Ten Years Later

It’s been a decade since the hardest year of my life, at least in terms of deaths. 

For those who do not know me, here’s some history. On January 7, 2007…the first Sunday of the year, my grandfather Shird “Mose” Moses was taken from this life by, if I remember right, a stomach blockage. This was the same day I found out I had been laid off from my job at the Florence Sears. So I took those two hits…and I keep pressing forward. Because that’s what I would do. I ended up suffering a few more, less devastating blows that month but cumulatively, they were enough to require mental health treatment.

Fast forward about 5 months. June 8, 2007. My stepfather gets word early that morning that his father, Mitch Herald, suffered a severe hemorrhage. He did not live more than another 18 hours, passing away that night. Another blow. I found myself staggering, but I withstood it because I learned from the first series of shots. I somehow ducked a lot of the painful hits, even watching his widow, my grandmother Sally Herald, collapse at the funeral home. 

Then…the third, and probably most devastating blow hit on August 18. This one…was a LOT closer to my heart. My aunt Katherine Ludwick committed suicide. Age 43, approximate date of death 8/17/07. Two days before my 22nd birthday. I had seen her the week prior. And the thing was…I could and rightfully should have seen what happened coming because of my own experience in January. The problem was…I was nearly numb to everything because I had already taken multiple hits the previous 7 months. I could do nothing. 

Yet… I beat myself up for nearly 9 years. I kept telling myself I should have done something, said something. I didn’t. And I lost my aunt to suicide because I didn’t act. 

It’s taken me 10 years, but I’m at a point at age 31 where I’m ten years older and wiser. I realize now that I never fully recovered from the earlier losses that year — which left me in no position to help my aunt when she desperately needed it. That’s not my fault and I can’t beat myself up over it anymore. 

I’ve come to find something else too. It’s okay to take a moment, 2 years, 5 years, ten years, etc.. down the line to remember. But I can’t wallow in grief. When I came into 2017, I honestly was prepared to face the ten year anniversaries and be a blubbering mess for multiple days. But… I can’t. That’s not how my grandpa Moses, grandpa Mitch, or aunt Kathy would want me to go about this year. I’m now redoubled. 2017 may be ten years without all three on this planet, but they’re all still here with me. I intend to live 2017 in that way.

Thoughts at 2AM

Time for a random assortment of thoughts at 2:00 in the morning. 

  • I still love living on my own. I may occasionally have more month than money, but that’s life. 
  • My roommate and best friend Corey is happier than I’ve seen him since December 30, 2015. I didn’t share the whole story back then, but Corey and his wife had a pretty major fight and ended up divorcing. The dissolution of marriage became official this past Friday. He’s in a really good place — a far cry from the text I got at 9:45 AM on the penultimate day of 2015. I sacrificed some sorely needed rest that day to be there when I was needed, and I don’t regret that decision one iota. The photo here is from a few months back, when we decided some bro time at Lachey’s would be a good way to kill time on a Friday. (Yes, I had a beer.)
  • My medical situation is stable. I have not had a major arthritis attack in the last six months. That thrills me. 
  • I can’t wait to return to Boston at the end of October, even though it’s a shorter trip due to both finances and time constraints (I have to be home for a Wednesday appointment). Daria and her fiance Sean are finally tying the knot the day before Halloween. This means I get to see Jaycee and Beth again. I get to explore Boston. Oh yeah, and last but not least I’m the best man in the ceremony. I dig all of that. And with Rhinegeist beer making its way into Boston, I can have a taste of home while I’m there. I definitely dig that. It’s set to be one HELL of a whirlwind weekend. 
  • Last but not least, I definitely need to get back in the gym when I return to Cincinnati. Corey and I both plan to join Planet Fitness in our local area when I get home. 

Alright, that’s it. Brain’s empty, so I’m gonna go. Catch y’all on the flip side!

A Sad Day for #CincyWx

Tonight, the City of Cincinnati, all of southwest Ohio, southeast Indiana and northern Kentucky is reeling. We lost a much beloved member of our community, one who came into our homes nightly via the TV screen for 28 years. 

“Doppler” Tim Hedrick passed away Saturday morning after a long illness with his family at his side. He was the chief meteorologist for WKRC-TV 12/Cincinnati, and had been at the station since 1988. My earliest memories consisted of watching Channel 12 almost daily. I especially, however, paid attention when either Tim or Steve Horstmeyer were on. (The latter is currently the chief meteorologist at WXIX 19/Newport, KY.)  I even got a chance to sit in on the 5PM newscast on October 30, 2000 (when I was coming off my first bout with septic shock) and watch him at work in the (Precision) Doppler 12 Weather Center. That experience was so cool. I never forgot it. 

To say that it was a shock when I found out via Twitter tonight that Tim had passed would be a major understatement. There had been talk on a recent Facebook chat (recent as in, in the last week or two) that he would be back as soon as possible. There was a belief that Doppler Tim would once again grace our television sets. And now, he’s gone.

The hashtag #CincyWx will never be the same. The Cincinnati weather community will never be the same. Cincinnati TV will never be the same. 

But most importantly, life in Cincinnati will change dramatically without Doppler Tim talking people through the worst weather, grilling out in some citizen’s backyard, or just having fun.  We will miss that. 

In closing, let me just say one thing: I’m sure Tim fought hard through his recent health issues. But with his passing, I don’t think he lost the battle — far from it. I look at it as a win…he’s no longer in pain, and I’m sure he’s still got a protective eye on us down here. We lost a good one…but I firmly believe heaven gained an angel. 

Rest in Peace, Doppler Tim. Job well done. 

So I Moved To Cincinnati…

I guess I need to change the title of this here blog, because I moved from Kentucky to Cincinnati last weekend. 

Recently, my buddy Corey found himself in dire need of a place to live. I’ve been looking to get out of my parents’ house for six months. So…on Monday, February 8, we entered into a lease with the Colony of Springdale apartment complex and will be residing here through next year. 

We moved in on Saturday, and let me tell you that from jump street, this place has been beneficial to me. I have become happier (I’m less stressed). I feel my blood pressure going WAY down. I have easy access to the bus, the vape shop where Corey works (and I hang out), fast food options if I’m in the mood,  banking if I need to do it, and a pharmacy (24 hour Walgreens FTW). And, the apartment complex’s management actually cares enough to clear ALL of the sidewalks in the complex after a snowstorm. I never got around a neighborhood easier in my life after snow than I did after this last storm (and we had 4-6″ of snow)! That speaks volumes. 

Here are a couple photos I took on moving weekend. More coming once we get settled in.  

Bedroom. Still don’t have my bookshelf and dresser.

  

Looking out my window at the snow on Sunday.


  

Living room/weather office. My bookshelf will probably go in here.

  

Leaving Florence, and this chapter of my life, behind.

 

Thoughts After Watching My Team Lose

So, you’re all pretty well aware by now that my mother and I have season tickets for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are having one of their best seasons in recent memory. 

Today, I watched my team lose in rough fashion to the hated rival Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-20, in a game where Bengals starting QB, Andy Dalton, suffered a potentially season-ending injury to his throwing thumb (it won’t be confirmed until tomorrow). I didn’t want to say much of anything on social media at first, though I did lash out on Twitter before the game ended saying “The stupid Steelers are dey”. You know, the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”? I have never been so hot (mad) after a game like I was today. 

As the evening has progressed, I calmed down and began to look at the game and its result in a more rational way. To wit:

  • The injury to Dalton hurts us right off the bat. Anytime your QB goes down to an injury, that’s a massive blow to the team’s psyche.
  • A.J. McCarron really hasn’t had any practice with the first team — Dalton was healthy and was playing so well, we didn’t need the backup. 
  • Tyler Eifert going down to a possible concussion, in his return from a nerve injury suffered during the PREVIOUS home game, is a massive blow. I was most upset at this. I felt the hit he took was a cheap helmet to helmet shot. 
  • The Bengals played with emotion…in fact, looking at it now, I think they were TOO emotional at times and it got the better of them. 

At the end of the day, we’re 10-3, with 3 games left. Cincinnati still can win the AFC North (a loss by Pittsburgh plus the Bengals winning vs San Francisco would clinch it next week). McCarron will get all of the practice snaps this week, so the Bengals should have less of a problem doing their part (so long as Eifert can return). I may have been angry today, but I remain a proud Bengals fan. WHO DEY!

Over Three Weeks in Hell

For the past three weeks and change, I’ve lived in mental hell. 

It all began November 1, 2015. What should have been (and was) a fun night of wrestling turned into complete sensory and mental overload, sparking a series of events from which I am STILL recovering for reasons I will get into.

It began at the start of the XWA “Wrestlution” show in Providence, sitting with my friends Daria (real name Gladys), Jaycee and Beth. We had heard from someone who’s name I don’t recall that Matt Hardy was in the building. The reason that detail is so significant is that Jaycee, Daria and I first started talking via his message board in 2005. It wasn’t a source I would’ve called reliable, since I didn’t know him, so I dismissed it. I met a lot of wrestlers, many of whom we had had on the Squared Circle Cafe podcast.

The show opened with AJ Styles coming out to the ring to do a promo. He was supposed to wrestle JT Dunn on the card but pulled out due to injury. After Dunn came out, Styles said that they had a replacement opponent and they called out…MATT HARDY! The four of us lost it. We got to meet Matt at intermission…and that’s when it all came crashing down for me mentally.

  Above: Me, Daria, Jaycee, Beth and Matt Hardy…moments before it all went to hell.

I don’t know why, but we took our seats for the second half of the show and at some point a few minutes later, I realized something didn’t feel right. I remember my eyes starting to roll back…and then I passed out. I was buckled in, so I didn’t fall to the floor… I just lost consciousness. I was rushed outside, into the cool night air. I needed a good 45 minutes and about 2 bottles of water to recover (and it quite possibly may have been longer). Eventually we headed for home. 

But the problems didn’t end there, or when I landed back in Cincinnati the next night.  There was the mental meltdown I had at the Bengals/Browns game on the 5th because my 4 year old niece was behaving like…well, like a 4 year old. Then…November 7th and 8th happened. At a roller derby after party, among some of my best friends…I had a major breakdown/panic attack that caused my left hand to start shaking so severely, I ended up being transported to St Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood because I thought I was having a stroke. It wasn’t a stroke thankfully, but I still would have waves of anxiety to contend with for another couple weeks.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I won’t bury the person who caused this (come to think of it, I sort of already have on Facebook and Twitter and as the saying goes, I’d be beating a dead horse to continue to do so), but while sitting at Lachey’s Bar with my Friday crew of Annette, Dollene and Kim…it happened again. Another major anxiety attack, shaking so bad as to cause the table to vibrate if I put my hands on it, and even collapsing in the bathroom at one point. I don’t think I calmed down from that until early Thursday morning. 

The last two days have been without major incident, thankfully. The trigger of last Wednesday’s incident is out of my life and persona non grata to me, but I know there are more battles with anxiety ahead in my life. I will have to take each day a step at a time. 

Through all of that, two friends stood closest to me and made sure I didn’t go through it alone. Daria and Mollie, you two are the best. I cannot ever thank you both enough for taking time to at least listen to me and let me know that you have my back, but the little things I did were a start. 

I have decided to chronicle my battles with anxiety by starting a new blog. It is entitled Musings of an Anxious Mind. Hopefully, sharing this struggle with the public can help in some small way.

Thoughts As I Approach 30

Wow…it’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve been so darned busy, it’s not even funny.

Where to begin? Well, I guess the beginning is as good a place as anything. After my doctor finally cleared me to resume physical activity, I started working out. I am trying to drop from a max of 174 pounds down to 155 at least by October 26, when I leave town and go to Boston, Massachusetts (for what was initially supposed to be my friends Gladys and Sean’s wedding but has turned into just an opportunity to see them). If I get there, maybe I’ll stop…or maybe I’ll go for 145. As long as it’s a healthy number for my 5’6″ height, I’m good with that…no need to go below 155 if I like how I look at that number. We will see.

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From left to right: Me, Dollene, Kim and Annette…the regular crew on Friday nights at Lachey’s after a long week! Taken 6/12/15.

Alas, I am no longer entirely caffeine-free. I try to limit my intake, but I am proud to say I lasted several months longer than I thought I might! I must say that Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer is possibly one of the best things I’ve tried recently. Totally non-alcoholic (a good thing if I should ever need strong pain medications again). Alas, few places in town have it (no grocery stores that I’m aware of)…in fact, I frequent Lachey’s Bar in the Over-The-Rhine part of town for exactly this reason — they DO have it. That, and the great people I’ve met there (see photo). The three ladies there are what I’ve officially deemed “The Friday Lachey’s Crew”.

What else? Well, I launched into my second ever “Videos Every Day August” series…or VEDA for short. You can find that on my YouTube channel.

I’ve stayed busy with the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati as well. We’re gearing up for our 15th Walk and Roll, and it is the SIXTH year that the Black and Bluegrass Rollergirls will join me on Team Rollin’ Derby. I will not be about to have neck surgery this year, so I will be back in full effect! I have been taking on a significant role in the process of organizing this big event, too. I don’t say this to toot my own horn…I’m just a small cog in the process. But it is a LOT of work. You can join my team at this link. There is a $35 registration, which will go to SBCC. We roll September 26, 2015.

And one more thing…as fall comes careening toward us at full speed…so too does football. Myself and my mom actually have SEASON tickets to the Bengals this year. That is a first for us. Hopefully the team doesn’t disappoint.

Oh yeah…and did I mention I turn THIRTY in a few days? YEP…I will be 30 years old. Remember, I have said a few times that doctors told my mom I could live to “at least” 13. Like they expected me not to get to be 15 years old. Or 20 (I almost didn’t). Or 25 (again, almost didn’t). Or 30. But here I sit, I’m 10 days from 30…and I don’t dread it. Not one iota.

So, that’s what’s up in the world of me! Hopefully it won’t be another 3 months before I do a text blog again!