A while ago I had quite a nightmare. I began to awake to people shouting at me. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and why these people were in my room yelling at me. I can distantly hear my friend saying, “Relax Louie, everything’s going to be fine.” I have a shooting pain in my back and I can hardly move or breath. I had my eyes open, but I couldn’t see anything. Slowly, I can start to see hazy light and figures around me. They asked, “Do you know what day, month, year it is? Who is the president? Do you know where you are?” I didn’t know anything, so I just guessed. After a few seconds I realized this wasn’t a dream, and I wasn’t at home. I was out with a friend and I had just had a seizure.
We were having lunch and were talking about my classes and how crazy things were. I began to feel ill. I let him know something bad was happening. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it felt ugly. My body was telling me that something was going wrong. It felt like I was dying. I stayed at the table and just waited for this feeling to pass. My body gave up. Out. I slumped over and began to fall off of the bench. My friend saw what was happening and caught me before I fell. Some other people slid over another bench and placed it under me, creating a makeshift bed. When the paramedics arrived, they assumed I was on some kind of drug. The day was Saturday, April 20th, a day notorious for drug use. I suppose wearing my favorite Pink Floyd shirt didn’t help the situation too much either. Later it was obvious why they were so angry at me. After a few shouts back in reply to theirs, my friend made it clear to them that I do not do any drugs and was not on any. Their attitude changed and they persuaded me to take a ride to the hospital.
The seizure was an isolated incident and I haven’t had one since. My back, however, has been a different story. When I seized I severely strained my upper back muscles. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to do so without external force (I’ve tried to recreate it and haven’t found a way to do it). For weeks I couldn’t walk or breathe without experiencing tremendous pain. With every step a sharp pain pulsed through my whole body. Lifting my camera was out of the question. Through months of recovering and some physical therapy, the pain has been on a slow decline. State law requires that you are not allowed to drive for six months if you have seizure, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything. I see this mostly as a building block. Something that would be a part of my foundation to build me up. I am blessed to even have the opportunity to improve and get well, one that not all people get.
Over the past few months I’ve been able to go to some great places and I’m thankful for all my family and friends who’ve helped me through this time. I’m also thankful for the Angels who swooped in and embraced me that day. I’m especially thankful for my friend Randy Ennis, who was there to make sure I was going to be alright. Thank you all, even if we barely know each other, you’ve made a difference in my life. October 20th marks the six month mark, a huge milestone. It won’t be long before I will be able to drive, have minimal pain, and pursue my life the way I wished when I graduated. I don’t see any of this as a roadblock, but a stepping stone. Within the last month I’ve had a great opportunity cross my path. While it’s scary and somewhat life changing, I’m certain I will pursue it. The other night I had a much better dream that I think reinforces my decision.
I was at a beautiful beach in Hawaii. Warm sand, blue water, and palm trees to our back. I was with a friend (whom I’ve never met in real life) and he was persuading me to go surfing with him. The waves were larger than I’ve ever seen. They were very intimidating and howled off in the distance. We went out to the shallows and they got even larger. Storm clouds covered some of the blue skies to our left. I began to go back to the beach, against my friends wishes. It felt comfortable going back. I saw a flash of words as I was heading to the safety of the sand. “Fear is temporary, regret is permanent.” I turned around, faced the waves, and paddled out.
One of the best ways to come home a winner is to manage your money well. On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I hit a jackpot on a slot the first night and won $130. I used those winnings to gamble for the entire trip and still came home with more than I started. All together I spent $30 of my original winnings from the first day. Coming home with more than you arrived with always feels great. Here’s a few tips to make sure you don’t go broke.
1. Have a set budget.
Decide how much money you are okay with leaving at the casino. Divide that by how many days you plan to gamble. When or if you have spent your allotted money for the day, STOP. Don’t chase your money by double downing or gambling further to win it back. It isn’t going to happen. Chasing the money you lost is the fastest way to blow your entire budget.
2. The house always wins.
No matter what game you are playing in the casino, know that the house always wins. You may have better odds in certain games, but it’s never greater than the house edge and there are no secrets or strategies around that. One thing I once heard from a craps dealer that made me laugh was, “If your bet gives the casino an edge, it’s called gambling. If you try to put the odds in your favor, it’s called cheating.”
3. Quit while you’re ahead.
As stated in my second tip, the house will always win. So if you find you’re ahead double or even triple what you’ve started with, walk away. Go do something else and enjoy your winnings. The casinos are betting that you will give in and gamble away all of your winnings hoping to win even more. Fight the urge and walk away a winner, no matter how big or small.
4. Don’t drink (too much).
In one of my coming blog posts I’ll give some tips on my favorite game in the casino, Craps.