Project: Optimism

Depending on things going according to plan (and let’s face it they don’t tend to do that in my family), the husband and I could very well be taking a road trip to Minnesota to get a second opinion on his ALS diagnosis. While he and I believe the competence and skill of his current doctors, it would be negligent on our part to not make the effort. In addition, I know his family is holding out hope for their own “google search diagnoses” to be true. Since we were told he has motor neurone disease (aka ALS), each one of them has become experts within a few key term searches. The problem with their optimistic perspective is that it’s infectious. Now I too have a glimmer of hope.

I hate how pessimistic I have become. I call him “Dark Josh” and he jumps out every once in awhile when the weight of the world gets to be too much. He’s realistic, but also very cold and, at times, cruel. It’s not difficult to maintain my jaded world view after all the bullshit from this past year.

I say these things, though clearly I don’t believe them as staunchly as I had assumed. Or I wouldn’t be entertaining the idea of this side quest.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want his diagnosis to be real. The last thing I want to see is my husband slowly disintegrate before my eyes, until he’s just gone. I’d rather gargle Trump’s balls while he poured bleach in my eyes. Yet, I can’t undo what’s already in process or ignore the matter-of-fact way in which these doctors discussed his dying… But I guess I can hope.

The hubs’s family holds a firm belief that he has a vitamin deficiency. They assume as much because his symptoms did not occur until after he had weightless surgery (the gastric “sleeve”). It was only a month (or two) after that they manifested. Many of the symptoms tied to this keyboard-diagnosis are very similar to those of ALS. But there are also a lot of symptoms that these articles claim to happen with these deficiencies that he hasn’t experienced. And the same could be said for the ALS. Even the doctor admitted that the timing is suspect and that there have been some atypical results in their tests. He too recommended getting another’s opinion.

The fact of the matter is, I am willing to go to the ends of the earth for him. No matter what it is. I will go with him, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. And if we get the same answer, then we will take the next steps to slow the process. My biggest worry is that this will all have been for nothing and we will have wasted what little time we do have.

P.S. I hate that both my mother and husband have diseases with ticking clocks. Add some new writer’s to the room, God. You’re getting tired and sloppy with these recycled plot points. At least give me a long lost twin brother.

All down hill from here

As is custom, when I sit on the edge of a new year I take a look back at the previous one. And it must be said that 2019 was quite the train wreck. All the politics and world issues aside, my personal life was a rollercoaster.

Going chronologically, it started off great. In February of last year I passed my real estate appraisal licensing exam (on the third try) and officially became an appraiser. Then in May I was awarded my AA degree, summa cume laude (then proceeded to transfer to a more distinguished college campus). And in the space between these two landmark achievements, I felt empowered and returned to editing my novel (because nothing could stop the success train!)

I got halfway through my revisions before life turned on a goddamn dime.

The first punch to the gut was my mother getting, officially, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (Prior to that a nurse practitioner diagnosed her weird mental failings as being under too much stress.) Her loss of memories be damned, it was her erratic and bizarre behavior that finally showed my father and I the ugly truth we had been denying.

Following that my grandmother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She was given a month to live and that she did. She passed away in the early morning hours after everyone had left her to rest.

Immediately after that death, my father fell and hit his head while taking his morning piss. (His third time falling that week.) He arrived at the hospital unresponsive and stayed that way until I gave the order to let him rest. He was gone in less than a minute, surrounded by his family.

Since then it has been failure after failure as I struggle to balance my job, my academic life, my romantic relationships, and being the sole caretaker for my mother. I try to keep up but I’m always letting someone down or forgetting to do something.

This had been the way of things until very recently…

After my husband had his weight loss surgery he began to have issues with his balance and walking. It got to be so worrisome that he was sent to a neurologist who ordered MRIs of both his brain and spine, and who gave an early diagnosis of “pressure on the spine.” He has since had them and now we wait for that news to hit us across the face.

To say that 2019 fucked me up would be an understatement. It bludgeoned me and left me on the side of the road to die.

But all is not lost…

This notion that at the stroke of midnight we are all given new lives and new opportunities is ridiculous. In reality we have that at all times. Even when things are shitty. Every moment is new and undiscovered. We get to forge new paths everyday. But just like any route the terrain is vastly different from the one that came before it. How you navigate through it depends solely on your willingness to keep going.

I am glad this year is done. But the shit storm that has become my life will only get progressively worse. It’s just the path I tread. However, I will take every moment I can to find happiness. I will surround myself with love and companionship to remind myself that in the end all that matters is what we did with the time we were given.

Tales of Pink-Eye and Cancer

My this has been one hell of a week.

It began on Monday where I made an eye appointment because my eyes were red, itching, and would not stop crying. I was certain when I made the appointment with the optometrist that it was probably pink-eye. The doctor however looked at my eyes and deemed it allergies. I was skeptical because I have had allergies my whole life and never had I experienced JUST a reaction in my eyes, but as he was the “professional” I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The following day, Tuesday, I finally had scheduled a CT scan that I had kept putting off because I had no time to do it. My work schedule has been (and is) hectic, so I never had the time but I figured that since I was so panicked about the blood in my underwear (coming from somewhere it should not ever if you’re a dude) I should make the appointment and follow through.

I went for my exam and during the procedure while they were injecting the dye into my vein it collapsed and instead of coursing through my body, probably, about half of it went into my right bicep. So for a couple days I had a bulging arm, much like popeye. After the procedure I felt silly going because I hadn’t had any further symptoms from the initial shock (aka blood.)

By Wednesday, the “allergies” only got worse and so I made a very quick follow up appointment. While rushing to that I get a call from my doctor. They had gotten back the results of my CT scan and it showed that my spleen and my prostate were enlarged and I was being referred out to a urologist for further examination.

After that lovely phone call, the optometrist (now a plucky, quirky young woman) told me I did in fact have viral pink-eye, the super contagious kind. This was after touching my eye with her bare hands (Smart) and swabbing my eyes with a giant q-tip. The cotton swab must have been just for fun because she did nothing with it and never mentioned it was being sent anywhere for testing. Her answer for my diagnosis was “good luck” and a referral to another optometrist.

Later that same day I got a call from the Comprehensive Blood and CANCER Center. They were following up because I was referred to them by my general practitioner (GP). They needed info to get the ball rolling, one piece of which was my blood work I had done the week prior.

The following day they called again to schedule a consultation for November where I (imagine) will be told I have prostate cancer.

To be fair, I don’t know this to be my prognosis. I am making a giant assumption but all the signs point to that and just like my certainty of having pink-eye I am certain that this is the case.

A few things come to mind, one of which (if there is one) god has a sense of humor. Prostate cancer is slow but trying to cure can result in sexual complications. I won’t die from this cancer, it will just kill any semblance of ever having sex again without the aid of a pump (hard pass).

I found out about a year ago that my uncle had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and instead of doing anything about it he let it sit and it has now spread to his bones. At the time I didn’t understand how one could do that. “It’s such an easy fix.” Sitting in the same position I can see where one would refuse to do anything, as that is the road I will most likely take.

The boyfriend, upon hearing my decision, was quiet. He didn’t really have any response. The husband however was annoyed and told me that my decision was bull shit and I was going to do whatever it took. While I respect his opinion more than likely I won’t be doing anything. What worth do I have if I can’t have sex? I know that’s such a petty thing to think but the psychology behind never having another erection is staggering. I remember a statistic about the army spending thousands on viagra, and I get it. For a very brief time I couldn’t get an erection and maintain it and it is a huge mind fuck for one to endure. (At least it was for me.)

As of right now, this is all just theory. I don’t have solid facts to determine anything or if what I assume to be reality is in fact true. The most comforting thing I do have is that I have two men who have repeatedly told me that they will be there for me and that is what’s getting me through, between my sudden outburst of tears (though those could just be from the pink-eye.)

A brief snapshot

Social media is something that simultaneously astounds and appalls me. At times it brings out the lowest common denominator in some, and yet for others it coaxes out a true humanity and the love we all have inside of us.

There is a gentleman I follow on Instagram whom I have never met nor have ever conversed. It has become apparent with his recent posts that he is going through a breakup. At first it was all subtext (a lot of selfies and cheeky butt shots) or the sporadic vague post about “going through stuff.” He finally disclosed his and his husbands break-up in his Instagram story and my heart broke for him. I have watched with interest as this stranger shared his life through photos: spending time with his boyfriend as they travelled the country, to their marriage at the site of a plane crash (no joke), and as they spent time together with their son. I have “hearted” almost every snapshot into his life. And now as he goes onto a new path I eagerly watch hoping and praying for his happiness, all the while never really knowing him.

I have been blessed to have been on the reverse of that, as people who happen to read this little blog or follow me on twitter have asked me how I’m doing. They barely know me, yet something compels them to care and reach out. Their little messages bring a lot of light into my world. And because of their loving curiosity I find myself wanting to share more.

As of late life is good. Wonderful in fact. Things with the husband have greatly improved since our little Palm Springs excursion, during which we laid out all our bull shit on the table for he other to inspect. I will admit, after all the sordid disclosures it took me some time to get through the following mess of emotions, but I have since arrived at a happier place. One in which I don’t ever want to leave. There is power and peace in rigorous honesty. And the communication since has flourished.

Then there is my awesome boyfriend. He is the kindest, most understanding person and I don’t know how I lucked out twice to get such amazing men in my life.

I shared all of this with my therapist during this last Tuesday’s session. She participated in my joy, but like any good counselor she didn’t just accept the good she also asked probing questions. For whatever reason, the one that stuck with me the most was: how do I not compare the two. My immediate response was that I don’t. The two of them are so different that there is no way to hold one up to the other in comparison and to do so would be a disservice to each of them.

After having more time to mull over her inquiry, my answer is still the same but I am more confident in my response. I truly can’t compare them because neither has what the other offers. It is trite to say but they’re like little unique snowflakes. And what I realized is that to break it down into such black and white ideas is not how this works. Polyamory (if that is what this is) is more complex. There are levels and layers to affection, emotions and multiple relationships that can’t be easily described in terms of “oh he’s so much better here.”

I don’t have my fears like I did. The thought that I would somehow be replaced by my husband’s boyfriend have left me. And my fear of us “just fooling ourselves and drawing out the inevitable divorce” has waned. It still lingers at the back of my mind, but it is a faint nagging that I scarcely ponder. Much like the zen attitude of just enjoying the moments with either one, I don’t let these negative thoughts cloud my present.

So, if you’ve wondered or worried over this stranger, as of right now there is no need. But your concerns have touched me more than you’ll know.