Tuesday, July 12, 2016

1 Man, 3 Hearts, and Turning 33!

Tomorrow I'm turning 33. 


As I stare at my shirtless reflection in the mirror, a proud smile slowly stretches across my face, "I'm still alive!" I slowly raise my right hand and touch the three-inch scar just below my left shoulder bone that reminds me at the age of six my parents nearly lost me. I remember how much that area used to hurt and itch when I had my pacemaker. The eight-inch scar running down the center of my rib cage reminds me that ages 17, and 21 weren't written in stone either. My chest was carved open and my entire heart was replaced, twice. I reach down and slightly pull down the front of my boxer briefs to reveal the 5-inch scar along my left groin that reminds me that having the sudden urge to pee in the most random of places is never something to complain about. Dialysis wasn't easy. The gash marks on the side of my left rib cage and two healed holes above my stomach remind me of countless chest tubes that drained blood after each and every surgery. The site where my gall bladder was taken out reminds me that many people still walk around with a drainage bag strapped to their chest. The hole in my neck, my tracheotomy, my head turning "oddity",  reminds me that not only will I endure and adapt to anything as a means to survive, I'll do it with style!  "If they're gonna stare, give em something to stare at!" It suddenly strikes me how uniquely interesting my body has become. Who needs tattoos when you have so many scars that tell your stories?

My "bad days" have come and gone. I am happy. I am thankful. My entire perspective is back on track. It wasn't easy and I couldn't do it alone. I said in my last blog that I hate depending on people. However since that time I have learned that we all depend on someone for something. It took some quality conversations with those closest to me and some deep inner strength to get my motivation back. I'm hopeful again. My body seems to be progressively getting weaker causing my independence to slip from my fingers. I just wasn't ready to accept it or deal with it. Although I am still coping with my disability, that struggle has not come without a great deal of growth. It's humbled me. The same disease which weakens me physically has significantly empowered me emotionally. 
I've trained my mind not to allow negativity to take over. I refocus my thoughts or reach out to someone who can help me do so. There's nothing worse than being alone with an anxious mind. It's almost as if you need someone to save you from yourself. Someone you know, love, and trust. I stay occupied. I get wrapped up in something I love. Keeping busy is key. I have new projects I'm working on and excited to see them come to fruition. Setting goals gives me something to look forward to. When I hit a road blocks, I've learned to "run through that shit over and over and over again". I have to be relentless. I have come too far in my journey, which means to give in now would be so utterly disappointing. Quitting just isn't an option for me. Sure I may need the assistance of a wheelchair, and daily activities have become quite challenging but that doesn't stop me. I go to physical therapy twice a week, while implementing various other exercises daily. Nutrition is vital, therefore I do my best to eat healthy (proportions lol), and I eat well. There's nothing better than a good meal over some intelligent conversation. I get a haircut and eyebrow threading every other week. I take pride in my appearance. Look good, feel great! I get out as much as I can, especially it being summer. Less than 3 months ago I was jumping on a plane to Aruba with my boys, my ventilator, oxygen concentrator, suction machine, and about three pairs of fresh sneakers too many. Two weeks ago I was in Atlantic city, last week I was in Virginia, and I'm already planning to be back in Jamaica in November. My baby sister is getting married in three weeks, which will be one of the happiest days in my life! There is still so much ahead for me to enjoy! My body has its limitations but my mindset is limitless. And because of that I will continue to LIVE! I intend to be a living legend, one who leaves behind a remarkable legacy. 

33 and counting baby, this is going to be a long story! 

- 1 Man, 3 Hearts, Still Alive -

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dear Tommy: Happy Birthday!

Dear Tommy,

I had never met anyone quite like you, and I know I NEVER will again.
Because there was only ONE Tommy, the guy I called best friend.
You were smart, you were cool, one of a kind.
Deep late-night conversations, that always blew my mind.
We laughed, we listened to music, and relentlessly debated. 
You were my little brother, who cares if we weren't related.
Countless hours watching shows together, our favorite was "The Wire".
You had so many creative business ideas, your passion burned like fire.
You could empty a fridge, scarf down food like a beast.
Family dinners at your house? Now that's what I call a feast.
You were a momma's boy, the apple of your daddy's eye. 
You annoyed the hell out of your sisters, Lol But did everything to never see them cry.
You made me feel like an equal, never showed me pity.
We had so many adventures together, Mannnn we ran New York City! 
No matter who we met, we left behind a sense of intrigue
Everyone wanted to to know more about, the two freshest dudes who had attended Ivy League. 
You loved working out, always dressed GQ.
Tommy, I swear not a day goes by, that I don't desperately miss you.
The first of many friends, to ever read my book,
You gave some really insightful advice, always making time to take a second look.
Because of that I promise to keep fighting, do my best to make you proud.
I can hear you rooting for me up there, you were always so damn loud :)
You had style, you had charisma, a ladies man, you were quite the charmer
It's tough not having you around man, makes getting by only that much harder.
Although you may be gone for now, my dear and closest friend
The bond and love we shared together, will absolutely never end!

I love you Tommy. Happy Birthday my dude!

Your fellow Alpha Male,

~ Christophe

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Bad Days"

I can't really put a time frame on when it happens, it just does. The so-called "bad days". Out of nowhere I feel lost. I'm afraid. Somehow the positive, smiling, hopeful Christophe that everyone has grown to "know" and "admire" is merely a face plastered all over social media, a mask that is put on whenever stepping out of the comfort of my home. Do you know what I really go through day to day? Because I can assure you I do my best to make "this" look good! The raw truth is that there are nights I lay in bed crying as my mind yells relentless reminders of everything that's wrong, everything that just SUCKS! I'm instantly overwhelmed.

Since the age of six I've been battling illness with the belief that at some point all my internal strength and faith would prevail, putting my fight to an end. The prayers, the diligence, and the sacrifices would all finally mean something. I would be free to wake up one morning without worrying "how am I going to feel today?" Nope. Fakeout!  Instead, here I am, at a total stand still. Somehow after all that I've been through: my heart being ripped out of my chest (both physically and emotionally), my kidney's failing, a tube now in my neck, my battle with my sexual identity, my parents nasty divorce, and my fight to overcome substance abuse...the deterioration of my physical functionality and my independence as a grown man is eating me up more than anything. I don't like pity, I don't like being a burden, I don't like asking for help, and I don't like depending on people, especially if it means helping me off the damn toilet. My legs are dying to give up on me. It's become more convenient to pee in a water bottle at the side of my bed rather than get up, disconnect from my ventilator, and walk the ten steps to the bathroom while taking the risk of falling, pissing myself, or both. 

Believe it or not I could handle my legs giving out, I could work with that. But when it's becomes a tiring process to cut up a nice juicy steak prepared by my cousin Manny (slathered with my cousin Mike's sweet chilli sauce of course) because my arms wanna bitch out on me too, that just annoys the hell out of me! When it takes certain careful maneuvering to shave my beard, do my hair, or take off a shirt, sometimes I just sit on my bed and curse the sky. Getting up from bed is a workout. Picking something up off the ground? Forget it. Reaching above my head? Good luck. Why am I always on my phone? Yes, I'm addicted to social media, GUILTY 🙋🏻 (snapchat:Christoballer 😉) but sometimes it just takes too much energy to hold up my head straight enough to look you in the face. But I'm not about to tell you that. Christophe isn't "weak" pffffft.

I think the fact that for the first time my circumstances are totally out of my hands, is what has me hopping in and out of such a dark place. There is no cure, no treatment, and nothing in the works to do so. Doctors advise me not to remain stagnant and yet overworking my muscles can also cause the muscle fibers to break down faster. When do I get a break? When does it end? 

Just when all seems hopeless, just when everything inside me wants to give up, that's when it happens...PERSPECTIVE. 

"Chris hunny, it's been so long since I've given you a hug," says my mother wrapping her arms tightly around me not only reminding me of everything we have been through during my thirty-two years on this earth, but that no matter how old I get I'll always be her baby boy that she will love and protect. 

"Hi Chris!" shouts my two-year old godson enthusiastically with a smile as I walk into my brother's apartment reminding me that I would suffer the worst pains and struggles of life if it meant that he didn't have to.

"Let's do dinner next week please? Thanks!" reads a late night text from sister, reminding me that no matter how busy she gets, or what's going on in her life she'll stop it all just to catch up and check in on me. 

"Chris I was listening to a podcast today that was talking about some really interesting developments in fighting Myopathies. Here's the link, I want you to check it out..." reads a message from my younger brother reminding me that medicine is evolving everyday and that it would just be stupid to give up hope now.

A single picture emailed by my older brother of my niece and nephew, reminding me that I still have SO much left to live for. My baby sister is getting married in August! ❤️ 

We all get down. We all have things going on, we all have "bad days". But is that reason enough to discount the good ones? Is that reason enough to be angry at the world and be miserable? If we have the choice, why focus on the negative? Why allow that to be what gets the best of us? As my Uncle Carlos says, "any day outside of the hospital, should be a good day." And he's right! I'd much rather be binge watching trash TV from my cozy bed than attached to a holter monitor, with a nurse interrupting every thirty minutes in the ICU. I need to be thankful, I need to stay happy. Aside from the weakness I actually feel really good! As nurses run down the list of side affects before my 3 month trach change procedure I realize I'm so blessed to say "no" to things like "diahhrea? nausea? dizziness? blurred vision? pain? bleeding? loss of appetite? etc." But switching my mind frame takes work. It's a cycle and the bad days will always come. However remembering the love that surrounds me and to change my perspective is how I'll pull my self out of them every single time. 

I'm not alone. I I know I never will be.

- 1 Man, 3 Hearts

*I gladly welcome any questions. My life is officially an open book. So feel free to inquire within!