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feldster

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Living my life story, not someone else’s

I think it is in my nature to constantly compare. I see other people’s achievements and want to achieve more. I want to be the BEST! I feel we’re all wired that way. I don’t think anyone wants to be ordinary. But what is the best?

We all put timelines on when things should happen. For example: getting married by a certain age, staying married, owning a house, having kids, having a career path, reaching a certain weight or fitness level. etc…  We create pressures on ourselves based on what we believe society expects of us. If we don’t follow the process, then we are failing. We are unhappy.

Goals are good to have for sure. But the second we start trying to live someone else’s story, we truly suffer. We aren’t meant to have the same story. I have lost sight of this many times over the years. The desire to achieve and over achieve has propelled me in many ways in my career and life, but has also caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. That is my doing. I have a natural tendency to show off, and let others see how great and happy everything is. I have let my ego get in the way at times.

Recently, I have made a lot of effort to push all of that aside, in order to find my own true happiness.

I don’t have many regrets in my life. But a part of me wishes I could go back to my old self in my early 20’s and just tell that guy to chill out a bit. To embrace exactly where I am at, rather than constantly living for the future. I have found that if you can trust your story, the good and the bad, you can be much happier in the moment.

When I was single, I spent so much time worrying about whether I would ever find the right person. So many conversations with friends. “Why not me, I’m a good guy. All the good ones are taken…” I would look at other people that were in love and would feel sad that I didn’t have that. I could have spent so much more time enjoying all the joy that can come from being single. But I was blinded by my fear of not having a sure answer. I jumped into relationships that maybe I knew weren’t right so that I could follow society’s protocol. I could have just trusted that my story would unfold as it was supposed to. I would have been much happier.

When I was super skinny (still am), I would look at other super fit people and wish that I could be like them, even though their body frame was completely different from mine. But I am not meant to be them. I was born me, and now I embrace it. I appreciate being me and respect the body I was given. It has kept me alive. I have all the friends I need, and I have a great wife and family. So I own it a bit more.

When I was twenty-six, I would see all of these super successful business people. They were way ahead of me financially, or in their business, and I put so much pressure on myself. I would tell myself that “I have to be at a certain point by the time I am thirty, or it won’t be impressive anymore.” I had this need to show off, to wow people with my early accomplishments. That was my definition of happiness: be the best at everything, and do it all first.

I was definitely wrong in this thinking. Guess what? Nobody cared. It was just me putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

I don’t know if our story is already written. I would like to think that I am continually writing mine, and helping it evolve. I trust that my Cancer is just part of my story. That is has purpose. That with all the pain that comes with it, and all the unknowns, it will be the best thing that has happened to me. I have learned to really embrace whatever my story may be.

I am not waiting for my Cancer to be gone in order to find my happiness. I am not comparing myself to healthy people, or wishing I could be them. This is my story, and I’m living happy today. My brain works, my eyes work, my fingers work. I am grateful for that. Now, I don’t look at what I wish I had. I appreciate what I actually have. That brings me a lot of peace.

There will always be someone “ahead” of us. Someone that has achieved more, or is younger or wealthier, or hotter and more fit. But I no longer compare. I no longer care about proving anything to anyone. My goals of happiness have changed. I now look at each day in a much simpler way. I just want to be me. I want to see what makes me happy on a daily basis. My goals are now more focused on what I personally want to achieve, versus what others have achieved in comparison.

I think it is important to ignore the timeline of when goals are achieved. The important thing is whether you achieve them. Turn off the “has to happen by this time” clock. Remove the urgency and live in the moment. Good things always happen even, from bad things. We have to make all of our decisions on what we feel is best. We can’t worry about what others will think. That is wasted time.

I am now living my life story daily. I am so excited to see what is ahead!

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Why do we still fear being different?

With all that I have gone through these past four months, and all the time I have to think these days, I can’t help but think about my mortality. I think about the world, how it is structured, how I got here on earth, and how earth got here. I think about the universe and my place in it.

As a kid, I would ask myself big questions constantly. How did stars get here? Who made earth? Who made the guy that made earth? Where did it all start? I would talk to my friends about it for hours, pondering all of these big questions until my brain literally hurt. I just couldn’t comprehend it. Still can’t completely.

None of us truly know all of the answers. We may think we do, from the beliefs that our parents have passed down, or what we have learned in our Temples, Churches, Mosques, or Monasteries. But at the end of the day, I feel that none of us are absolutely certain of everything. That is ok. I have learned that it is ok have unanswered questions. Some things in life aren’t meant to have definitive answers.

Unfortunately, rather than embracing the unknown, we often choose to fear it. But if we knew the answers to everything, then we wouldn’t have faith. Faith is especially important to me now. It pushes us forward, and should bring us all closer together.

I realize I run a very sensitive, slippery slope when speaking about religion because people do have such strong faiths and convictions. I want to express very clearly that I am all for religion and people embracing their beliefs. Whatever avenue ultimately makes you a more complete, caring, and honorable person is the way to go. Since this is my blog with my thoughts, I want to make sure that I don’t filter my own internal beliefs, which come really from my heart.

I love the idea behind religion. I am all for it. It is a way to find that peace. It helps our minds get a grasp on all of these unknowns that we can’t quite put a finger on. Religion provides us with the concept that there is more than just this life on earth. It reassures us that we will be in a nice place in the afterlife, if this life is followed correctly. Religion also provides us with a moral guideline while living this current life. So this is all a very good thing. Only good should come from this.

We have a human need to share our faith and belief with others. We may even feel that our religion is the correct one, making every other faith and belief the wrong way to go. But where we get in trouble is when we can’t accept that someone else may think different. What happens here? War. So many wars, because we can’t accept the fact that we are not all supposed to be the same.

Let’s say for a moment that we all share one God, a single creator of all of us. Then why are we not all the same color, with the same personalities, and the same religion? Wouldn’t that have been so much easier? The answer is yes. It would be much easier. But the world would never evolve. It would be so boring. There would be no challenges, or growth or change. We are supposed to be different, to think different, to challenge each other with all that we don’t know. We should be embracing that. We should be loving each other for that.

Different is how we ultimately evolve as a society, rather than doing the same thing over and over. Different makes us think more. Different is where invention and re-invention comes from. Instead, our fear of different gets in the way too often. We can’t seem to handle the fact that others believe in something other than what we believe in. If we are to truly to have eternal bliss in this life and the next, the first step would be to understand that the world is not meant to be one look and one belief. If it was meant to be that way, it would have been structured that way from the start of our civilization.

I believe that we shouldn’t live this life in fear of the next one. I believe that the answer is very simple. If we are honest and loving, respectful to each other, and loyal, then we will all be just fine in this life and beyond. We need to embrace each other and love each other for how unique and different we all really are, while also understanding just how similar we are.

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The Truth Behind Every Perfect Smile :)

When we post something online, our natural instinct is to show off. It is all about portraying just how happy we are, and how great everything is. But we often hide the truth from each other. We only show our perfect smiles and our amazing moments, which are often completely staged. Facebook, Instagram, and all other forms of social media often paint an untrue picture of what is going on in our daily lives.

I’ll admit that I am on all of those sites daily. I enjoy them. But I also try to look at them with realistic eyes. I have grown to realize from my own experience that you don’t really know what is going on in someone’s life unless you speak directly with them. Or unless they happen to have a blog, and they write down their every thought ;)

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words… This still holds true. But my new quote of the day is that “behind a picture could be a thousand lies.” What is really going on? How does this person really feel? If we want to provide happiness for ourselves and others, we have to get around those perfect photographs and videos. We have to really start sharing more with each other.

20150403_140845Here is a great example. This is a picture of me, my dad, and Brandon all playing catch on the beach. In truth it actually was awesome! I was able to play catch with my son. For those that know my journey leading up to this moment, the picture is worth a thousand words for sure. At one point, just a couple of months ago, I didn’t know if I would ever have this opportunity again. It was a very special moment.

I could post this photo on Facebook, and say something simple like, “Just enjoying another perfect day in San Diego, playing catch with my son.” Anyone who didn’t know the history leading up to this photo would take the smiles at face value. Maybe a friend would skim through Facebook and would say to themselves, “Oh that’s cute, looks like he is living the SD life.” Then they would quickly move on to the next post.

In reality, there is so much that you don’t see in the picture. My feet were pretty numb from all chemo just a few days before. It was really hard to run, but I wanted to have what felt like a normal day for Brandon. I had a ton of emotion knowing I wouldn’t be able to play catch with my son again for another three months (he lives in Sacramento now). My point is that there is a lot more story here than just three guys smiling.

If we really care about one another, we have to keep sharing the truth. We have to keep asking each other what’s really going on. We have to keep interacting. We have to find a better way of connecting than social media, which moves so fast that it becomes disposable. We have to slow down and start talking again.

So my fun challenge of the day is to find someone that was an actual friend at one time, but somehow became just a social media friend over the past few years. Find the person that you check in on often, but maybe only through Facebook. Give them a ring. (It can’t be me that you call. That doesn’t count).

Behind every perfect smile could be a whole other story.

Updates

I think i may be wigging out a bit!

So February 12, 2016 will a very big moment for the world. Yes, that’s right. Zoolander 2 is coming. This got me thinking. There were homeless models for the Derelict collection of 2001. Maybe it’s time to have Cancer Models in 2016. We too can be quite versatile and I believe can have more than one look. As well, I am proud to say I am an ambi-turner, possessing the ability to turn both right and left. Here are a few images that I will be submitting to Derek, Hansel and Maury Ballstein.

Reflective

Reflective

Stingray

Stingray

Volkswagon Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle

Shaun White

Shaun White

Golden Steel

Golden Steel

Le Focused

Le Focused

Formal Portrait

Formal Portrait

Updates

A Day in the Life: April 24, 2015

So here is a pretty typical day of chemo at the infusion center. On the 24th of April, I arrive the hospital around 8:00am. They first run labs (draw blood) to see what my numbers are. This is important to make sure that my body has recovered enough to take another hit. Today, my blood platelets need to be at 50,000. Otherwise everything has to be delayed 5-7 days. With an aggressive cancer you don’t want to delay.

My results come back at 30,000. Too low. My first chemo appointment starts at 10:00am. This chemo has to go through my lumbar and is a procedure. I don’t want to miss it.

I take some anti-nausea medicine through my IV, get flooded with Tylenol, and have an hourlong platelets transfusion.  Then, they run the labs again and see if the numbers are up. Rather than using the port that is connected to me, they draw blood through my arm. It doesn’t work at first but they finally get it. They run it to the labs and it has somehow gone down to 20,000. This seems impossible.

They find out that my blood clotted during the blood draw, and the result didn’t come through right.  So they run it through my port and take it to the labs again. It comes back 60,000. My numbers are solid. But the time is now 11:00. I missed my check-in. Now it could take 5-7 days to be seen again because the appointments are completely full.

I go around the schedulers and call up the Physicians Assistant. He says he is going to risk getting in a little trouble because he knows how important it is. He squeezes me in. He rocks!

During the lumbar treatment, I get a needle straight to my bone. The chemo is then injected into my back. After that fun time, I lay on my back for 45 minutes to avoid the classic lumbar headache. Ok, so now I am done with that… Back over to the infusion center. Oh, wait… April comes over and brings me lunch. She rocks too! Carrots, Chips, Turkey, and a gatorade. Ok… It is time for more chemo! Back to the infusion center.

I sit down at my space again, and two nurses verify that I am receiving the correct chemo. They then start the chemo, which will go for about two hours. What you see in the video is everyone else getting their treatment. The man that is playing the guitar is in remission, and comes to play when his wife is doing other things. I think he got used to being here. Fortunately he has a great voice, and it is relaxing.

For me, this is my office for the day. I have my legs up, my computer plugged in, and my headphones on. I’m gchat connected, and sending emails and building systems for True Photography. While I’m working, they check my vitals every 15 minutes, to make sure that I am not having any bad reactions. So far so good. I’m just a little beat down from the Lumbar procedure.

After the two hour dose has finished, it is time for one more round of chemo. This fifteen-minute dose is actually more concentrated than the two hour cycle, so the nurse stays closer by. Then I am good to go home. Ok… Done. I get my port de-accessed. I am out of here.

Ah… but wait, I need to get my drugs from pharmacy. But it has closed. But I will need my meds this evening. So they get on the phones, and someone re-opens the pharmacy for me. Now I am out of here. I look at the clock and it is 6:00pm. So not a bad 10 hour day. Ha.

Tomorrow, I get the day off. In a couple of days, it will be back to labs. They will need to make sure my numbers are high enough for chemo next Friday.

It is definitely no walk in the park. Pain is really something that I have just learned to accept and adapt to. It is a part of my daily life, and overcoming it is an interesting challenge.

I think after all of this, I will join MMA boxing, as I really don’t have fear of much these days.

Updates

New Health Update

It’s been a long time since I wrote in my blog. I have been in my hospital room ocusor 18 days. Yesterday, I received great news, that my numbers were good enough for me to go home. It is both exciting and scary.

I have amazing nurses and doctors to thank for taking such good care of me. I feel loved at the hospital. But I also feel like a person that has been in jail and is now being released into society. As much as I hate being cooped up, it becomes very familiar. Suddenly, the real world seems overwhelming. But I’ve been very eager to just smell fresh air. Even people in jail get an hour of fresh air a day.

Here is a list of what I experienced over the past 18 days:

  • Shared a room for 4 days. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when people are sick, trust me, you don’t want to share a room or bathroom. You don’t sleep.
  • Got a rash all over my chest
  • Had a fever (bigger deal when you have Cancer). Judging by the x-rays, they thought it was mild pneumonia. Took antibiotics for a week.
  • 5 blood transfusions
  • 2 platelet transfusions
  • 1 allergic reaction to the platelet transfusion. Broke out in major hives all over body. Had to take two rounds of Benadryl through my IV.
  • 2 Chest x rays
  • Major mouth sores where I couldn’t open my mouth for 3 days. Couldn’t eat or drink.
  • Extreme lower back spasms from having Neupogen shots in my belly each day.
  • IBS

Yes, this all sounds very dramatic, but it has been quite the run. There is probably more that I can’t remember. There are so many “scary” things constantly taking place. It can drive you nuts if you worry about everything. The entire time, I was just thinking about not thinking too much. I would constantly remind myself to only think about the things in my control. Anything out of my control, I had to have the discipline of mind to push it out of the way.

There simply is no reason to worry about anything that is out of our control. What will happen will happen. The more stuff that we go through in a small period of time, the harder it is to stay cool and calm. But we just have too.

By refocusing my energy on what I could control, I was able to maintain my sanity. I would focus on small things, like drinking a lot of water, taking walks in the hallway, listening to classical music (thanks to Norm’s advice), and trying to eat as much as possible.

I have successfully finished round 1A, 1B, and 1C, which I just completed. 1C is the big one. You typically have to stay in your hospital room for 18-21 days straight. Next up is h2A, 2B and 2C. Then 3B. Each round takes a little over a month. So there are about four and a half intense months left. After that it is maintenance, which is no picnic, but is all outpatient. This means that if all goes well, I won’t have to stay in the hospital during treatment. So I just cleared a huge hurdle, getting through these first three rounds.

I am now at my new house that April and I are renting in University City. I love it. April has done an amazing job getting it all set up. But I do feel an adjustment period. At the hospital, if something feels a little funny, I just push a button and a nurse is there within a minute. Here at the house, I feel unplugged. I don’t have filtered air. I have to be much more cautious/paranoid. I have to watch out for sick people, flying dust, dirt that has fungus, etc. At the moment it is difficult to relax. I’m sure in a few days I will settle in.

Ultimately I am so glad to be out of the hospital. It was so great to sleep on my Tempurpedic bed. It was nice to see birds, walk on carpet, go to the refrigerator, pee in a regular toilet, and sit on a couch. Over the next twelve days, I will get to recover. Hopefully gain some strength back. My son Brandon will be in town next Thursday, and I am super happy about that.

Before I left the hospital, the doctors asked what I was most looking forward to. I said that I was very excited to garden with Brandon at my new house. The doctors immediately shut that one down, and said that gardening is out for my entire three-year program. It is too dangerous because of the fungus. I’m not going to lie. I was bummed.

I decided to make a list of all the things that I can’t do for three years. Gardening is officially on that list now, along with being at Padre games, traveling outside of San Diego, eating at restaurants, swimming in the ocean, going to movies, hugging all my friends, eating Chipotle, lifting weights, and making babies. This list will continue to grow. Then, three years from now, I am going to do everything on that list. I may even take a year off of work, and spend my time accomplishing all of these things. So get ready for some hugs!

Updates

My All-Inclusive Resort

Monday, I had a bone marrow biopsy, which I will describe in detail. It isn’t horrible but it definitely isn’t my favorite. For those that get the heebie jeebies, you may want to skip this paragraph.

To perform a bone marrow biopsy, they have you lay on your stomach. They put a long needle in your backbone, near your hip. Although the needle is intended to numb the area, it first needs to reach the bone, which takes some effort. Once the needle is in position, they take another tool that I can best describe as an apple core peeler. They kind of wind and twist their way until they reach the bone, then ask me to blow out air as they extract bone marrow fluid. This part feels like a sudden horse kick from a Clydesdale. A couple of spontaneous profanities flow instantly from my mouth.

After being relieved that it was done, they said, “just two more times.”

When it was really over, I felt slightly abused. But within a half hour or so, it was like it never happened. Just a story to write in my blog. I only describe this because I really want to make sure I always remember the journey. When you feel great, it is easy to forget. But remembering helps to keep you humble.

Last night, I checked in to the hospital for round 1C of my Chemo treatment. This round of chemo is intense. I will be in the hospital for three weeks and have an 80+ percent chance of having nasty sores in my mouth, fevers, strong temporary neurological brain spacing (forgetting the date, names, etc), a very upset stomach and other unknowns. But it is what it is. There are a million ways to look at the same thing. I can run in fear and say “I don’t want to go through this,” or fantasize in my head about all of the ‘what ifs’…. But that just won’t change anything. It will only give major anxiety.

Looking at it another way, I can choose to be excited. When I do get through this next round, It will be one major step closer to my victory. And when I go home, it will be to the house that April and I just rented near the hospital. It has a big backyard, so I am going to do a lot of reading on gardening, and will have a killer garden full of fruits and veggies. I must continue to focus on the positives for my sanity.

I decided to give this hospital thing an alternative mental spin. Let’s start over just for fun. Here it goes :)

Last night, I checked into my all-inclusive resort. It’s absolutely amazing! It is all you can eat and drink, and they bring breakfast, lunch and dinner right to your room. They really wait on you hand and foot. No matter how much you eat, you will probably lose quite a bit of weight on their special Chemo diet that you can only get here. If you need to pee, they don’t make you get up to go to the bathroom. No way… They just give you a plastic container by your bed and say “Use that, I am happy to empty it for you, just page me anytime.” All of the beds recline and incline at a push of a button.

At this all-inclusive, there is always someone checking out your body. The staff may even have you pull your pants down so they can feel your balls for a few minutes. Surprisingly, your wife will actually appreciate it, and maybe even thank them for the extra care. To top it off, get this… It’s all free. Thats right, your insurance company is happy to cover this trip for you as long as you have coverage. They even say that you can go back every couple of weeks. What a place!! Amazing!!