Throughout my life, one of my favorite past times has always been listening to people share stories of their life. Some of them were funny and some were very deep but all of them were reflections of their past. I think my passion for these stories is what led to me creating this project. So, I would like to share my story with you.
I have been very fortunate in my life. My mother was a singer/piano player and when I was only 6 years old, she started what became a very successful travel agency based out of North Louisiana. Through the years, she taught my younger brother and I what it meant to work hard to get the things you want. By helping others get what they want, you in return get what you want. We worked for months preparing for each trip to different parts of North America but we got to see and touch things most could only read about in books or see on TV. These trips were very rewarding but they brought on envy and jealousy from my high school classmates who never saw the work that was involved. They always found something to pick at me about but I just joined in with their laughter, trying to make it look like it didn’t bother me. I never really let anyone know, but it was scaring me deep inside and I’ve carried those scars with me throughout the years.
In my early teens, my mother bought me a set of drums for my birthday. Before long, I was the drummer in her band, playing several nights each week. She always told me that when I walked on stage to leave my worries and troubles off the stage because the people who came out and paid their hard earned money to hear us perform needed to forget about their worries for a while. This really stuck with me so I tried my best to entertain everyone I could and bring a smile to their faces no matter how hard it was to me. Since then, I’ve had the wonderful opportunities to work with stars like; Wayne Newton, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, The Carter Sisters, Ray Stevens, The McGuire Sisters, Kenny Rogers, and many others as well as traveling overseas to entertain our US Troops.
In show business, you often have to do quick costume changes for the next scene. Many times you don’t have time to get to your dressing room so you strip and change just off stage, out of view of your audience. You don’t have time to worry about who may see you, you just have to do it. Years of this has led me to feeling comfortable and alive being nude…in the right environment, that is. It is such a rejuvenating feeling to be around like-minded people, Naturists, who are all nude and not judging you for your looks. You are all just celebrating life in its raw, natural form.
I’ve been married for nearly 25 years now, never been really sick a day in my life, and sex has always been a wonderful part of our relationship. Well, that was up until the last couple of years. I started to notice I was having problems with ED, Erectile Dysfunction, and I couldn’t figure out why. I read and tried everything I could but at times, nothing seemed to work. This should have been a warning sign to me and I should have gone to see my doctor but I thought it was normal for men in their mid to late 40’s. Boy, was I wrong!
For the past 10 years, I was a bus driver driving 8 hour shifts, non-stop, with no time to get out of the seat and stretch my legs. And that’s when it all came crashing down on me. On July 14, 2018 at approximately 10 AM, my son came to my rescue. I was having extreme difficulties breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital. Doctors quickly saw that I was near death and that I had major blood clots in my leg that had broken off. Luckily they had passed through my heart. But, the clots stuck in my lungs and in the saddle between my heart and lungs, which is known as a Saddle Pulmonary Embolism, or PE. My left lung was completely blocked and my right lung was 95% blocked. A couple days later, after numerous tests and medicines, I was aware enough to understand what had happened to me. Doctors told me that I was one of the 3 lucky ones, that 97 out of 100 die from what I had just lived through. Talking about an eye opening experience!
Today, after almost 1 1/2 years since my near death experience, the first round of blood clots have gone away, I no longer suffer with ED yet I am still having breathing issues and PTSD associated from it. Last week, I was rushed to the ER again. This time to find out I have multiple blood clots in each of my lungs. Doctor’s told me that I am now susceptible to recurring blood clots which will effect the rest of my life and I will be on blood thinners until the day I die. At times, I catch myself thinking about or having a dream about how hard it was to breath when the attacks sent me to the ER and then I start to have a panic/anxiety attack. Talking about scary!!! I’ve woken up fighting to catch my breath in panic mode several times. Nothing I can do for a while seems to break the spell. A cold shower, standing in front of a huge fan, even running outside completely naked just trying to breath as normal didn’t work. Finally, I figured out that listening to some relaxing music and concentrating on the drum beat takes my mind off my worries and before long, I am breathing normal again. I’m very fortunate to be alive for my family but my life will never be as it was before that horrible day!
Another issue from driving and bouncing around in the bus seat for so long is, I now have to live with constant back pain. Doctors found that I have a bulging disk, loss of disk and disk space, degenerative disk and moderate to severe arthritis in my lower back and hips. At times, this is crippling for me so I am glad I have a high pain tolerance level. If you know anyone who drives a lot, make sure they get up and stretch at least once every couple hours or so or this could happen to them. Watch for warning signs and get to a doctor as fast as you can! Don’t worry about being embarrassed, just open up to them so they can help you before things escalate like they did for me. Trust me, they have seen and heard more than you can ever imagine.
While some days are worse than others, I am very thankful that I survived my ordeals and that I am alive to watch my kids grow up. I have been given a third chance at life and I want to share my story with everyone who will listen. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, I just want to make people aware that little things can add up to huge life changing battles. I am now living my life each day as if it is my last day to be alive and I don’t take to heart what others say about me or think about what I do. I am going to be me and do what makes me and my family happy!
I hope this project, photos and stories will help you see that you are not alone in your life’s struggles, no matter how big or small they may be, and that we all must do our best to help others, no matter what it takes.
In the words of Mrs. June Carter Cash, “No matter what life throws at you, we must press on”.
Be sure to leave your reply and/or post your comments about this photo and story below so others can read it. Thanks for your time and support in this incredible art project…