Monday, September 5, 2011

Angels In Used Cars

In the summer of 2009, I found myself developing odd; purplish/black spots on my face, abdomen, shoulders and right leg seemingly overnight.  I waited a week to see if they’d go away on the off chance if was just some sort of weird breakout. But no, they only grew in size and number. I was terrified of course and I knew there was no avoiding a doctor’s visit. I’m legendary among for friends for my fervent dislike for doctors, hospitals and all things medical. I mean, I’m so glad we have doctors, nurses and the advanced medical care we have these days but there’s just something about it all that makes me very uneasy. I know, I’m a big baby (at least I own it). I used to almost pass out when they took blood from me. I’ve gotten better at that and it really doesn’t bother me that much, but I still close my eyes until they've removed the vials of blood out of my line of sight.

I suspected that what I had was Kaposis Sarcoma.  If you’re not quite sure what that is, Kaposis Sarcoma or KS is a very deadly form of skin cancer that people with advanced HIV get. We’ve all seen those pictures of shriveled up AIDS patients covered in ugly dark lesions or you may have even seen a PWA (Person With Aids) out in public that was most definitely in the last stages and covered with the ugly spots. You know, you look (you can’t not look), but you turn away quickly and try to hide your shudder of revulsion. You say a silent prayer and think, Thank God that’s not me.  Well, it was me.

KS can be treated but you have to get on really quick because it can transfer to the throat and internal organs relatively quick. Like many gay men, I’m vain. I have a pretty high pain threshold but let anything happen to my skin and I completely freak the fuck out, to put it very mildly.

I tracked down one of my old HIV doctors on the internet and sent him an email begging for his earliest appointment. I knew if I called his office, his receptionist would give me the usual runaround and offer to schedule something two months down the road and I didn’t have that kind of time. Luckily he took pity on me and told me to come in the next week for a complete physical.

To say I was scared when I arrived at his office clutching my prayer book is an understatement. My palms were sweating and I had to keep running to the bathroom in the lobby because I had the worse case of explosive diarrhea that I’d ever experienced. I said a prayer of thanks that no one came in the bathroom while I was there pooping my guts out or they would have went screaming back out the door. Finally I was lead back into the examining room trembling like an abused Chihuahua. A nurse came in to take all my vitals and asked me if I was feeling okay afterwards. I made the so-so sign with my hand and asked why. I had a temperature of 102 and my blood pressure was pretty high. Great, I’m going to stroke out before I even see the doctor, I thought.

The doctor couldn’t have been kinder and sensed my terror. When he spied my prayer book, he squeezed my hand and told me with the new treatments and a little prayer from time to time, I’d be just fine.  I did indeed have the Big C


After a very rocky start with the treatments (chemo, radiation, laser), getting the meds adjusted and ending up in the emergency room once, I began the process of getting well and becoming stronger. I took three months off work, gave up cigarettes, booze, red meat and prayed constantly. If anything good came out of all this, it was this new dedication to a healthier lifestyle.

I started running in the park everyday.  At first it was just half a mile but soon I was up to five miles, putting all the energy I used to put into smoking Marlboro Lights and drinking Coors Light into my new found passion. I bought an IPOD and started listening to audio books and peppy eighties music while I ran. Sheer nirvana, this was MY time. Nothing like running early in the morning and singing “She Blinded Me With Science” at the top of your lungs while the squirrels scattered.

Slowly, I began to get to know the other runners. At first it was just the runner’s quick nod as we flashed by each other but soon we were shouting out pleasantries. It during one of these early morning runs when I to noticed him for the first time. Even sick as I was, a hot man could still get my attention, I wasn’t dead yet, folks.

Who is him? Him was 6’4”, muscular, dark skin, crew cut and velvety brown eyes, an angel in black Pumas that gave me a sly wink and a sexy grin as he passed by everyday. You may be asking how I saw all that in the single moment it took me to quickly sprint past him. Let me just say that this man drew the eye; you had no choice in the matter. I began to look forward to his huge shadow darting toward me on the track everyday; his appearance seemed to mark something, a point.

Sort of like someone said, “Okay, Ken! You’ve seen the gorgeous running stranger, now get on with your day.” And I did, it was somehow easier. This stranger’s abundance of vitality and life helped me to live, to not give up and something to shoot for.

Soon, I began to notice something very odd. He disappeared into thin air. Let me explain, I would pass him once on the track and then poof; on the return lap he’d be gone. There’s only one exit off the track and I’d never see him leave through it. I’d also check the parking lot for him and only my car would be there or a carload of Reeboked senior citizens coming to power walk. How was this guy seemingly vanishing in thin air? Where did he go?

And then it hit me, he was angel. Before you roll your eyes and say, “This guy has seen one too many episodes of Touched By An Angel.” Know that I’m not one of those crazy new age people but I do believe in God. I was raised in a very devout Southern Baptist household and my dad was a minister.

Perhaps God saw me...




Maybe somehow, I rated an angel to check on me and to help me through this hard time. I needed to believe in something at that time. I had to know that I mattered and that I was special to God. * Isn't there something in the bible about entertaining angels unaware ? After I came to that conclusion, I’d break out in a cold sweat when I passed the angel on the track and stared straight ahead, scared of making direct eye contact with him. I even stopped trying to spot him leaving the track. It just seemed wrong somehow. If he was a messenger from God, who was I to keep trying to bust him at it?

This went on for months until I noticed a break in the overgrown hedging that lined the track one day and decided to peep through. There in a gravel parking lot (I’d never seen before) was my angel getting into a ’94 white Acura. I won’t lie; I was disappointed that he wasn’t sent from above and I was extremely annoyed at allowing myself for being so got-dang deluded. I teared up a bit, feeling deflated and sighed quite loudly. The angel's head snapped around searching for the source of the sound, but luckily I was able to quickly duck behind the hedges again, hoping he wouldn't investigate further. After giving it some thought, I realized he had been an angel to me, ushering me through some of the darkest days of my life and in today’s economy even angels have to drive used cars. Hell, they probably even carry Tracfones too. Would you believe that since the day I caught him driving away in his CarMax special, I’ve never seen the angel guy again?

Cue: Twilight Zone theme

*Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares
Hebrews 13:2


Mind Of Mine said...

This is a really interesting story, regarding the Angel. Even if he wasn't initially the Angel you thought he was, he still had the desired effect on you.

It's Cost Me Alot, But There's One Thing Ive Got... said...

Just goes to show that placebo is powerful. You never know what will give you inspiration and make you feel good about yourself and give you that extra push to go on. We all need that.