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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Father's Day in the US

Today is Father's Day back home in the US. While it is not Father's Day here in Spain, I wanted to make a special post about my dad.

Mark Horton is quite possibly the world's best dad and I hope to be half the father to Eliana that he has been to me. 

I gave my dad hell as an unruly teenager, however he was always kind, patient and loving to me. He only spanked me when I deserved it. He was fair and he put up with a lot having three wild boys. 

I managed to survive all of his operations, like his home made failed tooth extraction, where he tied a string to my tooth and then the door. He has been a great dad and I hope to have many more happy years with him.

I am quite sure that I have tested his patience more than once. However, he always supported me in whatever I choose to do. Even when my life choices took me far away from him physically, he has always remained close to my heart. 

He has accepted Jenny as his own and he loves his grand daughter Eliana to pieces. I couldn't ask for a better example to look up to. 

I love you dad, Tyler 

My thoughts on marriage

I wanted to share my thoughts on marriage with you. Marriage is hard work. Anyone who says otherwise, has never been married. Putting two different people together 24/7 and forcing them to make a life together isn't easy.

Jenny and I didn't officially live together before we got married because she was against the idea. However, I believe that it would have made the transition of bringing our lives together easier. 

Jenny and I are very similar in many ways, and very different in others. She is very clean and organized and I am not. However, I realized very early on in our marriage, that it was easier for me to get cleaner and more organized than it was to make her like me. Her way takes more effort and time inincially but it pays off in the long run.

Jenny and I didn't fall in love instantly. In fact, we had a terrible first date. 

Everyone in Colombia always arrives late. Rather than arrive on time, and have to wait for her, I decided to arrive thirty minutes late to our first date, assuming that she would also be late (so then technically I would be on time) 

What I didn't know at the time, was that she is always on time everywhere. So, she called me to ask where I was and I was on the bus 20 minutes away. However, like any good Colombian, I lied and said that I was five minutes away. I ended up arriving 30 minutes late to our first date. 

Then, I drug her all over Bogotá, with her walking in high heels and it was freezing cold. Only to find out that the bar I wanted to take her to was closed.

I had no backup plan. So I took her to the first place that I saw. It was a terrible, run down dive bar full of music so loud that you couldn't talk without screaming at each other. 

I was convinced that she would never see me again after our terrible first date. Yet, somehow amazingly, I convinced her for a second date and I planned much better.

Then we just kept on seeing each other and before I knew it, I realized that I could not live without her. However, it was a gradual process. It was not love at first sight. 

Jenny and I are two very different people, we have our problems like any couple. I am by no means perfect. I try though. 

I want to be the best husband and father that I can be. We have had a lot of ups and downs but there is no one else that I would rather be with. I love Jenny despite her flaws and luckily she loves me back 

Now eight years later, we are living in Pamplona Spain with a wild 3 year old daughter whom we love more than anything. I hope the three of us get many more happy years together. 

Til next time, Tyler 


Friday, June 14, 2024

My Health - Looking into the future

I wanted to give you a more detailed health outlook for the future. My progress has been small but it is slow and steady. I know that this is a marathon not a sprint. However, even if I am like this for five years total, in my entire lifespan, five years is just the blink of an eye.

I hope that I will have many more years happy years left with my family and friends. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful to me. I am truly a lucky guy. 

The most frustrating thing about living with my condition is losing my independence and the ability to walk and talk correctly. I used to take those things for granted. However, I do not anymore! Walking and talking are a miracle. Most people are lucky to do it without thinking about it.

My brain is healing faster than my body is. So sometimes my brain will send a command to my body, like move your left leg. Then my body will just ignore it and not respond. It is very frustrating. I am relatively young still, mentally but physically, I am trapped in an old man's body. 

Having to use thickener with my liquids is annoying but not the end of the world. Luckily, I can eat any solid food that I want. After being on a liquid diet when I was in the hospital, was terrible and I lost a lot of weight. So I consider myself lucky now. 

My short term memory has been affected by all of the anesthesia that I had. So now I write down everything in my phone so I don't forget. But again, this is more annoying than the end of the world. 

I always used to have bad handwriting but it was legible. Now after all of this, my handwriting is not legible. So I prefer to use the computer or my phone so you can read it. 

I used to have shakes and tremors a lot due to my weak muscle tone and my head and neck swayed like I was on a cruise ship constantly. However, since I have been going to physical therapy four times a week, all of that has mostly disappeared. 

My left eye went crooked due to the increased brain pressure and my vision deteriorated but I have worn glasses since I was 12. I can no longer wear contacts but I don't mind really. At least I am not blind or paralyzed, even if I do have bad balance and rely on a wheelchair or walker to get around. 

The only operation that I have left to go through is one to straighten my crooked left eye. It will only fix it cosmetically, it won't improve my vision but at least it will look normal again. 

I am lucky to know that I will only continue to improve my life slowly but surely and eventually I will get back to normal life again. I am a lucky guy and I am lucky to know that my condition will only continue to improve with time and effort and not get progressively worse. 

My situation sounds terrible but, Jenny and Eliana have both been extremely helpful and supportive even though they never asked for this situation. 

Jenny 's family has also been amazing as have my friends and family. I am a lucky man and blessed to be alive and relatively normal despite my health issues.

The last thing that I want to mention is my current work situation. Obviously, I can no longer teach English due to my limited mobility and speech issues. Unfortunately, I didn't work enough years back home to qualify for social security and I would have to work 20 more years here in Spain to qualify for a pension. So I am between a rock and a hard place.

I am now looking for a job that I can do from home that doesn't require me to talk on the phone. It has not been easy to find something so far but I won't give up. I would be willing to get a job outside of the house if it is a good fit. However, working from home would be more isolating, but easier for me. 

I feel bad for Jenny because right now she is the only one who is working and I want to take some stress off her shoulders and contribute financially again. 

That is all in a nutshell, Tyler 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Some more thoughts on the eventual end of my life

Maybe I spend too much time thinking about the eventual end of my life but I think that it is better to be prepared than the opposite.

Many people do not like thinking about their own death because it scares them. However, I am not scared of my death. Of course, being sane, I hope my death is relatively painless and far off, but I am prepared for it. 

I hope to have many more happy years with Jenny and Eliana and my family and friends. However, just like everyone else, I do not know how long I have with any confidence. That means despite my health issues I must be grateful for everything and every day that I am given.

I have good days and bad days like everyone. However, I am thankful for every day that I am still vertical. Even on the bad or boring days I try to remember that I should be appreciative of every day that I am given. 

The reason why I have prepared so throughly for my eventual death is that I have had a lot of time to think about my death (and I have been close to it a few times) while I hope it is a long time from now, I am prepared for it to be tomorrow because I consider my death only the beginning of my next adventure. 

Til next time, Tyler 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Jenny and Eliana

Edit: I accidentally posted this twice, each post being slightly different. So I decided to combine them into one.

I wanted to give a special shout out specifically to Jenny and Eliana. I couldn't do this without either of them. Firstly, my wife Jenny is a saint.

She is kind, loving and supportive. She is my rock and one of the main reasons I keep going every day. She is the strongest person I have ever known. 

Everyone tells me how strong I am because this condition affects me physically and mentally. It is true that I have been through a lot but Jenny was 8 months pregnant with Eliana when I first got sick. Yet she came up to the hospital every day with a smile on her face.

She saw me at my worst but continued to stand by me. I am not perfect, and there were (and are) days that it is very frustrating to be around me. Yet she continues to love me through it all. 

She is also the most determined person that I know. When she wants something better, she will do anything to get it. 

I had no plans to ever get a masters degree in bilingual education but she convinced me to do it. It was not easy, but it allowed me to get a job at Los Andes University in Bogotá. Which I never could have dreamed would happen. It is the equivalent of working at Harvard University in the United States. 

I was not able to be present for Eliana's birth due to being sick but my mother in law was there for Jenny when I couldn't be. Jenny is very brave and a great mom to our daughter.

Jenny and I are very different in many ways, and we have our problems like any couple but, she has supported me through all of the trials and tribulations of life and there is no one who I would rather be with.

She is working hard to support our family while I can't. Even though I am currently looking for a home based job. I am forever grateful for her. 

She is not perfect but I never expected perfection. I love her despite her flaws. 

Now onto Eliana. She is the greatest joy of my life and the best thing I have ever done. My only regret is that I waited so long to have a child because I was scared of the responsibility of fatherhood. 

Eliana is kind, loving attentive and so very smart. I see her growing like a weed and learning new things every day. She has her moments like any typical 3 year old but overall we won the lottery with her. I love her to the moon and back. 

She treats me the same as any able bodied father and my limited mobility doesn't seem to bother her. I am very thankful for that. She also has a great sense of humor. She is stubborn as a mule sometimes but she gets that from me! Because Jenny is a lot of things but stubborn is not one of them. 

When I was 3 years old, I tried playing with my grandparents TV. It had big tactile buttons you could push. My parents constantly told me that I couldn't touch the TV. 

My parents entered the room hearing my screams of delight. I was with my grandfather (the father of my mother) and he let me push all the TV buttons that I wanted.

He went on to say, if he lived to be 100 years old he would never forget my screams of delight. I feel exactly the same way when I hear my daughter laughing.

Well that is all I wanted to say, Tyler 
 I know I have said this before, but I am extremely grateful, thankful and lucky to have Jenny and Eliana in my life. I am very fortunate to have them both. I would not be able to do this without their love, help and support.

In no particular order, Jenny is kind, hard working, loyal, loving, driven, selfless, a good friend, wife and mother to our daughter. I am a lucky guy to have found her (and convince her to marry me!)

Jenny is also the strongest person that I know. Everyone always tells me how strong I am, because this condition affects me more visably yet I continue to stay positive. It is true that it is not easy being me. 

However, Jenny was eight months pregnant when I was at my sickest. Yet she came up to the hospital every day to visit me. Not to mention, that I was unable to be present for Eliana 's birth due to being sick but Jenny took my mother in law along instead. After 24 hours in labor they finally decided to do a C-section and luckily Eliana was born healthy 

My life and recovery have not been easy, but you couldn't pay me to trade places with Jenny. I am very lucky to have her.

Eliana is growing like a weed. She is kind, loving, smart, selfless, empathetic, a good friend and an excellent nurse. All at 3 years old. I have put her through a lot unintentionally, with all of my health issues but she has been amazing.

My favorite part of the day is when she gets home from school and gives me a big hug and tells me all about her day. Even though I have limited mobility, she doesn't treat me any different than anyone else. 

If I am honest, I delayed having a child until I was almost 36 because I was afraid of the responsibility of being a father. My dad is such a good dad I was worried I would be bad at it.

After much convincing, Jenny persuaded me to become a father. I was reluctant at first, but the first time I held Eliana in my arms, I cried like a baby and I knew instantly that I would love her always and forever with all of my heart. 

At first, I was very worried that Eliana would be born with my medical conditions. However, we were very lucky and nothing I have is genetic. She was born perfectly healthy, and other than the occasional fever or flu she has been perfectly healthy. 

She makes me crazy sometimes, but we won the baby lottery. She was a good baby, she is a good toddler, and before I can blink my eyes, she will be a teenager then an adult. 

My only regret is that I didn't have a child when I was younger and healthier. My parents were 30 when they had me. I always thought 30 was so old to have kids but I was almost 36 when Eliana was born!

Every parent passes down parts of their personality, the good and the bad, to their children whether they intend to or not. I can admit that I am stubborn as a mule. Whenever I don't want to do something, I don't do it and there is no way anyone can convince me to change my mind. 

This can be both good or bad depending on the situation. I didn't raise Eliana to be as stubborn as me, yet it happened anyway. There is no convincing her to do something that she doesn't want to do. It can be frustrating sometimes. 

Jenny is many things, both good and bad. However, stubborn she is not. So Eliana got this one directly from me. 

I have a long, slow road to recovery but I know that I will get there sooner or later. I hope that I will get many more happy years with Jenny and Eliana. 

That is all I wanted to get off my chest, Tyler 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Who I am thankful for

This will be a long one so strap in tight. I wanted to write this to thank everyone for their support and help both financially and otherwise.

Firstly, I want to thank my wife Jenny and daughter Eliana. They did not ask to be put into this situation, but they have both handled it with low, kindness, patience and stability. 

I have been sick and with limited mobility for the entirity of Eliana 's short life. At first, I was worried that she would treat me differently. However, she doesn't notice the walker or wheelchair and she treats me the same as anybody else. 

My daughter Eliana is kind, caring, empathetic and always willing to help me with anything that I need. She is also an excellent nurse. She has had to deal with a lot during her short life but I love her to the moon and back and I am a lucky to have her. I hope to give her and Jenny a normal quality of life one day soon.  They deserve nothing less. 

I am sure it was quite scary for Jenny being eight months pregnant when I was at my sickest. Yet, she came up to the hospital every day without fail and was there every time I woke up after 12 brain surgeries.

She is the strongest person that I have ever known and I couldn't do this without her. 

I know that she is under a lot of stress due to her currently being the only bread winner since I am not currently working. It has been hard on her since I lost my independence and have limited mobility. However, I am extremely happy, lucky and thankful to have her by my side.

Next, I want to thank my family. They have all been amazing. My mom came to Spain when I was at my sickest point and she stayed with me every day for six weeks when I was in the hospital in Barcelona.

She slept in an uncomfortable hospital chair and was there every time I opened my eyes. She forced me to eat when all I could have was nasty pureed gruel. 

She saw me at a low point in my recovery yet she stuck by me. I am forever grateful for her unconditional love and support. I am a lucky guy. It must have been a scary experience for her but she faced it with strength and courage. 

I can't forget about my dad. Last year, I spent six months at home in Texas while I was recovering. My dad went to the gym six days a week with me and got m personal trainer. 

I ended up in the best shape of my life. He forced me to work out even when I didn't want to and he worked out right along side me. He also took me swimming daily (until I fell and broke my hand). 

He helped me shower and go to the bathroom when I was unable do it myself. He did it all without complaining. I am sure he was scared seeing me sick and sometimes I hated him for pushing me so hard. However, it was for my own good. I will be forever grateful for his unconditional love and support.

I also need to thank my brothers. Jason and Lucas have been a great help throughout all of this. Always willing to help in any way that they can. I love them both and I am lucky to have them in my life. Jason's wife Lou has also been very kind to me. 

Next, I need to thank my in laws. They have been amazingly supportive during this time and help us out a ton with Eliana. Getting free childcare is not a luxury that everybody has so we are very blessed. 

My father in law has been with me to every one of my hundreds of different medical appointments and he treats me like I am his own son.
My mother in law has been amazing too. Always willing to help me or Eliana anytime that we need it and she drops everything else without complaining. 

 My in laws had no experience with hydrocephalus or any medical condition prior to this but they have been amazing and I am thankful. 

My brother in law and his wife and Jenny 'a younger sister have also been great. My sister in law Rebecca (Daniel' s wife) stayed with me all day in the hospital after one of my failed operations to correct my lazy left eye.

Ana, Jenny 's younger sister has also been a great help. Always willing to help me out any time I need it. I am very thankful for her too.

 I want to thank all of my various doctors and nurses. This has been a long, hard road to recovery but I will get there. They probably could have fixed me faster back home, but I have gotten good care here and they have tried their best.

I want to single out my primary doctor Juan José. Here in Pamplona, you are required to go to the doctor closest to your neighborhood. However, my doctor is located in my in laws neighborhood. We started going there when we lived with them temporarily.

However, he is such a good, kind, caring and trustworthy doctor that we decided not to switch doctors when we moved. Making the drive to see him is worth it. 

I also want to thank my neurosurgeon here. She has been great and really tried everything she knew to get me back to normal life. I am very grateful to her. 

I also need to thank Dr. Poca from Barcelona. She removed all my previous shunt stuff and gave me two new ones that have a special technology that allows them to sync together and not fight against each other.

I need to mention all of my friends and everyone who donated to my GoFundMe. Since I am not working, there selfless financial giving has helped us out a ton. Everyone who follows my English language learning channel Djath English or this blog or my new podcast Talking to Tyler deserves a special shout out.

I am also thankful for Jenny 's boss Martin. I have never met him as he lives in Germany but I always asks how I am doing and he gives Jenny paid time off any time that she needs to help me. He seems like a really nice guy. 

Thank you again to everyone. I love you all and I hope I didn't miss anyone. Til next time, Tyler 

Friday, June 07, 2024

The story behind my scars

I was picked on mercilessly as a kid because I looked different from everyone else due to all my scars from the various surgeries that I have had. As you can imagine kids can be incredibly cruel to someone who looks different. 

As a kid, I grew my hair out long and always tried to comb it in such a way that I could maximize the coverage of the scars on my head. 

As an adult, with no one making fun of me anymore, I have gone the opposite direction and I keep my hair short because of the heat and I never have to comb it. 

My wife Jenny cuts my hair so I haven't paid for a haircut in 8 years. I have had 29 surgeries thus far, if you add them all up. I have one last surgery to straighten my crooked left eye but it should be a piece of cake compared to what I have already been thru.

I look at all of my scars on my head, neck and stomach as a reminder of what I have made it through. I am proud of my scars now even though it looks like I got attacked by a bear! 

That's it for now, Tyler 

Thursday, June 06, 2024

My Politics

I am a lot more liberal than most people back home. However, living abroad has allowed me to compare living in the US vs living abroad.

The US is still a great country but our mentality of do it yourself independence is sometimes to our detriment. 

I believe there is a place for the government to help those in need. No one should go hungry or need to go into life long medical or educational debt. The government should also provide paid maternal /paternal leave and have affordable childcare for working parents. 

You also should not be taxed by your home country if you live abroad. I pay taxes every year to a country whose services I do not use. I pay taxes yet I have no representation, precisely the reason for the Revolutionary War against the British. 

These are basic things that other countries provide. So, the excuse that the US can't do it doesn't fly. It is only that collectively Americans do not have the political will to do it. 

The government should charge more in taxes to everyone but provide the basics for a decent standard of living to everyone. 

This is of course my opinion, you are free to agree or disagree with me. I may take a lot of heat for this blog post but I stand by what I wrote and I am happy to come out of the closet so to speak.

Til next time, Tyler 

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

When I die - my final wishes

No one likes to think about their own eventual death. However, given all the surgeries that I have had and all the time that I have been in the hospital I have had plenty of time to plan for my eventual (and hopefully long off) death.

I have a legally binding Will and medical power of attorney. Additionally, I have planned out my funeral and what to do with my body. 

The only thing that I have not done yet is write my own obituary. That seems like a step to far, even for me. 

Everything is in both English and Spanish. 

I have done all of this because I do not want my loved ones to agonize more over my wishes when I am gone.

Euthanasia is legal here in Spain thank God. However, I have always said that I would never request it unless I get diagnosed with altheimer's disease or another similar disease where I will slowly lose my mental faculties.

I am willing to fight through anything else as long as I have breath in my body. However, I do want to become a burden for my family and slowly waste away. 

At my funeral, I want friends in low places by Garth Brooks played. That has always been my favorite song. I also want everyone to wear festive clothing, black is so drab and depressing. 

I also have what I want written on my headstone but Jenny informed me that due to lack of space, here in Spain you can only get a burial plot for 30 years then they dig you up and give your plot to someone else. 

Since I will be cremated, I decided to put what I was going to write on my headstone, on the urn my ashes will go in. I want it to be inscribed with "Here is a man who got all he ever wanted". 

I want to donate my body to science before I am cremated so hopefully they can learn something. Additionally, I am an organ donor. I want to be cremated as cheaply as possible. I will be dead, no need to spend a ton of money right at the end. 

I have had some health issues as of late but I still consider myself very lucky and I have amazing family and friends. I am very thankful for all of them. I hope to have many more years left with them.

That is all I wanted to say for now. Even if you don't agree with all of my decisions thank you for taking the time to read this. I wrote this blog post to inform everyone and to have another written record of my final wishes.