Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wonderful Life II

Well I’m not exactly sure if those were his exact words, but it does sound good. It’s funny how things happen when you least expect.

Fate brought us together. I was forced by a friend to venture to a new happy hour venue. John decided to frequent the same place after vowing to never go there again. It just so happen to be the same day. How cute is that? Eleven years later, this Chicagoan native, John, and I still share 'moving on'.

I always wanted to return to school someday and match my siblings with a college degree. Actually, it was more like making my mama happy. She was born and raised in Mexico and worked her entire life to provide her children with the opportunity she never had growing up. You see, I was the rebel of the family and thought a paycheck after high school looked more inviting to me than another diploma, so I took a different avenue and kept going.

Graduation, this special achievement, was a difficult one for me because it had been twenty plus years since I had sat in a classroom, but I did it. It was very rewarding seeing my mama’s joyful face at my college graduation as well as knowing that I had the ability to accomplish whatever I set myself to accomplish.

During my working career, it always bothered me to report to someone and watching someone else enjoy the profits of my hard work. I vowed that one day I would become my own boss. I had to return to work, become self employed with a prosperous business that I could feel good about managing.

I knew the consequences of returning to the workforce might not be beneficial to me while entertaining side effects of my medication. “Damn if you do, damn if you don’t” type thing.

I figured I could motivate and assist my partner to start his own business and have something for us to fall back on, a side job working from home. It was a good thing I did. The economy being in it's hardship status today, the company where he worked closed their doors after 13 years. He is currently forced to utilize his broker license to the fullest now just to make ends meet. Now, I can at least help when I can and as much as I can while doing things

Being a gay man, it was always a known fact that marriage or children would probably never be a possibility for me; I still had the parenting urge and hope that one day I would have my own family. Today, we have two wonderful little boys, Oliver and Bailey, our pride and joys. Oliver is the smartest Wire Fox Terrier you will ever know and a wonderful big brother to Bailey, our soft, cuddling and loving Bedlington Terrier. They are six and seven years old and bring us so much joy every day. They have the run of the house and love their big yard and especially the swimming pool. Yes, one of the major priorities of finding a home was having a pool for the boys. Oliver is my diver. Bailey is my “Michael Phelps,” the fastest swimming dog I have ever seen.

They may not be human, but they are our loving children and remind us every day of that fact. Finally, like everyone else, I wanted to someday own my dream home. Three years ago, we accomplished this dream. A home just perfect for our comfort and a large yard for the boys, plus the fact that we are both in our 50’s and do not need any stairs at this point in our life. It is our very own paradise to grow old together with our boys and a place large enough to accommodate our family and friends visiting from the Midwest. And believe me,
our revolving door is always in use as everyone loves to visit us as well as San Diego. It has been a wonderful ride getting to this place in my life and I will continue to achieve as much as I can. I will admit that with all accomplishments in life there can be some challenges along the way, but with motivation and a strong mind, if there is a WILL one will find the WAY.

As I said before, I continued to live a healthy life and will always keep a positive attitude about any and every thing around me. The key is staying focused and not utilizing any energy on the past, but work on the current issues of my life. I cannot change the past, but only take the positive of it to work for in my favor today. A good example is dealing with numerous medications on a daily basis. My thought is to take them and move on. The downside is dealing with side effects from them that challenge me all the time. I will never let them succeed with forcing me to surrender my most powerful medication, my mind.

Shortly after meeting my partner John, I was diagnosed with AVN (a vascular narcosis) and spent the next three years going through hip replacement surgeries on both sides. Actually, it was more like three hip replacements. At age 40 my doctors thought I was too young to have one until this miraculous doctor offered me a partial hip replacement. I found his enthusiasm in my case interesting as it benefited both of us in one way or another. The hope was that was supposed to last me eight years, but I wore it out in three. My energy level was higher than he expected and three years to the day, he was performing a total hip replacement on the same hip.

AVN is a joint decease caused by a medication I took in my earlier years battling full blown A.I.D.S. Again, this is where I realized it’s “Damn if you do and damn if you don’t”. Without this only steroid medication doctors recommended for me at the time which is the culprit of my disease joints, I probably would not be writing this story today. Full blown A.I.D.S. is where your entire Acquired Infectious Deficiency Levels are none. By the time the doctors were performing my third surgery, I became a champ on recovery and showing physical therapy my own routine.

I was soon becoming very well known at the campus of UCSD (University of California San Diego) Medical Center, first at the Owen Clinic with constant visit to my incredible primary physician, who monitors my medication and overall health issues then at Thornton Hospital Orthopedic Center where I am sure was one of their most profitable patients. No wonder all the “red carpet” treatment. It did not end there, soon thereafter, it was time to make myself known at Shiley Eye Center just to add to the list.

My Retinitis was starting to affect my vision drastically to the point where my only hope of vision survival consisted of numerous surgeries recommended and performed. While back in Chicago, I was made aware of CMV Retinitis setting into my eyes and that there was a great possibility of vision loss. The doctors at Illinois Masonic Medical Center performed necessary surgeries then to help save my eye sight for as long as they possibly could. Today, I have slowly lost vision in my right eye due the CMV Retinitis, but I still have one 20/20 eye vision in with my left eye.

It might mean for me to move my head a little to the right most of the time. Hopefully, one day I can be the first candidate for a Retinal transplant when available. Or maybe even the second, but I have hopes of being able to see out of that eye again. If not here on Earth, then I’m sure up in heaven when I reunite with all my peeps. Either way, it is what it is and I can still smile and hold my head up high.

Continuing my courtship with John, amazingly he has not run away, nor do I think he would. With our similar backgrounds, he too has dealings with side effects that are different in appearance, but yet just as severe. He amazes me with his ability to take on this adventure with me while suffering his own issues, but I truly believe we inspire each other to just keep moving on. That just makes me love him so much more. Especially when I’m forced to entertain yet another challenge God has put in my path.

As if UCSD did not know me enough, I was forced to make acquaintance with doctors at the Cancer Center. Well hold the tears, it was not as bad as you might think it would be, but the signs were there and the doctor has so far managed to perform the necessary surgeries removing any evidence of the big C. Currently, I am on a yearly “surveillance” treatment.

I can very well be a good candidate for the worse, but so far so good. All of these side effects continue to make their appearances whenever they chose and without my control. If it is not one thing it is another or like they say in Spanish “si no son tomates son chiles.” It is just something I have to deal with every day of my life and I still to this day will not let it get the best of me especially taking over my mind. My mind is the strongest medication I have and I will not surrender it to medication, illness or anyone. I am powered by the fuel that keeps me going. And John is the major motivating force of my life.

John and I recently added a new goal to my list that I never would have dreamed coming true.On December 27, 2008, my 50th birthday, our family and friends witnessed our commitment to one another at our fabulous wedding ceremony. Thanks to the wonderful State of California we were able to make our dream a reality. Now I can scream out those infamous words of Sophia from one of my favorite movies, the Color Purple, and mean it, “Look y'all I’ze married.”

As I continue to accept to live with challenge after challenges in my life, I am ready for whatever comes my way. I will not allow anything or anyone prevent me from happiness.

I have always lived by my own philosophy, “You are the only someone in this world that can make you happy. Others in our life only enhance it." This can easily be done with a strong mind and a loving soul. We all were blessed with the same tools; we just need to know how to make them work in our favor. God gave us the tool; we need to use it wisely.

Recently this year, I had both my shoulders replaced due to the AVN making yet another appearance. Not like the hip replacement recovery, this one a little bit more challenging. I’ll get through this one as well. Together with my husband we make a good life for ourselves in spite of challenges that cross our path. We continue to keep utilizing our most valuable tool and most powerful medication we have. While keeping control of our own minds, there just AIN’T NO STOPPING US NOW.

-Marc Medina

you control your mind

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