Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

*I once heard some great advice that has always stuck with me. It is to live as if this is your second time through life. If you could go back and do it all over, how would your relationships be different? What things would be important? What things wouldn’t? This is an interesting dialogue about life and the regrets of those who’ve had the ability to look back.*

From Arise India Forum:

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. Continue reading “Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”

Barack Obama, Neuro-Ophthalmologist?

It seems like the person who’s credited with the phrase “Home is where the heart is” was really good at putting the obvious into words.

After nearly two months, I am finally back home. I arrived in Dallas on Wednesday, GPS in hand so that I didn’t get lost. My apartment felt new, like I had just moved in.

I don’t want to bore anybody with the details, but nothing happened with appointments this week. I’m still waiting for a visit with the neuroophthalmologist and I’ll likely make one more day trip to Houston this week to pick up the new Ponatinib. Other than that, it’s just a waiting game.

In fact, UT Southwestern said that it would be approximately eight weeks until they processed all of the necessary paperwork to get me in for an appointment.

I have a better chance of scheduling tea time with Barack Obama. Hm, I wonder if he knows anything about the eyes. I may just do that (Hi, secret service).

Me and my brother’s apartment lease is up at the end of the month. With all of the things I need to do to assure a smooth transition to a new apartment, I was growing restless, anxious, and impatient with things while away from home. The last thing I need is to add the stress of moving to a dinner plate that is already overflowing with things. Which brings up a good topic; moving.

Katie and I have visited at least ten places in the past three days.

Ten.

It would be funny to see a time lapse of our faces from the first day we walked into an office to the last. It’s very possible that we now look like zombies.

I mean, I’m literally dragging my leg from a running injury I sustained one week ago. *sobs*

It’s raining here, so we walk into places looking dreary, somber, and wet. With my story, I truly expect Ty Pennington to walk through the door and, using his outside voice inside, tell us that we’re not getting an apartment, we’re getting a new home.

Ty, if you’re reading this, at least bring me a Hoveround. Please.

Change for a Dollar

If you were told that something you did or said today would still have an impact on a life ten years from now, would you pay more attention to all of your interactions? As you went about your day, would you wonder what it is that you’d say or do? Would you go about your day any differently? We probably all would. The reality is that what you say or do today will matter. It will affect someone in ten years. You may never realize it until it’s revealed to you, but we are all serving a purpose. It’s your choice as to how much or how little you’re engaged in your own story, and most importantly, the story of others.

I saw a video the other day that inspired me. It reminded me of my own inadequate efforts to give to others. As much as I love to encourage others with my story and words, I realize there is an unchallenged void in my heart to physically provide to those who are fighting through the struggles of a broken world. I need to be a better giver and that is my goal for 2012 and the years following. As for right now, I want to share the short video with you. I hope it has the same impact on you as it did me.

Katie and I had a neat experience yesterday. Before our Christmas trip to San Antonio, we stopped at the Whataburger around the corner from my house to pick up breakfast for the road. The drive-thru had two lines going, which was a clear indication that our order was going to be messed up. Sure enough, the two sausage taquitos we got were the complete opposite of what we wanted. Luckily, we weren’t out of the parking lot when we noticed it. I took the bag inside and explained the situation. A few minutes later, Katie walked in and asked if we could eat inside instead of turning our meal into some sort of circus act on the road.

After five minutes of waiting, I was handed a new bag which had more food in it than what we originally wanted. It turns out that they gave us double of what we ordered. Ok, let’s be realistic, I was excited. Katie was the practical one here. As I pulled out my two biscuits and lined them out in front of me like the fatty that I am, Katie left her other taquito in the bag. I had no idea how I would eat two biscuits and Katie’s extra taquito, but I figured the road trip we were about to take would be my biggest ally in that quest.

Meanwhile, there were a few other people dining inside of the restaurant. Out of the seven or eight people in the lobby, one person caught my eye. He was an older, Asian gentleman who was borderline unkempt. He had an unclean coat and dirty hands, but it wasn’t safe to assume that he was homeless. He sat against the wall and I was facing him, so there was occasional eye contact. The Whataburger cup in front of him was the only real indication that he belonged inside. I wondered if he had eaten, or if he was inside with the hope that he would.

Midway through my first biscuit, Katie sat in a daze. I could tell something was the matter so I asked her what was wrong. She said that she wished she could give her extra taquito away to someone who needed it.

Wait, I had plans for it already. She could give it to me!

I quickly realized how selfish I was to not think of other people first. I didn’t need Katie’s extra taquito, and her selfless desire brought that to my attention. I immediately felt the same way that she did. I suddenly wished there was someone we could give her extra taquito to. A few seconds later, my comfort zone grew uncomfortable as I stared down at my extra biscuit. Oh no.

I started thinking about our road trip. I wondered if we would run into somebody at an intersection as we left town. I told her we might see someone and that we could take the extra food with us. By this time, I was partially resigned to include my extra food, but not yet fully committed. I kept thinking of who we could serve.

“There’s a guy in here who looks like he may be homeless. Maybe we could give it to him,” I suggested.
“Yeah, I saw him,” said Katie, “I was thinking the same thing.”

For the next five minutes, we talked about the awkwardness of trying to find out if he was homeless. We went through every scenario, with neither one of us wanting to approach the fear of assuming he was homeless and needing food if he was not and didn’t. We didn’t want to humiliate anybody. I saw the man get up with his cup and take it to the front. An employee asked if he wanted more coffee and he shook his head yes as he handed over his cup. I had the bag ready to go and as he went to sit back down, I approached the employee that had given him more coffee.

“Excuse me ma’am, has he eaten today,” I asked.
“No, not today,” she replied.
“Do you know if he is homeless?”
“Yes, he is.”

I walked over to the gentleman and told him that we had some extra breakfast that we were wanting to give away. I asked him if he wanted it. He shook his head yes and I gave him the bag. It was so awesome to be in a place where we could help someone. And I’m so thankful that Katie has such a giving spirit. It was a reminder that I can do more, that instead of thinking about how getting more will benefit me, I need to think about how getting more will benefit others in my life.

Everything could have been different yesterday morning. Our order could have been correct and we would have been on our way to San Antonio. Katie could have not come inside and I would have taken our extra food on the road. The homeless guy could have not been inside of Whataburger at 10 ‘o clock in the morning. However, the opposite was true. Our order was wrong, which lead us inside. We received extra food, which wasn’t asked for. We noticed a man who needed food that we were given. And all of this happened because we decided to stop at this particular place at this particular time. The things that you do or say today will impact the lives of others ten years from now. Encourage yourself daily to pay attention to those things. This is how we see God work in our lives.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important that clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single day to your life?”  Matthew 6:25-27

Women and Grace

I watched Herman Cain’s resignation speech just a few minutes ago. I wasn’t as interested in his speech as much as I was how he’d approach the firestorm that has since surrounded his campaign. I wanted to see if he’d remain defiant of his accusations, or if he’d admit that all of the billowing smoke rightfully leads to the unrighteous fire. A major part of me knew what he’d say, but I tuned in just in case this was going to be different. How desperate we are for things to be different.

Prior to the first sentence of his speech, however, my focus of interest changed. Mr. Cain approached the stage holding the hand of his long-time wife, Gloria Cain. Whether or not Herman Cain is justifiably condemned in the court of public opinion doesn’t matter. I immediately felt a wave of empathy for Mrs. Cain, who’s been the biggest victim of this past month. She had a choice to either support her husband throughout the process, suppressing self-preserving pride for vulnerable humility, or to never again show her face on a public platform. I wouldn’t have blamed her for the latter, but I’m glad that she chose the more difficult path.

It was impossible to tell what exactly is going through the mind of Gloria Cain, but her body language illustrated a confident indifference. Within the past few months, her life may have been turned upside down. Everything that she thought she knew about the man she stood next to for decades may have been exposed as a lie. Her heart may have been excessively beaten by the gauntlet of accusation. Yet, there she stood, with an honest smile and an appreciative wave, as the crowd chanted, “GLOR-IA, GLOR-IA.”

Grace.

I don’t know Gloria Cain. I don’t know if she’s a follower of Jesus Christ, but I do know that, even if for a few minutes today, her grace inspired me. Those few minutes painted a broad stroke on the canvas of the woman described in Proverbs 31. Her humility was a picture of great and honorable strength, grace, and inspiration. That brief moment lead me to realize how important women have been in my development and understanding of the traits found in a grace and mercy filled God.

I look at the unconditional love of my mother. I haven’t yet been able to comprehend the limits of my mother’s love for me. I don’t understand it because I don’t believe I’ve ever come close to that edge. I believe that even beyond the mortal limits of self-destruction, my mom would cover me with a blanket of loving assurance. When I take it a step further, how do I continue to believe that a God who established the laws of grace and love, who yearns for me to turn to Him so that I “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), will discover and create limits of grace for me that are within the boundaries of the one who was merely chosen to give me birth? In other words, if my earthly mother is capable and willing of exhibiting an unending love and grace, why do I doubt that my Creator would look at me and think, “I’m not sure if I can go that far with my love and grace.” So then, it is true that I see God’s grace when I first believe that it is genetically written in the core of my mother’s heart to exhibit a love that I may never fully comprehend. Because of this, I believe that my mom will stand before God one day and be able to visualize the fruit of her selfless devotion. Yes!

C.S. Lewis once said, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” The world is full of pride. It is nasty, and I have a particular disdain for it. This might be solely due to the realization that, apart from God, I am full of pride. Apart from God, I try to be my own god (I’ve tried it and I hurt a lot of people). How disheartening, void, and empty is the path that is absent of life-flourishing grace. That’s why it’s so refreshing to be forgiven, to be provided support when you don’t deserve it, to look at someone and question why they’d even be by your side. Undeserved grace, the kind that you don’t understand, changes hearts. That kind of grace changes lives.

I’m sure Gloria Cain’s heart is full of pain, hurt, and doubt this evening. However, I was grateful to see her strength amidst weakness. It inspired me today. It reminded me that even if the world tells us to absorb the fleeting comfort of self-pity, we can refuse the world and forge ahead. These are the lessons that matter. This is what I choose to see. The political pundits can scour through the rest of the garbage.

I just want to say that if you’re a woman, you have the ability to carry a uniquely bright torch. As mothers, you have the opportunity to be filled with magnificent and unlimited grace. As wives, you can be the cornerstone and desperately needed foundation of your family. Your strength is in your patience, your honor, and your integrity. Your children will look up to you, they’ll watch how you respond to their faults and misgivings. From there, they’ll distinguish love, and measure whether or not it is worthy to pursue. How undeniably empowering! Own that, write it down, and remember it when you feel unappreciated.

This is especially true of my mom. Thank you, mom, for exhibiting these qualities. Thank you for helping me understand the spectrum of God’s grace. Thank you for your selflessness throughout the years, for your unconditional love. It is inspiring.

Keep Moving Forward

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth, but you’ve got to be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers and say you ain’t where you are because of him, her, or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain’t you, you’re better that!”

30.

Yesterday was my 30th birthday. It’s crazy to realize that I have been on this earth for thirty years. Of course, in the larger scale of things, thirty years isn’t a whole lot of time.

In Dave Matthews song “Gravedigger”, one of the lyrics captures the perspective perfectly:

“Cyrus Jones 1810 to 1913, made his great grandchildren believe that you can live to one hundred and three. One hundred and three is forever when you’re just a little kid, so Cyrus Jones lived forever.”

As adults, we envy the simplicity of children. They view the world with optimistic fervor, adapt to new and sometimes compromising situations, dream of things others perceive as impossible, and typically believe in the eternal aspect of all things.

That reminded me of the interactions that the disciples had with Jesus in Matthew chapter 18:
 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

To be childlike is to be optimistic, to be thoughtful, curious, hopeful, eternal. I caught myself battling against the thought of holding on to something that was no longer mine, being in the demographic of twenty year olds. Instead of thinking about the joys ahead, I spent time dwelling about what I had just left. It was the birthplace of self pity, which is typically an acquired characteristic that poisons the adult psyche. 

When I was eighteen, I remember thinking that I would be married around twenty six and start a family around thirty. Looking back, I was probably just throwing numbers against the wall, but it seemed to be about right. Funny how reality triumphs idealism. I have to say that I’m okay with all of that. In fact, I’m glad I was wrong. Haha.

Yesterday, I spent much of my time in gratitude. Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t much that they could do for Leukemia patients. They had a harsh treatment of a chemo called Interferon that, from what I hear, caused more problems than it solved. The morbidity rate was exponentially higher than it was when Gleevec was introduced into the market in 2005. Had I been born in a different era, I probably wouldn’t have made it to my thirtieth birthday. It put into perspective my life today; living, breathing, optimistic that I can overcome cancer, purposeful, thankful. 

It’s so funny how the idea of celebrating birthdays changes the older you get. A few years ago, I would have thought that my thirtieth birthday would line up more in line with the movie The Hangover, in a setting way more exotic than my two bedroom apartment. However, I took joy in the fact that I would be able to hang out at my apartment and do the things that I enjoy doing: taking a break from the chaos of the week and catching up on some much needed sleep.

I didn’t really do much throughout the day, which was more my (new) speed. My dad got me a new grill for my birthday so my time away from my apartment consisted of a trip to the grocery store. I bought stuff to make burgers and nachos, and had planned on making the latter for lunch. Lunch came a little later than I had hoped so I never really got around to making the burgers, but the nachos sure were delicious. 

I spent the afternoon asleep. I took a really long, productive nap, which I enjoyed very much. Haha. Later in the evening, I went to dinner with my dad and stepmom. And that was about it. It was nice, and I realize that I am now more suited for “nice” days than for going out and feeling like crud the majority of the next day. As fun as it is to go out and spend time with friends, it is much more rewarding to feel refreshed and energetic early the next morning. Anticlimax at its best. 

Last year, my brother, Katie, and I went to dinner on my birthday. Katie asked what I wanted to accomplish in the next year. I told her that I wanted to get back into school. I’m glad that she asked me that question. She made me feel like I could do anything that I wanted, without planting seeds of doubt. She made me feel as if striving for something is the rule, instead of the exception. That was the beginning of something much needed. I’m now staring in the face of a new decade, and I want to do so much more than just exist and think about where I used to be. I want to be told that I have beat cancer, finish school, and then pursue a graduate degree. The 20’s were fun, but the 30’s will define my life. And I can’t wait.

Beauty in its purest form


The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

It’s almost best to say nothing when you see the image of our world in its purest form, void of all of the sin that has been introduced into our life, culture, bloodstream. Beauty needs to be isolated from that. It needs to stay isolated.

We have to know that there is something as beautiful and perfect as the world that God created.

We have to know that there is absolute truth. That a redemption exists. That all of this wasn’t made in vain, nor is it something we just stumbled upon.

Creation is above logic in the pecking order and will never be triumphed. Take the time to be still, to see the beauty in all of its perfection. Let the lights inspire you and don’t resist the urge to be drawn in.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:4

I was tased by Nancy Pelosi

I had a weird dream last night. Let me set this up.

I was coming out of a school building when I saw this kid lifting a box out of this man’s car trunk. The kid was probably around ten years old. He was white, short, skinny, and had dark hair. Somehow, I knew this kid had gotten into trouble and was fulfilling some sort of disciplinarian action. If I remember correctly, I believe he stole something small from another kid. It was nothing major, but something you’d spend a little time in the principal’s office for. I’m not sure how the knowledge of the situation was made known to me. It was either made known earlier in the dream and I just don’t remember, or it was preset in my brain. Anyway, this older gentleman was being really verbally aggressive with this kid. I knew that he was the disciplinarian, but he wasn’t treating this kid with respect and dignity, in a way that suggests the child is being punished for his bad decision alone. Instead, this man was being unjustly authoritative, as if he simply enjoyed throwing around his power.

I came out of the building and walked across the street from the school. I could hear this man’s requests and all I could think about was how this person was being a bully to this ten year old little kid. It made me mad so I stopped and watched the events play out. The man continued in his rhetoric and I couldn’t help but get the feeling that he wanted this kid to act as his personal slave. “Load this”, “grab that”,”You better get this” he barked out. I had enough.

I recognized the man as Harry Reid, the Nevada Senator who spent time as both the Senate Majority leader during the second half of George W. Bush’s second term. I’ve never really liked this guy so I think that made me even more mad.

“HEY, you don’t need to be talking to this child like that,” I shouted as I walked back across the street. “He’s ten years old,” I stated, “How old are you? Why don’t you talk to someone you’re unable to take advantage of, like me?” I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I know we got into a brief argument. The next thing I know, Nancy Pelosi pulled up in a Lincoln Towncar. Yes, THAT Nancy Pelosi, the former House of Representatives leader who I cannot stand.

Her driver pulled up in the circle drive, with her in the back seat. I was now in a completely different scenario where there were a number of cars around that hadn’t previously been there. Her vehicle was located about thirty feet in front of me so there was about ten yards of walking distance. She opened the car door to call Harry Reid over to see what was going on. He walked over and explained to her the situation and she got out of the car.

Pelosi started walking towards me, but I didn’t want anything to do with her. I told her that it was none of her business and started to walk away. She told me to wait, but I ignored her and kept walking. I turned back around and she was pulling out a taser to get me to stop. I couldn’t believe it. She was actually going to tase me, bro. I started to run away when she shot her taser at me. It either missed or didn’t penetrate my skin because I didn’t feel it. All of a sudden I heard the sound of electricity. Confused, I looked up and down my body to see where the taser probes were and that’s when I woke up. The sound of the taser was my alarm clock, which is really just the beat of a drum on my iPhone (timba). I couldn’t help but to think of Inception. Somebody got into my brain last night.

I’m so fascinated how a dream comes together like that. The finale of the dream is sometimes an event you hear in the real world that gets seamlessly incorporated into whatever dream you’re having at the time. The human mind is amazing.