Eight Days With Megan

megstressmeg

Time passes and life goes on but we all have certain events in our timelines that choose to linger, sometimes even haunt us, reminding us of sad days embedded with grief and memorialized annually through dates on our calendars. Time passes, with age comes wisdom and I’m told time heals all wounds. Bullshit, time flat out refuses to heal the deep wounds of the heart and soul. Those wounds never fully heal and the scars open up because of certain triggers, such as anniversaries. Such is the case for Maureen and I today, the anniversary of the day cruely etched deep into souls of our memories and our hearts. October 23rd was the day we had to let our 19 month old daughter go.

Every year this dreaded day slowly creeps up on our hearts to pierce them with painful memories. A few months back while sorting through some photographs I came across a piece of paper I had written a poem on. It turns out this paper was something I wrote many years ago to counter the pain of our loss by replacing it with the memory of Megan being home, giggling and smiling, walking despite doctors prognosis’s, and squeeling with happiness for the eight days she was home with us after a successful heart transplant. Those eight days mean everything to us, and its that memory we try our hardest to hold onto. I had planned to post it today but realized I’m not yet ready to reveal that particular poem, that part of myself, but I still want to put some focus on the need for organ donation awareness. So I chose to share the story of eight days.

Eight Days With Megan

From birth our tiny little baby girl had to fight the odds. By three weeks we were already in a hospital with her and before she could even crawl we had been with Megan through blood tests, prods and pokes, and even a spinal tap. I still remember how tightly she squeezed my finger as she cried from pain and confusion, leaving Maureen and I without the luxury of breaking down. Megan needed us to be strong for her. But in the end it was Megan who had shown us strength, taught us about life.

Megan had Cardiomyopathy, a viral disease which causes myocarditis, an enlargement of the heart. As she grew so did her troubles until one ugly Sunday morning her heart seized and she stopped breathing. We heard Megan’s gasps on our baby monitor and ran to her. Because I had learned mouth to mouth as a young boy I covered her mouth and nose with my mouth and began breathing into her lungs while Maureen called 911. The EMT’s arrived in minutes and whisked her away to the ER. We got our selves together and went to meet her but when we got there she wasn’t there yet. We had no idea at the time but the EMT’s had stopped the ambulance to use a pediatric defibrillator on Meg. Meg was admitted to the ICU and later that evening we were told she would need a heart transplant to survive. A jack hammer to our hearts. Subsequently Megan seized again in the hospital causing a mild stroke which left her weakened, unable to hold her head up for any significant length of time. Maureen dedicated every second of her life to Megan’s physical rehabilitation as I meandered mindlessly through my job relieving Maureen when I got home by entertaining our baby girl. Together we traveled to Philadelphia, only to have doctors there say she would never be able to walk and most likely unable to talk, so Megan was removed from the transplant list.

This only increased Maureen’s determination and the hard work paid off when Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital placed Megan back on the transplant list. Organ donation awareness was tragically negligent at the time and Megan’s chances were even further hampered because of the size of the heart needed. As a parent it is the most difficult position to ever find yourself in, knowing the only hope for your child is dependant on another parent losing theirs, and willing under horrendous circumstances to make the choice to donate their child’s organ. So we understood that we got fortunate because of another parents nightmare when the call came to bring Megan into the hospital for a heart transplant. The true definition of bittersweet.

After an agonizing night with our family members the doctors told us Megan’s transplant was successful. We were able to breath again but not for long as it was another four weeks of rehabilitation in the hospital with our tiny baby daughter having blood drawn a few times a day, temperature and blood pressure taken almost hourly, and the seemingly endless wait to make sure the anti-rejection medicine kept her little heart beating. Maureen lived in the room with Megan sleeping on a chair everyday and I took an SRO room a few blocks from the hospital, worked in the day and stayed with Maureen and Megan until eleven PM. We literally had residence there, our neighbors were children and their families in the cardiac ward with us, and the outstanding nursing staff who all treated us as family. They laughed with us, they cried with us, some even brought in homemade meals for us. The day we were told it was time for us to bring Megan home was the first time we cried from joy in over a month of tears brought on by the pains of Megan’s ordeal.

Going home was a huge relief shared by all of our friends and neighbors who had set up a welcome home celebration for Meg. Banners and balloons, Meg took it all in as if she knew it was for her. Unfortunately because there was so many people and potential germs we couldn’t allow her to stay long, but I truly got the sense she felt important, maybe for the first time. We took her inside and she immediately wanted to get in her walker and run around the kitchen. She was stronger than ever before and she was motoring around in her walker like a NASCAR driver, squealing and laughing. She would watch Sesame Street and applaud, her favorite character was Grover. Mine was too. Every night when I came home from work Megan and I played with her toys, an array of stuffed animals Maureen had been using in her physical therapy. I named them and made up stories with Jolly The Clown, Candy Camel, Chocolate Moose, and Lucinda Lamb. Life Had never been sweeter and our home was filled with joy and love, with Megan sharing in the joy with just as much vigor as us. Megan’s anti rejection medicine was working, she was beginning to develop normal child activity, many months behind but plenty of time to catch up. Or so it seemed.

After eight days there was a set back, and Meg returned to the hospital. It would be her final visit there, she was placed in ICU because she had contracted a serious infection, and with her immune system compromised she was unable to fight any longer. But the night before she re-entered the hospital, Maureen called out to me ecstatically, Oh my God Keith look, she’s walking. It wasn’t a long walk but it was a victorious walk, and she was so proud of herself. She knew she had accomplished something special. Those were the eight best days of Megan’s short life. We spend time with our children and invest in them by teaching, showing our kids right from wrong, weak from strong, basically how to cope in an uncertain and unpredictable world. But it was Megan that taught us about life. In return for all the sacrifices and heartaches we endured, we were rewarded with eight days.

Eight days. Eight days we remember so well and try so hard to focus on to replace the agonies we suffered getting to those days. Eight days when our little girl showed the world how much her strength and perseverance paid off. Eight days of bliss with Megan. Eight days we would never have had if not for the extremely courageous decision one mother made when her son had been killed in an accident. I tell you this today not because I am seeking sympathy, but because I am looking for help in getting the word out that we need more organ donors. In the years after our ordeal we have continued to try and get the word out, because in the end Megan’s surgery was successful, if only for those eight days. Maureen has gone on to become an altruistic kidney donor and was involved in a chain of eight people who received transplants because of her link. Eight days, eight people in the chain. Is that number just a coincidence? It would take a far more clever person than myself to know for sure if its coincidence or if there are more profound forces at work. We can debate about fate, destiny, divinity, Gods of all shapes and sizes, Pros vrs. Cons, collective consciousness, or random theory. Maybe its just the universe conspiring but for me the answer is a bit more simple. Its all about love. Make your love eternal by donating your organs.

Today monumental strides have been made, and perhaps if it had happened today this would be a far different story. Either way it’s a story of love, hope, dedication, and courage. Donating your organs is easy, get on your computer and got to http://donatelife.net/organ-donation/…That’s Donate Life. Or go to UNOS and educate yourself. Tell your friends, your family, anyone who will listen, help get the word out. Make your own personal wishes clear to your family so no one else is left with the tough decision of what you would have wanted.

One time someone who was unintentionally insensitive asked me “Was it worth it all, for just eight days?” The short answer is yes, it was worth seeing my baby girl stand, to make normal baby noises, to just be happy. Yes at times it’s difficult, every year we wonder what Megan would be doing as a ten year old, an eighteen year old, a twenty one year old. Each year we reflect and wonder how her and Kellie would have been as sisters. And yes every year as October begins rolling around we become sadly contemplative, but the memory of those eight days helps ease the anxiety. When you have a child with a catastrophic illness or a disability you hang on and treasure every tiny thread of hope available because sometimes that’s all you have. We treasure every second we had with Megan.

I used a number of clichés here on time and love, but I want to leave you with one last cliché. Life is short. Aside from sharing this story I would like to also share my perspective on time, life, and love. Don’t waste time, live your best life, spend quality time with your children, (By far the best investment you could make in their future), and spread love. The more love you give away the more you end up getting back. Life is indeed short, and it can be lost in a heartbeat.

Give love, take love
Share love, make love
Peace

I would like to thank the TRIO (Transplant Recipient International Organization) and the great friends we encountered there, the staff at Columbia Presbeterian Children’s Hospital for all the caring love and support they gave not only to Megan, but to Maureen and myself as well, most especially the nursing staff who had to help us to understand much of the gibberish doctors threw at us, and the good folks at UNOS and Donate Life who continue to work hard at brining awareness to the need of organ transplants. If you aren’t a donor, please become one. Thank You

Driving Prophets

profit drive

We work hard to keep expenses down
It makes no difference as long as it works
There was an accidental death you say?
When in business profit from every loss

Someone sends memo’s to keep us in check
We’re plagued by whistle blowers as well
In the end we will destroy every last one
Because yearly Quarterly reports are due

The business must show off a lot of profit
So some of the small people may need to burn
You tell me there are hungry people starving
Without money its not a corporate concern

Them peasants they never have cash and carry
They can live and dine on leftover crumbs
We’re not losing one single night sleep
Worrying about some unproductive bums

The lazy lot of beggars they’re on welfare
And they drive our property values down
If it was up to the big corporations
We’d toss all their assets straight out of town

Because the only people we really need
Are the folks with dollar sign eye sockets
Like foolish Eskimos who purchase upscale ice
We have the naïve buyer in our hip pockets

The one thing we will sell for the indigent
Is We’ll sell their asses all down the rivers
But don’t go calling us greedy bastards
Call us generous minimum wage job givers

For a healthy tax break we create entry jobs
Employment in which you break your backs
Politicians speaking in fuzzy economics say
Donate to us we’ll give you shelter from the tax

And if anyone attempts to topple our profits
You’ll find your heads inside a hanging noose
We will eradicate any who try challenging us
No one will ruin our branded golden goose

Everyone knows money talks and bullshit walks
You consumers can stop all of your squawking
If your credit rating isn’t up to our standards
Don’t let the door hit you and keep on walking

Walk your maxed out credit cards outta town
No one rides if you don’t have enough bucks
Money is the reigning king of everything
Without it your all plain shit out of luck

So let the bleeding heart socialists whine
Prophesizing an economy thats falling down
Long as we keep driving our high end profits
We’ll drive those prophets deep into the ground

Brain Muscles

brain muscles

Its not enough just to tone up your abs
That only builds a physical foundation
If you really want muscles that impress
Get out and exercise your imagination

Wipe away cobwebs that give you stress
A cranial work out complete with reps
That’ll get creative energy pumped up
A strong imagination in a few short steps

The cluttered mind stays closed up too tight
And cause ingenuity to get too flabby
Get a fresh perspective with creative thought
Plus bulging brain muscles that ain’t too shabby

Because having open eyes is not enough
There needs to be hippocampus contrast
An open mind envisions positive growth
A closed one doomed to repeat its past

IMAGINE
Peace

Eclipsed

eclipse

While the sun descended stealthily under the covers
The sky revealed markings of both black and blue
Bruises left from one more long phase slipping by
In uncertainty of which cosmic secrets hold true

Abruptly darkness straddled obscure o’er the horizon
Still fully illuminated we witness the planets and stars
Diamonds spin as they wink over ink stained blackness
The embarrassed sun bows before covering its scars

With platitude silence joins the dark evening scape
Benign stillness bordering on the blithely absurd
Screams of the daylight fade off into the shadows
Their intentions fated to go on forever unheard

Then yellow and orange tines pierce through the dark
Spiraling brightly upwards and outwards in flight
Sunlight stretches and yawns shaking off its short slumber
Bends down to kiss the lunar landscape good night

Brightening the horizons to begin the fierce day anew
The chaotic and frantic can now see just where they run
Pinching and bouncing with aid of another days torch
Until once again moons romantic mystery replaces the sun

Jewels Hollandaise Sauce, The Happy Culinarian

jewels

Jewels Hollandaise Sauce here on Foodie Channel Network with my new show, The Happy Culinarian (THC). Today I am interviewing the once rising star in the cake industry, Bae King Powder, who just recently wrote his tell all culinary confesional book, “Batter Up, The Rise and Fall of A Cupcake Empire.” Welcome to the show Mr. Powder. Let me begin with the scandel you recently found yourself in with the purchase of illegal products that authorities gave you such sought after top shelf cupcakes. How did it all go down, what toppled your empire?

BKP… Thanks for having me here Jewels, You’re a sharp interviewer, I see you like to get right to the point. Yes its true, I was busted, Leavening Agents took me from my bakery in handcuffs. Really no knead for that. But they had been watching my bakery for quite a while. Apparently some of my shcmuck competitors tipped them off I was using illegally obtained PH in my batter. The batter accusation hit me hard! They were way off base and it came out of left field. First let me go on the record, I had no idea PH from Thailand was illegal, and yes it’s true I used it. The cost of inflation was rising but my cupcakes weren’t. After the Cupcake Wars ended and it was revealed that no whip pans of mass induction were hidden in rebel bakeries. Aside from the politically aligned bakeries all cupcake makers were left flat, mine included. Mission Accomplished my ass!

JHS. Of course, we all remember the bad intel The Food Channel got from Halliburton Lard Distributors that lead to the Cupcake Wars but lets get back to you. As I remember it you claim you were targeted because of your sudden cupcake rise to fame. Exactly how did your cupcakes rise so much?

BKP. Well yea, my batter was much different than most other bakers. With high quality ingredients and hard work my cupcakes rose to near cult status, some even referring to them as ‘crack cupcakes’ because they were addictive. Most of those other shmucks were using short cuts. That’s the reason we rose, not because of some illegal powders in my recipe. I got a much fluffier and porous product and that made me a target. All my competitors wanted to see my cakes fall so they set me up. Just about everybody jumped on the Baking Soda bandwagon and that made their products all seem like cookie cutter copies of each others product. People couldn’t tell the difference between Crumbies, Mack Nola’s, or that new place, Two Broke Chicks. They all tasted the same, looked the same, nothing special. I tried to keep my secret ingredient under wraps like the sandwich industry, or like Coca Cola or any other product that wants to keep their secrets contained. The brand of PH I used was as much intellectual property as my recipes, I had no idea we had broken ties with the Thai’s on PH trade. I had agents dumpster diving on my property while my bakery was closed but that didn’t work so they snuck a mole into my kitchen. Once they had their mole in place they called the Health Department. Shut me down because of a blind rodent that was planted in the plant! Mission Accopmplished my ass!

JHS. So after the clandestine garbage hunting failed they snuck a mole on your property then called the Health department? That’s a serious allegation Bae.

BKP. Oh its more than an allegation Jewels, its an accusation. The other bakeries wanted me destroyed and they lobbied with the Cupcake Icing Agency as well as the Felonious Bakers Investigation pitting both the CIA and FBI against me. They sent Leavening Agents to me looking to get a rise out of me by offering me bribes. I had it on camera but the government had it erased. Of course now I can’t prove anything but if you really look at my pudding, you’ll find the truth there. That was my mission accomplished.

JHS. Proof in the pudding? Conspiracy by government officilals? I mean really Mr. Powder, you want us to believe that all these people conspired to bring your cupcakes down?

BKP. You can believe what you want but if you read my book I have no doubt you’ll see I speak the truth. No one is outside the reach of our government. My cupcakes got too big, rose too high and they didn’t like that, felt threatened. That’s what my book will tell you, all about the conspiracies that took the wind from my sales. If tearing down The Cupcake Dude was their mission, I suppose it was accomplished. But the Dude won’t go down without a fight, I’ll take my batter and come out swinging, slam them for a grand at least.

JHS. Okay Bae, THC wishes you good luck in your plight. Well you heard that folks, buy Bae King Powders new book, Batter up to find out the truth behind the conspiracies. I have to tell you Bae, I usually have my staph read these books for me but I actually read this book in two days. How you built the empire was riveting, I was fascinated the entire read. Not only by the conspiracy but by the whole story of your rise to cupcake stardom. One last thing before you go, what’s next for the Cupcake Dude?

BKP. First of all Jewels, my cupcakes will rise again, like The Phoenix. No breads, I don’t knead the dough, but I am working on a new line of alcohol based cupcakes and deep fried mini cupcakes. People today are all concerned about all the GMO crap so it’s a perfect time to sneak the fried foods craze on them. Also, suddenly half the world thinks it has gluten allergies so I’m developing a cupcake made exclusevily with edible plastics. My first attempt was a C4 cupcake which blew up in my face, but edible plastic is the next wave of the future. I’ll be launching a line of cupcakes with Polyunsaturated Urethane Styrene as well as a number of other substances people won’t even be able to pronounce. Plastics are the future and edible plastics will take over the entire culinary industry once everyone realizes what a brilliant concept filling people full of plastic pleasure truly is. Thanks for having me Jewels, and remember, Never Underestimate The Power Of A Cupcake….Peace

NO WAY

no way

This ain’t no way to live
Wake up to a challenge every day
Steaming hot cup of liquid courage
Before we get up and on our way

This ain’t no way to live
Everyday just like the one before
At night a wine glass full of forget
Because existence is such a bore

This ain’t no way to die
On this here slow ride carousel
Find yourself a Sunday congregation
Keep your ass from burnin in Hell

This ain’t no way to die
A mirror that fills the heart with rage
Showing how bad we neglect ourselves
Each day without mercy reveal our age

This ain’t no way to live
Chasing dollars just so we can eat
Feeling inferior to the big boss man
Doing what we do to make ends meet

This ain’t no way to live
Never really getting anything finished
Except maybe a weekend to do list
Accomplishments always seem diminished

This ain’t no way to die
Bucket list full of never got done
Get buried somewhere out in Stepford
Without having ever gone on that run

This ain’t no way to die
With a soul full of empty unkept quests
Never having chased the honest dream
Destined to return back to our nests

No way
This ain’t no way
No way to live or die
Ending up in the end
Never knowing why
No way
That game we have to play
That life ending ballet
Do we really have to stay
No Way