Monday, February 21, 2005

Just plain wrong

I just realized something… I didn’t make any friends in college. I went to UW-Milwaukee for 4 ½ years and I don’t have a single friend from those years. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember a single name of anyone I met in college. That’s pretty sad.

In High School I made lots of friends. I knew lots of people’s names, but for one reason or another have not kept in contact with any of them… but in college, I can honestly say I can’t remember anybody. The people I remember from my college days are those friends I already had in High School.

I came to this sudden realization after I spent last Friday touring UW-La Crosse with my wife and son. We were there checking out the college Ryan will be attending in the Fall. We spent most of the day listening to facility and students talk to us about how great life is at UW-L. After the listening session, we took a guided tour of the campus and then had an extended tour of the science building and it’s labs.

I believe the main reason I never made any new friends at college is because I lived at home and most of my High School friends were either attending UW-Milwaukee with me or attending another school in the Milwaukee area. None of us lived on campus and we tended to not associate with people outside of our circle. So many opportunities lost there…

My hope is that Ryan will make all sorts of new friends while living on campus at UW-L. Hopefully one or two of those friends will become life-long. Going through 4 or 5 years of college life and not remembering a single sole from those years is just plain wrong.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I got scared!

OK… So I got really scared this past weekend. Last Wednesday I noticed a discoloration on my abdomen that looked like it could be a bruise, but didn’t hurt like a bruise or seem to have the same coloring as a bruise. I tried hard to think back and remember me bumping into something or getting hit by something, I couldn’t recall anything that would have caused this.

I watched the color get darker and redder over the next couple of days, and noticed that this discoloration was surrounding a small mole.

This was really bothering me. A work friend of mine died a year or so ago from Malignant Melanoma (i.e Skin Cancer). I remember clearly one of the last conversations I had with her. She told me to make sure I immediately have myself checked out if ever I see something out of the ordinary. She waited a little too long, and as a result, she lost her battle in only a few months. I think she was in her early 50’s with a couple of kids still in High School… way too young.

Saturday I checked the Internet and viewed probably 50 pictures of Melanoma. That spot on my belly looked like several of those images. My wife took a look and the expression on her face let me know that she was as scared as I was.

That whole weekend so many thoughts went through my head. Was this really cancer? Will I see my kids graduate from High School and College? Will I see them get married? Will I ever see my grand kids? What will my wife do? How will she get along without me? … These were all very emotional thoughts and the more I thought about it, the worse it got.

On Monday an appoint was made for me to see a dermatologist. That entire morning I was in a fog. I hadn’t been to see a doctor in years. My last physical was 20 years ago. Did I blow it and was this the beginning of some really difficult times for me and my family?

Patti, my wife, came with me to the doctor’s office. I could tell she was so very nervous as she waited with me. I looked over at her, and she looked away and started blinking really hard and quickly. I’ve learned over the years that this is her way of trying not to cry and keep her eyes from tearing up… I felt so sorry for her and wished so much that I wasn’t putting her through this.

My name was called and I went into one of the examination rooms. Soon the doctor came in and I explained my problem. He asked to see the problem area. I lifted my shirt and he got close, looked at it with his lighted magnifying glass and shook his head… My heart skipped a few beats because I knew the next thing out of his mouth was going to be “We need to do a biopsy.”

He looked up at me, still shaking his head, and said. “It’s a bruise.” “What?”, I said. “A bruise. Nothing more than a bruise”, he said in a pissed off sort of voice.

I was relieved, but I could tell he was perturbed. I think he thought I was one of the hypochondriacs that runs to the doctor office on government assistance every time I sneeze. I explained my worries and how this really shook me up because of my friends recent death. I think he understood then and asked that I come back in 6 months for a follow up checkup to look at my plethora of moles scattered over my body.

On the way back to work, I asked Patti if she would make an appointment for me to have a complete physical. This little episode made me realize just how much I like being alive. Several warning alarms were sounded and I now realize I better get myself checked out and start taking better care of myself.

After all, I really do want to see my kids graduate from High School and College. I want to walk my beautiful daughter down the isle. I want to hold my grand kids in my arms and I want to have a long relaxing retired life with my wife.

I got scared, but I’m better off because of it.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Making your dreams come true

About 15 years ago I saw a commercial, or read an advertisement in a magazine related to learning how to write. It was for a mail-order school where they give you assignments, you mail it in, and a week later you get your corrected assignment back in the mail.

Something in the back of my mind has always been telling me that I would be good at writing. During college I would look forward to the essay questions because I knew I could easily fill up that little blue test book. My only problems are that I am terrible at spelling and my grammar usually sucks.

And I don’t always know where the next paragraph should start… see…

Well, I decided to call that 800 number and have them send me some ‘no obligation’ information about their school. A couple weeks later I received my packet. I read it over and just like so many other things in my life, I decided to pass on it. That didn’t stop the company from sending me even more information about their school. Over the course of the next year I received all kinds of stuff. I have a feeling that one of the assignments for the students who were enrolled in that school was to write special customized advertising literature trying to persuade potential students. Not a bad idea if you ask me…

My wife has laughed at me a couple of times when I’ve mentioned that I’d like to write a book or get into some professional writing. She usually says something like, “You don’t even like to read. How are you going to write?” … pretty supportive don’t you think?

I don’t know if I will ever write a book, or even attempt to have an article or two published in some magazine. I hope I do. I think it would be pretty cool to see my words in print for everyone to read. Who knows? I suppose this is another one of those “What if?” moments that I have every once in a while.

There are so many choices in life. Wouldn’t it be great if you could always make the right choice and wind up making your dreams come true?