Late last week, when the temperature rose from the low teens to the mid-twenties,

By Christopher Green

I went out to chop some ice that had been building up at the end of the driveway. The city plows had come by twice and splashed all that ice and snow and salt mixture that turns snow from white to dirty gray, into a foot and a half pile of ice hard slippery sludge that essentially blocked our driveway.

The snow was coming down hard and for a while there, it looked as if the building range of ice across the end of our way out of the house was not as formidable as it had looked just an hour before.

But we knew better.

So Laurie went out first to chop away and sure enough, that tough stretch at the end of the driveway proved that the new snow was deceptive.

Within fifteen minutes, she came in and I told her to rest up, that I would go out for a spell.

Of course, Laurie objected.

She did not want me to head on out in that weather to do physical work. She was naturally concerned that I would end up in a heap, a broken man out at the end of the driveway, stricken down by a heart attack.

Now anyone who knows me, really knows me, would realize that I do not takes risks. Not since that cool late May day back in 1975, when I tried to swim across a quarry lake with three of my best friends from High School, have I tried anything that silly again.

About half way across I started to cramp up and I told my friend Smitty (don’t we all have a friend named Smitty somewhere in our lives?) that I did not think I was going to make it. He told me he was having trouble, so I was on my own. Smitty is the type of guy who would jump right in to save someone, but if he said he was having trouble….

The four of us made it across and vowed, by giving each other a look of relief and burning embarrassment, that there would be no more egged on macho risk taken between us. After that, none of that daredevil shit again.

Well, there was all the shit I pulled while off in a blacked out world when I was drunk, but that is a different story all together for another time.

Meanwhile, back at the ice palace, suffice it to say that the two months of my working out on a regular basis made all the difference.

I had my portable Oxygen set at 4 liters. It pulses at the projected rate rather than giving a steady stream of Oxygen. Your breathing in and out creates the pressure and out comes a poof of air right into the nostril. It’s pretty ingenious and it allows those of us who need oxygen to carry a much smaller portable tank.

So I get out there and start chopping away. I couldn’t bend my back because an old injury from way back in the late 70’s flared up and was causing me all sorts of pain. (I really am a mess, health wise.) So what I did was just chop straight up and down with the spade until I chipped a bit off. When I broke through to pavement, I moved on.

After about ten or fifteen minutes, I looked up and discovered, to great satisfaction, that I had chopped up almost the whole apron. I guess my macho urges were sated. It felt good to finally be of some use, if only for a moment.

I was Satisfied in a way a person gets when he completes a physical task, feels that special burn in the muscles.

I have to tell you, it has been a long time since I felt that way.

I went back in feeling good about myself and I wasn’t even breathing hard. Laurie went out to scoop the stuff off the apron and onto the replication of the Himalayans we had going out there at the end of driveway.

The funny part is that just two days before the cold and snow combined to make me what turned out to be a shut in, I called the Clinic to ask about my next appointment. I was worried about the last part of the Hepatitis vaccination process that I was suppose to get in December. They never scheduled an appointment. When you deal with the Clinic, they set the appointment.

Aside. You know the Catholics have this show, well they did, I don’t know if any channel still runs one, called Mass for Shut-ins. I was always curious about it, watched it one time. (I was raised Catholic.) And I thought that would be cool; you could just turn it off after communion instead of slinking back in the communion line like my dad did so he could sneak out the front door and beat the traffic home.

Back to the here and now. So I called the Cleveland Clinic and they sent me a new schedule for an appointment.

I go back for a whole series of test on February 28, about five months after my last battery of tests that took me off the danger list.

I am going into this appointment a lot less apprehensive than I did the last one. As I mentioned, I have been exersizing at least six days a week. I have been lifting weights, riding the stationary bike and doing tons of sit-ups and push-ups.  And, perhaps the most important part in my renewed sense of fitness, I eat NO EMPTY CALORIES!

Since my September appointment, I have lost a little over 15 lbs and, this is the best part, four inches off the waist.

I was wearing 40-inch pants and now, late last month, I bought my first pair of 36-inch jeans since about 1988. For a while there back in the 90’s, I was tipping the scale at almost 250 and was wearing 48-inch trousers.

The best part, I can see my toes when I am standing up. Back in the 90’s, my toes were just a rumor.

Right now I would say the chances of repeating my solid performance for my last perp walk (see the blog post called Last night, as I was drifting in and out of a fitful sleep, I suddenly felt a strong tug on my air hose…) are good. But as anyone with a chronic condition knows, anything can happen between now and February 28. If I get sick or pick up a germ, well, all bets are off.

Curiously, just today I had a coughing spell that was nasty and painful. I dislodged, by coughing violently for some time, a bit of calcified stuff from my lungs. It hurt like hell coming up. This is something that has not happened since before my last stay in the hospital all the way back in October of 2009.

Here is what these nasty buggers look like.

They have sharp edges and cut into me on their way up and out. I use to cough some up every four or five months, ever since I came out of the hospital back in 2004.

There was also some blood this time and that is always disconcerting.

Together, well….

Dr. Haddad went in with a scope and removed a bunch of the buggers from my lungs while I was in the hospital in 2009. That procedure opened up some blocked airways and that is probably why I was able to breathe better when I left the hospital. I was still weak, but my blood Oxygen had rebounded nicely.

I hope this isn’t a sign that these plugs are re-infesting my lungs. But if they are, I suppose they could do another scope and clean them out again.

We shall see.

As the time draws near for my test, I will keep you all filled in.

Thanks for listening. It has been almost a year now since I wrote my first blog post. A lot has changed.

Stayed tuned.

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5 Responses to Late last week, when the temperature rose from the low teens to the mid-twenties,

  1. mary shafer says:

    Chris,
    Thanks! Keep me updated… Keep your head up! You and Laurie are in my thoughts and prayers! HUGS to you!

    mary

  2. Brenda says:

    I’m always in your corner!

  3. Karla says:

    So glad to have found your writings. We live near Cleveland and my husband has been through the lists of tests for transplant evaluation. My husband has emphysema and walked 606 feet in the 6 minute test which is an improvement from 505 last September. He also has cardiomyopathy, and after his heart cath. we received the bad news that his heart would not be able to handle 2 new lungs-hence they would like to do a heart and lung transplant. I have to call the Clinic tomorrow to see when they are going to schedule the last few test-the bone density, the QV test and a few others. Our church is doing a fund raiser. The doctor felt Bob would be on the transplant list by mid March. It is exciting but scary!!!! Take care

    • I sure hope all goes well. I am going back to the Clinic this tuesday for another walk. It is scary, I know, but when the time comes, the thrill and excitement, I believe, will take care of the scary part. I have all the tests done except for the colonoscopy and they are all good for a few years. I have at least 6 more years before I will be too old for a transplant so I am trying to stave it off as long as I can.
      Maybe I will run across the two of you!

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