This is 60?

  • Monday / July 31, 2017
This is 60? 1

This is 60?

This is 60? 01So this is 60
And what have you done
Another year older
And a new one just begun
And so this is 60
Right now I can’t run
With the way things are going, will I reach 61 …

(Sung to “So This Is Christmas”)

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! This may turn into a Category 5 rant. For the faint of heart you may need to just go here .

I know the preceding sounds a bit melodramaculous, and the following may be a bit over the top … but this year came in with a wheezing whimper … and continues to be a major fucking drag! It colors my demeanor, my attitude, my abilities, and my mental and physical health. This may indeed be a test, and only a test … but I’m sick an tired of being tested! I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired! Hey Universe & Donald Trump! FUCK YOU!

My 60th birthday (which was also Trump’s inauguration day) started with a call from my mom — that was expected and appreciated. She also sent me a card; rare these days, especially when just sending a greeting on Facebook seems to be the new and lazy norm. No one else called except my friend Gina a day or so earlier … so she wouldn’t forget. Props to her! But outside of that — NOTHING! No party. No cake. No drinks. No dinner invitations. No nothing. Sounds a little angry? No. A LOT angry … but hey … I’m sure everyone has an excuse—Trump was now the 45th president. They were all under a table tucked in a fetal position. I knew my family wouldn’t do anything. Months before the day I even asked a good friend to throw me a party, even if it was nothing more than cake and coffee, knowing that if I didn’t ask for what I needed I might not get anything. Crickets. So that was day one of my 60th year. Off to a fine start!

How could I not be frustrated! Only a few months ago life was great. I was going to the gym 6 days a week and I was feeling the best I had ever felt in my life—and that’s not hyberbole. The wonders of Wellbutrin! But somewhere only eight months into this “super life”—of course—came a crash! Maybe less an accident than falling head long into the darkness of the abyss. A place I’ve known well, for so many years. Depression has always been complicated by my autoimmune disease Sarcoidosis—the disease that keeps on giving.

The disease in and of itself can cause the very things the Wellbutrin had seemingly “cured” for me: chronic fatigue, fuzzy brain, memory issues, and depression. While on the drug … all that miraculously lifted. But after eight months—right back to nothingness and ungodly fatigue. Like someone flipped a switch and the lights went out. The gym? I haven’t been able to work out since October 27, 2016—some 10 months and + 40 pounds ago! The decline started even before that. But over that weekend it was like having the rug pulled from underneath; stumbling to the edge, and finally falling headlong into the darkness. It happend that quickly.

So far — 60 has sucked! I realize that this could have been 59, 58, 55 … whatever age. And believe me it’s happened so frequently, that feeling energized, upbeat, and symptom free is the rarity these past twelve years or more. So I guess, why should 60 be so very different? Sadly, eight months of a chemically altered honeymoon with Dr Feelgood is the oddity, rather than the norm. And once you’ve had that chemically altered honeymoon—when it’s over—it hurts that much more. I’ve now had a taste of what life can be like—ALWAYS FEELING 100%! Now. Not so much.

At this point having tried all the chemical options at my disposal, I’m seriously considering Electro Convulsive Therapy—yes—gimme gimme shock treatment! ECT even with all its advances still is stigmatized by perceptions of old. But its been clinically proven to do what chemicals can no longer do, bring chemical balance back to an imbalanced brain—such as my own. So yeah. It’s next on my list of things to try, to get me moving again, to get my mind “straight. Or as least as straight as a gay man can be.

In that same vein of taking care of myself, I also decided to have shoulder surgery on my left shoulder. Injured in an auto accident, and surgically repaired some eight years ago, I re-injured it in the gym, shortly before my fall back into the abyss. I had the left shoulder repaired again on June 1, and am dealing with the very slow healing process still. I’ve been going to physical therapy since week 2 after the surgery. It’s getting better, but so slowly it just adds to my frustration levels. I’m still sleeping upright in my living room chair so I don’t re-injure it in my sleep. And so it goes …

The latest entry on the seemingly baffling and incurable mystery malady “guest list” is lymphedema in my feet, ankles, and calves of both legs. I had a much milder version of this during the early stages of my Sarcoid activity. But this time around it’s MUCH worse. It’s gotten to the point it’s making it difficult to put on a pair of 4E (super wide) sneakers. It’s also making it difficult to walk. Heap that onto already feeling like shit from chronic fatigue, which now no antidepressant can fix, and no doctor can figure out why … and life is just super 6 months into 60! Good thing I go to see my pulmonologist this week. I may have him put me on a round of steroids, it’s one of the few things that can help reduce the edema rapidly and possibly keep it at bay. But we’ll talk and see wat he thinks. I trust this man with my life—literally!

Even though all this horrible shit has been going on … there have been a few bright spots. The Hoover Nation had the Hoover Hootenanny #6. Even though I could not play my guitar and my own music, I did vocal backup for The Noise. I also reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in YEARS because of this awesome event! Some of them 30+ years! I even got to see U2 with my buddy Geoff, John and his wife at Met Life Stadium just a few days after Hoot 6. I also got to hang with an old college friend, Jim Cutler whom I hadn’t seen in 30+ years. I got to hang with Jim, his wife Dawn and a new local and mutual friend Andrea Laign. It was a wonderful, sunny, summer day at the Joisey shore!

But even with these “blips” of light — 60 is still sucking rather hard. And not even in a good way! If I go into how my disease has kept me from trying to find another long term partner … I might really slit my throat! But for now … I won’t do either. Promise!

I can only hope that things get better—AND SOON!!! Hey … the Gang of 45 couldn’t kill the Affordable Care Act — I still have insurance! Bonus points! It takes a load off my mind. I can still get treatment for all my ailments. It also means I will continue to fight the good fight! I mean … what’s the alternative?

Yeah … this is 60. Nothing to see here. Let’s just move it along….

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Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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