My first tattoo adorns my forearm—and this page. Now I am a big fan. In my 62nd year, I’ve experienced three major health crises. I have beaten two of them but still have to win one. My tattoo was a way to pay tribute to my body which has been through a lot.
My abusive father did nothing to help or hide my bottle when I started drinking alcohol at 16. He drove me there. I quickly became an alcoholic with high function. I like to say that I stopped drinking the day after I began. This is the hardest part. The last sip was easy. The last drink was the easy part. Then and only then was it over. I had my previous beverage on 2/14/18. I had left alcohol forever. My Happy Valentine’s Day gift was to all those who need or love me by quitting alcohol cold turkey.
After being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 2018, I underwent a radical prostatectomy that December. Before the surgery, I had never spent a single night in the hospital. I had only been to the hospital once when visiting someone else. I had not seen a physician in more than 15 years. Why? I was afraid to find out that I had cancer. I came from a family where my mother, father, and sister had all been diagnosed with cancer. In 2009, my sister was 52 when she died of it. My wife encouraged me to keep my appointment, and I learned I had cancer. After recovering from prostate surgery, I need one follow-up to be in remission. In February, I will be cancer-free for five years.
I also suffer from an autoimmune disorder called Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, or PPMS. This type of MS affects only 15% of MS patients. My posse consists of one MS warrior in every 200 who gets the extra poison that comes with progression. Only 150,000 MS Warriors are left in the world without a cure. The medical industry can only slow down or stop the progression of my condition and that of others. This means I must wear an AFO (brace) and always have my left foot dangling. I’ve just begun looking for my very first wheelchair. The future will look at me when I am moving around.
My inspiration comes from a famous California graffiti artist whose name is TemptOne. Tempt is a short name for ALS, and he’s permanently disabled. I read about his story in the book. It is not impossible by Mick Ebeling. Not Impossible Labs created Eyewriter Technology, which allowed him to use his eyes to paint. It works. This story has inspired me to get a tattoo called Tempt.
The chemical symbol for ethanol is (-OH). The sign is hung from the blue ribbon’s neck like a Frankenstein electrode in my tattoo. The blue ribbon represents prostate cancer. Blue ribbons are a familiar image among people suffering from terrible diseases. I qualify. Just one more follow-up is needed before I can be declared in remission. Next February, I will be cancer-free for five years.
The skull with a brain that looks like scrambled red eggs were created by the Grateful Dead. They invented the analogy. MS is, to me, the perfect mindfuck. It doesn’t turn off or get cured. You’re like a runner who will never be able to catch up. The orange side of the ribbon represents multiple sclerosis (MS), my new enemy.
This is a summary of three critical events in my life. I have beaten cancer and alcoholism. The next thing on my list is Multiple Sclerosis.
I am not gifted and have a reasonable level of intelligence. I attended a college that was okay and did well. Despite being a heavy drinker, I managed a large business for State Street Bank. Other companies also offered me C-suite positions. I was successful in my career despite my efforts. I was determined that I would be. Since 2017, I have been retired. The past year has been good, but I was sick a lot. I miss working. I have become an expert at navigating the medical world and trying to answer esoteric queries my body has.
Here, the message is: I am doing this. The temptation is there. This shows that no matter your challenge, you can win if you are willing to work hard. I now fight parasitic abnormalities in my brain and spine. I exercise six days a week at The Fort, Oceanport, NJ. The Fort is an excellent facility with amazing people. I will continue to do this until the end of my life. It’s my only skill.
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