All About Life and the Pursuit of Knowledge, Meaning, and Health as Experienced by a Disabled-but-able-bodied Veteran, Husband, Father, Christian, Native Floridian; Fitness/Wellness/Recovery Coach; And a a Seeker of Wisdom, Good Books, And Great Thinkers.
I believe that we, as a modern and debatably weak(er) minded construct, have become accustomed to blaming anything and everything for the way we live our lives, the way our lives turned out, or the things that have happened to us or are happening to us right now. Maybe it is someone else’s FAULT that you are missing a limb. It is most definitely someone else’s fault if you have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It’s not your fault if you parents liked to drink or drank so much that they can be considered ‘problem drinkers’ or alcoholics.
But with all these faults that are ours, yours, mine, theirs… we have to take responsibility NOW for what we are going to do next. “I was born in a barn.” Okay, so what are you going to do? Stay in that barn? (metaphorically) Or are you going to leave the barn and begin to live, burn that barn down and start fresh, walk away from that barn and never look back??
Playing the victim seems to be the popular game these days, especially for ‘groups’ of people that claim they are marginalized and labeled, when they themselves are the ones that are marginalizing and labeling, or even worse, accepting those labels and crying out for people to give them something foe their suffering. Money, power, attention…but most importantly they want to be respected. We all do. But you don’t gain much respect by playing the ‘victim’ and blaming other people for you inability to overcome adversity.
Les Brown stated that “nobody is going to want to help you if you are always complaining.” Isn’t that true? Think about some examples of that in your own life. Have you experienced this or seen someone else experience this? Who gets more money… the guy on the street looking angry holding a sign that says “homeless and hungry,” or the guy playing the violin with a sign that says “will play for food?”
I’m not inferring that homeless people need a talent to be fed. I was demonstrating the importance of positivity, responsibility, and motivation to get what you NEED.
Now, with all the adversity that EVERYONE contends with every single day, why is it that groups of people are labeled as being worse off than others? Whole groups of people, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of groups depending on how the ‘victim’ chooses to describe his/herself, are at a disadvantage because of something that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago?
I think it’s time we will take responsibility for our own lives and those of our children and start making tracks every day to improve our existence. I’m not going to sit down on my couch with my hand out waiting for someone to pay me for a wrong that happened to me 10 years ago, or for something that happened to an ancestor that I’ve never met (Scotland would probably owe my family of that were thee case).
It is my duty, my responsibility, and my moral obligation to say “I’m moving in that direction, straight ahead (straight up is also acceptable) because there is nothing back there that is going to change a thing. I can blame everyone for everything, but in the end that blaming will get me NOTHING but pain and suffering, which I don’t want any of, not anymore.
Now I’m going to get really specific because this has been eating at me. You can love it or hate it, but life is too short to sugar coat this mess.
I am not sorry that I’m not a person of color. I’m not privileged because of the color of my skin. Some people may have been mocked or mistreated because of the color of their skin, and I have too. But I’m not complaining about it. The thoughts, opinions, and words that other people have towards me are irrelevant to the goals that I am chasing. If you choose to dwell on who has more and “why me?” crap, then you will just get more of what you’ve been getting, and you can only blame yourself for being who you are today.
Get off the “poor me because I’m…gay, black, Hispanic, female, male, Asian, muslim, disabled, etc… The question remains… “what are you going to do about it?” What, within your locust of control, can you do to improve your suffering and live a life of fulfillment and meaning?
You can start by getting rid of those thoughts that someone owes you or that you’ve been wronged. Take responsibility for your trajectory, take charge of your thinking, take actions daily to improve your life, and when you finally get it…you will be obligated to share it and help ease the suffering of others.
And if you are thinking that this post is racist, or sexist, or anything ‘ist,’ that just goes to show you that this post is indeed about you. And you need to change the way you are looking at things. Racism is real. Sexism is real. Bigotry is real. But that’s not coming from the majority of the populace… it is a very small minority of people.
Don’t believe the lies you have been told about history, about the world, and especially the ones about yourself. “Self-fulfilling prophecies.” I’ll let you look that one up.
Have a great day and please Like, Subscribe, Share, Comment, Complain, Follow, etc…
Additionally, if you have an opinion piece that would like featured on this page, send me a message and I’d be happy to consider it.
Well, after reviewing my self-proclaimed ‘epic’ advice blog post about goal setting…I realize there is very little actual information about how to actually set the goals rather than just the importance of having them.
I will write a shorter, more digestible blogpost later today with some practical steps/advice on how to set goals that will be productive rather than destructive. I’ll also explain the importance and difference between 1st level, 2nd level, and 3rd level goals (short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, respectively).
Prioritizing within these levels is also important, and developing and implementing an action plan is just as important as setting the goal(s). You can’t have one without the other. Well you can…but you won’t end up where you want to be.
More on this later….get your workout in!
As soon as I’m healed, I’ll be joining you. I had my workers (family/friends/spouse/kids) finish my workout space/office…and I can’t wait to use it.
And here it is!
Patiently (impatiently) waiting for my body to heal…meanwhile…Shakeology!!
Helping people realize and actualize their potential and their goals. We all get stuck in life, some worse than others. But there is always a way to make the suffering less impactful and to live a better life. I share my story and experiences because I believe that gives people hope and understanding of the diversity and similarity of different people's lives.
Goal Setting and Why This is Important
Chances are, at some point in your life, you have heard of the importance of setting goals and keeping them forefront in your mind. And there is also a great chance that if you have, you have fallen short, outright failed, quit, gave up, or set easier goals because LIFE IS HARD.
Setting goals is perhaps one of the most important habits that we do as humans. That’s one of the things that separate us from primates and other animals. We have the ability to think about our future, make goals, formulate a plan, and forego instant gratification for the long-term gains/pay-off.
The problem is, especially in today’s society with all of the electronic devices and excessive consumerism lifestyles most of us live, we aren’t generally comfortable waiting for that pay-off. We want it now. And it’s easier to make decisions that benefit us now even when thinking it through would reveal that these decisions are detrimental in the long-term. But our brains tend to shut down as soon as we make a decision that RIGHT NOW matters more than tomorrow. And it is tough to think about how much work is required to achieve the kind of success that most people want. We all want to be successful, but very few people are willing to put in the TIME, EFFORT, and HARD WORK that it takes to get there.
Successful people didn’t just wake up one day and become successful (you can define success any way you want to).
Young people (and sadly, many adult children) have a distorted perception of life. I know, I was one of them. It took me my whole life (slightly ambiguous) to get to the point where I finally understand the concept. Sure I’ve worked hard and accomplished much…but I was never happy when I got ‘this,’ or achieved ‘that.’ Happiness was always on the other side of the next accomplishment, the next thing. But it never came. And chasing ‘happiness’ only resulted in being increasingly unhappy. Well, this made no sense.
When I discovered that there is actually no realistic end goal where happiness awaits, a place one can reach in their life where there is nothing but elation and good feelings (aside from clinical delusions), I came to understand that happiness is a futile pursuit. Happiness comes and goes, sometimes by the minute. Sadness comes and goes just as quickly. Life is tough. Life is hard. But the most important thing that I came to understand is that life is AMAZING…
Being alive today is nothing short of a miracle. If you think of the evolutionary processes and the acts of God throughout history, natural selection, the rarity of sperm penetrating an egg during conception, the fact that our parents met, and so on…. and here we are. HERE WE ARE.
So…the idea is that happiness is a ridiculous goal, right? I mean, it’s all great when we’re feeling happy and we should embrace that and remember it. But it isn’t a sustainable state of being. “Life is suffering” (Jordan Peterson). We must work each and every day, every moment to work to better our lives and the lives of those around us.
So I learned to enjoy the little things, the moments throughout each day. Good, bad, terrible, amazing… it can be a roller coaster most of the time. But that is life, and I’m grateful for being here to feel those things. So, the ultimate daily and life-long goal, at least for me, is to remain grateful and joyful. It is joy that we should be after. And money won’t do that for you. Neither will sex, drugs, food, or even exercise. Sure, these things may provide some semblance of joy or short-term happiness….but joy must come from within. It has to be a part of who we are, who I am.
So…we were talking about goals right? I get going sometimes…
So, to achieve something meaningful in life, at least something meaningful to ourselves, we must identify what it is that would provide meaning. Some people call it our WHY, or dream, or ultimate goal. The underlying question is “where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? And ultimately, what is it you want to have accomplished when you are on your ‘death bed?”
These are tough questions, because it is difficult to visualize. It is especially hard when you’ve never been asked about it or have never put much thought into it. Our school system doesn’t do much to help either. The goals are middle school, then high school, then college, then….???? That’s kind of where many people get stuck.
When I chose my current educational/degree path, I had put months of thought into what it is that would make me proud and provide fulfillment for me. It was no easy task after ~10 years in the military. They don’t prepare us much for the real world, similar to how grade school and college kind of shove you out into the world when they’ve taken your money, your heart, and most of your soul.
This is a critical point in life when we must decide what gifts we have that we can use to give to others, to humanity. Sure, some people want money, cars, and big houses. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s your thing. But the process is still the same whether you want to be an astronaut, an engineer, or the Governor of California (shout-out to Arnold!).
Make the decision…(i.e., “I want to own a 5 star restaurant in a big city.”), WRITE IT DOWN. Write down the plan, the steps and the process that you will have to go through, the effort that you’ll have to put forth, the TIME that you’ll have to GIVE to get to this goal. Be realistic, and be intentional and unwavering in your pursuit. And every single day, you revisit that goal sheet and action plan, reflect on what you did yesterday that either moved you forward or set you back, and adjust accordingly. You will have to remain willing to adapt to changes in the plan because, well, plans are well and good but the Universe (God for me) has His own plans.
The idea is, if you want it bad enough and you visualize your goal(s) as if you are already there, you will subconsciously make decisions in your life that draw people and opportunities into your path and that draw you towards your goal. Some people call it the law of attraction, others call it God’s will, and still others call it sheer will power. Call it what you will, it works. But the goal has to be concrete, you must believe in yourself, ignore the naysayers and haters (they will be everywhere, even your closest friends and family), and do what is best for you.
Go to bed at a decent hour, wake up at the same time every single day, no matter what. I get up at 4AM. It isn’t my alarm that gets me up anymore…my goals wake me up. I usually get out of bed between 0315 and 0345…depending on when my sleep cycle actually ends. Yes, it’s a thing. But if you are drinking and drugging, you can forget about getting your circadian rhythm to work for you.
Do whatever it takes, don’t be afraid to fail (because you will fail, over and over and over and over), never quit, stay the course, never quit, never quit, never ever ever quit.
And never settle for anything less than what you want in life. You can’t wish yourself into riches and fame…but you can think and work yourself into them. But don’t take my word for it…go ahead and look up your favorite sports stars, movie stars, etc… They all have different versions of the same principle. PUT IN THE WORK.
And lastly…. you’re not a victim, you’re not a slave, and you’re not oppressed by anyone unless you are doing it to yourself with your own thoughts. Those kinds of mindsets are guaranteed to keep you from going anywhere in life. Stop putting your hand out, because nobody is coming to save you or pull you up. You have to do that by yourself. Sorry, but that’s the reality of it.
Well, I covered what I wanted and a lot more. As you can see, I get moving in all sorts of directions. But my information is good and I have faith that you can do whatever you want to. But that doesn’t mean anything unless you believe in yourself. Feel free to contact me if you want some free advice or if you think something I said was wrong.
Please like, follow, subscribe, share, and comment your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!!
*Re-posted from page to blog post (I’m still new here)
Fitness is usually synonymous with health and wellness.
However, even though they are all important from a holistic point of reference,
we need to clarify that they are all actually different. To be fit, in my
experience, is to be able to function physically above and beyond life’s
demands (within reason regarding any disabilities a person may have). Also,
there needs to be a balanced body composition. This might aggravate many
people. Bur research demonstrates quite universally that extra fat stored in the
body will cause some adverse health effects, whether they are short term or
Being healthy implies something similar but has less to
do with actual body composition and physical abilities and more to do with how
your organs and cells are performing. Much of this goes unnoticed. One benefit
and sign of being in relatively good health is feeling ‘good,’ energetic,
relaxed, peaceful, etc… Of course, that’s all subjective. Medical doctors can
only measure so much.
And finally, Wellness… what is wellness exactly?
Well…that too is subjective. My understanding from research and speaking with
many different types of ‘paths’ (practitioners of medical sciences), is that
wellness is all encompassing. Like healthy it would be peaceful, content, and
joyful…or strong, healthy, and energetic. I think wellness is more of a
lifestyle than a state…a journey rather than a destination.
That’s my two cents about it.
On another note….is it just my kids or do they get downright combative if they stay up even 30 minutes too late? I’ve been called many names today that I do not care for but having been a kid once I kept my patient (and stern) dad face on and calmly reinforced their duties and bedtime routines. I think kids should come with a manual….and maybe a full, money back, lifetime warranty!! I’m totally joking…or am I…?I think I am going to wake them all up at 0400AM when I get up (oh, by the way I’m a psychotic- I wake up at 4am every morning, work on stuff, pray, workout, drink coffee, and take a COLD SHOWER) and have all three of them workout with me. I’m confident there will be no problems tomorrow night when it’s time for bed…if they make it that long. I don’t know….is that abuse? I don’t think so. Cruel? Maybe…but not abuse.
Comments please…tell me about your thoughts on Fitness, Health, and Wellness. And please share about your kids…Have a great evening!
Please Like, Share, Comment, Subscribe, and…Come Back Soon!!
I am unsure of where to go from here. There is no lack of experience and knowledge in my psyche, and I have had my fair share of ups and downs. But I also know that I don’t actually know much at all. And that’s okay. I’m in no rush to figure it out. I have all the time that God is going to give me, and that’s enough for me.
I try to be a good Dad and husband, but that stuff is difficult. I find it easier to be kind and compassionate to people I don’t know. Why can that be? Well, maybe it’s because I feel no real responsibility regarding their end-game or where their future will take them. With kids, I have to be many things…sometimes more than one at any given time. I want to give them everything, but I know that would ruin them. I want to instill serious discipline and expose them to the real world, but that feels cruel and unnecessary. I want to be their friend, but if you give them an inch…
Something I have been practicing lately is consistency and communication. Not only with the kids, but with my wife as well. I think that it is very important that if parents are saying or doing something that may not be ideal for development, at least they are doing and saying the same thing as each other. Corrections can always be made, but security can easily be broken for a child.
“Life is Suffering”- Jordan B. Peterson (jordanpeterson.com). This was a shocking statement when I first heard him say it. So I have been listening to more of Dr. Peterson’s talks and lectures, and I am reading his second book now. I have been thinking and reflecting on the concept of suffering…and I believe that he is right. As I look back at my life, I’ve honestly had more hard times than easy, or simple. But that, to me, is the beauty of life. We all suffer. So let’s suffer together.
Another concept that he adds to “Life is Suffering” is the idea that we should do everything we can to “contend” with that, to work on ourselves and build ourselves up to reduce that suffering. And also that once we have learned to “shoulder that burden” and ease our personal suffering, we should do everything in our power to lift others up and relieve suffering on a larger scale. This is what he describes as the meaning and purpose of existence, if I am paraphrasing correctly.
I don’t want to spend the entire post here regurgitating someone else’s ideas, but I’ll conclude that part by stating that I have not found someone with whom I can relate to and understand as much as I have with Dr. Peterson. Give him some of your time. Maybe shut off Facebook for a day, hop on YouTube and listen to his stuff. If you search for it, you can’t miss it. Additionally, Dr. Peterson draws a comparison between world religions (especially Christianity) and the concept of suffering. Lots of lectures on that also.
Something very important that I have learned over the last few years, and especially over the last month is that life is precious (even with all the suffering). I am grateful to be here, and to have the things that I do. My health and wellness is not peak at the moment, my memory is shot, and I have pain in places that make me tear up sometimes. But I’d rather Be than to not Be.
I have found that one of the most difficult things that I face daily is not only my own mindset of remaining grateful, but helping my kids to realize how absolutely blessed they are to be alive, to have what they have, and to stop complaining about trivial material things. Maybe that’s a child-like disposition that kids share collectively, or maybe my kids are spoiled. I have committed to change this nonsense. If we have to begin living like paupers to achieve this goal, then I’ll gladly do it. I can do it longer than they can…I was in the Army for 10 years, so I can “suffer” through many conditions for months that many people couldn’t do for a day.
Okay, so that rant is complete. In essence, I choose to look at life as a gift rather than a task. But after having almost passed away, I am beginning to feel that I’ve lost my direction, purpose, meaning…
This is a complicated idea. Where can we find purpose? I think as a society, we are beginning to collectively agree that we have control over what we do with our lives. Sure, some people settle and get stuck in jobs they hate, houses in bad neighborhoods, and relationships that are unhealthy. But what they don’t accept is the responsibility that they have for staying in those ‘spaces.’
We, especially in the Western Culture, are becoming increasingly aware of the idea that we should do what it is we are passionate about. This is not to be confused with laziness or addiction. A pot-smoker may be passionate about smoking pot…but that (in my opinion) does not constitute a significant pursuit in life. If that works for you, please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your story. And selecting the pseudoscience area of study such as gender studies because of…well I don’t know why anyone would take those classes…but this is a ridiculous pursuit. However, I have met some connections on LinkedIn that have degrees in gender and women’s studies (why is there no gender and men’s studies) that have been largely successful. But this is, in my opinion, a passing fad and will hopefully dissolve before dangerous legislation gets passed (re: C16 in Canada).
Finding ones purpose usually takes time. But to have one so concrete just to lose it, well, dang. I don’t know how to explain that. I do know that I am only 36 and I have plenty of time to work it out, but my time is finite just like anyone else’s. Hopefully my readings and blogging will help me find what I am seeking.
So, we have many entrepreneurs (I always have trouble spelling that word) that will tell you that college is unnecessary and you can do great things without it. While this can be true in some cases, many times you need that paper or those initials after your name to be able to pursue certain careers/passions. Personally I think it is a ridiculously lengthy process, but necessary. I can give reasons for each.
Why is the process so lengthy and demanding? Because if it weren’t, we would have a society saturated with degrees and that would render them essentially useless (which is about where we are with undergraduate degrees. It takes a masters or higher these days to get into the upper 5 digit (70k+) job market. But with the prevalence of online education and “degree mills,” soon masters degrees will be a dime a dozen. Still, it takes time and money, so not everyone goes that route. Nor should they. We need people in all levels of the workforce, and not everyone needs to know how to read, write, and perform research to do many jobs. On the upside, a college education exposes one to ideas and knowledge that those without will not get unless they perform reading and research on their own (which I fall into both categories, more on that below).
Why degrees are frustrating and arguably a waste of time and money… This is an easy target, but I have some great stuff. Firstly, what in the absolute heck is going on with our education system that people go into sometimes life-long debt just to get a job?!! College should be free for anyone and everyone that maintains a 3.0 or higher. Sorry for those under that cutoff, but college should be reserved for those that care, work hard, and are prepared for it. Just a theory, but I believe it’s sound. Horribly ignorant and almost intellectually disabled sports stars go to school for free and pass classes that they don’t even attend…because they have talent (that makes the school money…it’s always about the money). No offense to these guys, better for them than society.
Second part to the above answer… waste of time. I am paying a system that then pays an individual to give me their ideologies and opinions on any given subject. This isn’t universal, there are many great science minded professors out there. But in the general counseling programs…waste-of-time. Also, and I know this is going to sound grandiose, I believe that the entire PhD or PsyD process is too lengthy, expensive, and unnecessary. And maybe this is different coming from a 36 year old that has been through some wild sh##, but I find that much of what I am being taught is impractical, outdated, and unnecessary for what I want (or did want) to do. Jay Shetty stated that most people don’t even figure out what they want to do with their lives until their mid-thirties.
I think there should be an accelerated doctoral program for those of us that have been reading, living, and researching psychology and philosophy for greater than two decades. Take a test, write a dissertation, defend said dissertation, and get out there and start making a difference. Back before 1900 (and maybe a little after), people used to practice something, and throw a sign up that said Doctor [of whatever] and that was perfectly acceptable. Many were highly competent, and many were not. So, regulation of licenses are necessary…but a one size fits all process is not only ridiculous, it’s costing many people a fortune that could otherwise be out there making a difference. But hey, let’s keep paying the machine for paper.
Now that I got that out of my system…what is meaning and how do we find ours? Easy answer…I have no solid answer. But I do have theories… Meaning is dependent on the individual, fundamentally, but also highly dependent on how that individual interacts with their environment and more importantly, society/humanity. When I contemplate meaning, I don’t generally start with the Bible or thinking about God’s plan for me (though maybe that should be the first step…hmmm…). I usually start with thinking about what I can contribute to others… “What is it that I have that I can share or teach to other people?” Well, lots. So we bring passion and purpose into the mix…and my brain has been freezing recently. At the beginning of last month (Feb 2019), I would have given a concrete answer..I want to help at-risk youth overcome adversity, specifically addiction, and to study brains to learn what patterns or activities are associated with different thoughts and behaviors.
However, like I stated earlier, I have lost my purpose. My priorities are jumbled, but more clear. My kids have become my number one priority, and being their father has given my life meaning and some semblance of purpose. But what else? A person has to work, right? Volunteer? Missionary? Lawyer? Doctor? (I just added those last two for effect, I have no wish to be either, in the strictest sense). I actually do want to be a Doctor, but not a Medicinal Practitioner. If I were to go medicine, I would do psychiatry. If you read my previous blog, you’ll see that I’ve had my fill of death and destruction. I want to contribute to prevention and helping, not rolling the dice with someone’s life hanging in the balance by the minute. No way. Not one more, God willing. I can’t imagine getting a child in the ER or ICU and working for hours (or minutes which seem like hours) and it turns out that it was all futile.
But I have much to offer, I just need to read, pray, interact, think, meditate, and listen for God’s calling to see which way that I need to go.
This has been a circus of a month…and I have learned a great deal about myself and my life. I’ve also learned that I am clueless about many aspects of myself and my life. Things I thought I understood and had control of, I no realize that I was way off and I am still a student of my own consciousness. And for me, that’s a decent place to be.
I don’t know how often I will be writing a blog, I’ll shoot for once a week but I don’t know. I have difficulty sitting for long periods, laying for long periods, etc… So imagine how long this took to write.
Thanks for reading my blog. Please like, follow, subscribe, and comment below…
First of all, don’t forget to like, share, comment, and follow.
What does it feel like to die? Do we see mysterious things? Visit mysterious places? Heaven? Hell? Something else? We’ll come back to that.
*** Denotes changes, additions, and corrections to information(excluding typographical and grammatical changes) Last Edits: 3/5/10 @0924; 3/16/18 @ 0449;
It is said that there are essentially two ways that a person can change and/or grow: ‘failure’ and ‘significant life events’ (e.g., trauma). I’ve had my fair share of both, or course, just like most every other human. Some significant events in my life include multiple types of trauma, many failures, and a handful of miscellaneous ‘significant life events.’ Let’s explore a few of these negative ones before we get to the event that is described by this post’s title, and the reason most of you are reading this. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’ve had more success than I deserve. But some took pain and discomfort to achieve, and for that I am grateful.
I am comfortable discussing many things, but there are a some that are just for a very close circle of people. I will share some of these ‘life events.’ For most of these events, there are only a handful of people that know about them. For a couple of these events, there is one person. And for one that I don’t talk about, there is nobody alive today that knows and that’s the way it shall remain. It’s just one of those things. So…here we go.
While serving in the military, I experienced roughly 8 events that had a significant impact in the manner in which I viewed my existence, humanity, and God. I’ve seen death from both sides of ‘the line.’ I’ve lost very good friends on deployment. And I’ve had to do some ‘thing’ which is still [debatably] unforgivable. That ‘thing’ took my soul and changed me for life. (I’ve since reclaimed that soul)
Additionally, while serving in the military, I’ve experienced some events on the semi-civilian side of life while acting as a volunteer fire fighter (love/hate relationship). I’ve lost three patients on medical and motor vehicle accident calls. Two were rather benign in nature, contextually. One of them, a man that had been entrapped in a logging truck and slowly burned alive (my sincerest condolences if his family reads this and feel a lack of empathy, that is not the case, I feel for him and you, almost every day). Well, I say alive but that’s an assumption. He was surely unconscious from the accident. A fire began in the lower right front portion of the semi-truck, and I was instructed to stand-down by my Chief. I do not feel good about this at all. But I have to believe he made the right call, and I do believe that it was his call to make. But man, the thoughts of “what if” creep in very often, and I have has some terrifying nightmares/terrors as a result of these events, especially this one. ***Both the Chief and I smelled that distinct, indescribable odor in our faces/noses/brains for weeks.
However, when I finally sobered up in May 2017, I regained control of my mind incrementally and most of my mental health symptoms are well-controlled without medications. Though I still have nightmares, I have learned how to mitigate their effects. I now have the power to decide what I let into my head to hang out, and what to let go. ***That is a quality that some people never learn, and I can thank my experiences (especially addiction) for taking me on that journey of self-discovery and self-awareness.
I mentioned sobriety just above: 22+ years of drinking and sporadic drug use. Nothing since May 8th, 2017. That’s how I learned to cope with emotions and feelings, negative and positive life events, and eventually everything. Some of you understand and many of you might be ignorant people that don’t and/or never will understand addiction. Meanwhile, most humans suffer from some form of addictive behaviors. It’s not your fault if you don’t understand. And I’m not here to convert anyone or educate anyone about addiction. If you have questions or need someone to talk to about your use or that of a loved one, please feel free to message me. I would be happy to help in any way that I can. ***I love to talk and encourage, and I will try to be available when times are tough. This is a free service.
I think that’s plenty of history for this post. Now for the event that occurred on February 22nd, 2019.
I have no memories from the evening of the 21st to the evening of the 25th) that night I was breathing funny and my family begged me to go to urgent care the following morning. I guess I refused because I just wanted to sleep, so they all went to a basketball game. Something (GOD?) told my wife to come home to check on me, and to take me to the ER.
When she and my kids came home, I was unconscious with stridor at about 2-3 rpm, cyanotic (blue) from head to toe and in my fingers. My body shut down to preserve my brain. At some point, I was gone completely. I cannot find the appropriate documentation to say for certain how long that was for. My wife called EMS, who came and suspected an overdose and gave me Narcan (naloxone). Obviously, that didn’t help at all because I don’t do drugs. Somebody very powerful also tried a sternum rub…which I feel still today. I was rushed to the hospital, intubated, brought back around, induced into a coma for three days (Feb 22, 23, 24) and awakened the evening of the 24th. At the hospital, once intubated, a young doctor came out and told my wife that IF I regained consciousness, I may not ever be the same due to the unknown length of hypoxia (loss of oxygen to the brain). That was within the first few hours of my stay. While these unpredictable assumptions can be true, it’s best to refrain from telling that to a family member so soon. I understand where he was coming from, and I respect his honesty, but he should have waited for more information to make such a claim.
Within the first ~18 hours of awakening from the medial coma, I was hallucinating from the propofol (***and maybe ketamine, versed, and/or fentanyl) and I couldn’t remember talking to people every time the same people entered the room. I literally met the same people, for the first time, over and over for hours. It sucked. This is where I should add that I had so much love from friends and family visiting, taking care of my kids, and bringing food. I just couldn’t remember that they had been there when they came back in the room.
On top of that horrible short-term memory loss, everything in the room made a noise, pictures and objects moved with the sounds, and I kept seeing spots. Oh, and there was the amazing removal of the catheters in my [place where catheters normally go] and in my leg. No fun. I did not sleep at all that night. But somehow, through the power of prayer or a literal miracle, I began improving at an alarming rate. ***There is also a good amount of retrograde amnesia, which is confusing because I can barely remember the entire week leading up to this incident.
Every time that I began to pray or thought of my kids…I cried uncontrollably. Thankfully since I couldn’t finish a prayer, there were hundreds of friends, family, and even people I don’t know praying for me. 🙂 This world is a good place to be. I truly believe in humanity.
On Feb 25th, I was told that I was going to stay in the ICU for about 7 days, then go to an inpatient OT/PT unit for 10-12 days. On Feb 26th, they moved me to a room down the hall where I had some more freedom and less wires and tubes. I also had the opportunity to move around more. On Feb 27th, they said that I would most likely not need the inpatient OT/PT….and later that day I was released into the care of my family.
While all of this was going on, my wife was undergoing surgery in the same hospital, unbeknownst to me. And she was given too much dilaudid (hydromorphone), overdosed, and stopped breathing. What a week!!! Narcan flip and back to life with her, also (praise God). Her last word before she stopped breathing… “ANDREW”- My first words upon waking… “My Wife!” 😥
Now let’s skip back to our original query. What is it like to die? Can we see a light? Do we dream? Out of body experience?
I cannot say for sure. What I remembered was not consistent with reality…or was it? The reason that I am posting this over week after it happened is because I had to pray, listen to everyone’s accounts of the events, think and make sense of it all. And here’s what I have.
There was something. I was in a white environment, illuminated with brilliant lights: blues, white, and an unexplained ‘other’ hue. The reason that I remember going to this place was to be freed from illness. I know what you’re thinking…”that’s a hospital, goofy.” Maybe. But it felt real, and right, and not even close to anywhere in that hospital that I’ve seen. I felt that I was being carried into a room immersed in light and had kind people everywhere. I had the feeling that I was not supposed to be there, but I was there because I had to be. I can’t really explain much more than that. And that doesn’t sound much like a miracle. ***But there is something distinctly divine about the experience. That’s my testimony. I know, meeting Jesus or seeing God would make for a better story, but I didn’t. Or I don’t remember if I did.
But the shape that I was in on February 22nd, and then the shape that I was in on the 27th…..nothing short of a MIRACLE. Nobody could believe it. I mean, I was gone. Kidneys shut down, hypoxia, lungs completely full of serum, not fluid. You see, I had vomited into my lungs for two straight nights. I was the youngest person to be in that ICU. And two people died while I was in there (God rest their souls. The staff were great, the process was horrible, but I have LIFE. I AM ALIVE.
Nothing comes close to forcing a person to take a long, hard look at their life and priorities than dying and coming back so fast that it’s like you’d never left. I had my life plan, my daily routine, my priorities in line before this accident. But that’s all in the bag. Sure, I’m still going to pursue a doctoral program. But which one? Well, I want to do two, simultaneously. PhD in Neuroscience CONCURRENTLY with MD (Dual Doctoral). ***On further reflection…I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get all my strength back and my pain decreases.
Other than professional goals…the biggest changes in the way that I plan to live now is with intent, purpose, and for relationships. My kids and wife come first (well, after God of course), family and friends second, and I am going to pour everything I have into anyone I meet. And I don’t give a [crap] if I get paid a tiny red cent. (why red?).
You see…for me…life isn’t about what I’ve done or who I was, and it isn’t about what I’ll be or what I want to do…Life is about other Life. Think about it. Why are humans so social? Relationships are the most important thing that I am going to focus on. That’s what this experience told me.
My kids almost lost both parents in just a few days. And I have always been to busy trying to grow a business, build a career, and make money to provide for my family. My family wasn’t ever starving for food, or clothes, or other material things. They were starved for attention. TIME. Kids don’t care how much you make, what kind of car you drive, or how cool your job is. They may brag about those things to look cool, maybe, to their friends. ***But they don’t actually benefit from these things, developmentally. In my opinion, the key to a successful relationship is to spend TIME with those kids. (plenty of research that supports this, but I think deep down we all know our kids want us to put the damn phone down)
If there is anything that I want you to take away from this experience, from a 36-year-old retired, disabled, recovering alcoholic, father of three, husband, Christian, full-time student and Red-Cross Volunteer…it’s that the only three of those [labels] that truly matter are that I am a husband, father, and a Christian. And I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. It’s not about me…it’s about the people that I can help.
As soon as I recover…because yes, I’m still very weak and my brain still quite slow.
Thanks for reading…please like and subscribe…share, and follow my other media…and most importantly have a blessed day!!
***As I learn new things, I will add and/or correct this story to keep it accurate.