After Officer Wes got home from the winter holiday, Daddy Barry took charge of getting dog back to San Diego from Florida so that the three of us could buy a condo together. He flew to Florida to help dog with the process of moving out of his home, which was in escrow and closing. Moves take a lot out of folks. dog puked from stress one night. And Daddy Barry returned sick.
slave frank went to South West Leather Conference in Phoenix, his first, and loved it.
Daddy Barry, slave frank and I spoke at the Symposium on Therapy and Alt-Sexuality: Kink and Polyamory. Daddy Barry and I also thinned the San Diego closet so that dog would have room when he arrived. And he prepared foods for me to eat during his absence while he returned to Florida to help dog with the cross-country drive back to San Diego. Just as he left, I got lightly sick.
Their drive from Florida to California -- in a canary yellow Porsche Boxster -- took 8 days. Stops in Fort Walton, where they had the best breakfast, complete with “shipwrecked potatoes” -- . New Orleans, where they got to have beignets and, Daddy Barry, go to The Phoenix. Houston where Daddy Barry went to The Ripcord. There were five people, but it was mid-week. San Antonio, where they stayed on the Riverwalk. They also enjoyed a great dinner at an Italian restaurant called Noni’s. El Paso, with breakfast at the airport. Yuma, with haircuts and a German restaurant.
When they arrived home, they had some post-trip euphoric energy. We went and bought a larger mattress, moving slightly from a full to a queen. We ate a celebratory dinner at Arrivederci. We also went to the Mr. San Diego Eagle contest.
The next day the mattress was delivered and the men rested. In the evening we had a family dinner at Pekin Café – Daddy Barry and I, dog, frank, and Chuck. That night Daddy Barry, dog, and I enjoyed the luxury of the mattress’ extra 6” width. Lux. : )
Monday was President’s Day. dog was off work. We three went to the gym. We were done with our first set of leg exercises when Daddy Barry said “bobby’s head is purple.” I helped Daddy Barry sit down. Then I said “Let’s get you home.” dog got on one side, I got on the other, and we started helping him walk. We got a few feet before he said “I need to sit down.” We almost got to a seated spot when that shifted to “I need to lay down.” So down on the floor he went. The gal from the front desk was right on it. “Need anything? Water?” I said “No, thanks, I’ve seen this once before. It should pass.” She said “Our protocol is when someone is laying on the floor we call 911.” I agreed that was probably a good choice. Then in short order, Daddy Barry was wheeled out on a gurney and to Scripps-Memorial Hospital, where they discovered he was indeed in atrial-fibrillation – irregular heartbeat. He responded to beta blocker medication and was discharged later that day. But it took a while over the next week to get the dosing quite right, resulting in one more trip to the emergency room in the meantime. And lots of doctor visits.
My belly-button birthday came, as did a 20-year milestone. Deputy flew down to help celebrate, and surprise me. He also took us to dinner at Cucina Urbana. Delicious! His one regret was the timing was such that dog had just left town on work, and frank was not yet back from a family vacation, so he didn’t get to see the whole family.
The next week slave frank and I headed to SouthPlains LeatherFest in Texas. I was presenting on High End Electrical and had a carry-on gear bag full of related stuff. It caught TSA’s interest. It passed the it’s-not-a-bomb test quickly, then they were just trying to figure out what they were dealing with. “Sir, is this your bag?” one person inquired. “Indeed it is.” I strolled over. A younger female agent was now sifting through the bag. She came to something made of beautiful, clear acrylic packaged neatly in a crisp Ziploc, held it up, and asked “What is this?”
Image copyright Paradise Electro Stimulations
I leaned in, and gently said “That, is a buttplug.”
About three different layers of realization passed across her face. She handled it with aplomb: “Oh.” I explained that the gear she was seeing was for a presentation in Texas on high-end erotic electrical, where you can have music drive sight (through special LED goggles), sound (through noise-cancelling headphones) and sensation (through buttplugs and other attachments) to have an amazing time.
My delightful sisters picked us up at the airport and got to meet frank for the first time. Susan treated us all to a yummy dinner at India Palace, close to the hotel. The next day frank took me to a one-on-one celebratory dinner at Ferrari's Italian Villa & Chop House. Then Saturday we presented High-End Electrical and Helping a Slave Focus. They went well. The next afternoon we spent the day with sister Susan and brother in law Dan playing Blokus:Trigon and Tri-Bond before having dinner in the hotel.
The next week was San Diego Leather Pride, and also Roadkill’s birthday. We surprised him with a yummy gluten-free fudgy chocolate espresso cake.
Immediately after Leather Pride, we began the process of selling our condo and buying a larger one better suited for three people. Of all amazing things, Wes’ former unit became available. All three of us loved it: It was a handsome, light and bright condo in a good building in a good location. It satisfied our essential criteria: One-level for Daddy Barry. Good location for dog’s commute. Light and bright for me. Plus two dedicated parking spots. Our existing condo sold in short order and we were able to buy the place we wanted.
Meanwhile, we were hosted by generous friends in their beautiful home while we were between the two properties.
We had just gotten moved in to the new place when Officer Wes’ father died suddenly. Daddy Barry and I flew to Texas to help the family. The aunt from The Letter Wars was there. I had lost a father. She had lost a brother. We kept it civil. People were very loving all around.
The service was at a church. I shared that it felt odd being a gay man in a southern church, but that I was thankful people were there. The burial itself was a military funeral, as Daddy was a veteran. It was dignified. Here was his obituary:
April 4, 1934 – June 4, 2018
Swede was born on a farm in N. Dakota but moved to Astoria, Oregon, at a young age. There his dad was an alcoholic fisherman, and his mom worked in a tuna cannery. They were poor Finns and life was hard for Swede and his five siblings Mavis, Joyce, Elsie, Willie and Dolly. Kiwanis sent them to camp. He appreciated that and remembered it, later becoming a Kiwanian for 30+ years. Initially, he started his tireless advocacy for the poor and for children through political activism but eventually focused the rest of his life to be one of service to others through his volunteerism with Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce, OHSU Doernbecher (a leading fundraiser for pediatric cancer research), as well as a myriad of other organizations.
He served in the Air Force 1952-1956, including service in Korea. In the Air Force he became one of the nation’s first jet mechanics. He used that background to work at Delta Airlines in Dallas for 25 years. During that time he met his wife Charlotte, who worked at Braniff Airlines, and they married in 1966. She lovingly became an additional mom to his three children from a previous marriage, Alice Elaine (Ian), Susan (Dan), and Wesley (Barry). Charlotte was Swede’s rock for the next 52 years. He loved his family, and leaves behind deeply beloved grandchildren Jordan (Rose), Laura (Jordan) and John; great grandchildren Addison and Elim; and cherished siblings and nephews and nieces.
Swede started his own small business, Rodeo City Tire, in nearby Mansfield after retirement from Delta. He helped Santa at Christmas time, making guest appearances on his behalf. He loved all of the different reactions from the children and sharing those stories.
His tire business flourished for many years before being put out of business by a two-year road project that blocked the main access to his store. Then he and Charlotte moved to Astoria to be near family.
With two local Kiwanis clubs there and support from the community, he worked toward two of his proudest achievements. The first was Tapiola Playground, for which he fundraised. It features replicas of places around Astoria including the Astoria Column & the Flavel House Historical Museum. The second was a new fishing dock on Lake Slusher for deployed troops’ families and poor, inner city kids on the National Guard base Camp Rilea and its Camp Rosenbaum program. He raised the funds for the material, made arrangements with the Fish & Game Department to stock the lake, encouraged an engineer to design the dock, and asked the National Guard to build it. All of the fishing gear was donated. Overall the total savings for the dock exceeded $40,000.
Whether he was standing in the freezing cold to sell Christmas trees or developing the Soaring Skyward Balloonfest in Mansfield to raise money for children with special needs, Swede was relentless in his efforts for kids. He was also a welcoming ambassador to others: He recruited over 400 members for 9 different Kiwanis clubs, and chartered and mentored high school Key Clubs. He served in many, many capacities within Kiwanis.
His awards and honors are too many to list, but one of his favorites was the prestigious George Award for outstanding community service from the Astoria – Warrenton Chamber of Commerce. Another was having a day named after him in Tarrant County because he was so prevalent in community service.
Swede and Charlotte returned to the DFW area in 2015 to be closer to their children and good medical care. The week before he passed, he worked on his latest Kiwanis project, a clothes closet for kids at a poor Fort Worth elementary school. After years of managed atrial fibrillation, his heart gave out suddenly 10 days after another procedure to get it back in rhythm.
On Monday, June 11th, the funeral will be held at The Table Community Church, 6011 W. Bailey Boswell Rd., Fort Worth, Texas 76179. The service will be at 1 pm, preceded by a viewing beginning at noon. After the service, there will be a reception at Effie Hall which is at the church.
On Tuesday, June 12th, burial will be at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, TX 75211 at 1 pm. You must arrive to check in before 12:45 pm.
We returned after 10 days, exhausted, and resumed the process of settling into our new home.
We were home two weeks when Daddy Barry rode to Palm Springs to spend the weekend with our friend Skip and go to a pool party. Primarily I think he wanted to give dog and me some alone time. He slated his return for Monday morning to avoid the usual traffic crush leaving Palm Springs Sunday evening. On Monday he texted as he was leaving. Maybe two hours later I got a phone call from his phone. “Hello, Sir!” I answered. A lady’s voice inquired “Is this Wes?” Oh this can’t be good. “Yes, this is Wes.” “Your husband has been in a motorcycle accident.” (I hope he’s alive.) “How is he?” “Would you like to talk to him?” (He can talk? This is waaaay better than it could be…) She put him on the phone and we visited briefly. He was in the HOV lane. The car in front of him stopped hard. He braked and aimed for an out – to the right. Almost made it. Hit the back right of the car and was then thrown. Then Shannon came back on the phone. The ambulance was coming. She gave me her cell number and told me Barry would have his phone. I asked where they’d be taking him. She said likely Riverside County Hospital, but that the paramedics should let me know. I started the concise process of heading in that direction, about a 2-hour drive. Meds for me. Meds for Barry. Some protein bars for waiting in the hospital. Water. Cell phone charger. I texted dog and slave frank to let them know what was up. Then I headed north.
Short version: He had significant road rash -- though thankfully not deep -– his foot was broken (4 toes, including the pinky toe and continuing up that side), and his left femur was broken. He had been wearing a helmet but it didn’t contact the ground: No head injury. They put a long pin in his femur the next day, waiting so that the blood thinner, Xarelto, that he’d taken in Monday morning would be more out of his system. After that, care on the floor went very, very slowly. He was frustrated – and insistent he come home. He got tentative approval from the doctor around 11am on July 4th. We had to agitate all day to keep the process moving until finally he was discharged with pain medication at 4:30pm. Then through incredible efforts of chosen family and caregivers he was set up with home care and assistive aids. Here he is resting at home four days after the accident, comforted by our concerned dog:
But it was way more involved than just that. I write more so that I remember just how exhausting – and blessed – the process was.
· Monday: I get the call. I head to the hospital. He wants to die to get away from the pain. This is him after he was cleaned up and had fentanyl – and he was still in pain. Matching abrasions across both arms and both shoulders as well.
The hospital loves the 18-item prescription detail he’s able to pull up on his iPhone. I spend the night in a sucky room – an unmoveable-vent mildewy A/C blowing across the bed -- in an otherwise pretty older Best Western. I decide to change hotels tomorrow.
· Tuesday: Surgery day. I go in to check on Daddy Barry before the surgery. Then he’s just in a waiting queue for an approximately 11am slot. I go on to Lawler’s Triple L Towing, where the Harley was towed from the accident. After paying them ($630 charge), I arrange for AAA to come tow the motorcycle from Riverside to San Diego – thank goodness we have 100 mile coverage – after talking with Cycle Visions to make sure they were ready to have it, since tomorrow is the 4th of July holiday. slave frank takes Opa’s midday walk before coming up with fresh clothes and more medications so that I didn’t have to drive to San Diego and back. We have a lite dinner from the hospital cafeteria’s limited grill options. I change to a much lusher room at a La Quinta.
· Wednesday: Discharge to home day. Daddy Barry needed to be sideways across the back seats with his recently operated leg and still broken foot. It took everything that Daddy Barry, dog and I had to get him from the car into the condo and into bed. We had a walker, but he was not allowed to bear any weight on the left leg. So dog put a box under that extended leg (to protect the unprotected toes from the concrete) and pulled it forward as Daddy Barry inched along. Thank goodness there are no stairs in our new living quarters. I am utterly exhausted.
· Thursday: I call Daddy Barry’s physician’s office. He’s been out of the country volunteering in Tanzania for three weeks – but just got back today. They agree to see Daddy Barry the next morning. For Daddy Barry, it is a sleep day. slave frank takes the day off to fetch assistive aids from Melissa (a shower seat, toilet rails, a 2nd bathtub grab bar, a trapeze hoist mechanism, a handheld shower wand), and assembles and installs them. And I make calls to reschedule and/or cancel appointments that need changing. frank also goes and rents a bigger wheelchair, with a leg support that lifts up.
· Friday: With a wheelchair and maximum effort and assistance and lots of pain, Daddy Barry sees his primary care physician.
The doctor does two primary things: Ups his pain management, and schedules a home visit for Sunday. frank drops by Daddy Barry’s pulmonologist for more samples, then comes and removes the splint/cast causing a left heel bruise as agreed on by the primary care physician. Also, daily laundry begins, primarily bloody King sheets. By example, here is his right shoulder blade area – looking pretty good just four days after the accident, considering; but still oozing -- when the nurse took the dressings off. The left side had more.
And Officer Wes gets in-network home-health care options back to the doctor’s staff.
· Saturday: Officer Wes does laundry. And pays bills. frank changes dressings, gives sponge bath.
· Sunday: Officer Wes does laundry. The doctor makes his house call and initiates the home-health care order.
· Monday: frank over to re-bandage the left foot (which was sore, loose), be present during inaugural home physical therapy, watch over us during naps, and help to/during/from the loooooooong Orthopedics appointment, plus fetch pizza from Fiori's. At the appointment we learn that the hospital put a long rod in the left femur, with pins top and bottom. And he has four broken toes in his left foot, including along the length of the pinky toe. That’s why no weight-bearing.
· Tuesday: Clean the walk-in shower, clean the floors, do laundry. Do more laundry. Cook. Call and schedule ortho followup appointment for two weeks. Cardiologist appointment due to impact while on blood-thinner Xarelto.
· Wednesday: Work on the disabled person placard application. Laundry. frank over so I can go get haircut and drop by Opa’s ophthalmologist office. New physical therapist.
· Thursday: Laundry. Home health nurse. Occupational therapy. Request tub transfer bench. This is the first day I feel like I can take a breath.
· Friday: Melissa delivers the tub transfer bench since frank and dog are both out of town. I get up early, and work on this writeup. Laundry.
And so it goes. The groundwork was laid for a slow, steady healing.
Then some strange things started happening in August. Daddy Barry got a cyst-like lump on his neck. He also started itching all over. And he started hurting behind his lung. We went to the doctor and he tried to aspirate the cyst but nothing came out. He also gave him a shot of antibiotics and began a round of oral antibiotics for the lung pain. When it wasn’t better in 48 hours, he sent us to the emergency room where we learned Daddy Barry was septic with MRSA and MRSA pneumonia. Poor baby! In short, he was hospitalized for seven days with IV vancomycin, then discharged to home for home infusions three times a day (11am, 7pm, 3am) for 8 days. By September he was much improved -- and also was able to shift from using the walker to using crutches. He started being much more mobile.
Elsewhere in the summer we had a water leak behind the washer/dryer. Doesn’t sound like much, but it went down into the three units below ours as well. You get the idea. We also lived for several months without sheetrock in that area while we waited for the HOA and insurance processes to proceed.
Also, our pup Opa became functionally blind. Many visits to the veterinarian ophthalmologist. It is hard to see her struggle to find where she is, and lightly bump into walls. We do our best to provide a safe space for her, keeping the floors as clear as possible and not moving furniture. Thankfully she remains a
October brought Halloween and our annual time to help Melissa serve up candy to about 700 trick or treaters.
We also continued our move-in process. What we had opted to do was move dog’s Florida stuff directly into California storage, and then thin it out and integrate items into the home. It took quite some time, with many visits to storage, and donation trips or listing items for sale.
November brought a lovely Thanksgiving gathering hosted by Chuck and frank. Here is Daddy Barry looking dapper.
We closed out our fall with Officer Wes working on music for the year and welcomed the birth of our great niece Abby. We took trips to see family over Christmas. On Christmas Day, we called dog in Florida, from Texas, to wish him Merry Christmas. he was not feeling well and had been resting all day. Later, he texted that he had to go to the emergency room. Scans showed his tummy pain was caused by intestinal blockage at the site where he’d had a previous surgery some 18 months prior. Thankfully it cleared, giving us time for surgery repair options back in San Diego. Meanwhile, however, dog came on to Texas to see the rest of my family and meet Charlotte for the first time. She was a welcoming hostess. But she did ask on the day he was arriving “Where is bobby going to sleep?” I said “In the middle (of the bed).” “Will he be comfortable?” “Yeah, he’s not very big.” They got along fine. The sisters and everyone else had met him before and they were happy to see him.
As always, may this find you happy & well.