So many reasons to worry…

This week is about worrying. When dealing with a serious condition there are so many opportunities to worry, if you’re that type, and I am. “I am staying active, but was I too active and now wore my heart down even more? Was I too lenient with the amount of salt I allowed in the food? My sleep is crappy, which leads to wear on my body which is wear on the heart, right?” You get it. It can just spiral into insanity. Which also wears on my heart!!!

Anyway, we all have to be cautious about different things in life, ill or not, and I guess the challenge is to find the right balance…

(fade up nature shot with some idiotic acoustic guitar plunking…) (no offense to the performer)

 

Mind body & death

This week deals with the mind body connection and death. It has been a heavy week and today is sad because my old co-worker and friend died from cancer early this Thursday morning. It is immensely sad and crushing. Apart from this guy being an incredibly nice and cool person in every way, I always felt a special connection with him, since we both had been seen by death in the way of being hit by life threatening conditions. The little silver lining, if there is one, is that he has been fighting cancer hard for six years which has brought a lot of pain, stress and hardship, so now he gets to rest. His wife and family is showing an incredible braveness in the middle of all this and it is reminding me that life is the last outpost. It’s the utmost point. Everything can suck and I can have massive complaints, I can be sad and angry, I can fail at a lot of things, I can be disappointed and frustrated, but in the face of death I desperately want the option to live! In the face of those choices everything pales and becomes pointless. I don’t give a shit what happens, just let me stay alive and spend it in whichever way with my family, friends and the world. I know my friend will have good travels and I will see him on the other side.

The fact of mortality becoming so real and feeling that death was looking over my shoulder was something that was tough. After being three years (!) out since my surgery, it is still tough sometimes, but it’s strange how much a part of my life it is now.

clinic_work mind body

On another note, today is the day I have my Annual. It’s something that Stanford transplant patients do once a year. I don’t know if they do it at other places. It is basically doing two days of tests regarding my health and making sure things are going along in the best way possible. X-rays, blood draws, sonograms etc. Today there was some waiting involved, so I took the opportunity to do some work on this comic in the clinic room. This first day, all of my tests looked good! Tomorrow there are some more tests and hopefully they will be ok too. The staff at Stanford really make me feel thoroughly taken care of which is something I deeply appreciate.

I hope everyone is doing ok and thanks for coming by to read. In honor of my friend, let’s make this a celebration of the privilege of getting to be alive and to be able to enjoy the world around us. Love!

Making up food

Hello again.

It’s Friday today instead of Thursday. What happened? I blame traveling, time zones, packing and un-packing.

I have been traveling again and it all went well without any snafu’s, not counting the on-set of jet-lags. The lag going East is definitely giving me a hard time as  I am reaching old age (or is it just having kids as traveling companions???). All I know is that we were up playing soccer at 5 am just to pass the time.

Also got to ride a bunch of trains, which I LOVE! It’s by far my favorite mode of transportation.

This week keeps on harping about the no salt diet. It will probably occupy a few more weeks since it was a central part of my life at the time. Translating dishes I wanted that were too salty to no-salt was a challenge but actually fun and interesting, and most of the time I was really happy with the outcome. Thai food was one thing I craved back then and I tried to crack the coconut soup (Thom Ka?) and the curries. The best result I probably got was a barbecue sauce from a guy in Kentucky. It is simply fun to make more of your foods.

Anyway, hope you’re into this week’s installment and that you’re all doing reasonably well.

Dad dreams & realities

Sometimes I have high-flying ideas of who I am and how I will deal with certain situations, should they show up. Then life happens and I learn something about myself that is not so high-flying. It’s good to see how human and “imperfect” I am. It also makes me more understanding of other people and maybe I’ll be able to hold back one of those knee jerk Pollyanna pieces of advice next time I hear someone suffering from something.

The will to seem “normal” has turned out to be stronger with me than I thought it would be and it’s not something I am proud of. If anything it’s a good reality check against my previous relatively problem free life. Having special needs feels uncomfortable sometimes, and jeebus knows my special needs are very mild, but I don’t want to come across as weak. It’s easy to tell other people to just be straight forward an honest about whatever needs and conditions they have and things will be fine, but as always they tune is different when it’s about myself.

I hope you all have a good week and thanks for stopping by!

Hugs.

 

Hospitals, Lake Merritt and more…

This week deals with the large number of hours I’ve spent in the Emergency Room. There are two things in my life that I did not expect to do so much of: spending time in airports and spending time in hospitals. One, due to my choice of where to live and the other came crashing into me straight out of left field. Btw, I am a lefty and I feel like “left” in general gets a bad rap. “Out of left field” is often used when talking about a sudden, often negative, surprise. I guess the use as description of a surprise element is cool. Worst is the snowboarding community: The way you stand on the board when you’re left footed is called “Goofy”! If that’s not a slur I don’t know what is. Anyway, so, way more time spent in hospitals than I could ever imagine. My mom used to be a nurse and she seemed to have a great time at work. As a result I always felt like the health care route was a possible career I could imagine if my tap dancing career didn’t work out. However, after being so much in the hospital, being poked by needles and god knows what, I felt like I never wanted to set foot in one ever again. That feeling has now dissipated and I, again, feel like health care would be a great field to work in. I mean, who doesn’t need a cartoon artists…

Hospitals, Lake Merritt

Photo by Vagabond Urges.

On a different note, riding our bikes around Lake Merritt in Oakland at dusk last night, seeing the diverse crowd that lives in this city being out for a walk, run, pic-nic’ing or having dinner was so great. In the midst of the struggle and hardship that is erupting in this nation now (#Black Lives Matter), it felt like a celebration of the diversity in this place.

Hope you all have a great week!

Fireworks…

…to celebrate the arrival of episode #7.

oooh

There has been celebrations, summer is in full swing, kids get to stay up late and the story is trucking ahead.

Last night I stopped by to see the tail end of a talk by my old hero Winston Smith at Pegasus Books in Berkeley. It’s a great book store by the way. After getting to shake his hand and telling him what a great influence on my teenage years and life he was, I was browsing through the comic book/graphic novel section and I stumbled upon another book about a health condition! I actually can’t remember ever seeing a comic dealing with these issues before, but maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough, and since I am doing my story now, I guess my eyes are extra attentive to these types of things. You know like when you’re looking for a toaster and now you seem to see toasters everywhere? Anyway, the book is by and about the great writer, and Robert Crumb collaborator, Harvey Pekar. It’s called “Our Cancer Year”. I have never heard about this book before, which is weird since I am a Crumb fan and like to think that I am keeping an eye on what happens around him creatively, but you live and you learn. I am not sure I am ready to read it yet, but I will for sure eventually.

I also spent some time in the E.R. a few days ago. My swollen foot was bugging me so I went to see the doctor to have it checked out. It’s a good example of how any ailment can turn into a bigger scare since I am a person who had a heart transplant. Since I felt the foot had started swell up after a plane ride, both me and the doc touched upon the possibility of a blood clot (=sitting still for a long time + blood getting stuck in your feet + the air pressure in a plane being different etc, etc.) Since a blood clot can be fatal I was off to the E.R., which, by the way, is a place that will be talked about in next week’s installment.

Anyway, I better stop before this turns into a complete orgy of links (too late!).

Hope you’re all doing well and thanks for stopping by and reading.

This story is just growing…

Week #6!

It’s great to have come all the way here.

Last week we cleaned out our garage a bit and some old tidbits from this whole episode surfaced. Some old manuals, hospital forms and thick binders with information on how to survive and how to lead your life in the new health situation. Also, there were some journals from the time before and after the heart failure happened. Of course there were tons of I-have-to-add-this-to-the-story moments, to the point of me feeling like I need to structure this a bit more. Up until now it has been just me doing stick figure storyboarding a few pages ahead from what comes to mind, but as more material shows up in my memory or, for example Christine goes, “remember that funny moment”, I want to organize it all a bit. However, I don’t want to make this all too precious and get perfectionist  about it, because like the cartoonist Texan in Tokyo so correctly put it: “finished is better than perfect” (2:49). A large part of the fun is to be able to put stuff together, thrash forward on gut feeling and try different things out.

letsRock_colletsRock_colletsRock_col

The garage finds were also a much needed reminder of what a miracle it all is. Life is precious.

This week’s installment ended up having lots of text in it, so it’s basically like a REAL BOOK!

Hope you’re all well and thanks for reading!

Still truckin’ and not having ceviche.

Week #5 and still truckin’! This week there’s some more educational stuff about what happened with the heart failure and the difficulties I had dealing with a new reality.

I just got back from a sweet week in Mexico where I basically walked around in swim trunks and relaxed. Having this condition, here are some things I need to do when going on a trip like this (I might just draw this out at a later point):

– wear a lot of sunscreen since I am on immunosuppressants = easier to get skin cancer from that big, yellow ball.

– not eat any ceviche since it’s considered a raw animal product = possible bacteria = possible infection.

NOT DRINK THE WATER the nurse told me, for the same reason as above.

– wear a mouth mask on the plane since the air is circulated and lots of people exhale whatever they have going on in their bodies. This is more optional now since time has passed since the surgery and I didn’t end up wearing one.

EyePlane

There are still frame problems with the comic that bum me out, but oh well, just a process to figure it out. Thanks all for reading, passing on, commenting and complementing.

Have a great week everyone!

Keep rollin’…

Hi again,

Thanks for all the nice words and for reading. This week’s post deals when my heart failure really went into high gear and I could feel that something was hindering me. I swam just one lap and needed to stop for a breather. I grew up swimming and competing, so that was definitely something that was odd.

After the swim it felt like I had a swollen ball right under my sternum, which I later learned is called the “gastro intestinal area” (any health care people in the house, correct me if I am wrong), and that feeling would be something that would come back again and again.

Thank you so much for reading and have a great week!