By Charlie Hodge.
My personal pity party began as most normally do. I had allowed a few minor irritants to slide into a spoiled, frivolous frenzy.
My steak was too tough.
Certainly when one spends more than their hourly wage for a meal there is expectation their food will be eatable. Just a few days before I had deliriously devoured a beautiful, choice prime cut piece of steak at the Cactus Club with little problem and multiple moans of satisfaction. (In fact Tez told me to lower my volume as I sounded like I was having an orgasm not dinner).
Certainly I had reason to be thrilled at the Cactus chow down since it was the first steak consumed in four years. A rare life threatening bone disease had resulted in two major jaw and four other oral surgeries. I now have a titanium plate for a jaw, supported by bone from my leg, four teeth in the upper mouth for structural purposes, and less than 25 percent feeling in my tongue and face. Since then I dreamed of someday eating steak again when my gums toughened up enough to try. Recently I took a chance at Cactus Club and it worked. So I pushed my luck yesterday at an unnamed local pub and went for a steak sandwich. Not a chance.
Naturally I bitched and complained about how unfair life was until Tez reminded me how thankful I should be that I’m able to eat anything. She recalled how I went 22 days without a sip of water due to the tracheotomy and various feeding tubes.
My myopic meltdown or major temper tantrums was put on hold – until last night.
One of my Vital Air heroes who supply oxygen tanks, tubes, and other equipment showed up with replacement tanks. (Important for a guy in stage four of four emphysema). I complained about how the 50 air tubes often kink up and not work well. He rummaged through his truck and found a plastic swivel which he thought might help.
He left, I put it on, no change. I still get enough air however it could be better. I fumed a little bit. Then I allowed the frustration to overcome me and once again slipped into bitch and complain mode.
I decided perhaps it was time to head to the garage stuffed full boxes of junk and a beer fridge. Main focus being the beer fridge. I grabbed my portable air tank and trundled out to the chaos. Earlier that day dear buddy James the Painter created some shelving spaces – allowing me to organize much of the material stuffed in boxes.
The first box I spotted was the wakeup call I needed.
It was the same box I’d been looking at 11 months ago when attempting to sort through stuff however wound up in the hospital. By pure luck I had a lung specialist appointment on that fateful day and cut my work in the shed short in order to see the specialist. He put me in emergency and on life support that night. For three days I stick handled in and out of the dead zone because of C02 poisoning.
Staring at that box again reminded me how lucky I am to be breathing at all. How quickly we forget how lucky we are to have what we have.
Without my specialist, wife, and helpful caring friends I would not be alive. Mental meltdowns about silly little things like ‘better, more convenient tubes’ and eating steak really don’t matter. I will take a kinked up tube anytime over the alternative of being dead.
As I looked around the shed I suddenly saw the potential for hours and hours of each box turning into a treasure trove, a time trip, a reason of joy. All because I have a portable air device and the health to be able to even sort through it all. That makes me a lucky and thankful man.