like father, like son – example #683-A

now playing: dan fogelberg, “the innocent age”

storybook endings never appear
they’re just someone’s way of leading us here
waiting for wisdom to open the cage
we forged in the fires of the innocent age

back at the start, it was easy to see
no one to hold to, nowhere to be
deep in the heartlands, a sad memory
calls to me….

i woke up this morning to the sound of the trashman at a little before 6 am from one of the craziest dreams i’ve had in ages…i mean, it made absolutely no sense..but yet it was both incredibly vivid and hazy at the same time, and i’ve been kinda jumbled up about it ever since…

i mean, it’s not something that revealed anything about myself to me or anything like that – it just cast a bunch of unlikely people together that didn’t make any sense…and it combined some details of some things that have been on my mind of late in a truly twisted way.

as the day has gone on, it’s subsided somewhat…it’s probably something that might require that i just get out a piece of paper and put it down in front of me and see what comes out (a la julia cameron).

then, once i sprang out of bed, i had to take dylan for bloodwork before i took him to school today…yet another seemingly routine activity, right? well, just like his father two decades before him, dylan had something of an “episode” when they went to take his blood…no sooner had she put the needle in did he mention that he felt lightheaded, and within seconds, his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped backward in the chair. his face flushed to a grey color, and he started convulsing – not in an intense manner, he just went very stiff and jerked a couple of times, and then went limp again. the nurse who was taking his blood was looking all over the office for smelling salts and couldn’t find any – in the meantime, i kept slapping his cheeks to try to get him to come around. after about a minute or so, he focused his eyes on my face and responded to me when i said his name…it took a while for his color to come back, but by the time we left, he was back to normal. a little lethargic, but that’s become somewhat commonplace for him of late.

you never know, on a given day, which dylan is going to get out of bed…the usual, joke-cracking dylan, or the other one – the one that i got today. the can’t-be-bothered-to-lift-a-finger dylan…the one who makes getting dressed look like manual labor.

anyway, i wanted to take him for something for breakfast, but he declined…saying he didn’t feel like eating anything. so i took him to school and dropped him off and watched him walk into the building under his own power, and reluctantly drove on to work.

i know what you’re thinking – why would you take your child to school after something like that? i’m thinking the same thing…but the fact is, dylan is positioned to fall hopelessly behind again if he misses any more school than he has…and he’s not one to make gigantic efforts to catch up when something like that happens. so, from where i sit, i have to be the uber-bad guy and force the shit out of the school issue, just to make sure that it’s clear that i see school as a priority, even if he doesn’t.

and yeah, maybe that’s an extreme means by which to drive such a point home…taking him to school after something like that…but if you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile, and he’s far enough back as it is. by that time his color had come back and his breathing had become normal…and i wasn’t going to be the one to make that call. i’ll let the school nurse register that vote every time. i just feel better letting them register the opinion that he doesn’t belong in school, as opposed to continually keeping him out.

does that make any sense? i dunno.

there’s apparently a name for this phenomena – the whole passing-out-after-having-blood-drawn thing. i remember having heard it after it happened to me when i was still in the navy, stationed in DC and working at the pentagon.

i had seen those ads in the city paper – you know, the “come let us give you drugs and draw your blood and test your reaction for a couple of days and we’ll pay you $1500 for the privelege” ads? they’re nowhere near as prevalent in the philadelphia city paper as they were in the DC version, but at that point in time they were dripping out of the back of the thing…in between the 976 numbers and the “find hot man action tonight!” ads.

at the time, i was working a schedule that they referred to as 2/24/2/96 – which meant you worked two twelve hour day shifts, had a 24 hour break, worked two twelve hour night shifts, and then had 96 hours off. and i figured, what better way to spend my four days off than to be sequestered in a medical testing compound being prodded and poked and given repeated doses of mystery tablets, right? i mean, c’mon…pinch me, man!

anyway, i called ’em up, got the pertinent “be at this address at this time” information, which included instructions not to eat anything after 8pm the previous night, and i was on my way to the initial testing phase.

i got there at around 10am, to find that the place was packed…people of every walk of life were filed into this place, waiting for their opportunity to flip death the bird for $1500 – college kids, immigrants who didn’t speak english, folks who looked a rent payment away from homelessness sitting next to cardiganed philosophy majors…it was quite the human highway, believe me.

well, with that many folks to weed through, the process took quite a while. in fact, it was well after 5pm by the time i got to the all-important “take several gallons of blood” phase of the testing…having filled out forms and stood on scales and said “aaaaaaagghghgh” any number of times up to that point. in that sense, it was very much like the enlistment process all over again.

so i go in, sit down – i notice that it’s getting dark outside – and put my arm on the arm of the chair…i can hear the radio playing in the room…phil collins…she puts the rubber hose around my arm…everything still fine now…gets several tubes from a box and lays them out on the table next to her…preps the needle…”billy, don’t you lose my number…’cuz it’s the only one…”…i’m looking across the room at a poster on the wall detailing the path taken to traverse the human digestive system…

the next thing i remember is the sound of the phlebotomists’ voice saying “i need some help over here” and the linoleum floor coming into focus – i had slumped over in my chair, that much i knew…but what happened before that, i couldn’t tell you. i don’t know if i went through any of the stuff that dylan did yesterday or not, in terms of the seizure-like physical stuff or not…all this time, i thought i just slumped over in my chair and that was it. now, i don’t really know.

i can tell you that i never got a phone call from them after i finished the process that day.

guess they figured that they didn’t want to go through that every time they starved me for 24 hours and then took my blood.


dylan made it through the morning…went to the nurses’ office around 4th period and laid down and fell asleep, and the nurse called his grandparents to come pick him up.

so he was a trooper about it…he did his best to ride it out.

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