Tonight, I start the first of (hopefully) many more posts to come. So let’s start with a little introduction.
Hello, My name is Ty Ulmer. I’m 17 years young. I have an amazing family. With my mother Kim and my father Darrin. And the greatest brother anyone could ever ask for, Josh. We are the Ulmers.
And We (well, most of us) live in the great state of Idaho.
Those of you whom have never been. I strongly suggest you give it a visit. When I first moved here, way back in 2006. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But that changed quickly..
You see, I’m what you would call, different. I’m not quite your average teenager. As you’ll come to see. When we first moved here, I was 11, but moving here a month before my birthday, I quickly grew to the age of 12. And what a great age it was. Not a care in the world. Waking up, eating breakfast, and starting school, all in the same house. You see, growing up as a military brat, I was.. Spoiled when it came to schooling. I never had to get up at the crack of dawn. I never had to ride the buss with 20 other kids, all half asleep. I never had 7-8 hours of school. I my daily study’s. Sure, I had math, science, history, all the usual subjects anyone else had. But I didn’t sit in front of my teacher. I didn’t learn at the pace the teacher decided to teach. I learned at the pace I was used to, my own. I had all of those subjects to do, sure. But if I wanted. I could skip lunch, and be done with school in 4 hours. It was all up to me. There were days that I got up early, and finished before lunch. Then there were days that I was lazy, and finished shortly before going to bed. Of course I had more days finishing after dinner, than before lunch. But you get my point. Yes, growing up in the Ulmer household. I had quite the life, as I still do.
I would finish school, and wait till the buss stopped by our house, to wait for my friends to come home. So I could show them the new nerf gun that my parents bought me for my birthday. And we could go out and play. Yes, life was good. On a military base, safety wasn’t much of a concern, you had to ride your bike with a helmet, and had to be home before the street lights came on, but that was it. Me and my friends would go off and play at the park, not even a minute from my house. Perfect for mom, she’d walk out the front door, yell “Dinner’s ready!” and I’d be home in no time. Just to go back out and play after my food had settled for 30 minutes, and not a second before.
I’d go to bed that night, after saying my goodnight prayer with my mom. Feeling safe and secure in my bed. Just to wake up the next day, and do it all over again. I’d finish my school and go for a bike ride almost every day. No, not for exercise, just because I liked to get going really fast, hit the breaks, and try to make the longest skid mark on the concrete. I would compete with my friends on who had more style, and who did it better. If we weren’t making a mess of the concrete, we were riding around the outskirts of the base, looking for dogs who’d ran away. Just to take them home, and call the number on the tag, so the owners could come pick them up. They always wanted to pay me for returning their dog. They’d ask “How much do I owe you?” I reply with “What ever you feel comfortable giving me” I never asked for the money, because back then, I never did anything for money, I did it because I knew if my dog ran away, I would want someone to return him to me. And because it gave me something to do everyday.
Day’s would go by, and before you know it. It was my birthday again. What did I get this time? A cell phone. Just so my mom could call me when she wanted me home. Most times I would never hear the ringer, and she would have to come find me anyways. Can’t say much has changed. Haha.
Shortly (I mean a month) after my birthday, which still happens every year, on August 2nd. It was a sad day for everyone who kept up on news. It was September 11th. And everyone now knows what that day means. For us being in the military, it meant all the more. I’d go out and ride my bike with my friends, just as I had the day before. But when they had to go to the store with their mom, I continued making skid marks, and doing the things I normally would.
I circled the neighborhood, gathering speed with every pedal. I was going for the biggest one yet. My hands made the mistake of hitting my front tire break, when my brain clearly said rear. And I flopped forward over the handle bars, my feet slipped off the pedals, and the pedals caught on my shin. Tearing the skin on my right shin. Feeling like an idiot. I got off my bike, and limped home. Cleaned up the cut on my leg, just before mom got home from work. We had dinner, and went to bed as usual. Over the next few days. I noticed the pain never really went away, as with other cuts. But being 13. I thought nothing of it. At night I would ask mom for the occasional ibuprofen because my leg was sore. After about the 3rd day of asking, mom realized something wasn’t right. And looked at my leg.
Mom: “Growing pains.” Dad “That, or shin splints.”
After a while, I began to limp. And not like your average ‘pants on the ground’ limp. Like an ‘Ow, my leg hurts’ limp. I remember my mom putting the back of her hand on my leg and saying “It’s really warm.” And feeling the bump that had risen from my shin. She knew something wasn’t right. And made a doctors appointment. Being on a military base. We had to deal with deployments. And yes, doctors included. So we had to wait. Almost another month, or so it seemed. When the day finally came, we showed up to the appointment not knowing what to expect. We bumped into one of our friends who was a nurse there, on our way to our exam room. We get to the room. And it felt like we (me and mom) were being watched. Or I felt like I was. The doctor comes in, and looks at the bump (now doubled in size) Feeling it, and so on, as doctors do. And he said “Let’s get him in for an x-ray”
He leaves, and we wait for the x-ray tech to come get us. They lead me back to the room. I remember feeling really cold. Could be the fact that most hospital A/C units are set on a strict 45 degree temperature year round. Or something just didn’t feel right.
X-ray finished, and now waiting. Waiting. And more waiting. Just as all hospitals do to their patients. We go back to the doctors office. As he is looking at the x-ray, he asks us. “Could you come back at 4 for an MRI.” I remember my mom asking. “Well, do you know what it is yet?” and the doctor looked at us both and said. “It looks like bone cancer.”
I’ve never jumped out of a plane, but I’m pretty sure the feeling I felt after he said that. Was pretty close. It’s as if you jumped out of the plane and realized. “I forgot my parachute” The clock on the wall, stopped ticking. My hands, started to sweat. My mom looked like she was just punched in the gut. Loosing all air in her lungs. And brought to tears. The feeling when she grabbed my hand, and squeezed it tight. I will never forget. As we quickly walked back to the van, and sat down. Still in disbelief. My mom holding back the tears, asked me “Are you okay??” I nodded. But never spoke a word. The quick drive home was silent to say the least. I don’t even remember hearing the engine running. We pull up to the house. My mom still gasping for air. Told me. “Go inside sweetie, I’ll be right there” as I walked to the house, stumbling in the door. I laid on the couch. And didn’t move for what felt like hours. I could picture my mom out in the car, calling my dad, crying, and saying “Come home now.” And I pictured my dad, Standing up from the meeting. And saying “I have to go.” and walking out. The first real thought I remember having was. “I’m going to loose my hair?!?” “Oh no. I’m going to be bald!!?” As if it was so important.
I blinked my eyes. And here I am, at 2:03 AM.. 4 years from diagnosis. And 3.5 years cancer free.
As I write, I try to make it as if I were talking to you, and explaining what was happening. You’ll see a lot of that in the coming posts. But as the time passes. My bed gets more and more comfortable. And now I must give in.
More to come. Hope you all enjoy it!
“The things we deem important in our lives, shouldn’t be things, if they’re really important.”