Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quarantine

I was having way too much time to reflect on what was going on. My job had me in quarantine for almost nine business days before they finally got back to me. The main problem appeared to be in the fact that I wasn’t cleared to drive. The short version was that in the job I had driving was A) not technically in the job description and B) not a big part of the job, less than a day’s work in a month. Thinking that government bureaucracy was the cost of delay, I tried to mind my P’s and Q’s at least better than I usually do. During this time, they had me sitting in my office not allowed to work with kids or their family. Interestingly enough they kept assigning me cases that I couldn’t talk to so I did paperwork. I kept up with all the paperwork they gave me but it allowed me a little bit of time each day to do some research.

Some of the info in my research was less than comforting. The short version was that this diffuse astrocytoma was rare and we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. All reputable websites suggested that experts disagreed or that treatment was controversial. This would eventually be the case with my own doctors where they ended up not agreeing on whether to pursue surgery or to monitor it in the meantime. The anecdotal information, always a powerful motivator wasn’t any more helpful. Two people’s fathers had experienced this, someone’s brother, someone’s mother and a friend’s daughter. Every one of the stories ended the same: the loved one died within a few years at most. While Nicole had inspired me to go from casual to playing to win, suddenly what winning was becoming very unclear.

In the midst of this, during this down thinking time, thoughts sometimes went dark. I had already finished my ultimate career for the time being, perhaps forever. While it was comforting to have gone out “on top,” forced retirement was still eating at me. Now as I looked ahead I realized that I was a few days away from my last soccer game, a game that probably I shouldn’t return to no matter what since part of the game itself was hitting it with your head. I also realized that something else would have to go. My wife and I had planned a trip to Brazil in March for Carnaval. The tickets had been purchased for months and many of the activities had to be prepaid because this is their highest tourist time. Some of the things were completely nonrefundable, others I would have to cancel pretty soon or they would also be lost. With depressing and worrying thoughts about the finances, with some resignation to the fact that this was going to be robbing me of some of my life, I cancelled the flight to Brazil and email the vendors that I hoped would return some of my money. So ultimate gone, soccer about to be gone, Brazil gone… I hung my head at my office and realized I was getting tired of having brain cancer in a hurry.

So just twenty minutes after I’d made the last cancellation request, the director of my department stepped into my office and said that juvenile probation had made a decision. I was no longer in quarantine, effective Monday (this was Thursday at 4:50 PM) I was being transferred from Court services to intake services. This meant I went from having my own office and slightly flexible hours to working in cubicle land in an area that was literally locked down 24 hours a day. That 24 hour part meant that now some of the holidays would be ones I’d have to work. Most importantly I would go from having a caseload where I would work with kids over a period of time to where I was now the guy who processed kids and made decisions about them when they were arrested. This is like the ER, an important job, but a short lived one. If I had been a doctor, I would have been a general practioner, someone who works with people over the long haul. Where I spent my time volunteering were long term projects almost always… I’m a long term guy and now my job was becoming a reactionary one.

So now the next trip was gone, the sports were about to be gone, and now my job was gone. Everyone kept telling me I needed to be fighting this cancer but that was a discouraging day. That night I had probably the darkest thought of this journey: If this keeps chipping everything anyway, what is that one is fighting for?

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