End of Decade – Dad’s look back

Tonight is the end of the decade. For me from 2010 to 2019 has been a decade of apocalyptic change. Yes, change happens to everyone, but for me, my life has been experienced the kind of changes that I could never have imagined. Divorce, illness, financial turmoil and a hard reset of my emotions were a significant portion of this decade. Don’t get me wrong, yes good things did happen to me, but I can say honestly, I’ve survived through a minefield of issues on a daily, weekly, month and yearly basis.. I’ve come out of ahead (or as I like to say “alive and kicking”) due to my determination to persevere through the difficult times and look for the light at the end of each tunnel that I found my self going through.

At the beginning of the decade, I had never heard the concept of “lifetime alimony” or truly understood what child support is. Even as my salary increased, my financial instability increased in proportion. All I knew at the beginning of the decade was being a dad and doing the best for my family. I existed to make my family secure..

When I started the decade, retirement was distant in the future and it was not really at the forefront of my thoughts. Today 9 years later, I think about retirement every day. Some days I find myself thinking all day long when can I retire and will I outlive my money? With the events of the past decade, I really cannot retire for at least 5 to 10 more years.. Ugh. If I had my druthers, I’d retire tomorrow and get a job at Walmart being a greeter.

When I started the decade, I was living the American Dream: I was a father who had brought into the myth of being an homeowner and being able to swim financially with a single income. That was just a pipe dream.. I owned a beautiful home which was my castle and two kids that were in middle and high school respectively.. So my priorities were preparing for their college education and I funneled as much into their education fund as I could do.. Yet in retrospect, I saved just enough for one child and not enough for another..

At the start of 2010, I had family, who I came home to every day and enjoyed being Dad’s taxi.. I lived for my wife and kids. We vacationed (multiple times) each year, fell deeper into debt and basically lived the American dream. Working to pay the bills and vacations was my mantra.. If I knew then what I know now, I wonder if things would have been different. Probably not.

Winter was beautiful as my house was a winter wonderland for the kids and for me, it was a joy to see them enjoying the home that my wife and I had raised them in. Summers were for pool fun and entertaining the extended family. Our home was a destination home for our extended family.. My home was referred to as “their summer home”. Holidays were meant for family togetherness. To me, I was living the dream, with me being oblivious to the nightmare that I would have in the second half of the decade.

On the outside a the beginning of the decade, it looked like we had a perfect home. A great home, a strong family and marriage.. Internally, my marriage was crumbling and my wife and I had started the path towards irreconcilable differences. We lived life to the max and every day we spiraled more and more into debt. As the dad, I “took from peter to pay paul”. I could have done things differently, but to do this I needed help and unfortunately this was not a version of reality that I was going to find at home.

During this decade I turned 50 and that’s when I realized, I was living a lie. I decided to speak up and this accelerated my marriage into a state of total un-fixable disarray. As everyone knows, you can never clap with one hand (except when you slap yourself). We both contributed to the dissolution of our marriage. By the middle of the decade, my marriage was over and my life crumbled around me. I lost my home (it became marital property) that I could not sell and I was now living in rentals.

My relationship with my kids (especially with my younger daughter) would never be the same. I’m not looking for any sympathy with these words, but to say that my divorce was financially destructive and would take the second half of the decade to recover. I could write extensively my situation during the middle of the decade, but that is not meant to be put into words here. After my divorce, I was determined to recover emotionally and financially. Today I can say, I’m in a good place on both.

This whole decade has been an experience in survival. I had everything, I lost my home and most of my financial stability, and now am on the path to recovery.. I see retirement being in my future ( I don’t know when, but retirement is in my future). The emotional turmoil that we went through taught us the appreciation for family and how fickle fate can be.

I had multiple health issues in this decade. What I learned is that I cannot take my health for granted. During the next decade, my health has to be my number one priority. My family is second and after that comes my career.

As I start the new decade, my kids are both educated. One child is giving back to society by being a social worker and the other is in college. My post divorce relationship with my ex-wife has become much better and we continue to co-parent cohesively. I am again a homeowner and am in a much happier place. I can best say that the past decade has been a period of tremendous change and upheaval.. Dad came out of it scarred but not beaten.

As I look forward to the new year and the new decade, I have optimism that this decade will be much calmer.. Hopefully, when I look back on this writing in 2029, I’ll be retired and alive! I’m hopeful of my kids succeeding in their life and for me to see them succeed. That’s what I would now define as happiness for me in the future.

I also have a list of things I want to do.. Go and see all four major opens for tennis (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US Open (done!), tops my list.

I also plan on continuing with Dad’s Taxi and go back to the origins and become more humorous and insightful! I wish all my family, friends and everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous decade, which starts in a few hours!

A reality check – Listen to the signs

Hi to all my readers,

It’s been almost a year since my last posting and even writing this post took me a long time to gather my thoughts. Normally my posts are full of snark and sarcasm with pretentious of humor. Today, I want to tell you that that will not cease after this post.. but for this post, let me tell you a story that hit home (like a ton of bricks). I ignored signals my body was giving me and it was almost disastrous.

A few weeks ago I fell ill and with a pulmonary embolism (PE) and was hospitalized. The PE was caused by blood clots in my left leg that traveled up both of my lungs and caused clots and causing the right side of of my heart to stop getting blood.. Of course this had a chain reaction and I would not be alive today, if I didn’t have the support of my girl friend (yes I can say that openly). She saved my life and Di deserves the recognition for this.

The worst thing of this whole story is that I ignored the danger signs when I was in NJ as well as when I was out of the country (In Cancun, Mexico). The signs of heart issues started a few month ago and of course they progressed. Over a period of 2 month when the first symptoms of my PE materialized and being the “macho man” I thought I was I ignored the swollen left leg and the inability to breathe after short durations of walking or any exertion. I was too self absorbed and felt I could power through it all. I could not have been any more wrong . If thing would have gone worse, I could have easily come back home not in a seat on the plane, but as a body being sent home. Not a pretty thought but it is what it is.

After I returned to my NJ home from my vacation , I resumed normal activities of work and my passion of tennis and walking. All the time, ignoring the warning signs that my body kept on telling me . I couldn’t walk much without discomfort and playing tennis was very difficult.. Of course in my warped and self absorbed mind, I was thinking “wouldn’t it be cool, if I took my last breath on the tennis court”. Yeah that’s me in a nutshell , self destructive even when I knew that something was wrong.

I went to work, tried to do my ten thousand steps a day and tried to power through the pain and discomfort. My girlfriend (who happens to be RN), noticed that I was laboring and she started to ask the right questions and then some type of light went off in my head, and I finally realized that I was in serious trouble.. The day before I was hospitalized, I was doing my normal after dinner walk in my complex and after walking less than 1/4 of a mile, I had to turn back with coughing, and inability to catch my breath.. as I lounged on my sofa, I was talking to Di and she was monitoring my labored breathing and had me monitor my BPM’s on my Fitbit (Everyone should have one!). Basically my Heart rate (BPM) were not coming below 115 – 120 and I was still having problems breathing.. I relented and I had a Venous Doppler done at a local hospital next day.

The doppler revealed clots in my left leg and an emergency CAT scan was done on my chest which revealed, massive clots on both my lungs. I was transferred to one of the 5 best hospitals in the US for treatment later that evening. NY Presbyterian hospital (NYP) in NYC. Being transferred to NYP saved my life and I thank all the doctors and nurses at NYP for the care they gave me over a period of 6 days to nurse me back from the brink of death to a person on the road to recovery.

The road to recovery will be a long one and I the more I try being Macho and trying to power through the ups and downs, I know it will take me longer to resume some level of normal activities. For me that walking 10,000 steps a day and being able to play tennis 2 to 3 times a week. Yet I do digress, as I tend to do in my postings..

I know I’ll be on blood thinners for a long time (if not for the rest of my life), as well as monitoring all aspects of my health. Not being a tough guy is going to take a while, but when your body says, “enough is enough”, you must listen, unless of course you have a death wish.

Over the past month, I realize the following lessons learned:

  • You ignore your heart and the signs your body is giving you. Our body is smart enough to give us basic indications that something is wrong. If you ignore these signs, you are only hurting yourself and your family.
  • Appreciate your friends and family when they want to help you. I kept to myself and didn’t let others in. This is not the way to lead your life. You have let others in that love you unconditionally.
  • Money will come and go, but how you utilize the money to make a difference in your quality of life is key.. Being a squirrel in life is ok, but are you going to take the money with you?
  • Watch what you eat, and do a balanced exercise regimen. Everything you eat has immediate and long term affects on your well being.
  • Thank god every day for watching over you. This is the most important lesson.

As I sit here and put up this post, I realize me changing my perspective is a long term goal, but every day, I’m taking small steps to make sure I’m around to enjoy life to the fullest. Also I want to live to see my kids have kids so they can experience the joys of parenthood as I have.