Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Had To Go To Confession Because I Do Not Call My Mother And Other Sins

Before I go any further, the title is hyperbolic but only in the sense that I had committed other sins.

I have memory problems and not in the I can't remember my wife's birthday kind of way but more of the I can't read anymore because I can't remember words I have read from paragraph to paragraph kind of way.  My short term memory has left the building with Elvis.  For the record before I was sick I would forget my wife's birthday and I could not remember peoples name but I could remember conversations verbatim for years and I used to be able to bring pages back up in my mind and read them again.

This was particularly useful in college, it would have been more useful had I prioritized reading text books above drinking and pursuing the fairer sex, it is good to know that baptism has wiped that slate clean.  I would like to apologize to any roommates that had to see me passed out in my own vomit, also if I ever dated or married you and you are reading this I am sorry (also you should probably move on and how did you find my blog?).

I am also quite fond of technology and now that my memory has gone it has become a crutch to handle my day to day mental tasks.  For instance I start receiving text messages a week before my wedding anniversary and in my experience fellas the wedding anniversary is much more important than the birthday which is why I only get text messages for my wife's birthday the day before her birthday.  In fairness I rarely forget my wife's birthday because it happens to be one of mine and my ex-wives wedding anniversaries.

Not to belabor the point but I am going to belabor the point.  When I wake up in the morning I can't remember what day it is, I can't remember what I am supposed to do that day, I forget to take my meds and it just on a side note if I were not married to the kind and loving woman that I am, I would be dead and that is not hyperbole.  It is not so much that if I forgot to take my pills I would be dead it is that I would be dead if I forgot I had taken my pills and then I took them again.  I take some nasty shit (the drugs for sarcoidosis) and double doses of some of those would be bad and mixing certain of them would be fatal, in other words there are some drugs that need to be taken eight or sixteen hours apart or I would stop breathing.

Looking back I see a lot of exposition, necessary?  I will let you be the judge.

With a bad memory and technology for a crutch it was only natural for me to use an app to prepare for and use during confession.  Before you go to confession you are supposed to take an inventory of sins and that sounds clinical, it is more like a meditation on your actions or in-actions.  Going to confession is not like it is in the movies, most of being Catholic is not like it is in the movies and that is a good thing, at least in so far as the last year has shown me.  I would also like to note that I can not speak to the Catholic Church of the past or in other locations for that matter, my only experience is with Catholics in Utah and the Catholics I hear on the nationally syndicated radio show Catholic Answers Live.

For me confession is not an unpleasant task that needs to be completed in so much as it is a gift from God and the Church that allows me to be absolved of sins and there are a lot of reasons that is a good thing but I am not a theologian and I don't play one on TV so I will just hit number one on the list.  It frees from mortal sin and allows me to take the Eucharist at Mass because Jesus can not be in the presence of mortal sin.  Below is a little exert from Catholic Answers website www.Catholic.com:

"The Holy Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because, in this and in no other sacrament, we receive the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Innumerable, precious graces come to us through the reception of Holy Communion."

Theologians work for Catholic.com and the information on Confession and Holy Communion goes on and on and is quite extensive and if you have an interest in details I would encourage you to go to Catholic.com and read there (no more ands).  I do not know how many of my readers are Catholic, Google Analytics does not keep those stats.  I do know there were readers before the whole Catholic conversion and now there are many more. Did my blog shoot up the Google ranks for sarcoidosis?  Did I get all new Catholic readers?  Do my old atheist friends still read the blog?  I have no idea.

What do I have ideas about?

I know I had a point when I started writing and I have yet to make it but I believe I will make it now.  I almost made the point earlier when I started talking about confession.  With my memory being in a lackluster state and my fondness for tech it is only natural that I would use an app to examine my conscience before confession.  Examine your conscience is the name usually given for that whole examining your actions and in-actions thing I was alluding to earlier.  After you examine you need to be sorry for your sins and want to repent because of your love for God.  There are some further details and for you Catholic curious out there refer back to Catholic.com.  You can also go over the whole venial and mortal sin distinction while you are there as well because it is not particularly relevant to the point I am trying to make.  

You may now be asking yourself was most of what I have written here relevant to the point I was trying to make?  Probably not but it is the ramblings that seemed relevant at the time.

I use the app and it helps me examine my conscious and then keeps it stored for me so I have it when I go to confession.  It also gives me a reminder about what I am going to say and what the priest is going to say and the words of the prayer because it turns out I get stage fright in front of priests during confession.  I know I would not have thought that either but it was surprisingly nerve racking and not for the reasons you would think either.  I was not frightful about saying my sins but I was frightened that I was using an app.  I do not think the priest is fond of people using there phones in confession but in fairness he could have just been tired, a lot of sinners showed up for confession the same day I did, but I think it might be my sin of pride that I think it is about me and my use of a phone.

This now ends the two hours traffic of our stage and just an FYI I will not have to confess that whole pride thing because it is not a mortal sin but it could have been, extra credit if anyone can tell me why!

Love to all,

             Fat Rasputin


Thursday, April 16, 2015

I write a lot but don't seem to publish often (I also don't bring you flowers anymore)

I am turning into the Emily Dickinson of the blogosphere.  There are reams and reams of meandering streams of thoughts put down into drafts, there are almost fifty drafts that stare at me each time I go to write.  Just an FYI for you young folk out there, a ream is a package of paper and paper is something we used to put words on before computers and the internet.

When I write, when anyone writes your mind works in a different way.  I know for myself this leads to self discovery and sometimes churns things up that I am often not ready to see.  English fails me and makes me wish I stuck with Spanish or any of the romance languages or even Latin.  It is not that I am not ready to see, it is that I see it and I know it is meal that I am not ready to digest.  Every time I write a little bit of loose Id finds its way home to the barn and sometimes they even find a stall in the barn and things are almost orderly up there.

Of course then there are other times when I can see the green water coming over the bow and I know I must go no further and these words on the page have escaped to early and they are a deluge of ocean water, an angry ocean that will capsize the boat and send me to the depths.  The sky opens and the wrath of Heaven comes down in a wind the churns the ocean into moving walls of destruction.  In my youth I would dive into the ocean and let it swallow me in the chaos.  I am older now and a little wiser.  My wisdom has not grown in proportion to my age but it has grown and I do not dive into storms, at least not often.

The theory is that I will come back to these hidden gems of literature after the sea calms down but the problem is I really don't like remembering the storm and I have a suspicion that everything I write might not be a hidden gems.  I have forty four drafts (gems) awaiting revision or closer examination or insert your own poetic phrase for fixing bad writing here.

I will attempt to wade into the sea of the past that I will admit is now calm and start churning out on schedule like I have agreed to, can I throw out the old I have sarcoidosis excuse?  Here I say again I will try and post every Tuesday and by that I will try and get a few posts ahead of myself so when things are bad there is still something new and exciting to read?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 2

This is the second part of a multi-part series (I am not sure how much many parts I am going to write) here is a link to part 1

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 1

Day Two

This is almost a side-note but I think it is still at the aside level so I wont separate it as per protocol.  When I am on large doses of prednisone I can write and write and write, obviously I have more time since I am not sleeping but also my brain manages to shift down while I am going up the hill of writing.  If you try going up a hill with your car in 3rd gear, depending on the car, you can make it up the hill but your car will climb the hill slowly and perhaps die but if you shift the car to 2nd gear all the sudden you seem to have more power but you don't you are just making better use of the power you already have in the current situation and that is what my brain does when I am on high doses of prednisone.

The point of the preceding paragraph, which I have to mention now because I did not manage to make it in that paragraph, and that point is if I do not stop writing I will not stop writing.  The rambling will continue and like you saw in Part 1 it went here and there because everything that popped into my huge noggin had to be extrapolated on and the writing, much like the beat, goes on.

Other side of the magic of being able to write and write and write is that when I stop and then come back to "finish" what I started writing I might be able to stay on topic the writing style is the same and the random sushi popping out of my noggin will not relate in a cohesive way to yesterdays noggin poppings.

Paragraph four of aside, I am going to start back onto the topic of Palm Sunday and my dad and the Tic Tacs of Satan but it might not flow like I think it should in relation to the previous post and I am pretty sure it wont flow by the measures of you my faithful reader.

As time goes on and the side effects of prednisone begin to mount you will need to bring some more drug buddies along for the ride.  After a couple of weeks of no sleep and people are really starting to avoid you, this is the stage right after they look at you funny, you go to the doc and say hey I need some sleeping pills or I will literally go nuts and boom there you have some sleeping pills.  Then you begin to swell and retain fluids and in my particular retain fluids to the point where you can no longer bend your legs and then you say hey doc this whole non-bending leg thing just will not stand and boom you get some water pills to help eliminate extra fluids (in my case it did not work).  Then your skin gets so thin that when hit a shoulder against a door frame, just a brush, and boom your start bleeding and then the doc is like well that one you just kind of have to put up with because there is no drug to counter act that side effect.

This list continues and continues and I can't remember how many drugs I took at my mostest drug taking point but I think it was like twenty seven and yes I say like because I grew up in the eighties.  Prednisone also has one really sobering effect, not a side effect but an effect, it stops your immune system from working.  Sarcoidosis is a disease of the immune system and when push comes to shove the only thing any of the drugs they give me to "treat" my sarcoidosis is try and stop my immune system in various ways and this effect can have one bad side effect death.  When you are full of fluids and your lungs are damaged and your immune system is not working and then you catch a little bug.  There is a little cough as you fade to sleep and by the morning you feel as though you are drowning from every breath and there are rails and wheezing and you have pneumonia but it is not even a regular pneumonia it is some weird pneumonia that is antibiotic resistant and combined with you weakened immune system and you almost die.

I do not know whether I have written about that before, the whole drowning in my own fluids, I think I have but only in a jestful kind of funny isn't it great to read this funny fat sick guys blog kind of way.  I had denial and not de nile, denial.  I was sick, I had as the best case a life changing illness and at as the real case a life threatening illness and there were several times that I came close to death and would only admit it in the back of mind, under the reptilian part, I mean this was way in the back.

After five years I have done the cost benefit analysis and I would rather be alive and suffer than dead and not suffer.  Certainly my impending conversion to Catholicism has informed this decision but it is not the only reason.  I know many people that have known me since my youth long for the days of the fat existentialist atheism that they had fallen in love with and hoped to change and bring in the light from the depths of darkness of his angst and I know those people are thinking isn't it convenient that he gets a disease with some suffering and he finds a religion that has a positive outlook on suffering?

Yes it is convenient and I would even go as far as to say it is the divine convenience, it is the third cousin of both divine tragedy and divine comedy and overlooked for simplicity sake but no more.  The conversion has been years and will continue for years.  There was a great man, an evangelical preacher, he was a good friend and when I was struck blind like Paul he was there to guide me towards Jesus and from there my journey has lead me to the place I have always known would be my true spiritual home the Roman Catholic Church.  It feels good to be home.

Again stay tuned I think I have many more pages to spill out!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 1

Today is Palm Sunday and so far it is has been a beautiful day, not without tears and some poignant moments.  The service was beautiful and started in the Plaza of the Cathedral of the Madeline, I did not start the service in the Plaza.  I have not talked about sarcoidosis or that I have sarcoidosis for the past while and I know a lot of people started reading or read this blog because of that connection to sarcoidosis.

First things first, I still have sarcoidosis and it still sucks.  My conversion to Catholicism has changed my focus and that has been apparent in the posts over the last years but I think I owe it to myself to not let this blog become a rose colored version of my life.

I went to our diocese's Chrism Mass last Thursday which is where all the oils that will be used for the upcoming liturgical year are blessed.  Priests come from all over the state to bring the blessed oils back to their Parrish and renew their vows.  The mass is a little longer than most but still just barely two hours which compared to the Mormonism I am familiar with that is still one hour shorter than three hours they have every Sunday.

The Chrism Mass was beautiful but by the end of the two hours I was trying not to disturb my fellow parishioners with my writing in my pain.  The neuropathy caused by sarcoidosis had my feet on fire to the point where I had my wife take off one of my shoes.  The Easter Vigil is coming up and that is going to be three hours long minimum and there are retreats of varying lengths and not to mention other Masses between now and then.  I was scared that I was not going to be able to make it and this is literally or figuratively (at this point I have no idea which is correct) once in lifetime experience.

That is where Satan's Tic-Tacs come in.  Five years ago when I was first diagnosed I frequented an online sarcoidosis support group and there was a member in that group that referred to prednisone as Satan's Tic-Tacs.  Anyone that has taken high dose prednisone for anything for any length of time will find that a fitting name for this "medication".

Everyone knows about the bargain Faust struck with Satan (if you don't highlight and Google) and 20 mg pill of prednisone is a deal struck with Devil, of course not on the level of Faust but none the less a deal with the Devil.  The first day your doctor gives you that script for prednisone you are dejected but hopeful after all one third of all sarcoidosis cases resolve without treatment and another third will resolve with treatment that leaves only a third of chance that your sarcoidosis will not resolve.  The next morning you take your first dose of prednisone (high dose prednisone must be taken the morning) and within a couple of hours you feel it...

Your joints begin to move with a fluidity that you can barely remember from a time of yore.  Your lungs slowly allow more and more air with each breath and you feel you could become a human bellows.  You no longer sleep fourteen to sixteen hours a day and in fact after the first day you wont need sleep much at all.  After a couple of days the inflammation in your ears begins to fade on your balance is better, not like a human compass better but better because it is a deal with the Devil and deals with the Devil have a catch and that is just the small beginning of the catches to come.

Also within a couple of hours your heart feels as though it will explode and not out of your chest like a cliche but just explode but stay in your chest and die from the exploded heart kind of deal.  Your head begins to pound like that one New Years Eve that you drank a unknown number of beer and the best part of a fifth of rum and apparently answered a call from a friend that happens to be a girl that  moved to California and you told her to move back and you would take care of her but then the next day you had a headache that felt as though Thor and The Hulk had been using your head as a medicine ball and you get a call from that friend that is girl and she does not believe that you can not remember your offer of the previous evening, yeah a headache like that.

You do not even mention those side effects to your doctor because even thou those side effects really suck you are a grateful because they pass and the pain and discomfort and general feeling of unwell fade and you are scared that he will lower your dose of prednisone because you did start out at a reasonable dose of prednisone and you did not see much relief until you hit eighty milligrams a day and your doctor was concerned about such a high dose but you said hey do not worry because you were fat and the milligram per kilogram load would not be as great as with a person of correct weight for their height and that is like a totally legitimate thing to consider and you say you will call if there are any heavy duty side effects but you don't because after those few hours in the morning you don't feel it.

The Pain, the tenderness, the fatigue, keep naming symptoms, the symptoms fade and not so you are not aware of them (except fatigue because after a week you have really not slept at all and you think you might be going psychotic from lack of sleep) and there is a moment to look over and see how beautiful my wife is and not think about anything else, not have to "mindfully" observe your pain or push through or past, all that is needed is a few well placed nudges and you can sit there and enjoy the sight of your smiling wife and she does not smile that way much anymore.

What way is that you may ask?  Without a look of worry or concern from you, just a genuine smile from her because she can see you are not in pain that you are enjoying the moment and the gift from God which is life.

Tune your radios to this same station at the same time to hear more from Fat Rasputin, well probably more the future is not mine to know but I do know from the past that I have been listening to a lot of old time radio this past week, mainly Pat Novak for hire and I think that is because the Bishop is from San Francisco, bye for now.

PS I did forget to talk about a bunch of things like skin lesions and such but I still have brain damage as an excuse so be aware this is not an exhaustive list of everything I have going on but it is the list I can remember to put down right now.