This blog, “Birth of a Book” was my way of showing you how I organized my thoughts to write my first memoir, “Death:Living To Talk About It”. I say this to remind you why I am going through these old blogs.

The whole thing was a learning process for me. If you have followed along, you could see that I grew as a writer.  I started using paragraphs, I added additional information about the medical stuff, and then in today’s blog – a picture was used.

It will not be long before the first memoir is ready to be written. I am glad that I took the time to write down my thoughts. Doing so accomplished two things.

First, writing this blog helped me get my thoughts together. Although it was difficult at times to remember some of the events, it was a cleansing of the soul for me. For those who have written memoir or are contemplating writing one, this soul cleansing feeling is an unexpected, but gratifying sequelae of the process.

Secondly, writing the blog was practice. You’ve heard the adage, “practice makes perfect”. Well practice made me a better writer.

I seemed off balance during this period of my life. Having survived hospice was great, but I was still spending far too much time in hospitals. It is like one foot on my grave, while the other foot is on a banana peel. A precarious perch to stand upon.

Peace comes in small pieces

May 13, 2010 by brha99

You may not have figured it out yet, but I don’t like to rush into things. Especially when it comes to my health. Denise and I had many discussions with various doctors about which option to choose. Filter or lots of Coumadin. The final choice: Coumadin. All the doctors, Denise and I agreed. That is the best approach for now. So how do we move forward? Start popping pills! We’ll start with 10 mg per day and check blood in a week. About 2 days into the increased dose I noticed something. My dog had jumped up on me when I walked in the door. I now have a steady stream of blood trickling down my arm. Maybe we are where we need to be. Maybe we over shot? I went to the lab to get checked. That afternoon, I received a call from the nurse that manages my coumadin levels. She told me the INR was 3.1. Let’s keep you on 10 mg a day and re check your blood in a week. So that’s how it would be. Every scratch, every bump became a bleeder or a bruise. I really need to start being more careful. We went back and forth with the lab for a few months. By the end of 2008 I was stable at 3.2 or 3.3. For now, at least this particular problem can be moved to the back burner.

Did I tell you. August 2008 brought with it another anniversary. Our 34th. November let me share another Thanksgiving, and December allowed me to participate in another Christmas with my family and friends. A year after I was told I would die, I am here. A year after that horrible home hospice, I am still here.For now all was peaceful. For now, all was well in the world. Well, that can’t last too long.

I don’t know

May 14, 2010 by brha99

Well look at this. 2009 is here, and so am I. I guess for all the tests doctors have done on me, and all the knowledge doctors have, there really is no expiration date on people. Before we move on, I would like to take this opportunity to figure out just why I am still alive. Still alive, despite all evidence to the contrary. As I look back on the past 20 years, I tried to count how many days I was in the hospital. Impossible, for it was many times more than one year. How many “should have died” episodes: well there were nearly 200 episodes of V-tac. Episodes which required some form of therapy be administrated by my defibrillator. About 20 shocks, and the rest I was paced out of the arrhythmia. Why am I alive? My heart barely pumps blood and my lungs only work at about 40%. I don’t know. There were lots of people praying for me on a lot of different occasions. I am grateful to those that prayed for me. They took the time to think about my welfare. Did it help? I don’t know. My wife stood by me through countless trips to the emergency room, and endless stays in the hospital. With lots of love and lots of care giving, did that keep me alive? I don’t know….. I am blessed to have 2 great kids who helped support their mother and I through all of this, while simultaneously trying to build their own lives. Perhaps their love and support kept me alive. I don’t know. Lastly, all the friends and family both here in Texas and scattered around the country called and came by to support my family and care for me. I guess that could have helped keep me alive. I don’t know. What I do know is this: I am blessed with a wonderful family, great friends and a loving wife. If I knew nothing else in this world, that would be enough for me.

A new beginning….for now

May 14, 2010 by brha99


As I was saying, here we are in 2009, and guess what? I’ll tell you what. I have a cold. Not such a big deal you say. Well you’re right. I deal with it a couple of days and it doesn’t get any better. After about a week, it seems to be moving into my chest……that’s it. This stupid simple little cold has now blossomed into pneumonia, pleurisy and a nice COPD exacerbation. And of course I was back in the emergency room. Having been a frequent flyer in the emergency room, I was handled quickly and with ease directly to the back. I felt like a V.I.P. Then I looked at the chart. My spo2 was not at 80%. Remember the little discussion we had about spo2? Well, I hope so. As it turns out, Bob, our favorite E.R. nurse was not there. I settled for someone else. It’s like going to a favorite restaurant. The one with the famous chef. You get there only to discover he is on vacation, so you settle for the number 2 guy. In any case, this hospitalization was the first, and as it turns out the last time I was hospitalized for a long while. Let’s settle back, and try to enjoy the summer. I am packing my bags, my oxygen and all my strength and taking a road trip. Denise, her sister and brother in law and I will be traveling around the country. It should be fun. I hope I can survive it. This picture is of me trying to walk up the sub way tunnel in NYC.

Sorry I missed your funeral mom

May 14, 2010 by brha99

The road trip lasted about 3 weeks. It was great. I hadn’t been out of the house since I went to Tucson when my mother was dying. I know I didn’t tell you about that. In retrospect, I think it’s an important story to tell. It all happened in February 2007. As you will remember, I was very sick, and under the care of the infamous Dr Kwan (sounds like a James Bond movie). My mother was dying. Complications of diabetes, loneliness, and other things. You see a year or so earlier we lost my father. My mom and dad we married nearly 60 years. She was never the same after my dad died. I went to see her shortly after I arrived. Pushing my walker, oxygen strapped on securely. Going through the hospital, the nurses must have thought I was a patient. I looked like one. That hint of grey in my skin tone, wobbling along the hall way. When I saw my mother I knew she wasn’t going to make it. Everything about her care seemed to be wrong. It really wasn’t working. So, after careful deliberation with my brother, sister, mother and doctors, we all decided hospice was best for her. They could control her pain and keep her comfortable. A few days later, my mother died. When it came time for the funeral, my sister came into my room (I was staying at her place) to wake me. Didn’t work. As hard as she tried, I wasn unresponsive. She called the ambulance, got me to the hospital, then went to the funeral home, took care of my mother, then came back to the hospital to take care of me. Talk about your bad day. She called Denise. hopefully she could shed some light on what’s happening to the doctors. She did . A day later Denise was out there and we both found our way home. On Amtrak. You see I couldn’t fly.

I mention this story because untill the 2009 road trip, that was the last time I went anywhere. I don’t count going to doctors offices and hospitals going somewhere. I hope you can see that when you put this 2009 road trip into perspective, it was very special, and truly a breath of fresh air.


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