70) The Acid – Etching Deeply and Permanently

Welcome busy reader!

In my last post you read about my self-proclaimed success with IC Drawings Incorporated, the company I formed to support computer chip design activities in New Hampshire. In this post I will take things down a notch and try to share a father’s feelings about a very sick (and pain-ridden) son during the summer of 1996.

The Etch of the Early Years

The progress I had made with my personal development – what I like to call my little foundation – had not prepared me for Steve’s chronic pancreatitis. No amount of self-confidence, study or optimism seemed to help. Any one who has had a child suffer will tell you the same thing.

Sick with Worry

I reached back to my study of eastern philosophy and the principle of letting go of problems which were out of my control but this did not help. Just as an acid slowly deteriorates that which it comes in contact with, Steve’s illness was making me sick with worry.

A few years before, I had worried about my girlfriend Priscilla’s safety and then about her stalking me. I finally had to cut her out of my life, like a cancer. I had no way to do this with Steve, my flesh and blood. My precious young son who didn’t deserve to be stricken with random, gut-wrenching chest pains, and to which there is no known cure.

Pretend World

We lived our lives in the frames of time between his episodes of pain. Clocks and calendars were meaningless. When Steve was pain-free, we were blissful, when not, in hell. During Steve’s pain-free intervals, I began to find myself pretending none of this existed. We became very good at living “in the moment”.

How would Nadine and I endure a lifetime of this? Was I a coward for even asking?

Too Soft

More than anyone I knew, I was a person who felt the pain of other living creatures. I know this may be considered “soft”. Animals seem to sense this and are often drawn to me. Folks who laugh at slasher scenes in movies are not. People who are rude, uncaring, selfish or cruel will never earn my respect. Yes, I am soft in that way.

And Selfish

I found myself becoming selfish and pushed most of the responsibility for Steve’s pain management off on Nadine. I justified my behavior on the idea that she possessed a composition that was better able to resist the etching and deterioration of the acid. She didn’t obsess with things the way I did. She was the Mom. Her job as a teacher didn’t require as much focus as chip design. She was more willing. More was expected of the Mom. On and on.

Made of Different Stuff

In truth, Nadine was stronger. Where Steve was concerned, Nadine’s strength dwarfed mine. As time went on this became more evident.
Never was Nadine’s strength more evident than Steve’s hospital visits. During the time period when Steve was 17-22 years old, Steve’s pain would rage and we would bring him to the local emergency room for pain management. At first this was once a month and during the last two years, once every week. One week, I brought Steve to the ER three times!

My Pathetic Excuses

I could not stay near Steve’s bedside and witness the suffering. Often, I would walk the hallways of the hospital, guilty for my pathetic weakness. Straight-up, I did not have the courage.

Effective Partnership Forged

But Nadine never wavered. I was grateful for Nadine’s strength, in this way. As misguided as it sounds, Nadine and I became a very effective advocates for Steve’s pancreatitis. Nadine with courage and a near photographic memory for medical details and me full of energy, compassion and empathy for the medical caregivers we came to rely upon.

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