Friday, August 5, 2011

Suck it up and drive on

Where to start . . .

I haven’t been going anywhere pretty for some time now for a variety of reasons. For some of the trips it just hasn’t been feasible due to the schedule or due to the fact that I was working with others from my company. The sad truth (pun intended) is that I have also been enjoying a visit from my old friend depression. That’s a gift from my mother I think, as she also went through this kind of horse shit. I don’t have any particularly good reason for being depressed, but I’m afraid that logic has very little to do with the matter. But hey, what can you do right?

So there I was sitting in the hotel just after finishing a job in Richmond VA when I get a call from my wife telling me that she is taking my seven year old daughter to the emergency room for her asthma. My daughters asthma has been getting worse and worse in the last couple of months, and for the last few weeks before this call, she had been waking up two or three times every night with asthma attacks so it didn’t come as a complete shock. The next call I got was telling me that she was being taken from the ER to the ICU at the Children’s hospital by ambulance . . .
The bad news is that at that hour I couldn’t get a flight home and so I had to wait for the following morning. The good news is that Delta airlines went well out of their way for me when I told them why I needed and earlier flight and they got me out first thing in the morning AND first class all the way, and they didn’t charge me a cent for it. Much to my relief, my wife’s cousins down in San Antonio sent me a message that they were already in their car and headed to Austin to help my wife with our two year old son while she was with our daughter. That’s got to be one of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for us and I just can’t describe how grateful I am to them for that. To catch my flights home I had to get up at 3AM and so by the time I got to her room that afternoon I was already pretty well spent.

You know it’s a real hard thing to see your child in a hospital bed with leads attached to her little chest, an IV drip stuck in her arm, and an oxygen mask on her face. A real hard thing . . .    My daughter is not the tough “stiff upper lip” type, and cries at the top of her lungs if she even thinks she might be about to get hurt, so I was kind of impressed with the matter of fact way she was taking it and acting like a big girl.
I stayed with her for the next two nights in the ICU so that my wife could get some rest, and I’ve got to tell you, I haven’t gone that long without sleep since my Army days and it has gotten much harder than it used to be! Getting old sucks . . .

After talking with all of the specialists, it became fairly clear that the cause for my daughters escalation in problems was almost certainly the kittens that we had just brought into our home. The more we thought about it, the more the time line fell into place that my daughters problems started to get bad when my son and daughter in law brought a cat into the house, and then got much worse when we got our two kittens, so the first thing we did when my daughter was released from the hospital was to take the adorable little critters back to the “no kill” shelter and then I tore the house apart and cleaned it thoroughly. She had only one small asthma “event” the day after she came home and hasn’t had a single problem with Asthma since, so it looks like we made the right call in getting rid of the critters. The bad news is that my wife tells me that she already has heard a mouse at work by her desk.

I don’t know what triggers it and neither do any of the half a dozen doctors that I have seen over the years, but my Erythema Nodosum is back and with a vengeance. I have huge swollen bruises all up and down my legs and it hurts like hell to do pretty much anything – sit, stand, or walk. Gotta earn a living or the babies go hungry though, so I pop a bunch of Aleve, steroids, and antibiotics and keep on going. That’s one of the most important lessons the Army taught – you can keep going even when you think you can’t. Thanks Uncle Sam . . .

I made a two day trip to Southern California and that was a bit of a head trip. I flew in early in the afternoon and then drove three hours each way to see me niece whom I had not seen for over ten years. On the way there, I had to drive right by the road that would have taken me to my mothers home, and it bummed me out to think that she was no longer there. It’s been a couple of years now since she died and I still miss her quite a lot. I was pleased to find that my niece has become a beautiful young woman who graduated high school with a 4.0 - I was so very proud of her. Soon she will move in with her father (my half brother) in Colorado and so I may get to see her more often from here on out.
The following afternoon, after I finished my repair, I drove two hours the other direction to visit my brother Don. The damned idiot has emphysema and has to take an oxygen bottle with him every where he goes, and yet he still insists on smoking! Wouldn’t you think that emphysema should be a clue that it’s time to quite smoking?

I got back home from California and got to spend Friday with my family before getting right back on an airplane to Berlin Germany for a week of training. There is a new semiconductor fab being built near Albany New York and they have purchased a LOT of new equipment from my company, and so I was being trained on how to install and maintain these systems. It felt really odd to be back in Germany. My wife and I had lived in Germany for three years back when I was in the US Army, and we had even had our first child there. Of course back then I had been young, recently married, a new parent, and a soldier working on the US Army’s premier nuclear weapon – the Pershing missile. Today I am . . . something else. . . in some ways more than I was, and in some ways less. Suffice it to say that I had conflicting emotions about it all.

I made one serious mistake during the training, and while it scared the hell out of me at the time, it’s kind of funny now. We had taken a pump apart to learn how to perform maintenance on it and we were having trouble getting it back together correctly. We wanted to compare our reworked pump with a known good one but they didn’t have any available that weren’t already installed in production systems. The only one available was installed in a rack where we could not get a good look at it, and they did not have a mirror, so I got the bright idea of sliding my cell phone in and using it to take a photo of the pump. With two other engineers from my company looking over my shoulder, I then navigated my phones menu to bring up the photo I had just taken. The only flaw in that plan was that they both saw the thumbnails of the two Kimberly photos I had in the same folder on my phone. I quickly scrolled down to the photo I had taken of the pump but it was too late.
“Hey! Who’s the cute girl?” Bret asked me.
“She’s a friend of mine.” I replied, trying not to show the anxiety I was feeling.
“Well let’s see her. I want a better look at that!” he said with a grin.
“Not a chance in hell!” I told him with a laugh and then showed him the photo of the pump that proved we had indeed failed to put ours back together properly. Fortunately this distracted him and got the subject changed and it was not brought up again. And to think that some people actually accuse me of being smart. Kind of ironic since I’m clearly about as smart as a rock . . .


I had the pleasure of spending three days with my wife and children before I had to head out to Detroit for a service call there. I debated going pretty or not, weighing the pros and cons. Despite the huge and ugly bruises on my legs, I decided that I would go ahead and give it a whirl. I picked out a new dress that was fairly long so that it would hide a lot of the blemishes. I considered wearing my boots but always feel silly wearing them and I feared that they would be both hot and uncomfortable if not down right painful against the bruises. In the end, I chose to just wear my pretty Mary Janes and to hell with the bruises.
When I was all ready, I looked in the mirror and was reasonably pleased with the results, not overjoyed but also not suicidal, and so I headed out.

As I was checking in with US Airways, the lady behind the counter was professional but cool. At Delta they welcome me by name, and with a friendly smile and conversation. At US Airways I think I am more tolerated than appreciated for my business. I breezed through the TSA security with no issues, but couldn’t help noticing at least half a dozen huge grins pointed in my direction. Five years ago I felt like I passed with the majority of people and that it was only a few that really knew what I was when they looked my direction. These days I feel like just the opposite is true – that the vast majority of folks know what I am and only the rare individual seems to not realize it. Traveling pretty used to fill me with joy, making me feel almost like a kid at Disneyland. While everyone else was bored to death getting from point A to point B, I was having a blast being out in the real world and pretty. This time I felt no joy in the experience but at least I didn’t feel what has become an almost crippling depression either, so I suppose it is progress of a sort.
Walking through the Charlotte airport to catch my connecting flight, I happened to glance down at my feet, and was shocked so badly that I stopped walking in mid-step. Much to my surprise, my left ankle and calf were swollen to about the size of a football. My left leg had been covered in the bruises I mentioned earlier and had been hurting for the better part of a month now, so I hadn’t really noticed any change in how it felt, but wow did it suddenly look bad! I got to thinking about it that night, and figured that it was the first time that I had been active and done a lot of walking while not wearing your typical mens shoes that would have restricted the swelling caused by my condition. Today I was wearing pretty Mary Janes that allowed the ankle and foot to swell to it’s hearts content. Well, it didn’t hurt any worse than it had been hurting for weeks, and there wasn’t much that could be done about it anyway, so I kept on walking! I must have been one hell of a site – a tired old cross dresser with a large stump for a foot and leg. I wonder if there is already a video on youtube?


  1. Kim, so good to see a post from you. Glad to hear your daughter is feeling better and you figured out what was causing her asthma. It's funny - we can soldier through things that happen to us but when our kids are hurting, that's the worst.

    I also periodically suffer from bouts of depression. I'm functional but that's about it. It's a tough thing. I'm sorry to hear that you go through this, too.

    I hope your leg and foot are feeling better and you'll have a chance for more Kim time soon.

    All the best.


  2. I really feel for you and I know how it is to have kids with ailments my heart goes out to you.
    love Alicia

  3. As the parent of a boy with Type 1 Diabetes, I empathize with your feelings. Seeing him in the emergency room 5 years ago when he was first diagnosed was painful. I went into a mild panic stage. We then met other parents who had children with cancer, leukemia and brain tumors and I realized that diabetes was something we could manage. It's all in your perspective. I pray all goes well for you and yours.

  4. I remember you talking about the kittens and the asthma attacks. I hope your daughter is doing well. Seeing loved ones suffer is terrible and so hard on everyone who loves them!

    I hope your Erythema is getting better but I love how you decided to go pretty and travel as yourself. I don't see a "tired old cross dresser" - I see a beautiful woman with a lot of courage and strength and a helluva lot of smarts. Your travels inspire me. Love your blog!

    I hope you are getting well and the same for your daughter. Whenever a friend is hurt, I am hurt too. I wish you both a safe and speedy recovery. And I've been to Douglas International, not a fan. :) I slept through the Charlotte train station last year so I like that location better!! (hugs) and *smiles* to you!

  5. Kim,

    My prayers go out to you and your daughter for continued progress with her asthma. I am glad that you also go out and had some time. I think that now you're personality is so integrated that when you dress you're just being you know and Kim is as powerful as Matt. The rush is not there because Kim is just so real. Thank you for sharing Kim with us.


  6. I sat for a while considering what to write.

    All I could think is that your daughter inherited her bravery from you. She's tough. And she's blessed to have you as a dad.

    That said- if you think the bruises are an issue, get opaque nude colored hose or tights. Many CD places online sell them.

    As for your pics on the phone- I'm glad I'm not the only one who was almost caught that way!

    As always love reading you!