Happy Heart Attack Anniversary…Almost

English: Skull and crossbones
English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As it gets closer to the one year anniversary of my heart attack and near-death experience, I find myself  in that state of cautious anticipation at night before sleep. The one where any little twinge in the chest or forearms – it was agonising pain in my forearms and hands that presaged my heart attack – and I will lie awake for hours waiting to see if I am going to have a revisitation to the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

Another anniversary date is also approaching, it has almost been a year since my blog was Freshly Pressed. An event that occurred just four days before my heart attack. Interestingly enough, that anniversary has none of the wariness and fear that the other one has.

I was lucky in a sense that after my two emergency surgeries – that for the record, kicked my ass – I was in such an exhausted and doped up state that I had no problem sleeping. I was so messed up that I found that one night I had squashed a good sized spider to death by apparently rolling over it. When I found the poor critter’s carcass the next morning my only reaction was to dispose of its body.

The first few months of my recuperation are a blur of pain from a lower back injury sustained at my previous job as a prison officer and the subsequent steroidal injections just a week before the heart attack that made the pain worse instead of alleviating it.  Shambling to the bus stop that is only a 20 second walk from my front door, stopping no less than seven times, heart pounding and head swimming from the pain.

The slow process of increasing my walking distance each day and feeling like I had a sign on my back that said,  “Mug Me I am Helpless.”  During that time period I was given an early retirement from my job with Her Majesty’s Prison Service and was in financial dire straits. It was not a great time, but apart from the stresses from my life changing event, I was shocked to find out just how close to death I’d actually been.

I had come to grips with that a little while back. I was sleeping like a baby at night and had increased my “usual” sleeping time from four hours a night to eight and over. It is only recently that I have had problems dropping off and fighting the panic that these unknown twinges evoke.

In my old job, the mental health folks who dealt with the prisoners (aka psychiatric types) used to talk about triggers and anniversary dates as being a normal thing for people to experience and in-turn, these two things affected how people reacted to things. While not a prisoner, I’m finding myself back to the time when the terror of an unknown pain could keep me up for hours.

This trigger will pass, just as surely as the anniversary of my heart attack will come and then go.  While time rushes on in the greater scheme of things, the minutiae of our lives trudges along with all the intensity of a turtle trudging resolutely against that fast footed rabbit that is our life. I, like many others have to fight against that irrational fear of the grim reaper calling again so soon.

For as resilient as the human body is, like the old Timex adverts it can take a licking and keep on ticking, we all have a limited warranty in the area of the body’s  almost magical ability to heal itself. As we get older, besides the obligatory aches and pains that increased age brings about, the parts of our machine get worn, old defects that we never noticed before suddenly leap to the forefront screaming, “Look at me!”

As we all reach that age where our mortality is shoved, sometimes brutally, in our face we have to accept that, like everyone else in the world, we owe a death. It is a debt that we all must pay, as Katherine Hepburn used to say, “Of course life is hard, it kills you.” But I have not yet reached the age where I can look back over my life and say, “I’m okay with dying right now, I’ve lead a good life and won’t complain when it is time to pay my dues for a life lived.”

I do not think that such an age exists for the average person. I believe that none of us are ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. Most people fight the grim reaper with whatever strength they have left. Some, who have been in pain for so long that they welcome it, are of a different ilk. Suffering for any amount of time is tiring and soul destroying. I thank God, or whoever is in charge, that I have not had unbelievable pain for longer than the 5 hours  or so that I was conscious before my heart surgery.

I admit that it is only at night, in the quiet hours, that I’ve had a revisitation of the alarm that came once I’d gotten out of my exhausted stage of post surgery. The daytime is full of more things to do than I have time for and that is a blessing. This anniversary heart attack trigger, my almost one year anniversary, will pass soon enough. Until then, I’ll lay in bed at night listening to my body and sweating every time something feels “wrong” in the areas that my body remembers from the heart attack.   During the day, I’ll keep writing the articles for the paper, doing posts for my blog and trying to fit everything else in around the two.

Happy heart attack ‘almost’ anniversary to me.

Thumbs up!
Still here and damned glad! Self-photo

Michael Smith

United kingdom

22 August, 2013

1000 Posts! Blimey, That Was Quick

The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was literally a few days ago that I looked down and saw that I was at least thirty some odd posts from hitting a 1000, I look down this morning and I see that I’ve now hit 1002! Of course it looks more impressive than it really is. But the first thought that jumped  immediately into my head was, ‘Blimey, that was quick.”

There will be those of you who read that last sentence and think, where does an American pick up the word blimey from and why would it be his first thought? Sure he lives in England, but he’s just being cute, or thinks he is.

Muppet.

Well, I have my late mother-in-law to thank for that. She didn’t use the word a lot, but enough for my magpie mind to grasp hold of and  still not let go. Even years after her death and the end of my marriage to her “step-daughter” when anything surprises me, it is the first word out of my mouth, or in this case brain.

I guess I should explain the ‘muppet.’

For over ten years, I workd in Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Working in the volatile environment that was the Juvenile prison estate. I started as an OSG, which stands for operational support grade, I only had contact with the “little darlings” via the library where I worked as one of my OSG duties. [the little darlings, were murderers, rapists, and other  creatures from the ages of 15 to 18, one day when I’m allowed, I will write about my time “behind bars.”]

The pay for OSG was, and still is, Draconian in its meanness. In order to pay off all your bills and feed your family, overtime was a fact of life. I made the switch over to Prison Officer as quickly as possible. The pay was better and, if anything, the job more interesting and definitely adrenaline inducing.

Although, future Governor’s of the prison that I worked in would change it, the vernacular of a juvenile prison officer was sprinkled with sayings and “nicknames” for the criminal youngsters we dealt with. All of these were incredibly funny and never meant maliciously. The lads we watched over usually used these same terms that someone had invented on or to each other.

I loved it.

It allowed the staff and the lads to have a chuckle and although I’ve only mentioned a few of the terms, they were a part of everyday life inside. But to explain the terms I’ll start with muppet.

A “muppet” was a lad who just didn’t get it. Not a fuzzy cute puppet with a hand up his/her backside. Someone who was a tad, thick and who had  no common sense.

You would often hear a lad being told off for breaking a rule, followed by the phrase, “Ya Muppet!”

Another favourite was, Fraggle. For those of you too old, or conversely, too young to remember them, Fraggle’s lived in Fraggle Rock and they were idiotic and, in our opinion, slightly mad creatures who just did not have a clue, worse than a muppet by far. The main characteristic of the prison Fraggle was their propensity to hover around one, or sometimes more, prison officer rather than mingle with the other lads.

When a prison officer found himself surrounded by a small group of Fraggles, he was known as the Fraggle Magnet for that day.

There were other words used to signify a lack of smarts or common sense, Numpty was another one. “Ya Numpty'” still erupts out of my mouth unbidden, much like blimey, because it’s another word that I fell in love with and my brain immediately latched onto. I have no idea where that particular word originated. But it too was a favourite.

Blimey! I’ve just noticed that I’ve written well over 500 words and only a few of them are actually about the 1000 posts and how quickly it got here!

What a muppet!

I do have to say that having that many blog posts isn’t all that impressive. Of late, I’ve been providing a lot of links to articles I’ve written for the paper I work for, which is about the laziest thing I can think of. But I am proud of what I’ve written for my guys and gals over at the Guardian Express and I want to share.

It is still writing, which is what blogging is all about and I hope you’ve all enjoyed the links that I’ve posted. I know this little act has driven a lot more views of my little ramblings. Sure it’s a little disheartening to realise that the most popular link post so far seems to be the one dealing with Kate Upton‘s nudity, but hey, you have to share.

I do try to share all my links with you, the lovely folks who follow, like, comment and, most importantly, make no demands of me or my little blog. So I have to say, I’m pleased that I’ve managed to hit over a 1000 posts, even if it was by re-blogging and linking a lot the last couple of months.

But I’ll still say thanks to you guys and gals for reading and putting up with my diminished in the area of  “purposefully” written input and my horrid lack of visiting anyone else’s blog’s at the moment. I’m still working on a schedule of my day that allows it. I won’t go into all the things that one has to do when living alone, I’m sure most of you don’t need me to point out all the things that a couple or a family take care of get done by one lone chap.

But I do appreciate you all and I will continue to share my links and re-blogs. I am also still attempting to increase my written output and to visit you guys more often, and I will get there. I know I will.

Hey! I’m no Fraggle, ya know!

Cheers,

July 21, 2013

United Kingdom

Fraggles!
Fraggles! (Photo credit: arbyreed)