Sunday, July 7, 2024

Cold Fear Brought Me Back This Time

 


Let me begin by saying fear brought me back. The greasy and putrid fear that this country is inching ever closer to a fascist regime with strong Handmaid’s Tale leanings. I’m not being flippant in the least, all it takes to find evidence of this is a little internet searching. No, I’m not including Left-wing websites in these searches, which for me have long since become almost as obnoxious as their right-wing counterparts.

I’m speaking about hard centrist sites like the Washington Post, NPR, AP, and Reuters to name a few. What is the source of the fear that pulled me off my comfortable couch this Sunday morning?

My terror comes from the Heritage Foundation’s wet dream called “Project 2025.” 

Boiling down the nightmare to its basic parts, the people pushing the 920 page document called Project 2025 want to restructure the federal government towards a Christian Nationalist vision. 

Starting off on day one of Trump returning to the White House his Administration would purge the federal government of as many as 50,000 apolitical civil servants. They would be replaced by a cadre of personnel specifically picked to be Trump/Conservative loyalists. 

How do you explain to the average brain dead American that the majority of civil servants are totally outside the whims and fancies of the politicians. That they perform vital jobs that keep the Federal government running. But Zaius, you say, they’re just parasitical bureaucrats sucking the life out of hard working Americans using tax dollars for lazy welfare folks or stupid projects that go nowhere and do nothing. 

Totally cool I respond, because there is waste in government, just like in business and any other human endeavor. But just to keep things simple, these government expenditures also include vital entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare. 

Shout out to all those socialism hating patriots, the Social Security and Medicare your grandparents probably depend on are the very definition of socialism. Oh yeah, numerous Republicans in the House and Senate have pushed for both of those entitlements to be drastically cut. They say we can’t afford such entitlements while constantly pushing for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. 

But the Project 2025 restructuring that should icy chills every American is its goal to slash the Department of Justice and dismantle the FBI, ending their traditional independence and tying them to the whims of whatever Administration is in power.

Project 2025 also calls for the shutting down of things like the weather service, civil right monitoring and a whole host of agencies that are at times inconvenient to a conservative agenda. 

Then there is their plan to end all reproductive freedoms, which means no abortions even if the life of the mother is endangered. Several states with highly restrictive abortion laws have already had women who have had to flee their home state to receive the medical care to save their lives. The fact that several states are pushing to make it illegal for a woman to receive an abortion in another state is nothing less than totalitarian. The icing on that cake is legislative action allowing a third party to sue anyone who helps a woman reach a destination where she can get an abortion is something you would only expect in a dystopian book a few years ago.

Spelling it out as simply as possible, for numerous conservatives who have convinced themselves that God is on their side, after a woman becomes pregnant she is even less of a human being and more a vessel for breeding. 

Conservatives have been pulling at the strings of the modern United States at least since the Reagan Administration. They freely admit of their desire to return to the status quo to something more along the America of the Founding Fathers.

Anyone with an inkling of knowledge of history and the actual conditions that many had lived under in the 18th and 19th and the better part of the 20th century should be sickened.

Yeah, I’m voting for Biden in November. “But he’s old and losing his mind,” someone might say to me.

I’d vote for President Biden if all that was left of him were cremated remains. I don’t vote for a man but the ideas he represents. 

  Here's a link further explaining Project 2025 with other links to the full threat. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Come the Nightmare

 Truthfully, this country has been on this nightmarish political path for decades. Personally in my head I can trace back the events leading to the Orange Deranged Mutant to the Reagan Administration. I believe it was Rosalynn Carter that said Ronny Reagan made Americans comfortable with their prejudices. Don't cuss me out but I'll give the Devil some backhanded credit because he did shake the foundations of the Soviet Empire. 

But that being said, Reagan was a horrible president when it came actually leading this country. He kept the Republicans mostly civil during this time but he set the stage for the likes of Newt Gingrich, Clearance Thomas, and the worst boil ever to appear on the American scene, Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Reagan also played with a few Trump terms like "Making America Great Again" and the old favorite of the states rights.

But Trump is a whole new level of openly dangerous nutjob. He has played on the fears and rage of white middle and working class folks like a master violinist. Yeah, in my mind his movement has moved into literal cult territory. Just when I thought the MAGA cultists couldn't get any lower, more than a few of its members have openly put Trump on the same level as God and Jesus. 

No matter what the dingbat Nikki Haley might say in public, she has no chance of taking the nomination away from Trump. The Orange Mutant will win the Republican nomination, shit he's essentially won it already. The only question left is will he completely destroy American Democracy. That piece of shit can literally destroy American Democracy whether he wins or loses the election.

Shit, I've been worried the last couple of days of a new civil war starting with the the bullshit happening on the Texas border. That bastard Governor Abbot is just hoping President Biden tries to federalize the Texas National Guard, which would force the National Guard soldiers in Texas to chose between their state and presidential authority. Making things more dangerous, other right-wing Trump loving governors have promised to send National Guard forces to Texas to support Abbot's policies on the border. 

So if Trump wins the election, he goes in implementing the Heritage Foundation's "Project 2025" which will rework the federal government in Trump's corrupt image. I picture something similar to what happen to Germany in 1933 as the Nazis took over. Trump's henchmen and henchwomen all have the personality and character of your average Nazi bureaucrat. 

And if Trump loses, well I highly suspect at best we'll have another January 6th-like insurrection. At worst, I've heard enough talk of "Second Amendment remedies" over the years to believe it could happen. I'm not thinking the old fashion type of USA/CSA type civil war but low-level insurgents and anonymous political violence. 

While the left has their own versions of nutjobs, the militant right-wing vastly outnumbers them. The left's biggest problem are the idiots who mouth the brain dead idea that picking the lesser of two evils is still evil. Must be nice to live in a world where things are so starkly black and white. 

Yes, it should be obvious that Trump could win and return to the White House. It should also be as obvious that even if he loses he most likely will be just as huge a danger.                        

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Pale Blue Dot Revisited

 


One of humanity’s greatest faults is the belief that the universe is centered around them. This delusion was once all encompassing but we live in an age where our place is better understood. But there are subtle but damaging remnants of this arrogance still believed by most of the people on this planet.

Many still hold onto the ignorant misconception that their particular belief system makes them special or chosen. That some plot of land on this beautiful but abused planet has been given to them by their personal deity and any other group encroaching on their divinely ordained possession is less than human.

Then there are the mighty men and women of the corporate world whose sole purpose is the pursuit of more wealth and power. That every old growth forest, untouched marsh, and undisturbed mountain is just another resource to be consumed in the effort to keep the shareholders fat and happy.

 And of course I can’t leave out all the mighty leaders of some empire, nation, or ethnic group that believed they are above everyone else and should lead the world. The blood of untold millions has been spilled to satisfy these horrific dreams only for those empires, nations, or ethnic groups to quickly fade and disappear.

One of the gifts of the universe that can dash any human delusions of power is the night sky. All it takes is a few milligrams of self awareness and a night sky free from the lights of civilization and urban sprawl. I was lucky enough to see such a sky during my teenage years.

This was back in the 1980s before the woods around my neighborhood were bulldozed to spread more strip malls and parking lots. I could gaze up and easily see the majesty of the Milky Way and the planets slowly wander across the sky. Such a sight made me feel both infinitesimal but part of something greater. I was part of a process that has been going on for over thirteen billions years.

Of course as the years passed opportunities for such a connection became rarer. Mainly from the vast increase in nighttime illumination. Why suburban assholes feel the need to illuminate their front yard shrubbery is a mystery to me.

One of the few things that can renew my sense of grandeur of the universe and remind me that I float on a single moat of dust lost in a black emptiness is the Voyager probe’s picture of our Pale Blue Dot. It immediately connects me to the same feeling I had as a teenager looking up at the Milky Way. Call it pride or even arrogance, if more people had a similar awareness of the universe beyond their narrow assumptions about existence we would be a lot better off.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

My Take on The Gaza War

 


One of the few lessons I seem to have learned in life is that I do not have to comment on a social media post. That the world will continue along its path without me throwing my semi-educated two-cents into a pile of already existing tarnished and lame opinions. There are more than enough ‘experts’ on every subject and situation to guide our misbegotten species away from some nightmarish tyranny and towards their personal idea on enlightenment. 

The exception to this hard learned rule slapped me in the face the other day. It was on Facebook when some of my usual liberal allies had gotten into a pretty horrendous verbal civil war over the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The animosity reached a level on par with the usual exchanges between Trump supporters(cultists) and anyone who dare oppose the orange wannabe dictator.

The argument centered around the death of children. Pro-Palestinian types were gnashing their teeth over all the dead kids on their side. And of course the Pro-Israeli types were foaming at the mouth over all the dead from the October seventh raid into various Jewish settlements along with the hostages that had been rounded up and brought back into Gaza. 

Along the way things like Israeli oppression and Hama rocket attacks were thrown in whenever there was an opening. Neither side for a second seemed to have one milligram of empathy for the dead and abused on the other side. Sure, there were maybe a few weak platitudes about how this conflict was just bad, but the people involved with this discussion always jumped back over to their narrow viewpoint. Absolutely no one even vaguely hinted that the side they supported could be at fault in some way.

It was then that I felt an overwhelming urge to state what to me was obvious. That both sides were guilty of war crimes and terrorism spanning decades. Shit, dig deep enough and I could make a plausible case that a certain British politician from the nineteenth century started the ball rolling on this conflict. 

My response to all the accusations and hand-wringing was that neither side saw the other as human. It doesn’t really matter now when this viewpoint was formed or who kicked off this eternal and self-defeating struggle. 

It’s laughable that Israel’s stated goal is the defeat and elimination of Hamas. Sorry, decades of active oppression against Palestinians cannot be washed away with precision guided bombs, tanks, and soldiers. The only conceivable way Israel could eliminate Hamas would be to commit genocide on par with Hitler. Now I will say that Israeli governments for years have actively played with ethnic cleansing of the West Bank. That isn’t genocide but I’d have to say the two are closely related. As for the Gaza Strip, well comparisons to the region being a prison are accurate in my opinion. 

On the other hand Hamas, the governing entity for Gaza can legitimately be said to have done next to nothing for the well-being of the people. Yes, Israel keeps a tight grip on what items enter, but some aid does get through but is mostly lost to incompetence at best with corruption the most likely explanation. Then there is the fanatical desperation of Hamas for pursuing a war they cannot possibly win. 

The attacks on Israel on October seventh were not military operations, they were textbook cases of terrorism with nearly all the violence directed at civilians. This irrational desperation is typified by a video that I caught a few weeks after the attacks in October showed Hamas fighters cutting up water pipes to use for their homemade rockets. Their desire to kill Israelis outweighs the need for fresh water to the Gaza inhabitants.

It goes beyond the obvious to say this conflict is just about hate and power. It is an impossible situation brought on by silly religious and ethnic beliefs, the usual short-sighted politicians, and geo-political considerations that endanger the entire world. 

I started this post about two weeks ago but was unable to finish it until today. At last count it is estimated that eight-thousand children have been killed since Israel started bombing Gaza. I understand the need to defend one's nation but Israel has become even more of a monster than Hamas. 

I despair for the lives lost and for the fate of us all. We cannot go on this way.

One of the few lessons I seem to have learned in life is that I do not have to comment on a social media post. That the world will continue along its path without me throwing my semi-educated two-cents into a pile of already existing tarnished and lame opinions. There are more than enough ‘experts’ on every subject and situation to guide our misbegotten species away from some nightmarish tyranny and towards their personal idea on enlightenment. 

The exception to this hard learned rule slapped me in the face the other day. It was on Facebook when some of my usual liberal allies had gotten into a pretty horrendous verbal civil war over the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The animosity reached a level on par with the usual exchanges between Trump supporters(cultists) and anyone who dare oppose the orange wannabe dictator.

The argument centered around the death of children. Pro-Palestinian types were gnashing their teeth over all the dead kids on their side. And of course the Pro-Israeli types were foaming at the mouth over all the dead from the October seventh raid into various Jewish settlements along with the hostages that had been rounded up and brought back into Gaza. 

Along the way things like Israeli oppression and Hama rocket attacks were thrown in whenever there was an opening. Neither side for a second seemed to have one milligram of empathy for the dead and abused on the other side. Sure, there were maybe a few weak platitudes about how this conflict was just bad, but the people involved with this discussion always jumped back over to their narrow viewpoint. Absolutely no one even vaguely hinted that the side they supported could be at fault in some way.

It was then that I felt an overwhelming urge to state what to me was obvious. That both sides were guilty of war crimes and terrorism spanning decades. Shit, dig deep enough and I could make a plausible case that a certain British politician from the nineteenth century started the ball rolling on this conflict. 

My response to all the accusations and hand-wringing was that neither side saw the other as human. It doesn’t really matter now when this viewpoint was formed or who kicked off this eternal and self-defeating struggle. 

It’s laughable that Israel’s stated goal is the defeat and elimination of Hamas. Sorry, decades of active oppression against Palestinians cannot be washed away with precision guided bombs, tanks, and soldiers. The only conceivable way Israel could eliminate Hamas would be to commit genocide on par with Hitler. Now I will say that Israeli governments for years have actively played with ethnic cleansing of the West Bank. That isn’t genocide but I’d have to say the two are closely related. As for the Gaza Strip, well comparisons to the region being a prison are accurate in my opinion. 

On the other hand Hamas, the governing entity for Gaza can legitimately be said to have done next to nothing for the well-being of the people. Yes, Israel keeps a tight grip on what items enter, but some aid does get through but is mostly lost to incompetence at best with corruption the most likely explanation. Then there is the fanatical desperation of Hamas for pursuing a war they cannot possibly win. The attacks on Israel on October seventh were not military operations, they were textbook cases of terrorism with nearly all the violence directed at civilians. This irrational desperation is typified by a video that I caught a few weeks after the attacks in October showed Hamas fighters cutting up water pipes to use for their homemade rockets. Their desire to kill Israelis outweighs the need for fresh water to the Gaza inhabitants.

It goes beyond the obvious to say this conflict is just about hate and power. It is an impossible situation brought on by silly religious and ethnic beliefs, the usual short-sighted politicians, and geo-political considerations that endanger the entire world. 

I started this post about two weeks ago but was unable to finish it until today. At last count it is estimated that eight-thousand children have been killed since Israel started bombing Gaza. I understand the need to defend one's nation but Israel has become even more of a monster than Hamas. 

I despair for the lives lost and for the fate of us all. We cannot go on this way.




Friday, December 1, 2023

The Monster Thomas Thistlewood

 


It isn't openly talked about in socially respectable circles anymore, but there was a time when Southern apologists would lament about how slavery was actually beneficial to people of African decent. The usual- and highly flawed- argument by the apologists involved how Africans were living like savages in their native lands. That by forcibly bringing them into bondage would both civilize them and have the added benefit of delivering them to Jesus.

More to the point, Southern apologists love to push the idea that the slave master actually cared about his chattel. In fact, one old and deluded individual that taught me literature in the sixth grade would go as far and essentially say that slave masters would take good care of the African people they held in bondage because they made them money. Truth be told, this teacher's reasoning sounded wrong to even my young, unaware ears at that time but being white and raised in the south the topic of slavery and its ramifications are mostly ignored.

Thinking back on it now, it truly disturbs me that a supposedly educated and gentile man could rationally equate the evil of human bondage to something akin to an employer/employee relationship. Understand, this teacher I write about was in his late 60's back in 1978 and whose appearance can best be described as looking like Albert Einstein without the mustache and with a deep southern drawl. I can't begin to excuse this teacher, but I am well acquainted with the deluded culture that produced his beliefs.

Southern slavery apologists were put on the defensive with the broadcast of the miniseries Roots the previous year and it was a beginning of my understanding of the monstrous terror that was slavery. It continues even now with me watching America's Long Struggle against Slavery offered on the Great Courses Plus streaming service. These lectures, taught by Richard Bell, PhD go deep into the origins of African slavery and its true horrific nature. This is where I learned about the monster that was Thomas Thistlewood.

Born in 1721, Thomas Thistlewood was a British citizen who migrated to Jamaica to become a plantation overseer and eventually a land and slave owner himself. What makes Thistlewood “special” was the detailed diary he kept documenting his treatment of slaves, including graphic accounts of rape. This diary would grow over the years to over thirty-seven volumes and over 14,000 pages.

Thistlewood's diary chronicles the purchases and sale of slaves, their work assignments, illnesses and death rates. Where things really delve into the monstrous, Thistlewood records in meticulous detail his brutal methods of punishment for the most minor infractions. One of Thistlewood's favorite punishments was something called “Derby's dose.” This involved another slave defecating in the offender's mouth and then having him gagged for several hours.

That's still not the worst part, Thistlewood even goes as far as to document the sexual exploitation of enslaved women in his control. This consisted of thousands of sexual contacts with around one-hundred women, with him making special note of the punishment he inflicted if they resisted. Thistlewood continued this practice even after becoming infected with a venereal disease.

Thistlewood became part of the plantation culture in 1750 that was rapidly developing in British-held Caribbean islands and South Carolina. The development of plantations revolved around the mass production of certain products, like sugar cane, tobacco, and rice with slave labor being the backbone. Because the plantation owners were pushing for ever greater economies of scale, that meant more slaves and harder work. This required the white masters to ensure their slaves were docile and controllable. The white slave owners did this by horrific and brutal treatment of their human property.

The brutality practiced by the plantation owners was also meant to prevent slave revolts. The owners promoted a system of having their human chattel inform on any plans among the other slaves that might harm them, their families and white overseers.

Moving further into the horrific, but typical behavior for plantation owners, Thistlewood had an almost spousal relationship with a particular female slave named Phibbah. Over the course of thirty-three years Phibbah was able to play her special relations with Thistlewood to acquire her own property which included land, livestock, and slaves. Phibbah even gave Thistlewood his one acknowledged heir, named Mulatto John. While Thistlewood gave Phibbah her freedom at his death, she was not the only female slave he had a near spousal relationship with.

Another woman, named Marina, also suffered his attentions but felt empowered enough to complain about his sexual abuse of other slaves. It appears, according to Thistlewood's diary, that he would often force his attentions on more than one slave a night and would sometimes give them a few coins afterwards for their troubles.

It would be nice to think Thistlewood was some sort of horrific exception, that few others would not take such special pleasure in dehumanizing other people. The trouble though is that by all accounts Thistlewood was typical of slave owners in the eighteenth century and beyond. From his diary Thistlewood appears to even consider himself something of an enlighten man. He was quite knowledgeable in the fields of botany and horticulture and read numerous books on religion and estate management. He also recorded his amazement of Halley's Comet swinging around the Earth in 1759.

I came away from learning about Thomas Thistlewood feeling dirty and disgusted. To a certain degree we in the twenty-first century cannot judge the actions of such people with our standards. Not with Thistlewood, he and everyone like him are guilty of the worst crimes against humanity imaginable. Luckily for Thistlewood, death prevents him from ever facing judgment for his actions.

While Thistlewood lived in Jamaica, the practices he detailed in his diary were common throughout the slave owning regions of North America. Some will certainly say it was different during the Antebellum era of the American South. Even if conditions for slaves in the nineteenth century American South were somewhat better, how can any sane person ever attempt to justify holding another human in bondage for economic gain?  

America's original sin is something that will haunt this country until its very end. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Jimmy Buffett is Gone

 The memory of the first time I heard a Jimmy Buffett song is more than a bit hazy to be dependable. It’s more akin to a form or document that has been photocopied so many times the letters are barely readable and any illustrations are a fuzzy gray mess. I guess that’s a testament to life in general as the years come and go.

Even back in the ancient history of what I believe was the early 1970s Jimmy’s music was an introduction to the idea to not take life too seriously. Somehow though both of the songs I instantly associate with Buffett--Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise--were not released until the late 1970s. Somehow I have a clear memory of listening to Cheeseburger in Paradise while riding in my dad's GMC truck, a vehicle he junked in 1974. (I guess this is my own little piece of the Mandala Effect?)

Buffett’s influence on my life hit a high point in the 1990s with the release of several albums. Barometer Soup, Fruitcakes, and Banana Wind are my favorites although I would be hard pressed to name an album of his I didn’t like at all.

The biggest thing that drew me to Buffett was his stated rejection of the “in crowd.” Striking out on my own and going against the conventional wisdom of what the majority of folks think or do is the base of my personality. All things considered, that mindset has had its advantages and disadvantages.

Most of the time Jimmy reveled in going against the flow. During one concert he spent more than a few minutes explaining how he had never won any awards for his music but that didn’t matter with fans like Parrot Heads.

I knew Jimmy’s outsider nature was going to change the minute I saw the CBS news show 60 Minutes did on him back in the 1990s. My in-laws, who despised the man because of the absolute worthless bum dating their daughter seemed to copy every aspect of his songs, changed their opinion on him after seeing that segment. While I understood Jimmy was never poor, the 60 Minutes segment made it abundantly clear his great-great grandchildren would never go without. Of course, my in-laws were at first shocked that the king of beach bums was actually rich and from then on didn’t talk trash about my music. They still didn't think much of me and actively tried to get their daughter to break up with me.

At some points Jimmy’s outsider and likable and easy going attitude caught the attention of aging baby-boomers looking to recapture something of their youth and land developers. By early twenty-first century the baby-boomers were finally sick of the rat race to which they had  so faithful and enough money and time to try and copy Jimmy’s laid back, beach bum lifestyle.

The land developers got in on the act by building resorts, neighborhood subdivisions, and even retirement communities all under the Margaritaville banner. While initially fascinated by the idea of experiencing what advertisers described as a perpetual pool party where beer and boobs are plentiful the concept to me quickly turned sour. Not the beer and boobs part, but the astronomical buy in required to become part of the in-crowd, which was filled with upperly financially mobile types and not the humble outsiders, goofballs, and hippy refugees.

So when Jimmy started hanging out with billionaires and attending those mysterious Eyes Wide Shut-like gatherings I became somewhat ambivalent to the man. He had changed and so had I, part of me was saddened but by that time I was mature enough for it not to overly bother me. Kind of like the period in life when you find out Santa and the Easter Bunny are just your mom and dad pulling a fast one.

Still, when Jimmy passed I truthfully couldn’t grasp that he was gone. He was such an icon that me that even after I sort of left him behind because he sold out to The Man, it was like a piece of me was gone.

If you never lived in the coastal regions of the southeast up until the late 1980s you can never imagine the ramshackle and arrogantly shabby way most people lived. It was freewheeling and loose with little economic distinction between the people who lived there. It was fish fries, oyster roasts, music playing, and people having fun on the beach not thinking about their investment and whether or not the would renew the lease on their BMW or Lexus. Most of all during the old days their was an attitude of inclusiveness, anyone one could join the group as long as they liked the music and brought along some beer.

That was Jimmy Buffett in my mind, everyone was invited and no one was too poor or weird.

The coastal regions are now dominated by high priced subdivisions where the property taxes and insurance costs have forced most of the longtime locals to move inland. I have to also mention the fucked king-of-the-world attitudes many of the new residents have about their beachfront properties. Many of them somehow believe they own all the land from their actual property line down to the ocean itself. It’s not hard to find videos online of some asshole dude or screeching Karen threatening to call the police and rain down legal hellfire on the dirty peasants that dare to invade their property and spoil their view.

Maybe it’s not fair to lump Jimmy Buffett in with those changes but his venture into real estate developments aimed strictly at the privileged upper class still stinks like a dead fish left in the sun. Still I will miss the man and everything he gave me in the way of music, a couple of really good books, and the beach bum attitude of fun and no worries.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Heart Transplant 101

 My little rant about fear last week felt good so I think I’ll throw another post out into the void.

So what have I been doing during my silent period? Well, generally dealing with my chronic heart issues. For those who don’t know way back in August of 2018 my heart suddenly went into ventricular tachycardia while at work. This occurred literally around midnight with my heart rate reaching over two-hundred beats per minute.

Stupid me didn’t understand what was happening so for about half an hour I walked around trying to “shake it off.” Luckily for me I work at a hospital so I eventually went to one of the nurses in surgical recovery and had my blood pressure taken. It was normal, but when she felt my pulse I was forced to lay down on a gurney and was quickly wheeled down to the ER.

That began a several month long adventure that included several stays in the cardiac intensive care units of two hospitals, four cardiac ablations, and the discovery that I have a genetic mutation of the heart muscle.

After the fourth cardiac ablation which was the first down at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston(MUSC) I got my life back. And with a few exceptions due to a couple of bouts of atrial fibrillation that required their own ablations, I’ve been doing great for someone with my condition.

That began to change in April of this year. Seemingly out of nowhere I had about two-minutes of tachycardia that my pacemaker/defibrillator, actually it’s a CRT-D, was able to get under control. A small period of panic ensued but after several phone calls down to MUSC everything seemed back under control.

Well, I had another episode of tachycardia again in August, which was again quelled by my CRT-D. While this episode was about the same length and severity as the one in April it raised a lot of red flags for my docs down in Charleston. After a checkup down there in September, a special test was scheduled for the first of October to determine what exactly was going on. It was supposed to be outpatient with me going home that same day. No, that’s not how things unfolded.

The test was scheduled for the first Tuesday in October but that Sunday I went into a prolonged but “gentle” episode of tachycardia. My wife rushed me to local hospital where I quickly informed them that I needed to be sent down to Charleston. Namely for because the test but also because that hospital had first shot at treating my condition and failed.

Probably happy to be rid of my sarcastic ass, they loaded my up into an ambulance and sent me to down to MUSC. That ride is a whole other story in itself but I will not delve down that rabbit hole right now.

To sum up the first week of my October hospital stay is easy. By the time I arrived down in Charleston my heart was mostly behaving itself again. I had the test as scheduled on Tuesday and it was inconclusive. I was discharged mid-morning that Thursday and sent home because the docs saw nothing to fix at that moment.

The very next day, Friday, my heart went to absolute shit by mid-morning. I was having near constant episodes of light tachycardia with my CRT-D pacing me out of them. I say “light tachycardia” because my heart rate never exceeded one-hundred fifty beats per minute. But what did scare me was when my CRT-D paced me out of the episode it literally felt like a kick in the chest.

Yes, I should have headed back down to some ER immediately but since my heart had spent the previous week acting all normal I held off until mid-afternoon. It was around one o’ clock in the afternoon when I finally started making some phone calls to the docs in Charleston.

Like the ambulance ride earlier that week, that’s a story all by itself. Boiling it down to the fundamental points the MUSC nurse that called me back around four o’ clock said it would be best if I came back down to their ER.

I said okay, told my lovely bride to saddle up and were driving south after I packed a small Go-bag. The entire drive down I was going into tachycardia with my CRT-D kicking me in the chest to bring the heart back under control. Truthfully, I expected the tachycardia to suddenly stop at some point, but it didn’t and I walked to the ER reception desk and was greeted by the nurse manning it highly skeptical to my claim.

That was until she hooked me up to an EKG and saw the tachycardia happening in real time. Needless to say I was quickly rushed back to the exam rooms where about five separate nurses and two ER doctors were freaking out. A quick scan of my previous history strongly suggested that if the tachycardia wasn’t brought under some control it would only get worse.

Shit got so weird that night in the ER the maker of my CRT-D’s telemetry people called MUSC saying they had recorded over seventy episodes of tachycardia that day and wanted them to get in touch with me.

Speeding up the story telling a good bit, I was admitted again where I was the guinea pig on a bunch of other medical tests and had copious amounts of blood drawn for fifteen days. It was soon determined that another ablations to control the tachycardia was not an option. My heart had been scarred up pretty badly in my previous procedures, just a normal side-effect of zapping bad cells that wanted to short circuit.

So, once again jumping over a lot of detail, I was informed a few days later my only real option was a heart transplant. Since my root problem was a genetic defect in my heart cells and since I had about all the ablations my heart could take I agreed. That is not before I suffered through about thirty hours of abject terror thinking about what I would have to endure.

After thinking about it and numerous talks with swarms of truly awesome physicians, I realized a heart transplant was my only option if I wanted to continue breathing. The alternative being a slow slide to oblivion as my heart went full short circuit. Not necessarily a painful demise, but it would be highly unpleasant.

Okay here are some of the details that I skimmed over:


  • My heart is under control right now due to the new drug they have me on. It’s called amiodarone, and it was called by one of the docs the “best drug they have and the worst.” The side effects can be severe in both the short term and the long term. Adding to my equation is that I’m on the maximum dose of four-hundred mg.

  • While I am fully on the heart transplant list I’m currently at Status Six. That means I’m home and can return to work under certain limitations.

  • During the testing I learned that any new heart I receive will have to be from someone of similar height, size, and blood type. Since I’m six foot-five inches and a pretty big guy I’m going to be waiting for a long time. Especially since I’m relatively healthy at this moment.

  • If the amiodarone becomes ineffective, or if I start showing signs of progressive health failure, I will have to return to the hospital and stay there until a heart becomes available. Some people on the transplant list have stayed in the hospital way over a year before getting a heart. These patients have used that time to learn a musical instrument, take online college courses, or even play video games. If I fall into that situation I’m going with then online learning.

  • Yes, people have died while on the list waiting for a heart.

  • Yes, I'm still scared but there’s nothing I can do but play the cards I’ve been dealt.

Cold Fear Brought Me Back This Time

  Let me begin by saying fear brought me back. The greasy and putrid fear that this country is inching ever closer to a fascist regime with...