The face palm of change took me by suprise. It taught, and is still teaching me some valuable lessons. Change is the one dependable and consistent thing in life. It's a backwards idea, an oxymoron really. In some ways anglers thrive on change. Change and rivers go hand in hand. The spring water becomes a small stream. The stream becomes a creek. The creek becomes a river. The river rises and falls with the weather. It weaves, rolls, rumbles, bubbles, and meanders over an ever changing terrain. The river changes and is changed. Life is like that river, it changes, and sometimes in the ways we least expect.
I've never considered myself a roofer of any skill or talent, so it was with great surprise that I found myself shingling. Actually my face was the roof, my nerves and their viral "friends" were the roofers, and my eye was the unfortunate bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In plain speech, I was hammered and struck down (like a nail) by the herpes zoster virus, which is known to most people as shingles. It set in the day we were headed back from our Yellowstone trip and affected the whole right side of my face. Pain, discomfort, itching, oozing, ugliness, and an eye swollen shut were a few of the glamour-less symptoms. Avoiding the long story, the virus damaged the cornea in my right eye, leaving a bit of blur to the vision, and a much higher potential for future problems (including blindness). I also managed to get the flu right during the early stages, which made circumstances miserable. I've been taking an antiviral ever since I first went to the doctor. The ophthalmologist (eye doctor) said I should take it for life as a preventative measure. Which brings me to the current predicament. I have been dealing with a fun rash all over, which appears to be an allergic reaction to the antiviral treatment, and a recent blood test revealed a very high TSH level. I'm now taking thyroid medication and trying with all my might to resist scratching. I have not felt the same since the shingles set in, and it looks like I have a potentially long and uncertain road ahead.
It's quite the sob story, wouldn't you say? Maybe it is surprising to hear, but I wouldn't change it. I'm grateful for it. The eye damage and potential risk, for lack of a better word, sucks, but I have been shaken in a very good way. The flavors of life are made richer by the realization that life is fragile. Life is a gift. It is a daily gift. The beautiful things we can see, hear, and feel are a gift. I'm trying to be a better man for my children and my lovely wife. I am still spending time with my legs in the water and rod in hand. It's therapy. But it's not at the expense of my family. Time spent in all these places is cherished all the more now. I am a shaken and humbled man by my very own mortality, but I'm choosing to focus on the sweetness of what I have, not the bitterness of what I am losing. It really is a scary thought thinking you may not see your wife's or children's faces because of illness. The thought of never seeing another sunrise in all it's glory is terrifying. So I am focusing on what I have, taking things a bit slower, listening to my body and spirit, and storing up all the beautiful images I can. Who knows what is around the river bend. All I know is that it won't be boring, that is for sure.
In the business that is my wonderful family, two jobs, PA school applications, homework, and church I have managed to slip out a bit here and there. Here is one pleasant offering the Lord blessed me with when I found myself with a few spare hours after a surprisingly shorter workday.
And can I just say that I have the most amazing wife. She's tougher than nails, prettier than pretty, and more supportive than an iron beam holding up a 50,000 ton building. I really am a blessed guy, and I look forward to an amazing fall season of fishing, even if I have to do a bit less of it.