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Month: October 2018

My New Normal

Sometimes I forget what my life used to be like…


What did I worry about before brain tumors came into the picture?


What was it like being able to hear people whisper?


How nice was it to not hear ringing in my ears?


It’s so strange to think back on just three years ago when I never even considered having an MRI and thought I had at least fifty more years before hearing tests would become a routine part of my life.


I can’t believe how quickly this has become normal to me.


A year ago, the thought of my tumors growing terrified me. Like even the tiniest growth made me fall apart.


Having MRI’s and hearing tests every 3-months left us on a constant emotional rollercoaster. We were living our lives a few months at a time, and with each new round of scans, it would reset again.


But somehow, miraculously, it doesn’t feel like a crisis anymore.


This is just my life now.


Over the last year, my MRI’s have shown consistent growth on the tumor affecting my good ear, but nothing significant. My doctor even let me take a 6-month break between tests last time!


That may not sound very big, but for me, it made a huge difference. I finally had a chance to stop worrying about results for a bit.


It broke the cycle.


After my wonderful break, it was time for my most recent round of scans.


For results to truly be good, my tumors would need to be gone. My hearing would need to be restored and my tinnitus silenced.


I would need to be cured.


Of course, that’s not my life anymore. My good news bar has substantially lowered.


It turns out my larger tumor has grown again. My hearing is stable though, and we found out the rest of my body (other than my spine) is tumor free.


But because of the tumor growth, I’ll have to start treatment again in the not so distant future.


So, the results were mixed.


Not exactly good, but not too bad either. 


Yet somehow, I left my doctor feeling utter relief. When not even a year ago I probably would have left my appointment in tears.


Gradually, emotionally, somehow…I’ve adjusted.


Bad news doesn’t feel quite as big, and I’ve come to accept that this is what my life looks like now.


Last December I wrote a post called, “The Life You Almost Lived” (found here). I wrote it when my tumors initially started to grow after stopping treatment.


Everything felt overwhelming.


I thought my happiness level had peaked—like each year was going to get harder and harder.


Physically, that’s probably true. My disorder is progressive, so it has no choice but to get worse over time.


But how I handle it emotionally and mentally WILL get better.


Somehow through all of this—because of all of this, I have managed to become truly happy.


Traveling has served as an invaluable distraction this year, and it’s shown me the importance of living beyond my condition. Of pushing myself past my limitations and letting my life be more than just what happens in between my doctor appointments.


Instead of offering the usual “good luck” or “praying for good news,” a wise relative of mine said the following phrase to us before getting my results last week:


“I hope that the more you learn, the less scary it becomes.”


Her daughter is currently battling cancer, so their family is all too familiar with dealing with this world.


As we walked out of the hospital that day I thought about her well wishes and how accurate they are for us.


All of this has become less scary. A lot less scary.


And as the scariness has waned, we’ve learned to enjoy our lives within the circumstances we’ve been dealt.


Somehow, over time, our new normal doesn’t look so bad after all.


If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!

Doritos On The Beach

Don’t worry…this is not an ad for Doritos.


You know when you experience a funny coincidence, and you can’t help, but laugh at life’s little ironies? Well, this is one of those moments…it just happens to involve Doritos.


During our most recent trip, we spent a week exploring the largest island in Greece: Crete.


Along with its massive size, Crete has a reputation for having some of the most beautiful and exotic beaches in the world.


Before heading to our first stop, we made a quick snack run. As we scanned the chip aisle, Cardin found a bag of Doritos labeled, “Tex-Mex Flavored.”


Usually, if we buy chips while we travel, we opt for the more unique local flavors and avoid any American brands…but since we’re originally from Texas, we couldn’t resist grabbing a bag.


As we laid in the sand eating our chip of choice that afternoon, I couldn’t help but smile when I realized that the last time we ate Doritos on the beach, was the day that Cardin first suggested that we quit our jobs and travel the world.


It was Memorial Day weekend in 2017, shortly after my hearing episode (which you can read about here). My sweet aunt offered to let Cardin and I spend a few days relaxing at her beachfront condo as we recovered from my most recent health scare.


Before heading to the coast, we stocked up on snacks. Normally, I’m a bit of a health nut, but after everything we had been dealing with, we decided to splurge and get some of our favorites (i.e., Doritos and Oreos).


While laying on the beach that day eating Doritos and drinking margaritas (I know—not exactly the best combination), we started talking about the future and what I wanted to do career-wise.


As many of you know, my diagnosis came just before I finished graduate school. The plan has always been that I would get my counseling license. But after I was rendered temporarily deaf, I started to question whether or not I should still pursue a career as a therapist.


Cardin’s response: “What if we quit our jobs and spend a year traveling?”


Initially, I said no.


Honestly, I thought he was joking and that it was the margaritas talking.


A few hours (and a few more margaritas) later, his idea started sounding better and better.


The plan was for us to move to London for 6-months and use that as our home base while we traveled. (We even Googled apartments to rent.)


But as we tried to figure out how it would work with my treatment and frequent doctor’s appointments, we decided that it would be too much of a risk.


So we dropped it.


(Until eventually, God lined everything up perfectly for us to make it work—which you can read about here.)


Now, a year and a half later, as we’re enjoying our “Tex-Mex” Doritos on a remote little Greek beach surrounded by goats attempting to steal our snacks (don’t worry, I’ll share pictures at the end)… I’m struck by the fact that we did it.


Something that seemed so crazy and unrealistic at the time turned into this incredible adventure.


It’s so strange thinking back on where we were not even two years ago and the direction our lives were headed.


I can’t believe how much everything has changed since then—how much we’ve changed since then.


This year has been more than just an exciting experience for us.


It’s been a chance to take a break, to catch our breath, and to figure out how we want the rest of our lives to look.


Life makes it easy to get stuck.


Circumstances get in the way, and risks become harder and harder to take.


But because we leaped, our lives have taken on a whole new meaning.


Come January we’ll be done traveling and back in Florida full-time. I keep telling people that at the start of the New Year, we’ll be back to our old lives…but in reality, things will never really be the same.


This year has shaped everything.


January will be the start of an even bigger adventure for us (one that we’ll be announcing in a couple of months).


I kept viewing this time as “our year,” but now I know that these past 12-months are just the beginning.


And I must admit that I’m excited to come home. I’m excited to see our friends regularly (and our pup constantly). I’m excited to no longer live out of a backpack and sleep in a different bed every night.


But mostly I’m excited that our adventure will be more than just a year.


It will be the rest of our lives.


And because of this year, and more importantly my condition, it’s going to be even better and more rewarding than we could have ever hoped.


***As promised here are some pictures from Seitan Limania and the crazy snack stealing goats:

If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!