What A Long, Strange Trip: 2008

I suppose, now that I have a blog, I am not going to be able to get through 2008 without doing some kind of Year In Review type of article. I thought I would be excited to put this one together but, for some reason, I can't seem to get in the right mood. I have started writing several times only to abandon the story partially done or scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

Most of the reason that I don't want to write a 2008 Review is that everybody does one-- not only bloggers but all kinds of Internet, print and broadcast sources will produce their lists of the most, least, best, worst and biggest person, places and things of the year. In addition, I want my articles to be real... but not too real. Not that I am lying to anyone out there but I don't feel the need to tell complete strangers (and some other acquaintances) my most intimate thoughts and every personal feeling. I am, however, enjoying that I get to write about interesting topics, funny stories and a important cause or two and get a kick out of the fact that, at least some, other people are reading the stuff.

Therefore, I am going to try, again, to do my 2008 Year In Review and, maybe, by Wednesday, I will have something ready that I am comfortable enough sharing with the rest of the world... or the very small number of individuals that find it.

2008 started out at home for us. We are not really a big party-type of family anyway and, with a two-year old running the house, we like to be as close to home as possible most of the time, but especially on amateur night. It was fun! We invited some friends (and their kids) over, played video games, ate munchies and enjoyed each others' company.

Having had a stroke just five-weeks earlier and, basically, being paralyzed on the right half of my body, it was amazing that I was able to do that much. I was in therapy every day I could get it from November 28 through the end of the year. We had to get as many visits in 2007 as possible to submit to the insurance companies and they couldn't work me hard enough as I figured that was the only way I was going to improve. We did see some improvement almost every day! It wasn't always dramatic progress, but it was almost every day.

By Christmas I could walk well enough to get around without the cane or any other aides. I could hold a drumstick with a modified grip on New Years but it was very difficult to keep up with my friends on Rock Band. MLW talked all of our guests into writing down their resolutions so she could mail them as a reminder in six-months but I was just starting to be able to write and it wasn't very legible so I just kept mine to myself.

I had already made a remarkable recovery and wanted my resolution to be a tribute to that. Without going into too much detail, then, I can tell you that I promised myself to do everything I could to be a better man than I was before the stroke. I wanted to work hard to be stronger physically, but it meant much more to me than that. I can get a little more into this later but, for now, let's leave it with... I wanted to be sure that what should be important was more important than what wasn't and I didn't want to waste my time with things that were unimportant.

There was a tremendous amount of progress made in the month of February. My therapists started dropping me, starting with my PT and then, although I was still having a difficult time speaking, my speech therapist. Most of my large motor skills had returned and, while I worked by myself to build strength in them, I still visited my OT for couple of hours a day, several days a week to work on my small motor skills. I was extremely anxious to be released to drive again because, although I was not looking forward to getting back to the daily grind, I had to get out of the house.

The first week in March I finally passed my drivers' test and was able to do exactly that, followed by going back to work at the beginning of the third week. Looking back, this was probably two-to-four weeks early as I was having a very hard time getting back into the swing of things. I did, however, begin to rid myself of some of the worthlessness that I had been feeling in the previous 13-weeks as I was a little less of a burden on my family and friends-- especially my wife, who was incredibly gracious, helpful, merciful, kind and understanding through the whole ordeal.

I made such a remarkable recovery that the doctors said I could only use the stroke as an excuse for a year. I used every last minute of that time but, for the sake of this blog post, we will leave off of it here in April. I think I am still recovering a little bit every day. I notice it most in my speech and endurance-- the two things that are effected most by the severe fatigue I was feeling as my brain shut down all other bodily functions in order to save energy so that it could heal faster. 

I had said from the beginning, part in jest-- part for real, that I only wanted to recover 99% so that I would always have a reminder of the event and the important lessons that I learned from it. I don't really find it odd, therefore, that the only real pain that I ever had was in my pinkie finger, of all things, and if you didn't know that I had a stroke, I'm sure that you couldn't tell, but that finger still hurts like it did the first day. Be careful what you wish for.

In May things started heating up... and I am not talking about the weather. MLW and I celebrated our our forth Anniversary with a date night. I really can't say enough good things about my wife. Before we met, I couldn't imagine me being married and having a family-- now, I can't even start to imagine what my life would be like if I wasn't lucky enough to have her-- but trust me... it would not be pretty. I am saying all of these things right now because she is so kind that she is one of the few people that regularly read my blog even though she doesn't always like it and I don't tell her (or show her) how much she means to me often enough.

This was also the month that I made some decisions about my life, the direction that it was going, and the goals that we wanted to achieve. Here, again, without getting into a lot of detail this is not going to make a lot of sense and I am not going to get into a lot of detail but let me say this... for now-- you have to have goals.

Some of my goals had to do with getting back to my roots-- doing art for arts' sake and because it was fun like I did when I was young. So in June I set out on a quest to find a more creative outlet than the corporate (par-done mi French) crap that I had to knock out at the office every day. I found this outlet in SkeetzTeez-- a cafepress shop featuring T-shirts and other gift items with unique, custom designs imprinted on them. Although this was filling that creative void that I was feeling, at least to some point, there was still something missing but all that would have to wait because...

I don't know if it was the date night or not but on the Forth of July, M2S got to tell all of our family his secret, "Mamma's got a baby in her tummy"! The rest of the world found out shortly after that because I was just so excited that I couldn't keep it a secret. In fact, this was the subject of my second blog post on the 17th of the month. I started the blog to help promote the SkeetzTeez shop and also created several lenses on Squidoo for the same purpose. If you have followed the blog, you already know more detail than I am going to be able to give you in this review but, please, feel free to continue through the rest of the year.

In August, our two-year-old Son became M3S. That kid means so much to me! He really is my best friend, my inspiration for doing everything that I have to do and my joy just to carry on. I don't know if it is just his age, that I got to spend a lot more quality time with him since I was not working, or that I usually have to sleep with him in his bed because Mamma's pregnant, but we have become so much closer this year. Not to get into the stroke thing again but, just to let you know how the recovery was going, at his birthday party, I climbed up on the roof and held up a 35-pound pinata in a pirate costume (me not the pinata) so a bunch of delinquents could beat on it with a Wiffleball bat.

I also wrote about auditioning for the church worship group in this month. Update: I made it! I have been singing at least once a month since then. I really, really like this church because I feel like we are all contributing to the community and we have been accepted into it. There are several changes that are upcoming that, I hope, will make the group stronger rather than weaker in the next year.

Most of September was spent on the Internet trying to learn all of the tricks of the trade to promote T-shirt sales. Overall, I think I did pretty good. In addition to the blog and Squidoo, I got involved with other social networking applications like Twitter and, eventually, Facebook. Besides getting somewhat proficient at most of the programs, I also got involved with and even lead a few groups to cross-promote members' cafepress shops. The way I look at it: if someone is going to buy someone else's stuff over mine, they would have probably done it any way. We might as well team up so every potential customer sees as many different designs as possible. Some shopkeepers agree with that philosophy-- others think I'm nuts.

October was a big month as I celebrated my 43rd Birthday, that I honestly thought that I would never see by learning that our second-(and probably last)born was going to be a son (Gabriel, I think). This brought about mixed feelings, as I wrote about at the time, but in the long run, I am so happy that I could just (par-done mi French, again) dance! This is also about the time that I started my crusade to inform everyone I could about the dangers of chiropractic stroke. I know... your tired of hearing about it, so I won't get into it... just remember... read this!

The presidential election took place in November-- finally! After three-and-a-half years of campaigning with such a disappointing outcome, I'm sick and tired about talking politics. I had more important things to address! With the Anniversary of my brain attack looming, I was reminded by my pinkie, of my resolution. Although, my attention had shifted to the probability of it being caused by chiropractic manipulation, I was still letting myself down by not fulfilling the promises that I made myself. Time to, among other things, get back to the gym and get a better overall attitude.

I have been doing better in December, but there is still much room for improvement and I am looking forward to 2009. I intentionally left my resolution a little vague last year and that is against all of the rules for goal making. I need to be more specific next year. Overall, though, I think this year has been a great one and, more importantly, I have made it through the 2008 Year In Review. Reading back through it, I don't like it but... I'm still going to publish because I took all of this time to write it.

I'm about halfway through with another one from a different angle, however. Maybe tomorrow I will try to finish that one up and post it: Things I Learned in 2008? If not... write to you next year! In the mean time... Happy New Year. Read this. Buy T-shirts. Peace.

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