Friday, December 07, 2007

Up before dawn

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12/7/07 Friday
We were up before dawn as we usually are. The puppies have a way of making sure of that, especially now that we don’t lock them in the puppy room. They seem to be fairly potty trained and we haven’t had lots of problems there. Besides we just love to be around them and they love to be around us. Right now Rascal is sleeping on the bed next to me. Snuck up here while I was taking a bath.

I got some great pictures of the now upright oil rig this morning. It’s hard to get a clear one when the sun is still just thinking about coming over the horizon. That’s because the shutter speed is so slow as the camera seeks enough light to make an image. I held it against the power line pole to steady it. Still had to delete four or five of the pictures because they were so blurry. It’s too bad I couldn’t get the crescent moon in better. That would have been a killer shot if it was framed next to the oil rig like the one I took of the other rig last month or so.

I got out early to broadcast and rake in some more rye seed. That’s a good thing because now the wind is whipping and with the cotton fields bare the sand is too. It was almost still this morning. I set up two sprinklers in tandem (I think that’s the word to use) but with two sprinklers on one hose there isn’t much water pressure so they barely have enough to go around. Of course I’ve got seven water hoses all linked together to get the water out where I need it. That doesn’t help I’m sure. Eventually we’ll have a better system to irrigate the crops. The water hoses I got at the landfill. They had been thrown out because of splits and breaks in them. I put new ends on them to make them usable. Several of them are brittle from the West Texas sun but as long as I am careful seem to be holding up. At forty or fifty bucks for a long hose this is about the only way I can get them.

I took some pictures of how this project is coming. Of course I take pictures of everything as it helps me remember. I went back in this journal and looked to see when I started. It was November 7th that I first rented the tractor to till this five acres. Today is December 7th so it has been exactly one month now. The rye germinates in five days so there is a visible progression where you can see what areas I planted first. I’m down to the last of the rye seed so should be done with that soon. It’s a slow process doing it by hand in the first place but add to that the fact that there are days I can’t work because of slowdowns or needing to do other things and you can understand why it’s taking so long. Once we get a tractor this kind of thing can be done in one or two days. I look forward to that.

I was talking to Don yesterday or the day before. Called to make sure he was doing ok. I told him that we have found a fantastic deal for a tractor. He reiterated his desire to cover the first six months of payments to get us through the lean winter time before we can start making some money with the tractor and harvesting crops. Once we reach that point it’s all downhill from there and we will not only be able to cover the payments but to pay him back as well.

In the course of the conversation the subject of my pain came up. I assured him I can handle it but it got me to thinking so I thought I would elucidate on that a bit. My tolerance for pain is exceptionally high. It’s not that I don’t feel it, I just don’t let it stop me. I grit my teeth and push through. My entire life has been one of enduring pain. Spankings were a daily part of my childhood and they weren’t the ordinary swat or two. Hell my dad made a special paddle just for me and mom would whip me with a thin quarter inch belt that left long red welts. I’d rather get spanked by my dad with the paddle. That didn’t hurt as much. Back then paddling was still a common punishment in school, usually administered by the coach or principle. I was always in trouble and it frustrated them to no end when I was paddled because it didn’t bother me and I would just grin. Oh I was a stinker for sure.

The first time I broke my neck was when I was in high school in Big Spring. I hit a car on my motorcycle at about forty miles per hour. You could see where my body hit the quarter panel where it was crushed showing clearly the bend in my knees. I suspect this caused another of the several brain injuries the doctors see evidence of in the MRI’s. I just limped the bike home and stayed in bed for two weeks. Never went to a doctor or anything. Had chronic neck pain with regular episodes were I couldn’t turn my head for years after that. Actually until I broke the neck the second time.

It was in the Texas prison system where I learned how to work. Just a word to explain as I reveal more of my past. Eventually I suppose it will be another book. I was nineteen when I was sent to prison. It was 1975. At the urging of a judge I enlisted on my seventeenth birthday and served in the military till the end of the Vietnam war when they had a reduction in force that allowed me to get out before my four year term. I was already a rebellious kid and got into trouble pretty quick. I had been hustling others by selling ground up aspirin and Alka-Seltzer as cocaine. When we were pulled over one night I gave the little tin foil packet that I sold for ten dollars to the guy I was with to hide down his pants. When searched it was found. He told the police it was mine and, having this strange sense of honor that has always been a part of me, I admitted it was despite knowing I could have gotten away with it. For that I was given a ten year sentence for possession of cocaine, even though it wasn’t, that was probated. I never reported for probation and skipped town. When I came back through I was picked up, my probation was violated and I was sent to prison with ten years to do.

What a wake up call that was. I’m sure it’s the same now but back then hard labor was a mandatory part of a prison stay. Unless physically unable every inmate starts out doing field labor. I was loaded onto a trailer with several hundred others and taken to a field where we were divided up into squads. Then I was handed a hoe made of a piece of steel welded on a short section of pipe. The handle was a fairly straight branch about two and a half inches thick with the bark removed. We were lined up chest to back and then started pounding the earth in a steady rhythm. With each stroke the entire line would back half a step. My hands had never seen anything close to this kind of work. I quickly got blisters, which soon burst, then came the blood blisters. All the while pounding the ground with the guard on his horse behind us and the inmate “enforcers” called lead row and tail row on either side keeping everything moving. Soon the blood blisters burst and my hands were slipping on my own blood as I struggled to hold on the now slick handle. There was no stopping. It took a few weeks before my hands toughened up enough to handle this. Oh, there was pain, every muscle and every joint ached all through the night.

It was there I became a Christian. It was there I decided to change my life. I volunteered to join a program called Operation Kick It. We were transported under armed guard to schools all over Texas where I recounted this story along with telling how I ended up in prison. It was a powerful program that I believe helped many a teen understand the consequences of poor decision making and change the direction of their lives.

After that I went to Bible college to pursue the ministry. It was there I met and fell in love with Cherie. Upon graduation we moved to Toledo. It was there I had the accident that caused the brain injury that led to our divorce. I fell thirty feet out of a tree landing on my head. I broke my back, neck, and had a concussion. When I came too seconds later I insisted on getting up and walking into the house with only some assistance holding me up. Of course the adrenaline was flowing, helping me do this. I wouldn’t let them call an ambulance despite the pain until I had to go to the bathroom. Making the short trek to the bathroom was much harder than walking inside had been. I don’t remember who but there were two people holding me up. When I went to sit on the toilette the pain was so intense everything went black and I passed out. When I woke a moment later I said “You can call the ambulance now”. At the hospital the doctor came in with the x-rays and asked “When did you break your neck before”. He showed me where the break had been and the bone knit back together.

It was years later that I fell off the pallet racking in my warehouse. It knocked me out. When I woke up I couldn’t use my right arm as it hurt too much. After a few days of bearing with it an employee brought me some pain pills that helped a lot. Unfortunately they were highly addictive Oxycontin. My secretary told me that I went through a drastic personality change then. I believe her words were “You became an instant ass hole”. Another clear sign of a TBI. (traumatic brain injury) When I had the accident that put me in a coma (And broke my neck the third time) I was of course given a full battery of x-rays and stuff. There they saw where my ribs had been broken and had only partially healed.

The point is, I’m a tough little bugger. To use the saying made famous in the old TV show “The Guns of Will Sonnet”, “No brag, just fact”. Sure I hurt, I hurt twenty four hours a day, but I don’t let that stop me. There are times it gets bad enough I must lay down. I have pain medication but am very careful with it, only taking it when I absolutely need to. So I don’t let it stop me but it sure slows me down. Fact is my slowdowns (petite seizures) and the fatigue that often requires me to take a nap midday keep me from getting things done more than the pain does. The bad turn off the lights and crawl into bed headaches do to but they don’t happen that often.

Speaking of fatigue, it’s 2:30 and I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open as I write this so will take a nap now. I don’t know why but I felt that this would be a good thing to write about. Be back in a couple of hours.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Bob as always you are an inspiration on how you have overcome so much. Thanks for sharing more stories.
Wishing you a Wonderful painfree weekend.

Bob said...

Thanks Barbara, I talk of my past to help others futures. Many others tell me of being inspired and that means I have been able to get good from what was bad. Works for me. Since I woke from the coma I try to get as much value from, to honor the gift of life I have been given