Translate (Traductor)

Sunday, November 28, 2021

November Health Update

I just got released after spending 15 days in the hospital again due to my shunt pressure not being correct once again. I have now spent 16 weeks more or less in the hospital since June of 2020.

I am getting very tired of going to the hospital but the good news is that even though I have already had 4 brain surgeries they are planning a 5th (and hopefully) final brain surgery for the 15th of December. 

They are planning on removing one shunt and lesving me with only one like I had for 35 years with my previous shunt. 

I am only nervous about losing my memory or personality changes. However, I hope everything will go smoothly with this surgery. 

Amy brain surgery is risky but this is my only and best option to hopefully get a normal quality of life again.

I just want to be able to work and have a normal life with my wife and daughter. 

I love them more than anything in the world so I'm ready to get this over and done with. I hope to be recovered by my birthday and ideally by Eliana's 1st birthday. 

Friday, October 08, 2021

Health update October 2021

 So I will start with the good news first. Jenny and I are all moved into the new house and they are (almost) finished with all the updates they need to do. The baby is growing and happy and healthy. We have food in our fridge and a roof over our head. I am blessed beyond measure. 

Now for the bad news. In late September, I started having severe stomach pain which I thought was dehydration but I finally broke down and went to the hospital and it turns out one of my shunts was broken again. I am so tired of being sick and have stuff break but this is the life that I have and what I have to deal with. 

You know how your parents may have had an appliance that they got in the 70s or 80s and it is still running fine? Seems like it may work until the end of time. However, you buy a new washer/dryer (or whatever) and after like two years its totally broken and you need to get a new one. That is how I feel about my current health. 

My previous 1984 era VP Shunt lasted until 2020 and gave me zero issues other than a small revision when I was 13 years old. However, I now have two of supposedly the newest and best shunts on the market and I have had nothing but issues since June of 2020.

I was finally getting back to work, I worked almost all of September for my job teaching the Colombian high school students online and I managed to get two new in person teaching jobs here in Spain. Everything was going swimmingly or so I thought. I was finally busy and able to provide for my family. 

Then I got sick and had to spend a week in the hospital having one of my shunts and the tubing replaced. For me, a week only, in the hospital is super fast. But because I was still in my trial periods at those jobs, I lost them. They both choose not to continue working with me due to my health. It is extremely frustrating to be back at square one. 

But I still have my 8 hours a week teaching the Colombians (for now) which is better than nothing. I will be back on the job hunt and trying to stay positive and healthy. I have missed my family and friends and I only want to be healthy again and not in the hospital. I currently still have stitches in my head and abdomen. However, I am at home and feeling pretty good all things considered. Now if I can just get back to work. 

I am trying to stay positive and take the good with the bad. Yall take care, Tyler

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Global Inequality Part Two

 Originally, I was going to write a quick status update on Facebook about this but I had like a week in the hospital to sit alone and think about this and yall know that this is one of my passions so this quickly spun out of control into something much longer and something I thought more appropriate for a follow up blog post about global inequality instead of something short on Facebook. For those of you who take the time to read my thoughts, I thank you.

This all started because Facebook helpfully (or unhelpfully) reminded me that 13 years ago when I was in my early 20´s I was making 12 dollars an hour working at a construction related job. It wasn't great but considering that the minimum wage at the time was 5.15 an hour and I didn't have too many expenses so I was doing ok. 

Well once the recession of 2007-2009 hit, my company at the time told us that we could all take a paycut to 11.50 an hour or be released from our jobs. I was not happy but I accepted the pay cut. Then two months later our company was liquidated and I ended up being laid off anyway. That is what gave me the push I needed to move to Australia and start my world travels.

Well I am positive that the fat cat CEO of our company at the time, didnt take a paycut from the millions he was bringing in. When our company was liquidated, I was sure he got a huge retirement package or transitioned to another job without problems while all us little guys who were just struggling to get by were the ones that had to take a paycut on our meager salaries, all for nothing!

Global inequality has only gotten worse in the past 13 years and I am part of the problem as I continue to support a system that makes the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. If you are religious, atheist or agnostic, all of us should realize that the current system is broken. If you are a follower of any of the Abrahamic religions, a Muslim, Buddhist or basically any other main stream religion, your chosen God or Deity would never tell you that Jeff Bezos should have 200+ billion dollars while his workers have to pee in bottles because they do not have enough time go to the bathroom. 

I am going to pick on Jeff Bezos because he is currently (as of 2021) the richest man in the world but he is by no means the only one or even the worst one. In fact, I can´t even fault him for taking all the legal options available to him to get as much personal wealth as possible. But he should share that wealth. 

We should all understand that every human being on the planet deserves to make a livable wage and not have to struggle to keep the lights on or feed their family. It should be a moral imperative, for the religious and non religious alike, to want to help their fellow human beings. Everyone should get a shot at a basic decent standard of living.

I don't have any answers. I don't know how to fix this, I just know that it needs to be fixed. Recently a Saudi King paid 456 million USD for a painting. A painting! It costs roughly 13,000 USD per year to house one homeless person in the U.S., let's be generous and give them an additional 6000 USD per year for food and other expenses for a total of 20,000 USD per person per year.  Using that 456 million dollars you could house and feed 4,385,964 people for one year. All that for the price of a single painting some guy is going to put on his wall and hide away from the world. I am ashamed of humanity sometimes. 

Here are some stats related to Jeff Bezos. 

1. Pay Inequality
The Columbia Journalism Review reported that it would cost just $9 million a year to fix pay inequality in its newsroom. Ensuring equal pay at the Post would be akin to sparing pocket change for Bezos, who would still have $199.991 billion.
2. World Hunger
For the sake of argument, let’s just say it’s a “good” year for hunger and the cost to solve it is on the lower end, let’s say $10 billion. Bezos could pay and still have $190 billion to his name.
3. Extreme Poverty
 The World Bank classifies extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 a day. To get above the extreme poverty threshold and into the higher poverty groups, you’d need to earn about $3.20 a day.
The math depends on location, but if 804 million people need a bump from $1.89 to $3.20, then $1.05 billion would be needed to close that gapBezos could front the cash and still have just about $199 billion in the bank.
4. Clean Water
Across the globe, 2.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed drinking water services. WRI research estimates that resolving the clean water crisis by 2030 would cost just more than 1% of the global GDP, or roughly 29 cents per person daily, from 2015 to 2030. That number would surely exceed Bezos’ worth.
But Bezos could manage the clean water crisis in the U.S. In Michigan, 140,000 Flint residents have been exposed to lead in their water supply. Replacing all lead pipes in municipal water systems could cost somewhere between a few billion to $50 billion. Even if it cost him $50 billion to replace lead pipes and open up access to clean water in U.S. households, Bezos would still have $150 billion.
5. Education
Perhaps getting the world an education is beyond the powers of Bezos’ net worth, but he could make an outstanding impact. Rescue.org states that $58 a year can pay for the education fees, books and school supplies of one child. Using this math, Bezos could cover this fee for 10 million children, for all grades K-12 at the cost of about $7.5 billion. He would still have over $192 billion.
6. Child Health
A donation of $39 a month to Save The Children can sponsor a child in the U.S. in need. That’s $468 a year. Hypothetically speaking, for $40 billion, Bezos could sponsor 5 million children for 17 years. He’d still have $160 billion.
7. Clean Oceans
The best way to stem the flow of plastic waste into the oceans — plastic pollution could be reduced by 80% over the next 20 years. The price tag on such an ambitious overhaul is $600 billion, which is actually $70 billion cheaper than not overhauling it, because of reduced use of virgin plastic, National Geographic reported.
8. Vaccines
Back in 2006, the study, “Worldwide cost‐effectiveness of infant BCG vaccination” found that for $1.8 million you could prevent nearly 300 cases of severe childhood tuberculosis worldwide, or 450 in Southeast Asia.
Factoring in inflation, that number today is more like $2.3 million. For around $23 billion, Bezos could provide TB prevention for 300,000 children worldwide, or 450,000 in Southeast Asia. He’d still have $177 billion.
9. Homelessness
A 2019 report released by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute determined that it would cost $12.7 billion to end homelessness Bezos could pay that and still have $187.3 billion.
10. Climate Action
The big picture of climate change is pricier. The International Renewable Energy Agency says $750 billion a year is needed in renewables over a decade. Then you’ve got the cost of carbon capturing and storage ($2.5 trillion), $ 2.7 trillion for biofuels — and the list goes on. All in all, you’re looking at at least $50 trillion to solve climate change.

All stats taken from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/global-catastrophes-jeff-bezos-could-120012088.html


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

To Eliana

Dearest Eliana, I have loved you since I first saw you during the sonogram and heard your little heart beating. I continue to love you more and more everyday. More than I ever thought would be possible. 

Your mom and I watched you grow from a little ball of cells in her stomach into an eight pound/3.7 kg baby. 

You have been with us for 9 months today and you spent 9 months growing inside your mom's belly. These have been the best 9 months of my life.

Thank you for making me a better person and giving me something to look forward to everyday. When I was sick, it was the thought of you and your mom that kept me going. I hope one day you will understand how truly special you are.

When I hold you in my arms or see you laugh with your mom there is nothing that brings me more joy in this world. I can't wait to see and experience life with you as you grow and I hope that one day in the future you will get to feel the same love that I feel for you, but with your own child.

I promise to do everything in my power to give you the best life possible just as you have done for me. I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always, my baby you'll be.

Love, Dad. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

My one year still alive anniversary

One year ago today I was being wheeled out of the operating room here in Spain after my third brain surgery. The surgery lasted 12 hours and there were some complications but I was alive!

The first thing I remember is waking up in intense pain and asking for Jenny and my family.

The next thing I remember is realizing that my left eye was crooked, my face was partially paralized and I couldn't eat, drink or speak properly. I had lost the lateral vision in my left eye completely and the optical nerves were damaged in both my eyes due to the pressure on my brain. I ended up losing 40% of my vision completely. I am by no means blind but without glasses I do not see well. 

My mind still worked though, I had all my mental abilities intact but it was very scary for me because the doctors couldn't tell me at that time what functionality would return and what would be gone forever.
After 12 weeks in total and 5 different hospital stays I was finally released to start rehab in September 2020. 

I started off my recovery in a wheelchair doing speech and physical therapy 5 days a week. However, in October of 2020 I had a setback. I had to go back into the hospital for 10 days and basically start my rehab over from scratch.

Once I was released I started working hard to regain my ability to eat, drink and talk normally again. I also progressed from the wheelchair to using a walker.

Eliana was born on December 14th 2020. On December 15th 2020 I stopped using my walker and walked unassisted for the first time. My wife and daughter quite literally saved my life.

There were days where the pain was unbearable and I wanted to give up. But thanks to the support of my mom (who had come from Texas) and Jenny (and all her family) I knew that I couldn't give up. I had to keep on trying for that little girl of mine.

I cried the first time I got to hold her and realized there is nothing in this world that I will love more than her and my wife.

Gradually over a period of six months my facial paralysis disappeared and I could eat, drink, walk and talk normally again. After 6 months I got released from speech and physical therapy. I am so grateful to all my amazing therapists (both speech and physical) and to all my doctors and nurses. 

That 40% of my vision is gone forever and I still don't have lateral vision in my left eye. They gave me a botox injection into my left eye to straighten it out (however the effect is wearing off and I think I will have to have an official surgery to correct it)

But I just had a check up with my neurosurgeon here and my shunts are both working fine. Considering where I started from, I am doing incredibly well. I have had many struggles but there are so many other people in worse shape than me.

I truly am the luckiest man alive. I have had excellent medical care here (without the threat of huge medical bills) and the love and support of my family and friends. In no particular order, My parents,brothers, friends and my wife (and all her family) and my daughter have all been amazing. Every day I get to wake up to the smiling face of my little girl. I am not back to 100% yet but I'm getting there and I am so very Thankful for every breath that I have the privilege of taking. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Time

 I saw that Dale Hansen will be retiring September 2nd and it inspired me to post this. For those of you who don´t know, he has been the local sportscaster for Channel 8 WFAA in Dallas for 38 years. I never really have gotten into enjoying sports but, I always have enjoyed his commentary/opinions about the social issues of the day.

You see, he has been a constant presence in my life for my entire life. I remember watching him as a kid when my parents would watch the local nightly news. (This was in the days before cable/satellite when we had limited options for TV channels). For as long as I have been alive, he has been doing his job. It is odd to think that he is 72 years old now and getting ready to retire. John Mccaa,Gloria Campos,Tracy Rowlett and Troy Dungan have all long since retired. I know none of those names will mean anything to you (unless you are from DFW) but they meant a lot to me growing up. They were my trusted news source. 

Pete Delkus is the meteorologist who replaced Troy Dungan (Troy had been at WFAA for 34 years by the time he retired). I have never cared for Pete Delkus, he just rubs me the wrong way I guess. But now, he himself has been with WFAA for 16 years after replacing Troy Dungan who was there for 34 years. It is amazing how time flies. 

I am constantly amazed at how old I am (and continue getting older!) Some days I feel like I am just 18 years old (even though that was nearly 20 years ago) other days I feel like I am 80. I don't know where the time has gone and how it has gone so fast. I have been blessed with an incredible life though. I have not gotten everything that I ever wanted, however I have gotten everything I ever needed and more. I have seen and done so much in my short time here. The old saying goes, you can't escape death or taxes and I believe that to be true.  My grandmother is 85 years old and still going strong. I can't imagine how she must feel when she thinks about what has happened over her lifetime and where the years have gone. 

I am currently 36 years old with a 5 month old daughter. I have kept this blog going in one form or another since 2009 so a lot has happened to me over those years (and will continue to happen) I am not afraid of death or getting older but I do hate the fact that time is unstoppable. Eventually it comes for us all. So you need to take advantage of every second that you are given. I cannot imagine what the world will be like when Eliana is 36 years old and beyond. What a journey this has been (and continues to be) for me. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Policing in the United States

 I wanted to vent about this because I have an opinion that maybe many people share. (or possibly no one else haha).

I think most people would agree that the police in the United States are far too militarized in general and kill far too many people of color. As a middle class white guy, I have never experienced discrimination or racism so I won't pretend to know what it is like. I do know a problem when I see one though. The problem of police killing unarmed people is a big problem.

I know there are good police officers. I have police officers in my family and I know the vast majority of police are good and honorable people trying to do a hard job with not enough resources and sometimes not being paid well. 

However, there are also police officers like Derek Chauvin who murdered George Floyd. In my opinion, The problem is not that there are too many ¨bad apples¨ the problem is that the system encourages bad behavior by not holding police accountable and giving them qualified immunity in almost every circumstance they know that they can do whatever they want and get away with it. 

There are also cases like the killing of Ma´khia Bryant, a 16 year old black girl who was killed for attacking another person with a knife. The case has drawn outrage because it is yet another killing of a person of color by the police. However, I do not have all the details. I was not there nor have I seen the video. I am unsure why she was shot instead of tasered but if the media reports I have read are correct, she was attacking someone with a knife (or trying to) and the police officer did what he thought was his only option to save a life.

I cannot and will not judge that officer for what he did as I was not there and I have no idea how I would react in the same situation. However, at the end of the day one life was ended and another saved. I have seen people calling for defunding the police nationally or, for abolishing police departments completely. 

To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. Society cannot and should not function without police.  They provide a good and necessary service to society. However, I have never (and probably will never) have to fear that the police will kill me. My perspective is one of privilege. I do recognize there is a problem and I truly hope for everyone's sake that my country can get it together and make some real changes. We most definitely should be funding more mental health workers and dispatching less police to situations that they should not be expected to cope with. 

That's all. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Take care. Tyler

Friday, May 07, 2021

Nuclear Non Proliferation

Originally I was going to make this a short status update on Facebook but then I decided I would put it here because I had too much to say to fit into one status update. Yesterday, I was watching a short video on Youtube about the very real possibility of humanity going extinct due to nuclear war. In my opinion, nuclear technology should only be used for power generation and nothing else.  No one should have nuclear weapons. 

I believe this is reasonable (although unrealistic unfortunately to think that we will live in a world free of nuclear weapons) because humans have had the ability to kill each other since the beginning of time. However, only since 1945 have we had the ability to kill the entire planet and everyone and everything on it. No one should have that amount of destructive power. We as humans have the ability to kill many, many people in various different horrible ways without killing the entire planet as a side effect. 

The worst feeling for me as a new father is that I am powerless to protect my daughter against this threat. Every parent wishes their child(ren) have the ability to grow up safe, happy and healthy. Unfortunately, our world is populated by fallible humans and human based systems to prevent nuclear war. Frankly, I am amazed that we have gone this long without an all out nuclear war or huge global accident/terrorist attack.

Currently, something like The United States, Russia, China France, The UK, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran and North Korea control all of the worlds confirmed nuclear weapons. With the U.S. and Russia holding the vast majority. Just the U.S. and Russia alone, have enough nuclear weapons to kill everyone and everything on the planet many times over. 

These few countries that have nuclear weapons want to tell the rest of the world that they can keep their nuclear weapons (or even produce more) without consequence yet they do not want to allow other countries to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. is constantly fighting with Iran and North Korea trying to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons (or producing more than they already have) yet the U.S. is unwilling to destroy their own nuclear weapons. 

If I was North Korea or Iran why would I listen to the U.S. if they are unwilling to do the exact thing they are asking of me, why would I want to listen to them? I am not anti American by any means. But what right do we have to tell the rest of the world what they can and can't do? I am anti destroy all of humanity with nuclear weapons. 

Another way to look at this would be, if I tell my daughter that she can't have any chocolate ice cream but I sit there and eat some chocolate ice cream right in front of her and additionally I am the owner of an ice cream store so that I can produce more ice cream anytime I want and I can refuse to share it with anyone else. The situation that we have with nuclear weapons is exactly the same.

The idea that having a huge amount of nuclear weapons to prevent nuclear war is a bad one. Mutually assured destruction benefits no one. I cannot go back in time and prevent the invention of nuclear weapons. Nor can I destroy every nuclear weapon ever made or prevent their misuse. The current system we have of checks and balances to prevent all out nuclear war is not a good one and frankly I am surprised that we have not had a failure so far. We need to improve this system. 

The best I can hope for is that my daughter can grow up in a better world than I have and maybe one day humanity will be free of the threat of extinction from nuclear war and we can worry about robots gaining sentience and killing us all. Sorry this blog post has been so depressing, I try not to think about this stuff too much because it just depresses you knowing that you can't do anything about it. Gotta live your life to the best of your ability with the time you have. 

For all of the problems that we have in the world, there is still a ton of beauty and good things also. I try to focus on those. Thanks for reading my rant if you made it this far. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Unpopular Opinion: Politics and the global economy are broken

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but since mid-October 2019, Jeff Bezos' (owner of Amazon) fortune has grown by $80 billion. Based on the year-over-year change in his net worth, Bezos has made $152,207 per minute — and $2,537 per second. That latter figure is more than three times what the median US worker makes in a week.

There is something distinctly wrong with that. I am quite sure that Bezos worked hard to start Amazon and make it the success that it is today. However, has he worked so hard that he deserves to make in one single second, more than three times what one of his workers makes in a week?

I don't think so. While his employees are peeing in bottles to avoid being fired for wasting time going to the restroom, he has more money than entire countries and more money than he could ever spend in multiple life times.

I think it was Lincoln who said “A government for the people, by the people and of the people will never perish from this earth". Unfortunately that is not what we have in the U.S. (or globally really)

What we have is a billionaire and elite political class who control almost all of the economic pie and the rest of us are left to fight over the crumbs, hoping one day to reach the billionaire status yet having none of their advantages.

Politics (at least in the USA) are just as broken as the billionaire class. Our two party electoral system has failed us and the majority of citizens are governed by an elite ruling class beholden to rich donors and big business who have no inclination to care about the average Joe. 

Sadly, the game is rigged before you are even born. There are some European countries that start everyone out on more equal footing by using tax money to finance education and healthcare so at least their citizens can all have the same basic necessities covered. In my opinion, this is the least that any responsible government should do.

However, back home in the United States, there is a very strong sense of independence, pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality. What we don't have is a basic social safety net to help people. 

In the United States, your health insurance is usually tied to your job (if you even have health insurance) you need to pay co-pays at the doctor, monthly premiums and pay for prescriptions along with deductibles out of pocket. An unexpected medical expense can easily bancrupt a family.

Addionally, higher education is very expensive. This automatically puts lower income people at a disadvantage.

I do not believe in governments giving out unlimited free hand outs to everyone and expecting nothing in return. But, people around the world should be able to live a life with dignity having their basic necessities funded by their tax money.

No one should live in a world where one man has more money than entire countries. Everyone should have the chance to create the next Amazon instead of being handicapped by circumstances right from the start.

There was a CEO of a small/medium sized tech company who was making 1.5 million dollars a year (not that much by CEO standards) while his employees had to get second jobs at McDonald's just to cover their basic living expenses.

He decided to cut his own salary to 70,000 usd per year and give every employee a raise up to 70,000 usd per year. Many people predicted his socialist experiment would bancrupt the company. However, now six years later, his company has expanded and grown and his employee turnover rate is basically zero.

This is what happens when everyone is given a fair shake in life. Good ideas and hard work should be rewarded but a CEO who makes hundreds of times more money than one of his/her employees, certainly is not working hundreds or thousands of times harder than they are. 

I can only hope and wish that Eliana will grow up in a fairer world than I have. I am not optimistic though. At least here in Spain we won't be bancrupted by medical or educational expenses. 

OK rant over. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

My life in a nutshell

 I recently finished up my memoirs (for now, it's an ongoing work in progress that I plan to continue) and I have had this blog since 2009. I will publish my memoirs at some point but, they are more a gift for Eliana (and just for my own sake) than anything else. I want her to know about my life, her family and where she comes from.

However, I realized that I haven't taken the time to sum up my life in short form before so I thought I'd try now. 

I was born 3 months premature in 1984 with excess fluid on my brain and epilepsy (among other health problems) but against all the odds, I beat the doctors predictions and I was not in a vegatative state.

I had (and still continue to have) two great parents and a wonderful, normal childhood.

Fast forward to age 24 and after living a fairly conventional life in Texas, I decided to move to Australia in November of 2009 after getting laid off.

At that point, I think I had visited maybe 8 countries for short trips and I just planned on staying a year in Australia then heading back home.

Well one year in Australia turned into a second year in New Zealand then 6 months of traveling in South America.

By the time I was 26, I had moved to Thailand to teach English, I left there after a year and at age 27 I moved to Colombia which would be my home until age 34.

While in Colombia, I managed to get married and start living a real adult life. I had great friends and a great job (eventually) but all good things must come to an end.

When I was 34, Jenny and I decided to move to China. After living there for almost 2 years, we decided to make the move to Spain to be closer to her family. 

I was 35 when I arrived to Spain. After about 5 months of living in Spain I had a problem with the valve that controls the amount of fluid on my brain. I ended up having 3 brain surgeries to correct the problem.

Prior to all my brain surgeries we found out that Jenny was pregnant. I was very happy, but during much of her pregnancy, I was in the hospital or in physical therapy relearning how to walk, talk, eat and drink again. My recovery was (and is still ongoing) but after 6 months of hard work I have regained almost all of the physical and mental abilities that I lost.

Eliana was born on December 14th 2020, since that point I have been motivated to get in the best shape physically and mentally that I can so that I can be the best father possible. She has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. 

Now, in April of 2021, amid the corona virus pandemic, I am looking for work again and still working on my recovery. However, I consider myself one of the luckiest men alive. I have now visited or lived in 45+ different countries, survived various brain surgeries, gotten married and had a daughter.

I am blessed beyond measure and grateful for every breath that I get to take. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for me. I married a Saint in Jenny who took care of me while 9 months pregnant and when I was in the hospital for 12 weeks and I have super supportive family and friends. I couldn't do this life without them. For all these reasons and more, that's why I consider myself one of the luckiest men alive. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Motivation

I wanted to write a little bit about motivation. I have had a long, hard six month journey to get better since I had my brain surgeries. Some people have told me that I motivate them and they are not sure that they could go through something similar to what I have been through and still be optimistic about life. I am flattered and honored that people consider me an inspiration. However, I think it is just a question of finding something worth fighting for and keeping that in mind while you go through your struggles. 

Everyone has problems that most people know nothing about. What I have been through has definitely been hard and I would not wish this on anyone nor would I want to repeat it. Although, there are certainly people fighting battles harder than what I have gone through. My motivation has been my wife and daughter. There were times where I wanted to give up, throw in the towel. The pain was terrible physically and mentally. I was unable to eat or drink anything and I couldn't even walk! I think anyone would be depressed in those circumstances. Especially with my facial paralysis that affected my speech, as an English teacher the ability to speech clearly is extremely important to me. 

There were times when I was scared and depressed not knowing if I would ever regain the ability to walk,eat,drink or talk correctly again. But especially after Eliana was born in December of 2020, I made the conscious choice to keep fighting. I was only 35 years old when this happened and I reasoned that I still have a lot of life left to live. 

I started off this journey six months ago unable to eat,drink,walk or talk. Eventually I was able to speak again and with intensive speech therapy and physical therapy I managed to regain my ability to speak and decrease my facial paralysis. I also managed to eat solid food again and drink water, juice and other liquids. 

I moved from using a wheelchair to a walker. I set a goal for myself that once Eliana was born in December I wanted to get rid of my walker and walk on my own. At first it was very painful and I was very weak from all the muscle and body weight I had lost during my operations. But Eliana arrived on the 14th of December and I did get rid of that walker!

But I knew that wasn´t enough. I wanted to be independent again. So I set another goal for myself. I would run on the treadmill and do five pushups. I wanted to be an active father in my daughters life so I knew I couldn't give up. Now I am up to 42 (and counting!) consecutive pushups, 11 pullups and I can run a fair distance on the treadmill. I really have come a long  way in six months. I am not 100% but I am getting closer. Really the only thing I cannot do is drive (due to my loss of lateral vision in my left eye) 

I still hate exercise but after exercising five days a week for six months I am probably in the best shape of my life. Now, I really value the ability to exercise and work at a normal, boring job. I had those things taken away from me for a time and I know it could happen again. Now I place a lot more value on being healthy and doing something boring like going to work. There are many people who do not have that luxury. 

I write you all this not to brag at how amazing my recovery has been, but to let you know that no matter what challenges you have in your life, there is always someone going through something and if you set your mind to it, you can overcome your challenges. You know who inspires me? ¨Team Hoyt¨ this was a father-son duo who ran marathons together (sadly the father passed away recently at age 80). The son was born in 1960 and his umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck and he had brain damage. The doctors said he would never walk, talk or be normal. But his parents refused to believe this. They eventually got him a computer that he could use with his eyes, to ¨talk¨ when his father was 36 years old and his son was 11, the son said he wanted to run a marathon. Obviously being paralysed he couldn't run but he wanted to experience it. His father had never run any long distances in his whole life.

But do you know what his father did? He trained for a whole year pushing a stroller full of concrete 26 miles. Eventually he started running full marathons pushing his son in his wheelchair and they ran marathons together until the father was 78 years old! They ran over 1200 marathons together. Prior to becoming a father I could never understand the love that a father has for his child, however now having Eliana, I can completely understand why he did what he did. Oh, the guy from Team Hoyt? His son who was supposed to be a vegetable his whole life, graduated from college and now designs customs computers to help paralyzed people like him. If that is not inspiring I do not know what is.

I want to end this, thanking all of you for your support. I couldn't have done this without you. I still have a ways to go to be 100% but i'll get there. Thank you for everything and just remember not to give up and keep on going. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Exercise

Now that my health is improving they have started pushing me harder in my rehab. I have always hated exercising and always had low motivation to continue exercising. However, now I believe that I am in the best shape of my life.

I can do 33 consecutive push-ups and recently I have started running on the treadmill. I am up to 9.2 (out of 10) on the speed. I am not running for long, but considered that when I started I was in a wheelchair and unable to walk, eat or drink anything this is progress!

Exercise now represents freedom and independence to me. I now know what it is like to not be able to do anything on your own and I ended up losing 38 lbs (17kg) of weight.

I never want to go through this again and I am motivated to continue exercising because I can. I have the ability to do so. It's an incredible feeling knowing how far I've come and seeing so many other people in my rehab much worse off than me but continuing with their lives.

I will continue onwards and upwards not only for me, but for Eliana and Jenny. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Things are moving along

 Now that we are in March, things have been progressing for me. Today is my brother Lucas´ birthday (happy birthday Lucas!) but I wanted to update yall on my progress so far. In the public rehab place, I have been released from speech and occupational therapy. I will continue with physical therapy three days a week (at the public rehab) and my physical therapy at the private rehab. 

I have been approved by my neurosurgeon for my eye surgery (the Botox injection didn't work) to correct my lazy left eye. I am not looking forward to yet another surgery but hopefully this will solve the issue of my balance and headaches and be my last surgery. I am well on the way to normality! Eliana is growing like a weed and I have an interview for a job. I am so thankful to hopefully be working again soon. Jenny has also had an interview so hopefully both of us will be working soon and we can finally get our own house. The only downside is that we will have to put Eliana in daycare if we are both working. 

I decided that in June I will do another skydive to celebrate my one year anniversary since my operations and if my parents get to come here to Spain to visit us, I might even convince them to jump with me! Well that is all that I really have to update you on but things are going as well as can be expected and I am a lucky man. Things could be much worse. Til the next time, Tyler

Thursday, January 28, 2021

January 2021 health update

Originally I planned to write this on Facebook but then I decided to write more details and put it here. For those of you who don't know, in June of 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic, the valve that regulates the fluid in my brain failed after 35 years. I was born with a medical condition called hydrocephalus which means there was too much fluid and pressure on my brain.

After arriving in Spain in January of 2020, I escaped China right before the pandemic blew up and I started working in Spain. 

Everything was going normally until June. Jenny was pregnant and we were both happy and healthy. Then my valve failed. I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

At first, they tried to repair the original valve but it was in too bad of shape. Then my second operation, they took out all of the valve and tubing to inspect the flow of liquid. That was also a failure. So I ended up having a 3rd operation that lasted 12 hours and was quite dangerous as a result, they gave me two brand new valves to control the 4 ventricles in my brain. These valves can have their pressure regulated by using magnets instead of operating on me again. 

It wasn't like the movies or TV where they came in and explained all the procedure to me and got my permission etc. They just did what they needed to do to save my life. For that, I am thankful. 

Well I ended up spending 12 weeks in the hospital and I had to leave and return to the hospital 5 different times. It was a huge pain in the butt. I ended up losing about 35 pounds of weight and I was being fed via a tube for a while. 

As a consequence of these operations and in addition to my weight loss, I ended up having a lazy left eye and no perifial vision. My speech was also affected and I have some facial paralysis. I was constantly vomiting and couldn't hold down any food. Due to all the vomiting I damaged my throat from the stomach acid. My symptoms are similar to a stroke even though I didn't have one. 

I have had (and tested negative) 7 different times for covid. I hate those tests but every time I went to the hospital they gave me one. 

My mom came over from Texas back in September when I was still in and out of the hospital. I didn't get to feeling semi normal until October 2020. 

However, since September 2020, I have been going to private rehab and rehab provided by the Spanish government, 5 days a week. 

I was doing speech therapy 4 to 5 times a week plus physical therapy 3 to 4 times a week. At first, the only thing that I could eat was jello due to my facial paralysis. I couldn't even have water! I started out unable to walk or shower or do anything for myself.

Then I progressed to not using a wheelchair but to using a walker. Now I have been able to quit even the walker. 

My left eye is still crooked (supposed to be corrected on February 22nd) but I have regained my speech about 99% all of my facial muscles move (although not like before) I can eat, drink, walk, shower and shave myself. 

I have now been able to decrease my speech therapy to once a week and increase my physical therapy to 4 to 5 times a week to help me regain weight, muscle mass and to help my walking.

So basically I want to say how grateful I am to be alive and for all of the support my family and friends have given me. Everyone was super generous helping us financially since neither Jenny nor I are working. 

Poor Jenny and her family (along with my mom) made huge sacrifices to help me get better and I will never forget it. Jenny was 9 months pregnant and having to deal with my health scare but we made it through!

Eliana is a perfect happy, healthy little girl and the greatest blessing of my life. She is what motivates me to keep going and get back to 100% normal. 

I am also super thankful for the Spanish health care system and the government for taking good care of me. I have received excellent care and have great doctors and nurses. Even if I was extremely annoyed at my loss of independence while in the hospital. 

2020 was crappy for me. But then Eliana was born. I am not 100% and I have been through a lot. However, I am confident that I will get back to 100% slowly but surely. I'm regaining weight and strength and now in January of 2021, I just need my eye to get fixed and work a little on my walking then I will be back to normal.
I am super thankful not to have thousands of euros in medical debt or having to worry about insurance or whether my doctor was in network or not, at the same time as having a new baby. 

Now I will concentrate on getting better, getting a job and being the best husband and father I can be. This has not been easy for me or anyone, but it could have been much worse. I'm alive and more or less in OK shape. I'm a lucky man. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Baby Guide 20 parenting tips to help you survive

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, just a first time father. These tips worked for our baby but may or may not work for yours.*

I have more tips for you... Some of them will be gross but I'm giving it to you straight lol. I'll start with labor and delivery. I only have a short experience with one child but here it is. I hope this can help someone.

1. Define your birth plan and let your doctor's know and let your husband/wife know if you want meds etc. But remember that it may not go to plan. My wife was in labor for 15 hours and THEN they decided to do a C section.

2. Register for a birthing/parenting class in person or online (YouTube has tons of great videos)

3. Starting in week 32 of your pregnancy you will need cream to start doing a perineum massage to prevent tearing. It's not pleasant but I promise it will help.

4. Do not spend a lot of money on baby clothes or shoes they grow so fast its not worth it.

5. Don't buy too many infant diapers because they size up so quickly.

6. Pack your hospital bag at least one month in advance and practice your route to the hospital!

7. Buy bottles that you can warm in the microwave and get a kettle for fast boiling your water for bottles. The stove takes too long.

8. Even if you plan on breast feeding (you should) let your spouse bottle feed him/her sometimes and give yourself a break.

9. Sleep when the baby sleeps but for the first month do not let him/her sleep more than 3 or 4 hours without feeding or they will wake up starving

10. Plastic nipple coverings. Your baby will go to town on your nipple so this will save your life.

11. Bath tub insert you can put inside your tub or sink, when your baby is small, they only need a bath 2 or 3 times a week and these plastic inserts are great.

12. Your baby will make lots of weird noises and may have acne like a teenager but that's totally normal.

13. Gripe water. It is not fda approved but our doctor said because it's all natural it can't hurt her. It helps Eliana with gas pain and colic. Having colic for the first 3-6 months is totally normal.

14. Look up baby colic massage on YouTube. It helps them.

15. Let your spouse change some diapers and bottle feed, don't take on everything yourself.

16. Download the apps, What to expect when you are expecting and Baby+ by Phillips for tracking feeding times etc.

17. Get a sling so you can carry your baby around hands free

18. You do not need a wet wipe warmer, your baby will survive a few seconds of a cold wipe

19. You do not need an automatic snot remover, your baby should be able to clear their snot naturally.

20. Also, get in the habit of feeding your baby for a bit then stopping mid feed to change their diaper then go back to feeding. They do much better with a little break.


Monday, January 18, 2021

2021 so far....

 Here is what I have written in my memoirs so far in 2021. 


We made it to 2021! So far, this year has been treating me well even though we are only two days into it. I am thankful for my daughter and my health even though I still have a long way to go to get back to 100%. I am alive and grateful to be in halfway decent shape. I hope this year turns out better than 2020.

Jenny, Eliana and I made it to midnight on the 31st but went to bed shortly after that. We will see what this year has in store for the Horton Mojica Family. Hopefully only good things, I hope that both Jenny and I will be working before summertime gets here.

Today is January 7th, 2021 and I went to see my doctor again. My doctor at the local health center is a man and he is very nice and helpful. He has helped keep my vomiting under control with medicine and has monitored my progress. At Ubarmin, the rehab center run by the Spanish government, my doctor is a woman and she told me that at least for one more month, my treatment of physical and occupational therapy will remain the same. However, she told me that she is seeing a lot of progress in my recovery.

Until and unless I start having worse symptoms again, I also think that I will continue to get stronger and healthier. Currently, the only thing that I cannot do for myself is drive. Basically, everything else I can do for myself and by myself. My left eye is still crooked, and I am waiting on the treatment for that. My speech is basically back to normal in both English and Spanish.

My walking gait continues to improve, and I am no longer using my walker. I still have a long way to go to get back to normal like I was before the surgeries but after living in Spain for a year now and having such a crazy 2020, I am feeling more confident that unless something really bad happens and I have to go back to the hospital, then I will continue to improve.

I can deal with occasional vomiting and headaches, even though they are not pleasant, if that is the worst thing that I have to deal with then I am doing ok. At the end of January, I will be eligible to take the test to receive my Spanish Citizenship. I plan on doing so. Normally, you must wait five years minimum of living in Spain but because I am married to Jenny who is a Spanish (and Colombian) citizen, I am able to apply for Spanish citizenship after living here for only one year. I look forward to having a passport from the European Union and being able to work and travel freely in the European Union.

I want to try and keep politics out of this book but, something recently has happened back in the United States and I feel obligated to say something. It saddens me that supporters of President Trump have assaulted the Capitol trying to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as our next President. It saddens me that so many people see others as the enemy and not as fellow Americans. It saddens me that so many people believe crazy conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality.

Our two-party system is broken. In reality, I believe that the Democrats are just as corrupt as the Republicans and we should be allowed a valid third-party choice. As it stands now, not much is going to change. The rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer. I can only hope for healing in our nation going into the future.

Unfortunately, as of mid-January 2021, both my parents have tested positive for Covid-19 (we think that my mom got it and gave it to my dad) even though they have been wearing masks and generally trying to protect themselves. We are very lucky that they had mild symptoms though. They both lost their sense of taste and smell but that is pretty much the worst thing that they experienced. Both of them are back to work now and doing better. I was super worried about them, so I am very relieved that they are OK.

Sadly, Jason´s wife Lou, her mom caught Covid and was in the hospital for almost three months and she didn't make it. She passed away due to Covid-19. We were very sad to hear that news.

Eliana also has not been doing great as of late, she has colic and her stomach has been hurting her. The doctor tells us this is totally normal and nothing to worry about. It should go away by the time she is three months old. However, I feel bad that she is in pain and not sleeping well. I hope all of this passes soon.

As of January 14th, 2020, Eliana is one month old! I can´t believe that one month has passed already. She is growing bigger and stronger every day. She now weighs more than four kilos or more than nine pounds. She continues to grow in both weight and length. She is perfectly healthy other than having a little colic. I am so thankful my daughter is normal and healthy.

Being a parent is hard work. It is a sacrifice in time, energy and sleep loss. However, I wouldn't change it for the world. She is my little angel and I love her more than I have ever loved anyone in this world. I cannot wait to continue to see her changes both physically and mentally. I want to hear her first words, see her first steps and see what color her eyes and hair will end up being. This world is a terrible place in many respects, but it is also good in many other respects. I can´t wait to see what this world has in store for her and how she will learn about the world. I do not regret helping to bring her into it.

On February 22nd the Spanish government informed me that they are finally going to give me my Botox injection and fix my twisted left eye! I am not looking forward to this procedure but hopefully I will be asleep, and it will be painless, and I will finally be able to see correctly again.

As of January 16th, 2021, I found out that my parents have sold their house in Little Elm. After living there since 1997 they are getting ready to retire and move to a smaller town to live out their retirement. They plan to rent a house in Little Elm for two more years and then make the move to Saint Jo, Texas where some friends already live.

They plan to build a two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin on some land and enjoy a slower pace of life. I am slightly sad that the Little Elm chapter of our lives is closing, since so many of my formative years were spent there. However, I am happy for them and look forward to visiting a new smaller town. Little Elm is getting too big and city like for me anyway. There are always so many changes every time I go back home.

 


Spain, 2020 and 2021 to come....

 I have started writing my memoirs and to be honest, I have updated those more than I have this blog! So, I will copy and paste everything I have written from 2020 and 2021. So much has happened to me in such a short time since we left China!


Well it looks like in 2019 I was overly optimistic about 2020. This has not been a great year for anyone so far.

Our plan was that Jenny would leave for Spain in September and I would stay until January 2020, to finish out my contract and then I would fly to Spain to rejoin her. This four-month period of time was the longest amount of time that we had been separated since we met each other. It was not easy to be away from my wife for so long, but I was staying busy working and getting ready to move. There were times that both of us were lonely and missing each other and it felt like the days would never go fast enough.

However, before we knew it January 24th had arrived and after finishing all the things I had to get done at the university, I boarded my flight from Shenzhen to Madrid and then onto Pamplona Spain. Finally, after four months I was able to be reunited with Jenny once more and start my new life in Spain.

From this point forward, I will need to arrange my working visa, we need to get a car, I need a driver’s license, or a new apartment and all the basic things that one needs to start a new life.

We will see what happens for me (and Jenny and our family and friends) in 2020 and find out what life has in store for me and us. I look forward to seeing what happens.

As of March 2020, the biggest story here in Spain and around the world is the Corona Virus (or COVID-19) that has paralyzed the world. Everything has shut down here in Spain and worldwide. We are in our third week of total lock down here in the house. We can leave (one person only) once a week for groceries or to go to the pharmacy or hospitals. Luckily, Jenny and I are still able to work online. Many people are not so fortunate. The only people allowed to be out are the ¨essential¨ healthcare workers.

As of March 31st, 2020, there are 801,061 cases worldwide with 38,748 deaths. These numbers will just keep climbing unfortunately. This is unlike anything the world has seen in over one hundred years at least.

Spain is currently third worldwide in the number of total cases (94,417) and second worldwide in deaths with 8,189. Scary stuff. Luckily, so far no one that Jenny or I know here has been personally affected but that could change. My sister in law works in the hospital and many people are getting infected.

But Jenny and I now have jobs, an apartment and a car so as of right now we are still doing ok. I am more worried about my family back home in the U.S.A. than I am about us though.

The U.S. is generally much less well prepared, and people seem to be taking it much less seriously there. Our current President and administration are not helping matters. I truly hope that things get better sooner rather than later.

Hopefully the whole world will have learned something from this, and we can all come out stronger from this. The only positive thing is that (at least for now) we humans are doing much less polluting and general destruction of our only planet.

April 5th, 2020, a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. This was the day that Jenny told me she was pregnant with our first child. I still can't believe that we have created a new life that will arrive in nine months. I am beyond scared, so nervous and unprepared but excited. I have no idea what I am doing, and I know nothing about babies but now I have something beyond myself. Someone who will live beyond me.

I have a legacy, someone to pass on not only my genes but also my ideas, parts of my personality and more. Of course, I am not the only person involved in this process, in fact, I have the easy part. Jenny has the hard part! Our child has 50% of her as well.

We are partners in this new adventure and many years from now, maybe my future child will be the one reading these words.

Now we have a responsibility to try and give the best life possible to our child. I hope Jenny and I are as good at parenting as our parents have been. I couldn’t ask for better parents and I know she would say the same.

We will have big shoes to fill. As of May 25th, 2020, we are in week twelve of our pregnancy. We still do not know if we are going to have a boy or a girl, but we are super nervous and excited either way.

In three days, we will go for our first sonogram and hopefully be able to find out the gender of our little one. As soon as Jenny told me she was pregnant I felt a change inside of me. I became extremely emotional and excited at the thought of becoming a father and to have done my part to help create a new life on this planet. Creating a life is one thing, raising a child is a completely different matter!

However, I am positive that Jenny will be a great, loving, caring and involved mother and I only hope I can do half the job that my dad did to raise me and that I will be a good father as well. I sure am going to try my very best to give our child the best life possible.

I already feel more love than I ever thought possible for him/her and our baby is not even here yet!

I am excited every day to see and feel the changes in Jenny's body, knowing that our little one is growing inside her and I cannot wait to hold my child in my arms.

This is unlike any experience I have ever had, and I have never experienced the feelings that I now feel with anyone or anything else in my life.

This is a new and exciting adventure! I got to feel Eliana kicking in Jenny's belly. That was an exciting day for both of us.

We are very happy and excited and can’t wait until she is in our arms. We are hopeful for a smooth and uneventful delivery so we can see our healthy baby.

After arriving to Pamplona in January, I got a job at the public university until March but then we went on lock down and we were basically locked down to the apartment until the end of June so we didn’t get to do anything outside of the apartment and then I ended up in the hospital. In June 2020, I started vomiting and experiencing headaches. This started my eight-week journey at the hospital in Pamplona. Spain. My mom has come over from Texas and Jenny´s family has been great. I ended up having three brain surgeries.

The first surgery, the doctors tried replacing the shunt tubing. After that didn't work. They decided to take out the shunt tubing for a week to monitor the flow of liquid.

Well that didn't work either, so they ended up taking my thirty-five-year-old shunt and giving me two new programmable shunts. These shunts can be adjusted with magnets without having to open my head to do another surgery. So, I survived three brain surgeries, but I have a lot of recovery ahead of me.

Unfortunately, I have lost weight and mobility and I am still weak, and I have some facial paralysis with a wonky left eye that needs correcting (hopefully it will be self-correcting with time, but eye surgery is an option for the future if needed)

So, I have lots of rehab ahead of me to get back to 100%. But I am hopeful that with time and some hard work I can fix my left eye and get rid of this facial paralysis.

I know that physically I will gain my weight and stability back, so I am not worried about that. But it has been nice having my mom here to help and give me some good Southern food. Of course, we will get to see them again in December when Eliana is born. I can’t wait to hold her in my arms and hopefully both of us will be 100% healthy in December.

Now I have been out of the hospital for just over a month now and I have started rehab five days a week. I do both private and government funded rehab. I have physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. I have gained some weight and noticed improvement in my eating, drinking and speech luckily.

However, I still have a long way to go to get back to the way I was before the surgeries. I know with time and patience it will happen though. Both my mom and Jenny and her family have been a huge help to me during this trying time. Hopefully by the time Eliana is born in December I will be better though. At least I am out of the hospital and not in too much pain

I had a relapse in the beginning of October, and I had to go back into the hospital for ten days. I feel like my speech is worse and my balance also but everything else remains the same. I can still eat and drink whatever I want, and I have restarted my rehab and hope to gain back what I have lost now that I am back at home.

Today is November 9th, 2020 and I am slowly but surely regaining my strength and balance.  I am still waiting on the doctors to fix my lazy left eye and I am still going to rehab (both public and private) Monday through Friday. I am working on my balance issues and improving my speech, but overall things are not as bad as they were previously.

I have stopped vomiting, nor do I have bad headaches anymore. I can lay flat on my back for a longer time than I could previously. My neck is still weak where they put the new shunt in, but I have been gaining weight since I can still eat and drink whatever I want. Things could be better, but they could also be much worse. My full-time job now is going to my rehab and trying to get better.

I have had a job offer for a job that I can do from home so hopefully I will get that job and I can start working again. It will not be the perfect job, but it is better than doing nothing. Luckily, I feel like I have progressed faster after this most recent hospitalization. I have been out of the hospital just over a month now, but I can shower, shave and dress myself. So, I am slowly but surely regaining my independence.

I have more movement in my eyebrows and with my smile. I still have a lot of facial paralysis, but things are getting better slowly but surely, and the muscles of my face are activating even if it is just a little bit. 

Little Eliana Valentina will be here in less than a month! I still cannot believe that I am going to be a father. I am very excited and nervous to meet her though. Currently, Jenny is 36 weeks along.

Our daughter will be here before we know it. I still feel unprepared, but I hope that both Jenny and I will be good parents.

Jenny is getting big and our daughter currently weighs 2.5 kg or just over five pounds. She will continue to gain weight in the last four weeks of this pregnancy. I am nervous about the labor and delivery, but I cannot imagine what Jenny is going through and I will try my best to do my part and help where and when I can even in my weakened condition.

Luckily, Jenny so far only has some leg pain and pressure from the weight of her stomach. We are lucky that she has not experienced horrible pregnancy symptoms that some women go through. From this point forward through, every time jenny wakes up in the middle of the night I am going to freak out and think that she is going into labor.

I should also mention that The United States just recently elected Democrat Joe Biden as our 46th President. He is not my preferred candidate, but he is better than the previously President and I wish him all the luck in the world. He will need luck to work with our dysfunctional government. The average joe is being crushed in America unfortunately.

It is now Friday December 11th and Eliana is five days overdue! She does not want to leave Jenny´s belly. I am very nervous and excited to meet her though. I hope she is perfect, and I still cannot believe that I am going to be a father. I helped to create a new life that will come into this world on or before December 18th (that is Jenny`s induction date)

I am nervous and feel unprepared for parenthood, but I know that Jenny and I will do the best that we can even when we make mistakes. I cannot wait to show Eliana the world and watch her grow and learn. My heart is full of love for her and she is not even here yet. I get a huge thrill out of talking to her in the belly and feeling her move when she hears my voice.

Being a parent is an incredible responsibility and I have felt a huge change within myself since I found out that I was going to be a father.

Eliana Valentina Horton Mojica was born on Monday December 14th at 9:08am. After fifteen hours of labor Jenny ended up having to have a C section but now after three days in the hospital,

I have both my girls back home with me. It was hard for me not being able to be there for the birth (we decided to have my mother in law go with Jenny due to the chances of me catching Covid from the hospital with my weakened immune system. I was very nervous waiting at home for any news. I did not sleep well at all! But luckily other than a C Section Jenny is OK and so is Eliana.

Being a parent is a huge and awesome responsibility. I still feel unprepared but ready to take this on. The first time you hold your child in your arms is an amazing feeling.

I felt her grow for nine months in Jenny's stomach and now she is here in my arms. She is the most beautiful little girl and there is nothing more special than being able to hold your own child in your arms. I love her more than I have ever loved anything in this world, and I want to keep her close forever. Both mother and daughter are perfect.

Today is December 30th, 2020. This terrible year is almost over. As of today, I turn thirty-six years old. I can´t believe that I have made it this far.

Sometimes I still feel eighteen years old and other times I feel like I am sixty-six years old. This has been a challenging year for everyone, to say the least.

However, I survived three brain surgeries and went on to have a healthy baby girl. This year has not been all bad since Eliana was born.

Being a parent has been an exhausting yet rewarding experience. Every time I look at my daughter my heart is filled with love and I know all of the struggles are worth it. She is just now a little over two weeks old and sometimes she sleeps well and sometimes she does not sleep at all (then Jenny and I don't either) but I know this time will go super-fast and soon we will be wishing for it back. Eliana is perfectly healthy, and I am so thankful that none of my health problems were passed on to her.

 I can't think of anything else that I have ever done that is as fulfilling as becoming a father. I have visited over forty countries and had a wonderful blessed life, but nothing compares with holding my little girl in my arms. My life is far from perfect.

I do not have everything that I want, yet I do have everything that I need. There are people much worse off than me in this world. I am hoping for a corona virus free and better 2021 now that we have the vaccines available. I hope that Eliana will be able to have a normal healthy and happy childhood free of the fear of another pandemic. My biggest hope is that this world will be a better place for her than it has been for me.


Friday, February 14, 2020

My Experience in China

Well my time in China has finally come to an end. Now that I am out of China I can finally give you my thoughts about the experience. I will be sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of China. For those of you in the Western world, particularly in my home country of the United States (and those of you who have never been to China) you may hold an overly negative view of China based on what you have seen in the news media. So, some of what I write here I hope will pleasantly surprise you and some of the bad things may shock you. It is my hope that after reading this you can come away with a more realistic view of Mainland China and get rid of some of those old stereotypes.

I will start with the good things: First and Foremost (in my mind anyway) their cashless payment system which is accepted everywhere. I realize this might not hold a big appeal for some people (my dad comes to mind!) but for me, being free of cash, coins and cards was incredibly liberating! I think I miss that more than anything. Here is how it works: You register your fingerprint to your cellphone (so that only you can unlock your phone with your fingerprint) then, they have a chat/messaging service very similar to Whatsapp (it is called Wechat) and within Wechat there is a payment service which is linked to your bank account (you also have to register your fingerprint to unlock your virtual Wechat Wallet that is inside the Wechat program)

So the end result is, if you want to pay for anything or pay to anyone, send or receive money you can do so virtually with your phone. No need to carry cash, cards or coins ever! If for any reason someone was to steal your phone they could not unlock your phone without your fingerprint (even if they could unlock your phone somehow, they would still need the secondary fingerprint to get into your Wechat Wallet). In my mind there are only three downsides to this virtual payment system. 1. The Chinese government is in control of the payment system (so they could theoretically lock you out of your own money if they chose to do so) however, in China government control is a fact of life. They control everything, so once you accept that fact it isn´t such a big deal anymore. I never had any problems with it. 2. If the Wechat payment system is down you cannot pay for anything or receive any money from anyone (which is why I always carried a little emergency cash on me) but in 18 months the system was only down for a short period of time, twice. 3. This virtual payment system locks out anyone who doesn't have a smart phone or bank account. Those are really the only three downsides in my mind.

The next positive thing about China is, as hard as the U.S. media (and Trump in particular) try to get China to hate us Americans, in my experience in generally almost all regular Chinese citizens still hold America in high regard. I met some extremely nice, extremely friendly, extremely kind, loving and wonderful people in China. I never did learn how to speak Chinese (beyond a few basic words) and many Chinese do not speak English but in my 18 months there I had nothing but great interactions with people. They were eager to learn about me and the United States in general. They always tried to help me whenever and wherever they could. Chinese parents love their kids just like parents in the Western world love their kids. They want the same things we want (generally speaking) really other than being separated by a vast distance, a different language and a different culture, humans around the world almost always share the same basic traits that make us human no matter where you live. The Chinese are not monsters out to get us.

I enjoyed my job in China. Working in Asia (and China in particular) is very different from the Western world. However, the students are extremely studious and hard working, they are respectful and do as they are told. Too well sometimes. Critical thinking and having unique open minded opinions is not a trait that is at all valued in China unfortunately. They strive for excellence and they all want and need to be excellent. Conformity and not looking bad or failing in front of others is something that is extremely important in Chinese culture. It was a big shock for me at first, walking into the classroom and getting absolute silence when I asked a question. However, I quickly learned to adapt (more on this later)

Something else that was really good in China (at least in Shenzhen where we were living) was the public transportation (it is one if not the only city in the world that has a full fleet of all electric city buses,taxis and trains) it was cheap, clean and efficient. In addition to the excellent transportation, Shenzhen (and China in general) is very safe. I want to clarify what I mean when I say safe, I mean the chances of getting robbed on the street and having your personal belongings stolen is practically 0%. After living almost 8 years in Colombia and constantly having to be on guard for someone trying to rip me off, this was a welcome change. In China you will see relatively few armed uniformed police officers on the streets. However, there are facial recognition cameras everywhere (Big Brother!) so I can promise you that the Chinese government knows almost exactly where each of its 1.4 billion citizens are and what they are doing. It may seem intrusive and extreme to us, but for them it is a way of life.

China has has a relatively low cost of living. It is not expensive to live there and live well if you have a good job. Rent costs and imported foods can be astronomically high, but pretty much everything else is very cheap. Eating ¨Western food¨ is not cheap so its best to eat like the locals if you want to save money.

Chinese people in general, (and Chinese kids especially) are very curious about us Westerners. They are extremely shy, but once they warm up to you they will ask you may many questions (some of them very strange) because they just have no baseline knowledge outside of what the Communist Party of China allows them to see/learn. Information that you or I take for granted, just what you would assume to be basic knowledge, to the could be something completely new.

Traveling in China is cheap and easy. There are many beautiful places to visit and China has a ton of history and culture that is very different and interesting from our history in the Western world. The bullet trains and public transportation in general is very good and not expensive. In general, it is clean and fast even if there are 1.4 billion people in China. The crowds are not something that I enjoyed but there are many positives in China and not everything is negative.

Now I will move on to the negatives of working and living in China. First and foremost, the Communist Party runs and controls the Chinese Government and the Chinese people in general. What this means in practice, is that the government controls exactly what the regular Chinese people can and cannot see, do and know. Knowledge is restricted to what is government approved. This means that the ¨regular¨open Internet does not exist in China. Of course there are ways to access it if you know how but it is not easy nor does it always work.
The average Chinese person really has no concept of what the average person in the Western world understands as ¨freedoms¨. Since they have never experienced these basic freedoms they do not know what they are missing. As foreigners, there are many things that we miss when we go to China and live and work but the Chinese have their own versions of everything that we have, so they have no need for our version of various things. Any form of dissent or protest is also strictly banned by the government so you will never see or hear of people congregating in groups to do something that is against the will of the Chinese government.

Another negative of living in China is that there air quality, food safety and various other things are not up to Western standards. That being said, China is making strides to improve the environment, air quality, food safety etc. Many countries (the United States included) are currently doing much less than the Chinese are to combat global warming etc. (hopefully this will change in the future)

The language and culture barriers are something else that can be hard to deal with. Of course this is to be expected, but it certainly is not the easiest thing to deal with. I cannot imagine living in China prior to the existence of the internet. Without technology like translators and such would be almost impossible I think. The cultural barrier is another story all together. Our Western culture is just very different from Chinese culture. Our governments and social structures are very different.

One of the last negatives that I can think of is the food culture. Chinese food in China is very different from anything we eat in the Western world and Chinese food is very different inside than China than it is inside China. They love to eat spicy food, meat with lots of bones and fat and of course the Chinese use chopsticks which can be hard to get used to if you live in the Western world. Almost all Chinese food in China is based on rice or noodles. So this can quickly get old eating these base foods everyday. Chinese also love to buy live animals and kill them to eat them. This not only is unsanitary but also creates the risk of human to animal (and vis versa) disease transmission. This was a big worry of mine while we were in China. There actually was a disease outbreak while we were there but luckily I managed to leave China without getting sick or stuck in China.

To wrap this all up, I basically just want to say that China just like anywhere has its good sides and its bad sides and don´t let your negative stereotypes of China prevent you from visiting there sometime in the future. The Chinese government is not great as we all know, but the average Chinese citizen is very nice and helpful and very similar to you in more ways than you might imagine. I enjoyed my time there and I am glad I had the opportunity to live and work there. Now we will see what Spain has to offer Jenny and I and where our lives will go into the future.