Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I'm a Little Crazy part 1

A large part of my life has revolved around my father. A large part of who I am and why I do things the way I do stems from him in some way, shape, or form.

I'm not sure how to start with this because it's a big topic for me. Often enough it's just easier to blurt it out and go from there.

My dad is sick. Terminally ill. It's not just one thing though, it's a whole slew of them. The man's had six heart attacks and six strokes. An even score. I really don't like that score, to be honest. Most people who hear this little bit, well, their eyes usually bug out, say 'What?', and generally behave in a way when one hears a piece of information they didn't expect to hear. But that little fact is the start of it, and I figure a haphazard chronological recap of what has happened thus far is probably the best way to go about this.

I was born in 1986 (yes, I'm 23, soon 24.), in '88, my dad had his first heart attack, watching Fatal Attraction with my Uncle Jack, in their home in Waterloo, Iowa. Obviously, he was quickly taken the hospital and thus starts the grand tradition of hospital visits. Shortly there after, a year or two later I think (because the details are fuzzy), he had yet another heart attack. Again was watching Fatal Attraction, with my Uncle Jack, again in Waterloo. To date, he has never seen the whole movie, mainly because he is forbidden to. (We're a bit superstitious?)

In '92, I'm in first grade, my father has heart attack number three. This leads to the decision that he's in need of a bypass of some sort (ended up being a quadruple bypass I believe), and me spending a large quantity of time with my Aunt and Uncle. There are also lots of trips to Milwaukee and some such. The exact details are rather fuzzy as I was busy trying to be a kid.

It was during these years that we set some sort of strange record. Within a twenty-two month period, we somehow made it into the emergency room something to the tune of thirty-two times. So if you're doing the math, that's, at the very least, a trip to the ER once a month. Sometimes it felt as though we were in there weekly, on a few occasions, we were in there one day and in less than twenty-four hours, we were right back in there. The majority of these visits consisted of false alarms. My father would have chest pains and we would try and figure if they were bad enough to take him in. This time was also used to get all his medication tweaked and perfected.

Eventually we hit a small plateau, nothing happened, our lives were relatively stress free. And then in '96, we decided to move to the country-side. A lake community close to a small town environment seemed ideal, especially with everyone so friendly. However on the day we were supposed to move...he had another heart attack. Thankfully a large majority of our family lived in central Iowa, so it was easy for everyone to pitch in a get us moved.

Within those four years, my dad had his first couple strokes. The first one was terrifying, as we had never experienced something like this up close and personal. It started off as a headache and eventually progressed to paralysis of the left side of his body. By this time I was old enough to know that something was seriously wrong and was especially scared standing there at twelve years old trying to hold up my dad as my mom was pulling out the car to go to the hospital. The downside to living in country is that the nearest hospital was over twenty miles away. Sometimes it was just faster to drive there than to call 911.

The first stroke left a lot of damage, however we were lucky in the fact that it was only my father's motor skills that were seriously affected. With physical therapy and a short time using a cane, he was able to strengthen the weaker side of his body and thus able to move around as he used to.

Along with the strokes came the seizures. Now these aren't the seizures that most people are familiar with. The kind of seizures that my father had were called focal seizures. They would focus on a random body part, most of the time being on the left side of the body, and that particular body part would go numb. For instance, his hand would go numb, or a whole arm, sometimes even just the tip of his pinkie finger. 90% of the time, we didn't know he was having a seizure because my father stayed conscious and cognizant through the whole thing. You could be having a conversation with the man and you wouldn't have the slightest clue that he was having a seizure right then and there. And it was that reason alone that my dad was able to keep his license for so long.

This did not last long. He then had two more strokes at unspecified times, the third one did enough damage to his motor skills that he needed a cane at all times. Shortly thereafter, we moved back to the town we had previously lived in, closer to a hospital, and closer to my siblings.

And for a while, all was quiet. I mangled my way through high school with little incident until about Nov '03, my senior year. I had a friend who I was taking home, on the route, I would pass by my house. On this particular day, I drove past, but this time, there was an ambulance sitting in front of my house. Of course I stopped and hoped to anyone who happened to be listening that everything was alright. I get in the house only to find that my mother was crying on the phone and I couldn't make out anything that she was saying. My immediate reaction was to think 'oh my god, he's dead.'

To be continued....

Monday, January 4, 2010

I wonder.....

I work for a drugstore and we have a uniform there. Really it's just a polo with the company logo on the back and then whatever nice slacks I happen to be wearing that day. Either way, I get a lot of people stopping me to ask me questions. Which is fine, because that's my job, but there one question that I always receive at least once a day. It is the dreaded

"Do you work here?"

Now, if you're like me, a thousand different answers pop into your head ranging from the very polite 'Yes' to the 'Goddammit not this again' to the very sarcastic 'No, I just happen to enjoy wearing this company's uniform polo with a name tag attached to my front with a nice gold service pin declaring at least five years of service.' Is it not obvious that I'm stocking these selves? That I'm wheeling these large cardboard boxes filled with merchandise for you to purchase? That I'm standing behind the register, ringing up your purchases?

I don't quite understand why people ask these questions. I mean the uniform polo is hardly fashionable, especially with the company logo emblazed on the back. The fabric it's made out of is hardly comfortable and is only useful in the fact that it's especially difficult to wrinkle such a top.

This puzzles me further, especially in the wintertime. I live and work in the mid-west. The winters here are especially brutal, and as Lewis Black would say 'If you don't go outside and say 'FUCK' there's something wrong with you'. So for me, employees would be even more obvious due to the fact that we are not carrying around coats or gloves of any sort. Almost *gasp* as if we intend to stay for a long period of time!

Maybe it's to do with the age old fact of retail; most customers are simply not observant. This certainly rings true with every single retail establishment.

I could understand if we we had a more relaxed dress code that didn't rely on uniform polos. But the fact remains that we don't and the polos make us stick out for a purpose. So if I'm wearing a polo with the company logo on the back, wouldn't you think that I work here?