I walked slowly, putting my hand to my heart as if to catch it in case it fell out. It sounds kind of crazy – but I actually did it subconsciously. I didn’t even notice it until my wife asked me what I was doing.
“I have no idea.” I kept doing it because it comforted me for some reason. At that point comfort was a rare luxury – so I would take it however I could, whenever I could. I sat in the back seat, seat belted and cold. Jessica drove away and we were headed home.
Thoughts swirled in my mind – a non-stop ride through fear, reality and courage. As the scenes from the window passed me by I thought about my life. I had been too close, too too close to death. Me, the guy who has always felt invincible. I have been scared, anxious and panicky – and with help and inner strength fought through it. Like an alcoholic I had become addicted to the fear as a way to keep me in my safe zone – at the same time longing for freedom. But this wasn’t anxiety and this wasn’t panic – this was real life. If I hadn’t gone to the Doctor my story would have been finished. I was not finished. God had given me a second chance – but why me?
We drove up to the house and I walked up the six stairs or so, opened the screen door and I was home.
The first few days at home were strange. The first night I was scared to sleep. I lay awake and all I could focus on was this “Survivors guilt.” Why had I been spared? I lay awake at night, thoughts and fears circling around me like vultures…
I am thinking about family members and friends who have passed – way before their time should have been up. In my mind, better people than myself but obviously whether one lives or dies doesn’t depend on our report cards. I guess I should be happy I am not the “who gets to live” judge; the “Simon Cowell” handing out those golden tickets to the next round.
The time begins to fly, at least during the day time – the nights are kind of long and uncooperative. Here is some more TMI to share. I am taking stool softeners, laxatives and water pills which cause a man who cannot run to need to run. I am in pain and cannot run when I feel the need. My pride is now hiding from me as I find myself feeling older than I should feel. I am scared that this is my life now and that I will need to buy adult diapers or something.
I need to speak with a professional, someone who has experience in patients like me. I need to express to them that I am feeling guilt, feeling scared and unsure about each and every thing about my life.
But there is something inside of me that knows that I will get better, I will heal and I will be back to being Freddy. Whoever that was and is and going to be. As I lay in bed, I am a repaired man who didn’t know I was broken. The whirlwind of the past several days has left me feeling as if I had been thrown out of a speeding car. I am thinking again and its causing me to be scared of closing my eyes – though close them I do as my lack of energy overwhelms any fears that attempt to keep me from sleeping.
I wake up and I am sweating. I look to the clock and I see 1:02 and I am devastated that the night has not ended or gotten me close to the time when the sun rises. My wife sleeps as I open the light by my bed and begin to read. I read a lot before I decided to take a Xanax to help relax me and hopefully put me to sleep. One of the problems – each time I begin to doze off I am prompted to go to the bathroom and get there fast. So I read, I read and I pray for God to help calm me, heal me and to let me wake up and see this was all just a bad dream.
The mornings I begin a routine. Jessica brings me breakfast, I shower and then I head downstairs. Someone is always around in case I need some help or the door bell rings. I walk the length of my house to get to the bathroom; thanks to the meds I am forced to walk and get some exercise.
I walk my first walk outside on March 21 and I walk to the edge of the park – some fifty or so feet from my home.
I am cheered on by my daughter Carol and my wife – I am scared. If my heart falls out on the cement it will crack and I will be in trouble. Despite my fear and my hand holding it in place – my heart stays put and I make my way back home. Each one of my kids will walk with me in the next week until I begin to walk on my own. I find myself better on my own – less pressure to speak or feel I am going too slow. It takes some time but I finally make it around the block on April 4th…
Despite what the reader my think, I am keeping a lot of physical ailments from you as well as scenes from my living nightmare which are too personal and private. I will say that I am a blessed man for having the wife and children I do – as well as the many friends and family I have accumulated over the years. Its true what John Lennon said, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” But this wasn’t my end – this was a “Do over;” a second chance given to me by God.
So, as I stand here waiting to go for a walk – my personal coach is putting on her leather jacket. I think about the blessing I have been given and what I plan to do with my “Do over.”
The path in front is clear but there are obstacles and traps planted – waiting to ensnare me at each and every step. But as I walk I know within my heart and my soul that love is the answer. To give it, to accept it and to share it.
Who knows what tomorrow or even the next second will bring? All we can do is take one step at a time with heavy doses of love, faith and strength to make this world a better place – one smile at a time.