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THE OZONE LAYER
Insanity... on a higher level.
Back from our mini vacation to Williamsburg, VA. Weather was great on Saturday (low 60s), but not so great today (upper 30s low 40s with drizzle).  Still a great trip.

Another aspect of the trip (actually a very important but unmentioned until now) was my decision to choose this trip to begin using my bioptic telescope driving glasses.  For those who may remember from a year and a half ago, I was fitted with these and tested visual acuity was 20/100 without and 20/30 with the bioptic. This is well within the requirements of obtaining a Virginia State Drivers License, but it takes practice, practice, and MORE practice.  I have been avoiding the transition because of the amount of work involved  (must have professional rehabilitation training for certification) , and this messed up idea that I would be moving back to Florida and I would re-supply The state Medical Review Board my case for consideration. Reality is that is not about to happen, and they would probably not renew my license anyway. So, anxiety and frustration about my upcoming 25th driving anniversary, and the reality of losing the privilege to drive, has finally made me wake up my reality. Work on maintaining a license to drive or give up.

SO, I have the bioptics, I have a name of a rehab specialist, and lucky for me I can sacrifice the money for the training.  I just think part of me lost confidence in my ability to comfortably accomplish this.  And, it finally hit me:  I drive almost every day, but to face the examination board,  feel like I will fail because I think I am unable to pass.  So, the other way to look at my reality check is either I honestly work very hard towards meeting the requirements to continue to drive, or (if indeed I do not pass) face reality that there may be a reason that I must give up the driving. Well, I never give up on anything, and this is not the time to decide differently.

So, with a little bit of self-coaxing, I made this 160 mile trip to be done entirely with the bioptic driving system. Now, to better understand the system, and how it works,  a description is in order.  The system looks like a pair of glasses, but with one very important (and expensive) difference. The frame and lens are modified to carry a manual-focused 3x (in my case) power telescope, which has the eyepiece built into the top right corner of my left lens.  The lens itself is a single power lens made to accomodate any adjustments to my distance vision.

While driving, I look out of the normal eyeglass lens for most driving tasks,  however every 10-15 seconds, I take a quick look through the telescope eyepiece by adjusting my head and eye position, to view smaller objects in my field of vision up close.   It's important to note you DO NOT drive by looking through the telescope only.  This would be very dangerous as it distorts your sense of distance and completely eliminates your peripheral vision. But, the telescope is very important for reading signs that are coming into view from a farther distance than I can without the telescope, and you can see traffic lights and stop/yield signs from a substantial distance, thus letting you make more timely decisions about actions you need to take without making a panic decision either in the nick of time or after it is too late. :(

SO,  I drnve in the car, and once we were south of the D.C. Metro area,  I made the decision to put on the system.  At first, i was very concerned of losing sight of the road,  but what I found myself doing after a few minutes was taking quick glances through the telescope to get acquainted with the operation.  It wasn't long before I could take a quick glance through the scope and be back to the normal lens in a fraction of a second,  almost like blinking.  Needless to say, this put a smile on my face.

So,  once I had the "glance" figured,  I began to try focusing on objects through the objective. WOW,  what I was able to see was nothing less than breathtaking. Clearly visible  road signs that I could read as far away as 1/4 mile away, traffic lights that took over a minute to get to once I saw them, stop signs 4-5 blocks away.  More importantly, I can better read the signs with small lettering that I used to never read before, and being able to scan an intersection (and corners) and more confidently be able to judge if there are any hidden surprises  (pedestrians, pets, other objects) from a much farther distance.  OH, and I can read gas price signs from the roadway again. :)

All in all, I was completely amazed what the bioptics were able to offer me,  and it surely made the trip a lot less stressful.   I must concentrate some time out of my normal life to actually win certification for my future driving privilege, but I have just got a glimpse into the very near future.  If I believe, it can happen, but it does take work and effort (and faith). 
IT has been a while since I posted here.  Usually I am doing a Facebook post, and even there I sometimes babble,  but usually keep those things that bother me out of the public eye.  But, here I am about to spill what is going on inside of me, and all those things that worry the crap out of me at times.

Well, I made it to age 40.  In fact, on my way to 41 in about three months.  Honestly, I never thought I would make it this long.  I sure as heck thought cancer would have taken me to heaven by now. No, I do not have a death wish, but you accept certain realities of your existence. I live my life to it's fullest every day, but always keep in mind that this life on Earth is temporary.

First scare of the year was two lumps in my lower abdomen/groin area.  After some testing, and a couple nights of concern and prayer, all was normal, although some lung tissue showed a slight anomaly (docs will be watching on my next scan for any changes, but considered benign).

My new concern is my upcoming drivers license expiration on my 41st birthday.  It is at this time I run out of "free passes" for renewing and must face the scrutiny of the medical review board.  Based on what I know,  passing the board will be next to impossible, and after 25 years, the privilege to drive will be gone.  I still remember sitting in Dr. Meyer's office in Memphis, TN, July 5, 1988, when he revealed my vision had improved to 20/40 (corrected with coke bottle glasses of course but I didn't care). MY mom and I both cried at the news as this was a miracle. I was re-evaluated back in 1999, and passed the board.  So, why so different now?

in 1994,  I took a chance with my only eye, and put a lot of faith in God and my doctor in St. Pete (who just so happened to train under my Doctor from St. Jude) to perform an operation to perform a vitrectomy and lens implantation. The operation was a clinical success,  but consequently brought a sad reality to the forefront:  My coke-bottle glasses (proper name - aspheric-lenticular aphakic bifocal corrective lens) helped magnify my view of the world (at the cost of peripheral vision).  With my new view of life, I was able to see so much more in my field of view, but my visual acuity took a major hit.  20/100 to be exact.  Since then, I have had doctors all over the place evaluate me on solutions.  So many options, but one thing gets in the way: no doctor wants to touch a one-eye patient when my useable vision is way better than being blind.  Of course I agree, and many friends who read this will definitely vouch for this, but there is that part of me that feels I should be able to see better, and some of the issues with glare and double images doesn't help. So, deep down I am very frustrated.  I want more, yet I also know I am so lucky.  SO, I  have this argument inside me that drives me crazy.  At this point, I am trying to take the thankful approach and be happy with what I have.

So, what is next in my journey with this?  Well, I plan on working with a local driver rehabilitation specialist who will evaluate me for driving with a bioptic lens, which I have previously purchased.  I do not know how long the process will me, and what they may say about me and my actual ability to drive.  By no means am I a perfect driver.  I try and drive cautious, but I have had my moments.  At my age, I definitely try and drive safer.  I hardly ever push the pedal past the speed limit. Mainly because I do not want to ever be questioned about my ability to drive, but also because It feels safer.   But, when I am on that road, and see all those others weaving in and out of traffic,  honking their horns, tailgating, talking on phones, texting and just acting like total idiots and arrogant road-warriors,  I just want to pull them over,  tape up their eyes and let them drive, or let them lost that privilege all-together.  They truly do not realize the freedom they have, and how their simple behavior is way more dangerous than ANY physical impairment. Brains really need to be checked for driver fitness when issuing drivers licenses.

So much more to talk about, but I will stop here.  I will take what life throws me, but don't ever thing for a second it doesn't cause me moments of grief where I get angry and hateful before I have to take a step back, pray, and remember this is all temporary, and be thankful to God, my family and friends for the good life I have.

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Wow, it has been almost a year since I updated on this, but this past weekend was filled with lots of activity, and reminders of my life of almost 40 years, and the blessing of life I am still able to enjoy.

First, we start out with a fun, pre weekend event with a preview screening of Disney-Pixar's new film "Brave." Samantha loved the film, but then again, we love just about everything Disney. Look forward to the BluRay disc now. :)

Saturday, I spend the day with my mom and dad #2 (the in-laws) As I did a complete A/C Overhaul on my brother-in-law's Mercury Grand Marquis. Replaced compressor, accumulator, orifice tube, and flushed/evacuated/recharged with refrigerant. All went well, except, part of the process of the compressor removal was disassembling part of the steering linkage.  Also, I learned first hand how northern driven cars rust from all the salt put on roads as the idler arm was damaged severely and needed to also be replaced. Anyway, I did manage to repair the vehicle over the course of two days. Why did it take two days?  Because I had to head home early on Saturday for dinner with Samantha.

What actually awaited me at the house was a giant surprise party that Samantha had pulled off with the help of her mother over the past week.  I was in shock and so thankful for the surprise. I felt so loved by my friends who came over to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday.  Thanks Nick, Cammie, Sam, Sarah, Mark, Ann, Leslie, Patrick, Dave, Kim, and last but not least, Barbara for coming over and being here.  It almost brought me to tears (of joy).

However, my dream overnight would pretty much rattle me to the core all day Sunday. All I remember is I was in a hospital, where I was being seen by my former St. Jude doctors, and I was receiving results of recently done tests in which they told that once again I was battling cancer for the 6th time, but this time it was terminal, and I needed to plan for my end of life. That's when my phone woke me and it was my dad, who is in South Carolina with mom calling to see how I was doing and looking forward to our visit later this week.  I cannot describe the emotion that went through me at that moment, but I tried to put things into perspective: every day of your life is precious, and life on this earth can end anytime. For an unknown specific reason, I have been able to cheat death so-to-speak many times. I cannot ever say my life is worthless because my friends and family, especially Samantha, show me everyday how much I mean to them. I hope a am contributing something to this world, and until the day I die, I hope to never take life for granted, and to always take time for others and thank them for being my inspiration.

SO, the rest of Sunday, I spend finishing up the vehicle repair, and the whole family got together to celebrate my father-in-law' birthday, my birthday, and father's day all in one.

WORLD, I made it 40 years and I plan to make it 40 more.  Thanks for everyone's love, friendship, patience, humor, laughter, sympathy, encouragement, shoulders, hugs, kisses, jokes, respect, advice, and even the debates, arguments, etc. It has, and will continue to shape me.

I feel: touched touched

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3.64 billion miles! WHEW!!! A very wild ride, but it's time for me to reflect on my life so far. First, I am still alive, and now four years past the date that  was critical for my survival. My last bout with cancer was over 9 years ago, and have been relatively healthy ever since (now if I can just get the docs to remove this stomach tumor around my waist).

Career wise, things are going great; I work for a great organization with great co-workers, Sure, the job becomes frustrating at times, but overall, I am lucky to have such a good job.

Being married to Samantha has been even more wonderful than I ever expected! She is so caring and loving, encouraging, and even puts up with my kiddish humor (and love of Gunni Worms). Still, the fact I met Samantha at Disney still shocks me to this day, and obviously God was intervening in my life.

With the recent news of me on the path to legally obtaining my VIrginia Driver License, the news continues to be great.

Of course, there are plenty of "not-so-good" things to mention. Samantha's grandmother is now dealing with the reality of  terminal cancer, when just a couple of weeks ago, she was the picture of pristine health. Many folks, along with some of my family, are out of work, and money is scarce. Natural disasters have torn the Heartland up, and to top it off, Chase will not upgrade my credit card.

So, what's the point? Never take life for granted. One minute, your life is great, but the next minute, your life could be upside down. Enjoy the good times in life, and learn and grow when the bad times hit. Remember to show others you love and care about them. I promise you that this is the greatest feeling you can experience in life, and when things are down, it is what will help you survive. Things are going great for me now, but you never know what will happen in the future. For now, I thank each and every one of you who actually took the time to read this, as this shows me you care. I hope I can repay the favor.

One last note, I want to thank and express my deepest love for my mom for her her undying love since I was born. I would not be here without her.


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Current Location: Arlington, VA
I feel: thankful thankful

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since my internship with the department of Veterans Affairs started. Since then. my life has gone through an unusually positive period. There is so much to mention, but it does show that hard work and patience really does pay off. My job has been nothing less than a dream job that allows me to be exhibit my abilities and interests. The must exciting part was the 4-grade promotion to a permanent position within VA back in September of 2008. Since then, I have become more and more confident of my abilities and my assertiveness level has increased ten-fold.

This would not have been possible without the unending love and support of my family, especially my wife, and my friends and co-workers. I ultimately give thanks to God for guidance and wisdom when the chips were down.

Now, I have another test, which has become routine, but can have life-changing results: my annual PETScan. So far, so good, for over seven years. We are pushing for 8,9,10, 15, 20+ years of freedom from cancer. I hope I can repay this blessing though my good acts for others.

I feel: contemplative contemplative

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Work was very active, especially with my co-worker FINALLY taking a break. She is so dedicated to her job, but she needed to take a break once. I just hope my work will: A) give her some relief and B) Help her feel I am worth promotion later :).

In other news, I have been slowly making updates to our condo. So far, I have replaced appliances, installed the R/O water filter system, ran some plumbing for our new refrigerator,  moved some electrical wiring, and installed new lighting. Now, it's time to replace the flooring. Hiring a professional resulted in us getting a $3000.00 estimate for the task of putting down 200 sq/ft of wood. Needless to say, the builder in me is ready to do it myself. I just have to convince Samantha of this. The $2500.00 savings I think is well worth it.

Next week is our trip to Florida for a visit to see family, and for me to FINALLY participate in an ACB convention. We will be there Wednesday and Thursday. Hopefully we can meet some of you there, and we hope we can sneak off to Disney as well while there.

It has been a hard two weeks for those in the public eye: Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett, Ed McMahnon, and others. But on top of that: 9 METRO passengers, over 400 airline passengers, and so on and so on. What's the point? Each and every one has a special meaning, and have (based on opinion: good or bad) have contributed to our society. Always take time to remember those who are not present in our world in our form anymore. No matter what you believe in, we will all reach this state of being "gone" so live your life as best as possible. I was supposed to be dead two years ago and well, here I am still.
 

I feel: sympathetic sympathetic

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It has been almost four years since my trip to San Francisco! It was such a wonderful trip. I decided to look back at my journal at my memories, and who could ever forget about the voicepost with:

caitlin45 
[info]rdfreak 
[info]doodgeman 
foghead420
And Caitlin's mom.

As one can see, I was such a great influence on the youth of today. :)

Such great memories, and even better people!

http://enchanterglen.livejournal.com/106350.html

I feel: nostalgic nostalgic

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Coby Curtin, a 10 year old in the final stages of a type of vascular cancer, had her last wish forfilled hours before she succumbed to the disease. Her request? - To see the movie "Up" before she died.

You can read the article HERE

It is a reminder of how I have, in some ways, cheated death with my four bouts of cancer. There is obviously a reason for my existence, and everyday I discover more and more why. I am so blessed and lucky to have the family and friends in my life, who have helped me deal with the rough times, and shared in my enjoyment of the good times. Right now, I have been enjoying some great times, but I know the challenges that make my life interesting will be back again, so I must never take life for granted.

Speaking of cancer, I will be visiting my oncologist in a couple of weeks, along with the all too famous cystoscopy and PET scan. Lets hope again for good results!

Thanks so much again to all of you for being there for me.

I feel: touched touched

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I have made it yet again around the sun.

What a year this has been!!

I just want to say thanks to God, my family and friends for helping to make my 36 year one of the best years of my life.

Thanks to my wife, Sam, and Leslie for taking out to dinner Friday and coming over to our home afterwards.

and now for what everyone else has been doing:

QuestionareCollapse )

I feel: happy happy

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It seemed like yesterday when we were in Florida.

Yet, lots have gone on since then. (order is from newest to oldest)

This weekend, we celebrated Samantha's father's birthday (60 years). The event started with a mulch shoveling party. After I was finished, we had a big dinner and opened presents and had chocolate cake (home made) for dessert.

I transferred title for my Ford Explorer to my mom.

The day before, Samantha and mom were rear-ended in a three car pileup. All are OK, if just a little bit sore.

I traveled to Richmond for a tabletop training review.

I received a laptop for work.

Got back in touch with a very good friend from a long time ago: spuffytopia (Glenn, check it out)

Samantha found out she won a discrimination complaint against her former employer!

We bought plane tickets for a trip to the ACB Convention in Orlando, Florida.

Went to Church.

I feel: happy happy
I'm listening to: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils - If I Only Knew

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