Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Most Link-Filled Post Ever!*

Before we get started... here's this:
"If Jesus had been born in a hospital would the three wise men still have carried gold, frankincense and myrrh all the way to Bethlehem? Or would they just have picked up something in the gift-shop?"
Sad to say but, it feels as if it wouldn't be any kind of bona fide holiday season without my yearly trip to the hospital. Not always mine, mind you. There was the year with my Father-in-law, Allan's, heart attack, surgery and subsequent hospitalization and recovery. But, for the most part, these past few years it's been me. Hopefully I've fulfilled my annual tradition with this past week, or so, and the powers that be will not require my presence again.

The hospital trips can be grueling. To my recollection, I have not been admitted to the hospital and had a stay of less four days. I have, on the other hand, experienced over two weeks at one or two points. This trip was different.

This time we had the talk with my oncologist. No. Not the one about birds, bees and such. Not that the talk. This was the one where he says that it's time to make sure my advance directive, including a DNR, and my will are finalized, notarized and, knowing me, dramatized.

This time he was letting us know that we are on the home stretch. There's very little chance of this next chemotherapy working, and if it does, still very little chance that it will extend my life by any significant amount. I know that most of you think, as you read this, that any amount of extra life is significant. But after a while of doing this, of working through the pain crying through the night, you really do have to look at the quality of life you'll be living. Frankly this constant rotation of pain, nausea, tears and fading hope isn't something I believe I can extend much longer. Even if I wanted to. It's a hard thing to say. In no way do I want to insinuate that I wouldn't endure a world of pain on a daily basis for the rest of my life just to have five minutes a day with Kristin, another breakfast with my Dad or one more movie with my Mom. But they don't want me to live that way either. I also don't want their lives to be held in frozen corbonite while they wait for my soul to make an impossible decision.

So... We had the conversation. It's kind of put everything else into this tunnel vision inducing perspective. I'm sure I'll have to be reminded, and remind myself, over and over again in the next month or so that tunnel vision is not the way to live one's life. I've got a memorial video to make, urns to finish (yes, they really do exist), and so many things I want to see, touch and feel before it's all over. I guess I'm developing a mini-bucket-list.
  • Breakfast at the Glennwood on Campus one more time.
  • Dinner at the Glenwood on Campus one more time.
  • Miniature golf with my wife and parents.
  • Write some letters to be delivered after my death. (If you don't get one, don't be offended. I probably never got around to doing it.)
  • Paint and draw some more.
  • At least one more birthday. (February 24th)
  • Record some music with some friends. (We'll call it the Urned Music Project.)
I'm sure there are a ton of things I'd love to do. There are people I desperately want to spend one more evening with. I'd even like to do one more improv show, in spite of my recent retirement. But there's no way I'll have the energy to put that together and (no guilt intended) no one else really has the time. It's weird. The more "free time" I have, the less time I have... and the less energy.

There are a couple things you should really know about me these days. First, my vision sucks right now. The chemotherapy regimen I'm on alters your vision. It's not like I'm hallucinating. It just knocks my vision around so one minute I can see everything on TV clearly and the next everything is blurry except for the face of our lovely Matt Templeman. Matt, by the way, has worn a bracelet supporting my fight against cancer since the day I gave it to him in the quick weeks following my original diagnosis and surgery. Another reason to watch KMTR if you live in Lane County. (Why is it that almost every county, city and even state have just horrible web sites. Do they hire untalented programmers or do they put so many constrictions and requirements on what they "need" that it's impossible to make anything look good?) The second thing you should know is that, in spite of my size, I am very weak now. There are times I can hardly get up. (Which, of course, has nothing to do with my weight.) The third thing you should know, and I hope you'll never forget, is that through all of this I have constantly felt the hand of God holding on to me, sometimes carrying me. He is how I've made it this far. I have no regrets of my faith or relationship with God.

Sorry that's a bit'o babble it is. You wouldn't be so annoyed if you knew that, due to chemo I guess, I've got a pretty "good" case of double-vision going on.
I've recently discovered the website eBates.com - I saw a commercial on TV and immediately assumed it was crap. But did some research and the site is legitimate. If you're going to buy anything on line simply go to the site, once you've created your account click a link for whatever store you're looking for (it looks like they have everything from Torrid.com to Target.com), then just make your purchase as you normally would and a percentage of that buy goes into an account which pays out to Paypal or a check three or four times a year. You all know how little money Kristin and I have but, just doing the minimal Christmas shopping we had to do this year, I've got twelve dollars waiting in an account! It just seems too good to pass up and doesn't cost a thing. (Of course, if enough of you use the eBates link on my page, I'll get a $50 credit. But I do hope you go for you! You can really save money.)

You can still even use online coupons from sites like retailmenot.com during your purchase and it has no effect on the percentage cash back you get!
Also wik:
Cory and Steph Jackson, a really neat couple from my church, have put together a little/huge Christmas album project. They convinced, in some cases dragged and in some had to limit the number of tracks, a few of us to record a song or two for a very fun church family Christmas album. I even put together the cover-art for it. 

You can download all the song for free at the Christ Fellowship church website: cfeugene.com  For those interested I, with a little help from Santa's most beautiful elf, recorded Jingle Bells. And, again, it's free!
Also, also, wik:
Through a cute picture from my friend Ted and the inspiration of my Mother-in-law, Ruth, we've been working on a little project with people submitting pictures of inanimate objects holding, wearing, sitting in or on, or somehow involved with one of my Choose joy! bracelets. There are a few in the slideshow below:

I'd love for you if you have, or can take, the time to take a picture or two that I may add to my collection. Please email your submission to, well, me at aaron@judasforgiven.com or you can post the image to your facebook wall and "tag" me in it. (Gotta tell ya, there's a much better chance of me not missing it if you just email. But I'll do my best either way.) The best ones, probably all of them, will become a part of the memorial video I'm working on to be played at my memorial service! It's just some fun and it's made me feel really good about the bracelets, which have been so important for/to me!

If you want, and don't have one, you can purchase a bracelet for $5 (with free shipping) using the PayPal button in the upper right hand corner.
I see I've gone to using more and more exclamation marks. I must go to bed now. Otherwise, I'll just keep yelling

*not really

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