Kaleidoscopic Vision Experience

I’ve just had an interesting experience while watching TV (The Mentalist, season 1, episode 2). It’s something that appears to have been Kaleidiscopic Vision. Here’s how I’ve described it to Julia, trying to work out how this thing came about: my peripheral vision was fine, so was the centre of my vision, but there were two circles around the centre that were flickering like small sticks, in all colours of the rainbow.

I was trying to work out if this phenomenon appeared in one eye or on both, which was a little tricky as the image I was seeing was an amalgamation of both eyes. Closing either one of them revealed that it did not make a difference, so bizarrely it was happening on both eyes. This in turn seemed to suggest that it was not eye related, but rather brain related. In computer terms, the visual processing happens after signals are being received from both eyes.

Closing my eyes did not seam to have an impact as the little rainbow sticks kept dancing in a circle in the dark. There were no accompanying symptoms like a headache or migraine, nor did I feel dizzy. I had a crazing for salty snacks if that’s a symptom, which I duly squashed with a handful of cheesy Chex Mix.

A quick web search revealed the possible name for my experience: Kaleidoscopic Vision. While it could be related to something more serious, the articles suggest it’ll disappear within 30 minutes. And right they were: it occurred about halfway through that Mentalist episode, and disappeared about 10 minutes into the next, rather rapidly I might add. as if someone had flicked a switch.

Although causes may vary, one article suggested this may be related to caffeine withdrawal (which I’ve had recently), as well as hyper stimulation. That too is true: having had my head buried rather deep in two complex 3D programmes yesterday (CLO and Marvelous Designer), while dealing with a bit of web server administration. Today I was involved involved in the production of a complex YouTube video about something called the Filament Render Engine in DAZ Studio. Am I using my brain too much perhaps?

I took two aspirin just in case this thing would turn into a headache, a trick I’ve learnt from my dentist Dr. Oliver, after he removed my wisdom teeth: Rather than wait for the pain, take pain killers before the onset and things will be much more tolerable. Just in case.

I’ll see how this thing pans out. The phenomenon is gone for now, but I thought I’d make a quick note here to have a sequence of events and a little context. I’ll keep you posted if it happens again, or in fact if anything else health related is happening in my life.

Switching back to Decaf

I’ve had an interesting experience with myself last week: I switched to decaf, after having caffeine creep into my coffee consumption more and more recently. After my treatment, I abstained from caffeine for a while, and eventually added a spoon of caffeinated coffee into my own special mixture I’d like to call “third-caf”, made up of two spoons of Folgers decaf and one spoon of Bustelo. I really liked the taste.

my coffee stash – I don’t like running low, it’s a real luxury for me

Over time, a second spoon of “real” coffee crept in, and over the last three months or so, I found myself on fully caffeinated Bustelo again. It’s the only vice I have left, and I didn’t see it doing any harm to my system, nor did I receive any adverse messages from my body. Until last week, when I had a full pot of decaf.

Julia doesn’t drink coffee, because of the caffeine, but she does enjoy the smell of a fresh cup of Joe or a newly opened pack of coffee. With decaf, she even joins me for a cup sometimes (otherwise she’s more of a decaf tea person). I liked the pure decaf taste, and also didn’t think it would do anything adverse.

Then however one of those numb non-localised headaches came to visit me. Those you can kind of live with, but life would certainly better without. Many familiar with this phenomenon will quickly recognise it as caffeine withdrawal syndrome. Apparently it’s caused by an increased amount of blood going to the brain, or rather the “normal” amount of blood going to the brain.

Caffeine has the bad side effect that it actually restricts blood flow to the brain, causing a kind of “controlled stress”, with the effect of us being more alert. That’s why we like it so much. As we indulge on caffeine, our body gets used to it, as we get used to its effects. When we stop taking it, our body needs to get used to that lack of stress induction first, which can cause a whole host of effects in some users:

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • difficulty to concentrate
  • flu-like symptoms
  • fatigue

There is of course a scale to this phenomenon, and mine was a very mild case, yet strong enough to make be aware. A few days of complete coffee abstinence followed, and now I’m back on the full decaf (which depending on where you get it from, and how strong you brew it, still contains a small amount of caffeine; I remember a Starbucks’ decaf [on the slim chance they actually have one brewing] is strong enough to make me feel the caffeine).

I’m telling you all this because today I tried to smuggle a spoon full of caffeinated Bustelo into my daily mix, thinking what a nice treat the flavour variation might be. And while I enjoyed that taste indeed, the caffeine effect wasn’t working for me. It’s fairly new behaviour for me to react immediately and honour that feeling in my body by pouring out that Thermos and making myself a fresh pot of 100% decaf.

Back in the day I would have just “started doing that tomorrow” and continue drinking the mix I had readily available, suppressing my feelings with thoughts like “don’t be such a wuss and get on with it, you’ll be fine”. Every addict knows that voice. The real power is in breaking it there and then, and NOT continuing with current behaviour and acting immediately. That’s what puts you in charge, and that’s what makes a change and a difference.

So yes. I’m back on the decaf, and I’m proud of being aware of what just happened there 😎

Ostomies are Lifesavers 😍

I had an email from the friendly folks at ConvaTEC (or rather Ostomysecrets), purveyors of fine ostomy supplies and apparel. I’m still on their newsletter ever since my ostomy days so I still get updates on their news. Although I no longer have a need for those supplies, I really like the occasional reminder of what I needed during my ostomy time.

Every first Saturday of October is the worldwide Ostomy Awareness Day, and 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of this ritual. I had no idea until literally this year.

As such, the whole month of October is classed as Ostomy Awareness Month, and CovaTEC had these t-shirts in stock for $5 plus shipping. I couldn’t resist and bought several, both to support the project, and to send to friends around the globe so they can celebrate with every current, co- or ex-ostomate in style.

Check out this link to get yours too, if they’re still in stock.


What this means to me

October is a special month for me in regards to ostomies: I had my colostomy successfully reversed and turned into an ileostomy in the month of October. I had it for 9 months by that point, my hernia was giving me grief, and although we had always planned to reverse it, you’re never sure if that’s how things will turn out when you go in for the procedure. Lucky for me it went well, and I came out with an ileostomy. Dr. Szomstein (my colon surgeon) did this to make sure the that the lower part of the connection could heal properly.

After 10 more weeks with my shiny new ileostomy, he could reverse that too – and I am ostomy free since December 2017.

I wouldn’t have survived my journey without the two ostomies. My cancer had wreaked havoc to so many parts of my GI and urinary tract; we had to literally divert everything we could so I wouldn’t continually get infected. It was a tough time, and I remember seriously disliking the effects that ileostomy had on my body. It was far worse than my colostomy: I felt dehydrated all the time, I was constantly craving salt because my body didn’t get a chance to metabolise what I put in, and it felt like my stoma was in constant use.

At least with my colostomy, I had “quiet” periods that I could use to change the wafer in peace, and my skin could recover properly. This was not the case with my other stoma. The constant acidic leakage from my ileostomy meant that I had strong skin irritation with literally no chance for my skin to recover. I remember worrying that it might be difficult to close up the hole due to the raw and itchy skin, but thankfully that was not an issue.

While it was a nerve-wrecking ritual every morning, both of these contraptions meant that I was neither bed bound nor restricted in my daily movement routines: I could take walks, I could take relatively long bike rides, and once taken care of in the morning, there wasn’t much to worry about for the rest of the day or night – apart from empting the bag regularly and keep an eye on it. Much like with any task that seems impossible at first: if you have the right tools to do the job, dealing with the toughest tasks becomes possible.


So there we go! Let’s celebrate Ostomy Awareness Month together, with or without a shirt. Let’s think of those who are dealing with ostomies every day, patients and carers alike, and purveyors of ostomy supplies.

You’re all heroes in my book! 🥰

How Immunotherapy saved my life by Jay Versluis (that’s me!)

I gave this motivational talk at the Oncology Symposium 2019 in Hollywood, FL. It gave me a chance to describe what it’s like to survive cancer when the common treatment methods fail, and how immunotherapy (specifically Keytruda) saved my life. This is an abbreviated version of the story I’m telling in my book BROKEN BOWELS.

I didn’t have notes or a presentation, and did all this from the top of my head, while taking care of the event streaming and tech. Perhaps I’ll make a Power Point for next year 🙂

Molecular Intelligence with Simon Abi-Aad

I’ve filmed this presentation at the Oncology Symposium 2019. Dr. Abi-Aad is talking about how to use Molecular Targets to personalize medicine, using genetic sequencing.

Dr. Simon Abi Aad is board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology/hematology and has special interest in public policy and cancer care delivery to patients. Dr. Abi Aad earned his medical degree from the Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik Faculté de Médecine (Jounieh, Lebanon), did a research internship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai – St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center (New York, NY) with extensive rotations at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After his residency, Dr. Abi Aad was awarded a Fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Miami – Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (Miami, FL).

Checkpoint Immunotherapy and how it works – with Kenia Caballero

In this presentation, one of my oncology nurses Kenia Caballero gives us an overview on how immunotherapy works. She was one of the many wonderful nurses who administered both chemotherapy as well as immunization drugs while I was undergoing treatment in Mount Sinai Miami Beach during 2016 and 2017.

I’ve filmed this talk at the Oncology Symposium 2019 in Hollywood, FL.

Updates in B-Cell Malignancies with Amy Goodrich

This is a presentation about updates and issues in hematologic malignancies, specifically B-Cell malignancies. Amy gave this talk at the Oncology Symposium 2019 in Hollywood, FL.

Amy L. Goodrich, RN, MSN, CRNP-AC, is a Research Associate at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies for The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. She manages patients with various types of hematologic malignancies, concentrating on lymphomas, in addition to managing The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center’s team of research nurses.

Breast Cancer Update with Dr. Elisa Krill-Jackson

I’ve filmed this presentation at the Oncology Symposium 2019 in Hollywood, FL. It’s about advances in breast cancer treatments over the last year. Please excuse the audio quality, she was the first speaker of the day and we were still figuring things out so early in the morning.

Dr. Krill-Jackson is a practicing Hematologist & Oncologist in Miami Beach, FL. Dr. Krill-Jackson graduated from University of Michigan Medical School in 1990 and has been in practice for 28 years. She completed a residency at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Krill-Jackson also specializes in Internal Medicine and Oncology. She currently practices at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Super Survivor YouTube Channel and Podcast

Great news everyone: I’ve just started a band new YouTube channel dedicated to this project. Although my main channel is thriving, I felt that the cancer related content deserves a dedicated place because it’s unrelated to 3D tutorials or tech reviews.

The new channel will feature lectures I’ve recorded as well as coverage of Karen’s Oncology Symposiums, featuring a wealth of information that deserves to be shared.

But that’s not all: while YouTube has the largest audience out of all services out there, it’s sometimes beneficial to listen to the information as it’s presented, be that on a walk in the park, a lengthy commute, or a boring flight. Hence, all content will be available as audio versions in the podcast feed.

You can subscribe to the service via these services, using your favorite podcast client:

This is part of a larger content reorganization strategy I’m currently working on, with more longer term projects coming into my life. I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post.

2nd Annual Oncology Symposium 2019

I streamed this event live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, back in April 2019. I totally forgot to put it on this site (like so many other things and videos that I’ve posted on YouTube already).

This was a one-day speaker event (including myself), about Empowering Professionals and Advancing Evidence-Based Strategies in Cancer Care.

Speakers and Program Outline

Below you’ll find clickable links that take you directly to each speaker’s part in the video.

Karen R. Stephensen, DNP, MBA, APRN-BC

Introduction and Opening Remarks

Elisa Krill-Jackson, MD

Treatment Update: Breast Cancer/SABCS Update
Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Miami Beach, FL

Amy Goodrich, MSN, CRNP-AC

Updates and Issues in Hematologic Malignancies
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD

Jay Versluis, Super Survivor

BROKEN BOWELS – a motivational minute
How Immunotherapy saved my life

Simon Abi-Aad, MD

Understanding Molecular Intelligence
Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, Naples, FL
Florida Precision Oncology (June 2019)

Kenia Caballero, MSN

Best Practices for the Assessment and Management of Immune Related Adverse Effects
Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Miami Beach, FL

Raul Alberto Cortes Ladino, MD

How to Recognise and Treat Fear, Anxiety and Depression in Persons with Cancer
Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Miami Beach, FL

Mike Cusnir, MD

Integrative Medicine / Use of Medical Marijuana
Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Miami Beach, FL

If you have any questions about the presents, please reach out to karen.stephenson@msmc.com