Diary of a Dead Man Walking…

johnny cash

Sometimes I hear sounds that aren’t there. Well. They must be there if I hear them. It’s other people who can’t. They are not soft whispered voices from beyond the unknown, nor is it anything half as annoying as the fifteen-minute drum solo in In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida that every kid in detention class used to pound out on their desk. I’ve learned to live with the noises. It’s other people who haven’t learned to live with the reaction they sometimes cause. As best as can be described, it’s similar to the gritty sound of two sheets of sandpaper being scraped together in rapid succession. Stopping. Starting. Stopping. Starting. With each scrape the nerves in my scalp and face jump like they have poked with an electric branding iron, causing my head to visibly spasm and my eyes to twitch like I’ve just smelled a rancid dog fart. It draws strange looks when the twitch fest happens in aisle seven of the local Winn-Dixie. Moms do a quick survey of their kids as they pull them in close.  We live in weird times. One can never be too safe.

The frequent frustration at one time easily induced by the “slow-walkers” in Wal-Mart is embarrassing to me now. They know they aren’t winning any popularity contest with their tortoise pace. I just never understood. Now. Holding up the checkout line by digging change out of a squeezable plastic coin holder is quite another issue. Or writing a check… err…

On the comedic side, for those with a bone-dry twisted sense of humor, I take enormous pleasure in some goofball whom I have never met yet still just has to know, incredulously inquiring about my visible impairment. This happens a lot at the VA. Veterans just “gotta” know what happened to each other for some reason. I love their astonished faces when I nonchalantly reply, “I’m dying. Wanna watch”?

I haven’t swallowed a piece of meat in over ten years. It isn’t because of any weird adoration for cows, though I must admit they are kind of cute. But this isn’t India and I’m not Hindu. The benefits of eating meat do not outweigh the harm it can cause, so the whole vegetarian thing has been to better preserve my health so I live long enough to get my picture on a jar of Smucker’s jam and have Al Roker say my name on national television. I’m thinking about a medium-rare ribeye on the grill tonight. What’s it going to do? Kill me?

I have a rare disease called Multiple System Atrophy. Johnny Cash had it so being a musician myself, that’s kind of cool. It’s also known as Shy-Draggers Syndrome. It’s here to stay. Once you have it, you have it. Till death do you part. At first, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but it isn’t uncommon for this to happen. Then I began passing out from sudden drops in blood pressure and losing my balance. Other more personal things have happened but they shall remain that way for… well… personal reasons. Some things are on a strict need to know basis and no one reading this blog needs to know. Even you. Sorry.

I can still get around okay but they say the day is coming when I will no longer be able to. The VA gave me a walker and even felt they had to teach me how to use it. No ongoing education required. I’m no longer the sharpest tool in the shed but that was a tough moniker to keep up with anyway so good riddance. It’s fun saying stupid things and not caring. Or, not being able to help it. Hmm… Either way…

Until we meet again… For however long that may be… Treat each given day… Like it’s the last one you’ll see…

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4 thoughts on “Diary of a Dead Man Walking…

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Gary. My mom has MSA. I used to think of this type of disease as something that happened to other people, not the ones I know. Your story is indeed inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you are writing and expressing your story. I have no profound wishy washy empty message of encouragement. However I have an inkling of what you are going through. My friend would have loved to have ‘met’ you – even only through the weird and wonderful ways of the social media. Please don’t stop writing. Sonja, my friend, wrote as long as she could. Then I continued. Regards from South Africa. Msainsouthafricawithsonja.blog spot.com Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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