Oct 30 2012

I’m on vacation

I’m neither bragging nor complaining. Mostly I’m just tired. I’ve been tired for months now, due to a frenetic work schedule for the past several months, and a busy church schedule this summer.

So I’m not doing much of anything. Heather and I started vacation tired, and four days later we’re still tired. Yesterday we cleaned out the vents and did some other light cleaning, then collapsed on the couch to nap and play video games.

So hopefully by the end of our break we’ll be ready to return to work.


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Dec 13 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 2

Part 1 is here.

At St. Mary’s they put me on a different medicine, but my heart still wasn’t acting right, and they said they were going to have to put me under and hit me with the defibrillator to reset my heartbeat. CLEAR!

Since they had to put me under, that meant no food. It also meant no coffee. It was about lunch time now and I hadn’t had either all day. My vacation was ruined, I was starving, and I had a massive caffeine headache. I started to develop a bad attitude. On top of that the nurses came in periodically to stab me or rip some more of my arm hair or chest hair out.

Ba-bm, bum, …., BBBBM!

Later in the afternoon I had some visitors: The Bob and Bruce. Bruce had to be hospitalized for months due to a kidney tumor, a faulty heart valve, and a complication from surgery from which he literally almost died. Bob had had a heart transplant just four years before.

“Do you know how you know you have a lying heart?” The Bob asked seriously.

“Um, it’s in the Bible?” I couldn’t think of the verse. Jeremiah, maybe?

“No–it’s A-FIBBER!

Bruce and The Bob exploded with laughter. Not only was I spending my vacation in the hospital and being starved and coffee-deprived and depilated–but now I had to endure puns.

“You know,” The Bob said, “You really do have a lot to be thankful for; this could have been so much worse.”

“Yep,” I said flatly. I was trying to ignore the very audible rhythmic clockwork tick of Bruce’s mechanical heart valve.

“That sounds like mental assent instead of heart acceptance.”

“Yep,” I said again. I was in a bad mood and I didn’t want someone ruining it by counting my many blessings. And don’t get me started on Bruce. Sure, we had a lot of laughs when I visited him in the hospital, but this was entirely different.

A couple hours later the medicine finally worked its magic, and my heart started beating normally. I was finally allowed some food, but no coffee.

That night was the first–and only night so far–that I have spent in the hospital as a patient. I was awakened in the middle of the night by my roommate’s bladder, and the small circus that resulted as nurses and care assistants piled in to deal with the situation. Apparently the collective noun for nurses is a clown car.

An hour later I was awakened again so another nurse could stab me in the belly with a needle.

A couple hours later, more bladdericious fun.

The next day I had more tests–and finally–some flippin’ coffee.

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Dec 10 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 1

“I hope you have a horrible vacation.”

Those were the last words my boss said to me two years ago before I went on what is now known as The Worst. Vacation. Ever. I posted a tiny summary of this here right after it happened. He was kidding (I think).

Now, two years later, I am finally over the bitterness so that I can tell the full story.

I spent the first day of my vacation trying to unclog the sewer and taking one of the kids to the doctor–during which the sewer backed up more than ever. After wasting my entire morning in an attempt to keep from spending my vacation fun money on a plumber, I still ended up calling the plumber. After another hour and a half he pulled some fist-sized rocks out. They appear to have been dumped down the drain by a small and terrible child.

I thought my chances at camping and floating were shot, but Heather said we still had some money, so the next day I went shopping for supplies. Sunday night I packed the car and made arrangements to pick up my brother Nube. I went to bed feeling great.

I woke up at 5 in the morning not feeling great. My heart was beating like a middle school drummer. Ba-bum. Baaaa-bm. Ba-BUM! Bbbbbbm! Besides that, it felt like my second-hand cat, Her Fat Highness (Fatty for short) was sitting on my chest.

I gave it a few minutes and then woke up Heather. Then I called the nurse hotline, who told me to go to the ER. I gave it another few minutes. Ba-ba-bum! Bum!

Heather loaded me in the car and we headed to the hospital. On the way there I prayed, and was totally at peace with what God wanted for me, whether he healed me or whether I died (though I preferred the former to the latter). Only later would I realize that God was not limited by my two polar options.

At the hospital they checked me in quickly, there not being a lot of business at 5:30 Monday morning. They ran me through the usual battery of needles and very personal questions.

They diagnosed me within maybe a half an hour–I had atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib. A-fib is when the bottom chambers of the heart are like, “steady as she goes, easy does it,” and the top chambers are like, “LETSDOSPEEDANDSTAYUPALLNIGHTRACINGCARSANDGOINGWHEEEEEEEE!” They tried the most common medication to correct it, but it didn’t help. They didn’t have a cardiologist on staff so they were going to to have to send me to another hospital, so where did I want to go? I told them to send me to St. Mary’s since it was the closest.

They called me an ambulance, which was nice because I hadn’t gotten to ride in an ambulance since my anxiety attack four years before. The doors opened and these two kids got out. They wheeled me out on the gurney, shirtless into the cool November Missouri air. I was cold to be sure, but it’s hard to be mad at a couple of people who are still trying to go through puberty.

At St. Mary’s they put me in a room with some old man who, I would sadly find out, had the world’s most active bladder.

“Did they drive you or did you drive them?” the nurse asked me when she saw the paramedics.

“They asked me to buy ’em beer,” I replied. I don’t know where I summoned the humor.


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Mar 3 2011

You can’t say that here

A couple of years ago I went on vacation and instead of going floating and camping, I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. While I was in the hospital undergoing treatments you couldn’t use on people in Guantanamo, Heather stayed with me almost the entire time. After I had been there a few hours I received a visit from my pastor and his wife. I’m not Catholic, but my hospital was, and as such there was a crucifix above my bed.

As we were all the parents of at least one teenager, and Pastor and I either are or were youth leaders, the conversation soon turned to teens and some of the temptations they face. Mrs. Pastor said something about why so many teenage girls were drawn into being sexually active.

“You can’t say that word with Jesus watching you!” Pastor exclaimed, crossing himself in mock indignation to his wife.

“That will be ten thousand Hail Marys!”

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Oct 18 2010


n., a vacation during which you just stay home, either by choice or dictated by finances.

Speaking of which, I’m on it for the next two weeks! See ya.

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Feb 9 2010

Could it get better?

So I’m sitting there in first class enjoying my complimentary beverage and the stewardess comes up and says, “Oh, I see you are sitting with Marshal So-And-So,” and I say, “Why yes, I am.”

And then she says, “Well, his daughter should be here soon. She’s on her way to the Caribbean.”

“How about that,” I say, just being polite. Extra polite–we haven’t left the ground yet, and I don’t want to jinx it.

And then very casually, she adds:

“Yes. She’s a swimsuit model.”

Oh. My.

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Feb 8 2010

I’m not Daniel Radcliffe

So, like, my so-called friends say I look like Harry Potter, on account of my youthful appearance and resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe.

So anyway, I’m in line at the airport. I’ve already got my ticket and made it through the gate and I’m just about to step onto the plane and the Air Marshal pulls me aside. I’m like, crud, man, because, I cannot miss this flight, cuz my cruise leaves tonight.

He says, “It’s really great to meet you! You know, my daughter just loves your movies.”

“Look,” I said, “I’m not an actor. I’m just a regular guy trying to make his flight.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’d say if I was famous,” he replies.

I just stand there looking stupid, because it’s simultaneously stupid and logical.

“I would really appreciate it if you would read the first book to my daughter on the flight,” he says, smiling really big.

So now I know John put him up to this or something, so I say, “Heck no! I’m on vacation, and I’m not spending my first two hours of freedom reading to some kid!”

The smile disappears. Either this guy is really, really good, or….

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he says bitterly, eyes narrowing. And then he turns to one of his several deputies who have started to crowd around. I realize I have about 2 seconds to keep from missing this flight.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” I say contritely. “For a moment there I forgot the people who made me what I am. I’d love to read to your daughter.”

The smile returns. “I knew I could count on ya!” he says, and personally ushers me onto the plane.

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