Mi Poesia

"Eres poesía en mis noches de insomnio llenas de melancolía eres mi deseo de la vida en mis horas perdidas..."--Jackselins Arteaga

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Living with Keratoconus

The Beginning

When I was about 17 years old I noticed my eyesight started to fluctuate. I could see well one day and the next I couldn't. As I brought this to my mother’s attention she immediate took to an optometrist and I was told I had astigmatism. For years, this was the only prognosis but as I got older I became worried because I could not stand the sun light in my eyes, even when it was cloudy I was in pain. So I wore sun glasses when I was out all the time.

People might have thought I was conceited for always wearing sun glasses. At the time, even my husband thought I wanted sun glasses to follow a trend and probably did not believe me when I told him the sunlight hurt my eyes. So when I decided to change optometrist for a second opinion I took him with me because I was going to have my eyes dilated.  You know dilation, right? Well, dilation is when the optometrist puts eye drops in your eyes to get a better understanding of your eyesight.  This process causes your pupils to become larger and sensitive to light, that is why you get those annoying plastic glasses. 
This is what dilation is. Thanks Google!














The Diagnosis

This new optometrist, Dr. Pham, at The Sharper Vision www.thesharpervision.net, told me I had something other than astigmatism. She explained my cornea was not normal, it was cone shaped, and I had and still have Keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

“What is this disease?”  I asked. And she explained so the way I understand it is that it is an eye disease that affects the way the cornea is shaped, its structure. See, a normal and healthy cornea is round and it directs lights and imagery to the center of the eye. My cornea is still round but it becomes thin in certain area, this thinning causes it to bulge and forming a cone, sort of. This shape sends everything all over the place causing blurriness.

Also at night, the lamp posts, bulbs lights, Christmas lights, the moon, anything that gives out light in my eyes they are “angels” as I secretly call them because they all have halos.


The difference between a normal eye and an eye with the disease.

















The way I see. In the positive side, life is always shinning.









Dr. Pham explained to me about the halos without me ever telling her anything and that is when I realized it was serious. I became worried, I was scared. My glasses were thicker and I did not qualify for contact lenses.

Moving on without hope

A couple of years later, when my husband was being tested to see if he was a candidate for Lasik, I did my test too. I was praying and hoping I was also a candidate. I was told I could possibly qualify but more tests needed to be done to see if it was anything other than Keratoconus. My husband had his surgery and everything went well with him.

Then we moved to North Texas (NTX from now on) and I had to do my annual eye exam so I had to choose a new optometrist and I went for one that had very good reputation because they are one of the leading eye care doctors in the area. On my first appointment, I decided not to mention anything of my disease since I wanted their opinion. Again, they confirmed I have the disease and my doctor recommended I use RGP lenses; these are Rigid Gas Permeable lenses, fitted to the cornea and are best known as hard contacts. The job of the RGP’s is to flatten the bulge in the cornea so to help it become semi normal and halt the progress.

Wearing RGP’s

These contacts are indeed hard and so damn uncomfortable, in my experience. I had never worn any type of contacts so this was the first time inserting something in my eyes. The vision was better but the sensation I could not take. I wore them for about 4 hours the first times then I had to remove them because my eyes got so red I probably looked high all the time. Or I looked as if I cried for hours. But my eyes began to accept them and I was able to leave them longer and I became a happy camper.

One day, I was taking them off after I got home and I was cleaning them, I pressed a bit too hard and broke one. Bummer! I had spent too much on the contacts so I was upset at myself. Good thing, a year had passed and I could go have another annual exam but I did not want to go to the same optometrist so I went to a different one.

This time I chose Ford Eye Center www.fordeyecenter.com, here my doctor us Dr. Baker and luckily for me, this is it. No more looking for the perfect eye care professional. He has been the most honest and helpful of them all in NTX. Dr. Baker took my cornea measurements and ordered my new contact lenses. When I had to pay for them I discovered the previous eye center had ripped me off!! They are expensive but not double or triple the amount, damn!

Speaking to Dr. Baker was easy and I trusted his advice (maybe because he also graduated from UH) so he told me that there was a group of doctors in NTX, Dallas to be exact, that were cornea professionals and were doing a treatment for Keratoconus. He said that when I was ready he would refer me to them, to Texas Cornea Associates www.corneatexas.com .
After that talk, I immediately began my research. What where the possibilities to cure or treat my disease? I learned that there was a study being done in the U.S.  This study is called Crosslinking or CXL and this has been a treatment done for years in Europe but it is in its early years in the nation and so the FDA has not approved it yet; which means that the insurance companies do not cover it. Another hiccup.
My research brought so much hope to me that I spoke to my husband, enlightened him and took the first steps to making this happen. Research for doctors in NTX and in Houston, I checked their treatments and called at least 5 of them to get more information and better explanation. I checked the studies they belonged to and finally chose the Texas Cornea Associates.

My First visit

In April, we went to our first appointment. It was to see if I qualified for the surgery and I had extensive tests done. First, a regular eye exam, dilation and all; then I had my cornea measured with this soft ball instrument that touches the surface of my cornea momentarily. This gives the doctor the thickness of the cornea and of course which eye needs more treatment.

My physician here was Dr. McCall, he explained in detail the entire process and he never sugar coated anything about it. I truly appreciate his honesty as well. He has a passion for his profession and that is something I admire of a person. 

What is CXL?

Dr. McCall explained how this procedure worked. He told me that it consisted in putting riboflavin (Vitamin B2)  drops in the eye for about 1 hour and the sealing it with UV light for about 30 minutes. He said the entire process would be approximately 2 hours. The drops restore and strengthen the collagen fibers.

A normal cornea sort of looks like a brick wall and a cornea like mine looks like a brick wall with longer bricks. So the treatment help the cornea get a thicker in hopes of halting the progress.  Exciting, I know.


Dr. McCall told me that my disease was moderate and that I should seriously consider getting this done more sooner than later. He said that if it progressed at a faster rate, my other option would be a cornea transplant which he wanted to avoid me. He explained everything in such a way that I began trusting him with my eyes. He told us the price per eye would be $2500 and that the study consisted of a year in which I had to attend visits every 3 months to see the progress. Also, he explained that this was not a cure but merely a prevention process.  He asked if we wanted to set up the surgery date or if we needed time.

Of course, I needed time; I had just heard something I was terrified of. We left and went out to eat, there we discussed our budget and the what- ifs. And soon, I began doing more research, this time I wanted to know what future treatments there were but I could not find more.
Finally, I made the appointment. I was told I would only need 3 days to recover and that was it, so I asked for a Friday, I didn't want to miss any more days from work. I was given a pre-op appointment and was told to stop wearing contacts two weeks prior to the appointment. Since I hated the contacts, I stopped two weeks prior to my first appointment with them. And my pre-op was for July 29, surgery date August 1.

The Procedure

The week of the surgery I swore I was not nervous at all; however, I had such a bad pain on the side of my stomach throughout the week. I talked to my coworker about it and she told me “Wow, you are that stressed out about your surgery.” That is when it hit me, I was freaking out about it but I was acting strong in front of everyone. I was freaking out so much I became very sensible and almost wept for stupid things.
On August 1, the Friday, I had to be at the appointment at 1 PM. My husband and sisters went with me and thankfully they were in the room throughout.  They kept me positive and I couldn't be more thankful.

Getting ready for the surgery
As soon as I get there, I am giving numbing eye drops constantly and another drop to lubricate the eyes and prepare them for the good stuff, the riboflavin. This went on for probably 30 minutes. Then the doctor opens my eyes with these instruments, and then I hear my husband say “I've never seen her more surprised to see me.” We all laughed, I think I laughed because I was nervous. Then the doctor checks my eyes and says we are ready and lays me flat. He explains the rest of the procedure: with the help of surgical sponges he will soak them with riboflavin and rub the cornea and leave it in place, constantly putting more vitamin and moving it so the cornea gets soaked.

As I am lying down, I notice a target on the ceiling and as I have the sponges on my eyes this target has many shapes. The wonderful technician eased my time there by making conversation with all of us in the room. And I tell her that my right eye is the sensitive one because I can feel the sponge in my eyeball. She tells me that that is common, we all have dominant body parts and eyes are no exception. She said “Your eyesight is better on your right eye and if you are feeling it is because it’s your dominant eye.”  Great, but numbing it more could have dominated the pain afterwards, probably.

At the end of this session, the doctor come in and measured the thickness of my corneas. And yay! The procedure increased its thickness which so far means that it worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And lastly, the treatment had to be sealed with UV light, the light that the dentists use to seal fillings but this one is especially calibrated for this CXL.  This process would last 30 minutes with 15 second periods and then the light would go off for a brief moment, very brief. I saw a bright purple dot and surrounding it was a bright neon green light. I told this to the technician and she told me the neon light was a reflection of my eyes. She said that when the doctors check our eyes with the bright light the eye transparent and that color. Whoa, how awesome is that?!?

Then the doctor arrived and I sighed in relief. He checked my eyes again and said it sealed wonderfully. He told me to get ready for the fun part, he said that in 10 minutes the pain would kick in and gave me pain sedative in eye drop form. He warned me to use it every hour to calm the pain but not to abuse it because I would only prolong the pain. He told me to take the hydrocodone pills he has prescribed on the day of the pre-op and use the other drops accordingly.

Hell, he was not kidding when he said the pain would start soon. As soon as I stepped foot outside I began a day in hell. It was traffic time and the drive home could not have been worse. My left eye became the first to act up. Although, I had my eyes shut closed and was wearing sun glasses, the light was such a nightmare.  I inclined the seat and begged my sister to put on an eye drop on my eye. To put the eye drop, I had to force my eye open. The pain disappeared for about 10 minutes or less and then the other eye begins.

I know my pain tolerance is like zero but who would really tolerate this pain? It’s a stinging pain that no hydrocodone or pain sedative could calm. As we get home, my husband helps me get off the car; he walks me inside and takes me to bed. At this moment, I released everything I was feeling before the surgery, I was afraid and nervous and now pain, so I cried because of all this. I continued to be afraid but this time because I wasn't sure if this pain was normal after the surgery or if it was because my eyes were not accepting what had just happened or where my eyes falling off?

The pain was so that I couldn't be in the bed, I fell on my knees and the stupid hydrocodone never kicked in. I lied on bed, got up, came out of the bedroom, roamed around the house with my eyes closed and my glasses. I was careful because I didn't want to fall and mess the result. Stupid, I know. It’s not like my eyes here just glued on. But at this moment, I was allowed to be a drama queen. I was allowed to whine. I was entitled to my suffering.

It had been a long day and I felt bad for my husband and sister, I felt I was keeping them from having a tranquil weekend. So when I decided to move into our closet, I wanted to be alone and I was for a bit and then both walked in and made me company. They were in a very dark room with a very whiny girl. They were awesome to me and that helped ease the pain and the process. For a few hours I stayed in the closet in pain with no way to think of anything else. Apparently, pain does not allow one to focus on anything else but the pain. Unless one gets used to pain, I guess.

At night, I moved back to the bedroom and lied in bed, the pain was still the same and I remembered that the technician told me it would feel like a sun burn but in the eyes. So she said to use ice bags over my eyes to calm the pain. Well my husband brought the ice but did not help, it bothered me more. So I told him to get me tea bags dipped in frozen water. That helped wonders and for a few minutes with the help of hydrocodone, I was able to sleep. Then I woke up and I told my husband the pain was gone. Yeah right! As I was falling back to sleep, I am interrupted by the stinging pain. My night was a rough one.

On Saturday morning, I get up, tired in pain and with my eyes closed. I take a shower with my eyes closed and carefully making sure water does not get into my eyes. When I dry my face, I gently tap it so I don’t hurt my eyes. And then off we go to the doctor for follow up. He tells me the procedure went great and that everything is great. We came back home and I spent the time lying around. The pain subsided and the pain killer finally kills what's left of it, so I can sleep. YAY!!

Scooby taking care of me and my crusty eyes
When I wake up around 4 pm, my husband is watching Tengo ganas de ti, a Spanish movie starring Mario Casas (a great actor). So, I wake up to see the face of Casas on the screen and I am in shock, I feel my vision has improved and I start crying. See before, without glasses I could see a blurry face on TV and this day I saw his face clear. I saw my husband’s face clearly. I am happy, I am stoked. I am grateful to our Father Lord and my husband and sister, Lana and , too. 

Today, a week later, I am still improving, still putting drops to help the eyes heal. I am back to my normal routine.

Today, I know that no one yet knows what causes Keratoconus. It’s believed to be genetic and that it possibly skips a generation. I don’t know. It’s also believed that the rubbing of the eyes worsens the disease if you have it, not really causes it.

Today, all I want is to spread the awareness and hope surrounding this disease. I want you to be thankful for your healthy eyes or your faulty eyes, none the less, grateful.  I want you to not judge anyone because you never know how heavy their cross is.

Today, I want to thank the amazing doctors and technicians who have helped me through this journey.
God bless!


Ellie

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scooby Doo, Where are you?


Trip to the park
A beautiful big dog was chained (a long chain) in the middle of a yellow-grassed, side-fence-down backyard. The community was relatively new and it was rare to see a new home with a fence down but we were still interested in that house, mainly because of the big yard.

Our realtor took us to explore the house and told us that the owners would be there. It was awkward. When we went to the second floor, we noticed three kennels, two small sized and one pretty big. We continued walking through the home and came back down stairs to go out to the back yard and oh my, there he was.

A lovely and playful big brown dog! As I walked out he came up to me and stood up putting his front legs on my shoulders. He was a tall as me! Shocker!  I thought he was adorable, and although he looked mean, I didn't fear him.

We walked back inside and I told the lady of the house that she had a very cute pup and her husband immediately said “Do you want him? You can take him.” Wait, what had he just said? I looked toward my husband and I smiled but we brushed that comment off thinking it was a joke. We continued looking and finally left.

It is a Chihuahua not a Great Dane bed. Lap dog complex.
A few days later, our realtor calls and says that the homeowners had contacted her and wanted to know if we really wanted the dog. We had wanted a second dog but not yet, our home was being built and our rental asked for a ridiculous pet deposit. So we thought it hard and decided to do a sort of weekend visitation only. Just like divorced parents; he came to us on the weekends to get to socialize with Lana and Sunday night he would go back to his original parents until our home was finished or until they sold their home (whichever came first).

During one of these visitations, we learned he was a very curious doggy and since the fence has wood he couldn't see outside and when he heard kids he jumped and poked to fence with his nose or threw his body against it until it tumbled over. He did it many times. And so did he at our rental. He broke one of the boards to the street and another to the back neighbors. In the broken board to the street, Lana thought she could fit and got stuck in betweenJ. She was making a run for it but I was watching and thought it was hilarious.
That is how they tend to sleep. It is such a beautiful thing to witness. 

Every one likes him but there is absolutely one thing that bothers me, as a mom, why would people tell me he is much cuter that the other one (Lana)? Why? It’s not like I go and tell them one of their children is cuter than the other. Come on people, have some sensibility! Just because I am human and they are dog does not mean I care less about them. We are their parents, not blood parents but pure love parents. We care about them both as if they were our human children. Yes, we don’t put diapers on them or dress them or take them to church with us. But we feed them, protect them, take them to the vet, and worry about them. If either is down and not eating, we worry. If they are exhausted after a long run/walk at the park, we feel for them. That is why they don’t live outside. We play with them and take them to classes. 

They have their occasional play dates at the dog park. If we didn’t care about our fur kids, we would never drive four hours just to leave them in a safe and trusted place when we need to go out of town. We love them because it is a wonderful feeling. A feeling that is rewarded every day after we come home from work. They both welcome us as if they have never seen us, even if you just go out to take out the trash. So why tell me one is cuter that the other? Clearly they haven’t experience this kind of love.

We also found out he loves children, the homeowners had a toddler and he was her pony. He also lived with two small yapping dogs, so he has such patience with little dogs at the park.

They love to hike.
One day, he and Lana got into a minute brief territory argument, a physical one. Blood was involved. Scooby had some scratches and we were scared his parents would think we were bad adoptive parents, so we decided to keep him forever. We called them and told them that it was time for us to keep him. They were happy and we were praying Lana learned to love this pup.

Little by little they both started to hang out together, to play and to share our love. And we became a very happy family.

Scooby is such a lovable pet, he thinks himself a lap dog. Well no, he is thinly challenged, 100lbs or so. He has been on a diet so he is leaner.

He has become the balance for Lana, she has so much energy and he calms her down. He is such a big baby and she is so independent and tough. Total opposites!  He whines so much and is such a scaredy-cat (no pun intended, Scoobs.); But oh so lovely, he protects Lana and she protects him. They can't be apart from each other too long or they will cry their heart out and annoy the hell out of you. They share beds even though each has one. 

They love us unconditionally.


Ellie

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Roadtrip, Vol. 2

Llegando a NYC


Después de haber pasado unos días geniales en Virginia partimos por la tarde del sábado hacia New York. Teníamos anticipado llegar a New Jersey primero para pasar la noche allí pero decidimos irnos hasta NYC.

¡Ah! Y otra vez  como íbamos viviendo el momento y espontáneamente parábamos en donde nos parecía, no hicimos reservaciones. Un error tal vez pero también una aventura.  Nos topamos con todos los hoteles hasta el tope.  Pero gracias a la tecnología y después de más de una hora buscando mientras manejábamos  logramos encontrar un cuarto disponible.  ¡Uno con una cama para 3 personas!  Y era chiquitito pero como ya eran cerca de las 2 de la mañana, no nos importó pues solo queríamos dormir. Nos quedamos en La Quinta Inn Manhattan.  La mañana siguiente después de desayunar regresamos al cuarto a prepararnos para disfrutar del día  en la Gran Manzana.

Desde el Empire State Building
Cuando llegamos en la noche la ciudad era totalmente diferente, todos los gatos salen y no todos son pardos J. Las calles son oscuras pero los reflectores son incesantes. El tráfico es más loco que de día y el ajetreo de la gente es de colores, brillos y olores. Pero durante el día la ciudad se desenvuelve con la luz del sol y los imponentes edificios comienzan a revelarse. En realidad es una selva de concreto.
Entrando al Empire State Building

Nuestra primera parada fue el Empire State Building y subimos hasta los observatorios de donde pudimos ver toda la ciudad a 360°. ¡Es impresionante! Después de allí caminamos por todo una eternidad, bueno, eso me pareció a mí porque fueron cuadras y cuadras hasta llegar a Central Park.


En Central Park

El parque es un pulmón para tan gran ciudad. Es pequeño en comparación a tan inmensa e intensa ciudad. Una vez en el parque caminamos aún más pero valió la pena el dolor de pies porque está lleno de alegría, de vibra, de curiosidades, pero sobre todo de vida. Vida desde la que brota de esos árboles hasta la que brota de cada célula viva en patines.

Ven a los novios? Estan en plena sesion fotografica.
Fuimos “testigos” de una boda, y también de que la edad es relativa y que la vida es corta pues vimos a gente de todas las edades divertirse y gozar la vida a mil. Esa fue una tarde hermosa, con el clima perfecto y la compañía perfecta. Así que propuse  ir al 9/11 Memorial pero no teníamos mucho tiempo y decidimos caminar de regreso disfrutando de la ciudad. Hicimos paradas en diferentes shops buscando los famosos macaroons porque según mi hermana solo había hecho este largo viaje por esta delicia francesa. ¿En serio, Jacks? Me hubieses dicho y te hago uno, bueno mucho después. Lo bueno es que por fin los encontramos y no en una panadería francesa  sino en una cafetería ¡¡asiática!! Ya saben, chafas no, pues seguro fueron hechos en China, ja, ja, ja  J Y no eran tamaño regular eran minis y los de menta sabias a chino, booUna vez y conseguimos los benditos macaroons, regresamos al hotel a recoger nuestro equipaje y nos marchamos de la Gran Manzana hacia Massachusetts. Pero el estado de NY es precioso, el camino aunque de noche fue bello.

La "casita" que es la parada del autobus.
De madrugada llegamos a Cape Cod. Llegamos a un hotelito precioso en Falmouth, seguro que en sus gloriosos años era una hermosa casa. El cuarto era muy acogedor y debo confesar que tenía un poco de miedo. Pensé en la gente que vivió allí y ¿Qué tal si espantan? ¡Uyy, que mello!  Pero tenía que dormir así que como buena mujer valiente, caí como tronco. Y si me espantaron, ni cuenta me di.
En la mañana siguiente nos despertamos y nos aseamos y fuimos a devorar el desayuno gratuito. Cuando salimos de cuarto me di cuenta de lo hermoso del jardín. Era un hotelito simplemente bello y de día aún más.  
Salimos del hotel rumbo a Hyannis Port, era la ciudad a la cual tanto ansiaba llegar. Esperaba llegar pronto porque era allí donde por fin veríamos a los mamíferos más grandes sobre esta tierra, las bellenas Humpback. El camino para llegar allí fue increíble, pasamos por uno pueblos, wow, bonitos, hermosos, lindos;  muy americanos e

n por sus casas, por sus calles y shops, incluso las paradas de autobuses las cuales son unas casitas muy bonitas y de las cuales solo pude tomar una foto rapidita.

Hermoso, no?
Cuando llegamos al lugar de donde partiríamos, compramos los boletos y el guía del estacionamiento nos recomendó ir a la playa de la comunidad. Y ¡wow, que playa! HERMOSA. Comencemos con el día esplendoroso con un clima envidiable.  El señor sol calentaba perfectamente bien. El cielo azulado combinaba perfectamente y en armonía con el agua atlántica, Y la arena blanca eran unos granitos que masajeaban tus pies con una delicadeza súper deliciosa. Me sentía en el cielo, me sentía tan consentida por Papá Dios, que no podía dejar de darle gracias. Estuvimos allí encantados por unos 30 a 45 minutos, en realidad perdimos la noción del tiempo.

:)




La colita de la ballenita.
Después caminamos de regreso a abordar el barco y lueguito después, ¡Mar adentro! Y que se pone bien frio, nublado y yo muriéndome congelada. Duramos en camino como una hora y media hasta llegar al lugar donde las ballenas se reúnen. Cuando llegamos allí y vimos la primera ballena, se me quito el frio. Me sentía como una pequeñina con juguete nuevo, reía, gritaba y hasta les hecha porras cuando la ballenotas hacían su show. Un show sin entrenador, sin goldes, ni castigos, sin estar confinadas a un pequeño tanque de agua. No, este fue un show voluntario, un show sumamente increíble. No saltaron pero si salieron y chapotearon. Son unos mamíferos enormes y muy hambrientos y demasiado simpáticos. Fue una experiencia fenomenal y estoy deseando repetirla pronto. Ahora quiero ver las Orcas.

Esta es la cascada de Encaje.
Cascada de Encaje al final de Natural Bridge.




















De Cape Cod emprendimos nuestro regreso a casa. Manejamos toda la noche y en el día llegamos a Virginia y allí hicimos unos turisteada impromptu. Visitamos Natural Bridge, una atracción turística hermosa y hay tan pocas palabras para describir todo lo maravilloso de este lugar. Árboles que parecen sin fin pero que son relativamente pocos al comparar con lo que el mundo necesita. Un arroyo que recorre todo el lugar y el agua es tan transparente como el aire fresco que se respira allí. Nos quitamos los zapatos y entramos en este arroyo, nos sentamos a disfrutar todo lo que la naturaleza nos ofrecía.

Entrando a la gran sala de las cavernas Natural Bridge.
Después llegamos al final donde hay una cascada y luego nos regresamos y entramos el museo de cera dedicado a la historia de Estados Unidos y donde en realidad era espeluznante. Al final hay un cuarto que asemeja la Ultima Cena y hay bancas de iglesia y “personas” de cera sentadas. Esto si que me dio un miedo y no sé por qué.

Los ingredientes de la naturaleza: agua, piedra y tiempo.
Y para finalizar pasamos a las cavernas, eran unas cavernas súper frías. Pero eran lo que yo esperaba de las cavernas, unas “crudas” sin retoques ni accesorios para hacerlas lucir bonitas. No, las cavernas no tienes que ser bonitas, son formaciones de roca y eso es lo que las hace preciosas. El detalle que la naturaleza y Dios tienen al ir formando la roca. Entrar a estos lugares fue la cereza encima del pastel. Fueron unos días perfectos e increíbles y les recomiendo aventurarse así en donde vivan. Conocer lo que hace su país bello y a quienes lo hacen humano es lo mejor que pueden lograr en esta vida.
La historia de U.S.A en cera.

Espero hayan disfrutado de mis relatos y le comparto estas fotitos para deleitar su pupilas. ¡Ciao!

Ellie




Friday, November 15, 2013

Feeling blessed

Lana and Scooby ready for a day out
As I drove today to the bank I couldn’t help but reminisce on how fortunate and blessed I am. I thought of the day I drove our dogs to my parents’ home in Houston. It was over a month ago because we were leaving to a friend’s wedding in Illinois. Why did I drive over 4 hours to drop off my pets? Well, why not? Yes, I could have left them at the boarding place but we couldn’t. We could not do that to them, not because they are not good but because they would be caged and only taken out a few times a day for a few minutes. They would not be able to be free to socialize. Granted, Lana is bad at socializing but still they would be caged.

Lana being Lana, on a tree at the park.
Anyway, that is not why I feel blessed. I feel blessed for the following reason, when we go to Houston it’s all of us together; our pets, my husband and I. This time I was going alone with them and expected both Lana and Scooby to fall asleep 30 minutes into the trip. Yeah, that didn’t happen with Lana.

Lana is our first pet, a rescued pit mix. We saved her from getting run over on a busy freeway. She was so fragile, so thin, malnourished and very afraid. We thought she might have all kind of diseases and that she might be put to sleep. We thought about everything but we took her with us. Prior to Lana, we thought of adopting a dog but had not planned on a date. So we got her that late night in March and took her home and then we went to Wal-Mart (the only store open at that time) and bought her a bed, food, bowls and we realized we already loved her.

It was a weekend so we waited until Monday to take her to the vet and to our surprise she was completely healthy just malnourished. We were so happy that there was no question she would leave our side ever. She was a street dog and we thought she would be bad but she was smarter than we thought. She was street smart and she was such a lovely dog, a loveable friend, pup daughter.

So that day we drove to Houston, Lana didn’t fall to sleep at all. She stood up all the way until we got to my parents. She kept watching over me, keeping me company. She was all the way back but I could see her through the mirror. I told her several times to lie down or sit but she never did. She kept moving her head and looked at me and wagged her tail. After a few times, I knew she wanted to sort of take care of me. So I thanked her and let her be Lana. And when I went back to get them a week later, she did exactly the same thing. And that is why I feel blessed and fortunate, yes because our dogs, because of their unconditional love and protection. 

What/Who is your reason to feel blessed?


Ellie

Monday, November 11, 2013

Road Trip ¡Vamonos!


Sientes el calor del fin del verano y el otoño se acerca. Tantos planes y ajetreos se acercan. La paz pronto saldrá y las prisas impondrán. Pero antes que la puertas de este tiempo brutal se abran planeamos unos días fuera de este lugar.
En el camino hacia lugares desconocidos.


Y que nos llueve
Hicimos planes, pedimos las anheladas vacas, al fin y son pagadas, así que ¿por qué no? Nos sentamos, escribíamos y anotábamos. Veíamos el mapa una y otra vez, acercábamos a los pueblos y buscamos las manchitas verdes que generalmente dice “Hola, aquí hay árboles” y lo marcamos como posibilidad. Buscamos los parques nacionales e indagamos hasta donde se dormían los osos, digo, para evitar molestarles y ser devorados por ellos. Eso no es nada agradable supongo, no queriamos empacharlos. 

Mountains!!!!
Nos embarcaríamos en un road trip, no sería el típico que hacemos de vez en cuando dentro del estado. Sería mejor, mejor en todos los sentidos porque hicimos todo menos reservar hoteles. Se nos pasó ese pequeñito detalle, pero pues hay suficientes hoteles, ¿verdad? Pues sí pero todo lleno, ¡aun es verano! Estación hermosa y temporada pico del turismo.
More mountains or the same.

Logramos adentrarnos en el país y conseguir un cuarto a donde llegábamos. Llegamos a Nashville, TN primero, estuvimos allí solo para el almuerzo y  vimos la prestigiosa y privadísima universidad Vanderbilt, solo de lejitos pero nos encantó el área cercana a esta institución. Después pasamos por otro campus universitario de la también privada Belmont. El área sur de esta ciudad es muy bonita, joven, vibrante y ¡ah! como me recordó mis tiempos de universitaria.

Beautiful!

La carretera en Tennessee es súper larga pero por los gigantes verdes erectos diciendo “sigue, sigue, si se puede” te aliviana un poco el ánimo y hasta es agradable manejar ese camino. Y luego entramos a Virginia y este sí que fue un estado increíble, sus paisajes y montanas impresionantes y nos enamoraron. Imagina manejar y a ambos lados de la carretera ves líneas grises curveadas a lo lejos que se confunden con las nubes cargaditas de agua. Y entre más te acercas notas la magnitud de esas montañas, Blue Ridge y Ridge and Valley Appalachians. Es maravilloso ver tanta naturaleza cerca de ti, tantos milagros que Dios creo para nosotros y es imposible no emocionarte. Bueno al menos yo pues en Texas solo hay lomitas y aunque pequeñitas, algo bonitas.

Virginia's sun rise. El amanecer en Virginia.


Una vez establecidos allí en el Shenandoa Valley  no podíamos esperar  la mañana pues queríamos ya salir a explorar. Teníamos nuestras hiking boots listas y puestas y así nos dimos a la tarea de llegar hasta Luray donde nos esperaba una más de nuestras aventuras con la naturaleza. Y valla que esta te roba suspiros y no puedes dejar de agradecer a la vida y a Dios por tanto y tantas bendiciones. Tan solo de pensar se asoma una lagrimilla por estos ojos miel.

El pozo de los deseos. The wishing well.

Entrada a las cavernas
Visitamos en este hermoso valle las Cavernas de Luray, las cuales son casi, casi falsas de tan perfectas y bonitas que están. Cuando llegas al lugar tienes una vista espectacular de las montañas y al entrar al lugar no sabes que esperar pues quieres devorar con tu mirada todo lo que ves y es tanto y tan hermoso que te empalaga de una manera súper bonita. Fue verdaderamente hermoso porque lo compartes con la persona que más amas es este mundo y con una chiquilla que te robo tu corazón desde el primer momento en que la conociste.
Perfect water reflection. Reflexion perfecta en el agua. 

America, America!!
Salimos de Shenandoah Valley hacia D.C y es una ciudad preciosa y no puedes creer que exista tanto poder y lagarto allí. Llegamos a una Casa Blanca sin presidente pues también se tomó sus vacaciones pero es impresionante llegar allí y percibir tanta historia tan solo con verla. Había cientos de turistas de todo el mundo, y solo eran turistas, más los turistas nacionales como nosotros. Es hermoso escuchar tantos idiomas a la misma vez. Mi anécdota y momento rubio fue cuando un turista nos ve caminando al lado del edificio del Departamento del Tesoro y me pregunta lo siguiente: Turi: “Disculpa, me puedes decir donde está la Casa Blanca” Yo: “Si por supuesto, es aquí.” Y apunto al Dpto. del Tesoro y se me queda viendo como diciendo “esta no es blanca” lo bueno que mi esposo me rescato y le dijo, “No, vallase derecho y dobla a la izquierda y la vera.” Después mi esposo y mi hermana se burlaron de mí y yo también pues estaba más norteada que un GPS en crisis. 



The Washington Monument
The Great Lincoln

Caminamos al Washington Monument, el cual están reparando y luego volteamos y vimos el monumento a Lincoln. Ese es uno de mis presidentes favoritos y teníamos que llegar hasta él. Caminamos tanto, subimos escaleras sin fin pero valió la pena. Llegamos hasta las columnas de mármol blanco que reguardan a este gran hombre. Y luego lo vimos, sentado en esa silla como cuando ves esas películas de superhéroes y ves a los dioses sentados en un sillón sobre un pedestal. Pues así lo vi yo. Fue algo súper emocionante.
Mi otra mitad y yo refejando en nuestras bendiciones


NYC & Cape Cod coming soon…







Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gracias

¿Cuantas veces nos quejamos de lo malo que nos sucede? Seguro que muchas, yo lo he hecho y supongo que seguirá pasando. Inconscientemente pero seguirá, es la naturaleza humana tal vez. Aunque no se puede negar, creo que entre más “vieja” me hago más madura, no solo en el aspecto personal pero también  en el espiritual. Siempre he recurrido a Papá Dios pero en estos últimos meses mucho más. ¿Porque? Me llena mucho y me siento mucho más cercana a mis abuelitos. Ellos fueron muy devotos y aunque ya no este físicamente con nosotros siento que es así mi manera de honrar su memoria. Pero también porque de esta alimento mi fe, mis creencia y mis convicciones, sin dejar de caducar.

Recuerdo un domingo durante la homilía dijo el sacerdote que los seres humanos tendemos a quejarnos de todo. Si es malo porque es malo y si es bueno pues porque es bueno. Dijo que nunca nos sentimos felices con lo que tenemos o nos rodea y que esto no nos deja razonar bien porque en realidad lo que estamos haciendo es renegar de lo mucho que Papá Dios nos da, que no somos agradecidos con Él. Y tristemente es verdad.  ¿Cuantas veces no lo hacemos hasta varias veces en el día?

Que si mi compañera del trabajo me enfureció y alucino con jalarle las orejas o peor, bofetearle.  Que si mis papás no entienden mi vida y a mis hermanos ni les importo. ¿En serio? O que si la bendita de no sé quién no se merece al ascenso en el trabajo o a esa guapura de monumento descartado.

¿Cuantas veces no damos el valor suficiente a quienes en realidad se lo merecen?  Lo que sucede es que somos egoístas y no pensamos en los demás.

Yo no soy mejor que nadie y no estoy exenta de esto pero trato y como he escuchado por allí, todo éxito comienza con la decisión de querer y poder, de tratar y hacer. Por eso cuando me siento en complaining mode le pienso dos veces y veo a mi alrededor. Y veo mis bendiciones. Tengo un marido excepcional a quien amo con todo mí ser. Tengo dos mascotas increíbles que no dudarían un segundo en demostrarme su amor y lealtad. Claro no saldría libre de los rasguños o mordidas pero fieles mis perritos. Veo hacia afuera y veo ese cielo tan azulado con nubes de algodón. Veo los arboles verdemente apasionados. Escucho los pajarillos y al perro enfadoso del vecino (que parce que se ha estropeado el switch de off). Todo esto lo pongo en perspectiva y no puedo evitar darle gracias a Él por darme vida y salud para disfrutar de todo y todas las bellezas de esta vida, de este mundo.

Ustedes también háganlo, trátenlo y verán que serán mucho más felices y dejaran la personalidad grinch atrás.  Recuerden que no se puede extrañar algo que nunca se he tenido y que uno comienza a sanar cuando el primer pensamiento del día ya no es para él/ella.  

Les dejo esta foto, mi manera de sentirme bendecida inmensamente. 
En Cape Cod 


J Ellie

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beam me up, Abuelitos,

“¿Y ese mono como se llama, mija?”
“Ken”
“Ese”
“Ken”
“Ah, muchachita, ¿estás jugando conmigo, verdad?”
“No, abuelito, así se llama el muñeco.”

Recuerdo esta anécdota con tanto cariño. Esto sucedió un domingo durante mi hermosa niñez en casa de mis adorados abuelitos. Estábamos jugando mi prima y yo encima de un lavadero con nuestras barbies y por supuesto con Ken. Él se nos acercó y al vernos súper entradas en el juego nos preguntó eso. Penso que yo le estaba preguntando "¿quien? :) 

Los domingos en casa de mis abuelos eran mágicos, especiales e inolvidables. Esos viejitos nos dieron tantas lecciones de vida, tanto apoyo e infinito amor. Tuvieron una familia excepcional a la cual criaron con tantos valores y humildad.

Mi abuelito era un hombre como pocos, sencillo, platicador, respetuoso, honrado, honorable y siempre muy servicial. Que se nos rompía la tubería del agua y mi abuelito allí estaba. Que alguien necesitaba su ayuda y él allí estaba. Wow, era un hombre con un ángel  enorme y no puedo evitar sentirme orgullosa de él pero sobre todo sentir una gran nostalgia de no tenerle más con nosotros. 

Mi abuelita era como decimos ‘un pan de Dios’, una mujer integra  y con los mismos calificativos que mi abuelito. No recuerdo nunca verles enojados, pero sé que llevan un dolor muy grande por la pérdida de mi tío desde antes que yo naciera. Eso le arrugaba el corazón a mi abuelita y seguro que mi abuelo también. A ella le ponía sus ojitos tristes y no había un día que no recordara a su hijo.   Hoy sé que ya se han reunido en el cielo y que desde allí nos cuidan los tres.

Me hubiese gustado compartir mucho más con ellos y poder decirle que les amo y que me hacen tanta falta. Que hay días en que me duele el alma y necesito una palabra de aliento de ellos. No creo ser la única que los extrañe tanto porque sé que a mi mamá también le hacen infinidad de falta. Cuando ellos vivían eran los pilares de la familia, el corazón que bombeaba amor entre todos y las arterias por donde la harmonía fluía. Esto paso a la historia y por soberbia, orgullo, codicia o lo que sea, se ha roto.

Hemos olvidado lo que en realidad importa y el valor más grande que los abuelos nos dejaron, la familia. No sé cuándo ese malentendido se arregle pero creo que la vida es tan corta e impredecible que vale la pena ser the bigger person. Pensemos en los valores que nos inculcan y olvidemos lo material que eso no cabe en el ataúd y las guerras perduran. Seamos buenos ejemplos y pasemos esos valores a nuestros hijos. Que ganamos con decir somos tal y tal y tengo tanto cuando lo que necesitamos está ausente.

Sé que los abuelos estarían contentos de vernos unidos como antes. En lo que este día llega, prefiero recordar los viejos tiempos junto a nuestros viejitos. Y esta canción Beam me up de Pink es tan propia para ellos.