Pup-a-Palooza Grand Event!
Adopt a Dog Today!!!
A neon orange banner welcomed families as they walked beneath the archway of Heavy Petting: Supplies for Your Pet!” Once inside, it was my job to make sure the kids would experience the best doggie adoption event ever! It was pre-open, so we were gathering our team and making final preparations. I brought out the checklist and reviewed the morning set up:
DOGS: Double Check!
VOLUNTEERS: Yeah so the thing about that.
Normally I’d like to say we are 100% on our volunteers status, but you remember Darlene? You know...With the hair? Yeah. THAT Darlene...Right? I know! Even AFTER Jerome in Atlantic City? Ha! Ha! Ha!
Out of the friggin blue she calls me up and says she may be busy today and may not be able to make it. She has to help her sister move apparently. WTF Dar? Your sister can rent a U-Haul for the love of Pete! You know what else, Dar? You’re gonna miss out! Wendell brought cinnamon twists!!! (Darlene goes apeshit for those kind of things....When she went through her last divorce, I made her so many churros...)
Long story short?
Darlene may not show up.
Fast forward to 10:15 Shocker! No Darlene. Fuck you Darlene. We can do this without you.
Fast forward to 10:16 We kicked off the big event with low to medium fanfare. It would have gone smoother, but Darlene was in charge of the snacks. We shared Wendell’s cinnamon twists.
My job on that day was to make sure every kid had a pup in their hands. And to make sure and every pup had a treat too! After all the proper kid to pup introductions were made, I roamed the store to try to generate some buzz.
Throughout the day, I watched the dogs scan the crowd. Hour after hour, searching tirelessly. They were hoping for just the tiniest of breaks on a new “forever” home. Sometimes their answer was yes. Other times...well, it was heartbreaking to watch.
As the families came into the store, I watched the kids flock to the puppies like, well, like kids to puppies. The older dogs always had a tougher time of it. Their cute puppy days behind them, they just beg to be snuggly ol’ companions for that perfect person. That perfect family. The younger ones...well they had their own set of challenges too. So yeah, overall, it was, well...emotional.
Well, the day was coming to a close. There was only one guy left, and Little Johnny Four Paws was the gentlest one of the bunch. They called him Johnny Four Paws because, well, lets face it, while “Heavy Petting: A Supply Store for Pets” could sell the shit out of bacon flavored chew toys, they weren’t too creative in the dog naming department.
I was sweeping up at the end, when little Johnny Four Paws wiggled next to me and sat at my feet. He lifted his head, our eyes met, and at that moment...Johnny Four Paws stole my heart!
He stole it like...well....I dunno somebody that steals hearts...like a heart thief or something. Although that sounds weird.. Almost like a disgruntled hospital employee who makes off with some internal organs in the back of their Nissan Sentra then sells that stuff online. It could totally happen, right?! So then...the heart buyer guy turns out to be some weirdo who has big ol’ exotic dinner nights! Then he invites all his creepshow friends over to some seriously fucked up dinner so he can serve a human heart.
I’m just sayin.
I could see it going down like that.
I see these kinda stories on the internet all the time.
So, yeah, no... “Heart Thief.” That sounds gross.
Oh YEAH! Back to Johnny!
THEN, so get this, I go to pet Johnny and suddenly he opens his mouth and flames shoot out! I was expecting a bark or two, but a fire breathing, elderly orphan dog?!
THEN, after he used his flame mouth to cut through the bars on the crate, he started racing through the store, shrieking and shrieking! Have you ever heard a dog shriek? Holy crap it was freakin’ crazytown, I tell you what.
And the kids? Man, the kids totally freaked the fuck out! This one little kid, we’ll call him “Randy” (Actually I just said his real name. His real name is Randy…Fuck…I suck at this secret stuff. Sorry Randy!
Anyway, Randy was crying and screaming so hard that I thought that kid was going to explode! (Funny story, found out later that Randy lost some Pokemon cards and was throwing a huge tantrum! Nothing to do with the Four Paws dog at all! Even funnier story, they found the cards in the back seat of their Hyundai, Elantra on the way home, so all the screaming was for nothing! Too funny right? Chin up Randy!)
Anyway...at that instant, shrieking Johnny Four Paws and I both turned to witness a huge foul smelling beast appear in the doorway! It was a giant monster... with the head of a bull, and the body of a...like...I dunno...like a body of an Ice Dancer? Okay that’s just creepy...with those spangly leotards and stuff?
Okay, how about the body of fish...and the head of a..a..
Oh crap...just forget it.
Let's start over, ‘cause this ain’t working.
Eric’s Memoir: Take 2
Okay Gentle Reader. I apologize.
This isn’t the kind of book that you signed up for.
You probably expected a “Real” book. Something where the guy who wrote it has more experience than writing grocery lists, bad checks, and the occasional ransom demand. You probably also expected subject matter that at the very least remotely reflects the actual title on the cover.
Let me explain.
On an almost daily basis, I would run into some of the following scenarios:
Water cooler at the office. Monday Morning.
A co worker walks up.
“I’m glad your health is doing better. You should write a book, Eric!”
Talking to family on the phone.
Dad tells me.
“--I’ve read your stuff on your blog and it is awesome! You should totes write a book!”
Deep in the rainforest. Outrunning the nearly extinct 5 legged Boar of Borneo.
Boar yells out at me in Borneoan Boar-Speak .
“You should write a book, Eric!” With all of your experiences with your life and your health issues, you should write and get it out there! Plus, I really like your hair! It totally works.” (snort)
So you get how this has been going.
I have had a few life experiences recently. Now I have a few friends and family who thought it was a good idea to put some of these trials and tribulations down.
Eric’s Trials & Tribulations
See, I’ve been going through some trials and tribulations in my life. Some health stuff that is, well, life threatening, and it scares the living hell out of me. In 2013 I was diagnosed with a life long and possibly life threatening disease called Neurosarcoidosis as well as Acute Transverse Myelitis…which are fucking scary things.
In A Nutshell
Neurosarcoidosis is an auto-immune disease that attacks your (i.e. MY) nervous system. When it attacks? Shit starts to happen. Your body’s electrical system starts shorting out. Entire body systems shut down. It’s a bad gig, right? Who wants that kind of action? (Spoiler! Nobody! That's who!)
Gentle Reader: Hey Eric! Is this a common disease? I haven’t heard of it before! Truth be told I can’t even pronounce it. Nooo-row-what?
Eric: No worries Gentle Reader. NEAR-row-sahr-koy-DOH-sis (Neurosarcoidosis) affects 1 in every 100,000 people. (Lucky me!) So yeah, it is a relatively rare thing and your pal Eric just drew the short straw.
Gentle Reader: Craptastic! How long did it take to diagnose?
Eric: Funny that! It is NOT something that is easily diagnosed. It actually is diagnosed by elimination of other diseases! The doctors were racing to diagnose me and try to get me better before something bad (i.e. death) happened. I went through tons of tests while my body slowly shut down. NOT a party I would recommend attending if invited.
Gentle Reader: Wow. So how do you tell friends and family about that kinda stuff?
Eric: Well, for me, i started a little blog.
During this crazy time of big questions, I started a little blog. After I stopped going to work for a week or so...and after a barrage of tests, symptoms, and more tests, it was time to reach out to people.
I sat down and began writing. Not necessarily exactly the facts...i didn't know the facts yet...but what i did know, was that i was in a world of hurt and badness….and those close to me had a right to know what was up.
I shared it only with close friends and family. I mean you stop showing up for work and folks start to wonder:
Did he find another job?
Did he leave town?
Is that him sleeping under that desk?
Now I am a relatively healthy guy, and no one, especially me, saw this coming. This was a new chapter in my life. A friggin huge and scary chapter to be sure. And writing about it became therapeutic.
With shaky hands (it’s part of all this...we’ll talk more later), I hit enter on my keyboard and sent my first blog into the ether. Nervous about the response from my family and friends. Immediate family knew the basics, and my bosses at the office knew the basics as well. But this was me revealing some of the seriously personal shit that was going down.
And that is scary to put out there.
And went to bed.
The next morning I woke to a blog full of comments and an inbox full of questions! Immediately, friends and family wrote back:
“What the Fuck?”
Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but they were as floored as I was. But following the shock was a flood of support. It was incredible.
I sat alone in front of my laptop
My hands quaking with tremors
My legs barely carrying me across the room
My speech coming out in an occasional jumbled burst of words
...and the love just poured in over the internet.
...and it was amazing, and humbling, and wonderful.
Then I find my friends shared my story with a few others, and, well, wow. Some folks even told me that I was an inspiration with my attitude toward a very tough situation. That was awesome to hear! (I always thought my karaoke version of 9-5 was inspirational...but apparently i have some soul searching to do.)
So I thought, maybe my friends are onto something here. Maybe I really should write it all down! It wouldn’t be a bad idea to record my experiences. If not just for me, but for others out there too.
So I went to write things down.
Writing is Hard
Okay, so let’s talk. This writing stuff? It sounds like a great idea, but do you know how fucking hard it is to write a book? I mean, I sat down at least like a gazillion times and tried to write like, an actual book....and the best shit I can come up with is a dog with an evil flame mouth? And don’t forget the Ice Dancer with the head of a bull...That will haunt your dreams...I tell you what.
So writing your own story is hard. I mean you start researching about writing and it just gets all convoluted.
How to get an agent!
How many pages you should write a day!
How to look sexy AND sassy for your sleeve photo!
(Spoiler: A captains hat demands respect yet has an aura of style! You ever see anyone backtalk Cap’n Crunch? Not gonna happen my friend.)
But I really wasn’t concerned about all that writing noise. All I wanted to do was write about my story and get it out there.
Who Should Read This Book
As I write…I occurs to me...why should someone read this book? I mean, I know why I read the breakfast menu at Denny’s (Moons over my hammy? Am I right?) but what kinda peeps would actually dig this book?
People who like drama might dig this book! There is a lot of drama involved in this thing and I will relate it in as much amazing detail as I can. I do NOT promise that everything is 100% factual. However, I DO promise that everything is how I experienced it!
I may not have all the specifics on dosages, blood counts, etc. What I DO have is a perfect memory of how fucking scared I was! So yeah...you’re going to get a little bit of that. This is my story, with all the blemishes and contradictions... So while a true story...it was also a fucking shitshow too...so cut me a little slack.
People with Sarcoidosis, auto-immune or any other chronic disease will definitely relate to some of these challenges. I’m not unique here. This is my story on what I went through to get diagnosed (A very big ordeal) and how I am dealing with the symptoms. I hope others with Sarcoidosis can benefit from another person’s perspective. Mine may seem like a walk in the park to some...and terrible to others...but these types of diseases are unfair, unequal, and unrelentless.
It is a very, very tough disease in that one of the hardest things can be that the patient appears normal. I have found this to be a common thread. The symptoms are not blatant so people think you are fine. You are NOT fine. I get it. I am NOT fine. I have to remind people of that every single fucking day.
You don’t have to have major changes to your body in order for that change to have a major impact. I think it is good for people to know that any type of illness, big or small, can have a huge effect on your psyche, your emotional state, which translates into having an even bigger effect on your physical state. So for anyone who has any type of chronic illness, check this book out.
So this is actually a solid place to put my story. The blog felt too disjointed and while it served its purpose, I felt like I really wanted to put all of my experiences into one place.
I hope that my writing may help some people. Who knows? Maybe that’s too lofty a goal? Maybe so. I mean from the guy that brought you Johnny Four Paws, I imagine being the Goodwill Ambassador for Neurosarcoidosis is a bit of a stretch.
Let’s Do This
But still. Here is my story. It is a tough one. But I honestly know that all things will turn out fine in the end. Right? I mean you gotta have a good attitude...otherwise...well...it’s a one way ticket to sad town...and that place sucks.
So no more fire breathing dogs, okay? However, if I get stuck anywhere along the line trying to tell my own story, I reserve the right to bring Johnny Four Paws back up. But this is all about my story, and what has happened to me during that year. My journey if you will. (Not journey in a “Don’t Stop Believin’” kinda way, although they do kinda rock.) But let me tell you a little bit about why I am putting myself through this experience of writing my first book.