Category: About Love


A Spanish commercial for J&B Whiskey celebrating love and affirmation went viral for its heartwarming message. The commercial centers upon a grandfather quietly learning to apply makeup and finally assisting his grandchild in transforming on Christmas Day. The ad is heralded for its inclusivity and its final moments highlight the heart of Christainity: The magic of Christmas is about a God of acceptance and love. And that love is not only in Christmas but in all of us. 

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Stedman Graham advised to let no man’s opinion of you become your reality. If you ‘Google’ the quote, the statement appears to originate from Les Brown. However, I first read it in one of Graham’s books around the mid-nineties. Graham’s advice haunts reverberated while watching the film Cyrano (2021). While audiences did not show up in theatres, the beautiful idea of height—in the film’s interpretation—effectively shows how Cyrano needlessly allowed his self-worth to be defined by the cruelty of others. And there, at that moment, I, like many others, saw myself. 

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Reflection of Christmas 2022. Just writing those words, ‘reflection,’ is an achievement. I wasn’t supposed to be here. So, reflecting seems incredible. I should be giddy. I should be awesome. I should be overcome with joy. Me? No. I don’t support the notion that there’s this vast ongoing battle between Good and Evil. There’s just life. And even though being alive at this moment kind of strikes me as funny, there’s not a day when I don’t understand that Christmas 2022 could be my last.

I spent the last two days sitting. “Just too dizzy and wrought with intestinal discomfort,” I murmur. And as Winter Storm Elliott nears the Midwest, forecasters predict a bomb cyclone to layer over the Midwest later this week; my body feels all of the 62 years of abuse given. I should have listened to medical professionals more, but I failed to heed their advice.

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After several weeks of no response, my personal physician responded to my email. After several comments about not noticing my question, she apologized for her tardiness. “Maybe we should try another neurologist,” she wrote. After reading her response, I turned the computer off. There was no counter response. Not that I couldn’t respond. Simply, I am too tired to pursue anything further. 

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Finding gratefulness can be damn tricky. The thought comes not from despair or from some illusionary dream busted from a lack of effort. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that one should cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes and give thanks continuously for all things that contributed to your advancement. Phooey to that. Several weeks past cold-turkey of pain medications, listening to persistent tinnitus, and walking like an extra on the set of some zombie episode leaves me sick of it all.

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Throughout my years of wandering the hospital as an unknown IT guy, elders would strike up conversations. In nearly identical ways, each lived with loss and disability, yet they remain undefined by them. Almost to a person, they awoke each morning, serenaded the day, ate breakfast, and set out to seize the day or ‘get in trouble’ as one nurse phrased it. Sure, their knees hurt, and some couldn’t perform exercises like they used to. But, old age did not hit them suddenly. Instead, they got used to it, one day at a time. 

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The first time ‘If you don’t complete this, there will be changes’ was spoken was last week. Then, seven days later, the exact phrase was uttered again. So, in essence, my new boss threatened me. And even though I excelled at every performance review since starting with the company, working onsite through COVID, through my father’s death, two days post-tumor surgery, through Parkinson’s, through significant arthritis pain, that God-forbid that this one project, should it not be performed to perfection could end it all. So I wouldn’t say I like theoretical, but that’s what I think about.

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Medical professionals have identified a relationship between hearing loss and dementia. Let’s review some basic facts first. The impact of audiology and memory care will exacerbate with an aging population. By 2050, the number of people older than 60 years will double, comprising 21 percent of the global population. As a result, those living with dementia will triple and cost nearly $2 trillion. 

Though the exact association between the two conditions has not been identified, recent studies have proposed several theories. First, there is a possibility that hearing loss and dementia share a common cause. Thus, hearing loss and cognitive decline occur in parallel. As the brain degrades, so does hearing. But statistically, that’s not proven true. A second theory proposes that hearing loss places an increased demand on cognitive resources. Thus, information degradation occurs as resources are removed from cognitive tasks to support hearing. In such a scenario, listening causes the brain to work harder, burning out. The last theory proposes that a person with hearing impairment withdraws from social engagement and, therefore, experiences less cognitive function to interact with their environment. 

The theory gaining the most traction is the second: that hearing loss places an increased demand on cognitive resources. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss (even mild untreated hearing loss) find social participation requires more brainpower, which drains mental effort. This process makes the brain more likely to develop dementia.

So, why am I posting this information on a blog? Well, I am one of those impacted by hearing loss. Additionally, I am 62 years old. Combining those two statistics with watching my father suffer from hearing loss made me want to get and use hearing aids. Yet, the years-long search for the perfect hearing aid was frustrating.

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Getting Through It

If one has cancer, anemia is a common side effect (or cancer treatment). As a result, your body’s level of red blood cells dips below average, you don’t have enough red blood cells, and your body cannot effectively circulate oxygen. After another $4,000 of blood tests, my body can’t either create enough red blood cells or destroys them.

Feeling like a fancy geologist, the ‘anemic period’ (i.e., my anemia) was first noticed after blood labs in October 2021. (Of course, no one called to discuss the results or recommend treatment. So, I was left being proactive.) After research, I immediately started taking iron tablets. In January (after informing the clinicians they missed the anemia), the second round of tests showed improvement (likely from the iron supplements). But again, no follow-through.

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My body is tired of being alive. My body, mind you, is not dying yet. It’s just tired. Of all the daily aches and pains and the seemingly few restful flu periods this past year, my body is saying, “This sucks.” A May 2021 NPR article noted the irony of living in a pandemic, “If your brain feels foggy and you’re tired all the time, you’re not alone.” A moment of reflection produced, ‘Good. Now I have an excuse.’ I never put a great deal of weight into courage and bravery. Hell, most are clueless about what I am going through. Daily battles of pain, excessive blood loss with every bowel movement, hip, lower back, and knee pain seem to be my ever-present companions. I don’t care about being remembered as a courageous person. I don’t. There’s just an incredible emotional and physical toll in just getting up and heading off to work at this point in life.

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