Random blog

Blog and Random blog26 May 2014 04:54 pm


Memorial Day Weekend used to have a completely different purpose/meaning for me.  In college, I used to go to my fraternity’s national convention Memorial weekend.  Of course we met to discuss issues of expansion and business, but it was also like a “mini Spring Break.”  The convention always coincided with a sorority’s national convention so there were no shortages of mixers and social events that weekend!  After college, my friends kept the tradition of meeting up Memorial Day weekend alive.  We use to make a concerted effort to meet up and stay in touch.  Many of my friends decided to get married Memorial Weekend thus keeping the Memorial Weekend tradition alive.  We have so many crazy stories from those weekends!  Now that many of my friends are now starting families and becoming respected professionals, the time for reunions/get together are becoming rare.   I’ve also started to appreciate the true meaning of Memorial day: Honor the men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in this country!  Being in San Diego with so many military personnel has made me appreciate the job that they do to defend our way of life.  To actually meet people, in the Military is very humbling.  Sacrificing time away from their family and dedicating their life for a cause larger than themselves is something I truly admire.  When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate the sacrifices these people make to serve their country.  I’ve gotten to meet so many members of the Military and I’ve grown to respect all of them.  Many of my own personal beliefs are very similar to their values.  I have so much respect for their code!   Let’s not forget the reason WHY we have this holiday!  Thank you to all that serve or who have served!


Blog and Random blog05 Apr 2014 04:32 pm

On Tuesday last week, I was featured on the front page of the Health section of the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper.  The days leading up to the publication reminded me of playing sports in high school and anxiously waiting for the write-up after a good game/match.  It’s funny, because I’m a pretty laid-back guy. I’ve never sought to be the center of attention, but now I’m learning to “embrace” it and become a proud advocate for “post-treatment thrivership”.  Thriving starts with attitude.  Attitude breeds confidence. Whether that confidence is real or an act, it creates a strong sense of UNITY between the individual fighting and his/her supporters.  I have observed it numerous times in the 8 years since my diagnosis.  I call it being a mAss Kicker.  The right attitude in the face of an intimidating obstacle can be a powerful factor in the fight against tumors/cancer.  LET’S KICK MASS TOGETHER!

Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news and Random blog30 Mar 2014 05:55 am

I HATE stereotypes and preconceived notions. Everyday, I have to deal with these things as both a brain tumor survivor and a person with physical impairments. I thought my professional background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy would prepare me for this, but I still found things very frustrating.  I’ve experienced first hand that there is still a stigma associated with people with disabilities. Early in my recovery, I was confined to a wheel chair and had to rely on people pushing me around if I wanted to go ANYWHERE. It used to drive me CRAZY when I was in my wheelchair and people assumed that I couldn’t understand them.  People would talk directly to whom ever was pushing my wheelchair, completely ignoring me sitting right in front of them!  I became a “second-class person.”   As a “free spirit” and social creature, that drove me nuts!  I was also reduced to an “elementary school kid” since I couldn’t go anywhere unless somebody was willing to take me.  I felt like I was in an adult sized “stroller” whenever I was in the wheelchair.   I realized that once a patient in outpatient rehab goes home after their physical therapy appointment… those impairments are STILL THERE and go home with the patient as well!  It was easy ending the day as a physical therapist.  I would finish up my paperwork and leave my “work mindset” at work.  Taking my post-surgery impairments home with me from a physical therapy appointment, made me realize that rehab is a full time gig.  I couldn’t leave things on my desk to address later.  As a physical therapist, we teach independence/ modified independence for rehab patients.  To experience it first hand has definitely been an eye opening journey. 

It gets frustrating at times not being able to do the things that I used to enjoy doing.  All of my hobbies(surfing/racing) and my career as a doctor of physical therapy were taken aways from me after brain surgery.  A large part of the old me was gone.  I was left with the dilemma, “What do I do now?”   I’ve learned how to adapt to my impairments. My mind /cognition still functions as it always has, but I still get a lot of curious stares from people because I now use a mobility scooter AKA the “mAss Kicker Mobile” to get around.  I’ve learned to ignore those stares, but occasionally I still notice them.  I hope that someday people can look past the scooter and crutches I use for mobility and see the individual WITH those assistive devices.  Those things are now a part of my life, but they don’t define me.  They are hard to ignore, but they are only a part of who I am NOW!  Granted, my goals in life have changed but I’m on a new path is starting to emerge where I can still use my education/experiences to teach others about a living life after a devastating diagnosis.  I’m having A LOT OF FUN discovering new hobbies and interests, but part of me misses the activities that I used to enjoy.

My personal experiences have led me on an exciting new journey around the world! I’ve traveled all over the United States talking about my experiences on both sides of rehabilitation.  Recently, I’ve taken the message of  “post-treatment thrivership” international.  Last year mAss Kickers Foundation, the organization I started, took a group of cancer survivors to the University of Hawaii, Manoa and Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines to speak to college students about life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis.  We also went to Tokyo and met with fellow survivors in Japan.  We’re trying to set up more international talks to spread our message of “post treatment thrivership.”  A strong global community needs to be created to efficiently fight these diseases.  A strategy is starting to form… We’ve started a “How To Kick Mass” educational program for: Healthcare students, healthcare professionals, and for cancer survivors.  The world needs to know and see that there is life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis.  I think that young adult “thrivers” (proactive survivors) are the perfect messengers for this… “All I Ever Wanted to Do” was help people.  It is the reason that I initially chose a career in physical therapy. In the past 8 years I’ve used my physical therapy background to adapt and discover new skills I can use to HELP PEOPLE!  The next few years should be exciting!  Please check out mAss Kickers Foundation a consider a donation to support the further growth of the organization and our programs.  STAY TUNED!  I COULD ALWAYS USE HELP WITH THE NEXT BIG STEP!

Blog and Random blog15 Mar 2014 09:44 am

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately.  Not because anything was wrong.  I’ve have just felt like something has been missing.  One of things that I’ve started doing is exploring my spirituality.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do all the things I’m able to do.  I figured out how to get around (mAss Kicker Mobile/ public transportation), how to fill my days (mAss Kickers Foundation), but most importantly I found new hobbies/activities (reading, writing, making videos) that I can appreciate.  I do realize that things could have been A LOT more difficult based on the location and size of my brain tumor!  I’ve been going back to catholic church for mass since the beginning of the year.  I was finding that for years I’d go to mass and go through the motions for 50 minutes without understanding the reasons.  Recently, I’ve taken a different approach finding the connections between the readings.  It made things a lot more interesting for me trying to figure out the connections between the first reading, Second reading, and the Gospel.  I will not categorize myself as a religious zealot or a robotic scientist.  However, I do realize that there needs to be a balance between science and faith.  You can’t reason faith.  Faith is not tangible or even quantifiable.  Either you have faith or you don’t.  On the other hand, you will have a hard time disproving traditional scientific laws.  I think my attitude falls safely between “religious zealot” and “scientific robot.”  I’ve had many informal conversations with friends discussing this.  Each side in the argument of religion vs science has no definitively correct answer.  I’m neutral.  I can accept the fact that the beliefs in each faction are extremely different, but I like to take pieces from both perspectives.  I see the value in both.  My mind sees the value in science, yet my heart cannot ignore the benefits of faith.  After going through so much the past few years in my personal rehabilitation/recovery, I have realized that along with my scientific/healthcare background…FAITH has help me accomplish much.  Nobody told me a definitive prognosis after major surgery and months/years of rehabilitation.  I had to turn to my faith (for many it is divinity or God) that I will get back on my feet (literally).  In my case, it was Catholicism.   It is not my place to say one religion is better than the other.  As long as “FAITH in something” is present, the soul should have some sort of  guidance ultimately leading to a common moral order. Holy wars that have been fought for generations have always focused on the differences in beliefs.  Why not focus on the similarities in those beliefs?  Are the beliefs really that extreme?  I’m looking forward to exploring other faiths.  If only there was more time in the day…

Blog and movies and Random blog and reviews02 Mar 2014 11:06 pm

Movies are a great escape from everyday life.  It is easier for me to get lost in a good movie vs a good TV series because I don’t have the patience to wait every week for each cliff hanger.  I like reading books, but it takes me awhile to feel engaged in a good book.  Movies are convenient little vacations for my imagination.  I only have to invest a couple of hours into a good movie story vs days or weeks with a good television show or book. I’m a slow reader because I like to absorb every detail in every word/sentence a writer creates.  I really started watching movies with my brother over the summer breaks on VHS.  Before we really got involved with sports, we used to watch a lot of movies… The Rocky movies, the original Star Wars Trilogy, Top Gun, the original Karate Kid, and corny comedies like Top Secret were played everyday.  Movies tend to hold my attention because the good ones always have awesome soundtracks that enhance the story.  That lead to the creation of the Reversal Blook Soundtrack and the Awakening Blook Soundtrack.  I’ve found that early on movies were a great means of entertainment!  Luckily, I currently live really close to three movie theaters!  This week I went to the Ultra Star theaters twice on work nights to see The LEGO movie and a Kung-Fu movie through the Pacific Arts Movement, Journey to the West.

The LEGO movie appears on the surface to be a kid movie, but there were plenty of witty jokes and references that adults would actually appreciate.  There were many references to common everyday items given diabolical names with the emphasis on the wrong syllable to make them sound like elaborate evil villain weapons.  Pretty creative.  I met up with a San Diego movie club for the first time.  They go pretty much every week to catch the latest shows at “cheap movie night”.  Luckily it is only 2 trolley stations away, so I think I will be going there more frequently.

2 days later, I went back to Ultra Star Theater and saw Journey to The West, which was a featured movie of the Pacific Arts Movement.  The theater was packed!  There is definitely a community of Asian Film fans in San Diego.  I’m definitely going to be exploring the San Diego movie scene more frequently!   I’ll admit that I’ve always been a big fan of animation, science fiction, and fantasy.  If I wasn’t into sports growing up, I probably would have been considered a nerd. As a kid, my family really encouraged me to like science so I never really got to explore my creative side.  Sports was a huge part of my adolescence.  Naturally, physical therapy, a profession that combined “the science of healing and the art of caring”, was the perfect profession for me. I always liked creating stuff, so when my career was impeded by my physical disabilities, my creative side came to the forefront.  In hindsight, I was drawn to the profession of physical therapy because I could be creative in how we addressed the impairments in patients.  After assessing each patient’s impairments the physical therapists help patients create plans of care/goals to address those impairments. That was always the fun part of physical therapy for me… co-creating the plan of care with patients and working together to meet those goals!

Anyways, I watched the Academy Awards tonight so I’ll def have to catch 12 Years A Slave and Dallas Buyer’s Club.  Movies are becoming a new hobby.  I wonder how you get involved in the production of them…


Blog and Random blog08 Feb 2014 03:25 pm

Music has the magical ability to transport you to a different place, time, or situation.  A couple months ago I found a bunch of old cassette tapes in my room back in Michigan.  I was dying to listen to a few of my old mix tapes that I made in the late 80s and early 90s.  Before iTunes, Napster, and CDs… I used to record songs off the radio from the show, Rick D’s Top 40.   I even found a few of the first cassettes albums I bought!  My friend let me borrow her cassette player to figure out what songs were in my old collection of cassettes.  I was really into hair bands and pop music growing up because I had easy access to those genres through the radio.  Before my rock-n-roll phase, I remember singing Barry Manilow songs and “Tiny Bubbles” with my dad on guitar as a toddler.  I’m pretty sure we lost those “recording sessions”(at least I hope they are lost.)  When I got to junior high, I realized that those songs weren’t going to be cool with my friends… HAHAHA!  My interests shifted to the music my friends thought were cool.  The Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, and Def Leppard were huge influences on me.  When I got older, our family got our first video camera.  I used to tape my brother and cousins lip syncing songs… usually these lip syncs ended up me filming them jumping off stuff with cool background music.   Anyways, I borrowed my friend’s cassette player to find out what songs were on those old cassette tapes.  What I found took me back to an innocent and curious time.  I was transformed into the quiet and awkward pre-pubescent version of myself who was still trying to figure things out!  These were a few of the songs:

Hee hee… those songs brought me back to a simpler time where my only worries were: getting good grades, winning the football game at recess, and learning as much as I could about EVERYTHING!  People always assumed I was a quiet guy, but in reality I think I was just being extra “observant” about everything.  I recently found the Goldbergs on TV.  That show cracks me up because it embodies my awkward years in the 80’s.  Of course the 90’s, 2000’s, and 2010’s were also “awkward” in their own ways, but I’ve learned to embrace the awkwardness.

Freaks and Geeks was a short-lived TV “dramady” about high schoolers from the early 80s trying to fit in.  Some big names in movies came out of that show: Judd Apatow, James Franco, Seth Rogan, and Jason Segel are a few.  Although it only lasted one season, it is definitely one of my favorite shows because I could relate to the coming of age “awkwardness” of it!

“Awkwardness” in new situations make for some great stories!  ;P  STAY TUNED because I’m still getting into a lot of NEW awkward situations as a “Kick mAss” brain tumor thriver… These songs from my past reminded me that I can get through any situation no matter how uncomfortable it is.  The old cassettes from my “wonder years” took me back to my first round of awkward years.  Combining music with an experience always enhances a memory.

PT shop talk and Random blog29 Jan 2014 11:50 pm

Thoughts from the train…

Well, the train broke down AGAIN!  I’m stuck between San Diego and Oceanside probably until 1AM.  Other than this hiccup, I’ve had a great start of the week!  On Monday, went up to Loma Linda in San Bernadino county.  I had never been up there before, so I was excited to explore a new area! San Bernadino is east of LA, located close to “the valley.”  I was going to give a talk at the Loma Linda Physical Therapy school and help out with 2 neurology lab sessions (basically, I was going to be a “Guinea Pig” for a bunch of 2nd year Doctor of Physical Therapy students to practice on.) My main duties in lab were to give them feedback on their technique and teach them some tips on dealing with patients.

* YIKES!  OK, THE LIGHTS JUST WENT OUT ON THE TRAIN…. I’M SITTING ALL BY MYSELF IN COMPLETE DARKNESS IN THE CABOOSE OF A STRANDED TRAIN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!  THIS IS THE PREMIS FOR A HORROR MOVIE! At least I have a window seat… actually a bunch of window seats!  I’m not claustrophobic cause I can see the sky!

Was kinda funny because I remember the whole student mindset.  In grad school, we had to learn how to do “critical thinking.”  Sometimes there is not clearcut right/wrong answer. We had to choose “the most correct” answer.  Determining the “more correct answer” drove me nuts!  Each question had something “correct” in it, but there was always one little detail that made it incorrect!  I had friends in school argue every little point of each question they answered incorrectly to squeeze every point on their quest for the perfect score.  That was definitely not me. I figured that ultimately, I’m not going to waste my energy arguing minute details if ultimately I understood the value of the question. Anyways, I got to tell my personal story as a young physical therapist who got the rug pulled out from underneath him and had to recreate himself. I usually talk about helping patients find their own path.  In the lab session, I got to meet the students and challenge them face-to-face. It was kinda cool seeing the “light click on” when I’d give them feedback on their techniques.  The fact that I actually taught someone something that they can use to help someone else was a pretty cool feeling!   It was similar to the feeling I first got when I taught a patient with a spinal cord injury how to successfully transfer from his wheel chair to the mat table independently!  I remember thinking “Someone will actually be applying what I taught them! COOL!” This is what drew me to the Physical Therapy profession in the first place!

*Lights Back on now!  The last trip I scheduled to LA got canceled because someone decided to literally lay down on the track!  Yikes!  Anyways, I’m doing a lot more speaking at PT programs.  I think I’ll be helping out at labs more often now.  I find them more fun because there is more interaction.  Seeing the light “click on” was such a cool feeling!  Plus I enjoy messing with students… hee hee hee!  There are no “nervous testing hands” because I’m not grading them.  I’m really looking forward to doing another lecture and lab at San Diego State University this semester!

Blog and Random blog and reviews23 Jan 2014 10:18 pm

Earlier this week,  I was supposed to go up to Los Angeles for a meeting, but my train got cancelled.  It left me with a bunch of time to kill.  Exploring new areas has become my mission the past few years, but from the perspective of someone with a physical disability.  I decided to check out the San Diego Central Liberty.  Such a cool building!  I had not gone to a public library by myself since I was in high school.  In college going to the library was social time at the UgLi (The Shapiro Undergraduate Library).  I’d spend more time hanging out with my friends then I would actually studying at the library.  I couldn’t sit still in there because I have always had a very short attention span and I was always distracted by all the pretty girls… HAHAHA!

I figured out in grad school that I  need to be alone to get things done because the temptation to do something  more fun was ALWAYS very high!  I’ve forgotten that the library has so many resources! I vaguely remember going to the library as a kid and reading Curious GeorgeWhere the Wild Things Are, and Pockets For Corduroy.  I also vaguely remember eating toasted jelly sandwiches and Oreo cookies.  I recall my parents telling me “if you are loud you’ll get in trouble!”  I was always a quiet kid after that!  Most people go to Barnes and Noble to find books or other resources.   I think it is largely due to the fact that it is open later which makes stores and coffee houses more conducive to people looking for a book after work or school.   Technology is making information more accessible, so  I’m very curious to see how digital books/media will affect libraries.

Anyways, at the library, you can borrow CDs, movies, books, ebooks, and even e-readers (with a deposit)!  Pretty cool!  You don’t really appreciate things until the trivial things become difficult to attain. This trip to the library was an unexpected surprise years in the making.  I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed that place until I was immersed in it.  I spent the whole morning exploring a exciting new place!  I even ran into a buddy of mine with his kid!  I found out from him that they also have free classes there!  There are so many interesting resources there!  A genealogy section, a rare books section, San Diego History section, a computer lab, a whole section dedicated to baseball, a roof top view of downtown San Diego… so much going on there!  I’ll definitely be going back there!  The last stop on the trolley goes to the library…very accessible!  Now, I just have to find my library card…

Blog and Random blog12 Jan 2014 11:20 pm

10 years ago in January 2004, I moved from the arctic Michigan winters to sunny San Diego to start an exciting new life.  I had just graduated with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Michigan Flint.  I was excited to explore a new city as a single young professional fresh out of grad school.  I fell in love with the weather and food after my first night out in downtown San Diego!  When I first moved to San Diego, I lived in a friend’s house in Rancho Bernardo (RB) with a bunch of friends.  I was introduced to blogging, poker, and real flip flops here! The house was like a private hostel for people passing though and needed a place to stay.  I was still in the “broke-grad-student” mindset, so I had no problem living “frugally”.  I would commute an hour to and from RB to work at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.  I started my career in Physical Therapy on the acute care orthopedic rehab team and eventually settled in outpatient orthopedics. I was first assigned to the in-patient orthopedics floor.  I saw many total knee replacements, total hip replacements, post-op orthopedic surgeries, and occasionally a few oncology rehab patients.  I saw some very interesting cases there!  Ironically, I evaluated a few brain tumor patients post surgery.  Most of the Neuro-Oncology Rehab patients I evaluated were not in the hospital very long.  Little did I know that I would eventually become one of the more complex brain tumor patients in rehab.  Based on what I had seen, I thought that I would be out of the hospital in a few days.  I was WAY wrong! The location and size of the tumor complicated things and required a MUCH  longer hospital stay (8 days in ICU and 8 weeks total in hospital.)  I’ll admit it… When I first moved here, I was having fun discovering San Diego.  I was always out doing something! People would always want to come visit or I would go out of town to visit friends in Orange County or Los Angeles.  After a “humbling experience” associated with the lengthy recovery from my brain tumor surgery, my life was put on “hold.”  The people I used to see often were getting busy with their own lives.  It was frustrating not being able to go out and see friends or go anywhere on my own!

Recently, I’ve been able to rediscover San Diego, but from the perspective of someone with a physical disability.  I couldn’t go anywhere unless someone took me.  The only time I would see people is when they came to visit me.  For the first time in my life, I felt trapped in a prison constructed by my physical impairments.  Ultimately, I learned to evolve or more precisely… I  forced myself to evolve.  I do credit the brain tumor for igniting a new fire for advocacy, but I’m still bitter at everything I lost.  Almost everything that defined me was taken away: my job, participation in sports, my mobility… Very humbling… It took a lot of background research and experimentation, but I have found new hobbies/activities in San Diego. Reading, writing, video production, education, and a “new-found appreciation of life” have become my new interests.  I’m starting to have new adventures by exploring different parts of the city via handicap accessible public transportation.  It is essentially “rediscovering” the city that drew me away from my “comfort zone” in Michigan.  Redefining my NEW comfort zone post-treatment is introducing new possibilities for me.  Change is the only constant in life.  Adaptation is the best way to address it.  Many of my favorite restaurants/hangouts are now gone, but I’m having fun discovering new ones! 2014 will be filled with many more adventures.  More international travel is planned later in the year.  “Discovery” will be my theme for 2014.  Stay Tuned!

housekeeping and Random blog09 Jan 2014 06:12 pm


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