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I Survived My Trip to the Gym

“Here we go…!”     20180907_095723

Not just the words I’m using to start this post; the words I said right before I went into V-Fib, Wednesday. There was a bit that happened before I coded,  but I kept it on the DL until I knew I was coming home. Well, I’m in my chair at home, now, so…here we go!

Wednesday, Marie and I went to the YMCA for our workout. I’ve been so happy with the progress I’ve made! I’ve had some awesome gains, and the fat is sooo close to being ready to go bye-bye (I can just feel it)!

As we approached the weight room, Marie and I both commented on the temp. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Xenia Y, but the weight room is in the lowest part of the building, and it’s usually hotter than…um…the rest of the place. Wednesday, though, it was actually humid, too. We commented, to each other, how it felt like a pipe burst and was steaming up the whole area!

By the time my stretches were done, I was already soaked. By the time my second set of exercises were done, I was sucking down water (I usually wait until my cool-down). By the time my abs sets arrived, I was starting to worry, a bit. I skipped my last set, and we headed upstairs to get some cool air. Probably a good thing we got up there, right away, but the trip nearly killed me (unfortunately, not hyperbole).

I sat on the bench and started blacking out. Marie and I both thought I was having a heat emergency (I sweat a lot, but this was redonkulous). We also considered I may have needed some fuel onboard since all I had was a SlimFast. The YMCA staff were Johnny-on-the-spot, had ice packs, oxygen, and Gatorade to me, right away. And, I thought I was going to be okay. I felt like I caught my second wind, and I was even trying to joke with everyone. That didn’t last long. I laid down before I fell down, and when I felt my hands and feet tingling, I looked at Marie and said the words I never wanted to say: “call the squad.”

I know it didn’t take them long, but it sure felt like it. The medics did a great job trying to calm me down, but I was in such a fit of anxiety it was impossible for me to relax. When I got to the back of the air conditioned ambulance, I was still pouring with perspiration. The medics started their protocol, realized quickly it was more than just a heat emergency, told Marie where we were going, and took me lights and siren to the ER.

En route, I was quite the interesting patient. Topping the list, though, was my 242/140 BP and my run of V-Tach. The medics called ahead and issued a cardiac alert; I cannot thank them enough, for that. When we got to the ER, the entire cardiac team was waiting, and they wasted no time.

Breathing was, well, nearly impossible. I didn’t present with pain, at all; I had diffuse upper chest pressure (imagine an elephant on your chest). Still, I had no pain and had no real reference on the 1-10 pain scale for the staff (don’t worry…that’s coming). I had trouble even getting out single word sentences, but I managed to make jokes where I could. When they sat me up in the bed to put pads on my back, I started to black-out, again.

“Here we go…”

That was the last thing I remember.

I’m sure it was only seconds later, but I have no way of knowing how long I was out. Then, the full weight of what was happening came down on me at once. I looked at the staff hovering over me and asked:

“Did I pass out?”

“No, honey,” the doctor to my left was very calm, “you went into V-Fib. We shocked you to get you back.”

There it was…I was having a heart attack.

The team wasted no time getting me to the cath lab. In fact, they literally were on the phone telling the cath lab to get the other person off the table because we were on our way. I looked at Marie, gave her a kiss, told her “I love you,” then we were flying down the hall. Remember the other patient who was on the table? They were shoving him out of the way as we turned into the cath lab (don’t worry; his procedure was done).

I can recall–once upon a time– keeping people as calm as I could when I had a few of my hairer medic calls. It makes them easier to control if they’re calm. I was not so easy. One nurse was telling me how much better I was going to immediately feel as soon as the clot was cleared; another nurse was introducing herself, to me, and trying to keep my mind occupied; another staff member told me he was cutting into my groin, but I didn’t care. I just wanted it to be over. I had no pain, and I was not once afraid of dying. I had total faith in the abilities of the staff taking care of me. I just wanted that damn clot out!

At some point, in this whirlwind part of the monsoon story, I felt my chest pressure returning. The staff, recognizing this is what happened right before I coded in the ER, called out to everyone to be ready. Sure enough: V-Fib. Only, I didn’t lose consciousness, this time. Remember that part, earlier, where I said I didn’t have a pain reference? Well, I now have one for my 10 out of 10: I was not sedated when they shocked me. The nurse would tell me, later, she tries to ensure anyone being shocked is sedated.

“I’m sorry; there just wasn’t time.”

She was so genuine, but she also knew I really didn’t care. I was alive.

They were right, and as soon as the clot was cleared I felt  immediately better.

For those who want to know the deets, I had a STEMI (S-T elevation Myocardial Infarction) as a result of a 100% blockage of my RCA (Right Coronary Artery). The cath lab used a balloon to clear the clot and a stent to keep the vessel open. I suffered no noticeable damage to the muscle, and my EF (Ejection Fraction) is still 55%.

There’s a whole other post which will deal with finances (including a story where the trip to the pharmacy almost made me code, again, when we were told the price of the one med I cannot skip. That’s for another time, though.

It’s hard to say the words out loud. In fact, I’d rather say I had a STEMI.

Here we go:

Hello, my name is Tony…and, I had a heart attack.

Poodle Poop

Okay, just a short blurb as it not only plays an important part in my own schooling this week, but it bears importance for future purpose.

Several months, ago, I was teaching my fifth-graders how to compose a good essay, and any good essay needs to start with a solid introduction. The only way I was able to get their attention was by telling them the story of the poodle poop paper. It went a little like this:

Imagine, if you will, you are walking home from school and your paper–which you worked so hard to complete–flies out of your backpack and lands right in the middle of the crosswalk. Along comes a little old man, cane in one hand, leash in the other with his poodle on the far end. Right in the middle of the crosswalk, Fluffy decides to take a big dump, and gramps realizes he has nothing to use to pick up the mess. The old man doesn’t want to leave the mess in the middle of the crosswalk, so he looks around for something to use as a pooper-scooper. There, a few feet away, is your essay. He picks it up, and before reaching down to pick up the offending turds, the old man reads the first few lines of your essay. Now, will he find it interesting enough to keep reading and want to show others your wonderful piece of writing, or will the paper’s beginning make the old man feel the essay has no other purpose than to scoop Fluffy’s lunch off the crosswalk?

Make your intro interesting lest you want your work to become a Poodle Poop Paper!


“Wow, that is great! What are you doing with your degree in Creative Writing?”

“What a lot of Creative Writing majors do: I’m delivering pizzas.”

This Saturday, something I’ve been waiting for is finally coming to fruition: I’ll graduate with my bachelor’s degree! It is so weird and unbelievable, to me. In fact, I am so unconvinced it is actually happening, I forgot to ask for the day off from work so I can watch the ceremony (gonna have to watch the stream since we can’t make it to NH). While this isn’t a Hat Rack post, I’m thrilled to soon add another hat–rather, a cap–to the rack, and I hope to feature my next Rack post with a pic of my mortarboard.

I’ve been reminded a lot, lately, of the many hats I have worn (sounds a little Gumpish…sorry). One of the guys I work with mentioned the other day how I had quite a bit of experience in a variety of positions and it reminded me why I began my Musings from the Rack posts, originally. My biggest thing now is trying to come across more knowledgeable and less know-it-all.

I have a few writing projects in the planning stages, right now. I signed-up for James Patterson’s Master Class and I’m looking forward to starting and completing it before May 23rd (that’s when I start grad school). I am truly hoping to get some great advice, inspiration, and momentum back into my writing with this class!

I’ve taken a break from any writing competitions, for a while. I am, though, going to compose an essay and pitch it to Stir. I have a topic which is popular and borders on controversial, so I hope I can pull it off. At this point, I’m really just wanting something good enough to be published; the money from the project would just be a nice bonus.

Otherwise, I’m ready to start working on my business, again. Totally Wassom has taken a big hit during this time while I finish my bachelor’s degree, move into my master’s degree, and pick up work in the nourishment distribution industry. Next week I’m back to learning to master Gimp so I can prep a nice portfolio for anyone interested in what I have to offer. Wish me luck!

Okay, that’s enough hodgepodge for this post. I mostly just wanted to write and clear some of the cobwebs, so…goal reached! I have ideas for two other blogs, and with some help from another venue (forgot to mention it earlier, but I’m also working on a different direction with my blog writing…fingers crossed), you may see one or both of them, soon. For now, I’ll sign-off and finish my Riesling. Have a great night…and, Happy Mother’s Day!



Ever notice how similar frustrating and castrating are?

Guess who?

Alright, I know I haven’t posted a blog entry in months. I would love to get back to my weekly The Rack posts as well as other life/writing posts, and I plan to get back into more regular blogging, soon. The problem is…it’s frustrating knowing only five people are reading my posts.

It doesn’t stop with the posts, though. No…it’s much worse than that. I am smack-dab in the middle of planning-out three different books, each as far from the other as east is from west. When I can’t even get my shorts published in low quality lit journals, though, I move past frustrated and feel more castrated.

This emasculation extends even further, though. Now, I’m being rejected by online writing services! One told me I was unable to follow guidelines and didn’t describe what was laid-out in the application writing exercises. This floors me! I am coming straight out of my last term in my BA, finishing with honors (ceremonial, only, due to not nine credits too few for Latin honors…but still summa cum laude), and being acutely aware of what it takes to follow a prompt guideline.

Did I choose the wrong path?

M sent me an inspiring email which had a link to a much needed web page. It was encouraging and it reminded me of the struggles and rejections some of the greatest writers have gone through. I’m reminded of Brad Meltzer who was rejected 24 times from 22 publishers (yes, two of them rejected him twice). I know persistence in the key in my chosen vocation; it’s just discouraging.

Alright…tantrum over.


It’s a blog…it’s a story…no, it’s SuperEgo!

I’m going to do something a little out of the ordinary, for me, where my blog is concerned. I’m going to post a story of mine.

Okay, first let me apologize to my numerous (all 8 of you) followers for not blogging the last couple of weeks. I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about the holidays taking all free time away, so I’ll simply state an overwhelming sense of laziness is to blame for me not making a post (during the holidays ☺). 

In mid-November, my boy had surgery and during that week, all of my momentum seemed to slowly creep to the static state it is, today. Now, like the rest of the world, I’m feeling an abundant need to make 2016 more productive, and I need to get off my butt and make it happen. Sorry…I digress.  It was during the time of his surgery (actually, a few days prior) I submitted the following story to Writer’s Digest for their Short-Short story competition. I don’t really think I expected to win/place/show or even get mentioned; however, the story was a bit taxing as the fiction I wrote has basis in reality. 

Below, you will read my interpretation of what a patient person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease feels during the latter stages of the process. I have read stories from survivors (I have heard and experienced them, too, firsthand). I have read stories from those afflicted as they try to tell what is happening in the early stages of this awful disease. I hadn’t, though, heard the story from the afflicted, as it happened, in real time. 

Writing in the first person/present tense is brutal. Still, I hope I did justice to what Lydia was feeling in her last days, as well as offering a some possible insight to anyone watching their personal Lydia go through it now. 

I would normally say enjoy the story…but, that somehow feels a little weird. 


By Tony Wassom


“Are you finished?”

“Mrs. Wilson, are you finished with your plate?”

“I’m so sorry, dear, I didn’t see you there.”

“That’s okay. Can I take your plate?”

“Aren’t you eager? Yes, you may take my plate, but not until I’ve had my meal.”

“Mrs. Wilson, you just finished.”

“Oh, dear me, I am sorry. My mind must be somewhere else. Yes, by all means take my plate, and I think I’ll walk back to my room, now.”

“Yes ma’am. You have a nice day.”

That was certainly embarrassing. I wonder how long I was sitting there.

Oh, look; someone left the crossword on the end-table. I used to love crossword puzzles, so much. And, there’s a pencil.

Hmm…this couch feels funny. I bet Jack bought it and didn’t think I’d notice. Let’s see…One Across: “____upon a time…” Must be the Monday puzzle; should be a pretty easy one.

O N E C.  

One Down, three letters: Outdated. I should have brought a pen for this one.

O R P.

Two Down: Recent: pref….



“How was your breakfast?”

“Oh, it was fine. Thank you.”

“Good. I was hoping you would like it.”

“I’m sorry, dear, do I know you?”

“Oh, Ms. Lydia, you have such a lovely smile. Yes, we spoke just before breakfast, but it was very noisy with all the people that were in the dining room.”

“All the people who, dear. Not thatwho.”

“Yes, of course you are right. My apologies.”

“No need to apologize. You are in school to learn; I am here to teach.”

“Yes, ma’am. By the way, John will be here, soon. You want me to help you clean-up?”

“Oh, I haven’t seen him in so long! Yes, would you mind? Oh, I can’t wait to see my Johnny.”

“I think he is bringing other visitors, too. He said James and Joan are in town and coming to see you!”

“Who’s that, dear?”

“James and Joan, your other chil…hmm. I bet you’ll know them when you see them.”


I cannot believe there is nothing on this blessed television about the war.

“Jack, did we get a paper, today?”

I bet that little shit next door took it, again.

“Jack! Can’t you hear me yelling at you?”

Probably out with his whore making plans to get rid of me. I guess I’ll go look, myself. It’s not enough I make his breakfast, lunch, and supper, I have to…who the hell is that, and at this hour?

“Jack, get the phone!”

“Jack, get the damn phone!”

“Never mind, I’ll get it myself. How about I make up your excuse, too? Sorry, Liddy, I couldn’t hear it…Sorry, Liddy, I was in the garden…Sorry, Liddy, I was with my whore…take your pick!”

That man is driving me crazy.


“Mrs. Wilson, this is Kate at the front desk. Your son, John, is here to see you. May I send him to your room?”

“Oh, my, what a wonderful surprise! Yes, yes, please send him!”

Hmph…there’s today’s paper. I wonder if there’s anything about the war. Police Action is the stupidest term I’ve ever heard. Boys killing boys, it’s all war. Oh, I hope Johnny is okay, over there. The paper hasn’t had a thing about what’s going on. Maybe there’s something on the TV.


I wonder who that is.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Hi, Mother, it’s John.”

“John? Johnny? Oh my God, Johnny!”

“Yes, Mother, is it okay if we come in?”

“Oh, Johnny, yes! Come in. Come in! Oh, I thought I’d never see you again!”

I’m sure I’m embarrassing him in front of his friends, but I don’t care. My Johnny is home! Alright, Lydia, control yourself. You’re getting his shirt messy. Pull yourself together.

“Oh, it is so good to see you, Johnny. Are these your friends? Hello, I’m Mrs. Wilson, Johnny’s…I mean John’s mother. And, you are?”

“Mother, this is James and Joan. Don’t you recognize them?”

“I’m sorry, let me clear my eyes. Looks like you’ve been crying too, dear. What was your name, again?”

“Joan…my name is Joan.”

“Yes, well I shall not forget it. Any friends of Johnny’s are always welcome in our house. Jack, Dear! Johnny is here!”

“Hello, Mother.”

“I’m sorry, young man, but I think you’ve confused me with someone else. What was your name, again?”

“Mother, it’s…it’s James.”

“Yes, right, James. I’m sorry, did you say you were looking for your mother?”

Poor man. How could he possibly think that I could be his mother? He has to be in his 40’s or 50’s. Do I look that old?

Johnny, did I say something to upset your friend? Why is he crying?

No, Mother, he’s just sad. Is it okay if we all sit and talk?”

I reckon, but I would appreciate it if your friends would leave their emotions at the curb, next time.”


Ah…Bob Barker, must be 11:00. Wait, that’s not Bob. Well, I’m sure this other young man will do just fine. I wonder if the paper is here…


“Mother, are you okay?”

“Oh, Johnny, you scared the life out of me! When did you get here?”

“Just a few minutes ago, Mother. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, Johnny, I was probably involved with my puzzle. Where is that puzzle? Oh, well. These your friends? Hello, I’m Mrs. Wilson.”


I’m not sure who made this meatloaf, but they could use some cooking lessons.

“James, would you please pass me the salt?”

“You remembered my name! Yes, ma’am. Here you go!”

“Of course I remembered your name…I named you. What kind of fool thing is that to say?”

What kind of son brings a woman to dinner and doesn’t introduce her. When I see Jack, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind. James probably learned all about whoring from his no-good father, anyway.

“Mother, Jimmy and Joanie are staying with me for a few days. You want us to come back and visit, tomorrow?”

“Oh, Johnny, I’d love to see you every day! If it’s okay with you, just leave your friends at home, next time. Okay? It was very nice meeting both of you.”


I can’t remember a time the house was so dark and cold.

“Jack, I can’t see well enough to turn on the switch. Jack?”


Why the hell is this rock on the floor?

Oh, good, there’s some light coming from the other room…that almost looks like headlights. Why is there a car…?

…how did I get outside?

Oh, this is wrong. What is happening, to me? Why don’t I remember going outside?

Oh, this is not right. This is not right!

Where are my shoes? Oh my God! Where are my clothes? Someone is trying to hurt me! I must have been attacked!


Who the hell is this woman running toward me?

“Someone, help me!”

“Mrs. Wilson, it’s okay! I’m here to help you back to your room.”

“Who the hell are you? Get away from me! Help!”

Oh, thank God, that policeman is coming over.

“Officer, please help me. I do not know this woman and she is trying to take me away.”

“Ma’am, just calm down and try to speak a little slower.”

“I will not calm down! This woman has taken my clothes and she’s trying to hurt me!”

“Mrs. Wilson, John is almost here. He’ll help, but we need you to try and think about your words. The officer and I cannot understand you.”

“What do you mean you can’t understand me? Officer, tell this bitch to leave me alone!”

“Ma’am, if you don’t calm down, I’ll have to restrain you.”

“Restrain me? I’m the victim! What is wrong with you?”

“Mrs. Wilson, your son is here. Everything will be okay. We just need to get you back to your room.”

“My son is in Viet Nam, you bitch! Stop lying to me!”

“Mother… Mother, Calm down. Let’s all go back to your room and I’ll sit with you while you go to sleep, okay?”

“Officer, I have no idea who this man is. Please help me…I’m begging you!”

“Mother, we can’t understand what you’re saying. Try to concentrate on your words.”

“Has the whole world gone crazy? I’m speaking as clearly as you are!”

“Mother, please…”

“Why the hell are you crying? Officer, half bean bleed!”

That didn’t sound right. Oh my God, what is wrong with me?

“I love you, Mother.”

Why is this man crying?

What is this on my wrist? Am I under arrest?

What is going on?

“Keep that needle away from me! Help!”

“Mother, please…please stop fighting.”

This is all wrong.

I don’t understand.

“Stop laughing at me!”

“Mother, I love you!”

I feel so sleepy.