Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reconing Things Up

Okay, so it's a Sunday and time for some realistic reconing on a couple of counts. First off, after the matter of my minor heart attack and subsequent cracked couple of ribs last week, I made a deal--you never know if anyone with both authority and responsibility is listening, of course--that if I would be allowed to get through the pain, I'd get back to at least one hour a day of outdoor activity--and I mean activity. And when capable, I'd get back to my 800 crunches and 100 pushups a day, something I've done for 8 months a year for 25 years. Wouldn't know it to look at me, but it still is true.
And the night I made that deal I had the idea that if I took some Ibuprofin my ribs wouldn't hurt as much. And in fact, as of a couple of days ago when I started, the Ibuprofin has allowed me to work/live/cough with just a level 39 pain, as opposed to wishing I was dead with each breath. So I figured I had to live up to my end of the deal--don't know whether you believe in spirits, but whether you do or not, when they do their part, you had better be prepared to do yours or there will be hell to pay, no fooling--and have these last couple of days, cutting lawn, cuttting down a tree that was starting to tear our roof apart, taking out pickup loads of garbage. And man, there is nothing like doing an honest couple of hours work! I hurt more than is imaginable--if you're catholic, remember those Saint's for Six O'Clock where they described horrible tortures saints survived?--but at the same time I can hear my heart ticking nicely. Can hear my muscles saying: Hey! It's been a year almost to the day since your intestines blew and you haven't done near anything--couple of starts at situps notwithstanding--and now you're going to push mow and rake a couple of acres, then take down a 30 foot tree, then pile garbage bags into a truck and toss them 20 feet into the pit at the local disposal? Who the heck do you think you are?
And the answer is: I'm sick as a broken fiddle. After 30 years of nothing but a freaking case of malaria that recurs about annually, in the last two years I've had a flesh eating spider bite that set off a septic system in my body that had my legs and arms open over 20 holes to let the poison out. Then last year the intestine burst and that led to three major freaking operations and lots of pain. Then this year I thought I got through but then the freaking mild heart attack and couple of cracked ribs. I am through with this nonsense. I am finished! If I have to work outdoors carrying trees for two hours a day for the rest of my life to get my strength/heart/soul back, well, then I'm telling you all right now that that's what is going to happen. Cause I am one strong boy from Whitestone New York, not some aging, broken down muthafukka from Joshua Texas. I have a lot of explorations left to do and I cant do those unless I am back to being at least a mediocre athlete. And so that's what I'm going to be. Or better. But 57 years old is not old. It's right in the middle of the middle of the strongest a person will ever be and somehow I lost my way and let my body down and it is time to recognize that my body was always good to me because I was always working on being good to it. And these set backs have made me realize that I've been depending on my body to do the work these last few years since we moved to Texas, rather than me doing the work on my body.
So not that anyone cares, but the next time someone tells you their body is letting them down, the truth is that they are letting their body down. Or at least that's the truth in my case. And I'm facing a day of reconing again. And I've had four this year alone and I'm going to fall on the side of strength. I may hate it, and I'm going to have to work to get back into shape and I'm going to be a chicken, but I made a deal with spirit and I am going to live up to it and the next time you all see me you are going to see someone who is trying, not dying. I've got so goddamned much to live for I don't know how I lost sight of things. Just working too hard. Heart attack because I was worried whether my guests liked me? Hell with that. Other tour guides could care less. I will still care but I will not kill myself for people anymore. There must be a way to love them and cater to them without also fretting so much. So I'm not going to fret. I'll give the best trip I know how and let it go. Or at least I'll try. But reliving every moment of every day with a guest, remembering conversations at 4AM is not doing me any good. In fact, it's making my blood pressure spike from 110 over 70 to 210 over 140 hence the mild heart attack. So no more of that. You don't like me, don't like the trip, tough luck. I'm going to do my best and then sleep at night.
Is this a rant or what???????
Just wanted to let you all know that I appreciate your concern for my health and I think I am going to begin being concerned for it as well.
Thanks for the good thoughts.
Time to get strong for the next 25 years.
That's what I recon, anyway.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heart Aches, Heart Breaks

Well, the docs here say I seem to be fine and that the mild heart attack was an abberation, not something I should be too concerned with. The cracked ribs that came with the damned fall when I had the attack, however, hurt like Roberto Duran caught me cleanly just under my left breast.
The heartache in the title, however, refers to missing my Madeleina. This house seems pretty empty without her, and also without the wild impishness of little Sierra trying to vie for control of my keyboard. And next year, when little Alexa gets to be old enough to fall in love with, I'll be missing all three.
But Chepa's got to be Chepa and she appears determined to like that new boyfriend/father of Sierra and Alexa and that has to be okay with me. I'm still gonna love those girls when they're around, because they're around an awful lot, and I'm still going to miss my Madeleina when Chepa takes her to visit that boy and his parents. And she should, just to be with her sisters, but it's still a heartache for me to get up mornings like this thinking I'm going to make breakfast for everybody and then have that one second crushing feeling when I remember there is nobody. Italo and Marco leave for work at 3 and 4 AM respectively; Italo and Sarah are slightly broken-up, so she's not living here, and then Chepa, Madeleina and the babies are gone.
So what I'm gonna do is work hard, and as soon as these ribs let me--and there is nothing to do but take a couple of aspirin every few hours to dull the pain--I'm going to go out and take it out on the lawn. I'm going to cut that grass this morning till it shines.
And the next time I get on this to write something I'm going to do it from joy, not self-pity, okay? I mean, I'm entitled now and then, but there is still lots and lots of wonderment just in being alive. Just in knowing that some of the people on my last trip--which finished for some yesterday and will finish for the rest this afternoon--got the medicine and breakthroughs they needed. Some fell in love again; some got healed from deep pain; a few just has a blast; a couple probably think I just stole their money and gave them a lousy trip. Even the last group will find out that the medicines will keep working and in six months will probably be in touch to say they've changed.
One of the odd things that happened on this trip related to last year's June trip. One of the people on that trip who really had it in for me--just the wrong trip for that person--has recently been in touch with a couple of my team members to ask if she and her husband can redo the trip--just without Peter Gorman.
I hope she does. It did her a world of good, and it might do her even more good if I am not in her way the way she perceived it.
So hooray and thank you medicines for taking such good care with those who entrusted themselves to me. And thank you, team, for being the best goddamned team to ever grace the ballfield of my life.
And thank you sun, for rising again this morning.
Now, let's go out and play two today, as the great Ernie Banks used to say.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Home Again; Nearly Here for Six Months

Well, hello everyone. Just got back from a reasonably grueling 26 hours from Iquitos to Joshua. And while everything there in the jungle was difficult but rewarding, everything here is difficult, period. As per the trip, I think it went well. Lots of medicine for lots of very very good people. One or two nit-pickers who needed a bit of attention more than I wanted to give but what the heck, that's the job. So you don't sleep for 2 weeks and when you fall asleep at the restaurant table, the word is that you've been drinking. I've learned to live with that. Don't like it, but live with it. I drink enough to get blamed for lots of stuff, so when I'm innocent it's hard to explain/complain. Still, it wasn't until Saturday night, two nights after my group left with my partner Carolynne for Lima and the mountains, that I slept more than 4 hours. And then I had this minor heart attack, which left me slightly dead for about 36 seconds, so that sort of interrupted that nice sleep. The fall to the floor on the way to the bathroom left a couple of nasty cuts on my nose and forehead, but fortunately a couple of my crew were sleeping in my super-sized room and heard me fall and got me to the hospital post-haste and the docs there said: Well, you had a heart attack. Any problem with that?
No, I answered.
Well, stop being so damned anxious.
And that was that. COuple of hours of monitoring, all was good and now I'm good to go again.
Oh, and they told me to stop smoking 50 cigarettes a day. Like I woundn't if I could.
Other than that, and the fact that we had 4 jergon's in a three day period, three of which we killed, and the trip was good. Jergon's are pit vipers and when you're a couple of days from anywhere and there is no antivenin for them, well, I can only say we were lucky my team found them before they found my group.
But then I was coming home and supposed to meet Madeleina, leaving with Chepa and Sierra and Alexa for wherever Chepa's boyfriend lives, at the airport, and my plane was delayed several hours so we didn't meet. And if you don't think I feel blue about not seeing Madeleina before she left--against her will--to see boyfriend's parents for a month, well, then you have no idea who I am.
And Italo's girl, Sarah, who's lived with us for two-three years moved out while I was gone, though she showed up today. So that's another person gone. And the brand new stove/oven went out while I was gone but nobody noticed since they simply ran through the food I left and forgot to buy any, including for Boots, the wonderdog, who apparently has bitten four people in the last three weeks. No wonder, as no one has been feeding him. First thing I did yesterday when I got home was to buy and cook him a 5 pound chicken, then top that off with a rack of ribs and a pound of Pedigree dog food and some chinese Beef with broccoli with extra garlic, his favorite. He's a happy dog now. Tonight he got half a chicken and two pounds of ground beef. Can't have him biting the postman who brings me the checks now, can I?
Okay, so there's lots to tell. While away I won several awards from the Houston Press Club, and was the lead man on the Fort Worth Weekly's second place award in a new category in the national Alternative News Weekly awards, which is fairly excellent, and if Madeleina were here we'd still be banging the fantabulous jungle drum I brought her.
On the other hand, Juan, my pal whose place I use in the jungle and a son-in-law of my late teacher Julio, drank aya the other night and had a conversation with Julio in which Julio said I need to drink more ayahuasca to get strong again. And I know he's right, I've just been intimidated since Julio's death 18 month's ago. And I did drink a couple of times but now I've been directed to grab my cojones and drink a lot and so I'm looking for my cojones as I write this and hope I find them because mother ayahuasca has been making serious demands of me lately when I drink her and it's more than intimidating, it's freaking terrifying. But I know I have to step it up a notch or six and move to strength and I hope I have the fortitude to do that.
And while this ain't the best or most moving post I've ever written, it's what I've got to give right now and so I hope you all accept me for what it is.
And maybe tomorrow I'll be inspired while tonight I just wanted to give you all an update and let you know I have not forgotten about you. Not at all.
And I am missing you, Madeleina, in case you are reading this.