About buthopeisnotcrazy

I'm driven by quotes. I laugh at all of my own jokes. I thirst for new experiences. I have an immense love for elephants, a wonderfully supportive family, and I truly believe there's a reason for everything. "What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to that which lives with in us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

“At any given moment you have the power to say,

‘This is not how the story is going to end.'”

I’ve been avoiding writing about this but I guess it’s time.

I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ve really been putting this off. So, let’s see.

2 Wednesday’s ago I went to lunch with my mom and some of her co-workers. While we were there I mentioned how my eyes get stuck. I don’t even remember the context, but I said something about my roommate making fun of me for it. One of my mom’s coworkers then said “that actually sounds like seizures.” I explained to her that it’s happened for years and it’s no big deal. I left and didn’t give her a second thought until my mom used WebMD to tell me that in fact it does sound like what I describe is a type of seizure. After a slew of argumentative emails she made me a doctor’s appointment with a promise to pay the copay since I saw the appointment as pointless. You can imagine my surprise when my doctor told me that actually, it did sound like seizures.

Well, ok then.

She referred to a neurologist  on that coming Monday so he could run further testing. When I met with him my dad came with me and he told us that what I was experiencing didn’t sound like seizures it just sounded like sleep deprivation and stress. So you’re telling me, what I’ve been experiencing every single day for the past 4 years is because I’m severely stressed and sleep deprived….every day? I mean, I didn’t argue because he was probably right. That’s what I’d been claiming all along anyways.

He ordered for me to do a 24  hour EEG just to be sure and so after wearing that god forsaken hat I returned to his office Tuesday to have it removed. He told me that he would call me Thursday, assuming everything was fine, and then I could go back to my life and get more sleep and have less stress.

His office called me Wednesday asking me to come back in asap.

This isn’t our first rodeo, we all know that in the medical world, no news is good news, early news is not.

My dad took me back to my neurologist where he showed us the results of my EEG. Apparently not only was I having seizures, I was having seizures in multiple parts of my brain, nearly constantly throughout the day.  So, now we had to go through an MRI and MRA to check for any growths, aneurisms, or tumors that might be causing these seizures.

During my MRA I had an allergic reaction to the contrast so I got to stay in the office and watch my technician edit the images. While I was watching him I noticed he had highlighted an area and put “Left Anterior?!?!?!!!!!” He didn’t label any other parts that way….immediately I had a feeling. Really, I had a feeling the whole time that this was something more. I don’t know why, or even if I’m right because still at this point I’ve yet to be diagnosed, but I guess I could just tell this would be a long road.

Thursday after those tests I accepted death. Not because I had been confirmed that I had a life threatening situation on my hands, but because at this point, after being through after all I’ve been through with my health, and feeling this overwhelming inability to ever experience being healthy I just realized that death was no longer an abstract idea to me. Death is a reality. I know now that I’m going to die. We all are. But that’s not a distant idea that I can ignore, it’s something I’ve come face to face with several times and one day I won’t walk away from that encounter.

On Friday a new wind blew in. I decided that while yes I’m going to actively accept the reality of death, I’m not ready to go yet. And I am going to fight like hell against whatever this is.

Later on Friday they called me back to let me know my scans were clean and they were transferring me to an epileptologist.

The wave of relief I felt was unparalleled. My brain was ok. No matter what this was or is, my brain is going to be ok. I was so, so grateful.

I had my first appointment with my epileptologist Wednesday and she told me more than I expected to hear.

She told me that based off how my seizures are showing up, and the timeline of when they started, they actually think I may have a neurological disease that was caused by my cancer. It’s possible that my body formed antibodies in response to my tumor, and those antibodies are now attacking my brain. All of this research is relatively new so we still have a lot to test before getting a diagnosis. So that’s all I know at this point. I’m doing much much better today than I was yesterday and Thursday. Wednesday and Thursday I experienced a lot of self pity and also anger at myself for having such a selfish feeling. I finally feel like myself again, and I finally feel ready to take on whatever this is. I am actually filled with an inexplicable joy. This is my story. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

When Lightening Strikes Twice

You can’t expect all of the inevitable surprises that life throws your way.

I’m in the process of being diagnosed with a neurological disease that is expressing itself through producing 30-50 seizures a day; that was possibly caused by my cancer. And I gotta say, even though I’ve already been through a battle with a serious illness, experience doesn’t do much to help the situation. I feel overwhelmed, rejected, and a bit screwed by my genes. I feel hopeful- truly I do. But I also feel tired. Fighting when you’re tired is tougher than you’d expect. It’s funny…that’s the hardest part of all this. How tired I am. Part of me wants to say I’m perfectly strong and am looking at the world with a “bring it on!” attitude, but truthfully, I’m looking at the world with more of a, “can I get a nap really quick?” approach. One thing that experience has taught me, however, is that just because your life seems to stop, the rest of the world does not. And just because it feels like you can’t continue or you can’t go on, doesn’t make that an actual option. So this fight feels a little different. Instead of crusading against the evil that is cancer and building a platform from which to preach on my battle, and attempt at encouraging others- this time I bow my head, pick myself up, avoid drawing attention to myself, and just deal with it. I imagine this is typically how it’s done.

I’m holding on to a belief that maybe soon I’ll get a kick in the ass from the universe that tells me to fight with more enthusiasm (look forward to that entry- I’ll be sure to write about it should such an event occur). But first, can I get a nap really quick? 

Maitri, Karuma, Mudita, Upeksha

Translation: “Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy and Freedom”

According to Buddhism, these are the four aspects of Love.

As a Research Assistant in one of the biggest labs for romantic relationship studies in the nation, I experience, and take on, an interesting- sometimes more objective- approach to love. Though I never cease to be stumped by its incomprehensible magic. I come from a long line of divorce. In fact, I am not directly related to any one individual who has had a successful first marriage. So yes, I’m fascinated with Love’s ability to mend, heal, lift, inspire, create, and fill- but equally intrigued by its ability to drift away sometimes slowly, or occasionally abruptly, and without apparent cause. But no matter the fashion in which it left, it leaves the person different from when it found them.

So then, once it has left, how do we find it again? The peculiar thing is, we don’t want that same love again. And somehow society has placed on us this idea that once we lose love we are somehow less- a void has been created, a hole that we must fill. I disagree. I think, when love leaves us, it escapes like a dust. It wasn’t something that took up space- it was  something that covered us, whose gradient texture we grew accustomed to, and began to like. So when it leaves, that’s just it. It was only ever just a dust. And one can never find that again. So instead perhaps we shouldn’t search for it, nor desire it. It’s possible to assume that when we find ourselves in the right time and place, different dust, with a different texture, will fall upon us. It may not be what we’re used to, it may feel completely different, but there’s comfort in that.

What I find most compelling about these four concepts; loving kindness, understanding, compassion, and freedom, is their selflessness. We are to give out loving kindness, possess compassion, be joyful, and find and award, freedom through it all.

So the dust is abundant. We have enough to give out, we must share it with others, it must make us glad, but just as the inherent tendency of the loose dust; it must never constrict.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

image

These babies are to die for. And you can eat 8 of them with out feeling guilty. Well, maybe you can’t, but I can.
They are so good.

Here are the ingredients.

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients. Then mix the wet ingredients and add them to the dry. After that’s all mixed together add the smooshed bananas and the chocolate chips, folding them into the mixture. Bake in a cupcake baking pan at 325 for about 18-22 minutes.

Eat them hot. Go ahead, eat all of them. Because they’re all hot. If for some reason you can’t finish all of them as soon as they come out of the oven then when you’re ready to resume consumption just pop one in the microwave for 9 seconds (10 is too long, 8 is too short) and enjoy that melty vegan chocolatey banana goodness.

 

Naivety’s Arrogance

After my boyfriend and I broke up I made a promise to myself that I would be single for a year.

Why.

It would seem that post-breakup me had a bit of an ego that thought it necessary to ward off dating in the likely event that suitors from all over presented themselves willingly and pursued me for courtship.

It’s been a year and a half and the closest I’ve gotten to dating someone is staring down the hunk at my gym; who has caught me looking on more than one occasion. The last time he and I were working out together (by “together” I mean at the same time with me using a machine that was near him) I was on the Stair Master and after a few returned glances I decided to smile at him so he knew that I knew that he saw me looking, and also that I’d caught him looking. So I smiled, he looked confused. Then he smiled back, at which point I tripped on my Stair Master.

Boy, I am smooth.

I had good intentions when I set the year of singledom goal. I wanted to be single because I didn’t want any distractions in my way while I searched for myself, and tried improving my career. I also wanted ample time to fully heal and move on from my previous relationship. And look, I know a year and a half isn’t that long, so I really shouldn’t be complaining. I should be out enjoying my singleness, painting the town red, yada yada yada, and it’s not that I want a boyfriend, per se, it’s just that as nice as it is to be single and have the option of going out with different guys and enjoying an array of different company, I prefer monogamy. I enjoy continued conversation with the same person. And I’d like someone who I can have dinner plans with on Saturday, and enjoy brunch and the outdoors with on Sunday. But I guess you could argue awkward encounters at the gym with the same guy counts as consistency.

Now I’ve been thinking, it used to be so unusual for someone to stay single. Now that’s not so strange. And thank god that stigma is gone because people shouldn’t be pressured into traditional lifestyles just because society says so. But that also means that more people who do want marriages and families and relationships are having a harder time finding them. So while it used to be a 1% chance that those who wanted love never found it, nowadays that percentage is closer to 5. I think. Ok at least it feels like it. But now I’ve wasted an entire year of potential love finding all because of my naive arrogance.

When Your Life Becomes a Taylor Swift Song

One month after being surprised by my boyfriend with a trip to the jewelers to look at engagement rings I received a phone call from him “I just can’t do this anymore.”

In my head I was livid, confused, filled with questions like, “who is she?” “Is she thinner than me?” “are you sure you don’t just need some time to think this through?”

Instead I went with, “ok.”

I’m not sure if it was because of my women’s intuition or just my pride that forced out such an immediate acceptance, but that’s all I said, and for some reason it felt appropriate. Why ask questions that wouldn’t change the outcome? Why beg him for answers? That wouldn’t bring me peace, and that wouldn’t bring me closure. All of those resolutions would be hard fought battles that I’d go through alone.

We talked for a few more minutes and then that was it. We haven’t talked since. That conversation happened over a year ago.

The night after that phone call (I still can’t believe he did it over the phone. Who does that?) I went to stay with my mom, fully aware of the impending emotional storm that would soon rage. When I got there I just went to bed without putting much more thought into it. But then, I woke up and for a split moment it all felt like a dream. I forgot that I was now single. Then it all came rushing back. Every memory ever. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the phone call that I obsessed over. It was every great moment we ever shared together that swarmed my mind. Then of course came the realization of how different my life was about to be. I was no longer planning my imaginary wedding that didn’t seem so imaginary. I would never see him again. I’d never kiss him again. I’d never hear his laugh. I wouldn’t be able to call him and tell him about my day. I felt empty. My heart hurt so badly. I pulled the covers over my head and cried into my sheets. When I started crying, the tears didn’t stop until a few days later. I also didn’t move from that spot in bed, or change my clothes until a few days later, either. I know it sounds pathetic, but I knew how cathartic true mourning would be. My mom brought me soups that I put to the side, only sipping the necessary amount for her to not lecture me about starvation. About 3 days after that phone call, I finally got up. I made myself a cup of water. And I got dressed for work. As soon as I walked in I started crying again. I guess I overestimated my readiness for the real world. I feared that because my first attempt at doing anything other than crying was so unsuccessful I would never be a normal contributing member of society ever again. But of course, it always seems that way when we’re devastated. That weekend I went to visit my brother. That’s mostly how I kept myself busy and distracted. I helped him with his physical therapy. We talked about him and his healing. Spending time with him was my version of physical therapy.

My dad and stepmom called me one morning, just days after the breakup. They were fully aware of how distraught I was. How hard the aching loneliness hit. So they called me often. Checked on me several times a day, but this conversation was different. They asked me, “If you could go anywhere in the United States, where would you go?”

I’d dreamed of going to New York and seeing a real Broadway show my whole life. I fantasized a thousand times over of sitting in Central Park, reading a classic novel. I’ve always wanted to go to New York. I didn’t skip a beat,

“New York City”

“And who would you go with?”

I thought for a moment. If he’d asked me 5 days ago I’d have said my boyfriend. Now there was no one else. There was no one else I could see myself traveling with. So I answered back, “No one. I’d just go alone.”

“Well I’m buying your ticket right now. When can you go?”

I thought our entire conversation was rhetorical. A distraction. A subject other than my breakup. What???? My dad was sending me to New York. Now knowing that this was actually happening my dad asked me again who I wanted to go with me, but I was invigorated with the idea of traveling to my dream city, all by myself, conquering this fast paced world that’s so far removed from my Texas upbringing. So I stood by my original answer, but not out of pity for myself, or because I was pouting about not being able to take my boyfriend. I chose to go alone because that’s what I needed, and I knew that on a deep intuitive level.

I was in New York for 8 days and they were legitimately the best 8 days I have ever lived. I found myself there. I found my joy again. I found a love and thirst for life- be it single or married or whatever! None of it mattered. I knew who I was and that’s what made all the difference. I found myself and I learned to love her. And for that reason I am incredibly grateful for the good memories I have of that relationship, but more than that I’m grateful for its end, because amongst the rubble of myself that was left from it I built a new me. I found my true self.

New York for BHINC

The Two Millimeteres and Split Second That Changed a Life

You don’t wake up knowing you’re about to embark on a day that will change everything. It’s strange really. Your coffee doesn’t smell different, traffic doesn’t seem to move any faster. Everything feels just as routine as the day before. But the day before wasn’t anything at all like this day. No, this day, you will never forget.

My mom, youngest brother, and myself were going to a movie when my oldest brother called my mom to tell her he was at the hospital for a concussion he’d sustained while making a tackle during the football scrimmage earlier that day. We actually debated for a moment about whether or not we should just go to the movies. I mean, it was just a concussion. We’ve all had them at some point. It’s a pretty standard injury. But for some reason, we all just felt like we needed to be there. It’s surreal now to think that there was ever any doubt in our minds that this was an emergency situation.

I don’t even remember what movie it was we were going to see.

We walked into the emergency room waiting area and he still hadn’t been taken back; which made no sense to me because he looked terrible. His shoulders weren’t even. His face was more pale than I’d ever seen before, and he was covered in sweat. Concussion my ass.

Finally, his name was called. My other brother and I were stuck waiting out in the lobby. We waited and worried. My injured brother, Shane, was getting a MRI examination. During the scan the technicians wasted no time alerting the nearest hospital with a surgeon on duty. They knew what we were dealing with, and tried their best to explain it to us gently. The rest of the night flew by in a blur. Shane was taken by ambulance to the hospital. They told him his C6 and C7 were shattered. They had to go in, remove the remaining bone and replace it with a metal cage. They told him it would be months of physical therapy. They told him it would be one hell of a surgery and long recovery time. They told him he would never play another football game. Before they took him back into the OR I got to talk with him. I kissed his sweaty forehead and let him cry to me about losing his greatest love, football, and how scared he was about surgery. And more so, how scared he was of the real possibility of waking up paralyzed.

Moments later they wheeled him back, and we all waited and cried and talked about what this meant for him, what it would mean for Shane’s future.

After a 7 hour long surgery Shane began to slowly wake up. He was confused, unsure, and had to have the entire story repeated to him while we all watched him relive it. We all gathered around as the doctor asked him to wiggle his toes and we stared at his feet in anticipation as we watched each big toe make a slight, but significant move. I have few memories of moments afterwards. Some extremely difficult, but I believe them too personal to share, as those moments of mourning belong to my brother.

My parents took turns staying at the hospital with him. I stayed every night and every night brought a new development. 5 days later he stood up. And then slowly, he started walking with assistance. I couldn’t be happier to report that now my brother can walk, and run and live a perfectly normal life.

The strength Shane exhibited this past year is the strength I remember through every stress, every hardship. It’s the strength that got me through my breakup, that helped me survive New York City, that gave me the strength to get a full time job and finally get my own place. It’s the strength that builds me everyday. He will never know how much of an impact he’s made on everyone who knows him, and he’ll never know the extent of my admiration for him.

Love you bub

.shane BHINC