An Expression of Gratitude

It’s been over a month since I have taken any medication. It’s been a month of ups, downs, and a lot of waiting. In fact, I’m still waiting, but that’s okay. Recently, waiting has been a blessing in disguise. I needed the break, I was desperate for life to be normal again.

Looking back, I’ve been through a gauntlet. Weekly appointments and bad news, all while away from home, was tough on not just me, but for Katie as well. For two months, we had a constant conversation about my eyesight, Dr.’s appointments,  Ponatinib vs. transplant, and how we could make the best of it all. Like a weathered flag that that flies high on a windy plain, my edges were beginning to fray. I’m thankful that we’ve had the ability to regroup. Continue reading “An Expression of Gratitude”

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”

Life Through Headphones

*The following post is hosted at MD Anderson’s blog, Cancerwise.org. Here is the long, unedited version. Thank you for your support!*

Two weeks ago, I sat in a coffee shop and stared at a blinking cursor on a blank screen. The cafe was filled with noisy conversation, a non-ambient soundtrack, and customers who yelled orders over obnoxious blenders. I kept wishing things would be different, fantasizing about conversation levels dying down, and hoping that people would finally get the memo that coffee is not meant to be mixed with ice. I sat defeated when I realized that none of those things would ever come true.

After a few minutes, I suddenly remembered that my backpack was at the foot of the table. As quickly as I could, I reached for my headphones and put them over my ears. Everything that I had been hoping for was finally coming true. Ambient music flooded my senses and the world around me had become mute. The jackhammer that was apparently used to crush ice was extinguished and I no longer felt as if I was in a restless place with infinite drink combinations. I had finally found my comfort zone. Continue reading “Life Through Headphones”

Meow Mix

*Meow Mix commercial plays in the background*

Katie: I’m going to start feeding you cat food.

Me: Noooooo.

Katie: It has salmon in it.

Me: Oh, okay.

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.

Time in the Valley

“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

I’ve confused myself by this verse in the past. I read it correctly, but my mind always wants to put my name in the second half of this sentence. Something about “…but Justin directs his steps” sounds a lot better and translates a lot easier than if I were to merely allow God to be in control. A life outside of this always leads me to frustration, discontent, and unhappiness, but I try to make it work anyway, daily forgetting the consequences. I’m thankful that I’m given grace every day.

I’m still learning. Continue reading “Time in the Valley”

Didy’s Sport Bar

Times are tough. Entrepreneurship has taken a hit all across America. One might think that Sean “Puff Daddy” “P Diddy” “Diddy” Combs might have been an exception to the rule, but I appear to have gotten an exclusive first look at the superstar’s financial disposition.

Tucked away on a busy side street in Houston, Texas is a brand new, high end sport bar owned by the rapper himself. On the outside, the building remains modest. Diddy likes for people to know that he is a humble guy. On the inside, who knows, there may be a TV. Disregard, for a second, that Diddy’s new digs is spelled Didy’s. He’s working on a refund, or another name change. Why do you think he changed his name from Puff Daddy to Diddy to begin with? Hint: Business cards and misspellings. What’s important is that this is a sport bar. One sport. The first of its kind. If watching sports is cool, watching whatever sport that happens to be chosen for you is even cooler. Didy says so. Sorry, I mean Diddy. Even I’m confused now. Continue reading “Didy’s Sport Bar”

Ophthal, Opthal, Optal, Octal…Eye Doctor

I’m starting to feel a lot better about my eyesight. Maybe it’s because I’ve had some time to process the realities that some of the damage done may be permanent. Or maybe it’s because I have hope that they’ll return to normal one day. Either way, I’ve accepted that the way I see now may be my new perfect.

The appointment with the glaucoma specialist went well. Let me define well: I don’t show any signs of glaucoma, the inflammation of my optic nerve head is absent, and after a week off of medication to reduce my eye pressure, the pressure levels are 12 and 11, both normal. It sort of confirms the theory that the trial drug induced my vision problems. Continue reading “Ophthal, Opthal, Optal, Octal…Eye Doctor”

Week 5: A Marathon of the Mind

Things are starting to become mentally tough. I feel like I’m on mile 20 of 26.2 mile marathon. My legs are getting tired and my mind is starting to wonder. I realize that I can’t turn around. Although, why would I want to? I’m almost to the finish line. This is the battlefield of hope, optimism, and endurance. The body is tired and the mind is vulnerable. A reliance upon feelings will always deceive. A reliance upon God’s promise for renewed strength (Isaiah 40:31) will always persevere.

This stretch would be easier if I didn’t have to add eye doctors to my list of appointments, but I’m hopeful to start the process of restoring my vision on Wednesday morning, when I’m scheduled for an exam with a glaucoma specialist not named Snoop Dogg. Although it’s still believed that the drug trial medicine induced my eye problems, the signs and symptoms appeared as acute angle glaucoma. The ophthalmologist at MD Anderson, by her own admission, stated that she was not a glaucoma specialist and that I might want to see someone who is. My hope is that something is able to be done to restore the perfect eyesight that I had only a couple of weeks ago. Continue reading “Week 5: A Marathon of the Mind”

Twenty First Century Marriage Counseling

Yesterday, I was in the electronics section of Target. I walked around an aisle and on the end cap, I saw these. You may have seen them on TV. They’re a pair of headphones that are specifically designed for people who need to watch late night television, BADLY. Personally, I’d much rather go into the other room, turn on the tv, sit down, and not worry about waking up my partner next to me, but maybe that isn’t an option, ever. If it’s not, then this is a thoughtful solution. P.S. So is going to sleep.

Before I was able to get around the aisle, something had caught my attention about the packaging. “Did that just read as I thought it did?” I wondered.  I picked up the package. “MyZone saved our relationship!”

Wait, what? Is that how this is being marketed to sell? A pair of headphones saved one relationship, so they have the ability to save mine? And it’s being punctuated with an exclamation point? The audacity! As soon as I read the quote, I laughed out loud. That’s just a little too ridiculous. Imagine a relationship that is painfully tethered by one’s compromising ability to drop twenty dollars to watch tv after dark. Here’s some advice: Save that twenty dollars and put it towards some marriage counseling. Headphones won’t give you the ability to communicate, listen, be selfless, caring, thoughtful, or compassionate to your partner. They’ll just delay the inevitable.

If your marriage is down to its last twenty dollars, then a pair of headphones is the least of your concerns. There are attorney fees, custody issues, and a whole range of things to work out. I promise that nothing on TV is that important. Try reading a book…about a healthy marriage.

To some degree, the ridiculousness worked. I’m the sucker who decided to blog about it. However, for the sake of humanity, please don’t buy these.