Thursday, July 16, 2015

In Loving Memory of Brandi! My dog, my best friend...

It was early in the summer of 2004 when our precious little pup came into our lives. I had been in and out of the hospital at the time due to complications with my first transplanted heart. My mom thought that having a dog in our lives would bring about some positive vibes and help keep my spirits up. After four years of feeling so healthy, I got very careless with taking my anti-rejection meds. This reckless behavior led to seven long months in the hospital and eventually my second heart transplant.

I knew I had messed up big time when I started having heart palpitations sometime during the end of May '04. My health declined rapidly in the weeks to follow. Every time I thought I was progressing, something would happen to land me right back in the hospital. It was torture. However, my family and I refused to give in to the belief that this was a problem that could not be fixed with a boost in steroid doses or some other form of treatment. Claude and I had plans to move into Hoboken that fall and despite my not feeling so well we moved forward with our apartment hunting. This helped me take my mind off things. I couldn't wait to finally be out on my own and living with my best friend, my brother! We both also really wanted a dog and figured it would be a good idea to get one while still living at home in order to give him/her proper house training. We had wanted a dog all our lives, but our parents had concerns that the responsibilities of owning a pet would eventually fall back on them. Being that they both worked serious jobs this was not an option. Our nanny and housekeeper Therese, did not like dogs very much, and she insisted that taking care of one was not part of her job description. However, now that Claude and I were older and prepared to move out on our own, my mother agreed to the decision. 

She was only six weeks old when we got her and we knew instantly that she had to be ours from the second we laid eyes on her. I didn't see any other dog in the room but her.

"Do you want to play with her?" asked an employee who picked up on my interest.

Claude and I sat in the tiny cubicle with the soon to be the newest member of our family for what seemed like an eternity. She was so sweet, so innocent, and absolutely adorable. She loved Claude instantly and had him smiling from ear to ear. Seeing the joy that tiny animal brought to her sons left no room for my mother to even second guess her choice. I still couldn't even believe it was really happening. My excitement only grew as I walked our new puppy out to the car on the leash; an excited pep in every one of her tiny steps. I swear it's as if she knew she was going home. Isabelle was scared of her at first,  which Claude and I found to be hysterical, but after just a few minutes she couldn't help but fall in love as well. Therese, was not happy about this situation at all. She was upset that no one had informed her of such a serious decision and was also worried that all responsibilities would eventually fall on her. However, I did my very best to reassure her that the decision to get a dog was a spontaneous one, and that Claude and I would take on the entire workload. We all sat together, and one by one took turns hugging her and playing with her on the kitchen floor. My mother never wanted a dog, and so I was particularly shocked to see her rolling on the floor bonding with our new pup. I later found out that she was just scared to love something so much knowing that one day she would have to eventually let go. My mother was fully aware that loss is a part of life, however the notion to knowingly introduce that into her life was a difficult concept for her to grasp. 

"What should we name her guys?" asked Claude. "I think Mom should name her since she got her, haha."

"Let's call her BRANDI!" said my mom without hesitation.

My siblings and I stared at one another in confusion in regards to my mother's immediate response. It was a pretty name so we liked it. It was only years later that we found out during a dinner conversation that BRANDI'S fawn like colors reminded my mom of the little deer she had seen in the famous Disney movie called, "BAMBI". However, my mother grew up in Jamaica so, hence the confusion, lol.

Since that day BRANDI instantly became a part of our family. I never owned a pet of that magnitude prior to her and so I was unaware of the vast impact she would have on my life. BRANDI was so much more than a "just a dog". She was a powerful life-force, she was an unconditionally loving face at the door, she was a nurturer through sickness and health, she was our BEST FRIEND! I spent 7 months in the hospital waiting for my second transplant the year we got her, and during one of my weakest moments my family surprised me by bringing BRANDI to visit me. Seeing her cute little face reminded me that I had things waiting for me out in the world to LIVE for. Seeing her gave me just one more reason to FIGHT! 

There were countless times I would come home from the hospital, and she would lay at my side watching over me for days on end. I loved her so much that I had no concern for "germs", and I would let her sleep with me every night. Even though she couldn't talk, her presence alone said enough. She was a companion, and she could change the worst of my moods. I still think about her all the time, and I laugh at all the crazy shit she put me through. I know without a doubt that we gave her a beautiful life but she also did the same for us. She brought us together as a family and reminded us of the true innocence that still remains in life. I miss her a lot but I am happy for the time that we had together. I'll always talk about her. I'll always remember her, and for as long as I am ALIVE...her spirit will be too!

We love you BRANDI! I'll see you on the rainbow bridge someday...

 RIP <3 7/16/14 <3

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Transparency & Positivity

     After OVERCOMING so many medical obstacles and CONQURING so many difficult battles, for the first time I seem to be faced with a medical problem I cannot SOLVE. My condition is progressive, which technically means it will only get worse over time. I have hit a dead end in the rat maze. I am frustrated. How is it that I spent all of my life FIGHTING illness only to find myself in such a hopeless position. And that's when I remember how far I've come and laugh... LIFE is testing me again and clearly still unaware that I WILL NEVER GIVE UPI am a FIGHTER & a SURVIVOR. I am here for a REASON, and it's starting to become quite clear what that is. 

     It's hard for most of us to wake up in 2015 and not have something to worry about. The world we live in is a chaotic one; full of constant sensory overload and an unlimited all access pass into Pandora's box. We all have things going on in our lives, we all have to demons to face, and challenges we must OVERCOME. Social, personal, serious, trivial, and everything in between from loss, illness, substance abuse, divorce, sexual confusion,  racism, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, infidelity, and the list goes on..

     My current situation as it stands is a tough one. I am living with Myofibrillar Myopathy. My body is slowly giving up on me and it seems as though there is nothing I can do to stop it. There is no treatment for what I have. Between a lack of funding and so few people even being diagnosed there are no clinical trials in progress. My legs just want to quit on me. I swear I can practically hear my wheelchair calling out to me as I walk by it.

 "Why do you even bother? Give up already. Just sit."

     My arms, feeling left out, have decided to compete with my legs for weakness. This makes daily tasks more challenging. As if a lot of work doesn't go into LOOKING AS GOOD AS I DO as it stands, LOL. Walking is getting harder and running is something I'm only lucky enough to experience in a dream  every now and again. Not only I can't chase my niece and nephew in the park, I can't pick them up and hold them either. If you have children, TREASURE THESE MOMENTS! Being an adult of divorced parents can be a nightmare. Certain HAPPY moments of pride or accomplishment are potentially tainted by a dark cloud of hate and disgust. As if all of this wasn't enough, mix in today's social living pressures and personal insecurities. My life is no walk in the park, but I do my best to always look my best and make it seem that way. 

     The way I see it, things could always be worse and most situations can be approached in one of two ways. POSITIVE and negative. As cliché  as this idea may seem, the difficult task of taking a POSITIVE approach to a rather dreadful situation is what is keeping me ALIVE to this day. If you can find yourself in a negative frame of mind and switch ur thought pattern you may be surprised at the results you see. Positive thinking is usually contagious and can catch like wildfire. The same however goes for negative thinking. Try to gain some perspective. Take a step back from your emotions and analyze your feelings in proportion to other issues going on in your life. You may find that some of the things you end up worrying about the most, are also the most illogical and senseless. If you look back you will notice certain words are bolded and highlighted. This is because amidst all the chaos written on this page, with everything I am currently facing in my life, these are the words I choose to focus on.

     When you look at my track record, it is quite evident that all the odds were against me, but I OVERCAME, time and time again. Unfortunately, I know many people who were not as lucky and died for less. The fight has been long and hard; I have the wounds and scars to prove it. I AM FORTUNATE AND I AM HAPPY! I count my BLESSINGS. It really is the little things. Looking into the eyes of my niece and nephew make me happy. Time with my FAMILY makes me happy. GOOD FOOD and GOOD MUSIC make me happy. A NICE DAY makes me happy. My FAITH KEEPS ME HAPPY!  TRUE FRIENDS! And even if for just those reasons alone, I will continue fighting, day after day, refusing to allow LIFE to succeed in it's desperate attempts to break me. I truly believe people can learn a lot from my experiences. My autobiography is almost complete; a memoir built on the premise of TRANSPARENCY and POSITIVITY!

I know I will be ok, because in all of my battles  #LOVEWINS