Mutual Heartache


Reality is frequently unfortunate, and rarely kind to the heart. The atmosphere today was set at the point of waking up, something was off with the world I live in.

10 mile run in the woods was difficult, painful, and cold. Yet another forewarn of impending devastation.

While enjoying a cup of coffee my wife called me. We both know that if we’re calling each other instead of sending a text, something is usually off…

Hey, what’s up?

We knew it would happen someday, and it finally did.

Oh my gosh. Where are you? I’m on my way to pick you up now.

I hung up the phone and stepped back into the shop.

I’m sorry. That was Darco, I need to go. 

Is everything alright?

Her mother just died.

I never knew that you could love someone so much that their own heartbreak you could feel yourself. I feel so overprotective at the moment. She’s sleeping in our bedroom, and I won’t even leave the room.

I’m blessed to have this marriage. I’m blessed to be able to hurt with my wife in this saddening time.

-D-

Head Banger


After a long week of preparation and execution of a major project for my students; the weekend was a well sought attempt at relief and relaxation.

Entertainingly though, mother nature, ice, and my lack of coordination had other plans…

Disclaimer: This is a story about injury, humor, and a lot of firsts. Those with ‘squeamish’ stomachs have been advised.

For a few years now, we (myself) have complained about the lack of overall winter in the area. There hasn’t been ice, snow, or anything else that is conceived as fun. Only bleak, gray, frigid winter days. This year was set to be different with our first introduction to ‘freezing drizzle’ on Friday. As it turns out, the freezing drizzle quickly translated to black ice and allowed the entire metro area to plunge into an absolute disaster of epic proportions.

Saturday morning was our in-between period of weather; we had the freezing drizzle but the snow was a few hours away. Knowing this, at 11:00 AM I decided that I still had time to grab a cup of coffee from our local coffee shop and some salt for our icy sidewalk and driveway. I was bundled up, I stepped out the door, and I thought that I spotted ice-melt on our sidewalk. I thought that our neighbor had surprised us again (not uncommon because he is amazing). Sadly, as I took my first step down from our patio to our sidewalk I realized, too late, that the white little specks that I thought was salt…was sleet instead. Meaning, my sidewalk was straight ice.

Too late.

My feet shuffled three times, trying to gain my balance on this downward spiral of despair, and up in the air they went and my head came down right on the concrete ledge of our patio. Naturally, while laying on the sidewalk moaning, I immediately placed my right hand on the back of my head only because of the pain. Mind you, it was starting to snow and was a balmy 13 degrees when all of this took place. After trying to get my bearings, I stood up, and looked at my hand.

Bright. Red.

Blood.

My wife was at work. No one was outside in our neighborhood, and our doorway is tucked on the side of the house, so no one could see me. I grabbed my Mitscoots stocking cap, that I love dearly, and used it as a form of compression on my head with my right hand and with my left hand I grabbed my phone and dialed 911.

The first words out of my mouth was my address because as I sat down on the edge of the patio, my heart started to flutter, my breathing became weak, nausea was setting in, blood was running down my neck, back, face, everywhere, and I told the dispatcher that first responders needed to hurry because I was beginning to black out.

Selfies not to send to your wife…

Realizing that blacking out was coming, made me realize this fear of collapsing in the snow, in the winter temperatures, and not being found. I’ll confess, the concept of death crossed my mind for a split second. The taste of blood was in my mouth, I coughed, trying not to dry heave in the process, and sat on the line with the dispatcher. Ten minutes passed inside this freezing, arctic concept of my own internal hell, and I saw the local police pull up. They nearly fell walking up the driveway. An officer started talking to me, a dialogue that could demonstrate that he was originally from California with the “yeah man” and “dude” interlaced between his professional statements and questions. My hat got replaced with an actual compression cloth, and I was wrapped up in a blanket as we waited for the ambulance to come. 15 minutes after I fell the local ambulance district showed up, I thanked the police officers and apologized to them for being terrified of the police most of my life. Needless to say, in cliche fashion, my perspective was changed that day. The guys from the ambulance and fire department loaded my body onto a stretcher, slid down the driveway, and loaded me into the unit. Truly, I picked the worst day, to decide to try my fate with other people.

After being loaded into the ambulance, the gentleman talked to me about what was going on, looked at the back of my head, inserted a needle, gave my anti-nausea medication (I already get car sick easily, an injury just adds to the misery) and we started making our way to the hospital. We past, by my count, five accidents along the road trying to get into the ER unit. I was told that since there was no bleeding from my ears or nose, that brain damage was not a major concern. I also learned that not losing consciousness prevented me from needing a CT scan upon arrival at the hospital. My blood pressure was high when the first got me into the ambulance, but after another reading twenty minutes later, the comment that came from the medics mouth was…

Are you a runner? Your heart rate is incredibly low.

Shoutout to the folks I run with, with that comment I’m now one of “those people” who runs.

While in the ambulance I did decide to take a selfie; this was primarily for my entertainment of how I was going to break the news to my wife. I sent her the photo, but afterwards I decided to call her also. We have a system in place that non-emergency contact is done via text messages and phone calls are only used in emergencies. Needless to say, when I called her, her voice was a tad distraught. It escalated rather quickly when she discovered that I was in an ambulance, on route to the local hospital (I picked the hospital closest to her store). She informed me that she would be there after she got her shift covered. While she had a great front, you could still here the stress in her voice.

Once I was loaded into the hospital, they started the process of getting my shirt off (showing how much blood had ran down my chest also), and proceeded to clean the wound. I was so tired at this point. I stayed awake out of fear, but sleep and hunger were playing a pretty epic role on my body. After a head bath of room temperature water and soap, I was informed that I had a one inch gash across the back of my head, slightly to the left. The doctor came in, about the time my wife arrived, and said he would give me a localized painkiller, two stitches to pull the gap together, and finish it off with 6 or 7 staples. This is the first time I have ever seen my wife walk out of a room because she was getting sick to her stomach. What that tells me: though my wife is very strong, she does not handle her husband being hurt very well. Especially with the amount of blood that was involved.

I learned that ‘staples’ inside a hospital also equates to standard, school style staples. There is not some ‘medical staple’, it is literally a staple like you would find inside the classroom. After the two stitches were inserted (stitches, another first for me) and the staples were added (6), I was cleaned up and allowed to leave the hospital.

What I learned:

  • Police, fire, medical, etc…all those groups of people are so insanely amazing when you are in a state of panic. I was very blessed to have such kind, caring individuals around me throughout the day yesterday. The fact that an officer spoke with me about having a beer, him growing up being scared of cops, his jail time, etc…just really eased all the stress from the entire situation.
  • The whole process, from the fall to leaving the hospital, was nearly 3 hours in total duration. Thanks to my wife for actually knowing insurance information.
  • I’m sad the my hat was ruined, but I’m so, so grateful that I had my Mitscoots stocking cap to apply pressure with while waiting for medical attention.
  • Shoutout to all the first aid training I’ve had over the years; who would have thought the time I would have to use it would be on myself?
  • Insanely, truly a blessing, I made it out of this whole situation without an actual diagnosed concussion. Giving God the props for that. I woke up today without a headache, nausea, confusion, or anything else along those lines.
  • Head wounds bleed a lot; in fact I learned that medical people become more nervous if a head wound is not profusely bleeding. The amount of capillaries in the head is huge, so any wound can easily result in a blood bath; literally.
  • Unlike my original assumption; aside from the anti-nausea medicine in the ambulance, I received no medication, pain killers, etc…at the moment the only thing I have had has been two Aleve at 7:30 PM last night.

That is my scary story. It sidelined me for the weekend, I did not get my papers graded like I wanted to, and again I’m sidelined for a bit from trail running. However, all things considered, I can handle those restrictions compared to the fear that I witnessed sitting alone in the winter with a head wound.

Always grateful that God is watching over me.

-D-

Seasonal Perception


I don’t think I have been alone in my own home for the evening for at least three years. Darco left this evening to spend some time with her friend back home, and that has left me with an empty house, a battle with weevils, and two cats attempting to track down every insect inside their living arrangement.

Translation: All is right with the world (minus no wife this evening).

It is interesting what we perceive as ‘hard’ throughout our lives. At one point running a mile was hard, eventually three miles was hard, then came ten miles, and someday it may be a hundred. So much of ‘hard’ is perceived by the individual in measurement to their own life and past examples.

This past week was hard.

The past several months, if not year has been very low-key for our family. My wife continues to soar at her job, I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and we are finding more and more friends at a daily basis. That is why, based off historic context, this week was hard. My wife and I didn’t see each other awake until yesterday evening, parent-teacher conferences were this week, I had a performance evaluation at work, and other things transpiring within the world of education placed me in a rather unfamiliar position; uncomfortable.

Thursday night, I wound up with something to ‘fidget with’ at work because I was having a hard time paying attention. That isn’t to say what was going on wasn’t important, it was just that my mind was elsewhere. I was trying to solve problems, fix issues, and create solutions in my head for fifteen different problems. Unfortunately, along those terms is also the realization that I likely will not solve any of those problems. I argue that ‘status quo’ is unrealistic and unobtainable; life cannot stay in one specific state through time. There is always something to adjust, tweak, fix, develop, create, or destroy.

The only reason for any of this writing is to merely say that I had a personally challenging week. In no way does that mean that I have endured anything difficult, or overcame anything deemed impossible. Merely noting that in the perception of my own eye versus recent history; this was not the best of weeks and I am glad that like seasonal storms, it too has passed.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: For My Queen


Darco and I do not always get along. In fact, our personalities are so polarizing people either laugh at us, or suggest counseling.

We don’t mesh all the time, and backgrounds have a lot to do with that reality.

Today it was all about a bed…a stupid bed.

For two weeks now I’ve listened to my wife talk nonstop about the mattress that we just ordered. Everyday, for two weeks, she called the company to see if the bed came in. Today, three hours before our guests arrived, the bed came in.

With the assistance of Jim, we put the bed together in the bedroom. I went out to move vehicles, frankly thinking nothing of a bed. Sure, we’ve slept on a full bed for three years, but a bed is a bed in my book.

Stepping back into the house, still a bit fried from all the moving and prepping today, Darco came up to me beaming…after, shockingly, laying on the bed…

OK, this definitely is one of the top three happiest moments since being married to you. We have a bed!

Two things:
1. I’m not going to risk my pride by asking what the other two top three moments of our marriage have been so far.
2. Clarification: When I met Darco she was sleeping on a couch/day bed at her mother’s house. Most of her childhood she spent sharing beds with other relatives, or sleeping on couches at friends houses through her teenage years.

While it isn’t necessarily an iconic moment from The Blindside, there’s still power in knowing that my wife has received something that’s she’s never had before. It also demonstrates to me how spoiled I was growing up compared to so many.

So, in conclusion, I still have lots to learn about my wife. However, in this instance I’m glad something was received to bring joy to my queen.

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-D-

XXXI: Vanity or Salvation


I run.
Nearly every day now.
What started six years ago as a means to impress my now ex-wife, became a tool of divorce recovery, and now a method of worship for my soul.

It’s more though…

I, like many, hate looking in the mirror. Daily I question what Darco sees in me anyways. It’s hard to stomach the idea that you’re not an attractive person. It’s a sin of doubt that plagues the mind. It’s been one of mine since I was a child.

Recently I learned a fun project for myself to handle the temptation of doubt and humility. I would grow my hair and my beard crazy long, losing my face in the process. I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to see my shortcomings.

I’d run for weeks, months, watch what I eat, and any time spent in the gym was done with multiple layers of long sleeve clothing.

I made it hurt.

I never wanted Darco to regret marrying someone that wasn’t handsome, unique, or attractive. She deserved more, she deserves more.

This weekend I shaved and cleaned up to see the progress, and for once…truly once…I was surprised.

For the first time in my life, that I can recall, I can look in the mirror without the guilt.

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I know it isn’t perfect, but I hope it’s something for my wife. She deserves it.

-D-