1/13/00-Thurs.-It is now over a month since I came down with a flu, really bad cold, extreme allergic reaction, or whatever. This has been a rather unpleasant experience, the worst respiratory plus sinus constellation of symptoms I have had as an adult. When I was quite young, I had several years of terrible wheezing and on-again-off-again bouts with bronchitis back when Dad used to love Camels, and no one thought about the effects of "second-hand smoke."
I went to a doctor about the problems I have been having lately. She would not treat the causative symptoms at all, claiming (by intuition alone, apparently, since she would not do objective diagnostics) that I had a viral infection and asthma! I was never previously diagnosed with asthma. She gave me a couple inhalers for it, which, however, after about ten days, do not seem to be helping. The coughing, which is severe and, as my colleagues keep pointing out, "sounds awful," just continues.
Under the circumstances, I am somewhat less than reassured by the casual, quick-answer way in which the physician "solved" my problem. She seemed rather gleeful and smug to have come up with the asthma diagnosis (no skin off her nose).To have a serious respiratory problem for more than four weeks and not be able to even get an x-ray of the chest, much less antibiotics, seems indicative of the sorry state of our health-care system. Hopefully I'll not die of this, whatever it really is. However, in this wish I find no comfort from my HMO's version of medicine.
For over a month now I have been sleeping in the front room, not with Fran in our master bed, trying to save her from the torture of my noisy hacking coughs, which sometimes seem nearly incessant. I am not spared, myself, of course, and seem to be getting weaker and more exhausted, with less pulmonary capacity, by the day. I sometimes think this really will be the death of me, or at least that I may be left with permanent loss of significant breathing capacity. Already it feels as though I cannot use my lungs nearly as well as just six weeks ago.
Tomorrow is my last day of work before a week of "vacation," most all of which will be spent trying to take care of myself and recuperate, as if I were on sick leave instead. If I am not very much improved after that week, then I shall have to insist on new medical care assistance, perhaps even if I must go outside the HMO system and pay for it all myself, a ridiculous state of affairs to have to consider, in view of the hundreds of dollars spent each year to my Health Maintenance Organization, Humana, bless its hellish lack of soul.
1/14/00-Fri.-My week off has begun (at last!). I am making the most of it, as if in a health spa.
1/19/00-Wed.-Five days into my vacation, after following my own "health spa" regimen throughout, I am finally beginning to feel close to normal again, despite around six weeks of illness. Needless to say, it is a relief to be feeling fairly fit once more!
Tonight, Frances and I enjoyed some intense lovemaking for the first time in about a month and a half.
Meanwhile, during this period while I have been so sick, at least our equity assets have still been quite healthy in their price movements. We have, on paper anyway, "made" about $25,000-30,000 or more, just since Thanksgiving. Concerned about a possible coming big drop in the markets (which seem overvalued to me), we have been moving all equities, beyond an average appreciation of 15% per year, into bond assets or money market accounts. I surely hope this will not turn out to have been a foolish precaution!
1/20/00-Thurs.-A productive day. I'm also continuing to feel better, getting well and truly over the flu plus cedar fever plus reactive airway disease, or whatever, that had been overwhelming me for the last month and a half.
Checking out subscriptions on Microsoft's online "Hotmail" this afternoon. Also, this PM, watched part of the movie "The English Patient."
This evening we had dinner with my brother, Ernie, at Tres Amigos. He's in town in connection with his landscaping and greenhouse construction business. His birthday is also coming up soon.
Later we watched the better part of the millennium's last complete lunar eclipse (counting the millennium as ending at midnight, 12/31/2000). Pretty cool looking. We used our binoculars.
1/21/00-Fri.-A fairly relaxed day, the last of my official vacation this time 'round. Had breakfast at Jim's, then went to my bank, cashed some checks, rented a safety deposit box (for a few things we've had sitting around, that really should be better protected), and put it to use. Pepper and I then went for a walk. I finished viewing "The English Patient." Read some of my old poems. Read some from Wind, Sand, and Stars, by Antoine De Saint Exupéry, in translation, of course. (Despite all my years of fighting with the French language, it won the war.) My old copy has been read many times and is falling apart. Time to replace it. I enjoy this writer's style and thoughts very much.
1/27/00-Thurs.-Up today, as usual on a workday, at about 5:55 AM. Once again, did not sleep well. The combination of an injured left shoulder, since about three months ago, and pulmonary/sinus problems, for about the last six or seven weeks, has left me perhaps twenty percent less functional than I was before these infirmities began. Of course, I hope that in time they'll resolve and largely disappear as significant factors in my overall health. This may be optimistic.
It is apparent that, after a certain age, I became more vulnerable to insults and onslaughts that, earlier, my body could have easily shrugged off. And if something else comes along before I'm completely over the current health problems, this overlapping of conditions will just add to the burden with which my system is wrestling, and, much as extra weight on a diver helps to keep him/her beneath the surface, may prevent my rise to the open air of good health anytime soon. One effect of the current impairments is to increase periods of insomnia. Another is to make breathing more shallow and painful. I cannot get and use air as efficiently as I used to, and so also cannot clear my bronchial tubes as easily of the phlegm or other congestion. It accumulates until I have an urgent need to do a lot of deep coughing. All in all, looking after myself takes much longer each day, and I stay tired.
1/28/00-Fri.-Another rather stressful, frustrating day at work. But I now have less than eight hundred calendar days left at that best of all possible jobs. Assuming that, by then, the equivalent total from our portfolio plus the retirement annuity, taken as the principal required to generate it, is at least $1,000,000, I can retire at that time with benefits.
Over the years there have been a variety of fantasy and other sources of temptation for this old fart, seducing or tempting him, at least mentally, to forsake his marriage and its vows. I suppose that in some ways these "lapses" are almost inevitable, a function of just being male, and needing the fruits of a lively imagination to help keep the erotic arts interesting, to be ever anew stimulated during conjugal bliss.
There have been times when someone, from work or otherwise, has enticed me so invitingly that I have briefly been under a spell of mixed feelings about staying in the blessed state of matrimony with one person for the rest of my life. More than once someone has seemed for awhile terribly attractive and so obligingly available, and even inviting of my attentions, that it has taken determination and decisions of will simply to keep my hands off, and to avoid a yield to momentary passion overwhelming a mature and long-term caring commitment.
My lack of enthusiasm for my work has often combined with tendencies toward wit to induce me to engage in a lively comic interaction in the job setting with one or another smart, playful, and pretty woman. If there has turned out to be at least as energetic or even flirtatious a response from the lady in question, what could be called chemistry has for a time, usually somewhat to the surprise of both of us, seemed to flare. Always, though not necessarily without confusion, there has been a subsequent backing away from the offer. I have never actually "strayed," not with so much as a kiss, a stroke, an embrace, or an endearment. On some such occasions, though, I have rediscovered the strength of arousal that can yet abide in this ancient frame. The relinquishing of the presented sweets has not always been easy.
1/31/00-Mon.-The coughing and similar symptoms, from whatever has been ailing me the last many weeks, persisted, off-and-on, through the weekend, but is less a problem today.
I had a strange dream last night involving my brother, Ralph. It was as though he were not dead at all, just having gone a different route in his life than I, so that we had gotten separated, as if there had been a fork in the road we had hitherto been traveling together, he then going on one way, I the other. I was using a phone at someone else's house to try to get in touch with him. Of course, it was a long-distance call. There seemed to be some difficulty making the connection. But I was eventually successful. There was also something about the stock of a child's toy rifle, as though this had some significance. It could be aimed and now had some kind of telescopic barrel. In some fashion this could aid communication and choice about the future. The whole setting was dark and somewhat murky. For most of the dream I was in one or another small abode where there was not much light. Things were all taking place in the evening or at night, when there was no help (for seeing) from the sun. I had the impression that something fundamental had been lost, having to do with relationships, yet nothing so obvious as the fact of Ralph's death itself.
Today it occurred to me that many years of my life were largely taken up with one or another bid for acceptance and inclusion into various exclusive clubs. In our culture they normally are not thought of this way; but they amount to this, groups within which one socializes and has friends based on common allegiance to a particular way of viewing the world or religion or the appropriate philosophy of life, or perhaps only on having a common ancestry and upbringing. Yet I never really fit in anywhere for long.
This was true with the Protestant form of Christianity with which I was most familiar in my young, adolescent, and early adult years. It was true with respect to my primary family itself. True also for my bids for acceptance by Dr. Harold Pearl and his friends, colleagues, clients, and his other students in California (in "IEMG," as well as "The Fourth Way," and later, when his interests turned more to meditation, in "Zazen," in "TM," or, finally, in his kundalini style of meditation and research). This was true also, of course, for my involvement for several years in The Lifestream Way. In each of these instances, I found I had certain reservations (emotional, personal, intellectual, and so forth) that kept me from fully immersing myself in the offered exclusive club in question. I had mixed feelings and never completely fit in among the other folks in the groups. Yet my strong desire for friendship or family kept me to an extent still tied to one such grouping or another.
It was perhaps most problematic with my real relatives, for we made up what in the literature is called a "dysfunctional family." However tightly we were bound together emotionally, we were, at the same time, neurotically at odds with one another, compelled to compete, to put others down in order to see ourselves in a better light, craving approval from parents who were in many ways fine but who had feet of clay themselves and, in their own neuroses, played their offspring off against one another or even made alliances with some children against the other spouse, in order themselves to wield more control, feel better, and so on and on!
For at least the last dozen years or so, I have been without any positively reinforcing group, exclusive or otherwise. I do not find myself at home with the beliefs of any particular faith, so that participation in a religiously-based exclusivity is not an option. Were I more expedient, I could join a church simply because I lack, and yet desire, more friends. But I feel I must be sincere. My view of life, the world, and the nature of things does not permit the convenient adoption of a set of dogma to help my need for belonging. In my family, a polite and sometimes friendly way of relating now exists, but hardly what any objective observer would call genuine closeness. Attempts to alter this situation lead only to disappointment.