Thursday, January 6, 2011

Damned Blessings

So I sat in the hospital room ICU till Tuesday waiting for results and having a number of doctors giving me more info but always in short bursts. I would say that they came in for a few minutes but with some of them it seemed that they were not even in there for a full minute.

The Neurosurgeon didn’t come around to seeing me till Wednesday and apologized for not having seen me the day before but said that he was in a long surgery that had resulted in someone being paralyzed. From day one, I thoroughly appreciated this doctor’s bluntness and approach. Some doctors had suggested I give up running, ultimate, soccer (indefinitely), sex (for a month or so), alcohol and caffeine indefinitely (my response was “But what about rum and coke?”). The neurosurgeon was the most ‘liberal,’ having been the one who cleared me to run while in the hospital. He told me to give up the sports where a hit to the head was possible (soccer you have to hit it with your head and I’d had a concussion playing ultimate) but that I could keep running. I decided quickly that I would follow that advice in the long haul but I was also honest that I wouldn’t be giving them up immediately. I had one more tournament, Celebracion del Espiritu, 10 days away and I was going to be playing in it. I had a soccer league to finish and I would. If necessary, I would give up that stuff but I would do it on my own terms. He didn’t like it but I think we both appreciated the fact that we weren’t playing games with each other.

He and several doctors kept pointing out that I was the healthiest person they’d ever seen with . While I knew that they were pointing that out as a way of saying it improved my odds of recovery and decreased my chances of complications, it was not particularly reassuring. You’re the cutest ugly person, you’re the tallest midget, you’re the most blessed out of the damned; the remark somehow wasn’t comforting. At my job about a month later while people sat one day vehemently arguing about the benefits of eating healthy, I thought back to this and said “Yeah, I’ve always eaten healthy and I’ve never had any major health complications… oh dang it…” The person making the argument was rather annoyed with me. But the oddity of this was something to think about. I’d never called in sick in my entire life. Due to those realities, I had also signed up for the cheapest medical insurance, not signed up for disability, and my life insurance was well below adequate. I’d taken a gamble and it was somewhat overwhelming that it had paid off so poorly.

Kiana had come down with the flu the day after I came out of surgery so Kiana went to grammy’s house to not risk any infection for me. So it would be almost a week after I came out of surgery before I would see her. My wife had recently started a new job which she had not even started to accrue days off. Her boss was very understanding and told her she needed to take as much time off as possible but it would be unpaid (which was of course all she could offer). I told her not to take any time off as we’d likely do the money. The kid who grew up poor had been diagnosed with brain cancer and far more than my health I was worried about making sure that my family was taken care of financially. More than a few people would offer to help in that area but my worry and my pride could not be reconciled. I’d figure out a way to solve this without help. Strangely, I found it comforting when my financial advisor told me that I could drain my retirement accounts to pay for my medical bills, I had signed up for 3 races, the turkey trot, a half marathon and a marathon in the next few months and contacted all the race directors about getting a refund. Ironically, they all offered me one except for the marathon one, which was run by the Livestrong foundation. My wife, wisely, told me to slow down and several of my friends didn’t quite understand why the bills, not treatment, was my primary concern. The simple truth is that that would never stop being true because no matter what I do, I’m doing to die someday but I wanted to know that I had done right by my wife and daughter.

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