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Ontario, CA to Washington D.C.

An unforgettable journey

Photo by Kevin Bosc on Unsplash

One January while I was living in Southern California, I had the opportunity to take a break in Virginia with my best friend’s Mom and visit a facility linked with the one for which I worked.

It was a sunny morning with clouds as I was dropped at Ontario airport. By the time we boarded the plane, the sun had vanished, and a grey fog descended around the plane only. I promise you it was nowhere else. I know for a fact the I10 was clear and traffic flowing well.

After an hour the captain announced that we were fog bound until clearance was given. No one could disembark as it might be very soon.

I have learned that in flying language, very soon is a synonym for ten minutes to ten days. It’s a platitude designed to cause riots. I got my book out and began to read.

On finishing my book, three hours had passed. I could hear murmurs of grumbling as well as requests for drinks. I realized drinks were not on offer. I took out my water bottle and took a sip.

The murmurs of grumbling turned to rallying for revolution. It was unsettling. I realized five hours had passed and my second book was nearly finished. What would I read on the flight, if there was one?

After eight hours we were told we had half an hour to go into the terminal to make phone calls and use the facilities. I decided to wait to make my call as the phones were in use. All ten of them. Some men had their brick size ‘cell phones’ in use.

We were hearded back onto the plane. It was getting dusk and the last of the sunset was strikingly beautiful. Fog? Where was it?

We took off at last and flew into daylight for a few hours. I saw crop circles, rivers, craters, lakes, and mountains, before night covered the whole USA.

Then I noticed the White House, all lit up like a target for a malicious flier. I looked forward to the descent. But there was none. We banked, and I watched the White House as we circled it.

We circled and circled that illuminated target and I worried that the captain had criminal intentions. I beckoned a flight attendant and asked what was going on. She leaned in close and whispered that we were in a line to land but would be soon due to a lack of fuel. I was asked not to mention this.

My confidence was not restored. We had circled seventeen times already. How many minutes before we dropped out of the sky?

However, we did land, and I was met by my friend who had left home before getting the message I had asked to be passed on.

So much for flights and phones.

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My spine has collapsed…

Last Monday, I was in the bathroom when my ribs suddenly hit my hip. I was in agony. I crawled to my phone and called the ambulance dispatch caller. I tried to explain as best as I could.

When the paramedics got here, they thought I had fallen and simply took me to the ER waiting room. I protested about the pain of being in a wheelchair, but they ignored me.

I have been in great pain since coming home in a taxi. Today I awoke to find my arms and legs tingling. Two hours ago, my ribs settled on my hips permanently. I am in agony and don’t know how I will get through the next week until my doctor’s appointment.

I am terrified.

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How Addiction Works

It isn’t just the addict

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Reading on Medium, I am very aware that some people have had a family member who is or was an addict. Drugs and alcohol are the usual, although nicotine is the most addictive substance.

I seem to attract addicts. Usually alcoholics who are not quite there yet. Maybe it’s because I have no addictions, maybe it’s because I am a “strong person” according to my friends.

Addiction starts the first time a lie is told in order to obtain the drink or drug. The lie may be about staying longer at school or work, going to the gym or meeting a friend. Lies will become normal for the addict. Deception is part and parcel of addiction.

The second thing that happens is that someone covers for the person who is becoming addicted. They rationalize, make excuses, or confirm the lie. They do this, not realizing how dangerous their complicity is. They have no idea about addiction.

Addiction is a family disease.

  • This pattern carries on, possibly periodically at first. Other times it is continuous.
  • After a while, others adapt to the behavior and treat it as normal. We call these people codependent. The need of the “normal” to continue. They are unwilling to address it or even notice.
  • We call the people who cover for the addict “enablers”.

All the while, the addiction is growing and more people cover for the addict, accept the behavior, or deny to themselves that it is going on. The addict, above all, denies their problem.

With alcohol, the person is seen as a party person, drinking more than others. In time, they hide alcohol in different places.

With drug addiction, the addict gathers phone numbers of dealers and friends who will supply what they require. A network begins.

While this is going on, the people who don’t knowthe addict well will believe the lies and be unaware of the deceptions. If asked for a tiny loan, they will give it but never see their money again. People will like the addict, become friends and buy them drinks as they never seem to have enough money for one.

Alcoholics will empty dregs from glasses at bars or beer gardens into one glass and drink it. They can hide their drinking by having places to hide it or people who will supply it. The same goes with drugs.

If an addict ever reaches the point that they want to stop, the whole family will need help. There are many behaviors that need to changeThe lies need to stop. Patterns that formed must be broken. It is a long process.

By this time, at least one family member will have estranged. Sometimes it is the addict, other times the one who could see what was happening. Friends will feel anger, relief, surprise, all sorts of feelings.

The hardest thing is the denial of the family. They will not believe the truth. They choose to believe the lies.

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Kris Benian’s guest blog

Has been deleted as she is false. She started avoiding me after many great interactions. I surmise she has listened to gossip and not asked for the truth from me.

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Lilibet Your Duty is Done

A tribute

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Forgive my familiarity; you waved at me personally twice

Born a princess, not destined to be Queen
you stepped into your role with grace,
humility and service you always showed
putting others at ease, you smiled, twinkle-eyed

Young woman in the Forces, you sacrificed
the camaraderie of the barracks for the palace
but snuck out on VE day evening to feel the joy
with the crowds of happy, dancing, people

You took the weight of the crown knowing you had trust
in your Prince who was your rock, confidante
a born leader, he then walked two steps behind
We saw the glances, whispers and the laughter

You changed with the times, softening, twinkling
winning hearts, never wrong-footed, wise and wiser
I think you died of a broken heart, am I right?
Your Prince had died, your rock was gone

Lilibet, you are free of service now, go fly
to the God you loved, the man who knew you
duty is done, so graciously, with common touch
No one will match you, irreplaceable Queen

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Having Respiratory Failure

It leads to death

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

About seven years ago I was diagnosed with an asthma-like condition. It was treated with Salbutamol (ventolin). This was not really effective but my problem was not serious at that time. I would get short of breath after walking or housework.

About four years ago, a friend lent me his pink inhaler Fostair. It was far more efficacious so I asked for Salbutamol to be removed from my prescription. Fostair was much better.

Some time after this I began needing paramedics to make interventions due to seemingly asthma attacks — when the respiratory system tightens and air cannot get in. These were fairly few but mainly in damp, cold, weather. This year I have needed more interventions than I can count. Mainly because the consultant I got was useless.

All these vapors going through my mouth and throat mean I must drink after using my inhalers and after nebulizing by paramedics.

Now, I use so many inhalers that my sense of taste is almost gone. In May last year, I was diagnosed as a carbon dioxide retainer. It means I do not exhale all the carbon dioxide my body converts from oxygen. It is very dangerous. It can cause coma or even death. I cannot be given oxygen except briefly. It will knock out my breathing as now my respiration is driven by CO2. I carry a huge medical alert card.

I retain not just carbon dioxide but fluids. There is fluid on my heart and other organs. My blood oxygen hovers around 90, but may drop to 83 or be a high as 97. These are percentages. A healthy person’s blood oxygen is 100.

I have started buying sour sweets. The kind that are chewy and jelly like. They make my mouth water and I can taste them. Brushing my teeth with toothpaste does not help, so I use salt, or a flavorful leaf on my toothbrush.

I eat honey by the spoonful. It soothes my throat which is always sore. Honey soothes the skin of my throat as well as my mouth.

I am now living with hypoxia as a result of respiratory failure — shortage of oxygen to the brain. It means my home needs prompts to remind me to do things and I keep my everyday things in the same place — my glasses, for example. Everything is easily placed so that I see what I need as I leave my back door. I’m grateful that my home is laid out to make this easy. I still forget things though.

I get confused. Writing here means words typed twice and similar. My keyboard bewilders me. I do, however, manage to shop and go to the town without mishap, except the occasional forgetting to go somewhere.

All this means I can make mistakes without realizing. It also means I could go into a coma or die at anytime. I am very vulnerable. I am 5 on the New Scale, and sometimes 6 but I refuse to go hospital unless an infection is suspected. The New Scale is what paramedics use to determine whether a person needs to go to hospital. Six is when they insist you must go. I have signed disclaimers countless times which say death is imminent.

The New Scale does not take into account that I have a neurological disease. It causes my resting heart rate to be very high. In the last two months my pulse has slowed to 83 due to the extra work it has to do. It used to be 113. Some paramedics freak out and phone clinicians and doctors. Others realize my normal is unique to me.

I keep antibiotics and steroids in my home. I can detect an infection. It’s called a “rescue pack”.

Three weeks ago, I was rushed to hospital with a respiratory obstruction. The trauma doctor was truly great. She recommended a drug that breaks down secretions in the lungs. Now I have reduced three a day to one a day as I was suffocating. My neurological disease prevents my ability to cough. My body is struggling to cope with the excess fluid from carbon dioxide.

I took my laptop with me, as I can’t relax in the ER.

Darius

 is someone who I love to read and we have talked a little about my health. 

Ali

 is someone I am close to and she is unwell too. We all have lives unknown to other Medium members. 

Lu Skerdoo

 is great friend to me here. I appreciate 

Julie KingGood

 and 

Patricia Hodge

 who have both recommended my articles.

There are many of you I appreciate and feel a bond with… 

Susan Wheelock

, who feels like a friend, 

Mulan

Sofia Chen

Henya Drescher

J.R. Spiers

-he is a prose poem, 

Arbab Z.

Mike Knittel

,the only satirist I have found on here, 

Kim Zuch

Suma Narayan

Ellie Railton

, and so many more. Forgive me if you aren’t mentioned. My memory is faulty. 

David Perlmutter

E. Ardincaple

, my useful friend. 

Michelle Scorziello

 I love to read and 

Shin Jie Yong

 is a friend.

I am not old. This is a disease of any age, but my neurological disease triggered it. Pressure on my spine caused the first shortness of breath.

Thank you for reading this far…

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Haiku String

summer brings rainstorms
cobwebs hang on stems of plants
a change in mood

thunder rolled across the sky
night was noisy day is blue
breathing was hard to do

scent of blooms linger still
fading with the lower sun
sadness is now a friend

No sign of autumn yet
a change to rain after heat
where do I find myself

honeysuckle sweet is fresh
perfuming my pathway
stillness is a way to wisdom

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So Fresh

A poem

Photo from author’s collection

So fresh is the breeze now, after a storm
strange how humidity hangs in the air
for formidable fatiguing weeks of heat unknown
now we feel free, fresh, to laugh at the sun

I smiled, though heavy humid hours wore me down
every effort exhausted energy, tiring too much
yet now light is the work, delight in the day
warm winds come ashore, grazing my garden

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Contentment

A poem

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

I know peace, joy, happiness. My life is full. Raising a beautiful daughter who shines. I watch the harbor, yachts tacking back and forth. The water shines as though the sun has cast glitter over it.

I wake to birdsong. How cheerful they are as they greet the new day. I feed them and enjoy how they feast. They bathe in dew, and my bird bath.

I have poor health but am delighted with my life. My work has always been my passion, so fulfilling. I speak three languages and English is not my mother tongue.

I am loved by many and love in return. I agape my friends and the man in my home. I smile and feel friendly to the world.

I have given and been given to. I am blessed to bestow kindness to others. My cup runneth over. I love my God. I am not rich, but I have great wealth.

Published in The Lark

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Rain!

A poem

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

I hear it, like music on my window pane
Water is falling from the sky again

I smell it, the freshness, I feel restored
Too late after the fires in flames roared

Peace descends in wet drops and thunder
I feel healed inside, no more plunder

Oh, joy! creation is well for now
My soul rests in the scent falling down

The earth is so hard after so much heat
I pray to God that floods won’t repeat.

Rain! How needed you really are
Please stay a while don’t go far

Published in the Lark

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Counting Stars

A poem

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

The lush shade was so inviting
after the scorch of day
a place that looked inviting
Here tonight I could safely lay

I dreamt I could lay there
with you together there
we could count the stars

The night was cool and refreshing
but thorns scratched my soul
nowhere I would safely lay
I dreamed we would lay there

Both of us lay there, hand in hand
And we would count the stars

Published in The Lark

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Evening

A poem

Photo by Tincho Franco on Unsplash

Yellow orb dropping from view
so swift yet slowly setting

giving life and death askew
plants need light, people, shade

Yellow orb dropping from view
dusk will come, then the night
yet antipodes have a day renewed
dust bowl Australia, temperate Kiwis

Yellow orb dropping from view
cool air embraces the heat oppressed
refreshing us as we slumber

summers have changed, that’s new

Yellow orb dropping from view
what life would there be with no you

Published in The Lark