Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Good Place To Start --- (A Review of 2011) --- Part 1

           One year ago I was jobless, broke, and completely unaware of everything the following year would have in store for me. I had recently moved back home to NE Kansas after living two hard years in Denver, Colorado. I had also just spent nearly the last of my money paying off medical bills from a bicycle accident which gave me a broken left clavicle (requiring me to have a still-present titanium plate installed in my shoulder). Despite all of this, I believed that things were looking up, and the next year was going to be a good one. Thanks to the low cost of living with my family I was able to buy a cheap little pickup truck. This was a great feeling after being without a vehicle ever since my medical expenses forced me to sell my Mustang over a year before. At the time I planned on attending Boise Bible College in the fall with my sister Christianna. Knowing that the near-mimimum-wage type of jobs which I had held in the past would be insufficient to support me in Boise, I had enrolled in a month-long CNA program at a local tech school. One day we were training with some medical equipment and after taking my pulse, the teacher told me that I must be anemic. I shrugged it off because I was confident that I was in excellent health. After a short while I realized that being a CNA was neither a sufficient job to support me, nor one I wanted.

So with job uncertainty and a new unsureness about if I would even be moving to Boise, 2011 began.
The most eventful year of my life.
A  January walk in the woods
Taken on Jan. 29th (Kansas' 150th Birthday)
Shortly after the beginning of the new year, my brother William and I traveled to Colorado to visit our brother Jonathan in Denver; and our brother Michael and his wife Rachel in Colorado Springs. On the way back home a blizzard made the roads treacherous and I had my first minor car accident. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it was a headache. Speaking of aches, less than a week after our trip to Denver I was struck with a terrible stomach ache after working out one day. The pain was about the worst I had ever felt. It was so bad that I could barely walk. I thought that I may have had appendicitis. But I wasn't in the position to pay for a trip to the doctor. So I waited and in a few days it went away. Little did I know that this would be the first of periodic stomach aches over the next six months....
Still without a job, I began to feel like I was wasting my time. So I enrolled in the same community college I had two years before, knowing that I could take general courses which would transfer to any college.


Our home at dawn, after a fresh February snow

Theodore (Teddy) Bear Pope
In February I was able to finally find a job. It was only part time at Subway, but by now I was willing take just about anything. Still I knew it was not enough to save up sufficient money for a move to Boise, and I was starting to have questions about some of the religious views at the Bible college as well. On a happier note, My sister Christianna and I bought a Golden Retriever puppy so that our other dog Annie would have some company. Less than a year later, he is huge and has pups of his own.
First blooms

March is always exciting because that is when Spring starts arriving in Kansas. I had hoped and planned on making an expedition out to the Southwest over spring break with my brothers, but a lack of money and free time ended those plans. In it's place my brother William and I attempted to make a 50 mile cross-country hike over the spot where the Atchison-Topeka railway use to run. Our trek was cut about 40 miles short when all traces of the line dissipated into fields and farmland. I also took my two younger brothers and our two dogs on a short but fun camping trip.

Stephen acting crazy
Teddy got cold after a swim in the lake, so I wrapped him up and sat with him by the fire

towards the end of March my sister learned that she would be receiving a full-ride scholarship to be a foreign exchange student in Germany come fall!

I finally found a better paying job as things were really starting to warm up, and green up in Kansas. Working as a waiter at Red Lobster, I was now making twice what I was making at Subway. However by now my plans of going to school in Boise were nearly completely gone. I decided that I needed to go to school for a profession before going to Bible college, and was starting to consider moving to Minnesota and enrolling in a forestry program. I often enjoyed the nice spring weather by going on long bike rides and walks. Unfortunately the stomach aches were starting to bother me more, and any descent amount of physical activity could summon great discomfort.
Thomas and Stephen getting muddy on the banks of the Kansas River


May is one of my favorite months of the year. By then everything is either pretty much fully green or blooming. School let out for me, and family visited to celebrate Christianna's graduation from highschool. Around that time my stomach aches started to greatly worsen, and rather than coming and going every other day or so, they began to remain almost constantly. They were also no longer triggered by physical activity alone, but also by merely eating. Along with the stomach aches, I often felt light headed and in a daze. Despite this, I tried my best to enjoy the weather before the inevitable heat of summer arrived.

Topeka and the flooding Kansas River

                              Here we go...
Beautiful Minnesota
The stomach aches soon became so bad that everyday was almost unbearable, and I struggled to get through each shift at work. I had no idea what was causing them, but I was starting to realize that it might be something serious. Despite the pain I decided to take a week off to drive Christianna to Bible Camp in Iowa, and from there I would go up to Minnesota for the first time to visit the school there. Camp in Iowa is always fun, and I enjoyed a few days there. My time in Minnesota was also great, and I met some wonderful people from the Church there. It was a nice break from the Kansas heat, and surprisingly my pain disappeared for the entire week! I credit my mom's homemade granola for that. :) 

Unfortunately just two days after getting back home, my pain returned at an increased level after eating some grilled hamburgers. Those hamburgers might have saved my life; because the pain they gave me was so great that before the week was halfway done I decided that I needed to go to the hospital regardless of the financial cost. After sitting in the emergency room for what seemed like hours, I went through a series of scans and labs which showed there was a tumor or something like it in my colon. 
I underwent  surgery on Saturday June 25th where it was confirmed that I had stage three colon cancer. They removed 1/3 of my colon along with my appendix, and part of my small intestine. Besides giving me post-surgery pains which exceeded the stomach pains I had before; this surgery admitted me to the minority group of people who have an organ known as the Semi-colon. :) I spent one week in the hospital, of which there were five days where I had no food and little water. I was so glad to leave the hospital on June 28th, that I didn't even mind the 112 degree heat that day.  
With chemo and another small surgery imminent; and with no idea how I would pay for my medical expenses, the year reached its half way point with more uncertainty than it began with....

1 comment:

  1. Patiently waiting to continue reading now that I am delightfully intrigued.