My Personal Issue Goes Public

Thirty Six years ago today I married the love of my life. We had a fantastic wedding on the Queen Mary and her parents spared no expense. We even had a luau back at her house, after the reception on the fantail deck. Our first dance was to “Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain” by Willie Nelson. My groomsman and I wore our “Cowboy Boots” and represented Texas. Her Father did have to scold a few of my party, as several champagne glasses were being tossed over the side of the ship. I can’t say I blame him at all!

Wedding Day 36 Years Ago

Wedding Day 36 Years Ago

We have had a wonderful life raising three sons and living an above average lifestyle in my humble opinion. Kim was the perfect Mother and at times my “troubleshooting ability” forced us to move clear across the country with me going in advance and leaving her to take care of our three sons for months at a time. This had to have been a nightmare, having no break or personal time, but she never really complained. Deep down thought I was the luckiest man on earth to have married such a resilient lady. She has been the rock of our family!

We moved back and forth across the country too many times and our sons started becoming jaded and not being able to really make close friends. After we moved back to Austin in 1993 I swore I would never move the family again, even though I was asked to. I thought our sons needed roots that I really never had. My Father was a journalist and we move sometime within three months. It made me an unfriendly young man in my opinion and made me build walls, like our sons were starting to do, when I told the company “enough was enough”!

Kim and I at The Westerkirk House

Kim and I at The Westerkirk House

About 10 years back I started having major issues with my health from all the stress and heavy lifting of the convenience store industry. My first experience was a C5-C6 fusion that obviously was a result of heredity in my family, as my other two brothers have had the same surgery. Think about how much a case of 6 gallons of water weighs, a case of beer (Especially 30/packs) and cases of any liquids like 32 oz Gatorade might weigh. Manufacturers have finally starting reducing the packaging on heavy cases of liquid. This was my first experience with pain medicine and it was actually given to me in liquid form with out a dispensing spoon or cup. I couldn’t handle how much it effected me and had to switch to pills along with sleeping sitting up for an extended period. It took a while, but I finally weaned myself.

In 2001 I had my first lower back surgery, a L5/S1 Laminotomy and again was given heavy painkillers and it took longer to wean myself this time, as I discovered lower back operations result in significantly more pain that spinal neck surgeries.

In 2003 I had a heart attack on our 25th wedding anniversary to the day. Of course they administered painkillers again. My weaning process was quick as there really wasn’t that much pain and my back was not involved. One of my arteries was ballooned and unbeknownst to me this process has a 40% failure rate within the first six months. Exactly six months later the artery collapsed again and I wound up have a second stent inserted. Of course this meant additional painkillers and an extended process to wean myself again.There could be many ways a heart issue can be catastrophic. For instance, a clot forming in the left atrial appendage of the heart can stop blood flow to the brain. Perhaps I should find a Watchman implant doctor and get that appendage blocked. Doing so can prevent a blood clot from forming inside the heart and prevent me from experiencing a major heart problem again. I know that you can also get an aed for home so, should someone suffer a heart attack, a combination of the AED and CPR could make a massive difference to their chance of survival, so I might consider this in the future too.

Coming back, I was not an inactive executive and felt our employees would respect me more if I helped them out. The next straw occurred four years later in 2005 after 4 years of sobriety (with the exception of the two weeks after my heart attack) was lifting a 55 pound Bag-In-The-Box for a fountain machine in a new store. I blew out another disk and had my second lower back surgery. This became a more difficult weaning process as my lower back felt like hell and my work was asking me to come back within a few weeks for half days. The drive one way was 56 miles.

In 2006 my ENT discovered for most of my life I had only been breathing out of one nostril and had broken my nose in my youth sports activities. I had a deviated septum that again required surgery and painkillers were administered. I had a lot of blood loss from myheart meds, but the most difficult process was the pain from the surgery and once again I had a hard time weaning myself off of the painkillers.

In 2007 I started having issues with my lower back again and had many steroid injection procedures to try and resolve the issue. My surgeon finally decided he needed to go back in again and perform a L4-S1 Fusion, obviously the Laminotomy in 2001 was only a temporary fix. My weaning and growing lower back pain became a nightmare and it took a very long time to wean myself from the painkillers again.

In 2009 I started having severe lower back pain again in the same region as the 2001 and 2007 operations. I had a series of steroid injections again that did absolutely nothing for my pain. My surgeon kept telling me it was all in my head after MRIs, Cat Scans, etc. revealed nothing. All I knew was that it hurt like hell. I was put back on painkillers and told that I might benefit from using devices similar to present-day TENS machines (find out How Tens Machines Work) to help me through the day.

Finally, in 2010 my surgeon discovered that I had a bone spur growing in the vertebrae, pinching the nerve. For months they had told me it was all in my head, but actually had been the bone spur. This is a calcium growth. It was hidden until it became large enough to see on the various medical processes. My surgeon removed one side of my hardware and told me that the fusion had taken and everything should be good. It wasn’t! It hurt like hell afterwards and to this day is a painful part of my life.

Kim's 59th Birthday

Kim’s 59th Birthday

In that rough period I have had a total 5 back surgeries, one heart attack, one nasal plasti and all required painkillers. Every time I had a procedure and as I aged it became more and more harder to wean myself from the painkillers. In reality I became an addict and have lived the last few years on and off the painkillers quite frequently. This has not been easy for Kim and she has become totally unhappy with each escapade with the painkillers and watching my withdrawal process. The eight days I went off the radar I actually was in a rehab center in Ft. Worth detoxing. There is a residual briefer weaning process that I am going through now, but I am bound and determined to stay sober and will attend my first NA meeting tonight on the evening of our 36th wedding anniversary.

This has taken a major toll on Kim and she felt she had no one to communicate with during this process. This led her to take actions that I did not fully comprehend or agree with. We have grown farther and farther apart and became separated on the first of June this year. We are now going to seek a divorce, perhaps with the help of experts similar to divorce lawyers in Jonesboro Arkansas, due to my addiction problem.

I am devastated beyond belief but have to understand why we are doing this. I just will not be the same and my social media will be sporadic at best. I also will be moving out of the country when the divorce is finalized and I return from my trip to Japan. I pray that Kim finds happiness with the brief time she has left and I ask that all respect our privacy and give us the time and space needed to heal.

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas