Monday, February 15, 2016

An Update - Part 1

(Cross posted to Bipolar Support and Living With A Purple Dog)

I haven't updated this blog since Ryan passed, but it's time to come back and tell a story of events that only Ryan could orchestrate. This is a story where, if you aren't familiar with Ryan and his life, might sound like random events. We know better.

Ryan and his older brother, we'll call him Greg, were only 19 months apart, and were very close. They did everything together. After Ryan passed, on the anniversary of his death, Greg decided to honor Ryan by stepping outside his comfort zone and doing something he wouldn't otherwise do. Ryan was a fearless free spirit, and it was a fitting tribute. One year he went skydiving, another year he ate Chinese food. Then the third year...

On the third anniversary of Ryan's death, Greg went horseback riding. He'd been on trail horses at camp, but never wind-in-his-hair, exhilarating riding. It was the great experience he hoped for. Another fitting tribute. The next day he was sore - that's to be expected, right? Except it didn't go away. After several days he decided to get it checked out. His doctor got somber and told him to run, not walk, to the hospital. There they diagnosed him with testicular cancer. They scheduled him for surgery the next day. Not to minimize any cancer, but testicular cancer caught early is rarely life-threatening. A lot depends on when it's caught, and the particular situation.

Taking a slight detour here. Testicular cancer usually involves removal of the affected testicle, and after a period of time, fertility returns to a normal level. But we encouraged him to freeze some sperm before the surgery, and he said they'd consider it. Well, they did. Can you imagine a young couple trying to produce sperm after being diagnosed with cancer, knowing surgery was early the next day? My perverse sense of humor makes me chuckle every time I think about it.

Surgery went well, but after a CT scan they scheduled him for aggressive chemo. It was miserable, but successful. Except the chemo left him sterile.

Over the next year or so he underwent numerous examinations and scans, which eventually led to a clean bill of health - he was in remission, and they had no reason to suspect the cancer would return.

End of part one - if it wasn't for honoring his late brother, it's possible Greg's cancer wouldn't have been discovered soon enough for the positive outcome he received. I truly believe Ryan orchestrated this. And since he went that far, watch for part 2 of this post...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Disability Hearing

About a month ago we had a call from Ryan's (Kyle's) attorney saying a date had been set for his disability claim hearing. He had made application a long time before he died, was rejected (as are most), and the attorney filed an appeal. It seems like this happened quite a while before he died. 20 months after he left us, he finally gets a disability hearing. We were ready to walk away, I have no interest in taking money from the Social Security Administration after he's gone, but the wife and I discussed it and decided that, if for no other reason, the attorney could recover some of her costs. She really is a caring and compassionate person. So we decided to proceed.

We walked into the hearing room and there was my wife and I, Ryan's attorney, the judge, a medical expert on speaker phone, and a vocational expert. They all had files as thick as a big-city phone book. They were referencing many exhibits, sub-exhibits, schedules, and so forth. They had his counseling records, his medical and hospital records, his psychiatrist's records. Things he'd NEVER want to share with anyone, and it was an open book. To hear his life reduced to a stack of papers was almost more than I could handle, and I choked up at times during the testimony. There was information read aloud he would NEVER want us, let alone others, to know. It was really sad. We wanted them to know what a caring, compassionate, loving, brilliant kid he was, but that wasn't material to the case.

The system is broken, probably irreparably. It's designed to deny benefits rather than help those in need. It sucks out the motivation, the self-worth, the soul of those attempting to collect disability. Unfortunately, it won't change, given the state of politics today.

The weeks leading up to this, both my wife and I fell into a depression. The deepest depression I've had since he died. The day after the hearing, we're both improving a bit, but it may take a while.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Chapter Read and Closed

It's been almost 10 months since Ryan (Kyle) died. The sharpness of the pain has faded, and that hurts also. It's like we're no longer feeling his death like we used to, and that brings about feelings of guilt. Last night we were eating dinner and the phone rang. Someone asked for Ryan, and my daughter handed the phone to me. It was a recruiter. I told her Ryan passed away, she felt bad, and said she wouldn't call again. I hung up, and we all sat there and cried. But those times are less frequent.

I've been asked why I'm no longer blogging. I am, albeit infrequently. I'm also spending time on Facebook. My blog is a general blog, meant to give a personal outlet. I no longer blog about my bipolar disorder, the sharing of that part of my life is gone with Ryan. I have moved on. I'm not removing this blog, or our blog. I'm leaving them up as a reminder to me of how much things have changed, and as a reminder of yet another chapter in my life that is read and done.

Here's a favorite family picture from either 1995 or 1996. Ryan is sitting next to my wife, posing, as he did for every picture we took of him:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Few Pictures

It's been a rough 10 weeks, and it's time to post a few pictures.

Our Ryan (Kyle) a couple of years ago.

Ryan (Kyle), his girlfriend, EJ, and his little sister. He was so good with his sisters, the greatest big brother they could ever want.

Ryan (Kyle) and Mom.

It's been a bitch, but everyone is making it through each day. I may do another post in the future about some of the support resources we found.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Thanks To All

Thanks to all for the thoughts, prayers, emails, flowers, and everything else. It means more to us than you'll ever know. Sorry if I haven't personally responded, it's hard enough to tie my shoes.

We're still around, battling through. I may post more later, but wanted to say thanks.