Comparative Pain Scale


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This Pain Scale was given to me by a doctor at the American Lake Facility.



That Poster


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That Poster






That Poster

Why did you break up with me before I joined the Army? Because I was afraid you wouldn’t come home.
She was right. The man of 20 who returned was not the boy of 18 who left.
Welcome to Germany. The Cold War. A Peace Time Army.
Enjoy the beer and the pretty women. But beware the people on that poster.
Drink up! You are young! Dance and party! But beware the people on that poster.
Rat Patrol. We want you to look as American as you can. We promise that we got your back.
But beware the people on that poster.
Eddie met a girl at the disco. A trip to the woods for a moment of pleasure. A bullet to the back of his head was the punishment for the crime of being American.
Beware the people on that poster.
The next morning a car bomb explodes and two more are sent into the abyss. Rheine Main Air Base is no longer a safe place.
Beware the people on that poster.
Walking to a party. We are young! In a ditch. Jack holding me down. Gravel kicking up all over both of us. The roads aren’t safe.
Beware the people on that poster.
Frankfurt PX. We’re buying Thanksgiving dinner. We are young! A Peace Time Army! The world explodes. Part of a building disapears. Children tend to scream when they are hit in the face by flying shrapnel. Blood and fire. The screams of the frightened and wounded. The smoke from the car bomb blots out my memory.
Beware the people on that poster.
Here’s some ammo. The terrorists are getting serious now. Here’s 5 rounds. Don’t burn them up too fast. We only have 80 rounds total. Our exit plan is the back gate. But we don’t have a back gate. We will when you drive the truck through the fence and down the cliff.
More ditches. More bombs. More people sent to the abyss. Beware the people on that poster. No where is safe.
Because your young mind has not had enough, we will throw in Chernoyl as a bonus round.
Welcome home young soldier. Germany must have been great. The beer and pretty women. A Peace Time Army.
Alone. Surrounded by friends. Alone. No one would possibly believe. Alone. No where is safe. Alone.
Nightmares! Flashbacks! No worries, those will fade in time. Alcohol and weed will help dull the pain. They did. For a while. Alone. Angry and alone. No where is safe. Alone.
Why did you break up with me before I joined the Army? Because I was afraid you wouldn’t come home.
She was right. The man of 20 who returned was not the boy of 18 who left.

Walking with Lola



It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. A lot has happened since then. Let us American Lakebegin just after the last post.

My headshrinker was all excited about me shedding some tears in his office. I believe he thought that he had single handedly lead me through some break-through. What he was actually witnessing was my frustration at a quarter of a century of VA bullshit and neglect. My body is falling apart and my mind isn’t too far behind.

My next visit was on June 3rd. I decided that I had to take matters into my own hands. This clown wasn’t doing shit for me other than telling me to get all Zen with myself. I went into his office and asked him about a place about which a friend had told me; American Lake.  When it clicked in his little egg-shaped head that I was asking to go to an inpatient PTSD program, I think he peed a little. He got all bouncy and excited. It must look good on a report somewhere if he refers Vets to this program. I can not say that I was excited as he was, but I had to do something because he sure as fuck wasn’t.

Before the end of the week I had my date for going to American Lake. This was the first time the VA had done anything in a timely manner. It completely knocked me off my pins. I spent the next couple weeks trying to get my mind right for what I was about to get myself into. On the 19th of June a little after 0800 I walked through the front door of Building 4 at American Lake. I was greeted by a really rough looking biker type named Cliff and some country-ass meth-head named Jimmy. All I could think was “what the fuck have I gotten myself into?”

Well, that is the question. What had I gotten myself into? I had landed myself smack-dab right in the middle of exactly the place I needed to be. Cliff became a good friend. Jimmy, well, Jimmy was Jimmy. This was the first time in years that I had felt anything akin to that fellowship that being in the service brings. The civilian world will never understand what it is like. The brotherhood runs deeper than blood. For we are truly Blood-Brothers. To be clear, I am also referring to my Sisters-in-Arms.

American Lake is a Co-Ed VA Facility in Washington State that helps Veterans with PTSD, Addiction and/or Homelessness. For those of you who are focusing on the Co-Ed part, forget it. There is no scratching and screaming going on in this barracks. Those Vets who do not take this program seriously are weeded out and find themselves hoofing it for the front gate. A lot of fun can be had there, but you better be doing the work too. No one has time for your bullshit.

All five branches were represented. Plenty of interservice rivalry. However, the one thing that reigned supreme was the Brotherhood of all the Vets. We had Vets from Vietnam, the Cold War, Iran/Iraq and Afghanistan. Combat Vets and Non-Combat Vets together with no one judging anyone. This was a safe place for all of us to come together and get our shit straight.

I will only speak from my experience as a PTSD Vet. We had classes to attend. At least once a week we would have a one-on-one meeting with our assigned Headshrinker. The rest of the time we would be doing group sessions. Sometimes these group sessions would get a bit heated. When I say a bit heated what I really mean to say is that we were ready to run roughshod over the staff and anyone else who got in our way. There would be silent tears, open weeping, yelling and screaming, laughter, silence, a lot of fist bumps and the occasional hug. Those three and a half weeks was an emotional rollercoaster. I cried every day that I was there. We dealt with topics such as grief, guilt, loss, trauma, anger, and anything else that came up.

Guilt was the worst. This topic brought up gut wrenching memories for most of us. For some of us it was guilt over what we did. For others it was guilt over what we didn’t do. The common thread with all of the guilt stories or memories was that it involved the death of a friend or an innocent. There was not a lot of guilt over the death of those who needed killing. Some, on occasion, but not a lot.

The Smoke Shack is a small building just outside of Building 4. This was our designated smoking area. This is also where a metric shit ton of unsupervised therapy took place. At any given time you could find a Marine crying on the shoulder of Army. You might find Army laughing with Navy about some messed up story. But the one thing you were always guaranteed to find was someone poking fun of the Air Force. We only had one guy from the Coast Guard and he kept to himself.

Going to American Lake was the best thing I had done for myself for as long as I can remember. However, there is a down side to subjecting yourself to something like this. It makes everything new again. I was raw walking out of there. I was/am experiencing emotions I haven’t dealt with in years. I was/am dealing with memories of shit that I suppressed for over 25 years. Some of this stuff will haunt me until I die. They warned us that there is a higher than average suicide rate of Vets who go through programs like this. The reason for the suicides is that we have trouble dealing with all these new emotions and memories. Once the Vet returns home the Vet no longer has the support system of other Vets. We find ourselves surrounded by civilians who not only don’t have a clue, they don’t want to have a clue. They don’t want to understand. They just want us to shut up and be better. They truly want the best for us, but they want it on their terms. Maybe what is best for the Vet is to do their shopping at night, but that is inconvenient. So what does the PTSD Vet do? They suck it up and go shopping during the day. They have an anxiety attack and do their best not to show it. Their loved ones will never understand all of the triggers we have. Hell, we don’t understand half of the shit that goes on in our own heads.

How have I coped with my PTSD after getting out of American Lake? I stay in touch with my Brothers and Sisters through Facebook or phone calls. Those who served know the pain. Before I left for American Lake I had gone a decent amount time without entertaining thoughts of suicide. Since I’ve been out it has been that shadow that hovers just out of view. At the moment I am in no danger of harming myself, but I know that specter is lurking around and waiting for a moment of weakness to pounce.

I did have a visit with my headshrinker about completion of the program. He was all happy that I was now cured. The shit stain obviously has no clue how this shit works. I’ll be looking for a new headshrinker soon.

So, why is this post called Walking with Lola? Lola, as some of you know, is my dog. She is a five year old mutt who has been a blessing in my life. At least four times a week Lola and I go for nice long walks. This morning we went for a walk on the beach. It was peaceful and quiet. We were the only two out there. The only thing I could hear was the sound of the ocean retreating to low tide. It is these moments that keep me going. I’ve lost my focus. My creativity has stalled out. I haven’t made a video in months. Hell, this is the first blog I’ve done since May. I’m hoping to find inspiration soon. There is a phrase that we used at American Lake. Fake it until you make it. A lot of YouTubers say the same thing. This phrase can be said about most anything. I’m tired of faking it. I’m tired…


Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sanity


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Had my second visit with my new head-shrinker. I wasn’t very impressed with him after our first visit. He seemed more interested in sending me on my way with my current percentage rate intact as long as I didn’t rock the boat, because they are not interested in doing life-long care. I’m not saying that I’ll require therapy for the rest of my days, but I am not where I need to be to be a fully functional member of society. Nor am I sure that I want to be a fully functional member of society…again. Look what it did to me the last time I played nice with others.

Quick Recap:

Did the Army thing for a few years. People tried to kill me. It didn’t set well with me. However, I was resilient for 24 years. Had a nice and healthy break-down. Was going to kill my co-workers, because they deserved it. Freaked out and ran to the mountains of Montana. Got help. I’m better. Really don’t want to go down that path again.

Anyway, during the last visit I had an emotional moment. This seemed to grab his attention. Apparently, if you cry in your therapists office they get all excited and want to “help” you.

All the crap that is/has been going on in the VA system is nothing new to those of us who have been in the system for many years. I was allowed to walk around for 24 years with no help like a human time bomb. My physical disability was neglected to the point it has affected other areas of my body. I am now of an age where the doctors say stuff like “that is to be expected in someone of your age”. NO SHIT!, but why in the hell have I been in pain for 20 some years before I got to this age? If anyone would have taken the time to talk to me they might have figured out that I was the poster boy for PTSD years ago. We’ll never know because NO ONE in the VA system gave two shits about anything but holding onto their cushy little jobs and benefits. Is that an exaggeration? Yes, I am sure that someone cared about us vets. However, I never found them. This is how many vets feel. Lost, abandoned, no hope. We were/are left to our own devices. Drugs, alcohol, crime, solitary lifestyle. These are things that some of us fall into.

It is no wonder that we are losing soldiers/veterans to suicide on a daily basis. I have contemplated taking the long walk many times. I had the route picked out, the mode of transportation, just needed the nudge to push me over. Luckily, I always had something to do. Something that I wanted to accomplish before I shook off this mortal coil. People like to say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. 20+ years is not feeling very temporary. I know that I am not the only one who was left out in the cold and even chased away at times.

Anyway, you are not alone. There are a lot of us that no one seems to care about. We are a group. We are family. We can care about each other, and sometimes that is all it takes, just knowing that someone cares.

In a nutshell I just described socialized government run healthcare. Enjoy your Obamacare. Those of us who have been living this nightmare for years tried to warn you. Suck it, NEWBS!

I always like writing these kinds of posts. I never know exactly where I will end up. I know that I have something to say, but then I get distracted and wander down paths of unknown origin.



Quitting Smoking


I’ve been smoking cigarettes for the better part of 30 years. Once I quit for 3 years. I’m seriously thinking about quitting again. I kind of quit on the 20th of March, 2014. When I say I kind of quit, I mean that I ran out of cigarettes and have yet to purchase any new ones. I have taken hits off of the little lady’s cigarettes. I have also bummed the occasional cigarette off of her son.

Pros for Quitting:

Healthier lifestyle. Money savings. I smell better.

Cons for Quitting:

The 15 pounds I have gained. Constantly hungry. I want to smoke. I’m kind of a dick when I quit.

I’ve been using an e-cigarette to smooth out the cravings. It helps…somTRIALPACK-2e.

It would be nice to quit for good.

I really like smoking though.

I’ll have to exercise to lose this weight.

We’ll see.

I have a feeling that I’m “done” smoking, but I’ll be the annoying mooch whenever I get around smokers.



What I Learned Today


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This is a list of shit that I have learned. The “Today” part of the title is relative.


1) I learned that her cats can do no wrong. Ever. They are just being cats. However, my dog just being a dog is a lack of discipline and training.

2) I learned that it is okay for her to accuse, yell, cry, sigh, eye-roll, have issues and generally get pissy. However, if I raise my voice a little bit then I’m being aggressive, teetering on abusive.

3) I learned that, though I have cooked for myself a vast majority of my adult life, I can’t cook and I should not be allowed in the kitchen unsupervised.

4) I learned that I am an insensitive bastard if I don’t bend to, and embrace every single one of her wants, needs and desires. However, if I want something I better be able to get it on my own without any help from her and I better make sure it doesn’t interfere with any of her stuff or there will be hell to pay.

5) I learned that, though I have a smell and generally make too much noise, I have developed the stealth skills of a ninja and am scaring her constantly just by walking into the room and saying “hi”. See number two for reactions to my apparently awesome ninja skills.

6) I learned that her PTSD is way worse than my PTSD, and that not only soldiers get PTSD, even though I’ve never said otherwise.

7) I learned that my newly acquired ninja skills are causing her PTSD to trigger, therefore making me an insensitive bastard. See number four. However, I better not get upset or even react if she accidentally startles me.

8) I learned that no matter how comfortable sweat-pants are, I should not be wearing them even if I am not going anywhere. I should be wearing my blue jeans.

9) I learned that quitting smoking, because we ran out of money for the month, is fine for me. I also learned that, even though I have been one of those considerate smokers who doesn’t smoke around non-smokers, I better not expect the same treatment in return or see number four.

10) I learned that I have no idea why I live with anyone. Ever. I am more happy alone.

11) I learned that I tend to blow shit out of proportion and let my paranoia get the best of me.

12) I learned that when things are good, they are great, but when they are bad I completely forget about the good times.

13) I learned that moving in with her was the best thing I could have possibly done.

14) I learned that, as tempting as a “permanent solution” is, see number eleven then see number thirteen.

15) Most importantly, I learned that making a list is a good way to get shit off my chest and be able to review it with a clear mind and an unbiased eye. Weigh the shit out and see where everything falls on the scales. Anything that qualifies as bullshit gets removed from the scales and doesn’t count.



Birthday Update


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Things turned out okay. I crawled begrudgingly out of my funk and had a good time. We had BBQ beef ribs, baked potatoes, broccoli and the coolest B-Day cake EVER!


My new family has accepted me and welcomed me into the fold. This was probably one of the most meaningful birthdays I have ever had. I wrote a post about video gaming and PTSD. Even after explaining how gaming helped me and that I am alive today because of gaming, I never really got support from those I hold dear. My new family is a gaming family. They understand and accept that gaming can be part of a “normal” life. This means a great deal to me. We game together. We talk about games. We do and talk about other things too, but games are not taboo. My gaming no longer has to be that dirty little secret that we just don’t talk about. Kind of liberating, actually.

All in all a very good birthday.

Update on Lola’s vet visit.  Lola is healthy and got all her shots along with some new flea medicine. We also got her nails done. New vet, new area, new shot and stuff equals one hell of a vet bill. Was it worth it? Yes. I’m broke, but my dog is in good shape. That’s all that really matters.




Getting Older


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I went over my dog’s paperwork tonight and discovered that she is going to be 6 years old this year. I thought she was 2 when I got her. She was actually 4. Mortality kind of sucks. I should get another 8 or so years with her, However, it is 2 years less than I was counting on. I guess it’s time to bump up my quality time with Lola.Lola and I waiting to be attacked

I’m thinking all this may have been brought on by my own mortality. 48 years old today. Definitely on the downward slope of my own personal timeline. The body isn’t what it once was. I have lived longer than I originally planned. Things have not gone the way I would have liked. I’m unemployed and on disability.

I have a wonderful daughter and two beautiful grand kids. I have a delightful dog. A girlfriend who only moderately puts up with my shit. I’m thinking I’ll spend my birthday at the beach with my dog. I do have to take Lola to the vet. That should prove to be awesomely expensive and unpleasant.

Usually birthdays are a happy time for me. This one is blanketed in a haze of suck. I’ll just be glad when this weekend is behind me. With this birthday it feels like the countdown has begun. This is not a good feeling. It is a pretty safe bet that I have lived more years than I have left. I have faced Death several times in the past. I would get angry and defiant; and I always came out on top, flippy Death the finger and telling him to take a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut hole. However, this feels like a sad, slow exit.

It is like Death is sitting back in a recliner just patiently waiting. Every now and then he looks at his watch and just smiles at me while shaking his head sadly. It is as though I have just discovered that you can not out run time. I am tired. Not tired enough to quit. I have plenty of fight left in me. I just wish the fights would space themselves out a little more. I could have another 40 years left in me. Maybe 50, but that is doubtful. Most likely I am officially passed my mid point. If 48 is putting me in the doldrums, I can’t wait to see how magnificently depressed I’ll be when 50 hits.

There is supposed  to be something akin to a party in my honor this weekend. Got into a glorious row with the girlfriend this morning. I may just disappear for the remainder of the weekend. I’m not feeling real festive.

Well, happy birthday to me. Another year done.

O Me! O Life!


Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will my verse be?


The Dog Park

Much like the Dog Park in Night Vale, this dog park will fill you with a sense of dread and trepidation. This is not the dog park you see in commercials on television. Nor is it the dog park you see in magazines. This is a dog park that feels like it fell straight out of a Tim Burton movie.

It is an interesting little place. A place that feels mostly familiar, but vaguely off-putting. At first glance you think to yourself, or say to your dog, this looks like a nice park. After you are there for a few minutes, you find the dead bird carcass by the fence. The rotten tennis balls hidden in the brambles.The further you walk into the dog park, the more likely you are to step on a doggy landmine. It appears that the owners/handlers get lazier the deeper in their dogs go. Maybe the dog park feeds upon their good intentions to clean up after their dogs, thereby preventing them from actually doing the clean up. Except for that asshat with the pet baby mammoth that shat near the park’s gate. He’s just a jerk and should be placed in stocks, and have giant piles of rained on dog poo flung at him repeatedly.

Dog Park GateThey have a dog poo bag dispenser right by the entrance. Free dog poo bags. No charge. All you have to do is grab one and pick up your dog poo. Apparently that requires more effort that some folks are willing put forth. People suck…in a very bad way.

Anyway, Lola and I went to the Dog Park at 7:30am this morning. It was rainy and coldish. 44F with a stiff SE 10 mph wind with an 80% humidity. It was a titty bit nipply out there. Lola and I stayed for about a half hour. Got cold. And left. No one else showed up and we had a nice time. Lola did not get attacked by anything. I will call this morning’s adventure a success.

The RulesThe Rules 2

Dogs and Beaches

Took my best girl out to the beach the other day. Everything was going great. We were finding cool rocks and checking out the driftwood. Watching the surf and enjoying the fresh sea air.

Lola and I waiting to be attackedThen all of a sudden this paradise on earth turned into a complete shit storm. Some dipshit decided it was a good idea to bring a pack of 5 dogs to the beach and not have them on leashes. Lola and I were sitting quietly on a large piece of driftwood when these beasties came running up and surrounded us. I wasn’t real thrilled and Lola was completely freaked the hell out. The dipshit was able to get most of the dogs away from us, but one decided that he needed to bite at my dog. This did not make me or Lola very happy. The dipshit said that I should kick at the dog. I was thinking of doing something a bit more permanent to the beastie. Luckily cooler heads prevailed and no dogs were sliced open and gutted on the beach. Lola didn’t get hurt, so no worries.

Two days later I discover a dog park near my place and decide that it might be fun to take Lola there. We show up and no one is there. except for some creepy guy standing next to his truck, as though waiting to snatch young children or something. Lola and I went into the dog park and I unleashed her. She ran around and had a ball. Eventually, another vehicle shows up with a friggin pack of 5 dogs. This was not our dipshit from the other day. This was new people who feel the need to have way too many dogs. This is Northwest Washington. It doesn’t get that cold here. Anyway, everything is going fine. I leash up Lola and stand to the side of the gate to allow the new folks and their pack to enter. The transfer takes place without incident. They are in the dog park and I’m not. Lola and I are heading for the car and out of no where one of the pack jumps the fence and tries to attack Lola. This dog did get kicked at. The people were great and did all they could to get their dog back under control, and they apologized. I don’t have a problem with them. Again, Lola did not get hurt.

Two times out and two times we were attacked by a pack of 5 dogs. I normally don’t care/judge/notice people and their pets and how many they have. However, when they bring out their packs of critters and thrust them upon society, one would hope that these people would keep their critters under some kind of control.

Lola's First Beach ExperienceI’ve decided that I will be taking my cane with me from now on. Doc says I should be using it anyway, so now I have an excuse to “use” it. The cane is the nice wood grandpa style cane. I’m sure that will knock the snot out of some wayward critters or owners.

I’ll keep you posted of our adventures. I’m sure we will be having all kinds of fun while trying to avoid being incarcerated for the abuse of critters and stupid owners.