Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Death and Emotions (but not the death of emotions)

I admit, I don't handle death very well.

Other people's deaths, that is. As for my own, I haven't quite died yet, but of the two times I came closest, I panicked once (almost drown, saved by Scoutmaster Ergle), and the other time I was a little too unconscious to panic (weight lifting mishap, saved by James Stanley).

Well, as some of you know, last year I finally began digitizing old photos & things, which led me to actually working at finding and contacting old friends, rather than merely planning to someday. And though I've contacted some, I've also found some that I haven't contacted yet, because I have to kind of schedule for the emotional bounces. The whole effort has been pulling on my heart-strings, or more like yanking when I have inevitably learned of the deaths of some.

In case you don't know, I'm a real softy. Talking to dear friends I haven't talked to in many years is very emotional for me... very positive emotions, to be sure, but there's a downside. Due to my thyroid and hypoglycemic blood sugar issues, any excitement boosts my adrenaline, followed within hours by a hormone/blood sugar induced crash (mitigated, but not eliminated, by a careful diet).

When I started on the photos & calls, I was on a "therapeutic" dosage of cymbalta, to try to increase the neurons in my brain, which was supposed to help me more effectively ignore the pain in my feet -- or so the pharmaceutical company claims. Unfortunately, that drug has a long list of side-effects, and a few of them chose that timeframe to appear, and get worse rapidly, especially in mood swings. I mean swings like I'm in a business meeting and I start to cry for no reason. Or I wake up in the middle of the night very angry... not about anything in particular, just angry, kind of looking for something to aim my anger at. Or getting embarrassingly, inappropriately romantic in email to someone other than my wonderful wife.

My pain doctor agreed I should stop that drug, which we scheduled for over the Christmas/New Year break, because withdrawal can be severe. How severe? Well, I don't remember Christmas day, and my family saw me through a lot of headaches, crying, too-dizzy-to-walk, etc. At least I did get it weaned down to nothing, and the worst of the previous side-effects seem to be permanently behind me now.

Getting rid of the drug doesn't mean I'm not a softy anymore, it just means I'm back to being my regular sentimental self. And, like I said before, I don't handle death very well...

Last week, I finally found some relatives I had lost track of, which was a huge boost emotionally, but at the same time learned of the death of a dear member of that part of my clan -- Tommy Jenkins, husband of my cousin Beth. He died in 2005, and they weren't able to find me to let me know at the time. That's my fault, because I'm the one who moved around and lost track, not them. It hurts that he's gone, and I didn't get to see him again. Yes, I expect to see him in heaven, but honestly, that thought really doesn't ease the pain much.

Then last night, I finally found and talked to Sandy Watkins (Andrewson), and what a joy that was! However, Sandy had to inform me that Joanne Schubkegel died a few years ago, leaving a husband and young daughter behind. I don't know their last name, so I don't know how to search for them. And apparently, Joanne's dad died within the last year or so, and her mom is in a nursing home, unable to converse. I found a phone number for her brother Brian, but it was disconnected.

All that was kind of pushing me to my limits of being able to stay focused enough to do my job, but fortunately, today was a quiet day at the office, and that allowed me to mourn a bit without interfering with work. AND THEN... This afternoon, I got an unexpected phone call from Michael Pannell! He and Dawn are doing well, and have four children. We had a wonderful chat, and with an exchange of email addresses, hopefully we can keep in closer contact now than once every 25 years!


On that topic, if you're an old friend who's found this, and I haven't contacted you yet, the odds are high that I have no clue how to find you, so PLEASE email me at and give me your contact info. This goes especially for you ladies who changed your last names upon marriage... that makes the research very difficult or impossible, unless I find another friend-in-common who has your contact info...
<hint> and they remember to send it to me. </hint>

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