Parenting for the upcoming zombie wars

As my daughter approaches her teen years, my level of stress and worry increases: drugs, alcohol, guns, driving, high school drama, school shootings, men and boys that may want to hurt her, ineffective antibiotics, the bird flu, and who knows what else my mind can conjure up.

Wait, I do know: the end of the world and the complete breakdown of society as we know it.

I've been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood - Fotolia.com

I’ve been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood – Fotolia.com

There I said it. Throw me in an underground holding tank with a deck of Uno cards and the rest of the doomsday nuts.

However, before you do, I wonder if I and others haven’t been approaching parenting the wrong way. I mean we’re the protective generation of parents, aren’t we? We do everything we can to keep our children safe, which is a good thing. But I  wonder if we should have been looking at the “big picture” instead of worrying about our kids falling off a swing at the park, or riding a skateboard without knee pads.

Like doing more to make sure they inherit a habitable Earth.

I know other generations of parents have worried about their children and the future. However, are we the first parents to ever have the concern of our planet being so screwed up it won’t be able to sustain life?

And, as life heads to a possible end with food and water shortages, overpopulation, a larger percentage of poor, rising sea levels and global warming, what will those last years of life on the planet be like?

Yes, I worry too much. I know. I just wonder while the majority of us are working our asses off, and paying bills, and putting food on the table, and figuring out how to pay medical bills, and stressing about our jobs, who is keeping the planet safe from harm?

Was that up to us too?

I think it was.

What keeps me up at night

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn't mean it's not fragile and fleeting.

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fragile and fleeting.

For a long time it was stress and the fear of not waking up. Now, it’s something else. When I finally figured it out, it surprised me – a lot.

It’s luck.

Yes, luck, and thinking how lucky I am to have everything I have. A great and caring wife, a perfectly imperfect daughter, 1,850 sq. ft of house, with equity, black and yellow labradors, good friends, a job.

Life hasn’t always been this way for me. But it has been lately.

I am grateful for having so much in a world growing hotter every year, filled with too many people living in poverty, and too many people who believe they never have enough, though I can’t exclude myself from that last category many days. I’m surrounded by daily reminders of great wealth in Los Angeles: McMansions, 100K+ cars, and an environment where my daughter counted how many kids in her class brought MacBook Pros to school, making her inexpensive ASUS seem inferior, though I will be speaking to her that it’s not the computer that matters, it’s what you do with it.

But what keeps me up nights is thinking about how lucky I am and how I could have it so much worse than I do. And wondering when I will.

Parents of a Jr. High Schooler

I wonder if we had fed her less over the years, she would have stayed small and cuddly?

I wonder if we had fed her less over the years, she would have stayed small and cuddly?

I remember the day she popped out her mom. It was yesterday. Or it feels like it. I remember every detail of it.

Where did all of that time go?

Today, our daughter started Jr. high school. 6th grade. Holy Tweener, Batman, when did she get that old? I remember going to the school’s Christmas shows and thinking, “wow, look how big those Jr. high school students are. Glad that’s a long way off.”

I AM AN IDIOT. That time is here.

So, on my 29th work day in a row, I’m a little discombobulated by the speed at which my daughter aged. It seems very unfair. And, if there is a God, I’d like to register a complaint with her right now.

The sweet spot of childhood is definitely over. Ages 2 to 11 are the golden years – pajamas with feet, princess dresses, riding on my shoulders, Santa, the Easter bunny, Disneyland trips just before Christmas, a homemade dollhouse, the beach, bringing home a yellow lab puppy.

Don’t be surprised if you read my blog post in seven years about how I’m going to miss the last seven years and how quickly they went. It’s gonna happen.

Yes, Heaven, hello. Please connect me to the complaint department. I’d like to discuss the concept of time and childhood and how to improve it. Yes, I’ll hold. 

Treadmill Desk: Day Two

The good news for today is that I start the TOBI Podhaler tonight for the first time. However, I'd like to speak to Novartis about the design of the packaging. It's a little bit feminine. Can they create a more masculine design and color scheme? Camouflage with dead bacteria piled up would work for me.

The good news for today is that I start the TOBI Podhaler tonight for the first time. However, I’d like to speak to Novartis about the design of the packaging. It’s a little bit feminine. Can they create a more masculine design and color scheme? Camouflage with drawings of bloody, dead bacteria heaped in open graves would work for me.

[I’m behind on replying to your comments. My apologies.]

Day Two Results

Time Walking: 4 hours, 37 minutes

Steps taken: 10,850

Miles walked: 2.93

Calories burned: 652

Body weight: Didn’t check. It’s only been one day.

Thoughts:

I overdid it yesterday and the CF gods punished me for my hubris.

I didn’t feel so hot when I woke up this morning, and I had some mild hemoptysis (lungs opening up yesterday? Desatting?).

My lower back is sore and my ass hurts. And my calves feel like someone whacked them with a cricket bat (that’s for all the Brits who read my blog while sitting on the can).

My wife wasn’t surprised when I told her my results yesterday and how I was hurting today. “You always overdo it, don’t you?” she said, or something close to that. Yes, I do. And I completely ignored the advice everyone gives about starting out slowly on your treadmill desk, which you’ll ignore too when you get yours. (You know who your are.)

So, overall, I was in pretty bad shape today and had to walk at a snail’s pace throughout the day. Yet, even slowly, I put some miles behind me. And I got my work done.

After dinner, my wife was amazed, yes, amazed, when I got back on the treadmill to work and didn’t sit down. Wasn’t I tired? Yes, I was, but that’s exactly it: the treadmill improves energy, the chair doesn’t. I’ve had it backwards all of these years.

Key lessons learned:

For the second day: the more the complicated the work, the slower I have to walk. It takes concentration to walk on a treadmill and keep your balance. Reaching for a pen or nebulizer while on a moving belt is like that moment where you slip on a wet floor but catch yourself just in time. Whew, that was close. Now I know why the treadmill I have has a speed limit of 4 mph.

You can’t pace back and forth on a treadmill, but you can dance. I did spend time pacing back and forth a lot today, but not on the treadmill. Rather, in my house, as work was a stressful, solid 11-hour day.

Here’s today’s work joke: How many [insert your job title in plural] does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, and nine managers, GMs, and VPs to tell him/her nine different ways it should be done and take credit for it when it’s finished. 

Ah, corporate life and decision-making by committee. Delightful.

Keep on trucking.

Some days, it’s hard being a husband

Message from Fox: Unknown, you big pussy. Get off your lazy ass and make the magic happen. You're the king of excuses.

Message from Fox: Unknown, you big pussy. Get off your lazy ass and make the magic happen. You’re the king of excuses.

I should have paid more attention in school when I was younger.

If only my parents had given me a modicum of guidance how to be successful in life, though they weren’t exactly models of it.

It probably would have been better had I not spent years 18 – 25 watching TV, going to movies, reading comic books, thinking I wouldn’t live to see 25, and not doing anything to build for my future.

Oops. Slight miscalculation on my part.

Would have, should have, could have. Famous last words of most f**k-ups.

And though I feel like I turned my life around by finishing college and getting a good job, I am paying a price for my stupidity and laziness that reveals itself – painfully – in my role as husband.

The short of it: My wife hates her job, but it affords her a very good salary for part-time work, though she works full-time a lot, which is sort of the American way, isn’t it? We all work more hours than we have to for fear we’ll lose our jobs to one of the many unemployed.

But aren’t there so many unemployed out there because we’re working extra hours and companies don’t have to hire more employees?

I digress with a topic for another post.

If I were a successful husband, my wife would not have to work, would be happier, and we would have everything we need based on the results of my labor.

We do all right and aren’t living paycheck to paycheck like we were many years ago. And I know some of the responsibility lies with the fact this country demands both parents work to get by – it’s not the 1950s anymore. But I live in a city full of million-dollar homes and 75K cars and its difficult not to notice and want.

It’s hard not to feel like a failure when my wife comes to me each day with stories about her stressful job, and I see the toll it takes on her. And no amount of my advice, suggestions, or feedback can save her from it. And there’s no way to rescue her with the income from the company I don’t own, or the invention I never invented, or the stand-up career I never had because I was afraid.

I have yet to crack the code of big success, despite what some say about it being so easy in a country of opportunity. It’s beyond me. I’m still trying, but time is running out.

Invaders storm the walls of my castle (another bad clinic appointment)

INT – Castle – afternoon

The lead knight rushes to Unknown with important news. 

It's time to visit my happy place tonight. It looks like this. Ah, that's better. Ocean breeze and salt water.

It’s time to visit my happy place tonight. It looks like this. Ah, that’s better. Ocean breeze and salt water.

Knight: The scum have surrounded the castle and are upon the walls, Sir.

Unknown: All right then, man, no need to panic. We’ve been here before. Piece of cake. Let’s drop some boiling oral cipro on their heads.

Knight: Been there, done that.

Unknown: What? What do you mean by, “been there, done that”?

Knight: We already tried the boiling oral cipro, Sir. It’s lost it touch, it has.

Unknown: Really? Well, that’s not good. All right then, Plan B. How about some flaming balls of IV tobramycin to knock them down? That’s always a game-changer.

Knight: Been there, done that.

Unknown: My God, man, would you stop staying that, please?

Knight: Been there, done that?

Unknown: Yes, that. Exactly. Thank you. It’s no time for negativity. Are you quite sure the last barrage had no positive impact?

Knight: Yep. Not this time. Quite surprising it was, if I must say so. Just bounced right off of them. Quite amazing to see. Tough little buggers and quite angry.

Unknown: I see. Brilliant. Well, what else have we got here?

Knight: For lunch?

Me: For lunch? Are you daft, man? For heaven’s sake. For lunch? Not for lunch, imbecile. To drop on them. To keep them out of the castle.

Knight: Hmm, let me think. [pause while he thinks, and thinks some more] Well, lunch was pretty awful. It might work.

Unknown: Oh, my god. That’s the best you’ve got?

Knight: Well, yes. The ham is quite spoiled. Damn awful. They’ll be throwing up for hours if they eat it. Buy us some time, it will.

Unknown: Oh, damn me. We’ve run out of tricks, haven’t we? I guess we have no choice. Drop the ham. Drop it now. Let’s buy a few hours before we’re buggered for good.

Knight: But we’re out of ham.

Unknown: What? But you just said we had ham.

Knight: Well, not technically. I said perhaps we’d like to consider dropping lunch on them. But we ate it all.

Unknown: Even though it was rotten?

Knight: We used lots of mustard.

Unknown: And the men didn’t leave even a tiny bit of ham for later?

Knight: No, I’m afraid not. We ate all of it.

Unknown: And you didn’t get sick?

Knight: Oh, we got sick all right. Right horrid, it was. Oh, terrible squirts. But we was hungry. What’s a man to do when his stomach calls?

Unknown: Skip the detail next time, my dreadful knight. So, if I’m to understand correctly, what you’re saying is that we’re completely screwed?

Knight: I guess I am. That sounds about right, Captain. Completely screwed. 100%.

Unknown: Very well then, I’m going to walk to that wall over there. And then I’m going to climb up on it, at which point I want you to give me a nice solid kick to the arse, sending me over the edge and into the intruders. I may as well take a few of them with me on the way out. Are you clear on the new plan, my good knight?

Knight: Crystal, Sir. It will be my pleasure, your royalness, to kick you in the arse. My pleasure indeed.

The End

I have no right to complain. Every day I grow old with CF is a gift, but some of those days have their challenging moments. Today was one of those days.

My PFTs are still down after IVs. Or, no improvement. And the reason I can’t hear higher tones anymore is because I’ve lost a portion of my hearing thanks to the dozens of doses of IV tobramycin I’ve taken over the years – one drop at a time. Ouch.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I have a shipment of ham on the way.

8 days of work, football, videos, crappy food, and IV antibiotics

I’m home after one of the least eventful hospital stays in a long time. Other than having to ask for a different nurse after the first one tanked a port-needle change, my prison days rolled by with minimal pain and little to talk to the doctors about, other than why my lung function has dropped and is not improving.

I know most people have one time, short stays in the hospital, but after dozens of visits, I can't take the food anymore.

I know most people have one-time, short stays in the hospital, but after dozens of visits, I can’t take the food anymore.

That is the worrisome part. Or, the part I don’t want to talk about right now.

I pounded out a decent amount of work while in captivity. Sometimes even I wonder why I do it, but I’m just programmed that way.

And perhaps that was the most stressful part of the jail time – work.

Our 8-person group is coming under fire from new management for reasons unknown. It’s a little like elementary school when the entire class loses their recess because of the actions of a few. I just saved anyone reading this the details, but it created a lot of stress for me not just in the way work stress does. Instead it made me realize I can’t put up with some of this bullshit anymore as my life comes to an end. It’s not worth it and my time is too valuable.

I will say this: If it weren’t for my wife and daughter, I might give up. Yes, I know I’m the luckiest man in the world, but even with that in mind, getting painted into a corner in life, or feeling trapped, can make one feel hopeless.

It’s always the total load, trying to work, make money, avoid jail time, keep my lung function up, and float on top of the cloud of trivial bullshit some people live in.

Some days it feels overwhelming and I wish I were pushing a basket around downtown Los Angeles with my black lab and IV machine in tow, which may be happening soon the way work is going these days.

So, with a heavy mind, I spent a lot of time escaping into videoland at night, watching movies or runs of TV episodes, like House of Games (awesome), and Justified (pretty good; I wish I was either the actor that plays Raylan Givens, or Givens himself. There is something to be said for being cool in life).

So, life goes on as I complete the IVs at home, Inipenem every six hours with a 3-hour drip, and Tobra once a day for 60 minutes.

I’ll have plenty of time to think about my next move before others make it for me.