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Blog and public health and Random blog18 Sep 2017 12:44 pm

Hurricane Harvey came and left a lot of flooding in Houston.  I was very fortunate to get out of Houston when I did!  I would have been extremely bored sitting in an empty apartment all by myself with no TV, nothing to do, and the high potential for flooding/losing power.  I live close to Bray’s Bayou, so I was a little nervous about the potential for flooding.  With that in mind, I hopped on a bus to Dallas the day before the hurricane.  I was like “Class 4 Hurricane… I’m outta here!”  Dealing with a big storm  alone, no furniture/TV/entertainment, in a new city, with a physical disability… didn’t make sense for me to stay in Houston.   The bus ride to Dallas wasn’t that bad… I wasn’t in a hurry (took 4 hours) AND I got to experience downtown Houston for the first time! Very different from San Diego!  My friends picked me up in Dallas from the bus station and we went straight to a Mexican restaurant to get Tex-Mex Food.  Thus began my Dallas “Eating Quest.”  Dave’s parents from the Houston area were also in Dallas to escape Hurricane Harvey.  Mrs Chen is a phenomenal cook, so I was definitely well fed in Dallas!  I realized very quickly, that if I don’t check myself here, there is very large potential to gain a lot of weight!  Anyways, I finally returned to Houston the Friday after the hurricane flooding.  I was very lucky to come home to a dry apartment, but my furniture was still not there.   Thanks again Becca, Dave, lil Ethan, Mr. (now Uncle) Chen  and  Mrs. (now Auntie) Chen.  I feel like I have “family” now in an unfamiliar place.  I rode back to Houston with Uncle and Auntie and we stopped at this incredible BBQ restaurant Woody’s Smokehouse at a rest stop off the freeway!  A rest stop!  The BBQ Chicken, brisket, and smoked sausage were AWESOME! I couldn’t believe how crowded this rest stop was! As we drove through Houston, we could see the devastation pilled up outside of homes in the form of ruined furniture/personal items.  It is sad to think that many of those items were probably not covered by flood insurance… total loses!  I have been very impressed with the response and hospitality of the community in Houston post Hurricane Harvey.  Complete strangers offered me help, water/food, and assistance.  I definitely experienced the “Southern Hospitality”.  It is very easy to reciprocate the hospitality, but at the same time it is necessary to keep your guard up!   I’ve always been a quiet guy, but in the past few years I’ve been reborn as a patient advocate and nonprofit professional.  This rebirth has spurred my desire to become an advocate for those who are underserved or taken advantage of.

My first month in Texas has been full of curveballs, but over the past decade I’ve learned how to adapt to new challenges.  Just need a clear head to make solid decisions. I came back to the apartment in Houston WITHOUT flooding (which was a big relief), but I was powerless to do anything about my lack of furniture.  I came back to a dry but empty apartment.  I still didn’t have any furniture or extra clothes.   I was starting to get frustrated by the delays, and posted something on social media about it. Apparently someone called the movers and was extremely rude to them.  I appreciated the support, but the fact remained that they still held my stuff.  The first thing I did when I returned to Houston was buy a nice rug and borrow an air mattress. Hurricane Harvey was so severe that the start of school at UTHSC in Houston was delayed one week.  There was flooding at MD Anderson Center Cancer, and the roads were flooded to the hospital!   This was very important because how were people who needed medical attention supposed to access it?  How would the medical staff still at the hospital return to their families with all the flooding?  I’ve already heard stories of staying at the hospital and working extra shifts.  I also heard a story of a physician canoeing to work!  Crazy…  It was an adventure in itself trying to move my things from San Diego to Houston, but having no control on the delivery of my things amidst a natural disaster was extremely stressful!  My furniture finally arrived in Houston last week after almost 4 weeks and numerous delays!   This was very frustrating because the office would tell me that they would arrive on one day, but the movers would tell me something completely different  In addition, I was charged for storage, unloading/ re-storage at the holding facility, and redelivery to Houston!  The price of the move was already inflated, so more unexpected fees made things more expensive! I will definitely go through a BBB moving company, not a broker next time! Lesson learned.  However I still don’t understand why I was charged an extra $500 for storage, unloading/reloading, and redelivery due to a natural disaster that no one had control over.   No one could get into Houston the Wed after the hurricane… that’s part of the reason I wasn’t there!   I’m happy my stuff finally arrived and I can finally start focusing on school!   I can already forsee challenges with returning to school in a different academic discipline and a physical disability.  Mix in the unpredictable weather and mobility issues and things will be very interesting!  Rain and thunderstorms are in the forcast this week… I’m gonna get wet!  Bring it on!  LET’S ROCK THESE NEW CHALLENGE

Blog and school28 Aug 2017 10:48 am

 

Things are definitely not boring!  The transition back to school has been hectic.  First off getting to Houston from San Diego has been an adventure.  The movers came to pick up my stuff from San Diego, and the price jumped up from $1700 to $2500 because I had more stuff then I was originally quoted.  They changed me for an extra storage pod.  I had extra items that weren’t listed, but I didn’t have huge items to pack. The biggest items I have are: my desk my TV/TV stand, a big book shelf, a dresser, my old wheelchair, a table with 4 chairs, a mattress/box spring, bed frame, and a few extra boxes.  I think on my quote I had listed 15 boxes, but some of my furniture (shelf, dresser) were classified as bigger than expected, jacking up the price. I don’t think I had that much stuff.

To make matters more complicated, the weather in Houston has been crazy! Rain and flooding is at a 500-year level high in Houston.  Luckily, I was able to take a Greyhound bus to Dallas on Friday to avoid the flooding in Houston.  Apparently the Brays Bayou by my place close to the med center floods frequently.  This sucks because I need to be in a first floor apparent due to the fact that there are no elevators for my scooter.  My place is probably flooded due to the storms.  Good thing is my stuff hasn’t arrived in Houston yet.  I’ve been calling to figure out where my stuff is, but they close at noon on Fridays.  I’ve left messages and am still waiting to hear back from them since Thursday.

The biggest dilemma for me is… when to return to Houston.  It is supposed to continue raining till Friday.   Navigating the city will be complicated if public transit is still down.  Maybe I invest in a canoe… seriously. Classes got cancel this week, they resume next Tuesday.  Hopefully, things will clear up (dry up) by then.  I wonder what the water levels will be like and when it will be safe to go back!  Turns out that the movers might charge me more for storing the items due to the inclimate weather.  We shall see.  I’m hoping to get my stuff soon when I return to Houston!  Moving and evacuation has definitely made this transition memorable.  I’ve been through tornados, earthquakes, fires, and now hurricanes and floods.  Lesson here is that if there a difficulties with physical mobility… get out early if you can to avoid potential issues…It helped that I knew some people outside of Houston.   I really would have sucked being stuck in Houston with no tv service, phone service, spotty internet, questionable power sources, and mobility impairment.  I really don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t gone to Dallas!  Thanks again Dave Chen, Becca Wong, and family!  We will see when my stuff finally arrives in Houston… first order of business when I get back to Houston is get a couch to sleep on… not a leather couch because I will stick to it!  School starts next week!  Stay tuned… I’m sure more exciting stuff is in the works.  It has been a very eventful 2 weeks!

 

Blog and Random blog16 Aug 2017 07:58 am

It has been a crazy transition to August. I had my first final in 14 years!  Crazy preparing for it.  I think my short term memory is horrible, but my long term memory is still very good.  Ask me if I remember specific scenes from the original Star Wars Trilogy… Anyways, I figured out that I have to commit things to long term memory to do well on exams/quizzes.  Problem is that the process of saving things to long term memory is a very intensive process… going over things thoroughly 4 or 5 times, instead of once or twice.  Couple minor short term memory impairments with the physical impairments of tremors/ataxia/minor double vison/ minor speech dysarthria and you have some major obstacles in the classroom.   Based on my experiences in the summer session at UCSD, I think they can be addressed:  Extra time to take quizzes/exams, use of a laptop, seating in the front of the classroom, and a note taker or presentation sharing.  Technology is great… I use my smart phone to set reminders/alerts and create “to do” lists to address short term memory lapses.  (Maybe I’m just getting older… hee hee hee…)

Anyways, I started cleaning out my place in San Diego this week and started shipping stuff to Houston.  Again, I get to be the new guy.  I’ve become very familiar with that role.  To me, it’s kind of exciting to start fresh and test yourself against new challenges.  It’s like starting with a clean slate… No body knows you, and you don’t know anybody.  I do know a few people in Houston, so the transition will be a little easier than my transition to San Diego from Michigan.  In San Diego, I was immersed with many peers in similar life stages developing their professional lives.  With this return to school in a new environment, I’m not so sure I’ll find people in similar life stages.  I’m gonna be the oddball. Professionally this move makes sense, but the task of finding new peers to hangout with might be challenging.

Developing a strategy for adapting to a new environment is half the excitement for me.  Planning and training feed my Type A Personality, but socially I’m very laid-back.  That is a very odd dynamic.  I like working with “Go-getters”, but I like to hangout with people who are “chill” and laugh at everything.  A strategy for a return to school is starting to form.  The goal is to publish more peer-reviewed articles.  I’ve published independent articles from my perspective, but I need to strengthen my scientific writing.

I’m leaving for Houston on Friday morning to start a new adventure!  I move into my apartment in Houston on Friday!  2 more days in San Diego!  Gotta grab a California Burrito and a Habit Burger before I leave!

Blog and school29 Jul 2017 09:41 pm

I can’t believe the semester is over next week!  The semester flew by! I was just getting back into my “student groove”…

I’ve learned a few important things…

  1. I have difficulty physically taking notes in class.  Need assistance.  I write main points, but it is a crap shoot if I will be able to read them later!
  2. Writing is still illegible, actually worse. It was bad before, but it’s pretty bad now!  Typing is slow because I can only use one hand.
  3. I need to sit in front of class to avoid distractions.
  4. Review lecture readings text twice before class.
  5. Sleep early… no TV till the weekend… luckily no football in the summer… this is why I like watching movies in the summer…
  6. Eliminate distractions… BYE BYE FACEBOOK!
  7. Caffeine can help delay the need for an afternoon siesta, but I crash hard!
  8. Quizes/tests require extra time.  Need extra time to make accommodations to comprehend (minor double vision issues) + respond with typing/emailing my answers…
  9. Participating in discussion is sometimes difficult due to mild speech issues.  I’m better in one on one/small groups.
  10. I like listening to movie soundtracks, Rat Pack/Big band, and classical music when studying…

I’m wondering how other students with physical disabilities address classroom issues.  I’m still pretty sure my cognition is intact, but I think the physiological challenges of returning to class can be addressed!

Blog and school08 Jul 2017 01:22 pm

The first week of school went well.  I feel so old!  I think that I graduated college before some of my classmates were born!  (technically, I could be their father…) HAHAHA!  I thought I stuck out before… now I really stick out! (I look and act young, but have the soul of a 60 year old.) I actually contacted the Office of Students with Disabilities  (AKA “OSD”) before the first day of classes to make sure the process of going back to school was an easy transition.  They were very accommodating! They were able to get me a note taker for lectures, private testing spaces for exams, and priority seating in the front of the classroom/lecture hall to eliminate distractions.  Luckily the campus is very wheelchair accessible.  Some of the older schools I’ve visited are not as handicap friendly.  In-class quizzes for my “psychology in healthcare” class are only 10 mins, but I’ve discovered that it’s very difficult to read/process all the multiple choice answers on the projector.  I’ve found that 45 seconds is not enough time for me to visually/cognitively/physically process the questions and select the correct answer.  Writing for essay quizzes in my other class will be done on a lap top, and immediately emailed to the professor.  I had to follow up with the Disability Office after my first set of classes to let them know how things went.  The cool thing is that this process is completely confidential between the professor, OSD, and the student!  I really don’t care because I can’t hide my disability… It’s something all survivors in college SHOULD look into!  For the first time since rehab I’ve confirmed how serious my physical impairments are!  I guess for the longest time I’ve been focusing on what I can do, not what I can’t do.  To actually see the reality of my physical impairments in writing by people that I don’t know is still a huge wake up call because this is how strangers see me.  When I first went out in my wheelchair, it used to bother me when people used to stare at me.  I could feel all the looks of curiosity and pity.  It almost made me feel ashamed to go out.  Good thing I have no shame… People that I hangout with say that this still happens when I’m in my scooter/wheelchair, but I’ve learned to simply ignore the stares.

Anyways, I’ve really noticed that academic/scientific journal writing is very different from public publishing.  While I was in college and grad school, I had been so used to reading academic articles.  My friends who helped edit my first book, had so many publishing suggestions on my first draft of Reversal:  When A Therapist Becomes A Patient.  For one of the classes I’m currently taking, I have to read a lot of psychology journals.  Typically, scientific journals are different to read with many run-on sentences.  Those run-on sentences are intended to elaborate on key concepts.  It is just another adjustment back into academics that I have to adapt.  Things will get interesting the next couple weeks with classes and exams/quizzes.  These last few weeks in San Diego are going to be BUSY before I move to Houston!  ComicCon is coming up in a couple weeks, so I’ll be sure to make time to get downtown then for the festivities!!!

 

Blog02 Jul 2017 08:01 am


Create Your Own Visited States Map


Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

Blog and public health and school29 Jun 2017 06:55 pm

It has been a while since I last blogged. There is some very exciting stuff in the works. Earlier this year I was accepted into a PhD program at University of Texas Health and Science Center in Houston School of Public Health – Health Promotion & Behavioral Science.  I’m very interested in the role of exercise/physical activity in tumor/cancer survivorship. It will be a very interesting transition back into school mode. “PT school Galvez” was a super nerd.  “Young Doctor Galvez” was always on the move.  “Post brain surgery Galvez” is a smart ass.  The next transformation will create a more focused and mature version of myself! hee hee… not sure about the second part of that statement…  The 10 years after treatment and surgery have redefined me and refocused my goals. I’m still interested in healthcare delivery, but now from a new perspective. I’m now very in tune with the issues of survivorship. I want to make a scientific contribution to “post-treatment thrivership” involving exercise/physical activity .

The return to school will bring many new challenges.  Transitioning back into the world of academia will be interesting.  I really enjoyed getting my DPT, but there were few distractions because I was very focused on school. I think Myspace and Friendster were just getting started when I was in PT school… I’m probably going to have to close a few of my social media accounts to avoid distractions! Last week I mapped out my route to UCSD for a couple classes I need to take. It takes an hour + 10 mins via bus just to get there! I have 8AM classes on Tuesday and Thursday. That means I have to LEAVE my place at 630AM! WHOA!I haven’t gotten up that early in a while!  I figure I can blog my thoughts this early cause I can do everything on my phone/ on the go.

Anyways, I had a meeting today with disability services at UCSD. This will be very interesting returning to school with a disability. This will be a good test run before moving to Houston.  I’m looking forward to the new challenges.  We will see how things go next week!  It would be cool to hear from you if you have any advice on how to deal with the issues with returning to school.  I will probably keep blogging, but close my social media accounts to avoid distractions…  Its gonna be a busy July cleaning out my place and packing my stuff up!

 

Blog and mAss Kickers news23 Sep 2016 03:36 am

2016-htkm-now-cool_ericI’m an 11 year brain tumor survivor with severe physical impairments. The last decade has been a crazy ride! I have gone from doctor of physical therapy to brain tumor patient with physical disabilities; brain tumor survivor to brain tumor advocate; and advocate to nonprofit professional! I’m not done yet… ;P

I’m planning on taking 3 “post-oncology treatment thrivers” that embody the SPIRIT of mAss Kickers Foundation to present in Cape Town, South Africa.  We will be presenting about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis at health care education schools, to charity organizations, and to survivor groups Nov 9 -16. We believe that we need to approach these diseases with more intelligence, heart, and humor.

Please consider a donation to support our 2016 efforts to educate people in South Africa about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis… THERE IS A STIGMA OF SHAME/GUILT/EMBARRASSMENT ASSOCIATED WITH A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS. HELP US SHOW THE WORLD THAT SURVIVORS CAN PICK OURSELVES UP AND THRIVE AFTER A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS!

The 4 survivors participating in this tumor/cancer “thrivership” mission are very excited to travel to an exciting new place, but we need YOUR HELP TO FUND THIS!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal! The San Diego based cancer research company, Ignyta Inc. will match donations up to $3000. This is a GREAT WAY OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT US!  We will definitely send you a video shout out from Cape Town!

Help us teach the WORLD how to “Kick mAss!” Pass this on!

Thanks,  Eric

Blog and housekeeping18 Jul 2016 05:49 pm

Finding a “new norm” was something I struggled with after brain surgery.  I’ll admit that I was “broken”.  I survived major brain surgery, but lost 90% of my hobbies and professional identity!  I used to think that when you meet someone new, you are defined by “what you do.”  For me, it was merely a way to categorize people in your memory.  After surgery, I couldn’t do much of anything.  I was searching for any identity other than “handicaped person”.  I lost the career in Physical Therapy that I worked so hard to establish and I lost the very thing that defined me… sports.  I remember wanting to go back to the Physical Therapy clinic where I used to work and “shadow” one of my colleagues because I was so bored!  Part of me didn’t want to let go of the career I was just starting.  I even renewed my California PT license and CSCS certification by taking online courses.

I felt like I was broken… kinda like Humpty Dumpty.  That feeling of hopelessness finally went away when I created the Tumors Suck group on Facebook.  I met so many people that felt the same way about brain tumors.  I quickly found that people felt the same way about ALL types of cancer, which led to the creation of mAss Kickers Foundation (mKF).  I eventually recreated myself by finding new hobbies and following new interests.  I decided to focus on what I could do, not what I couldn’t do. It has been fun figuring this out AND stay tuned because I’m still figuring it out!  Through mKF, we started meeting survivors from around the world!  We went to Tokyo, Japan and Manila, Philippines in 2013.  In 2014, we went to Singapore, Singapore and spoke to students at the National University Singapore.  Last year, we went to Brussels, Belgium and met with Flemish survivors then spoke at the Institute Gilles Bordeaux. This year, we are planning on going to Cape Town, South Africa in the Fall!  We are planning on meeting South African survivors, and presenting “Post-treatment Thrivership” at different venues in South Africa. We could definitely use some help with this ambitious undertaking!  With a donation of at least $20 here, we’ll send you some Tumors Suck stickers and put you in a video!   Check out this link to see the videos from the past “How to Kick mAss” Programs.  Stay tuned for updates!

Blog and rehab12 Apr 2016 05:09 pm

There is a connection… I’m starting to do research on Public Health!

Public health refers to “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.”[1] It is concerned with threats to health based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people, or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic).

The focus of public health intervention is to improve health and quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions. This is done through surveillance of cases and health indicators, and through promotion of healthy behaviors.

Does post-treatment exercise/physical activity lead to post treatment “thrivership”?  I’ve personally seen so many examples of this in my survivor buddies!  Public education (Sesame Street), Post-treatment thrivership, exercise/physical activity, Dissemination (Usher’s musical skills) are connected… HAHAHA! Yes, I have a “unique” way of looking at things…  I’m teaming up with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults on a session at CancerCon to promote the benefits of exercise/physical activity for survivors.  Should be a great session…

 

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