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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.