Return for infamously wheezy paragraph stacker set

DES MOINES, IOWA (March 23, 2020) — Daniel P. Finney, 44, out of work since Feb. 12 with complications from pneumonia, is expected to return to paragraph stacking Monday, his doctor said Tuesday.

His long convalescence predates the coronavirus apocalypse. He will be working from home in accordance with pandemic protocols.

“I just hope I haven’t forgotten how to type,” Finney said in a statement.

Finney said he grew weary of writing about his illness on his blog. His body is better. His brain remains a mess.

An introvert by nature, Finney relished the idea of society forced to stay away from him and he from society.

He emphasized he will never grow tired of classic “Doctor Who” and “M*A*S*H” reruns.

This story will not update.

— 30 —

So how am I? Yellow.

I coughed and brought up a load of yellow. That’s gross. Blame my doctor. She trains me to look.

The color apparently tells the level of infection. Yellow is OK. Green is bad. Red is trouble. That means blood.

I had blood at the beginning of pneumonia. Now I’m back to yellow. This is improvement, I guess.

My biggest problem is fatigue. I am exhausted all the time. I still cough some. My breathing is better.

The exhaustion is a bummer. I feel like C.C. Sabathia in his last appearance for the Yankees. He broke his arm in his last pitch. Me? I’m out of gas after one pitch.

Walk to the kitchen. Wheeze and sweat for a few minutes. Walk to the car. Wheeze and swear for a few minutes. You get the pattern.

I got disconcerting news Friday. My disability insurance company said they hadn’t gotten paperwork on my extended disability.

I saw my doctor on March 3. I understood the disability insurance would contact her for the extension.

Today, they told me it was the doctor’s job to contact them. Well, shit. I reached out to my doctor, but it was too late on a Friday.

I called the insurance company. They told me what they need from the doctor. I sent a message on my doctor’s clinic app.

Then I called my boss. Payroll at our company is strict about deadlines. I might not get paid for part of my absence.

My boss and I worked out a plan. It should be OK. Hopefully my doctor will get the message on Monday and send in the needed paperwork.

This is annoyance more than anything. I am probably at fault. I thought the insurance company would get the information. That’s what I told my doctor. So she didn’t do anything.

The insurance company let me know the extension was missing — three days after, according to their records, I was to return to work.

Sigh.

My mental health has held up pretty well during this convalescence. This insurance flam makes me anxious. It will work out. But that I can’t do anything positive on the matter until Monday is worrisome.

I dislike this constant feeling of weakness. I know my poor physical health before the pneumonia contributes to the slow recovery.

Still, it’s not as if I can do much exercise in this weekend condition. I am supposed to start aquatic therapy in two weeks.

This assumes Coronavirus hasn’t shut down the earth. I think that will be fine, too, despite worrisome, panic-driven predictions.

I wish we could have a virus that shut down social media and the internet and keep sports. So it goes.

Anyway, the long slog to wellness continues.

With love and hope, dpf

I’m waiting for the recount

My phone rang on my way back from the doctor. It was the daughter of one of the vice principals I had while a student at East High School in Des Moines.

She cheerfully told me I had been selected to the East High School Alumni Hall of Fame. I was flabbergasted.

I deflected. I thought it must be an error. I could think of a half dozen people more deserving than me. What have I ever done?

I’m just a simple paragraph stacker trying to make his way in the digital world. What’s more, I’ve made more mistakes in my life than I care to admit to.

And I can be a real jerk. I try not to be, but it happens.

A woman from the Class of 1948 nominated her. I met her 28 years ago when I interviewed for an alumni scholarship. She apparently sees something in me that I don’t.

That’s sort of my East High story. Parents 1.0 died by the time I was 14. I ended up at East after leaving Winterset under unhappy circumstances.

The reason I landed there was a couple members of the Class if 1967 decided to remake their lives at ages 41 and invite an orphaned teenager into their home in the spring of 1991.

They became Parents 2.0 and they provided the stable home I’d never really had.

I had given up on family by the time I met them. I was prepared to go back into the foster care system. I didn’t care anymore and I wasn’t going to love anyone or let anyone love me.

Parents 2.0 met my every aggressive rejection with an unrelenting onslaught of love. And so we learned to love each other and to became a better person.

There were East alums Ric Powell and the late Bill Carlson, then the school’s baseball and football coaches, along with East basketball coach Chuck Sutherland, who took mercy on my uncoordinated, slow-footed soul and let me tape knees and ankles for the football and basketball team and keep the scorebook for the baseball team.

I could not help these men win games, but they still saw value in having me around. It fostered a love of sports and sports writing.

Ed Kelly, in first or second year as advisor, let my writing loose on the pages of the Scroll. They say it takes 10,000 practice to be a master of something and I got a bunch of those reps writing for the East High Scroll.

I was no photographer, but I learned a lot about perseverance and dedication from the late John Lethcoe, whose rare blood disease made climbing the steps to his classroom a chore multiple times a day.

Yet John covered more ground than most teachers in a day, setting up group shots for the year book with his famed “One, two — CLICK” shutter press.

I never would have survived to a third day at East had it not been for my classmate and future best friend, Tyler Teske.

I transferred in from Winterset, pop. 4,500. There were about 1,800 kids at East when I attended. The office gave me a schedule card that told me where my classes where and when.

They dropped me off in speech class. There was a sub. She didn’t know what to do with me, so she just told me to sit in the back.

The bell rang. I stood in hallway as chaos erupted and the crush of humanity clattered through the basement.

My next class was Algebra II in room B12. That could have been on the moon for all I knew. I felt overwhelmed, lost and very along. I was going to cry.

Tyler, tall and gangly with big glasses and a friendly face, said to me, “You look like you could use a friend.”

He took my schedule card, showed me to my next class and met me after that class to show me the rest. He lived a few blocks away from Parents 2.0.

Soon we were riding the bus — and later driving in his parents’ Camry — to school everyday. We played basketball after school and talked about the things teenage boys talk about late into the night.

The woman who interviewed me for an alumni scholarship all those years ago helped me receive the Tom Luthens Memorial Scholarship, named after proud East alum and longtime Des Moines school board member Sue Luthens’ late son.

That money helped me attend Drake University where I learned my craft. My first summer job was writing high school baseball and softball game stories for the Register’s sports section.

I came in one day to learn the computer system. I asked a copy editor — one I would later learn was one of the grumpiest men to ever live — where I could sit. He didn’t answer.

But an East alum, Randy Peterson did. Pete said, “Hey kid, he’s an asshole. Sit wherever you want.” And I’ve been stacking paragraphs ever since.

So they’re inducting me on the East High School Alumni Hall of Fame. But that’s not really true. They’re inducting all the people who helped make it possible for me to be.

It was the teachers and coaches and everyday people of East that embraced the motto “For the Service of Humanity.” They made me better. I can’t possibly ever see myself as worthy of this honor.

But I’ll accept it on their behalf.

With love and hope, dpf

Am I better? Yes. But not enough.

Oh damnit. I went to the doctor Tuesday. The wheeze remains in my lungs. “It’s better,” she said. “I don’t love it.”

My biggest gripe is complete absence of energy. One simple task wipes me out, drenched me with sweat and leaves my lungs to gasp.

The doctor ordered up some physical therapy. I picked aquatic. The warm water will make it easier for me to breathe and the conditioning needed to get me back on my feet full time will go faster.

The doctor brought up my obesity. She was hesitant. I encouraged her. It’s a serious problem and it’s hampering my recovery.

She offered to refer me to a weight loss specialist. We discussed gastric surgery. I said I wanted to talk with my longtime therapist first.

I have struggle since late 2018 to consistently keep my exercise goals and maintain good eating habits. Some unpleasant things went down at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.

I never quite got my brain in gear. I drifted and I have paid a physical price for my psychological disengagement.

This year began with the deaths of two of my dearest mentors followed by the onset of pneumonia.

I feel like a car that’s been on the lift at the garage for three years. They just get the wheels on the road and something else goes haywire.

This will end. I will eventually get my breath back. I will climb back out of the hole I dug, filled and dug again for obesity.

Patience is the order of the day. Rest. Therapy, both physical and mental, will compliment the work needed for recovery.

My heavens, I am tired of being sick. I can embrace laziness, but this is too much. I want to draw clean breaths.

With love and hope, dpf

Still?! Yes. Still pneumonia.

The time is 8:38 a.m. I sit in my oversized recliner. A coughing jag just finished. It felt like dry firing a Howitzer for a few minutes.

I cough enough I’ve got a pain in the left side of my neck and and a spot in the middle of my back hurt from the strain of tending muscles.

I have improved, measurably so from the ER visit almost two weeks ago. Then every breath was pain. Now I reach a frustrating middle ground in recovery.

Wheezes still mark the breaths I draw. My stamina has improved, but only gradually. I can walk down the hall to the property manager’s office.

Wednesday I walked to my car and drove to therapy. The walk inspired a coughing jag. It was lesser and shorter than previous fits. But it was still exhausting.

I stopped by the comic store on my way home from therapy to refresh my reading table. That was a step too far. I found myself out of breath leaning on one of the sales counters, breathless and unable to keep up with the pop culture banter.

I got back to the car, hit the inhaler and drive home. I felt a spike in my health. It was cheap wings day at the barbecue place. Why not? I’ve got to eat.

I perched on a stool at the end of the bar. It was good to see the staff, people who’ve become friends over years of visits. But my energy flatlined. I sat on my stool sipping iced tea for a good hour just because I didn’t feel strong enough to walk out.

I finally did and got myself home. I stopped to pick up the mail for the first time in a few days. By the time I got in the house, I was wiped out.

Some of this exhaustion can be traced to inactivity forced upon me by pneumonia. Some can go to my old nemesis obesity. But some is just still being sick and wanting to pretend that I am better than I am.

I want to be healed. I’m not. It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. Here’s another blog post about being sick. Boy, what fun to read. Believe me friends, it’s less fun to live.

I’ve been sick nearly every day in February. I out no stock in the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. But I’ll chase leprechauns in the meadow if their pot of gold includes a clean breath.

With love and hope, dpf

Pneumonia, Day 10

Lungs. Need them back. Fully functional, please. Wheeze-free, please. Yes. Lord, above all else, no more damn wheeze.

Life on pneumonia reduces all actions by half. It’s like playing a board game where your movements are controlled by the roll of dice and you hit a two every damn time.

Walk to bathroom. Pause. Coughing fit. Calm down. Take care of business. Walk back to bed. Pause. Endure coughing fit. Calm down. Walk to kitchen. Lean against counter. Wheeze. Try to hold the cough in. Fix sandwich. Wheeze. Make it to recliner. Sit on edge. Explode with coughing fit. Eat sandwich.

Friday. Took a field trip. Drove to Ames to see doctor. No biggie. For healthy lungs. Sick lungs? Every step must be planned. Walk to car. The drive. Get in the clinic. Get labs. Get X-ray.

On the mend. Not clear for work. Another week. Sounds like a party. You know, the kind of party where you try to move as little as possible to avoid coughing jags.

This level of incapacitation is terrifying. I know my health feature is bleak given my eating habits and exercise levels. But impeded breathing. That scares me.

I’m also reaching the point in my steroid treatment where the drugs start to make me a little crazy. Prednisone is powerful stuff. But it runs roughshod over my anxiety. I’m edgy and quick to be irate. I am not fun to be around even when I’m by myself.

Ride it out. That’s all that can be done. Fine. OK. I’ll do. No choice.

Many thanks to friends who’ve helped me get about in recent days from Sara Sleyster’s Magic Healing Apple Crisp to Aric West spending some time with me at the house watching MST3K and Adam Wilson and Tammy Cline and my Jethro’s buddies bringing some food by.

And of course my friend Paul from Memphis, who takes time for a chat or a few jokes about the absurdity of life.

For a guy who is not often overtly friendly, I am blessed with good and loyal friends. I did something right. I don’t know what it is. But I’m glad I did and shall endeavor to keep doing it.

With love and hope, dpf

My pneumonia is scaring the hell out of me

It started as a respiratory virus. Hardly unusual. I get one almost every winter. A thundering chest cough. Fever. Every breath sounds like a hands saw cutting old tree branches.

I felt better on the fourth day. I left the apartment. Got my mail. I went to get a ham sandwich and iced tea. Then I got home. I could barely breath.

I coughed. I coughed more. I coughed until I saw static on my closed eyelids like an old tube TV with no signal. I was in trouble. The time was close to midnight. Too late for urgent care. They opened at 10 a.m. Sunday.

My brain decided to wait. It’s cheaper. It’s what you’re supposed to do. But the hours wore on and my breath was still sparse and the coughs plentiful. By 3:30 a.m., my body overruled my brain and said I needed to get some damn help.

I put on my shoes and coat and walked out to the car. Maybe a half block traversed. I sat in my car. Started it. And hyperventilated. My breath was shallow and I couldn’t gain control.

I don’t know how long I sat their gasping in the dark. I thought about calling 911. But I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. How would I let them in the gate.

My breath returned to a manageable state of labored. I drove to the hospital. I parked as close to the door as I could. I walked in. By the time I got to the desk, the great wheeze was upon me again. Swear dropped from my forehead. I fumbled for my insurance card.

The security guard, unprompted, brought a wheelchair.

“Looks that bad,” I gasped.

“It’s not looking great,” he said.

I would have laughed if I had the air for it.

They wheeled me into a room where a team of people took my details, started drawing blood and hooking me up to an EKG. The nurse was kind and focused. She had a sleeve of tattoos, a very heavy metal arrangements.

There was a gray skull in the desert. I asked if she thought it sent the right message to have a skull on your arm in the ER. She laughed. I would have, too, but laughter requires breathing I don’t have.

The gave me breath treatments, steroids, antibiotics and fluids. The diagnosis was pneumonia. I had a virus. In 80% if cases, the virus passes in three to five days. But in a special 20% of cases, pneumonia develops. Gosh, it’s fun to be gifted.

I’m home now. Bedridden. Sometimes recliner ridden. Not much else. I walk if 30 steps to the bathroom and back to bed is a lot. The same of walking to the recliner or to the kitchen.

I wouldn’t even attempt to walk down the hall to open the door for someone.

My friend Sara brought some fruits, soup and some of her famous apple crisp. She and her lovely kids sat with me and talked for a bit.

Her father survived lung cancer but has COPD. She understands the terrible fear of the wheeze. Through her, I understand the beauty of friendship and God’s grace.

I made arrangements with my property manager, a kind man named Pierce, like the doctor on M*A*S*H, to have Sara access the hallway through his office. I know I couldn’t have made it down and back without severe distress.

This evening I feel asleep in my recliner. I woke up dehydrated. I’d missed my Tylenol and decongestant dose. The body has about one trip in. I needed to take my empathy apple crips bowl out to the kitchen. I needed to fill my water. I needed to get my night meds.

I tried to do three or four things in one trip. But I couldn’t. My lungs punished me with wheezing and hacking at the sink and again in the bathroom.

I try to keep a cool head. If I panic, my breathing will be further challenged. But I am scared. I’ve never had pneumonia before and I don’t know what is normal.

I hacked up reddish mucus. I think that’s normal for this stage based on what I read online. But I don’t know for sure. I’m the kind of person who wants to talk to someone and have them tell me this is OK, this is trouble and so on.

I try not to pester my doctor and her nurses with questions by email. This is tedious. They have many patients. And they can’t really answer the question I want answered most: When will I draw a clean breath again?

I put in for short-term disability. I worry the paperwork won’t go through or it will get garbled up. I shouldn’t. My boss tells me not to worry. But I live with acute anxiety and when every breath is a struggle, everything seems super important.

I have a hitch in my psychological makeup. If something goes wrong, I want to fix it right away. If I lose something, I have to replace it RIGHT NOW even if that is unnecessary expensive or a waste of time and energy.

Illness attempts to harness me with patience. It suits me poorly. My brain spins it’s wheels like bald, wet tires in ice in the middle of winter. Is this it? Am I going to die? I don’t even have a will made. Who will want my comic books or Funko collection?

These are u productive thoughts. But I’ve got a lot of time for them. The steroids keep me awake. I sleep fitfully. And I can’t move around much. TNT had “Star Wars” marathon Monday. I watched the old films, the originals from when I was a boy.

It was comforting. I made a few jokes on Twitter. I read some comics. I visited with my friend Sara and her kids. It would have been a relaxing day if I weren’t worried I was going to die.

I know I’m not going to die. This will pass. But when I’m in one those hacking spells and I start to see fuzzy lights in the corners of my eyes, I have flashes that this might end poorly.

I’m not afraid to die. God will take care if that. I am afraid of all the things that lead up to it. And the slow, wheezing death is right up there in the grim end scale for me.

I’m trying to stay positive. I remind myself to do what I can. Keep calm. Take meds on time as ordered. Drink water. Rest. Heal.

But friends, I gotta tell ya, this is scary.

With love and hope, dpf

Further complaints about illness and mortality

Illness invites thoughts of atrophy. I’ve been sick for a week. That’s the second round of incapacitating illness I’ve suffered this year. Both attacked my lungs, hardly the strongest piece of latticework in my body — a structure that is already not up to code.

This hacking, wheezing festival began Monday and intensified as the week progressed. The week moved forward; I didn’t. I laid in bed buried under blankets. The fever hit 100.3. That’s the same number as the frequency of a radio station in town. I wondered if I won a prize. I didn’t.

My physical activity was walking to the bathroom and back to bed. My thinking amounted to whether to sleep fitfully in bed or sleep fitfully in my recliner. My diet was cough drops, puffs of inhaler, Tylenol and Musinex. I snuck in some chicken soup spice.

People get sick. Everyone does. It happens. I’m not special. But, boy, this winter has been rough. Two illness that caused me to miss seven days of work in the first two months of the year. The cold inspired my arthritis to seize up while I was out on assignment last month.

The body is in poor shape and the physical health is in decline. I turn 45 in June, but just more than five months out, I feel like I’m almost ready for hospice. I exaggerate. But the indignities of age are piling up. I’m on my second blog post this month about how getting old sucks. There would be more, but I’m too tired to write more often.

I go in for a physical next week. That should be super humiliating. I’ve eaten so badly I can’t come up with a metaphor for how poor that eating has been. It’s bad. I haven’t exercised. Some of that I excuse to illnesses and extended holidays. The rest is just mental fatigue and laziness.

It’s odd. My mental health is OK. When I get sick, I think about dying a lot. I think that’s natural when you’re having trouble breathing and coughing so hard you get dizzy. Slow, wheezing death is scary.

But what’s scarier is reduced quality of life and still living. I can take the widow maker. 1. I don’t have a wife to make a widow. 2. That’s a lightening strike and you’re done. It’s this slow decay that makes me edgy.

Look, I know I have agency here. I’ve got moves to make. I can get back to the gym. And I will. I’m going to the physical. I’m going to get the numbers. Then I’m going to work on a plan.

The biggest thing is pain and recovery. True exercise requires exertion. I don’t mind grunts as long as they’re productive. But if I hurt myself, I’ll hide. Because I don’t want to have pains that linger. I’ve got to pace myself; challenge but not overdue. It sounds common sense, but it’s a delicate balance and tricky to pull off.

When I’m laid up, like incapacitated, I started thinking, “So this is how it ends.” That’s grim thinking for a bad chest cold. But I grew up in a home filled with mental and physical illness. My dad was once strong and invulnerable. Then he had a heart attack. And he slowly faded away over three years. It was the second-saddest thing I ever saw.

The saddest thing I ever saw was my mother, whose mental illness and prescription drug addictions so addled her that her life was blood-stained with sadness, cruelty and instability far worse than anything the household accident that killed her ever wrought.

When people die early on you, I think you become better aware of the endings of things. I am always looking for the end of my story, and probably my life, which makes me vulnerable to missing — or at least not appreciating — all the stuff in the middle.

I’m not appreciating my health, for example. I’m not shoe it any respect. I should. I’m feeling better. I imagine it’ll take another week before my pegs are steady under me. After my physical and whatever shame that goes with that, I’ll go back to the gym and try again. I’ll do better.

Because right now I’m stuck in the middle and I’m in no hurry to get to the end.

With love and hope, dpf

Living the cliches of middle age

The worst part about getting old isn’t admitting that all the warnings about just how physically difficult aging is were absolutely true.

It’s realizing they were kind of underselling it.

I pulled a triple homicide and an officer-involved shooting on one long, cold night a week back.

By the end of the day, I was spouting movie cliches, specifically: “I’m too old for this shit.”

My body didn’t take one or two days to recover. It hasn’t recovered yet. My sleep is still screwy. My hips, back and knees ache.

They hurt when I stand. They when I walk. They hurt when I sit. They hurt when I’m in bed.

I’m gobbling you Aleve like Pac-Man on a power pellet bender. They work, but not like they used to. Time was I got a body ache, a couple of ibuprofen tablets and I was back playing ball again.

These days, I manage pain. It’s always gonna hurt. The question is how much can I tolerate.

Look, I’m not a dumbass. I know my morbid obesity is major — if not the biggest — contributor to my pains. I’m fatter than any human should be.

Since the holidays, I’ve been inconsistent at the gym. And my diet is a disaster.

These are mistakes, concessions to obsessions and addictions that I should not have made. I own it. I squandered two years of hard work and came out the other side worse than I’ve ever been.

That is 100% my fault.

I am also not spending much time wallowing in those mistakes. They’re done. Every moment I spend beating myself up for them is wasted.

Ever since I had my moment of prayer a few weeks back, I have found it easy to let go of my self-loathing. I can step off the train of negative thoughts that ultimately ends with me being a horrible person who should just die.

I pray often now. Not as much as I should, but more than I did for years, which was none. Sometimes I just say the Lord’s Prayer and leave it at that.

The Lord’s Prayer seems to hit the highs and lows of human experience: Have a meal, forgive others and yourself and avoid temptation.

Sometimes I pray for people I love. I pray for Parents 2.0, who are going through a tough time helping my grandma transition to assisted living. I give thanks for my many meaningful friendships.

If I ask God for anything, it’s the strength to be the person I’m meant to be, to see the beauty of the gift of life and embrace it rather than fear it or waste it.

I know the path. Exercise. Adjust food intake. Keep moving forward.

But, friends, the flesh is weak. The aches are bone deep and the will to rise is absent.

I have walked tender-footed through this winter, terrified that another fall to the ground would bring the pain that took almost if recovery.

So of course with all that effort to avoid injury, I slipped on a patch of snow and caught myself. I felt my back tighten.

I was already on my way to urgent care. I woke up deaf in my left ear. The ear wax had blocked the auditory canal. This is a problem I haven’t had since I was an infant.

Sigh.

I’ve become the cliche — the middle-aged man carping about his aches and pains.

So it goes.

I’ll let my back rest over the weekend. I’ll call the doctor if I need more physical therapy.

I’ll find a way.

With love and hope, dpf

All the savage things

Red and white police lights swept across the otherwise dark houses on the southeast side house where three teenage boys were shot and killed.

Only a blue TV light in the upstairs window and a yellow light at the front door shown from the house where they died sometime hours earlier.

An cop guarded the door. Another officer sat in his SUV parked in the middle of the street to block traffic.

I sat in my Charger close to the yellow police line with my headlights off, but my hazards lights blinking.

I monitored the police radio on a handheld scanner I inherited from my late Grandma Rogers, the mother of a policeman and curious scanner listener long before there were online “squads” groups on social media.

I picked up the overnight shift to avoid a political assignment. That’s the premium draw, but that’s never meant much to me.

Politics consists of too much genuflecting and demagoguery. It’s too hard to sort facts from fiction. Everyone bends the truth to suit their means.

This is true on the cop beat, to an extent. But it’s a language I learned to speak. Politics are just noise to me.

My late friend and longtime beat cop Dan Dusenberry used to speak of “all the savage things people do to others and themselves.” This was one of those nights.

Three dead kids. Grieving families. Stories that are told. Stories that aren’t told. And the truth, which may never come to light.

I found myself weary. This kind of disregard for human life makes me sad. All we have is these few years circling the sun. What could be so important as to take so many of them away from three teenagers? What terrible arrogance to take away what God saw fit to give.

My body was bone tired. The damp cold activates my arthritis. My knees swell and wobble. My back aches.

I’ve gained weight over the winter. I can line up the usual suspects: carbs, sugars and inactivity. All of it means more weight on legs that are not up to code.

My feet hurt so bad I kicked off my shoes in the car. When the public information officer gave his stand-up interviews, my back and feet so bad I bent over in pain. I hope my groans didn’t get on the TV audio.

The PIO finished his on air interviews and asked if I had anything else to ask. I usually do, but don’t like to give any of my ideas away to the competition.

This cold morning all I could think about was getting my aching body back to my car. It was parked about two blocks away, but it felt like I was walking to Mars.

Uneven ground challenges my knees, feet and back the most. Winter leaves a mess of frozen icebergs all over the street. Each stem is treacherous and it feels as my feet are trying to grip the road like a simian’s paw.

I’ve done a poor job maintaining my health since 2018 or so. A lot of stuff happened. I choose not to rehash it. I took leave twice in those two years to get my mind right. It worked, but bad eating habits and poor exercise consistency remained.

I turned to God some weeks back for relief of the self-hatred. And I though I would not be so bold as to say my prayers were answered, I will say the burden has been easier to bear.

I still have doubts and struggle with an absence of confidence and an abundance of insecurity. But those thoughts do not immediately turn into condemnation of myself.

Even with the pain I felt from morbidly obesity complicating my arthritic knees and back, I looked at it as a problem to work on rather than a reason why I’m worthless.

I feel a twinge of sadness that this problem still plagued me. I did so well. I lost a lot of weight a few years back. Things seemed to be going so well.

Then my troubles came. And I ate the way alcoholics drink: first to ease the pain and then just to feed the clawing hunger of emptiness.

I have truly been a savage to myself for so long I don’t know if I can ever remember a time where I didn’t turn ever mistake into more evidence that I shouldn’t continue living.

Now, I choose to believe that life is God’s gift to humans. And it is not for me to take it away even if my brain is addled with depression and anxiety.

Now I recognize how lucky I am to be on the verge of 45. That reality becomes especially acute when I’m sitting outside a triple homicide scene. Those kids never got a chance to live.

What luxury I have to take these hits and keep moving forward.

I know what needs to be done. I need to get back to the gym. I’ll work with my man Nate Yoho. We’ll go slow. We’ll work on getting the body loose and correcting balance.

I’ll get off the carbs. I can still correct. I’ll never be as svelte as I was at 15. No one is. But I’m still here. I have hope of at least easing the pain and perhaps getting much better.

The process will be slow, slower than it was two years ago when I was getting healthier and stronger every week.

But I live. And life is hope.

With love and hope, dpf

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