Jul 03

Something bad happens each time they walk out that door

From the desk of the eternal optimist.  I’m exaggerating and paranoid when I say that, “Something bad happens each time they walk out that door.”  It seems morbid, I know, but that’s how I process things…sometimes…not always.  My kids, they are my masterpiece.  They’re the best thing that I’ve ever had a part in creating.  Please notice that I didn’t say that I single-handedly created.  That would be far from accurate and Connie would slap me.  I don’t know what I would do without them.  Bracing myself for bad news seems to help and take my worry away.   Whenever they leave for anything, they will always hear “good-bye, be careful, I love you”.  My heart aches every time they walk out the door.

I’ll never know, I hope, how my mom and dad did it.  You see, I’m the youngest of ten.  But as I’ve told you before, two of my brothers are no longer with us.  The first to die was Mike Allen.  He was born on one of my favorite days, April 1st.  If you’re a new reader to my blog, I should tell you that this is the day that Jessica (my daughter) had angioplasty surgery (’04), Connie (my wife)  had a tumor removed from her pelvis (’09) and I had brain surgery (’11).  One of these days we’re going to have a party like none-other on April 1st (’14 ???).

My second brother to die was Ray Patrick.  He was 4 years older than me and he died in an auto accident coming home from his  girlfriend’s house late one Saturday night.  It was a little more than a month before he would have graduated from high school.

Thirty minutes after I started to write these words (in this blog post) my daughter comes to me and says that she was supposed to be picked up half an hour ago.  Her ride just called to say that they were going to be late, because they were in an accident.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is what’s known as a “God moment”.

Sometimes we talk about Him as though He can’t hear us.  In reality there are only times that we can’t (or won’t) hear Him.  During “God moments” he turns up the volume and drowns out the business of our daily live.  Just remember, whether you believe in Him or not, he still believes in you.

Have you had a God moment?  Tell me about it and please be safe this holiday.

Jun 25

Splitting wood reminds me of marriage

Are you serious?  Yes, I am.  

You may remember in my last post I told you about the other man in our house, my oldest son.  

Grant and I had the chance to talk a little last week while he was splitting wood.  I loved to see him working hard.  Seeing his shirt dripping with sweat reminded me of my days working at UPS.  Like me, he could see the fruits of his labor.    

We could also see on the ground before him and in the pile, there were two types of wood pieces.  Ones that were still round and others that were already partially split.  As he split wood pieces that were still round and surrounded by bark, I noticed that it took him a few swings to even get the split started.  Once the split WAS started, he had to use a sledge hammer to drive the wedge between the two pieces.  The pieces that were not whole, and had already been split, were a much different story.  All it took was one chop and the pieces flew their separate ways.  

Connie and I have a marriage that’s not partially split.  Much like my mom and dad’s (64 years) and all of my brother’s and sister’s.  It’s whole and we are ONE.  It would take much more than a maul and sledge hammer to get between us.  

The bark represents our never ending love for each other and God.  It wraps and keeps us together.  

What does this analogy mean to you?

Jun 20

Do you hear that?

Picture this, I’m in my office (in our basement) with the window slightly cracked for a little fresh air.  It’s in the 80’s just before noon.  As you might expect it’s another humid day in Ohio.  Off in the distance I hear a “thud”.  Ten seconds go by and I hear another “thud”.  This happens a few more times so I decide to go check it out.  (I’ll tell you more about the thud vs. a “crack” in my next post)

There in the backyard behind the row of arborvitae’s was my oldest son Grant, dripping with sweat with work gloves on.  We had asked him earlier, since the job market hasn’t panned out, to start splitting wood in the backyard.  There’s no shortage of wood and all we needed to buy was a $30 maul (it’s an ax with a sledge hammer on the back of it).  You see, sitting around the fire-pit is something that we all enjoy.

I’m guessing that Grant got out of bed at about 11:00 that morning and just put on some work clothes and headed outside. There were no reminders, no list on the counter and no nagging.  He just went and did it.  This is big.

I walked up to him and asked, “how’s it going?”.  He said “good”.  We still only get one-word answers, but this time he went on to tell me about this log and that log and his ax.   As I read what I’ve just written, this seems to be trivial.  I can honestly tell you that it’s not.

This is the summer before Grant goes to the University of Cincinnati in the School of Architecture.  He’s going to be on his own most of the time.  It’s up to him to continue to make good decisions.  Him taking the initiative to pick up the ax (maul) without “encouragement” is a big deal.  Sure his muscles are sore and he has more blisters than he ever has, but it feels good for both of us.

As he swung the ax another time, I asked him “isn’t this therapeutic?  It’s just you and the wood and the ax”.  He looked at me and smiled.  That’s all I needed.  Good job Grant.  Thanks for picking up the ax.

The sound that I heard was my oldest son becoming a man.   Way to go Wagner!


Jun 11

The Position Has Been Filled!

OK, the position was never “officially” posted but I’m happy to say that I’m no longer in need of a seeing-eye-dog (for the purposes of golf!).  My good friend Cary Allion has stepped to be my seeing-eye-“slink”dog.  

You may have seen my request last night.  If you didn’t, please reply to this note with your email address and I will send you a surprise.  My request went as follows.  


A message from Brian Wagner brian.e.wagner@gmail.com.

Please read to the end of this note.  Some of you have already sponsored me.  For that I say THANK YOU!

For those of you that haven’t, I need your help! I have committed to golf 36 holes in support of the non-profit organization A Kid Again at the 2013 Full Throttle Open Golf-A-Thon on June 24 at Heritage Golf Club!

This worthwhile event helps to raise awareness, critical funds and provides ongoing hope for local children with life threatening illnesses and their families. For more information about A Kid Again and its important work, please visit www.akidagain.org.

Please help support this effort by sponsoring me! It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause by making your tax-deductible donation online by visiting my personal the page, see the link below. If you would prefer, you can send your contribution to the address listed below.

Please make checks payable to A Kid Again and include my name on the memo line.

To mail in a donation:

A Kid Again

777-G Dearborn Park Lane

Columbus, OH 43085

Whatever you can give will help – it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

What’s the wrinkle you ask?  Well, as you may know my eyesight isn’t the best.  Hitting a golf ball USUALLY isn’t a problem.  Seeing it, after hitting IS a problem.  That’s why I don’t golf nearly as much as I used to.  When I do golf, it’s with “friends” or family.  Typically, one of my friends (Eric Gowans, a.k.a. big E) doubles as my seeing-eye-dog for this event.  This will be my first year without him.  He will be missed, but is excused as he vacations with his family in Emerald Isle, NC.  

Am I telling you about this wrinkle so you’ll keep reading?  Partially.  Is it so that you’ll feel sorry for me?  Not at all.  Maybe it’s for a phantom donation of golf balls?  No, but just in case I like Titleist Pro-V’s.  🙂  You see, Eric and I always golf together, laugh together and raise money together.  This year it’s just me.  These kids need your help.  I’m asking that all of you make your donation … and then double-down.  You’ll make some kids day, week, month or even a year.  

We like to have fun in what we do.  But at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.  Thank you for your help.  God’s peace and I love you!    


BW (a previously unused nickname) and Big E

 To make a donation online, visit my personal page.

 Click here to visit my personal page.

By the way, “slink dog” was his nickname in high school.  I think he had something to do with his stature and how he played baseball.  Aside from that explanation, you’ll have to ask him how he got the nickname.  

Thank you to everyone for supporting me in this and my daily walk through life.  

Apr 19

Do you want cheese to go with the wine?

I try not to whine, but some days are hard.  This time I opted to leave out the “h” and just have wine and it was good.

Connie and I met with Dr. Katz, yesterday, and he told me that he had been thinking about me quite a lot over the past few weeks.  This has been a difficult week for everyone, but our conversation ended with a unanimous decision to wait for more than a year before considering another surgery.  We’re still scheduled for a check up on October 7th.  That’s all fine with me.

After Dr. Katz left, Connie and I spent a wonderful evening together.  I’m still a sucker for those beautiful, blue eyes.

Apr 18

Annoyed? Get over it.

As many of you know, I’ve had several surgeries over the past couple of years.  Since my last post, on April 2nd, I had an appointment with Dr. Katz, my Neuro-Ophthalmologist.  It happened to be the day after my 2 year anniversary of brain surgery.  Maybe I was feeling a little extra punchy.  Maybe I was tired of a lot of work and very few results.  Maybe I’m tired of draining my maxed out Healthcare Spending Account in the first quarter of the year.  
Instead of looking for a solution, I got mad.  I wanted to give up.  I’m not in the business of making excuses for someone else.  I don’t make them for myself… well, I try not to.  I know that people don’t want to hear my sob story, but I’m human too.  For you to know me, you’ll have to experience my highs and some of my lows (we need to have SOME secrets).  
As I laid in bed this morning, I started counting the days.  He met with me on the 2nd and told me he would call me after doing some “homework”.  This would be no later than the 9th.  After not receiving a call, I called his cell phone and sent him a text on the 10th.  So, I called his office on the 15th.  After speaking with Kathleen, his receptionist, and Amanda, his nurse, I was told that I would definitely get a call back by the end of the day.  Still nothing.  So here I sit wallering in self-pity because I didn’t get a return call.  So what?  How is that going to help me.  It’s not.  Negative energy won’t solve anything.  It only creates more problems.  I called them again today and the message to me was that Dr. Katz left me a voicemail yesterday.  I got nuttin’.  So what?  Maybe I should fall back in a hole and wait for someone to reach out to me.  How will that help?  It won’t.  In order for others to care about and respect you, YOU have to care about and respect YOURSELF.  
Last week I told Connie that I think I’m done.  (with surgeries, that is :-))  I’ve mentioned to other people that “I think I am who I’m going to be.”  Maybe I am.  I think the evolution has just begun.  My outside may not change, but I’m hoping and (yes) praying that the inside does.  I want more.  I want to love more, live more and give more.  
At the end of May I’m going to start a new journey.  You see, a few of my friends already know and I’m not sure that I do.  Through coaching and mentoring, I hope to find out for myself….”Why/”  Look for to come on that later.
For now, I await a call from Dr. Katz.  If I don’t hear from him, I’ll call back.  It won’t be with anger in my voice, it won’t be to apologize for being a pest and it certainly won’t be to make an excuse for the doctor.  “I know you’re very busy” 🙂  Welcome to my world.  
Then at 12:30 this afternoon, I got a call from Dr. Katz.  He apologized and told me a little of what he has been going through.  You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.  But, as far as my circumstance goes, it ‘s a side-note.  He said that he’s been thinking about me a lot.  (Doesn’t everyone :-))  He’d like to have more time than just a phone call or office visit would take.  He asked if we could meet for a cup of coffee or glass of wine.  Are you kidding me?  I asked when I could meet.  I can meet right away, but what really matters is Connie’s schedule.  He said that was a good point, because “she’ll have a lot more questions than you.”  We both LOL’d. 
I’ll let you know how our meeting goes.  I was annoyed, but I got over it and the phone rang.
Mar 04

Ahhhh! I’ve got a brain cramp.

I know that I have things that I need to tell you.  I’m just not sure about my delivery.  I can’t tell you how many times I wake up in the middle of the night and think about things to write.  But, here I sit on Sunday night wallowing in a lack of words.

I can remember a time when I served on church council and had to say a prayer after devotions were read.  Being a Christian in the Catholic Church was much different from the Lutheran Church, at least for me.  I became more involved and learned to lead others in prayer.  My extemporaneous prayer, that night, started with me asking “please Lord give me the words” over and over and over.  Finally, it hit me (maybe God did)  He reminded me of our dinner prayer that evening at home.  My three year-old, now thirteen, asked if we could say the “God prayer” instead of the Johnny Appleseed prayer.  To him, that meant the Lord’s Prayer our Our Father depending on your preference.    So, that’s how we kicked off church council.  The Lord’s Prayer, not Johnny Appleseed.

This current part of my life seems to be getting a little “long in the tooth'”.  According to my good friend Internet, that saying comes from a 19th Century expression that comes from the barnyard. As a horse gets older, its gums move back and the teeth appear longer.  Yes, in short, this is getting old.

On February 19th, I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Katz.  As usual, he took measurements of where my vision in each eye is located.  As usual images were not where he would have expected them.  Things, again, seemed very unpredictable.  Dr. Katz and his Fellow started talking and Connie, who didn’t even sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night, says “do you think the other Cavernous Malformation has something to do with this?”  Huh, (this is not a direct quote) we hadn’t thought of that.

We’ve come to figure out that they’ve been doing a great job of treating the symptoms and forgotten about the cause.  Not to mention that half of the cause is still in the middle of my brain stem.  Just to rule out Myasthenia Gravis, they sent me for blood tests that same day.  Negative.  The following Tuesday, the 26th, I had an MRI.  These particular tests are also getting old.  I could fill a blog about those alone.  Long story short, that afternoon I was in Dr. Katz’s office (as scheduled on the 19th).  He was quite surprised at the lesion size and location.  What can I say?  I’m all of that and a bag of chips. 🙂

Now, he wants to wait for at least 6 months before any further surgeries.  My next appointment with him is on April 2nd.  I’m considering pulling a George Jetson.  You know, during the credits when he’s being sucked up and whipped around by the “out of control” treadmill.  His idea was to take Astro for a walk, but ended up with whiplash.  All you can hear is George yelling, ” Jane, stop this crazy thing!”  I think I’m ready to get off of this ride and be who I’m going to be.

In case you’re wondering how the Johnny Appleseed prayer goes, please comment on this blog and I’ll send it to you.

Feb 24

Grant’s 18 in 10 days

Holy Cow!  On March 6th, my oldest son will be able to vote.  His seventeenth birthday meant that we couldn’t claim him as a deduction on our taxes.  This means that he has to register for the Selective Service which, among other things (I think), makes him eligible for the draft.   The next thing you know …  (don’t say it).  I’ll never forget the day that I went to the Wayne, Ohio Post Office for my registration.  I’ll also never forget the day he was born.  This doesn’t seem possible.  We’re very proud of all that he has accomplished and love him very much.

Since I last wrote (blogged), Grant and I have attended scholarship visits for the Honors Program at Cincinnati and the Illinois Institute of Technology.  We made memories during both of those visits that will last a lifetime.  I remember where I was, mentally, when I was in my senior year of high school and he is light years ahead.  (I can write that because I’m sure that he’ll never read this!)  Both schools have highly respected architecture programs and, depending on the money situation, I’m sure that we have a tough decision in front of us.  The decision deadline is May 1st.  As a side note, he’s leaning heavily toward the University of Cincinnati.

On February 19th I met with Dr. Katz again to discuss my eyesight.  He’s disappointed, because it appears that I have regressed since my second-to-last surgery.  He’s curious about my double vision and the position of my right eye.  He muttered everything from Myasthenia Gravis to additional issues with the Cavernous Malformation.  It’s too early (that seems strange to type), but he’s asked that I have another MRI (this Tuesday) and bring in those images to compare against my last MRI (taken about a year ago).

The good thing  is that my mom already has all of this information.  You see, on Friday, Connie and I went to dinner at Moretti’s (one of our favorite places).  As we were there I got a text from my nephew Heath, who also lives in Hilliard.  He was planning to visit my mom and dad early the next morning.  Visiting on a Saturday morning includes bacon, eggs (cooked in bacon fat) and toast (with lots of butter :-)) while spending time with several family members.  This week included a small group of 10.  Part of the reason for the visit was to talk with several family members about a multi-purpose dome that he plans to build in Hilliard.  This endeavor is part of the Bo Jackson Elite Sports franchise.

Please wish the old guy (Grant) a happy birthday.  I’m tempted to give you his phone number, but I’ll refrain.  He’d be flummoxed.   (look it up)  My kids get more embarrassed by me every day.  If you ever want to know your faults just ask a teenager.

Jan 27

Who left the lid up!?!

Normally, those 5 words make the males in my house very nervous.  We’re all trying to retrace our footsteps and remember where and when we last went to the bathroom.  It is tough, considering we can’t even remember what we had for breakfast.  We have new toilets at our house that prevent the lids from slamming, so the “non-guilty”, i.e. innocent, are not as obvious.  Still, there’s a female with a wet butt that wants an answer.

I can tell you that MY lid has been lifted and left up, to a certain extent.  Last Wednesday, the 16th, Dr. Katz completed his surgery.  Surely you remember that from my latest post. 🙂  I’m happy to announce that soon after the procedure, I felt great.  Well enough, in fact, to spend most of Thursday and Friday making phone calls and spending time at my computer.

Then, on Monday, I flew to Orlando for our National Sales Meeting where I spent 3 days seeing and being seen.  It was great to be treated as a key contributor.  My friend and co-worker, Laurie, was gracious by applying prescribed ointment to the incisions.  There were maybe 5 stitches, in all.  It was quite an experience for both of us.  Our comfort level went from a covert operation to applying the salve at the end of our breakfast line on Wednesday morning.

I told Connie that I look scared or surprised in the picture below, but it is an improvement.  Needless to say, my vision is far from perfect but we’re taking steps in the right direction.  Now that I can see out of both eyes, I have a “better appreciation for my double-vision” as Dr. Katz puts it and in the coming months there will be more corrective actions taken.  There are times when my right-eye appears to be staring at my nose while the other eye goes on about it’s business.  That’s easily corrected by focusing on something to my right.  When I’m not lifting my brow, the left-lid remains slightly opened.  This causes my eyes to dry out more-so than normal.


Most of the time, I don’t have my brow lifted for a couple of reasons.  One is because of my eye drying out and the other is because of the multiple images.  I tried experimenting with this on the plane ride home.  It was obvious to me that not only was there two separate images, but they moved with respect to each other.

Since being home, the “normal” life has continued.  I’m able to drive, run errands and see kids activities.  Colin had his first “season-ending tournament” game, yesterday.  It was tough opponent, but Colin played more in this game than any of the others.  He was 2 for 2 from the free throw line and played great on defense.  I’m so proud of how he has improved this season.  After his game, he went with a friend “tubing” at one of the Ohio ski “resorts”.  (I just couldn’t bring myself to say “slopes” or “mountain”.)  Jessica spent some of her weekend with her friends, but was my date on Saturday as we went to Panda Express for dinner.  Connie was scrap-booking for the weekend and Grant was spending time with his girlfriend after looking for a place of employment.  So far, he’s been accepted to his top 4 college choices (U. of Cincinnati, Illinois Institute of Technology, OSU and Miami (OH).  We’re going to scholarship events and completing applications during the month of February.

My vision is back to where it was before the surgery AND I’m glad that I left the lid up!

Jan 17

Film at 11:00

What does “Film at 11:00” mean?  I’ll get to that.  What it doesn’t mean is that you’ll be seeing me post my current picture any time soon.

I’m happy to report that the surgery went well.  Connie spoke with the doctor and he seemed content.  I suppose the healing process has begun but, for now, I look like a seen from a Rocky movie.  But, as someone close to me told just this morning, “what matters is the vision going out of my eyes and not the vision of the outside.”  He said it better, but you get the idea.

What a day we had.  I knew we were in trouble when I found out my surgery was scheduled for 11:30.  That means there was too much time for delays.  I was happy when they left me a voicemail indicating that it had been moved up to 10:30, so we needed to arrive by 8:30.  Better, right?  Not so much.

We arrived at 8:30, greeted by the nicest receptionist, made our payment and proceeded to don the attire provided by 9:30.  After multiple visits from various nurses gathering my vitals, Rhonda walks in.  She’s the RN and proceeds to tell me that the doctor is running a 1/2 hour behind for my 11:30 appointment.  Time out, my surgery is scheduled for 10:30.  Wrong.  At 11:40 Leon comes to take me down to the surgery waiting area.  (I glanced at his watch when we arrived)  This would more appropriately be called a staging area or holding pen.  As he wheeled me in, all that I could think of was a slaughter-house.  The smell in air, the gurney’s lined up and the frantic look on everyone’s face was a little unnerving (and this is my 3rd time here).

After staring at the Rx dispensing machine, I heard footsteps coming from my right side, which was blind anyway and then a shout, “I’ll handle this pre-op’.  Then there was this nice, gum-popping voice “Hi, are you Mr. Wagner, I’m Kristen?”.  We all know that I’m a smartass, so I said, “No, I’m your pre-op.”  I think she got the point and said, “otherwise known as Mr. Wagner.”  After Kristen, came the RN.  I was greeted by Joan, the RN on duty, who inserted my IV and quite nicely I might add (hit the vein on the first try).  She was very nice, but focused.  You could just tell that she was in charge, delivering direction whether it was asked for or not.  I asked, “Are you in charge of all of these people?”.  Her response was appropriate, “No, I’m just bossy.”

Then Dr. Crossis-sp? (the Fellow assisting Dr. Katz) came in to shake my hand and mark my forehead, so they were sure to work on the right eye.  (Ha, that would have been a kick in the pants!)  From that point, I met with Peggy (Nurse Anesthetist-sp?) and Dr. Lee (Anesthesiologist).  They delivered my shot and wheeled me into the operating room and that’s when the lights went out.

When the lights came back on, I asked what time it was,  2:15.  Wow, there goes my day.  Good thing that we didn’t have any plans.  After waking up in post-op, you have to wait an hour to move to a room.  Then, as long as you keep your solids down, after another hour you’re free to leave.  At this point, I hadn’t seen solids or fluids in 20+ hours.  Once they went in me, I assure you that, they were absorbed on contact.  Saltines never tasted so good.

It’s 4:15 and time to go.  Connie made spaghetti for dinner.  Some of the most needed carbs I’ve ever had.  Time to watch the Evening News with Brian Williams, then clean-up email for a 1/2 hour.  At 7:30, reruns of Big Bang Theory are on.  I love that show.  Connie yells at 7:40, “Uh-oh.”  I immediately thought that the squad had been called for one of our neighbors that had been having heart issues.  This was not the case.  Our street was lit up with three firetrucks, four police cars, two ambulances and other assorted personnel.


Connie said that the firemen were going to the girls house next door.  I told everyone to get their shoes and coat on, because if there was a fire we would be evacuated.  As Connie peered from the front window, I walked out to our driveway where I heard a fireman yelling, “Is there anyone inside?”.  He asked once and started kicking the door in, but continued to ask as he gave his best mule kick.  That an officer approached me and asked me to go inside.  Up the stairs I went to our bedroom, which had a birds-eye view, where Connie, Jess and Colin were looking on.  After the fireman’s mule kicks proved fruitless he broke the lower front window.  Soon after, another fireman came with a ladder and broke out one of the second story windows and the smoke began to billow.  We had a fire, but no flames could be seen from our vantage point.  Once securing entry, firemen went in with hoses and come out with one of the neighbor ladies, a cat and dog.  The cat appeared to be in the best shape of the three.

After some time had passed I went into our driveway where I met Officer Wood of the Hilliard Police Department.  He asked me a few questions.  I gave him our contact information and went back inside.  Later, I saw what I thought was another officer coming up our driveway.  It ended up to be a news reporter.  I answered a few of his questions and then he asked if I would go on camera.  It was a little tempting, but I told him that I had just had eye surgery a few hours ago.  “Would your wife be interested?”, he asked.  “I’ll check”.  A minute later Connie put on a coat and was being interviewed by Jason from Channel 10 and David from Channel 6.  Her 15 minutes of fame took up 8 seconds of air time.  The kids were diggin’ it.  Me too!


Once the latest film of the “new me” is more presentable, I will upload appropriate photos.  Film at 11:00.