At the first flutter – as I opened my eyes – I knew getting out of bed was not going to either fun or easy. Just how difficult I didn’t fully realize, until I found myself on the floor.

That was a first.

Not even after waking up from too much ‘liquid party’ the night before had I so quickly become one with the floor. To say I was surprised is to be an understatement.

Finding I was OK – nothing broken – bruised maybe – but not broken, I thought, “What a way to start a week!” The rest of the week went a bit more stable and I entered December.  But it was not without it’s ups and downs.

The pain in my joints, muscles and ligaments has been relentless – if not punctual.

It seems that I can set my watch by the onset of a series of muscle aches and pains that arrive, on schedule at 2PM EST.  Whether I’ve been dealing with the pain through the morning or not, the 2PM Pain Express rolls into the assigned sections, right on time.  Oh, were it only a bit more like the U.S.railroad system!!

There was a bit of relief available, found in alternation of ibuprofen [1] and acetaminophen [2] in far too much and too large doses.  In an effort to avoid their special brand of problem, I refuse to use them until I just simply cannot function without. The occassional 3-fingers of ‘briarhopper elixer’ [3] brings a bit of relief in the light wave of euphoria that follows.  But not to worry that this will become a habit.  That stuff is on the circuit as my beloved Highlands uisge beatha (water of life) [4]… UP!  I simply cannot afford it.  A situation of which I’m aware to all aspects of ‘cannot afford’.  I just don’t need another albatross[5].

A ‘new twist’ has begun to form in the last couple of days.  A question was posed to me by a collegue, friend and client.  In a conversation with Dan Small [6], I mentioned the recent bout of aches, pains and increased fatigue.  Dan asked if I had considered the possibility that I had Lyme Disease [7].

Actually, yes I had.

On Sunday 19 OCT 2008, my wife and I were in Wisconsin Dells, WI. [8]  We were entertaining our grandchildren for the afternoon. Having fun rolling in the yet green grass, feeding the overly tame ducks bits of bread and giggling with delight, I had a conscious awareness of the ‘deer tick’ potential in an area crawling with deer.  Wisconsin also has a substantial number of Lyme disease cases each year; 8th in the nation. The Wisconsin Dells area is among the highest.

After playing, my wife and I went over the kids with a fine-toothed-comb search to be sure they were ‘tick free’.  They were.  While playing, my grandson, Wyatt, a most addictive little character, who has enough energy – that if only we could store it, humanity would never have an energy problem again! – can be quite rambunctious in play.  When we were going through the ‘tick search’, I noticed that I had an odd scratch on my right calf. I just brushed it off as a ‘scratch from Wyatt’s wrestling’.

The next day the ‘scratch’ now had more the look of a ‘bite’. A small red dot with a faint outer halo look. Yes, I immediately recognized the similarity to signs of Lyme. But, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Then life took a sudden and abrupt 90 degree change for us.  On Tuesday 21 OCT, my wife took a phone call from her mother informing us that her father, a 15 year stroke victim, had fallen on Sunday and had broken his hip.  Dad was 84.  Immediately he fell into the stats column of less than 10% chance for survival; regardless of the success of any repair of the hip.

Though we chose to not head to my wife’s home town of Lexington, KY, to be with mom and dad, to help – all of our attention quickly became focused on dad.  The ‘bite’ was just lost in the shuffle.

Mom was worn out. Her weakened condition, being the sole caregiver for Dad, precluded her from being able to be his interpreter and to stay with him while he recuperated in the hospital. My wife couldn’t do it. She could not do the ‘late nights’ and she wasn’t all that good at ‘stroke-charades’ .  So, it was let up to me. I was well trained and adapted to do both the ‘night line’ and dad and were a first-rate team at ‘stroke-charades’. It was up to me to fill that gap.

I did. That tour-of-duty lasted  for 20 days; with only one night’s return to the house to sleep in a regular bed.  It took its toll.  I broke out in a nasty red rash, not all that unfamiliar to me.  I was constantly tired. And I hurt in every possible place.  Hospital seats will kill you!  Finally, I had to raise the flag of surrender.

We went home on Saturday, 08 OCT.  I was going to ‘rest up’ and be back, ‘on duty’ again Tuesday.  Best laid plans of mice and men .. often just get trashed.  Sunday morning I woke to a condition not unlike those who frequent ‘Night of the Living Dead’ story lines.  Zombie or not I had to get better and get back to helping dad. Monday wasn’t much better, but I was able to function.  Tuesday, I awoke to the total immobility of being … well the same as paralyzed.  I could not walk.  I couldn’t move!

This was not good.

But, despite feeling a bit of paranoia creeping in, I told my wife I’d give it some time – it might just be a momentary condition. I convinced myself it would be gone by afternoon.  Well, it was more like midnight, but it did leave.  Tingling through the night, at least on Wednesday morning I was mobile.

I had a haircut appointment that afternoon.  I had to get my mane whacked off: over 2 months since my last coif left me both overheated (extremely thick hair!) and feeling, well, nasty … I don’t like long hair, on me.

By 2:30PM I was just mobile enough to make it to the shop. When I got back home there was a message on the phone that kicked our ‘whirring blender world’ into puree: Dad had died that afternoon.

We rushed back to Lexington and spent the next 36 days in a house that was always an environmental disaster for me. Consequently, my already ‘bad condition’ took a complete lunge into disaster.  By the time we arrived back into the safe bosom of our condo, I was in a state of near complete shutdown.

The rash that appeared; the fatigue; the headaches; the joint pain .. all of it was written off to the return – again! – of a problem that has plagued me for 10 years. One I have ‘affectionately’ called, “RABS”.  So any other ‘answer’ to the condition were not even considered.  All thought of Lyme was lost.

On the last day of March 2009 we made another mad emergency dash to Lexington: mom was in bad shape. When we got to the house, she was about as near checking out as one can get without having a pre-punched ticket.  Ten day hospital stay, after getting a 6-units-of-blood refill over 2 days, mom came home.  Fourteen days later we leave, with mom, her car and a future of unknown unscripted lines, in tow.  We had just become an elder hostel.

I went though the next 6 months with a wide variety of pain and suffering.  Slowly, and I do mean slowly, I began to recover. The overall skin rash left.  The fatigue left. And the leprotic-like condition [9] that had taken over my right hand and seriously impacted my ability to work: I work with my hands!: it too, slowly left and real, pink healthy skin returned.  By June 2009, I was looking – well – normal!

I had an invitation to go to Michigan to fish the fabled waters around Grayling [10] with my friend and colleague, Dan Small.  I took my best fishing buddy, Ed Hauser with me to make sure I got there.  There actually was a question with all the stuff of the past 6 months.

The cabin we stayed at during our time in Grayling was right next to our guide (Sam Surre) [11]. Ed and I went to Sam’s house to interview him and take photos. As soon as I walked into the house I knew trouble was lurking.  It was during that visit I developed the term – ‘hit’.  A HIT is what I use to describe being overwhelmed with an airborne chemical invasion; my own version of a toxic terrorist attack.

I was told, by another friend -whom, Ed and I were to go spend 5 days with following the fishing trip – had suggested I ask our guide, with a huge blast from the moth balls, [12] a chemical pesticide, [13] used to protect the gentleman’s impressive assortment of natural fly-tying [14] materials.  I knew I should have left within seconds of being there. But, I wanted to see the collection, get photos and do the interview. A very bad move.

Two days later, I had to cut short the 7-day trip to return home.  I was a mess! For the next 6 weeks I once again had to deal with a lot of pain. Though I finally began to improve, I was now finding a new ‘problem’ rising. That PROBLEM: a sudden and painful conflict with being around any type of fragrance and chemical odors. I found myself embroiled in a constant dance to avoid being around such things as fragrance from perfumes, colognes, shampoos, sprays, lotions .. you name it. Everything that fuels the ‘look good and feel god about yourself industry’ in our modern society.  For those who have never experienced this, it’s difficult to understand.  There is a huge barrier to ‘normal living’; being able to be around other people with a no worry about what you would be breathing.  With an onset of MCS, this all stops; immediately.

Since this all started I’ve read and studied everything I could get on the condition called MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) [15]. Everything I have been experiencing over the last 7.5 months points to MCS.  Thus I don’t deny that I am suffering from MCS.  My question NOW is this;  WHY?

Thus I am heading to my GP Doc, Thomas Bridge [16] to get a full physical and to discuss testing for Lyme disease.  That will be the subject of future posts.

So, with that I close out this Daily Gasp.  Also, I’ve noted that the ‘Gasp’ has been less than ‘daily’ in their frequency. Though, in the near future, they will become far more frequent, for now they will be posted on an as needed and as time allows, publication.

Talk soon. Stay clean and FRAG FREE.


[1] ibuprofen
[2] acetaminophen
[3] ‘briarhopper elixer’
[4] uisge beatha
[5] albatross
[6] Dan Small
[7] Lyme disease
[8] Wisconsin Dells
[9] leprotic-like condition
[10] Grayling, MI
[11] Sam Surre
[12] moth balls
[13] chemical pesticide
[14] fly-tying
[15] MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity)
[16] Dr. Thomas Bridge


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