Below Average

Flag of the Sikh Empire, french flag overlaid ...
Flag of the Sikh Empire, french flag overlaid with waheguru written in punjabi across the front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cue Simran from the Tuhi Tuhi app.  I am absolutely in love with those words.  They bring me peace. Well at least on most days.   “You have scored below average on some key areas of your memory and reason” the doctor explained calmly over the phone to me yesterday.  I still hear echoes of it. Me?  Below average? It can’t be. Over and over. Below average in 3 out of 5 main areas of memory.  He went on for 15 minutes, but I couldn’t tell you what he said. I could blame that my short-term memory which has declined as per the doctor, but it’s more likely that I felt defeated in that moment. 3 months of meditation, BK Shivani,,, reading  and exercise seem to be all for nothing, I could explain that my reason has declined as per the doctor, or that I have a hard time visualizing places, things and events making it hard for  me to remember directions or recent events or people. I could just believe  I am below average.  Keeps echoing. Almost at pace of the simran in the background…  Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale out.

My stroke and brain surgery had taken a part of me. I am angry. I am frustrated. I feel alone.  I cannot be below average. That just is not in my vocabulary.  Fuck you stroke. Fuck you brain surgery. YOU. WILL. NOT. TAKE ME. I will not allow you take anything of mine anymore. You won the first and second round, that’s all. Last one is mine, or I am going down swinging. You will not take me dignity. My creativity. My reasoning. My love. My family. My friends. My reasoning. My words.

Tuhi Tuhi.  Waheguru.  I have faith. I am the creator of my thoughts, feelings and actions. They make my destiny. Anger is poison. Anger destroys. Relationships, will, love.  I know that. I will not bow down to negativity. I will not let anything or anyone take me from me.  I am not below average.  I am me.

The doctor said to get retested in January. I am going to, and I will keep at it until I get back who I was. Breath out the anger, hate, frustration and breath in the calm. Waheguru.

APS, Myself

The Meaning of I

Lately, I have been on auto-pilot for a lot of things. From drowning in noise on Facebook, to not reaching out to my real friends. I have let others and other things determine my days.  I have let too many things to lead me rather than me grabbing life by its throat, and getting things done.   This year has started out rough. A few days after my 41st birthday, I suffered a relatively serious illness due to my condition. I have Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome conveniently called APS syndrome (what is it with doctors and their long ass disease names?!).  Simply, I have an auto immune disease where my blood thickens and creates clots.  It was discovered several years back when I woke and could not talk out of the side of my mouth, and drove myself to my primary who immediately saw the signs of a stroke (surprise, now I am a stroke survivor! Who would have thunk it!), and admitted me into the hospital.  So I am sick.

Now I have had two choices. I could either roll around and moan that I am sick, or I could keep moving.  Anyone that knows me knows what I picked up.  Yet, it hasn’t been easy. I cannot take my days for granted anymore.  It is something that I have to remind myself that although I look and mostly feel 100%, I am not.  That’s hard to take for me.  Each morning, I have to wake up and be reminded that I have to work towards being well. Not just physically, but in my thoughts and actions.  There is too much I have allowed to build up.  Too many thoughts and feelings towards people and myself that I have left unsaid.

Yet, it is not easy starting over. In fact, it sucks.  I hate the fact that I cannot work out or that I tire easily after 6 to 8 hours. I hate that I have to parcel out myself to others because I have a nasty habit of blowing up at inconvenient times. I have to relearn a lot of things.  The main thing I have to work on is the word “I.”  I am constantly struggling between just focusing on my pain and being there for others. I have failed many recently because I have been too caught up with myself. The word “I” rules my world and while some days it is justified, it does not make it OK to NOTIMG_0698 see others and their pain.  I know I am better than that.  I have to be better than that because there is no point in life if you cannot contribute to others. So each day starts with a TO-DO list. A list of things I need to do, and be.  A list of reminders that there is more to the world than just me.

So each day starts with the reminder that I am sick.  But each day also starts with “I can be better.” I will be better.  There is no middle ground.

Family, Myself

Thank you!

Today, I drove in silence from Artesia to Torrance because the cacophony in my head just wouldn’t allow for any outside noise?  A sample:  When should I do and When should I edit my final essay for UCLA Extension writing class? What should we do this week (I really want to take my wife somewhere nice, new and romantic)?  How can I save more money?  Why won’t XYZ take my advice, and on and on the noise went until I realized that this internal dialogue I was having was only making me feel inadequate.  As much as I want to accomplish more in my life, and be better for the ones around me. I have to take pause and congratulate myself for the things I do accomplish. Take today for example. I had a friend call me and thank for me supporting him while he was unemployed. Now he had a job.  That’s a real cause for celebration, and shows that people do care.

I had another friend whose mom passed away from cancer. He was with her when she took her last breath.  I cannot love this guy enough for his selflessness, and the genuine love he showed me recently when I was in the hospital.  In fact, his entire family has shown me nothing but kindness, and love.  I will never forget that. So I took a moment to thank both these friends for being in my life.  And then I was blessed with a best friend who not only listens to me whine and complain, but also keeps giving me solid advice  (which I normally fail to take)IMG_0368.  Finally. I have a dear friend whose wonderful father is fighting (and I know beating) pancreatic cancer.  So what’s my point in all this?  That instead of all the random worries I have, I need to take a moment and appreciate and thank for who and what I have in my life.  It’s easy enough to say, but quite hard to do, so today I want to say THANK YOU to all those who have done so much for me.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!


Cancer, Myself, Preeti

Living for Today: My New Blog Post


by Jemal Yarbrough


A beautiful morning, sun bathing the room so much so that I wonder if I have ever seen it like this before. Then it hits that the sun is lighting up what’s inside me, and I smile.  And I smile some more because the external radiation and chemo are done.  Gone is the not knowing, the fear, the constant ache of “will she be ok?”  Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking past the fact that she has internal coming up, but Cancer cannot make us ignorant or scared anymore.  The big bad wolf has turned out to be a mere shadow that we magnified in our mind.

I cannot help but soak in the sun, letting it breath into me more strength for her.  The burden has gotten lighter, we are beginning to see the end of this trial, and for once can actually discuss the future rather than future appointments, can actually look forward to the weekends as a real break rather just something to give her some breathing room, can plan to run a household rather than worry if the house is poisoning her somehow.

Still, I cannot get rid of some of my hurts, while looking forward to the new joys.  I miss some greatly while others with a tinge of regret wondering where it all went wrong, and others just not ready to be there for us, and that’s fine.  I love them all, but I am also cautious, I know now that some were unfairly put on high pedestals and some pushed off too swiftly.  So I sit here and learn while the sun continues to fuel me, make appreciate what I have and love, and I know of only one certainty and that is today.  What is it that I can do today that represents, us, and our family.  What is it that I can do in the next moments to just make it a little easier or fun for us.  So I sit here, smile and feed hungrily off the sun waiting for inspiration, oh wait, the better word would be knowledge or perhaps just accept that it was meant to be that my car came back the same day the major part of the treatment ended.

All that time worrying just really wasted because what was meant to happen, did, and what wasn’t just  resided in the endless loop of thoughts in my head.  So I breathe out slowly, the worries, the fears, the not knowing, and revel in the moment, just enjoying the day, the moment, the realization that we will get through this, that we already have, that what I needed was always there, I just didn’t want to see it that way.

However, (is there always one)  I know that there is much to be done, much for us to do, to travel, perhaps finally get on a plane together, but more than that for me to get back to work.  That’s really the strange part, I miss it, and finally know what I am meant do there.  I never thought I would say that, but looking at myself through my family’s eyes made me realize that I can be general counsel, and the fears and doubts (particularly the lact of confidence) were my own creations.  I was my own hurdle.  I had convinced myself that I would never learn but worse that I couldn’t learn, but the previous months of reading and writing made me realize how much I miss the law, and why I fell in love in the first place  I also know what kind of lawyer I cant stand, and there are many attorneys who exploit California law to just make money for themselves while claiming to be consumer attorneys.  I no longer will let my ignorance be the reason, my business suffers.  No more.  It’s time to discard the uniform of “I don’t know” and don on “I will get back to you on this.”

Funny, what a few months of cancer can do to you.  Instead of sapping us of our energy and will, it has renewed it. So thank you cancer, for making me realize what is truly important.  I owe you one but I wont ever like you, and one more thing: fuck you.  Sorry, but your just really not forgivable.  Besides, it’s you who gets my negative emotions or others, and I choose you.  You are my big bad wolf, my enemy, my bad versus good.  So deal with it.  I will be celebrating when you die, and I will dance on your grave.  You maybe “the emperor of all maladies” but you have no clothes.


Cancer, Family, Myself, Preeti

Prayers, Friends and Family

Goodenough, PhD
Image via Wikipedia


by Jemal Yarbrough


In the fading light of the day, I say a small prayer for my friend’s father who passed away 2 nights ago.  The house is quiet as usual, and she rests uneasily but expectantly for the nausea to follow.  A friend had just visited, the  worry lines creased deep into her forehead due to the recent seizure experienced by her little brother. 2011 seems to be foreboding, and I wonder if more bad news is to come.

But that really is the easy way out.  What is it about a series of bad events that makes us believe that we are unlucky or somehow cursed?  I close my eyes and see my family, and nothing but joy gratitude and loves comes into my soul.  There is not a single relative that I don’t love with all my heart and soul.  It almost seems like heresy to believe that I have the perfect family.  I know my love for them is imperfect because I do not thank God or revel in my blessings of having a truly amazing family enough.  I would daresay that my family is worlds better than the ones I hear about in fictional novels.  I have the ULTIMATE FAMILY, and their wondrous love and prayers are the reason I can sit here clacking away while she struggles with her pain.

Their thoughts and prayers are the reason I know with all my heart and soul that this too shall pass.  That this stupid Cancer is merely a minor bump on the long road of life.  And I pray even harder.  Pray for my blessings, pray that I am at the unfortunate cross roads to hear about friends parents dying, sibling suffering uncalled for pain,  and it makes me ache for my mom and dad who are merely a block away from me physically but always reside in my heart.  I fall in love each time my sisters come over or her brothers do.  Her mom’s pain reverberates in my heart, and I wish I could inhale all their worry and fear.  So I thank God yet again for joining us with them.  For giving us real soldiers so we can mercilessly kill the killer.

And then I come to my friends.  I always thought I had a few good friends, but this recent adventure of ours has introduced me to an amazing soul:Biba, who has selflessly given her time and energy to heal the love of my life.  She made the chemo session seem as just a routine doctor’s visit and I do not think I can ever thank enough.  And then there are others who think they can achieve comfort by merely texting or leaving quick voice mails.  Don’t get me wrong the concern is real but it’s minuscule as if the disease she’s batting is minor or one that can fit in 140 characters or less.   The sad part is that healing her takes nothing more than their physical contact but it’s treated as if  she’s not worth that.  And it hurts.  But we move on because we have to, and we will remember.  They are the past, and the future we have looks brighter due to the shining souls in our life.  The rest of them can take their indifferent asses back to Facebook, Twitter and texts, and become as irrelevant as the social media horse they rode in on.

Cancer, Myself, Preeti, Writing


1987 Ativan advertisement. "In a world wh...
Image via Wikipedia

Last night was the first time I laid down to bed with a heavy heart not because of her because I already had failed at my promise to post every day.  Although I tried to intellectualize it by claiming I wrote the post in my mind, I could not get past that feeling to not  write is something I can no longer accept.  Actually, I started the post with a bit of a  lie because my soul was heavy because once again the word “Caretaker” had been flung at me, and once again I was made to feel that nothing I do was good enough.  While others were thanked for their time, I was derided for stuffing medicines down her throat and leaving her in a dark room. After more than 2 days feeling like I was at fault, I realized she was right.  In my effort to control the disease by making her as physically comfortable as possible, I had lost sight that a hug could more than Zofran, Ativan or Compazine could ever do.  The problem really was my reluctance between comforting her with medications versus just laying down with her.

The truth is I am scared to see her so uncomfortable and instead of asking the easy question of “Are you Ok?”, I inevitably ask “Do you need medicine?”  I am substituting science for compassion, and I see now that the medicine really is more for me than for her. It is the only way I feel like I can fight the effects of Chemotherapy, but it’s not working.  If I was really honest with myself, she is doing extremely well considering the toxins in her body, and actually handling everything quite well.  I just keep expecting things to get worse  and at the first sign of a grimace, I use the medicine bottles as a shield.

The part that hurts most is the ease with which she thanks others for their care and concern, while I stand across a seemingly un-crossable divide of being the help.  I thought I could be a caregiver, a husband but instead in my fear and haste to make her feel better. I relegated myself to the realm of servitude rather than gratitude.