Friday, February 26, 2010

Casey Johnson

The recent death and announcement of the cause of Casey Johnson's passing this week really hit some nerves with me. According to published reports, she died as a result of untreated Diabetes and an overdose of the over the counter cold medication "Nyquil." As I look at the facts it angers me. This woman was the heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and chose, yes I said she chose, to not take care of herself. She could and should have had the best medical care, but all of the medical care in the world could not save her from herself. If she didn't do her part, the disease would most certainly do it's job. In my mind's eye and in the heart of a woman who was made a widow by this beast, she participated in her own demise.

This reminds me of a conversation that Richard and I had very early in our relationship. It was August after we began dating in May. I had just turned 20 and he would be 21 in October. The only knowledge I had of diabetes was my mother's first cousin who lost her husband, a diabetic and alcoholic. She sat by his bedside for 3.5 years while it slowly killed him in a diabetic coma. He drank until he passed out and never, ever woke up again. I had no idea of the beast inside Richard's body, until he called me one morning and said they were admitting him to the University of Virginia at Charlottesville because his "sugar was out of whack." He spent a week there and when he came home he handed me a giant, black binder. He said "Read this tonight and we will talk tomorrow. I am okay and I love you."

The binder contained everything that the medical community knew, at that time, about Diabetes. Highlighted portions had regard to Richard's illness and everything that was highlighted appeared to be the worst that it could be. I did not sleep that night. The words, blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, amputations and coma ran through my mind. It was that night that I knew in my heart that I loved Richard. I had told him in a teenager mentality that I loved him. But looking at what was staring me in the face showed me my heart. I walked the floor with one question wrestling in my very soul. "Can I do this?"

The next morning I went to his apartment early and awoke him from his slumber. He was a 20 year old college student and it was the weekend before school started back on Monday for him. There were liquor bottles and passed out friends littering the apartment. Pizza boxes and beer cans. Before I had always taken these things in stride. After my night of reading and soul searching, I saw things in a different light.

The first question I asked Richard was "What was your sugar level when they admitted you?" He blinked his eyes and knew that I had read the material. "680" he replied. I knew enough that a blood sugar reading of 800 is comatose. I also knew that 80 to 120 was normal. The next question I asked was "What did the doctor's say?" He looked at the floor and began to cry. He said "If I don't take care of myself, I will be dead in a year." As he looked up at me, that was the first time I ever saw fear in his eyes. It was then that I gave him the only ultimatum I ever gave. I had practiced and practiced it in the car on the drive over. I needed to say this without tears, but with resolve. I was so scared because if he would not do as I asked, everything would end. "You need to tell me what you want. I love you. I am invested. But, if you are not going to do what you need to do in order to be on this Earth, I will walk away. I can break my own heart right now and it will be easier than watching this kill you. Either participate in life with me, or participate in dying alone." With that I turned and walked from the room.

I heard the shower start and I woke the other fellas. Bleary eyed and hungover, I asked them to leave. I started to pick up the mess and put the dishes in the dishwasher. When he came downstairs, still wet from the shower, he still had tears in his eyes. With a dishtowel in my hand, I asked "What are you going to do?" He said, "I want to be with you." With those words, I made the educated decision to love this man and fight this disease. I was not blindsided, there was no diagnosis in a room with a doctor. There was just he and I in the livingroom of a tiny townhouse. Two kids who decided to face the world together.

Why would Casey Johnson choose not to fight for her life? Why would she ignore medical advice? Why would she choose to leave this world? According to reports, she lay dead for four days before she was found. Where were her parents with their money and influence? I cannot understand any ones actions in this entire debacle. But, the responsibility lies squarely on Casey Johnson's shoulders. She was not ignorant of the consequences of letting her blood sugar over take her. She was not ignorant of the fact that "Nyquil" is not safe for diabetics. According to the information involved, she in fact abused it. The sad part of this is that she was a young woman with a life that most of us could only dream of living. She had everything but love for herself and a love of life.

The doctors and forensic pathologists can state what they believe to be the cause of death. For my part, she died of self loathing. She participated in her death as surely as if she had taken a gun and ended her life. Diabetes is not a life choice, it's not a life style. You will learn to live with it like a lion in a cage, or it will end you. But in the end, it is your choice. Fight or die.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Laundry List

Well, I have walked through my year of firsts. I would not dare say that I am finished with my grieving process. I harbor no illusions. The good news is that now I am to face nothing that I have not faced before therefore I am better equipped to do what I must. The one thing that hangs over my head is reentry into the dating world. Before I go any further let me explain why this is such a daunting task. The last time I had a first date was May 14, 1987. Yes, almost 23 years ago. The world has changed into a place that though I am familiar with, but I am more than a foreigner, I am an alien.

The last time I looked about for male companionship, and it is not bragging to say that I have never actually looked, it always found me. At that time one actually had to stop at a payphone to call someone from the road. We met people in person before we actually spoke to them. I was also 19 years old. Nevertheless, my friends have begun asking “What are you looking for in a man?” So I have complied somewhat of a “Laundry List.” I have no doubt that it will be offensive to some, outrageous to others and unattainable to the rest. But since you asked, here goes.

First, I need a man who is 6’0 or over. I am 5’7 without shoes. With them I end up somewhere between 5”11 and 6’1. I will not give up my shoes for any mans vanity. They are as much a part of me as my nose. Wouldn’t want me to give that up now would you? Second, I like a good sized man. I am not talking about Sumo wrestler size, but he needs some meat on his bones. Fit is fine but he needn’t chase me about with a pair track shoes expecting me to run along beside him. I wouldn’t run if a bear were chasing me. Why would I salt and warm his food? I somehow think I might be mauled but not eaten if I were in the fetal position with a fecal matter sauce. But warm and salty I am a goner. He can run and jump and do as he pleases, I will be in the house with my Wii Fit. As long as I can outrun the last person in line in a horror movie, it’s all good.

In the area of age, there can be no one under the age of 35. If you have no idea where you were when Ronald Regan was shot or who Bad Company was then I haven’t the time to explain. Furthermore, no one over the age of 50 is acceptable either. If you have issues understanding of the abbreviations, IDK, NP or WTF in a message or dating me would have been a crime when I was 16, again, I haven’t the time to educate you either. There can be no small children bearing your DNA anywhere on Earth. Small to me is under the age of 15. I cannot have curtain crawlers or yard monkeys about me that I cannot kill and claim insanity. I do not like children. I will say this again, I do not like children. I don’t find them cute or endearing. I find them messy and cootie filled like a Krispy Kreme donut. If the said gentleman has children, I prefer that the maternal unit not be either needy or insane. Take crazy somewhere else, my container is full.

I suppose that the last thing is that I need an Alpha male. If you don’t know what one is, you aren’t one so that leaves you out of the running. If I can run over this man, I will. I cannot help it. It will also render me incapable of respecting the specimen. I need a strong individual who knows exactly who he is in this world and is secure within himself. Now I am not speaking of a Grade A, USDA stamped asshole. There is a balance. If he is an asshole and I am a heartless bitch, we will end up on the news rather than living happily ever after. I don’t look good in orange, therefore, prison is not really an option for me. Those flip-flops with socks are hideous. Kill me now.

Does this list seen a bit difficult to fill? Good. It’s supposed to be. I designed it that way with a purpose in mind. There is not a man on Earth that can fill Richard’s shoes. He cannot be replaced. The manner in which he loved me was a once in a lifetime kind of thing and can never be duplicated. He loved me from the age of 19 until he closed his eyes forever. He saw me mature and change and loved me because of it not inspite of it. He knew every bump, bruise and scar. He knew my likes and dislikes. He knew me. He treated me like a Queen. Richard once told me that when he fell in love with me it frightened him because I possessed his soul. He fully believed in his heart that he could not live without me. I have often mused in my mind what he would have done had it been me that had left this world far too early. There is nothing I would not do to spare him this pain. I will never find what I had with him again. There is a tale in Jewish mythology that says when God creates a soul, he splits in half and sends it into the world. These two halves search for one another relentlessly often never finding each other. When they do it is said that they are “Beshert.” We were such a pair so there was but one.

I am not saying I will not find love again. I am saying I am older and wiser. That rush, that panic, that euphoria will never be what it once was because I am not who I was when it found me the first time. When the time is right someone will appear who wants his own place in my life and in my heart. Someone who won’t want to compete with Richard because he won’t want to be a replacement. He also will know me well enough to know that with all of the Louis Vuitton in my closet, I would never accept a cheap imitation of an original.