Friday, February 4, 2011

Force of Nature

Trying to regain balance was hard to nail down. I realized that while most of the people at work were being less than “human” in their approach to me, that they were at the end of the day just doing their job and following some directive from above them. I also realized telling them to have more “humanity” might be better if I was showing some of my own. I’d been pushy and flagrant. So it being Christmas time, I went and got one of the HR ladies some chocolate, my previous boss , my current boss and my director a bottle of wine each. The HR guy who had given me the criminal trespass warning I went and shook his hand as we had had no interaction since then. I saved the best for the person who I probably thought had the lowest human approach to this, the Deputy Chief. I brought her a vase that we had purchased in Costa Rica. It appears that both a human and a non human approach are contagious because without exception every one of those people showed some humanity when I presented them with gift. There were hugs and I hope I wish you wells and the closest thing I had ever from the Deputy Chief approaching humanity. She stated awkwardly that she hoped that I would find treatment in 2011, that I would beat this thing and that my family would do well.

I didn’t do anything for the chief, she hadn’t gotten back to me yet and she was the one who had the authority to make my job be a good thing instead of a forced thing. She got back to me a few days later and politely blew off my request. I went to the bathroom and cried for a while and then headed back to intake. Many people thought from that day forward “my attitude” had improved. It had and has not because that the job was still the biggest symptom of my cancer, one I had lost the battle to. Still, it wasn’t the fault of my new coworkers so I started being less withdrawn and bringing in food or buying them breakfast tacos. That being settled help me make some mental decisions: I had medical appointments starting at the New Year until February 11th. The holidays stopped many of medical procedures unless I wanted to go with any doctor instead of the ones I’d come to trust. I decided that I would not let intake just sit indefinitely, that by the end of February I would decide which path to pursue medical treatment and/or start looking for another job. I decided to focus on the marathon and continued doing the physical therapy for my IT band. I’d continue pursue the good people in my life and to appreciate them.

The marathon became bigger quickly. Many of the “what’s next’s” in my life had been cancelled or postponed. The marathon I could still train for or so I thought. Saturday I did a 10 mile run and was able to keep a solid pace and it helped me gain some confidence for the next day, my first 20 mile run. I even called a friend who in great kindness said “Iram, you’re going to be fine with all this because you, you are a force of nature.” When the next day rolled around I was going to my friend Dre’s house and I couldn’t even go a mile because of my IT band. I walked another one to academy and tried every contraption they had to stretch it, hold it, warm it up. With each one I would get on a treadmill and after only a few steps the running was too painful. I walked the way home, once again crying. Dre called and said he was willing to come get me and we’d go do lunch. I had so little composure that I had my wife call him back to tell him I was just going to do some other stuff and couldn’t do lunch.

I sat frustrated at home for a few hours… then I started stretching, then I got a ride to take me to buy new heavier more stable running shoes. After that I had her drop me off a trail near the house, which is slightly over a 1 mile loop but because it was dirt and flat; maybe it would be easier on me. I told her I was going to try to do the 20 miles there but I had my phone and when I couldn’t go any longer, I’d give her a call.

8 miles I was crying again but from the pain. Both the doctor and the physical therapist had said that this was an injury that I probably would not make worse by continuing to train, just more painful. They even suggested I take 3 weeks off and that I’d probably still be able to do the marathon. I had answered immediately that at this stage I may well need the training more than I needed the marathon. Still, I kept going on this run, grimacing and every few seconds telling myself “I am a force of nature.” 12 miles later, I had done the worst 20 mile run of my life but it was done.

A friend of mine had remarked that knowing me I would irritate and annoy the cancer into submission. Who knew if I’d beat it but I had plenty of fight left in me. Even if I had to force things that once came natural to me like being kind to people who I thought were only considering liability or if I had to push for a run that had been easy the year before. I got home from that run and collapsed to my wife stating“I was wondering if you were still alive.” Until I wasn’t, I intended to keep pushing, sweat, tears and pain be damned.

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