaller and faster than I, so I grabbed a glass bottle which was laying on the ground and launched it towards him.......direct hit! Blood running down his face, he went screaming and crying to Mom. I honestly don't know how my parents dealt with our constant fighting. There were spankings, which worked for a while, but there came a point where Mom would spank us and we would laugh about it. The belt was scary at first, but after a couple of times, it didn't hurt either. They could ground us from playing outside, but that was only punishment to them.
Now that I am a Father of 3 and the family cook, I try to mix things up. I am fortunate that I can google recipes rather than look off a Campbells, COM soup recipe book. I just realized I should probably stop referencing cream of mushroom soup as "COM soup"! Emily and all the kids have different tastes and likes and dislikes. Em really doesn't like anything with ground beef except tacos, yet the only meals my kids love and agree on are meatloaf, meatballs, spaghetti with meat sauce and hamburger patties & potatoes. My daughter doesn't like pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches or fish. My middle son won't eat most chicken dishes, soups or mac n cheese. My youngest is the pickiest of all, and is hard to please. Early on, once I started doing the cooking, I made a rule, if you don't eat your dinner, you don't get dessert. On most evenings, dessert is picking a piece of candy out of the candy dish, or something simple. However, on those days that one of them decide they can not eat their meal, I reserve those nights for outings to Braums, DQ or Andy's. Yes, I'm kind of an ass, I know. I get some joy in watching the one child suffer as the other two gleefully eat their delicious treats. I normally order an extra and save their dinner plate, so when we get home, they have the option to finish and get dessert.
I'm thankful there is a 6 year age difference between the boys, though they still fight. My eldest daughter just tries to annoy the boys. I never want to spank the kids, however there have been times. I've tried to come up with creative ways to punish them for their wrongdoings, sometimes they work and most of the time they really do not. When nasty filthy things come out of their mouths, most of which, they probably heard from me at some point, they get to swish with a little apple cider vinegar or have a taste of vanilla extract. They pretty much dread those punishments. Another thing I've started is the job jar where they get to draw a chore out of the jar. It's filled with fun things like cleaning toilets, cleaning blinds or baseboards and mopping floors. I'm probably gonna have to remove the "cleaning toilets" job from the jar, since it has become my youngest son's weekly punishment. The kid wakes up at least twice a week, and acts as if the bathroom is on fire, and he has the hose to put out the flames! There is nothing worse than sitting on a wet toilet seat!!
All three of the kids have some sort of device. They watch shows and listen to music on them. There are times when I can here something different blasting on all 3 at one time, and have to get on to them to turn the volume down. Five or ten minutes go by, and the volumes are all back up. If I have to get on to them a second time, I'll find an episode of Barney or Backyardigans for them to sit and watch. My middle child will refuse to look at the screen. He will lay on the couch and stare a whole through the ceiling. Strangely, my youngest and the oldest seem to start to enjoy the show.
There are also those times when they have the headphones on, and the sound on max volume, so when I speak to them, they don't have a clue. In this circumstance, I excitedly get to pull out the old Bee Gees, Billy Joel or George Michael CD's for them to listen to. Please don't judge me for owning them. If I feel like they are not getting the proper anguish from listening to "Stayin' Alive" or "Uptown Girl", I'll show off some sweet dance moves and some horrible lip syncing as well. Once my pelvic area gets to thrusting, it's all over.......mission accomplished!
No parent likes to have to punish their kids or have to force them to eat things they really don't like, but there are ways of getting some enjoyment from it when necessary.
There was a time when I viewed the cutting of the grass as a chore. I absolutely dreaded it, I hated pushing the mower as I sweat under the intense rays of the sun. I hated getting grass in my eyes, dealing with mosquitoes, running out of gas halfway through, and at times having run ins with snakes and other creatures that would startle me. When I moved into my new home back in '09, I purchased one of those zero turn mowers. The house was on an acre lot, and after my accident, I was no longer able to push one around anyway. Cutting the grass on a riding mower only made this chore slightly more tolerable. It was still hot, still got grass in my eyes, live by a pond and even more mosquitoes to deal with, still run out of gas halfway through and now we have birds that build nests on the ground, so they attack me when I get too close. What kind of freaking bird builds a nest on the ground?
As the years went by and two kids became three, I found myself in desperate search of a quiet retreat within the home. I needed a place where I could go to relax for small periods of time. Emily could always tell when I was getting stressed and needed a moment. She would tell me to go upstairs, relax and she would take care of the kids, or go hang out with the guys for a while. As I've stated in the past, I instantly had two kids for the first time once we were married. It was a huge adjustment for sure. Emily was used to the constant chaos of young kids and she was a terrific Mother.
At the end of 2014, Em took a job which was highly stressful and her hours had her working most evenings past our kids' bedtime. I had to step up and take on more of a responsibility. I was now getting the kids from school, cooking, helping with school work and doing more of the household chores. I began to find that a couple hours on the mower each week was a good break away from the constant chaos.
After Emily's accident and her traumatic brain injury, I took on an even greater role, a role as a single parent. I have gained so much respect for all those parents out there taking on such a challenge. There is no such thing as finding a quiet oasis, or getting a little "Me time" anymore. Just this evening, I excused myself from the dinner table to use the bathroom. I made the mistake of using the restroom closest to the kitchen. For the kids, this meant they could try to carry on conversations with me while I tried to do my business. My middle child yelled out, "Dad, are you gonna drop the kids off at the pool?" My youngest followed that up with, "Dad, are you going to Brown Town?" After all the laughter settled, Emily yelled, "ok, we have a problem!" She said, "(Little H) is begging me for my rolls......(pause).....never mind!" See, if I leave the table while Em is still eating, my youngest will try to negotiate for the food on her plate that he actually likes to eat.
I could have went to use a restroom further away, however past experience has taught me that if I do that, they will come find me to ask who has to do the dishes, who has to sweep the floor, can they have dessert now rather than later or which container they should put leftover potatoes in?
I tried taking a bath to relax and find some peace and quiet. This actually works well when it comes to the oldest children, however the youngest seems to believe this is the only time he should get in the bath. If I tell him he can get out when I'm done, he checks on me every two minutes. If I tell him to leave the bathroom, he stands in the bedroom and talks to me or begs to put the dog in the bath with me. By the time I get all the kiddos settled and in bed, I'm pretty much exhausted and ready to crash. Emily, who usually takes several naps during the day, likes to stay up and watch Big Bang Theory and Fallon. No matter how tired I am, I am just never able to sleep with a tv on. I've actually tried taking a bath at this point in the night, but my oldest is usually the last to bathe each evening. She takes 30 to 45 minute showers and leaves no hot water. I'm pretty sure she practices karaoke and her dance moves while she is in there. I normally get to sleep around 11:30 once Fallon is over and the tv goes off. My sleep is interrupted a couple times in the middle of the night by Emily turning on a light so she can eat a bowl of cereal in bed, or I get a tap on the shoulder and her asking if I can solve her Wheel of Fortune puzzle she's playing on her phone. I am then up at 6:30 am to get the kids ready and get another day started.
These days, I truly look forward to putting on my wireless headphones so I can listen to my favorite '90's tunes, while I take that glorious and peaceful drive around the lawn on my Yard Yacht. If I go slow enough, I can stretch it out into a 2 hour joy ride. Just me and my old buddies.....Vanilla, Prince, Bon Jovi, Garth and Young MC. I get one hundred and twenty minutes without Bruno Mars, Selena Gomez or Katy Perry. One time, one of those kids tried flagging me down as I was jamming to the smooth sounds of "summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, while Carnival cruising around the yard. Obviously, it had to be an emergency? Surely, someone lost a finger or set the house on fire....right? No, just needed to know if they could have bacon for breakfast the next morning, and also, they were out of tooth paste. I immediately conjured up the scariest death stare I could muster, and pointed my finger towards the house. I didn't remove my headphones or say a word, but I had gotten my point across. This was now "my time" and only an emergency that included blood or fire, would get me away from the sanctuary that was my grass cutting catamaran.
Just in the course of trying to write this, I've been asked to get a box of cereal down from the top shelf, fix the tv, if I know where a specific toy is located, did I wash a baseball jersey, did I fix the Wii and.......do boy ducks have a penis! It is non-stop around here and I wouldn't change it for the world, just as long as I can get those 2 hours a week on my mower.
In November of 2015, two days before Thanksgiving, I almost lost my wife Emily, who was in a horrible auto accident. My then 4 year old son and I were both home sick. I had dropped my older children off at school, we returned home, took meds and crashed. While I slept for a couple hours, I received messages from the Hospital and the School. I called the Hospital and was told I needed to get to the Hospital in a hurry because there was a good chance my wife would not survive her head injury. I was so sick! I was trying to get information from Doctors, while also rushing to the bathroom to vomit. My body finally gave out, and I literally stepped out of the restroom, took a few steps and passed out. From what I gathered, the men's room was near the elevators, and when I went down, my head slammed into the elevator door. I was taken to an emergency room where they checked me out thoroughly and gave me fluids. After a few hours, I felt much more able to handle what would be 2 weeks of almost no sleep.
Emily made it through night one. She was in a coma and on a ventilator for about a week.
Characteristics of coma
She transitioned to a vegetative state for the next three weeks. The Doctors were talking about getting her into a long term care facility or nursing home, because she was no longer progressing enough to get her into an inpatient rehab facility. Scary stuff!!!
Characteristics of the vegetative state
I was given a list of long term care facilities that our Insurance would accept, and was supposed to decide where to send my wife. That evening, while I was with my kids, I received a call from my Sister in law, that Emily spoke. I rushed back to the Hospital to see her. I walked in, grabbed her hand and leaned down to tell her I loved her. She looked up at me and responded, "I love you." Over the next several days, she began to progress so much, they called Mercy Rehab Hospital to come back and re-evaluate Em. Sure enough, they said they could accept her and within a couple days she was transferred. Once there, she made such amazing strides. The nurses and therapists there were amazing and Emily's strength and work ethic were incredible.
I now needed to learn how to care for Emily when it would be time for her to return home. Beyond what I would learn at the facility, I was constantly online reading articles. I went to some group TBI support meetings with others who had gone through what I was experiencing. Michael Harris and the Grey Matters Fund of Springfield MO are amazing people. Lost and Found Grief Center in Springfield, were also a huge help for the kids and I.
Having Em back home and being her Caregiver, has taught me a lot about my own resilience, patience and the complex nature of love.
There is a fine line between pushing her to do more, but not pushing her to do too much. She still needs plenty of sleep which is good for her continued brain recovery. Emily can easily get frustrated, which is part of suffering a traumatic brain injury. I usually try to defuse her anger or frustration with jokes, but when that doesn't work, I've learned to take a step back and excuse myself by saying, "hold on, I need to use the bathroom." Once I come back, she has usually settled down, and things are fine. Two or three times a day, she will intently walk towards me and say, "ok, we have a serious problem!" About 99% of the time, the serious problem is that there are no clean cereal bowls, or we are out of creamer for her coffee, or the batteries are dead in the Wii remote.
I want her to get back to being a functioning parent, which means housework, cooking and all that goes along with it. She still gets confused and forgets things, so I've gotta watch her, but I don't want her to feel like I'm constantly over her shoulder. When Em does the laundry, we all end up finding articles of clothing in our closets that belong to someone else. On multiple occasions Emily has emptied an entire load of dirty dishes and I've had to go find them and reload the dishwasher. Her response is usually "What were you thinking? Why didn't you start the dishwasher?" One time she tried putting cinnamon in mashed potatoes, but at least she wanted to attempt to cook for us.
Besides the memory loss and confusion at times, Emily also lost her sense of smell and is unable to produce tears when she is upset or sad. She has a blind spot when looking to her left, which will probably prevent her from ever driving again. This obviously puts a lot more pressure on me to get her and our three kids everywhere they need to be. I will say, I've met some fantastic people who have helped me out so much with this. Parents of classmates and teammates and past teachers of my children have been an amazing help to me and my family.
When Em really get to laughing, she struggles to control her bladder. This can get extremely frustrating when we try to play games or when we are in a hurry to get somewhere. There are times when she has to change her clothes 2 or 3 times because I'm yelling at the kids and saying crazy things to get them all ready to go. This always causes her to laugh. I get frustrated, but it's just part of it. It's all about adjusting. One time after one of my daughters games, we went out to eat. Obviously, I said something funny, and Em lost it. I had one of the kids get some paper towels so we could clean up the seat. We then formed a family train and walked out in a single file line, so that people could not see her wet pants. I now try to make sure I've always got a change of clothes for her at all times.
Being a caregiver can be an adventure, it can be frustrating and exhausting, but then so is being a parent and a spouse. The only real difference is I work harder to improve myself so I can be the best for those that depend on me.