Everlong: Storm before the trip

Loving this tune by the Foo Fighters,
Let’s take a look at early to mid-December,
A friendly catch-up, Christmas gathering, plus some minor vehicular disasters,
All before a week-long holiday, after the year that was feels like I’d earned it,
Last month of the year, let’s see how it unfolds,
A few weeks more before signing off like a boss.

2 – 15/12/2018

I started the online blog in late November, just as I had planned to do so during one of my walks a few weeks earlier. I waited until I had already posted five entries before I flogged it on social media to family and friends as I first wanted to get the ball rolling and shake off whatever blogger’s rust I had accumulated since the last time I’d tried the whole blogging thing. I decided that this blog would be my means of recounting my health battle as brutally-honest as I could, my means of turning a curse into a blessing and to perhaps raise some form of awareness about it my own way. But I also made sure to incorporate some humor in these entries so as not to completely horrify and bum out readers.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel any shame over some of the symptoms I’d experienced during the worst times of the battle. Ulcerative Colitis came with some rather embarrassing – and disgusting – signs and symptoms and to have to put that shit on blast…….yeah, I definitely cringed many times. But fuck it, I’d decided that I was going to go through with this guns blazing so there was no turning back.

Don’t start what you can’t finish, Kid.

I also used that blog as a vehicle to rant about what was on my mind at a given time and to also recount some humorous stories and anecdotes from my past in order to keep my posts balanced so it didn’t have to be one disturbing story after another concerning bowel movements, blood, cramps and bouts of depression and anxiety.

Let’s keep the genres on the bookshelf varied, shall we? No one wants to read horror stories every day.

I named that blog ‘Musical Memories’, something that, to this day, I still shake my head and chuckle about. Such a name evoked images of grand stage shows with Hugh Jackman or Julie Andrews in the lead role and of actors singing about being sixteen-going-on-seventeen or considering one’s self at home. My blog was definitely on a different wavelength to all of that.
But I had my reasons.
You see, I’m a music buff and would often listen to tunes on the radio, ipod or YouTube whenever I could whether working, resting, studying or working out and that old cliché about music being able to express one’s feelings out loud definitely applied to a rather introverted person such as myself. I don’t really have a favorite artist or song, and in terms of musical genres I tended to gravitate towards hip hop and rap, but I could listen to any genre depending on my mood, although I can’t say that I’m really a fan of most of the new stuff that is out today. Hearing certain songs can trigger memories from my past, especially from childhood, and that’s why the titles of my entries, especially of stories from my past, include the song that inspired the post and why I gave the blog its rather misleading title.

I caught up with a good friend one week after the Creed 2 movie date with Pops. She was one of the few people outside of my family and my friends at the Wing Chun Academy that was aware of my colitis battle, having found out when I had to scrap plans to catch up with her sometime in August shortly after she had returned from holiday as I was still anemic and experiencing the odd bloody episode at the time.
No, I didn’t put it to her that way! I simply told her that I was diagnosed with colitis and was recovering but that I would see her once I had sufficiently recovered. She, too, provided invaluable support during my recovery and so once we were finally able to meet up I made sure to thank her before we parted ways. But first we had dinner at a Thai restaurant in the city and swapped stories about the year that was and also checked out a Japanese-themed festival happening in the park across from the restaurant afterwards. It was early summer by this time and so the sun was still shining bright even after 6pm and the park was still packed with families, groups of teenagers and young adults, girls in kimonos and of course, cosplayers dressed up as their favorite anime characters.
That night was also the first time that I took any of my meds in front of someone other than my family. She didn’t bat an eyelid or make a fuss as I swallowed those four red kidney bean-looking tablets and the catch-up session resumed afterwards, although she did ask whether they were hard or soft.
“Hard as rocks,” I laughed, “but they go down rather easily.”

On the twelfth of December the Wing Chun Academy held their annual Christmas gathering for the instructors, with a second gathering scheduled for the following night that was a tad less formal than this one and would be open for all including students. As part of the proceedings different awards were presented for the best instructor of the year, the best branch of the year, best student attendance of the year and several students that had passed a recent grading also received their certificates and badges. The rest of the night involved doing the rounds and chatting with everyone over some food before heading home.
It would also be the last time that a few of the instructors, myself included, would set foot at that place for the rest of the year before it closed for the Christmas break a few days later so I tried my best to catch up with everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. After all, these kind folks had checked up on me and kept me sane during my battle like corner men encouraging a professional fighter in between rounds and they continue to do so today.

Happy Holidays, my fam-away-from-home. Much love to you all.

The next morning my father drove the family vehicle, a beautiful red Holdenthat we named ‘Christina’ to the service station. Why is she named Christina, you ask? She was named after Christina Hendricks, one of the stars from that TV show Mad Men, since I had a crush on her around the time that we bought the car.
Anyway, my parents and I were scheduled to go on a week-long holiday to Tasmania in three days’ time (my sister was unable to join us due to work commitments) but for the past few days weird popping and crackling noises had emanated from Christina while out on the road plus it was time for another check-up based on the number of kilometers she had accrued. We decided to get her checked out before sailing off for our holiday.

I picked Dad up from the service station with the second family vehicle, a smaller Holden that we named ‘Sylvia’ for her silver coloring, after he had dropped Christina off.
“How long will it take with Christina?” I inquired.
“They said we’ll get her back around early afternoon”, he replied.
“Ok, cool.”
It didn’t quite work out that way.
We hadn’t heard back from the mechanic during the afternoon and so my father called to find out what was happening with Christina. Apparently, something in her motor needed replacement and while an order was placed it wouldn’t arrive at their shop until the next day and so they would have to keep Christina overnight. It wasn’t exactly the response that we were hoping for but it was for one night only so we were ok with it.
It began to storm rather hard later that night and while it seemed a tad uncomfortable at times, it also offered some respite from the increasing summer heat and humidity. But it might as well have been a bad omen for what was to come for poor old Christina.

The storm calmed down to a more manageable rain the next day when I got a call from the service station during mid-day. I was hopeful that he came bearing good news but alas, after exchanging pleasantries his first words were ‘unfortunately……’
Oh boy…….what the hell happened?
Apparently, the morons responsible for that replacement part had accidentally sent them the wrong fucking model and so they would have to hold Christina for another night while they waited for the proper model to come in the next day. The dude on the other end of the line had an apologetic and disappointed tone on his voice while I was exasperated but maintained my calm. This wasn’t his fault and throwing a tantrum wasn’t going to solve anything.
“I see. Ok, thanks for your call I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“We’re very sorry about this, mate.”
“All good. Have a great afternoon.”
“You too. Cheers.”
And that was the end of that. I continued to pack for the upcoming trip while also trying to figure out the most painless way to tell my parents the reason behind Christina’s absence in the driveway that night two days before we were due to leave for our trip.

Well, third time turned out to be a charm – almost. The mechanic called us in the early afternoon of the fifteenth, the day before we were to leave for the trip, and gave us the ok to pick Christina up. But once my father and I got to the shop he had some not-so-good news waiting for us.
“You can have the car back before you guys go for your holiday,” he said, “but we’ll need to take a look at her again sometime after your return.”
He proceeded to explain that while they were able to fix up Christina’s motor it came at the cost of completing the tune-up as it was a time-consuming job and as it was a Saturday, they were not going to be open all day. And if I remember correctly, he revealed that they had also found another problem within her and while it wasn’t serious for the time being, it could escalate into something much worse if it was ignored for too long. It wasn’t exactly all good news but it was still a relief to be able to drive Christina home just in time for the trip.

Damn, looks like the family’s noble steed is showing her age now.

At the time, Christina was seven years old going on eight. That’s almost retirement age for most cars.

It stormed again once we arrived home, much worse than it did two days prior. I guess the storm had backed off the previous day for a breather before it returned rejuvenated and juiced to the gills with mayhem on its mind. The sound of the rain cascading against roof created a feeling of living inside a waterfall and the roads outside were washed out with massive puddles and almost resembled the canals in Venice due to flooded sidewalk drains. Watching cars and buses passing through and kicking up whitewash in their wake was a strangely hypnotic experience and sometime in the afternoon I joined the party and drove – or should I say sailed – to a nearby home / massage clinic to pick up my mother, who had booked a massage an hour earlier. Dad had drove her there before the storm unleashed its wrath and now yours truly had to get out there and guide Sylvia through the deluge, although in Dad’s defense he was busy packing his bags.
I arrived seven minutes early and so I parked the car in the driveway, sitting on the driver’s seat and experiencing the full force of the storm’s wicked orchestra. The rain’s hard drumming against Sylvia’s roof sounded like the machine gun fire from the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan and the world outside was barely visible.  Staring at that total white-out almost put me in a hypnotic trance but my peace was shattered by the sight of my mother on the side mirrors running like mad towards the car, covering her head with her bag. I quickly opened the door for her and she practically jumped in like Dennis Rodman attempting to grab a rebound, huffing and puffing from that short sprint but also still relaxed from the massage.

Talk about feeling both ends of the scale at once!

Upon arriving home we switched on the living room lights though it was only 4:30pm as the sun had been overpowered by the rainclouds. Water had also seeped through the roof of the extension outside the back of the house and so we scrambled to place rags and buckets beneath the leaks. Thank goodness that the power wasn’t cut off, such was this storm’s fury.
A part of me began to feel nervous about the trip tomorrow. Sailing on a cruise ship was to be a part of it and I really didn’t fancy living out The Poseidon Adventure for real. Oh yeah, for the record, a running joke among my family is that it seems to rain or storm during the days leading up to any holiday that we have planned and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. But I didn’t get hung up on it for too long as I still had some packing to do. I had already packed up my clothes earlier during the week so now it was down to sorting out shoes, toiletries and other accessories

That included my damn medication.

My first trip as a dude on meds. Let’s see how this goes……

I packed the required number of Imuran and Mezavant tablets for the trip, even going so far as to count them again up to five times in one hour – a ritual that I’d repeat again the following morning before finally locking my bag and heading out the door. Call me paranoid and neurotic all you want but when Dr. B warns you that the colitis could return with a vengeance should I ever slack off on my dosage it sends an unpleasant feeling through the system, that combination of a cold chill down the spine, feeling nauseous, an urge to run away and feeling faint all at the same time.
I wonder if they have a medical term for that shit
But that being said I’d recovered to the point where I no longer felt anxious about any unplanned ‘attacks’ that my damn bowels might have in store for me, enough positive results had passed to place me back into a better state of mind. But I couldn’t get too cocky, I had to continue to be mindful about my medication, meal times and even what I ate as I would be away from the safe confines of a familiar environment. Not that it was a total inconvenience but it was still a minor pain in the ass, no pun intended.

You’re still on three Imuran tablets and four Mezavant tablets, Buddy. Don’t get reckless!

My parents and I finished packing in the late afternoon before having dinner. I went to bed at around 9:30 laying in the dark for a while and meditating before drifting off to sleep to the soothing yet somewhat haunting sound of the rain drumming against the roof, the storm having thankfully calmed down for good. Hopefully all this rain would clear out by the following morning.

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