Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Needles, oxygen and spending money

Today’s ‘Podge’ is about needles, oxygen and spending money – three subjects I know well.

Last week Tez and I received our Covid19 vaccine at Trinity Baptist Church. We were impressed with how organized and comfortable the experience was. Superbly well coordinated.

No one likes needles however during the past five years or so between two life-saving surgeries on my jaw and mouth and various Emphysema related complications I’ve endured several hundred needles if not more. This anti-virus is a minor pain prick.

My side effects were a sore arm the next day. It’s hard to know if the two days fatigue was the needle or my daily life with Emphysema. Which takes me back to the start of this column.

When it comes to life – breathing is not an option. I figured that one out a little late.

I do not pen this today for sympathy, praise or attention – except attention to my request. If you’re planning on donating money to a medical cause – please consider respiratory lung research and development. The research is vital and tragically lacking behind the fuss and focus on heart, kidneys and cancer.

Emphysema is no fun. It’s a painful, scary, long death which slowly strips away your strength, independence and – if you are not careful – lust for life.

Emphysema has four stages with number four being worst. I have been in stage four for three or four years. Some 11 years ago, just 10 days before Teresa and I were married, I was diagnosed stage two or three. Coming home and telling her was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

The news was devastating because I watched my mother die a long, lousy death from the same thing. I’m not sure I am as brave as her.

No real clear reason is known for my case. Certainly cigarettes for 15 years and occasional joints for even longer did not help. However, according to specialists nowadays smoking is not considered the only mitigating factors contributing to the nasty, fatal disease. Specialists now believe genetics and several other factors including air quality, pesticides, and diet may be very significant contributors. Short of a lung transplant or miracle there is no cure and we have declined the transplant

Regardless how I got the damn disease – here I am.

I’ve been an enigma to specialists because test numbers suggest I should have been worse off than I have. They believe a key component to my extended life has been a positive attitude, which despite today’s admission of fear and frustration is generally pretty good. My only anger is with the Federal government’s ridiculous laws and protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry that does not allow me to get the only product I’ve found that truly relieves the breathing – dried cocoa leaves for tea.

Living with (rather than dying from) emphysema for a decade – is much longer than most last. I jokingly refer to being in stage five of four. I’m on oxygen pretty much 24/7 and have a scary choking scenario happen about two or three times a day.

I’ve battled hard to remain positive, and thankful. Admittedly of late that battle has been harder and harder. The inability or struggle to literally breathe or ‘catch my breath’ is terrifying and incredibly tiring. It leads into spirals of depression, frustration and short tempered, spoiled like behaviour.

I am sometimes embarrassed by how demanding I am of friends and Tez. Not being able to breathe strips one of confidence and pride. One feels like a burden on the world.

All the more reason to try and be positive and inspiring – not just for myself but for others. True friends show themselves in these times. I still maintain I am one of the luckiest people I know. I have a great partner and some of the best friends a man could ever be honoured to know. Without their love and support (especially Teresa, Curtis Tulman, Jim Krahn, Les Thompson) it would be a lonely journey.

Thankfully I’ve also been blessed with a gusto energy in regards to enjoying life and the world as it unfolds before me. For as long as I remember I have had that spunk. I was born ready to be happy. As a kid I was up hours ahead of early and gave the sun heck for sleeping in. I move a tad slower now. lol

However, despite my attempt at a brave face, quick smile, and shrug of shoulders indicating ‘everything is okay’, everything is not. In fact I’m scared as hell, terrified in fact, despite my faith.

I tell you all of this in the hope that if you have not had a vaccination yet that you will get one.

Certainly there are some possible concerns involved with the vaccination, however I firmly believe it’s more of a solution than a problem.

Do not be a paranoid, conspiracy-theory fool. I can tell you this much – whatever bad may come from the virus it cannot be much more terrifying than gasping for air. Like a fish out of water.

I am gasping like that – so learn from me. I don’t want you to have to learn to work an oxygen machine first hand.

Do not give your lungs a chance to turn on you because you refused to get a needle.

Please, I beg you to think of yourself – and of others.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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