The Birth Of A Book – “Metamorphosis”

Brian HaydenThese few days: April 21, 2010 through April 23, 2010 were among my most emotionally draining days. Remembering and recounting the last days of my working life brought me to tears. Truthfully, even now reading these old posts ignites memories and emotions I had not felt in, well…about three years.

Though I have shared many of the old posts, in actual time, less than a month had passed.  Adding pictures had not yet occurred to me. Nor had cleaning up my grammar or spelling. The old blog felt like my personal journal and that was how I used it.

A time will come – and you will recognise it when it passes by, when the concept of writing my blog for others to read finally sinks in. That time is not too far off.

Retirement, in its best framed scenario is frightening for many. Hopefully, plans were devised years earlier, and the transition from working to not is relatively smooth. Those of you who, like me were forced into an early retirement, whether by down-sizing, sickness or other situation were not so lucky. My plans were in place, but my mind was so out of step that I fell into a severe depression. Not suicidal. No, not directly, but I continued to drink and smoke despite the myriad health problems I battled daily. Drugs like Xanax and Oxycotin would soon replace the alcohol as my drugs of choice.

Follow along as I begin the transform from a member of the work force to a member of the infirmed.

Straight line… I asked for a straight line!

April 21, 2010 by brha99

Two or three weeks went by since being discharged from the Northport VA. It was now time to be introduced to yet another VA hospital. The largest VA hospital in the country, as I understood. The Manhattan VA. It was actually part of the University of NY hospital. Very big and very busy. I went to the area where you get pre-admitted. I liked it. Comfortable and warm. Jeez, do you here me. I am listening to myself describe the hospital and I realize I have turned into a hospital travel guide. Kind of like the hotel experts on the travel channel. I imagine myself on TV: “and down this hall we have a beautifully laid out cat scan. Across the way and behind the flowers: why it the ultrasound suites”. How funny. Getting back to things, the pre-admit was uneventful. In and out again. No informalities here though. Too many people. It was in…zip, zap and out you go. That was ok by me. I went to the floor where I would be staying for the next 2 or 3 days. Very pleasant. I got all tucked in for the night. The next morning went without a hitch. They replaced my defibrillator. The test shock went well. ( I was still out for that). Everything was perfect. Or was it? Later the first evening after the surgery the nurse came in to change my bandage. It was over the left side of my belly. That’s when I saw it. The 8 inch cut in my stomach began at the same point the old scar did, but then ran off 20 degrees!! It was like a triangle on my belly. DAM Surgeons. I knew they were after me from that time before.. With a smirk, I was discharged the next morning.

The begining of the end

April 22, 2010 by brha99

Things settled into the usual routine. Once I got over the trauma of having a crooked scar on my stomach, my walking excursions to Manhattan resumed. I even added a day. So the way it worked, Saturday’s I wandered into the city and on Sunday I traveled the streets of Brooklyn. I really did enjoy walking in Manhattan and Brooklyn. At first, my Sunday walks got shorter. I am not even sure why. Just didn’t feel like walking . Eventually, those Sunday walks I enjoyed so much became a thing of the past. My stamina, my leg strength would not permit any more Sunday walks. So, one Saturday in Central Park I noticed I was a bit out of breath. It’s getting into fall. Maybe the cold air just got the better of me today. Yea that must be it. I’ll just go home and do it again next week. The following week I did pretty good. Got down to Time Square before heading home. The coming weeks saw my endurance and strength disappear, like an ice cube on a sunny day. Until one day, my walking trips were over. In less than 2 months all the strength I needed to walk was gone. My walks were over. Without so much as a letter of introduction, End Stage Heart Failure had arrived.

Out of options and out of time

April 23, 2010 by brha99

It is important to know that I lived in an area called Park Slope. It was called that because it was built on a hill. Prospect park was at the top of the hill on 9th avenue. Everything else was down hill. I lived between 5th avenue and 6th avenue on 13th street. I worked at the corner of 11th street and 7th avenue. Are you following me here? From my apartment, I walk up to 7th ave. ( 1 1/2 blocks). Then I make a left and go 2 blocks to 11th street. In total it is a three block walk, with a small part being up a slight hill. When I stopped going for my walks it wasn’t because I didn’t like to walk. On the contrary. I enjoyed walking very much. I stopped because I had no stamina or strength. I tired with almost no exertion. As embarrassing as it is to admit now, I had to take a taxi the three blocks to work every morning. Depending on the day, I may or may not take a cab home. It was afterall down hill and a bit easier to do. Soon after I couldn’t finish a day’s work. The owner of the company was very understanding and helpful. However, sometimes you have to say “enough is enough”. I tendered my resignation in early 2005. Just like that, my working days were over. I had worked non-stop since I was 15 years old (1969) and now it’s over. My body swelled with panic and depression as the realization of what lies ahead begins to sink in. My wife flew out, helped me pack up the truck and we drove home to San Antonio. What will become of us? How will we survive? Who will provide my health care and keep me alive? Will I be able to stay alive? Time, has the answers and she is a tight-lipped bitch.

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