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Reality Bites

So…I suppose this is my first post since the one year mark.  I know I kind of said that I really wasn’t going to write anymore.  And the main reason for that is just that each time I do write something, I find myself struggling with finding material to write that would be interesting or enjoyable enough for you all to read.


Well, so what’s been going on lately? 


I’ll start with my health…seeing as how that seems to be one of the main driving mechanisms behind this website.  The past month has been quite a challenge.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this at all in any previous entries, but I have developed some Graft Versus Host Disease in my mouth.  So what the heck does that mean?  Am I like foaming at the mouth?  So I have really bad breath?  Are my teeth falling out?  No no no…none of that.  All that is happening right now, is that I have next to no ability to produce saliva.  Some of you might be saying, “Well that doesn’t sound so bad.”  Imagine sucking on a cotton ball…24 hours a day, 7 days a week…and then come back and try saying that again.  It’s unbearable at times. 


It’s pretty much halted all physical exercise that I had been doing at work.  My mouth gets so dry when I am working out, that it makes it next to impossible to do anything which exerts any amount of extra stress or strain on my body and lungs.  Also, anytime I engage in a conversation with someone that lasts over a minute or so, I find myself frantically searching for a bottle of water.  You wouldn’t think it, but when you talk, you use up a lot of saliva! 


Another thing which it has a negative effect on is my ability to swallow food.  Up until a little while ago, I thought that I was having the same issues that my father was having with his esophagus.  He has something called hiatal hernia which means that your stomach actually pushes up through the diaphragm and into the esophagus.  This makes it extremely difficult to swallow food; sometimes resulting in the food getting stuck at the opening of the diaphragm.  I was having similar pains as I swallowed my food.  We figured it was because of genetics or something and I had the same condition.  I don’t believe this to be true anymore.  I think that it’s because I suck at making spit.   Your saliva is what lubricates your food, enabling it to slide down your esophagus and into your stomach with ease.  Take away the saliva, and that whole operation becomes a real shitstorm.  Anytime I stick a saltine cracker or even a single pretzel into my mouth, it is total game over.  There is no way it goes down my throat without the assistance of something to wash it down. 


My doctor keeps thinking it is something else, so he keeps throwing more and more tests at my esophagus.  I’ve now had multiple endoscopies checking for graft versus host disease in my esophagus and now I have something called a Barium Swallow Study scheduled for Friday.  Basically, they are going to give me some really thick oatmeal stuff, put a bunch of Barium in it, and they make me stand up next to some sort of xray machine.  As I swallow this incredibly thick and nasty tasting goo, they will be able to watch my esophageal muscles contracting back and forth, forcing the food to go down my esophagus, via the xray machine.  I guess your esophagus works a lot like a snake and how it swallows it’s food…or at least it is supposed to.  He thinks that there might be something wrong with the way my body is swallowing my food.  I think he’s wrong.  I think it’s because I just don’t have the lubricating capabilities like the rest of you do.  They say doctors are wrong 50% of the time.  Heck, by now, I bet I could pass as an okay doctor!


If it is indeed the Graft Versus Host Disease in my mouth causing all of this, I believe he is going to throw me back on prednisone.  I’ve already made it quite clear to him, that that’s probably not going to happen.  He’s given me an oral mouthwash type liquid that I swish around in my mouth for five minutes, four times a day.  It is also a steroid but one that coats my mouth.  It tastes absolutely nasty and I am terrible at taking it as prescribed.   But then again, I am pretty terrible at taking most of the medications as prescribed!…hence why I told him that the prednisone wasn’t going to happen.  I absolutely hate prednisone and every time I have been on it, I have felt horrible.  The last time I was on it, I must have gained 30 pounds in a week.  I didn’t eat anything abnormal.  I didn’t exercise any less.  The weight just came on like a ton of bricks.  And what made it even worse, was that it was just as hard to lose as any other type of body fat.  It wasn’t an “easy-come easy-go” type of thing.  It was “easy-come good-luck-trying-to-lose-all-of-this-damn-weight” kind of thing.  To be quite honest, I feel the best when I’m not taking any meds at all!  But I know if I did that, then I would have multiple people acting very motherly towards me and all over my ass…so I’ll keep taking them, at least to a certain extent.


So what else…well I’ve been sick pretty much non-stop since maybe mid-December.  I get little breaks in between each episode, but that’s about it.  It’s next to impossible for me to stay clear of any kind of cold or lung infection or whatever.  My immune system is so craptastic that I could be in an isolation chamber and still manage to catch some sort of bacterial or viral infection.  Huzzah! 


I think the people that sit around or near my office are starting to think I am some sort of pestilence-ridden bipedal infection.  On bad days, I work from home and stay out of the office.  It makes it ten times worse if I, or someone else, comes into work and gets everyone else sick in the process.  Then everyone needs to work from home.   What really sucks is that the anti-biotic that they have me taking to keep these colds and infections at bay, makes me very nauseous.   Every morning I come into work, I feel like I am going to hurl all over the place like that scene out of The Exorcist. 


Other than all of that, things has been pretty calm as far as my health is concerned.


On another note, I moved from New Berlin to Shorewood in early January.  I’m not entirely certain why the group of us decided to relocate.  I thought we had a pretty nice place before with low utility bills and such.  The new house we are at in Shorewood is rather quite large.  It has leaky plumbing all over the place and I don’t think the walls are insulated very well.   I am dreading opening up that first month’s worth of utility bills.  I am expecting something over $500.00…that way if it is over $500, then I won’t be surprised – if it is under, then I can jump for joy. 


My bedroom is on the 2nd floor and it is rather cozy.  Most of the house has really nice wood floors and the common living areas are just massive.  We had the Time Warner guy come over shortly after we moved in to get our cable services transferred from our old place to the new one.  It turns out that none of the rooms were wired for cable.  In fact, the entire house wasn’t wired for cable.  He came over at about 1:00pm for a two hour scheduled appointment and left our house at 9:00pm that night.  Before he left, I gave the guy a nice tip.  I figured, if some waitress gets tipped for doing five minutes of work bringing a customer their food, then why shouldn’t this guy get something extra for working nonstop helping us out?


In other news, I went to the Metallica concert at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee with my older brother, Mike, and my roommate.  It’s been four years or so since I last saw them, and we had an awesome time!  It was great to spend some time with Mike, especially at an event like this!


Metallica!  Headbanging


A few days after that, Jessica and I went to a Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat game.  That was my Christmas present from her.  We had awesome tickets!  This is probably something very few people know about me, but for whatever reason, I love watching basketball and following the NBA.  I pretty much love any spectator sport, but I am more drawn to watching basketball than maybe even football!  Well, maybe not football, or even soccer…but it’s pretty close.  Anyways, we had a great time…didn’t end up taking any pictures at that particular event. 


The last few weekends I’ve had a handful of Christmas parties which I have attended.   The first one I went to was the Harley-Davidson annual Christmas party.   Free food, beer, etc…what more could one ask for?  Shortly after that one, there was the BMT Christmas party…I think I may have already mentioned both of those parties in a previous journal, but maybe not.  Anyways, I got to see a bunch of old doctors and patients from even as far back as five years ago.  It’s always a fun time.  Each person gets a nametag with their name on it and the year that they had their transplant.  I think I was the only person there this year with my name accompanied by two separate years for both of the transplants I’ve had.  A couple of weeks after that one, I went to Jessica’s family Christmas party.  I’ve never seen so many related people in the same building at the same time.  Her family is massive.  And it was only her mom’s side of the family.  Needless to say, that was somewhat of an intimidating experience, but fun nonetheless.  Then just this past weekend, I went to her “counsins party.”  That’s where all of the cousins in the family who are over the age of 21 get together and have a Christmas party of sorts, exchanging gifts, drinking wine and beer, and playing various games.  Once again, I must admit, I had a pretty solid time there as well. 


Work is going great.  I really have no complaints there.  I guess I don’t really ever have any complaints – except maybe when it comes to my medications!  They’ve got me pretty busy at Harley and it seems like each and every day I have even more work to do.  They are slowly starting to figure out that I actually know what I am doing and can be used as a trustworthy resource on things.  Once you figure something out or fix something for someone or whatever, then they come back to you every single time they need something else done – even if it is completely unrelated to the previous request.  It’s good that I have a lot to do there, because I might be finding myself without a job if I didn’t.  I guess Information Technology is the most demanded field right now, though, so I think I am okay as far as job security goes.  It’s very reassuring…especially these days.  Every day I talk to another college graduate friend of mine that is still on the job hunt or working as a waitress or something.  Granted, there is nothing wrong with being a waitress…but it just sucks when you can’t find a job after you have just dumped $50,000 or more on an education.   If there is anytime in their lives when they really need that job and the money, it is now.  Need some of these old timers to retire to make room for the college grads!  C’mon old timers that are reading this post!  Make way!   KIDDING!  I know, I am some young hotshot snot-nosed punk who wants your job…well maybe I’m not, but I have a lot of friends that are in that position and it hurts to see.  I suppose with this economy, it is to be expected.


I hope this snow goes away soon!  I want to get my bike back out again!  I know it’s still only January and I have a 4-5 months or so before I can start thinking about doing that, but January flew by pretty quickly!  So maybe 4-5 months isn’t so long afterall.


And, lastly, my baby niece, Ava, will be turning one year old in February.  I can’t wait to go up there in a few weeks to see her again.  She’s got a whole bunch of teeth coming in now and she’s starting to make all kinds of noises.  She’s saying small phrases like “Uh oh,” and I hate it when my mom calls me up and gets her goin over the phone.  She’ll be like: “Eric!  Listen, listen!  Hey Ava, Uh ohhhhhh…”  and then I can hear her in the background, “Uh ohh.”  It’s gotta be one of the cutest damn things I’ve heard in a long time. 






Oh and I probably expect to write maybe once a month or so instead of once every one or two weeks.  That, of course, is always subject to change.


Take care everyone and have a happy and warm rest of the month!