I am pretty sure I was dying today.

That is really the only way to describe it. Imagine you are experiencing the mother of all hangovers, and you’re pretty sure you fell down a few flights of concrete stairs. Also, you might have been lit on fire at some point.

Perhaps I have become the Narrator from ‘Fight Club’ and my body regularly goes around getting into bare knuckled boxing matches all over town.

I am Jack’s Concussion.

I often feel concussed. Either my head aches as my equilibrium lurches about, or it feels distinctly like someone has taken a hold of my spine through an incision in my neck and they are shaking me like a bad dog. My balance has always been pretty good, so I haven’t fallen or thrown up on myself yet.

When I say headache, though, there is no consistency. It’s a hammer strike suddenly on the side of my head, or it is elephant tusks rammed through the base of my skull, coming out above my eyebrows. Sometimes, one of my eyes is gouged out. Sometimes, all in a row, and sometimes all together. Sometimes, it won’t hurt, but that part of my brain is just gone. Answers are missing and speaking in complete sentences is almost impossible.

My spine likes to join in the fun, either aching between the shoulders or at the base. The VA intake nurse was the first medical professional in years to notice that this is affecting the strength in my right arm and my left leg. Sometimes my knees give out, but I can catch myself before I hit the ground.

None Dare Speak It’s name…

Scoliosis has been mentioned as it does appear in the family history. No one wants to say spinal damage, but there are bone spurs. Then, there was the car accident three years ago, and the fact that I am a disabled vet whose finally getting older. There was also working at any back-breaking job I could get to provide for my family.

‘This ole house is a-getting shaky, This ole house is a-getting old

So far, the answer has been to inject me with enough poison to kill every person in the city. Twice. Strangely, my body isn’t taking that well. The medication they insist on now literally leaves me drooling on myself. The one that was working stopped working when I quit smoking… You know, for my health. Without the smoking to raise my blood pressure, the medication would lower it to dangerous levels, like a toy whose battery was running out.

The FDA just put out a warning about epidurals the other day. Apparently, the tons of epidurals I have had recently could have killed me, and here, I didn’t jump ship on neurosurgery until they started talking about radiation. Silly me.

“Serious adverse events included death, spinal cord infarction, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cortical blindness, stroke, seizures, nerve injury, and brain edema,” the FDA said in announcing the warning.

“Many cases were temporally associated with the corticosteroid injections, with adverse events occurring within minutes to 48 hours after the corticosteroid injections. In some cases, diagnoses of neurologic adverse events were confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scan. Many patients did not recover from these reported adverse events.” (

I was also stuck in a traction machine that made my migraines increase from twice a week to everyday, which is where they have stayed since. That is in fact, why I left the VA system, originally, and sought help elsewhere.

So, who really knows? It seems now, in retrospect, that I should have gone back to what I have done since I was first discharged 18 years ago: ‘Suck it up and drive on, Soldier.’

“Just let go…”

When the pain is at its worst, I hear that. Not like voices in my head, but more like the realization of futility. I sit with my pain, all alone, sometimes. When I come to, I discover that I have been staring, mouth slightly open, as if in religious awe. Not to worry though, I know when these are coming because they climb up my neck, like a creeping doom, sometimes taking hours to fully blossom into a personal hell.

As always, I claw my way back for my wife and children. I so desperately, selfishly, want to grow old with them. My children are my joy. The only light I have in this darkness. My wife is the other half of my soul. The poor woman keeps dragging her own cross, and if she can keep going, then I have to keep up.

If this means that, sometimes, I am a shambling mess of pain, like some magically animated skeleton in a movie, then so be it. I do what I can.

Plus, I am afraid at this point that not enough people like me enough to carry my casket. I have to work on that, but it is hard to schedule a social life around this. Maybe the Stagehand’s Union would be willing to cut me a break on pall bearers….

Just to put this out there, I would like to try medical marijuana, as it is legal in my state, but I cannot afford to do the application even at a discounted rate. This is odd because I have had medical professionals recommend it, and it is available, but not to me, apparently.

There is no way it can be any worse for me than what has already been tried.

Plus, as a former ‘self-medicator,’ I cannot help but wonder if that is how I was able to keep this mess on the road as long as I did.

Something to think about, I suppose.

Here’s what else we’re dealing with now:

… and here is a fundraiser for my wife:

With that, here’s Willy Nelson covering Stewart Hamblin’s ‘This Old House.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s