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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Essential Heros

I have two wonderful friends who walk toward the danger everyday. They don't consider themselves to be heroes. They are normal people who have important jobs they cannot do at home and cannot stop doing because of a pandemic. They were heroes to me even before this whole mess got started. I miss them very very much.


Jeff Ness is working in a hospital with sick people. He works long shifts with people who may be upset and hurting, and unable to see their families.

Mason Simpson is an Ironman doing important construction. He is also a guardsman who could be deployed anywhere at any time. He never knows if someone nearby may be carrying the virus.

Friday, April 17, 2020

How to Console an Inconsolable Friend

Avoid making the situation about you. Regardless of your own personal experiences with grief or loss, don’t try to console your friend by talking about yourself. For example, if you lost a grandparent and your friend lost her mother, don’t attempt to make her feel better by talking about how you coped after your own loss. Your situations are not the same, and you each probably have different coping mechanisms.

Do not try to fix it. One of the worst ways to try to console a friend is to tell them how to easily fix their problem. If your friend is inconsolable, chances are that they’ve already considered possible options or scenarios before they got to this point. Even if you think you have a clear solution, they need to come to it on their own.

Do not discount how your friend feels. It’s imperative that you don’t tell your friend that you think their reaction to their grief or loss is silly or irrational. Regardless of how you might deal with a similar situation, you must not tell your friend that their response is inappropriate.
Simply telling your friend that whatever they're feeling is completely valid will go a long way in comforting them. Validating their feelings will help them emotionally and help them feel like someone understands what they're going through.

Be emotionally present. Don’t avoid your friend. Avoiding contact with a friend that is hurting does not help their situation and will likely hurt their feelings even more. Going through a loss can be an isolating, lonely experience. Be sure that you are there, even if you don’t live near your friend.
A phone call, Skype call, or text message can go a long way to let them know that you’re thinking of them and care about their grief.

Be physically present, if possible. People don’t always want to talk about what’s upsetting them. Sometimes, if you live close enough to your friend, simply being physically near someone can be comforting.
If appropriate, a hug or arm around a friend can speak volumes. Sitting quietly in their presence might be difficult, but just being physically present and sitting with them while they cry is a positive form of consolation.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Pandemic hasn't changed my life

Well there is 1 thing that has changed because of the pandemic. I don't get to go to Chuy's for lunch twice a month after my oncology appointment anymore.

My social distancing is the same, time at home in isolation. For the past 6 years there were 2 one-month periods, during a wash, that I was untethered from the bathroom. Other things that have kept me home include, hurting, burning and cracking feet and extreme fatigue. A trip to the doctor takes 3 days. Day 1 is showering and resting up for the trip. Day 2 is the trip. Day 3 is resting up after the trip. That's hard to do when I haven't been able to lie down in the past 2 years. Sleeping in a chair is not restful.

My friend Mason once told me that he had a revelation about my isolation and loneliness. He noted that having company over once every 2 or 3 months left a lot of time on my hands. Eventually I've watched everything on TV dozens of times. I've read every book I could ever want to. I'm unable to get out and do more than a few minutes of chores or gardening in a day.

That leaves a lot of time to think. And with so many hours over so many days over so many years I've even come to think about everything possible dozens of times over. As he put it: "there's nothing left to do but think -- about everything --- over and over. And there's nothing new to think about, just the same 'ole stuff, never-ending." It saddened him to realize just how much time I had to figure out how to use up. He also noted to another friend of his that it made it impossible to not think about everything, whether good or bad. It's not a matter of obsessing on stuff. It's a matter of having 16 hours day after day for 6 years to keep rolling over the same things. That's why I spend so much time reliving everything in my life, all the way back as far as I can remember. It's all I got.

Even going somewhere requires planning on bathrooms along the way. The destination has to have more than one bathroom also. Sometimes I have 30-60 seconds to get to a bathroom. Experience has taught me to always carry toilet paper, towels, water, and extra clothes everywhere. I also have to do a high Imodium regimen before going anywhere. It helps some. If I'm going to someone's house, they have to have an open bathroom ready for me at all times, no time to wait for someone to finish up and get out for me. Also no stairs.

Friends laugh at me because I rearrange my furniture so much. They can't comprehend that with such a vast amount of time to fill, that that's all there is to do. I get tired of moving from one chair to another all day. It hurts to walk around the yard.

My fingers are bleeding as I type because of the side effects of my treatment. I was able to tie my shoes for about 9 months, but that's over.

If you're isolated with other people, be thankful, because you're really not isolated. If you're into gaming or you have physical ability to get projects done, be thankful. And when all this pandemic is over and you can get back to your normal lives, I'll still be here - thinking, remembering and watching endless reruns of the Brady Bunch.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

4 Reasons to Give Someone a Second Chance

When you’ve been hurt, betrayed, or disappointed by someone you care about, it’s hard to imagine giving that person another chance. Yet forgiveness is a value that is fundamental to human relationships. Giving up on people because they’ve let you down, whether it’s your favorite athlete, a political figure, or your best friend, seems antithetical to that value.
Even though we’re taught to forgive and to give someone an opportunity to make up for past wrongs, not everyone is capable of doing so. In a recent study, University of Bremen psychologist Katja Hanke teamed up with Christin-Melanie Vauclar of the University of Lisbon on a massive analysis of nearly 42,000 participants from 30 countries on cross-cultural variations in the personality trait of forgiveness. Presumably, in countries that emphasize the virtue of forgiveness, people would be more likely to espouse this trait within their own personalities.
As Hanke and Vauclar point out, we tend to think of forgiveness in interpersonal terms: Someone steps on your foot and it really hurts, but to the best of your knowledge, it wasn’t an intentional act. When the person apologizes, you accept it and don’t hold a grudge or strike back. However, forgiveness also has a larger intergroup context. According to the researchers, “Forgiveness seems to be a critical element in breaking cycles of counterviolence in postconflict societies” (p. 217). In other words, perhaps forgiveness might lead to healing and reconciliation among nations.
From the level of the individual to the level of the society, forgiveness seems to make a difference in the preservation of harmony. Analyzing the data from 168 separate studies, Hanke and Vauclar examined the relative ranking of forgiveness on a list of 18 values. Forgiveness ranked eighth overall, beaten out by virtues such as honesty (#1), responsibility (#2), and loving (#3), but it outranked imaginative (#17) and obedient (#18). (The U.S. ranked #4 in citing forgiveness as a value, and Egypt was #1. Poland, Chile, India, and Israel came in at the bottom of the list.)
The authors proposed that country-level factors that influence the espousing of forgiveness as a value were related to almost Maslow-like qualities, such as feelings of stability and safety. These “postmaterialistic” qualities are aided and abetted by time away from conflict. In countries with high levels of concern about safety due to the presence of conflict (such as Israel), forgiveness may fall behind values that reflect the need for protection.
Once a culture becomes more forgiving, there are payoffs for its citizens: As shown in the analysis across studies, there is a positive relationship between the average well-being of people in a culture and the extent to which they value forgiveness. Simply put, being forgiving seems to relate to being happier. Whether happier people are more forgiving (and happier in the first place because their countries are stable) or whether forgiveness leads to happiness and stability can’t be answered by this correlational study. Whatever the causal chain, though, forgiveness and happiness seem linked.
Now we get to the reasons forgiveness—and the associated willingness to give second chances—can benefit you.
With any luck, you live in a culture that places forgiveness high on the value hierarchy. Accidentally bumping into a stranger in the street won’t lead to insults or physical assault, and everyone will feel better as a result of an apology and display of humanity. What else can second chances do for you? These 4 reasons to forgive someone should help to convince you:
  1. That factor of subjective well-being. You feel happier when you forgive someone else. The cross-national study supported what research on individuals has shown, and suggests that being magnanimous pays off in terms of your own emotional benefits.
  2. People can change. Additional research on why you should give second chances focuses on the idea that personality isn’t set in stone. People can learn from their mistakes—and when you give them a second opportunity, you allow them to demonstrate this.
  3. It’s practical and saves emotional energy. You gave your mechanic the job of fixing a defective valve and now it’s broken again. You could hire someone else to fix the fix, but that person will know less than the mechanic who tried the first time. Similarly, your previous romantic partner may have done things that caused you to break up, but when you start with someone new, you’re back to square one. Once your anger subsides, pushing the “reset” button on the first partner may just give you greater insight and appreciation for that relationship.
  4. You’d like people to treat you the same way. Turn the tables and imagine that it’s you who needs the second chance. Wouldn’t you feel better if you were given an opportunity to try again? Whether it’s the car you’ve been hired to fix or the relationship that took a turn for the worse due to your own mistakes, it’s nice to know that someone is willing to give you a chance to redeem yourself.
When we have the opportunity to show forgiveness to those we interact with, we should: It can improve our outlook on ourselves and the world.

Here’s why you should give people a chance

1. Someone gave you a chance

You may not have had the experience or even the right level of passion, but someone believed in you. The least you can do is give that same gift back to someone else. Don’t give it to the first person you see: give it to the person that you believe has earned it.
Give that chance to someone who you believe has a gift and hasn’t had any good luck come their way. You have so much power in your life to change lives. You can make such a dent in the world by believing in someone.
It’s in your human nature to support someone who needs a chance. We’re all humans driven by emotion. The emotion someone makes you feel is usually a good indicator that they may deserve a chance from you.
Sometimes, like the magician, someone comes into your life that is humble, sweet, grateful and brilliant at what they do. Next time this happens, don’t hesitate and give this person a chance.

2. It’s a gift

I’ve been given some incredible chances in my life and I’ve done the best I can not to waste them. Chances are a gift that you can give. Many people think you need lots of money to give awesome gifts. This idea is wrong. The best gift you can give is a chance to someone who needs it.

Instead of judging someone in need of a chance, put yourself in their shoes. Think back to the chances you have been given which may have been disguised in some weird way as a job offer or romantic interest. If you’re not going to give the gift of a chance to someone then what other things in your life are you not doing?
Why couldn’t you give someone a chance next time the opportunity came around? If you’re not going to give a chance to someone now, then even when you hit your so-called success marker, you’re not going to give a chance then either. Giving chances allows you to receive the same gift in return.
“The world works in mysterious ways and chances that are given come back to you in weird and wonderful ways”
Since I gave chances, my life has changed. I’ve been given chances that I never thought were possible. It starts with being humble and believing that you already have enough.
From this abundant place, you can give a chance to someone who has waited their entire life to meet you and be given your gift. Don’t miss out on the rewards that come from giving chances.

3. They deserve it

Failure is going to happen in every aspect of your life or business anyway, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Some of the best stuff ups create the most beautiful results. I have always believed that someone who deserves a chance should be given one.
The hard part for me is sometimes working out whether the person desiring a chance from you should be given one.
Here’s what to look for:
– The way they ask for a chance
– Their body language
– The emotion they show you
– Whether they share something vulnerable with you
– How far they are willing to go to get that chance
– Whether they will pay the chance forward
For me, knowing someone is going to take the chance I give them and then pay it forward is the biggest criteria I have. I want the world to keep prospering and this can only happen when we all pay the chances we are given forward.

4. You’ll get ten times back

Your dreams become top of mind for the person you gave a chance too. At every corner, if they see a way to repay you, they will and often they’ll do so without thinking. I gave a bunch of chances to some fellow writers and each of them has done so many nice favors for me in return.
You only get chances given to you when you begin with giving chances in the first place, without expecting anything in return.

5. It feels good to believe in someone

All anybody ever wants is a chance and this includes you. Next time you have the opportunity to give someone a chance, think back to what I’ve said. Remember that leaders change the world and giving out chances is part of that journey.
You won’t always get it right and that’s okay. Do it anyway and have faith in the outcome. We all deserve a chance. We’ve all had our lows and you have the power to create the ultimate high in someone’s life.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Chemo 2020-04-06

Scan results from last week.

Lung nodules continue to grow, second scan in a row. As the cancer is no longer responding to Vectibix treatment, today was my last infusion. I will begin a last resort oral medication called Lonsurf. Reading about it did not make me hopeful.

I cannot go into clinical trials as new patients are not being accepted into the trials during the pandemic. So my only hope for the moment is this oral medication. If it does not work I will be on my own unless experimental trials open up again and a study can be found that I fit in.

Also there is no blockage in my heart. So my heart problems are stress related. 

My sister made the mask