Thought for the Day

Why Did I stop writing?

Why did I stop writing on my blog? Why so long between writing? Did I think that since I wasn’t fighting cancer my story wasn’t relevant anymore?

The short answer is yes. I’m a 48-year-old man who, through many reasons and decisions, moved in with my parents. Was I a failure, running home, back to mom and dad?  

At first I felt like that, and with that there’s the built in self-doubt and shame of not being able to survive on my own. I survived the Marines, I survived cancer, and now I was living at home.  

Those are all things that, when I first packed up and left California and moved back to Chicago,  ran through my head that I had to process.

Moving back home was the smartest, healthiest thing I could have done. My physical and mental health is the best it has been in years, maybe even decades. It’s hard to believe that for 2 decades I fought that demon, but when fighting demons you get beat up and scarred pretty badly. Many of those scars aren’t visible. I have the insides of a 90-year-old. With everything that I went through, you could say I have a form of PTSD, or mental quirks that are similar. I joke about it, and have always joked about it, that I’ve been resuscitated so many times, 47 to be exact. Now let me clarify something: this isn’t times my heart has stopped. This is the number of times it’s taken an outside source, either CPR or defibrillation—aka the paddles, someone yelling “clear,” then getting 200 joules pumped through me—to get my heart to beat again, and in a good rhythm.  

All of this adds up and has caused long-term damage, both physically and mentally, but all of it is hidden from the public eye. I mean, looking at me and talking to me on a normal day you wouldn’t/can’t really tell the differences unless you know what to look for.  

It took me a bit to come to terms with the reality that I can’t live alone. Over all the years of living with roommates, it just didn’t work out with my health issues. How can you really expect someone to truly help take care of you? This isn’t a dig on all of my past roommates, just some of them.

I digress though. When in that head space of self-pity and wallowing it felt like I would be doing nothing but moping and complaining, and who really wants to listen to that shit? Getting healthier and in a better headspace and surrounding myself with people who are positive instead of negative were the first steps to admitting to myself that I am not a failure at life.

So the long and the short of it all is I’m healthier, both physically and mentally—mostly mentally, lol—so now I’m sharing again. Welcome back to the ride. May this one not be as much of a roller coaster as we have had.

Dogs dogs dogs

Many people ask what does having a service dog mean to me? That’s a pretty loaded question because it has so many different aspects to being a service dog handler that a lot of people just don’t think about.

Most are positives but there are some negatives. The biggest positive is the freedoms he allows me to not be tied constantly to machines and to have an ever constant vigilant companion that gives his all even when i’m not feeling my best. Watching over me even when I’m sleeping.

But with the good there are some negatives. Having a service dog is like having a toddler you have to make sure that you have everything they need at all times not matter what. Food/water and protection are just the tip of the iceberg. I carry with me a go-bag with all the things I can think of that I may need during an outing. It’s a full on diaper bag for a dog.

You lose a lot of your privacy. People have no problems asking personal questions. “Why do you have a service dog?” What does he do for you? These are just a few of them. The talking to him the distracting of him from doing his job. Would you come up to someone in a wheelchair and start moving it around without the consent of the person sitting in it? That’s what you are doing to a handler by talking to their dog.

The one statement that is said constantly without thought is. “I wish I could bring my dog everywhere I go.” Well I wish I could sit down at a restaurant in a chair without fear of my heart stopping as I sit there. We don’t want to be disabled, we wish we could lead a normal life, but we weren’t dealt those cards. Would you tell a person in a wheelchair that you wish you could sit in their chair all day?

I was talking to another handler who’s a veteran and one of the things that people say to him is “well you chose to join the military.” To me that’s just a total bullshit statement. That’s like saying well he chose to drive.. giving an excuse as to why/how someone got injured in a car accident. Or say “you asked for it to any person ever..” Yeah I went there, that’s how disrespectful and hurtful statements like this are.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not all bitter and grumpy. I as part of the group I’m involved in advocate and educate stores, restaurants, places of business, and multiple groups locally. An example came from a friend at work who has a young daughter who wanted to take their family dog to Outback restaurant. My friend used my story pictures and videos to explain how only Service dogs “special dogs” are allowed and why. To be invited to girl scout troupes as part of their badge work to teach them about service dogs. These moments outweigh any time someone comes up to me and asks or says something intrusive.

Here is a link from a video filmed and produced by the Crown Point Community Foundation the Group I am involved in Pets n Vet’s is a recipient of a grant from them.

How things change

This blog originally was made to share my fight with cancer. I fought that beast for nearly 20 years, a beast like no other. Zombie apocalypse in your own body, yeah it was that bad.
Last month I just crossed the 3 year mark for being in remission. I’ve had a lot change in my life.

I left my life in California. Left a very toxic relationship, Left the job I had worked hard to be in. I’m building a new carrier, admitting to my disabilities and have a service dog, become a mentor, and advocate and educate for service dog handlers.

So this blog will be a conglomeration of this as I catch up with everything so bare with me I’ve been a bit silent the last few years. Let’s see if I can break that.

Filling in some lost time

It’s been a few years of me sitting on my ass and not writing.  I could make excuses and that’s all they would be.  To catch you all up when I moved to Chicago back in July of 2014. I won’t bore you with all of the details, there were many factors that brought me back to live with my parents. The biggest one is my health.

Before you go getting all worried I’m fine. I had another bought/dance that wasn’t rough. I’d been going through dialysis treatments to control my numbers but those really weren’t working so after talking to my loved ones and most importantly with Donnett I decided that since it wasn’t working to stop those. They were taking to much of a toll on me without much benefit.

My Doctors reached out to me for another case study that I agreed to do and thankfully wasn’t that hard on me. I’m glad that I agreed because for the first time my markers both cancer and blood disorder are so low that they don’t show up on any of the tests. As of April 17 of 2018 I have been cancer free.

This makes this remission my official longest one.

One big change in my life is Hunter my Service dog but that’s another post..

The dance

The dance… the ride… the next step… the next speed bump… call it what you will. I’m about to start the next step in this journey. I was told just this week that due to the blood disorder that I was cursed with so many years ago I have a 97% chance that either Non-Hodgkins comes back or that one of the many “Hot Spots” becomes malignant. Does this mean that my Cancer is back? No, it means that I still have to go through another treatment cycle of the unknown.

What I do know is that I’m not done.

Now In Remission

In remission for 1526 days.


June 2022