T Nation

Appreciating Life...

A very good friend of mine has made me wake up a little more with each setback he’s been forced to confront in his life as we’ve aged over the years. I thought I would post about it in his honor, and the dignity and grace that he has approached all his health and personal setbacks with.

Background; we have been friends for over 15 years. Worked together for about 10, played in a band together for about 4 yrs straight, then off and on when we had the time as our lives got more complicated and busy. He was a drummer, I play guitar. He was the guy who got me to get back into guitar after a lengthy layoff.

As a result, I managed to get accepted into the inner circle of friends of one Doug Doppler, who was Joe Satriani’s ace student and subsequently took over Joe’s teaching when “Surfing…” took off. This got me to a very high level of playing and happiness as a result. We had a lot of fun.

He never knew his father, mother was a heroin junkie who dumped him off as a child of around 8 or so. In and out of foster homes. Big, menacing guy, with a heart of gold. Very scary looking, yet very gentle and kind to anyone who “took a chance” and got to know him. Great sense of humor, all around cool guy.

When I first met him, everyone fucked with him. He was very big, slow, sluggish, and his “happy face” looked frightening, lol. I liked that. Most people liked to fuck with him, and he could take anything dished out w/out getting his panties in a bunch. I liked a good back and forth, and we developed a friendship which started from fucking with each other too. The difference was I let him know I thought he was cool, and I never meant any of it. It was all in jest.

We had a great time jamming together, he was brilliant on the drums. Always made practice. Never, ever complained about anything in his personal life.

He had diabetes. Had a massive heart attack about 8 years ago give or take. Open heart surgery. No problem. Never winced a lick. Then he lost a toe on one foot after stepping on a nail in the yard, and not noticing it for a day or two. Infection took another stab at him later when it happened once more. This time it took all the toes and about half of the good foot.

Again, all he would say to me as I was trying to console him, or come up with something positive to say amid the “I’m really sorry this happened to you”, was, “Hey, don’t worry about me, it could be worse.”

Then another heart attack, the first one landed him with triple bypass, this one got him about 3 or 4 shints in the major arteries of the heart.

Again, all he would tell me, “Hey it’s ok, it could be worse.”

Every time I would stop and think about all the trivial stupid things that I would spend time dwelling on, or being unhappy about. Not that I’m that way, but you get the picture I think. We all do that in our daily lives to some extent.

Well, just got a call from him, and it just about broke my heart. The poor guy just lost an entire leg from diabetes complications again. It was all I could do to keep him from hearing me weep to myself as I talked to him. I told him how sorry I was again, and that he didn’t deserve all this to be happening to him. He just said, “Don’t worry about me.” “I’m ok with it.”

The really hard part was hearing him say he guessed he’d have to sell the drums now. Even after losing half the one foot and toes on the other etc, he had always been able to play the drums still. It was a powerful and empowering force in his life. At least when he wasn’t busy going to dialysis for 4-6 hours a pop, 3 times a week.

I told him I didn’t think I’d have half the balls he had on display, dealing with this shit, and I meant it too. I’m sorry to say I don’t see him making it much longer, though I feel like a jerk for even saying that, given his determination and perserverance. Makes me very sad.

Funny, I’ve always been attracted to this type of person, most people wouldn’t want to spend more than a second talking to him, or looking at him, but he’s proved to be an inspiration to me ever since meeting him. He’s made me realize how silly I can be and how much I can take for granted, as most of us do until shit happens.

I’m taking him some magazines in a few hours after all the other visitors leave. I hope I don’t shed too many tears while I visit him. And I certainly don’t easily cry. But I don’t know that I can keep from doing that. I can only try to be positive and reinforce his own strength, as best I can. I guess I’m a lot weaker than him, and appreciate all the cool things he did for/with me over the years. Times when I was down, or not feeling too happy with myself. He was always there to say the right thing.

Anyway, just wanted to share this. Don’t normally do this, but it might help me to get some feedback on it through some of the friends I have on the forums. I dread the day he might succumb to the shitty deal he’s been dealt with.

                 Sincerely,

                  ToneBone

Man, stuff like this makes you feel like a jackass when you think back to all the things you complain about every day… Imagine if every time you had complained about drive-through service you instead lost a toe or finger. really good, and deep read. Hope it ends well for your friend.

Thanks for sharing that man. I have a similarly strong person in my life. It’s hard to watch.

It’s tough. I’ve noticed that when someone close to me suffers, I suffer along with them, though not nearly as much, obviously. This sort of empathy is inherent in relationships where there is a close bond, a love of sorts. It’s hard to deal with, but it’s good to feed off each other’s strength.

I’m sure I speak for all of us here when I say that I wish your friend well, whatever “well” is. In the words of Jimmy Valvano: “Don’t give up, never give up.” Both of you.

You’re friend is a champ.

He’ll be around for a while yet.

Wow. Your friend’s outlook is commendable. That’s a lot of inner strength. It certainly should make us all look around and count our blessings when we see someone who has been dealt such a shitty hand in life.

You can take heart in knowing that you’ve got a special bond with an extraordinary person. You’re both lucky to have each other’s friendship. It’s priceless.

Thanks for posting your story… that takes a lot of courage, too. Respect to your friend and peace to you.

Thanks for sharing this. Your friend is very strong. Everyone should take example from him.

The day you are not able to do what you love is a sad day indeed. Hopefully he will stay strong and find a new passion in life.

Your friend needs support right now, even if he is very strong. You being there means so much to him I’m sure. I’ll always remember when I went to the ICU to visit my friend, the glow in his eyes when he saw me. (You’d be surprised by how many would run away… even so called good friends).

I was also in a similar situation and turned to God for extra support.

After going through such an experience, you view life from a completely different angle and it makes you a better person. Little things that you didn’t care about or take for granted before now make you happy. Like spending time with family and friends.

Tell your friend to keep on fighting!

Thanks everyone.

I saw him tonight, and while he looked “weathered” of course, all things considered he looked good and had his wits about him as best could be expected for being on morphine heavily.

I managed to get by with just tearing up a bit. He mentioned it taking a real man to experience all emotions, regarding that. Always made sense to me that way too.

Anyway, I told him not to worry, keep up the positive attitude, how much fun and laughter I shared through him over all the years of gigging and working together. And that he needn’t throw in the towel on the drums just yet.
I offered to help him set up and take down whenever he wants to gig at a local club or anything, and that even if it wasn’t as often as before, it would still be really therapeutic and beneficial for him to have some fun like that still. His bass drum pedal foot is good to go, and we can rig a high hat for the shorty when it’s healed up and possibly has a prosthesis if it can handle that. The problem might be how proximal the cut had to be in determining how easy it will be for the tissue to handle a prosthesis.

The really sad part that killed me, was when he told me how he had gone to the doc, several weeks back complaining he thought his leg was infected, since he had the feeling before in his feet, and was told “No, no infection”, and sent home with antibiotics after only a “visual symptom” check. Then he went back a couple days later, said the same, was told the same, went home. Finally the third fucking time he went back said, “I really think I have an infection in my leg.” And lo and behold “Gods little helper” finally got tired of looking at him, inspected further like he should have done in the first place besides a visual only, especially considering his past history of losing toes and half a foot already, and discovered…guess what?? “Yep, you’ve got a bone infection in your leg”!!!

             That was hard to hear.

Smells like a lawsuit, but he paused and said, “They’ve kept me alive so many times though”…Don’t think I mentioned his kidneys have been failing for a couple years now too, due to the diabetes, so dialysis 3 days a week for all this time as well.

And I’m sure he also thought, “Shit, this is the only coverage I got. Better not jeopardize it.”

Fucking disgusting. Good news is he still has that iron will, and looked good all things considered. Gonna see him again on Tuesday, as my schedule won’t permit tomorrow to visit. Hopefully it won’t reinfect any time soon. And we’re lucky he’s alive frankly with all the “go on home” bullshit rhetoric from his doctor.

          Thanks for all the kind words.

                   ToneBone

I have known the pain of friends getting murdered by gangbanging fools, and holding my moms hand as her life passed away right in front of me after a vicious bout of leukemia, so I have had a fair perspective on the precious beauty of life, but this ol boy, he just hit me hard today hearing of it out of the blue, after just talking to him a couple weeks back when all was well.

What I mean is I’m not downplaying all the pain of other people who have suffered, or seen comrades fall, whether in the line of duty defending our great country, or at home to crime. I just felt the need to post on it for some reason. Maybe cause there are a lot of people here that I respect.

           I'm babbling away here,
             

                 ToneBone

That’s pretty fucked up altogether man. But I gotta say, it’s better that it happens to him who apparently has a good grip on his life, than someone who can’t handle it.

Horrible are things are happening with his health (wow, insane alliteration), yet he still manages to hold onto what he’s got left and value it more than most people value normal and healthy lives.

His story, his mindset, and his experiences are an absolute inspiration. Good luck to him and with the attitude he has, everything will be fine in the end, no matter what further complications occur with his health.

World

Good to hear his spirits are still up. Hang in there.

[quote]World1187 wrote:
That’s pretty fucked up altogether man. But I gotta say, it’s better that it happens to him who apparently has a good grip on his life, than someone who can’t handle it.

Horrible are things are happening with his health (wow, insane alliteration), yet he still manages to hold onto what he’s got left and value it more than most people value normal and healthy lives.

His story, his mindset, and his experiences are an absolute inspiration. Good luck to him and with the attitude he has, everything will be fine in the end, no matter what further complications occur with his health.

World

[/quote]

You get it…Thanks buddy.

ToneBone

Hearing stuff like this just makes me value life soo much more. I hope the best for your friend, hopefully hell be able to jam with you and the band so more and have fun.

Personally I guess im very fortunate not to have anyone thats been too close to me pass away… Even when its been grandparents that i didnt really know or pets it never bothered me that much. I guess everyone goes through it sooner or later. The worst is seeing someone who is such a good person have to suffer liek this. Ive had my own share of health problems but like your friend said “it could be worse”.

The only thing i guess i could recommend is to spend as much time as you can with him while hes still around. Most of all Take pictures so the memories last forever as corny as that sounds.

You’re a good friend, Tone. You know what’s important. It may be inherent in your buddy’s personality to be upbeat, but it would be hard not to be with friends like you.

I think back over 40 years or so of working, living. It’s never been what I do, or where I am, but the people I’m with that have made the difference.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

Not a single one of us is promised tomorrow on this earth. Even Jesus said we are to take each day without worry for tomorrow. It looks like your friend has the right spirit in his journey here. One never knows the power within when given a challenge.

Blessings to him and you, TB, for being there for him.

[quote]5.0 wrote:
You’re a good friend, Tone. You know what’s important. It may be inherent in your buddy’s personality to be upbeat, but it would be hard not to be with friends like you.

I think back over 40 years or so of working, living. It’s never been what I do, or where I am, but the people I’m with that have made the difference.[/quote]

Thanks buddy,

What you said is so true. People are what makes our lives rich, not the material shit.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Your friend is a warrior. Inspirational.

As World says, better it happen to him than some single mother of four young kids.

Bushy[/quote]

Yeah, I still can’t believe it.
Thanks Bushy, I’ll tell him about this thread and the inspiring responses from people like you and the other posters here. I think that will mean something to him.

                see ya bud,

                    TBN

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
Not a single one of us is promised tomorrow on this earth. Even Jesus said we are to take each day without worry for tomorrow. It looks like your friend has the right spirit in his journey here. One never knows the power within when given a challenge.

Blessings to him and you, TB, for being there for him.[/quote]

Thank you.

I’d say you are blessed to have such a friend, Tone. Sounds like all of us could learn a lot from him. It truly is our attitude which determines our happiness and the ultimate value we add to our life and all of those around us.

I hope you will let your friend know that he is a model which will provide strength for others.