Lets talk about????

Today while driving our children to their various locations of education, we crested a stretch of roadway that always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy if I hit it at just the right time. You know sun placement across the tree tops, smell of damp dew in the air, that sort of thing. In the morning my brain is at its most active as this time in the car allows me to correlate the days activities into a hopefully well thought our prioritized list.

Driving through this little moment of Zen, I looked over at my teenage son and remember when my father used to tell me how a morning’s dawn was one of the most peaceful serene moments in a day. It bothered him that I usually slept right through it, missing the earth’s transformation from dark to light. I wondered if one day he would be in the same situation thinking the very same thing, wishing he had listened to me way back when?

And there it was. That moment when one thought creates a burst in the mental dam! Will he have heard anything during his adolescent tenure while fighting against his need to challenge the bull? All Teenage boys go through this period, some sooner, some later, but at some point their testosterone tells them it is time to challenge the bull. It is where they learn to take a beating (metaphorically), get up, learn, and try again. It is a period of time that molds them into the men they will become, learning to follow rules because it is the right thing to do. It is also when they fight an overwhelming need for acceptance from not only their parents but friends and love interests, or prospective love interests and this is where personally and socially things can begin to become, well, convoluted.

Let’s talk about sex.

Now both my sons and I have had “THE TALK”, and we have held this little sexual information conference on many occasions. I have felt it overly important as my parents and I never really covered the bases besides the obligatory: don’t have sex, it leads to kids and you will be in a lot of trouble.

We have discussed everything (if you are uncomfortable please leave now) from their own penises, to female body parts, how they function and what purpose each intricate portion serves. They were “grossed out” in the beginning for having such conversations with their father, but it has gotten easier over time.

The gist after all from my perspective is a little saying I have shared on numerous occasions with any teenager that will listen to this old man.

Boys are boys, girls are girls and you are all just friends until you get into college. It is impossible for you to commit to someone else until you discover just who the hell you are. Then and only then can you decide whether or not you are able to share yourself with someone else.

This is wisdom not handed down to me but learned the hard way as my entire youth and young adult life was spent chasing someone else’s dreams in hopes of finding out who I was. As a 49 year old man I still have not chased my dreams, I know who I am now, (and I kind of like myself) but have no ability to discover myself further due to many responsibilities that rest upon my shoulders. I have been blessed with wonderful friends, children and an equally excellent partner in life. But to have learned much more about myself at a younger age would have been worth its weight in gold.

What worries me as we continue into town on this serene morning is even though my focus was off when it came to myself, I did have a great youth, meeting new friends and dating some super awesome young women. But that’s just it, we dated. There were phone calls, in front of parents, and nervousness when it came to even talking to some of these girls. I was always terrified to ask a girl out. If there was a girl I liked it took me weeks sometimes to get the nerve up to do it! The funny thing is they always knew it was coming, boys just act stupid when they really like someone. It was the way it was. I heard lots of no’s. And even though it crushed me at times, there were some yes’s as well. It was fun, exhilarating and exhausting at times. We learned whether or not we actually liked each other or if we should just remain friends. In one case a girl I had liked for a really long time actually said yes, we went out on one date and everything that could go wrong did! When the night was over we tried to kiss and we realized instantaneously it felt like a brother and sister trying to smooch! YUCK!!! We had been friends for so long we had become family! It was an important lesson learned and taught me so much about myself and how my relationships affected people in ways I wasn’t even recognizing.

This is what’s eating at me! Our children today don’t need to do that anymore. Somewhere over the last thirty years we have gone from nervous dating to sexting! The theme is hooking up not going out! Our children are partaking in a very dangerous game of emotional instability centered on sex, photography, and one night hook ups all done through their phones! There is no more nervousness in making an impression! No more terror about what you should wear, how you should look, will she like me for who I am, will we have a good time and will she still like me when she gets home. Nope! Kids today are playing a very deadly game, combining image and self-worth, which can only lead to disaster! This really worries me! No, let me re-phrase, it scares the hell out of me! They are no longer asking for dates, but naked pictures! Texted or Snap-Chatted from their bathrooms, bedrooms and cars! That’s right mom and dad, while you are out working, doing laundry or watching Dancing with Stars downstairs your little angel has her or his pocket computer squirreled away popping high resolution photo’s for all to see. There is no worry about how it will affect someone or the damage caused if any of these pictures leak. And let me just say from what I am hearing the girls are as aggressive, as the boys!

None of them have a clue what they are doing or the implications associated and trust me, if you are reading this thinking; not my little angel or slugger! You are dead wrong. It has become a game for our children and they don’t understand the ramifications one bit.

Now we all know the mental end of it. Girl sends picture to boyfriend, boyfriend shares with all his friends because well, he is a teenage boy and that’s a half-naked girl! (Not an excuse, just the facts) Girl finds out about picture sharing and is devastated (rightfully so), feels as though she cannot look anyone in the face at school because she doesn’t know who has or hasn’t seen her naked. This scenario goes any direction you place it too. Boy/boy, girl/girl, boy/girl, girl/boy, it does not matter! It is damaging and cruel leaving psychological scars upon its victims that take years to repair. A few children have even committed suicide from suffering through their inner torment. These kids feel they doing something harmless but do not have the mental faculties to see the long term effects of their actions.

But let’s look at the legal aspect. Same scenario as above only now mom and dad are aware and have decided taking action is the appropriate response.

Police are notified, School is notified, an investigation ensues.

Our children are placed in handcuffs and hauled to jail for questioning. Why? It is the trafficking of child pornography. It doesn’t matter that said child wanted to send this naked picture, the child is underage. It does definitely matter the moment said child shared picture with friends, that is the very second they became a trafficker of child pornography. Remember all parties are underage.

The minimum sentence for trafficking is dependent upon your particular region but from what I could find doing a little old fashioned research it carries a minimum of 15 years!! 15 years in jail because two kids sent nudies to each other then, shared them with the world! Of these sentences vary upon severity and incidents. But the outcome is the same. Someone is getting arrested, someone may go to jail, many may have their lives ruined forever and someone may have to register as a sex offender.

So who do we blame? Because this is America and someone needs to be blamed for this heinous act continually perpetrated amongst our youth!

OURSELVES….

Didn’t see that coming did you?

We as adults are being outwitted and outplayed, not just by our children but society as a whole. It is our responsibility to keep up with technology and yet much as our parents did, we have taken a stance of ignorance. Touting such phrases as; it’s too complicated, if I need it worked on I’ll give it to my kid, they understand it much better than I do, why does it have to have so many features, it needs to be simpler. Funny thing about those blurbs are they come from recalling my parent’s excuses when it came to working this hot new little item called a VCR. Funny how it fits into today’s issues with computers and technology as a whole.

The problem is by taking that stance we are essentially giving the keys to the inmates so they may run the asylum. Our society as a whole has turned to electronics as a babysitter, a pacifier, a walking teacher loaded with information used under the guise of homework and learning. But the dark underbelly lurking inside is too much temptation for our young minds to handle. We have decided to accept its positives turning a blind eye to the negatives believing we have raised our children to know better. To be strong enough not to try and locate the end of the internet along with all of its little side roads and travels.

I began researching this issue after wondering just what exactly was on my teenage son’s phone. After searching through its contents we found some questionable apps and began wondering just what they may hide and why anything needed to be hidden at all. A long discussion was had about the power he held by owning his phone and using the technology appropriately. It also shined a light on our ability to monitor just what he was using his phone for and why. We spoke to him in detail about what is going on with others across the nation and how serious some of the offenses can become.

Today, he turns his phone in nightly. Yes now and again we slip up on that and don’t catch it and he feels a certain victory as is he has gotten away with something, but in the end he loses it for a few days and as he puts it; his social life is dead! Re-affirming my earlier comments about how sad it is our children no longer know how to date or socialize face to face for that matter.

The password cannot be changed. If it is he loses the phone again for a specified period of time. If it happens twice the phone is gone permanently.

When I ask for it, no matter where or when, he must turn it in without question. If he tells me to wait a minute while he erases texts, the phone is gone for a specified period of time. Second offense the phone is gone permanently. He is reminded to text as if a parent were reading it, for, as I often do, they just might be. Am I so naïve to believe he will never text inappropriate things? No, he has just gotten better at deleting them before I get ahold of his phone.

If he so much as thinks about touting that it is in fact his phone, I remind him it is not his phone, it is my phone, under my name, my contract and until he is 18 it is my job as a parent to ensure his growth as a human being, his safety from doing expectantly stupid things and until that time comes that he is an adult with all its super fun responsibilities. Tough shit.

I hate the goddamn phone but in today’s world it has become somewhat of a necessity. So we as parents who choose to arm our children with these boxes of mystery must become incredibly proactive. We must be on the watch out constantly because as soon as we learn one aspect of this electronic wonder there are numerous other factors working against us. The largest perpetrators working to defeat our parental policing?

Apps.

No matter what we do, or how we do it there are numerous app’s working to thwart our actions. Checking your kid’s iPhone and find it clear of all wrong doing? Look again. For there are numerous applications to help hide what junior doesn’t want you to see. These apps are the anti-parent. They share information then make it disappear! They capture screen images from the very transparent app for you to keep in a secret locked folder that only you have access! If that wasn’t enough to have a locked folder there is even an app to hide the app!!!!!

Here are a few app’s to keep an eye out for!

Calculator applications. There are a ton of these but here are a few of the more popular ones.

Best Secret Folder

Secret Photo& Video

Calculator hide

HiCalculator- Private Album

Private Photo

Fake Calculator

 

Individual app’s with unique app pictures that lead you to believe they are something other than what they are which is a locked secret folder.

Settings lock

Secret Piano Icon

Keep Safe photo vault

Don’t touch this

HiFolder

Vault

Hidden Secret Files

Photo Umbrella

FileMaster

iDiscrete

HIDE

Picture safe

Private photo

Album lock

My Media

 

Snapchat

Snapchat is a fun little app, there is no doubt. Many parents I know use it exactly the way it was intended, for amusement. The issue is still the same, if there is a way to abuse something, we as human beings will determine what that is and exploit it! Thus the issue with our children. Naked pictures, under the guise of anonymity that can be captured, saved and shared. Scary.

Yik Yak

Another social site that offers discreet chatting with locals in your area. Unfortunately from what I have witnessed many times it is sexually explicit and self-deprecating. There are comments made in reference to teens that are demeaning and hurtful. Another opportunity for those who remain unethical to berate others from behind a hidden wall.

Of course there are the standard sites that everyone visits such as Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Tumblr etc.. Some would say these sites allow our children to be more social to a broader section of society and to some extent that is true. They still need our daily supervision as it is easy for them to post or repost an item they might find harmless but in reality could be detrimental to someone else or themselves. As I remind our children on a regular basis, once it’s (whatever you post) out there on the internet there is not taking it back. It is there forever, for all to see. It becomes your electronic legacy.

So as I drop the kids off and ask them to have a nice day, I smile and wink. They tell me they love me and run off to school. The high schooler who is sans-phone for not turning it in at night again grumpily gets out of the car, reminds me what time to get him and then slowly gives me a sly smile and says; see ya!

He walks away and I wonder, besides all the other advice I hope he remembers will he appreciate this struggle we went through together? Will he be thankful we diverted him at every chance he had to derail?

I don’t know, but I do know this, no computer or application can give you the feeling I had the first time a girls said yes to going out with me. Nothing can replace that first time holding hands or the very first kiss. Nothing replaces a nervous heartbeat, the smell of perfume or watching the sunset together with her head on your shoulder. And nothing feels like the world does when the sun comes up in that certain place on the road that gets me every time firing my brain into overdrive allowing me to feel alive.

Hopefully one day my children will understand that without looking it up on their phone.

4/14/16 addendum

Tonight after reading my blog, my teenage son came into the dining room and sat down. Calmly and with the maturity of an adult, he asked if I would please stop writing about him on my blog. He felt I portrayed him in a somewhat negative light and he didn’t want people to think badly of him. I have never been more proud of the way he handled himself and the conversation that ensued.

So let me add this, it has never been my intention to show any of my children in a negative light.  Only to share with other parents that we all are in the same boat! I am saddened that I have hurt his feelings. He is an amazingly funny, warm and generous young man. I am overwhelmingly proud of who and what he is becoming as he spreads his wings and there are numerous others who care for him as if he were their own.  My use of him came naturally as he is the only teenage reference to date in my household. His offenses are minor in nature even though at times they bring forward major topics of discussion.  I will honor his request and cease to use him as a basis for my writings because I love him and respect his wishes.

~Betty~

 

 

 

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I may be a parental failure.

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Today my dears, a realization hit with the ferocity of a hammer.

I am a horrible father….

Since becoming a father on July 11, 1996 nothing has been more important for myself personally than becoming an extremely successful father (yes I am competitive). No books, no mentor following me around pointing out the do’s, don’ts, and why’s along with sharp poignant strategy to overcome even the smallest of situations. Nope just me and the wife figuring things out as we go.

Along this journey there has been incredible highs, overwhelming lows and obstacles thrown my way that far exceed anything one could ever have imagined in the parenting realm. Work, friends, my personal time and space all cast aside sometimes begrudgingly, but cast aside none the less because my eye has always been on the prize. That prize of course, becoming a great father with absolutely wonderful well-rounded children who outside the home are polite, practical, hardworking, giving, with empathy for their fellow-man, a strong social conscience, a definite awareness of right and wrong and a complete understanding that all actions bear consequences both good and bad. I don’t think it is too much to ask as a parent for your child to meet this glaringly obvious criteria before entering our revolving wacky, social populous. It is after all my job to help them become successful in life. As one half of this parenting equation and after time spent giving up on my own selfish wants and dreams it is with great sadness that I must report. I am indeed a horrible failure of a father.

A Horrible father you say; why how can this be true? I mean we all see the Instagram perfect Brady Bunch family pictures you post almost daily on Facebook! Is that all a lie?? Well my darlings its like this; after dealing with the emotional distress of graduating one child from high school while walking another warily through the very same gates. Struggling to understand the wants and needs of my, not quite but almost teenage daughter who balls her fists up whenever things don’t go her way like DeNiro in Raging Bull. Then standing slump shouldered and befuddled while my 9-year-old refers in the third person repeatedly to his “being” in the afterlife to avoid putting down the iPad and read an assigned book for the evening that I realized something is amiss. The whining, the complaining, the hatred or mean looks cast our way whenever we investigate, disseminate, initiate, propagate and communicate, well, it all just seems wrong. My parenting is missing something, I must not be reaching out to the children in a way they understand. Are my ways to old and antiquated, am I expecting too much? After doing further investigation I have determined the answer to be yes! I have gone about parenting all wrong, way, way wrong. Thanks to the internet, the Disney Channel, Snap-chat, Instagram, askfm, and Yik Yak I feel the needs of all children everywhere and it has nothing to do with my plan of attack or game plan as it were. No sir I was not only WAY off base I wasn’t even in the same ball park!

So from this point on it is with great trepidation that I must announce a new game plan, a winning formula for parental success! It has taken hours of deciphering the aforementioned comments, concerns and wickedly smart one liners thrown at us parents by our own children, both in person and on the internet. But seriously I think I got it down and failure is not an option!!!! So here goes..

From this point on I Betty declare here and now to my children that I will no longer:

  • Tell you what time to go to bed or care if you even “make” that bed.
  • Remind you to do your homework
  • Let you know you need a shower
  • Expect you to care about your grades
  • Expect you to study and achieve good grades
  • Expect there to be good grades when I check the schools web-site
  • Expect the teacher to give me a glowing review when I ask about your grades
  • Aw hell, even expect you to go to school
  • Limit your time on the x-box, Nintendo, or Playstation to the weekend only after your chores and homework are completed.
  • Have any chores for you to do at all. I apologize for the burden of work we placed on you.
  • Expect you to clean up your room
  • Lift the toilet seat before you pee
  • Put the toilet seat down after you pee
  • Clean up the god damn pee!!!
  • Flush the toilet
  • Brush your teeth
  • Do your own laundry
  • Fold your own laundry
  • Put away your own laundry
  • Even give a shit about what freaking clothes you are wearing!
  • Make you wash your hair again (of course this is if you are still showering)
  • Ask you to pick up after yourself
  • Feed your animals
  • Clean up after your animals
  • Hell even care at all about YOUR animals, set them free!
  • Care if you talk back/smart mouth your mother. It is open season from here on out!
  • Ask to see YOUR phone, even though we pay the bill I fully understand possession is 9/10ths the law. I am sorry for invading your privacy.
  • Look through your phones apps-once again apologies for the privacy invasion. My bad…
  • Punish you and take away your phone for inappropriate texts, pictures, and comments left on your phone by not only you but your friends as well. (That’s right you little bastards I know who you are and I have seen body parts that I cannot erase from my brain)
  • Set limits on your use or interpretation of the English language. No more G rating expected and all forms of slang are now allowed! Got it playa! I know sick huh! Word…
  • Monitor the television shows you watch.
  • Make you go to church
  • Ask you to help elderly people, such as grandma and grandpa. They are just gonna die anyways right?
  • Expect you to do the dishes after dinner
  • Expect you to help with dinner
  • Expect you to eat dinner. Your mother and I are hiring a professional eater for you.
  • Care whether you spend the entire day inside lying around or outside, lying around.

That was just a few examples but as you can see young children, fruit of my loins, this world is all yours for the taking! No more stupid old parents and their even stupider rules to bog you down! Dope huh?

This new winning strategy is sure to be a hit! I will no longer hang my head in shame as that of a failure! No more confrontation, no more irritation, no more aggravation, it is all yours, all three of you left in our house and you will chant the sonnet that is my name from the mountains high and it will ring sound from the hills below! It will be glorious, magnanimous, there will be parenting books written about me for decades to come as others soon follow my lead!

Things shall be written like, visionary, mind bending genius, a parenting guru! I shall grace the cover of People magazine and the View will book me ASAP!

Yes a new brighter future awaits!

Let the children live I say! Let them be free to express themselves anyway they see fit, do whatever they want to do and experience life in a way only our youth can admire! Imagine! Imagine the adults they will grow to become, the leaders, the thinkers, the pillars within their communities all because WE took the time to release them from the parental chains that bound them from true expression!!!! Yes….Yes… YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait…….. Maybe I am not failure after all……

kid

 

My little angel might be no angel at all…

What you are about to read is an opinion; it is not a solution, it is based upon expressed emotions pondered for a specific amount of time. We (as a society) are allowed opinions afforded us through the first amendment to the United States Constitution. Although we are afforded these rights, I will never abuse that privilege. I have and always will take very seriously what ever opinion is put forth by my ever spinning brain.

I purchased a laptop, and promised stories would continue, I wrote a few relatively funny snippets about parenthood but just could not bring myself to post them. Why? Life got in the way, and my sense of humor has been affected.

Over the past couple of weeks since posting my last story a multitude of events have transpired both locally and nationally  leaving me wondering what the hell?

  1. A warning comes down from the federal government stating that ISIS is now looking at soft targets.  That is right; no longer are we safe in our homes as operatives are now individually targeting military personnel, (first and foremost) police officers, politicians and firefighters.  We now have terrorism at its very core.  When you become afraid to post with pride what you do for a living through social media, walk out your front door, and fear for your family’s safety.  Our country has a serious problem. Note I said “fear” because that is the root of terrorism. It may never happen, it probably will never happen, but the fear is always there, always present.  For this I have no comment other than to shake my head in sadness for our country.
  2. School shooting in Washington.  We have all read or watched the reports.  Teenage boy gets together with his closest friends during lunch like he does everyday then pulls a gun from his backpack and proceeds to shoot them in the back, in the middle of the cafeteria, with all to see.
  3. Teenager walks towards a high school, back pack containing a handgun and several rounds of ammunition.  A friend of said teenager feels comments he made the previous day are of concern, notifies school administrators that this teenager had in fact made credible threats in regards to coming to school and shooting several individuals, including a teacher that very day. (this is all para-phrased) Long story short-cops look for teenager, teenager finds them first unloading several rounds into unsuspecting patrol car, barely missing the police officer inside. Short chase ensues, face off happens, teenager ends up with a superficial wound after being shot (public knowledge) by police.
  4. A young girl decides she has had enough.  After some discussion with her mother she disappears from home, the police are called and a missing persons report is filed. What no one knows or could have known was this girl proceeded to walk towards the train tracks and step boldly in front of a 70mph Amtrak train. I say boldly because it takes a certain amount of resolve/inner pain to willingly step in front of a moving train. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.  It was my shift, my guys responded to the incident, and all though it is not the first time nor will it be the last time for our crew dealing with such a morbid scene along the railway. It has forever changed the face of suicide for each and every one of us. Her reasoning for taking her life stemmed from bullying.

These four things all happened with in the last few weeks.  I have screamed at the television, written a few things in regards, decided the tone was all wrong and deleted the subject matter. I as have all of you, have sat patiently while political pundits cast stones in all directions away from any responsibility their own party may bear.  I am frustrated, confused, disgruntled and angry! As a parent it makes no sense to me why we can’t create solutions! Instead we all sit by as the news media (who cares not one bit about finding an answer through non bias reporting, but instead thrives on ratings and if there are none then the story disappears forever) gnaws on the raw meat that is our emotions. My emotions are raw as well. I have pondered and pondered, written and as I stated before, erased. My blog has always been about my life, the life of my family, the fun and exasperating moments along the way. I never want anything on my page to become a political debate as it takes away from the fun.  Unfortunately this is still about my family as I have been affected personally by each of these 4 stories. Number #1 is self-explanatory. The shooting in Washington, #2, only in relation to #3 as my crew responded to this incident, and the “what if’s” rolled fast and furious afterwards. What if he made it to the school? What if-it turned into a mass shooting are we prepared? What if- my son was one of the victims could I have continued to do my job? Number #4 was also my crew and opened my eyes to what is out there, pulling my head from the sand and re-evaluating my own personal responsibility when it comes to our children. Remember these are only my opinions, and although many may disagree I am open to any conversation that is held respectfully on these topics.

  1. More gun laws- More gun laws are not the answer. I would like to say they are but they are not. The answer: allow our police officers to do their jobs, then hold the courts accountable for not upholding the strictest of sentences when these laws currently in place are broken!!! We don’t ever hold our court system accountable! It amazes me that a drug offense is stricter than a gun violation. Our country screams for justice, why are we not starting with the justice system! We knee jerk react instead of planning for the future in turn we allow another idiot politician to revel underneath his own fodder, founding a bill in their
    name so he/she can pat him/herself on the back a little more.  Here is another idea, how about a revision of all laws currently on the books in regards to guns? I bet there are many that are redundant or have no bearing what so ever in this supposed civilized society! Listen people a sign at school that says this is a no gun zone doesn’t mean shit to an angry person hell-bent on vengeance.  And if it’s not a gun, then maybe its a crossbow, or a knife or what ever that angry person is using in the commission of a crime. Hell a weapon is not a description used solely for guns as the news media would have you believe! A weapon is any object used in the commission of a heinous act.  I get it, put up the sign which creates another charge added to the suspect, but that leads us back to my original complaint! Our justice system. Now before you get angry with me, I am neither pro-nor anti gun.  I am for reasonable people making reasonable decisions when it comes to our future as a society. Something I feel we have lost.
  2. Bullying- Ok so we have all been bullied at one time or another in our lives. If you have read any of my stories than you know in high school I was a bit mouthy (yes that means I bullied a time or two as well).  Got myself into trouble and at times ran scared (being bullied in return).  The ability to handle those situations and learn from them is what made me the person I am today, it developed my character.  We as parents cannot protect our children from everything and at some point they (our kids)  need to learn to stand up for themselves, hopefully with our help and guidance. Although that all sounds good and fine, it is not happening, the problem lies with our current way of living, our social structure, the need for rapid gratification! What is the problem, the root cause you ask?  Social media and a severe lack of respect! Not just for others, but for ourselves! Our children are not equipped for what lays in wait for them on the internet, like a wolf hiding in grandmas dress waiting for little red riding hood to come through the door, so does the internet. We have provided our children with too much! To much freedom, too much trust, to many  electronic gadgets with windows to a world we just can’t keep shut from prying eyes! Television shows  that exemplify treating your best girlfriends like shit, talking behind their backs, having sex as a social status in school! Teenage girls portrayed as sluts, hookers, meat for young boys to have anyway they wish and whenever they want! And if you don’t give it up, you are anonymously trashed on every social media site available! FB, Yik Yak, KIK, Snap-chat all there to post how she was a slut, what degrading acts you performed on her (or really didn’t but by lying about it you keep your rep), why she should sleep with your friends-oh hello snap-chat! Here is a picture of her naked everyone, I took it with my cell phone camera! I promised I wouldn’t show any one, but I lied! Also On the Snap-Chat front, girls willingly sending pictures of their boobs to boys! What the hell! It’s no wonder bullying is such a problem! Dont believe me?                               I will use Yik-Yak as an example. I downloaded the app, set my geographical area to the center of my town, within one hour I knew where to go for drugs, who was looking to score, what girls were hoes (yes I even knew a few of them) whose ass was so hot it needed to be (one boys own words) POUNDED! I now know the description of several shapes of a penis’, the detailed description of both what its like having inter-racial sex and sex between boys, what group everyone wants to kill at school, who the hottest teacher is everyone wants to sleep with, and so one. And I really mean SO ON!!! Oh and let me add I only chronicled the boys here, the girls are just as descriptive, mouthy and vile. As a parent I have never been so disgusted by what I read in a very short period of time.  Did we talk this way as teenagers 35 years ago? Hell yes we did, not to the extreme I am reading here, but yup! It happened. The difference is it was between us, our small group, done in person and if you crossed the line it was handled then and there, either with apologies afterwards or some smoothing over that took a few weeks.  Today they are all hidden behind a veil of secrecy, they can say what they want without retribution, it gives them power! It creates monsters that have no repercussion for their actions. The ones with no conscience, or parental guidance will only grow bigger and stronger until someone decides they have had enough, choosing to step in front of a train as their only option, as opposed to seeking help, receiving that help and living.

Unlike the gun control debate where I only provide a suggestion; I think I have a solution to help us begin to conquer our social media related troubles.

  • We can start by eliminating cell phones from campus.  I am sorry your little angel is at school and you need to get ahold of them right now, but guess what? THEY ARE AT SCHOOL!!!! We didn’t have cell phones at school in my day and our parents got along just fine without us! If little Johnny needs a message from you then go through the office! Its called the chain of command. Something we use to a T in the fire service.  If you don’t allow your school to guide and control the motions and activities of your child while they are on campus then you are circumventing the system and empowering your child. You are telling your child they are more important than the lesson being provided which in turn takes away from the respect due towards the instructor inside the classroom.  Eliminate phones and you eliminate distractions, kids texting kids, taking pictures, surfing the internet. Dont tell me your little one would never do that, because I guarantee if given the chance they will. If we can’t take them away (cell phones) maybe just as a few of these social apps restrict their use while near a school campus, we jam all cell signals within the same specified area, neutralizing the temptation. Just a thought.
  • Mandatory bullying class- a class taught by adults, sharing their experiences being bullied. Bullying doesn’t just happen to children, it also happens to adults, if we are to become this great civilized society, an example to all around the world then why aren’t we educating ourselves in regards to the destructive nature of bullying.  Why are we not recognizing the life long damage it can create? Why are we not empowering the weak, celebrating the strong and bringing them all closer together.  Our society currently crushes the weak, watch any teenage show on Disney and prove me wrong. We are teaching our children to cast them aside instead of standing up, protecting them, and showing compassion. Our children, parents and siblings should be supportive, creating change, providing a better society that thrives on pushing forward mankind, people’s rights and ability to thrive. It sounds nice I know, I also know we can’t save everyone, but education has and always will be the key.

So there it is, its off my chest. Like me or hate me, agree or disagree. I felt it had to be said. I am tired of fearing for our world and what we as adult are allowing to happen. I am just as guilty as the next person. My children are just like yours and given the same opportunities will follow the very same paths without proper guidance from their mother and me.  In the end, it comes down to this, we are trying our hardest to raise respectful, well-rounded children who understands the needs of others. It’s a hard enough job parenting with both of us working multiple jobs and running from one kids sporting event to the next, but it is what we signed up for and we all need a little help now and again.  I also never want to see another young child take their life, or see a kid who is so frustrated they feel killing someone or there fellow students is the answer. Because it never is.

Betty is sad………

 

It is your time….

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Fear resides as the devils left hand while hope lies within the depths of the right.

As a young man I would lay in bed wondering what would become of my life. Not just the normal glossary topics such as marriage, children etc.. But what would BECOME of my presence here on earth, both in the present and long after I am gone. There has always been a yearning to become more, a feeling as though there is more for me to accomplish, left gazing to the heavens wondering what more could be out there and hoping that one day all would reveal itself to me. You see fear has always kept me from being exceptional at anything and hope has continued to keep those dreams alive through wild daydreaming and at times pointless planning. But in the end my inability to control my fears have left me with nothing more than hope and for that an empty feeling deep within my soul remains.

As we enter the final days until Cody leaves for college, it has occurred to me this conversation has never taken place between the two of us. Is he prepared to strike out on his own? Does he have a true vision of what his life will become, where he is headed, and if he has a plan? Or does he even need one?

Do his daydreams have meaning, has anyone ever told him they are part of the fabric for which his inspiration will evolve. When we are young we should be encouraged to follow those dreams to strike out on our own, throw caution to the wind, find out who we are by testing the very mettle molded by our parents and the experiences held up to this point.

As a child I was constantly warned that daydreaming was a complete waste of time. But it was where I went, or could go to be whatever I wanted to be at any moment. As a child I was also terrified to daydream out of fear of punishment, chastised for the very waste of time others felt my mental trips to be. As an adult I believe daydreaming, contemplation, to meditate is the mystical treasure map of our lives. Where do we want to be? What do we want to become? It’s all right there, trapped within our magnificent, organic, computers (the brain). Stare into the distance; let your mind take over and what do you see? Are you on a beach in Tahiti or piloting an aircraft? Can you feel the warmth between your toes as you stroll across a cobblestone path or are you closing big deals in the heart of New York’s financial district? Can you hear the applause of a packed theatre as your performance brings down the house or the cold sting of a winter’s night as you walk carefully up the side of a car you just pulled over for speeding, no back up, alone? Does a fire engine race by as you gaze into the unknown whilst its sirens leave you with chills, or do you feel empathy and an inner strength as though you could perform that very job? Can you smell the dirt roads of an impoverished country and see yourself guiding those in need or walking across an unknown landscape with no destination in sight until you unknowingly stumble across a new challenge, or fortune.

Do you see yourself doing GREAT THINGS!

There is an old adage that our parents told us as youngsters; when you grow up you live in a country that will allow you to be whatever you choose to be. Personally I prefer: There is nothing you can’t do once you put your mind to it. But my personal favorite is: if you can dream it, you can be it.

So to my son, his friends, every boy and girl heading out into the world I say; this is your time! This is when you take a moderate amount of responsibility and huge dose of dreams and find out who you are, what you are, how much you really like yourself, then squish it all together and become whatever you want to be too this world! Yes! It won’t be perfect! Yes it will be messy at times and involve meeting new people, understanding those you have nothing in common with and occasionally like a sculpture in the works need a little molding from time to time. Yes you will leave behind people you care about as well as those you don’t, but have learned something from just the same. Yes! It will take work, hard work, so hard at times you will feel like quitting but you won’t because you have a dream. Leave a legacy, a mark, have a moment in time that will forever be yours and remember to never, ever quit daydreaming.

To every adult out there who reads my blog. I have never stopped daydreaming, but I have allowed my inability to control fear keep me from accomplishing my dreams. Hopefully life, burdened with all its responsibilities has not left you stunted in the same fashion, unable to dream big, achieve those dreams then close your eyes and smile wide; for now that you have done your job as a parent; it is “your time” as well.

Dream big, open your eyes and see what happens when you push fear aside….

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The Face of Leukemia…. The call…

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The call came through, I stared as it rang, the glaring eyes of my wife looking back through a pixel image formed from technology. Only 90 minutes into my shift I was fairly certain this call would center around a current general lack of respect shown by our children as of late. Between Jake’s consistent arguing, instagramming, snapchattering, compulsive behavior, or Jessica’s continual chip on her shoulder aimed at the entire world, Parkers inability to rise above 4 years of age at times and Cody’s, well Cody being Cody, it was fairly obvious a parental conference to line up our offensive, gathering ammunition and supplies for after school encounters was on the horizon.

Yet when answering the phone there was not the snap of an edgy, irritated Cuban woman whom I have grown so fond of but instead all that could be heard was a whimper. A demure, silent, almost mouse like squeak from the other end of the line. I sat up from my chair quickly, startling my co-workers as I pronounced; Jacy whats wrong! Still just a whisper, almost unrecognizable in stillness. Again even more stern, my tone changing with the rapid fire of my heart rate: JACY HONEY WHAT IS WRONG? ARE YOU OK?

With the whisper of an angel, a serene, quiet message arrived within the confines of my almost deaf, aging ears.

Its gone….

Whats gone? What is gone? Who? Is your dad ok? Is my dad ok? Are there any animals missing? What is gone? I don’t understand!

It is gone, fumbles from her lips one more time. The sound of a cracked voice, a strained quivering lip, a sniffle as mucus forms to join a plunging tear.

Honey, she called, it is gone, the cancer, its gone!

Is this a joke? Wait how does she know, man I wish I had another cup of coffee this just isn’t making sense!

Then it hits me. Three days before we went in for what we prayed would be the final bone marrow draw to determine if Jacy was indeed cancer free or if we were headed to Stanford for more Chemotherapy and an eventual bone marrow transplant. In those three days, with all that had been transpiring around us, I callously had forgotten.

ITS GONE! ITS FREAKING GONE! THE CANCER IS GONE!!!

Slowly but surely, my voice raises, not able to contain my happiness a shout of joy can be heard throughout the firehouse as I turn to my crew, my brothers, the family I spend one-third of my life with, the same family that supported our family 100% over the last six months. It is gone I say, the cancer is GONE!!!! Everyone is excited, I am excited, my heart is pounding, I can’t catch my breath, It is gone…

I tell my wife I love her, we both cry. A feeling of weight lifts from my shoulders, I want nothing more than to run away from work, go hug my wife and spend the day with her, talking about something we havent talked about in six long months.

The future.

My wife, my friend, Jacy Mirelle Franceschi was given a challenge six long months ago. The challenge was to beat Cancer. In that time she accepted, rejected and accepted that very challenge several times over. I knew my wife had it in her, she is the strongest, most stubborn woman I have ever met! I prayed a lot in the beginning, not for me, but strength for her. I coined a phrase and we adopted that phrase. Kicking cancers ass one cell at a time! A dear family friend formed an Army, and with it Jacys Army came to life, bringing support and love, along with a town that surrounded us. We (Jacy and I) never have done anything special, we both did not feel we deserved this attention but it didn’t matter, one by one they all came to our aid, joining Jacys army, supporting this cause and it worked! We did it, we ALL did it! My wife kicked cancers ass one cell at a time!

The cancer is gone. How we both longed to hear those words.

Yes, AML can return, Yes we will be ever vigilant for the rest of our lives, one wrong sniffle, a feeling of being run down, a blood draw or marrow test will never be missed. But today, moving forward, the woman I love is cancer free!

Feeling like Rocky Balboa after a fight, fist raised in the air, screaming for Adrian, but he just cant get to her. That is the way I felt at work when I got the call. The battle was over, the victor stood tall, but I just couldn’t get to my love to tell her how I felt, to have her look into my eyes and reconfirmed it to be true. Oh well it appears I just may have the rest of my life to do just that.

The cancers gone, the cancer is gone.

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To my family, friends and co-workers, to the citizens of Dixon, to the followers of my blog and to everyone who held a kind word, said a prayer, shook my hand, hugged me, told me all would be ok. To Jacys Army, the meal train participants, the fundraisers, to all the wonderful cancer survivors I have spoken with, thank you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. It is because of all of you that we survived this incredible ordeal. I love you all… 

Nurse Betty….

20 things Nurse Betty will probably never hear from a Chemotherapy patient.

  1. Does this hospital gown make me look fat?
  2. Man I could eat a horse!
  3. Honey could you stop by the store to purchase me some conditioner?
  4. Now that was an awesome workout!!
  5. Zofran is for pussies!
  6. MMMMMMM-M hospital food again! Hell yeah!!!
  7. This hospital bed is great! I slept all night, like a rock!
  8. Go outside? Hell no I got all I need right here!
  9. Man I look great naked!
  10. I don’t like fresh fruit and vegetables anyways!
  11. Another line to put in nurse, the more the merrier!
  12. Whew! Cytarabine is such a rush!!!! Yah!
  13. I cannot wait for another bone marrow draw!
  14. Vomit-its what’s for dinner, and dessert and breakfast, and oh well you get the point..
  15. Will you please, take the needle out of my Power port and put it BACK in again? Please!
  16. I think you forgot to take my vitals.
  17. Can I please pee in the top hat at home! Please?
  18. I have no idea what my latest blood counts are?
  19. When I get outta here I’m going to Disneyland!!!!
  20. Man oh man I love that I haven’t pooped in three days!

If you have gone through, are going through or are in the midst of Chemotherapy then you know exactly what each and every one of those statements mean to you, personally.

My whole life I have always tried to find the humor in everything. I have too, it is my coping mechanism. I am the guy who can go a really, really long time being yelled at, put down, struggling under an emotional burden and laughter always gets me through, allowing me the opportunity to push my feelings down! Farther and farther, deeper and deeper, because hey, they are my feelings after all and expressing them is just a waste of time right?

So with laughter, nervous, caddy, giggling, straining laughter these feelings of helplessness and grief, struggle and heartache, get pushed farther and farther into a never-ending emotional caldron! hee, nervous hee, ha twitchy ha…..

Don’t worry, once its full down there, and it heats up a bit I’ll let it all out! I promise, scouts honor! I mean all it takes is a certain word or situation and them Whammy! My emotional toil will spill forth like Vesuvius blowing its lid, burning, maiming, damning all around me into an eternity of fear.

Scared you didn’t I?

Seriously, we are very blessed for this sense of humor we have retained throughout this whole event. I am calling it an event because in the grand scheme of things that is all this is-an event. We will look back upon it someday and laugh, probably cry a whole bunch too, but I am sticking with laughter!

My wandering point with all this drivel. (besides hopefully making you smile a bit) Wake up everyday and be thankful. Your troubles are not so big. Money comes and money goes, jobs are a source of income, not a source of heartache and pain. Your children should bring joy to your life, no matter how troublesome they may become. Love them, hold them and try to understand what they may be going through, then show them the right way to deal with life’s little inconsistencies.  Tell people you love, how you feel, tell people who inspire you, bring meaning to your life just what an important role they play in your personal growth and sanity.  Everyday is a gift for you to open, unwrap, be thankful for this gift and enjoy.  Remember it is never to late.

Even when Jacy and I don’t see eye to eye, even when my selfishness helps me to relocate a foot into my mouth. I love her. She is mine and I am hers.  No amount of stress related to this family centered catastrophe will change that! Is it fair? No. Do I accept it? Yes. I hate this disease for what it has done to her, not me, but her.  No person deserves to go through what she is enduring.

When she lies beside me (hospital or home) I don’t see Jacy the chemotherapy patient, I see Jacy, my wife, my partner, my love. When she places her head onto my shoulder and closes her eyes, there is no cancer, there is no gloom and doom, there is only us, our relationship, the warmth radiating from within our friendship, there is peace. All the reasons we married are pushed to the surface for us to embrace, hold in front of our faces, relishing, reminding us there is no mountain we cannot climb, no obstacle we cannot conquer, together. Staring at the ceiling, gently stroking the soft baldness that is her scalp, I am at ease, she is at ease and she sleeps. It’s not much, but its mine, all mine, our little moments together.

It is love….

 

 

 

 

A day in the Face of Leukemia.

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10 pm. Finally there is peace and quiet. I am alone with my thoughts. (not great company at times) I am…..exhausted. The children are all nestled in for the night, leaving me alone to rest, think, plan, and prepare.  Ok also to drink a nice cold beer…

These children, these genetic markers, fruit of my loins, incredible individuals who are searching, striving to understand what exactly is happening to their mom, taking my every moment with inquisitive thinking, questioning, testing my very patience. It is easy to forget they are not at a level to fully comprehend exactly what is going on with their mother. As each day unfolds and my fervor reaches pitch, they are unwitting victims to my own personal demise. A tossed bit of clothing here, an untended animal there, a room in disarray, teeth forgotten and hair occasionally not washed during the cleansing process. All lead me to instant eruption at times.

As my mind continually works at an ever rapidly processing pace, my inner ability to control or grasp a solid foundation of patience seems to crumble. It is not as though these little cherubs have truly faltered in any way, but more as though their little mistakes are magnified by worrisome frustration on my part.

A day in the life of the husband supporting a cancer patient.

Every morning I awake exhausted! My back aches beyond belief although I am beginning to feel this is some form of sympathy pain helping me relate to suffering my wife may be feeling. Breakfast is some delicious Javita coffee and a small bowl of oatmeal. Thankfully most mornings, the horses are already fed. Two of our “borders” in particular have become my barn angels. (Lisa and Olivia) Saving me from this chore as lately I just can’t seem to function with any repetitive, normalcy as the sun arises. After staggering around like a lost puppy looking for its master, I can usually get dressed before our children awaken wanting, no needing my utmost attention. During this time my mind is already checking off a multitude of things that may or may not need accomplishing before I abandon ship, heading off to be with my wife in the hospital.

After a short morning briefing the kids have their chore lists lined out, some laundry is done, dishes, washed, bathrooms cleaned, dogs taken care of and out the door I go to work a few horses that need to be on a daily routine. After completing this chore, its back into the house, showered, clean clothes, check in on the kids progress with their chores, hugs all around, a list of objectives to the oldest who is now watching siblings until my return and then off to Vallejo to be with my wife.

Easy enough, yes?

Walking through the door of room 5020 after saying hello to many nurses who know me by name, I lay eyes upon her, and begin feeling guilty. I still cannot understand why this is happening to her. This beautiful, vibrant, glowing woman, who by all accounts has never done a horrible thing to any ONE person in her entire life. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why isn’t it me? Why hasn’t this awful disease happened to me? It would make more sense, I havent always been the nicest of people, I didn’t always care about others, their needs, their troubles, or problems. In my youth I was a very self-centered individual, who didn’t always treat people with the respect they deserved. But then I suppose life isn’t about who deserves what, as we see on a daily basis in the news, but for myself it just doesn’t make sense why this woman, this person who saved me from myself, this angel who puts everyone and everything ahead of herself, why it has to be her.

She is happy to see me! Like a prisoner is happy to see a loved one during their monthly visit. Trapped in a 15×20 room, with crappy food and lines pumping chemicals into you from all directions, one could understand the importance of familiar human contact. She proclaims her affection and declares how much she misses me, it makes my heart sink, yet fills me with joy at the same time. Sinking because I feel her lonely pain; surrounded by many but alone none the less. Yet to have someone who needs you, who loves you so much that after all this time together can honestly say they have missed you. Well it is powerful.  I watch couples these days fight over the stupidest things. Complaining in front of everyone, tearing down their marriage on a stage for all to see and it makes me sad. These people don’t realize the gift given by proclaiming their love for one another or what blessings are right in front of them,  focussing instead on the possibility that some grass may greener on the other side. Marriage is work, it takes hard work at times, but there is an old saying; you reap what you sow. I try daily to plant and fertilize my marriage and I believe it shows. It shows when I walk in the room and my wife beams at me with that million dollar smile. It shows when she grabs my hand, squeezing tightly and says; don’t leave me. It shows when she tells me she cant wait to be home so she can feel the security that comes with sleeping alongside her husband. It shows when I leave and all the way to the car I feel like part of me has been left inside that fifth floor room.

Jacy has cancer. I know she is winning this battle, but every time I say it, every time I write about it, it chokes me up. Jacy has cancer. My throat tightens. Jacy has cancer. My stomach feels sick. Jacy has cancer. My eyes become moist. Jacy has cancer. A dark cloud overhead looms like a storm waiting to throw lightening my direction. Jacy has cancer. I thank God the children don’t fully understand and only feel as though mommy is just on vacation in the hospital. Jacy has cancer, Jacy will always have cancer, Jacy has cancer.

Coming home, I am met by the many blessings of being surrounded by those who care. Nice notes, cards, letters of hope and understanding, dinners dropped at our door, the barn taken care of again and a multitude of additional support. But just as Jacy wishes nothing more than to escape her sterile cell, pulling needles from her veins to resume a normal life, I wish for her to be home, covered by the safety of these four walls, never having to travel this journey ever again.

Tomorrow she does comes home. The first few days are going to be rough as sickness, fatigue and living immunocompromised will be scary. But she will be home. In three more weeks she gets to do it all over again, returning to hospital, becoming reattached to chemicals that will save her life. Its a small price to pay to beat this evil demon, but then that’s easy for me to say as I am not the one fighting to survive. Or maybe its easy for me to say because it’s the only way I know how to deal. Placing things in categories and checking off  lists, one box at a time. The main thing is she is coming home.

So as I reach the end of another long day, I just want to say; Thank you to everyone, all of you, the kind words, the hugs that mean so much ( I love hugs, it’s the dad in me) , the smiles and great conversation. This is a fight, a fight we are going to win, no one fights alone and all of you have proven that to be true. Jacy is definitely not fighting alone because of all of you and standing by her side as her husband has been my absolute privilege.

Thank you for allowing me to make that happen..

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Leukemia’s house of horrors!

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Phase two of AML treatment. The beginning of ongoing chemotherapy or Consolidation Therapy (CT) as it is known.

So what does that mean? Quite simply it means that Jacy’s immune system has bounced back to epic proportions. But because the original treatment was a bombardment of all aspects of AML she was exposed to many different drugs that all had different jobs.  Thier goal was to kill everything, both good and bad! The nuclear bomb of cancer treatment! The primary drugs classes for this procedure fell upon Alkylating Agents and Antimetabolites.

Alkylating Agents: 

Alkylating agents directly damage DNA to prevent the cancer cell from reproducing. As a class of drugs, these agents are not phase-specific; in other words, they work in all phases of the cell cycle. Alkylating agents are used to treat many different cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, multiple myeloma, and sarcoma, as well as cancers of the lung, breast, and ovary.

Because these drugs damage DNA, they can cause long-term damage to the bone marrow. In rare cases, this can eventually lead to acute leukemia. The risk of leukemia from alkylating agents is “dose-dependent,” meaning that the risk is small with lower doses, but goes up as the total amount of the drug used gets higher. The risk of leukemia after getting alkylating agents is highest about 5 to 10 years after treatment.

Antimetabolites:

Antimetabolites are a class of drugs that interfere with DNA and RNA growth by substituting for the normal building blocks of RNA and DNA. These agents damage cells during the S phase. They are commonly used to treat leukemias, cancers of the breast, ovary, and the intestinal tract, as well as other types of cancer.

So as you can see these are some pretty harsh buggers and can make a person very sick while performing their duties. The problem is even though they kill everything and Jacy’s counts have rebounded with astounding veracity there still could be stragglers. Evil doers hiding, lining her sacred DNA, waiting to join up forming an alliance, then pouncing on her fresh new unsuspecting immune system!.

Because of these sneaky little bastards we are in Consolidation Therapy. So what is Consolidation therapy(CT) ? Well I am glad you asked, Consolidation therapy is:

Treatment that is given after cancer has disappeared following the initial therapy. Consolidation therapy (CT) is used to kill any cancer cells that may be left in the body. It may include radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant, or treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. Also called intensification therapy and postremission therapy.

So as you can see Consolidation therapy (CT) is very important. It is the clean up crew of cancer treatment. The crew that cleans up the stadium after a ball game. The squad that ensures a scene is all clear after a major crime. The Firemen that perform salvage and overhaul after a fire. The-oh well you get the point.

Jacy’s CT consists of Cytarabine. Now one may think WHOOO HOOO, only one drug instead of 4 or 5! But let me tell you this one is just as evil as the rest. You see when taking Cytarabine you must first be medicated with pain and anti-nausea medications! Because if you aren’t, hello toilet! Watch me steer the porcelain bus! Pray to the Sloan valve gods! Kiss the tile floor!  To make matters even worse some patients will develop a fever, body rashes, red eyes, and of course exhaustion.

During treatment your doctor will test your blood on a regular basis. Not just to see if Cytarabine is wiping out any stragglers but checking your kidney and liver functions ensuring it’s not killing more than it should.

But hey whats a little vomit, itchy skin, red eyes, exhaustion  and possible kidney damage when it means you will live! Right! Am I right?images-19

Luckily enough Jacy only had a few of the symptoms and is doing remarkably well! She is going to beat cancer, we are witnessing it first hand. She is going to become stronger and live a long and happy life.

So how do they administer the CT treatment? I am so glad you have inquired!

It is done through a port placed just under your skin. Since she has to under go three-week long treatments over the next three months in the hospital, instead of placing a Picc-line (acronym for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) into her arm every time she comes into the hospital an out-patient surgical procedure is performed to place a small port (PowerPort) just under the skin for easy access to a vein for administering drugs. (see picture)port.illustration220px-Portkatheter_Röntgen

On Monday we arrived at the hospital at 7am for admission. Jacy’s surgery was scheduled for 11:30 and by 1:00 she was wandering back out into the lobby. Procedure finished, right side of her chest numb, black and blue and swollen. She was supposed to start chemotherapy at 3pm but by 5pm we still had no room available as the hospital was full.

Around 7:30pm a room finally opened up, we got settled and lucky for us two of Jacy’s favorite nurses where on and had been assigned to her for the evening. Watching her start the pain medications and anti-nausea drugs, we knew it was going to be a long night.  Jacy felt I should go home to be with our children, and like a good husband I did as I was told; but only because I knew she was in great hands. Kissing her good night, looking into her gleaming eyes, little did I know the hell she would go through not more than three hours later.

0800- Jacy calls me gravely voiced and sounding weak; asking if she was ok; she says no. You see the PowerPort site was so swollen and inflamed no one could make contact with the palpation points to locate the insertion site. They grabbed it manipulated it, poked at it trying to insert the PowerLoc infusion device and nothing. Now imagine 12 hours earlier someone cut open your chest in two different places, inserted a device through one opening just under the skin then fed a line down into a vein at the other insertion point, then sewed it all up and sent you on your way. Now pain meds have now worn off, it hurts like hell and people are grabbing it, pulling on it, doing everything they can to stick a needle inside of this bruised swollen section of skin! Not maliciously mind you but trying their very hardest to perform this manuever quickly because underneath this swollen, inflamed area and little plastic device lays a 146 pound woman screaming and crying in pain! Proclaiming to all that will listen this pain is worse than childbirth! (that is saying something)

Both of Jacy’s nurses were crying too as they both love my wife and the thought of her hurting was crushing them inside. One nurse refused a doctors suggestion of going straight into another vein to start the procedure because she knew Cytarabine had a high probability of collapsing the vein at insertion point. They were wonderful advocates for my wife. After four failed attempts over a few hour period, additional pain medications and a lot of prayers, one of the nurses asked Jacy if she thought she could bear one more attempt. Through gritted teeth, screams of pain and sobbing tears from all involved they got it first stick. Chemotherapy started.

The nurses all met with management to implement some changes in regards to the insertion of the PowerPort device. The Powerport device is usually inserted a few days prior to the patient receiving treatment. This allows the insertion site to recover, swelling to diminish and a healing process to develop a good strong foothold before someone pokes it with a needle. Through the dissipation of swelling the palpation points are also easier to locate. It came about that all patients with same day insertion will have the adjoining PowerLoc insertion device put into place. No more torture sessions for patients to start Chemotherapy.

Today Jacy is doing much better. First round is going very well and she feels like a prisoner trapped in a room. At least this time she wont be trapped there for 21 days.  She comes home on Saturday night or Sunday morning. She will be confined to her room until her white cell counts rise to normal levels. She will be extremely immunocompromised. She will be extremely nauseous, she will inevitably become a tad bit cranky, but she will also be one step closer to beating this disease. One step closer to returning to a normal life, one step closer to seeing her students and one step closer to placing this chapter of her life in the books.

She will have kicked cancers ass.

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Random thoughts on life and Leukemia

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Last night while gazing upon the stars at 1 am after our 5th medical response in a row my brain began reflecting upon life, its crazy highs and sock you in the gut lows. In a matter of 40 minutes myself and our crew had lent assistance to a wide generational swath of our local society.

From devastating self-destruction both mentally and through chemical intervention to an actual emergency need in conjunction with a health care system abused by those neither willing nor able to understand its legal ramifications, the resources lost, nor the world that actually doesn’t revolve around them personally. A true sampling of consensus within a short period of time.

Becoming judgmental is an easy undertaking, fighting the urge to prejudge individuals upon first encounter is hard. Being a fireman the communities trust is put in our hands to always do the right thing. See people for who they are not what they have become. We are allowed glimpses of people’s lives that would otherwise go unnoticed. That is a large responsibility. Some days it weighs heavier than others on my heart, as my eyes witness these revolving cross sections of our society I go home upset or unhappy with what I have seen. Thus the judgmental aspect forms and memories that cannot be erased etch themselves into my psyche permanently  like a scar for all to see, left for me to pick at from time to time for no other reason than because it exists.

Staring into the nights sky, pondering what it all means, fogging up my brain. Reliving experiences from my life, candid moments, snap shots and like a Grisham novel this story is all sewn together with a fabric of revelation. Every moment finding a place as to why. Why it happened, when it happened and that it happened to me. There is a meaning and the meaning determines not just who I am but WHAT I am or have become. The people in my life I hurt, loved, helped, shared experiences with and what I learned from each and every individual who has crossed my path, set eyes upon my craggy face.

Shaking my head as if my brain was an etch a sketch hoping to erase an unfinished drawing, I can’t lose this feeling that all is not enough.  There is more life to be lived,  we are trapped in a stereotype of how life should be lived and for the most part succeed out of learned habit. But what if there was more? We have one life to live, we are not guaranteed any days here on this earth, trust me I have held the hands of many who were cheated, watching those last moments fade away in their eyes, lives unfulfilled, potential disappeared, erased forever.

Yet the world still turns, it feels no repercussion from human losses. Sun rise, sun set, society still moves, people still awaken, babies are born, buildings erected, mountains moved and society trudges on. Eventually who you are or were, is destined to become a faint memory or forgotten. It is life and life goes on.

I live a life of fear. Fear that I will never be good enough, fear that my children may perish before me, to be forgotten before they had a chance to become something, anything that leaves a mark no matter how small upon this world.  Fear that my wife may lose this battle with Leukemia at some point, leaving sadness and despair to rage within our family. Fear that I will perish before I find what this longing is deep within my heart that whispers; no screams at me there is something more. A mark, a substantial mark that I am supposed to leave upon this earth. Complete narcissistic view I know, yet it lingers deep within my soul. Maybe I am already leaving that mark and just don’t see my hand to spite my face? Fear that she (my wife) will know the pain of losing me, carrying an ache, sorrow and agony with her for the rest of her days.  Fear.

So I stare up at the stars and I wonder why? Why do I feel this way? Why cant I be happy with the here and now. Why I worry about how much time I have left or lack there of? I wonder how I can be better, a better father, husband and friend, a better co-worker, I wonder why?

Remember those days when you felt as though you had the world by the balls? There was nothing to stand in your way, no mountain you couldn’t climb, no one was going to say no to you! Do you remember? I do.

If you don’t understand the feeling I am referring too, just look at your child. Not your self-absorbed teen ager; your child. 1-9 years of age. Before society, television and friends ruin their ability to think on their own, be creative beyond our walled off perceptions. Give a child an adult sized problem, one requiring and answer and you will see imagination, inspiration, out of the box thinking and a confidence just waiting to be tapped. But as they grow older that ability goes away through structure, through habits neither right or wrong learned from observing ones elders. That feeling you had as a kid of being able to daydream all your problems away. To look deep into a problem and come up with the craziest most unorthodox suggestion known to man. To be confident.

That is the way I feel about Leukemia in my life. I don’t have Leukemia, but when my wife suffers, I suffer, when she hears news both good or bad, my emotions grow raw with glee or anger. I refuse to hear the word no. There has to be a yes to this struggle. I refuse to believe that my wife wont beat this disease. I refuse to listen to statistics and the medical dribble that often accompanies those numbers. And to date she is winning, we can see the finish line and victory looks great!

I feel as though my wife has the world by the balls! That she has another opportunity, showing the world she is unbreakable. That feeling has inspired me, left me in awe of her positive attitude, her out of the box thinking. She unknowingly has allowed me to reconnect with my inner child. There are no problems that cannot be tackled without imagination. She has left me finding the positive, loving all who surround me, laughing just a little bit harder, saying thank you a whole lot more and remembering that life is a gift to be cherished. I kiss her on the head every night while she sleeps, the smell of her skin soothing my soul. She has and is all I will ever need.

And so I am left staring at the stars, at one in the morning, wondering if there is or could there ever be, more………

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The Face of Leukemia- Just look at me, really its ok.

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Bald is beautiful

We’re all born bald, baby. – Telly Savalas

I collect hats. It’s what you do when you’re bald– James Taylor

It’s a great event to get outside and enjoy nature. I find it very exciting no matter how many times I see bald eagles –Karen Armstrong

What’s so brave about being bald? I’ve not fought for my country or found the cure for cancer I’ve just gone out without my hat on! -Gail Porter

You know it is interesting to me this stereotype associated with being bald. If you’re a man, it’s obviously genetic. Poor you, trudging through life with the same cranial cul-de-sac formed upon you as your father and his father before him. Unless of course you are a skinny, emaciated man then you must obviously be dying from some rare form of cancer. Or you just happen to be Billy Corgan jr. or Michael Stipe then ROCK ON DUDE!!! BALD ROCKS YEAH!

But what if you are a woman? Sinead O’Connors’ shiny domeness was by choice, a political statement against a traditional view of women. (well-played I might add)  But what if you don’t have her “balls”, what if you are brought screaming and kicking into baldness? Seriously think about this, in our society a woman unfortunately is judged the moment she walks into a room. Not for her sunny personality or Mensa card-carrying IQ. Nope, she is judged for her looks. Make-up, clothing, body weight, eyes, breasts and of course her hair. That is right, men will either ogle a woman within the first 30 seconds, ponder ogling her over the next 30 minutes or write her off. In the mean time women within the room will smile to your face and talk shit the rest of the evening. Sorry ladies its true, I have witnessed more than my fair share of character assassinations based on any one of the above criteria not being met to perfection on more than one occasion.

People get real comfortable with their features. Nobody gets comfortable with their hair. Hair trauma. It’s the universal thing-Jamie lee Curtis

So imagine, carrying this social pressure your entire life only to wake up one day without one of these aforementioned 6 major sight line musts for survival. What would you do? How would you behave? Would you curl up into a ball and cry or say fuck it and march boldly into the world claiming my hair will not define me!

Jacy lost all her hair on or around the first week of December. It has gone from sadness to a fun playful experience then one of empowerment! She has come to terms with this loss, worn a few wigs to help with a social awkwardness associated with a woman not 1474617_10153673039070221_12575420_nhaving hair, and in the end decided that 9 times out of 10 bald is beautiful.

Now while none of us can say with certainty what we would or would not do as it has not happened to us personally, I am proud of my wife for taking this strong-willed, brave stance. She does indeed have a perfectly shaped head and I think she is hot, hOT, HOT bald! Really, like she could never have hair on her head again and it would be ok with me! The woman is drop dead gorgeous! Throw in her stunning smile, caring heart and amazing personality, well ladies and gentlemen we have the trifecta of baldness!

But let me say this before I drone on too much about the woman I love and her shiny new dome. When we are out in public.

I see you.

I see when you stare at her as though it is wrong for her to be bald.

I see you when you look behind her and sigh as though you just cant relate. It’s ok, we understand if you cannot, but please don’t be fake.

While eating in a restaurant I see you staring, with your smart ass smirks, elbows flying into each others ribs while walking by outside. Moron it’s a window, if you can see us I can see you!

My ears may be 47 years old but your mumbles are not quiet enough. She hasn’t lost her breasts and even if she had you shouldnt be staring trying to figure it out so don’t look, she isn’t skin and bones so quit guessing her weight, and yes she lost ALL her hair, so stop wondering about places you cannot see and how much wax is being saved.

If you are going to stare don’t look ashamed when I make eye contact with you, walk up and ask questions, we are always open to discuss Leukemia and its effects upon our lives.

When you do have something to say, dont automatically behave as thought this is her last day on earth. The news media has ruined the public in regards to behavior when confronted with a bald woman. Smile say hello and ask away with glee! We are happy to be here and so you should be as well. Who knows the bald woman you talk with may have alopecia, thusly not really needing you to pray for them, unless you feel that will raise hair follicles from the dead?

If you have had a couple of drinks, your inhibition is lowered and you feel as though it is the perfect time to act like an ass with rude or inappropriate comments about this beautiful human being or any like her that may be in my presence, understand this, I WILL  make it the very worst night of your life. I promise..

When my wife takes her wig off in the middle of a store and it shocks you, just chuckle. It is funny, we laugh about it all the time and will laugh with you I promise! But if you can’t chuckle politely than at least close your mouth, that looks funnier than her bald head and we would hate for you to feel bad about yourself.

Remember, people going through chemotherapy are no different from you and me. Most of them have an incredible sense of humor, some have survived the very worst of treatment, others are still dealing with an inner loss while a few are looking at just making it a few extra days.  These people, these priceless examples of survival and strength, still need to laugh, love, talk, and feel. They still need to be accepted as the very same human beings they were before cancer. They know they are not the same inside and nothing will ever change that, but what they don’t need is to be reminded through ignorance, insensitivity and callousness.

Look into the face of cancer, tell me what you see.

I see LOVE…

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