Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not Armstrong

The day I got out of the hospital was much tougher than I realized. They took me down in a wheelchair and slight bumps were much harder than I would have imagined. My hosts were kind enough to drive me home and each road imperfection felt gigantic. It felt so rough that I would literally refuse riding in a car for several days. While I didn’t complain a single time, the thought that maybe I should have stayed at that hotel that was within a couple of hundred yards of the hospital entrance because that half hour ride was rough.

We got to the house and I got put into the bed. Getting out early had both advantages and disadvantages. My wife had said she was not happy about leaving so early, not thinking I was going to get cleared or that things would be looking this well that fast but she also liked the idea of getting back home to Kiana that early so had gone along for that. I was excited about that idea that Kiana was going to start getting some of her routine back and was aware enough to realize that a 4 year old needed her mother more badly because this 30 year old, a little weakened could have a variety of company. Still, before we left the hospital on Saturday the 5th, the hospital follow up had been scheduled for Friday the 11th. My flight was scheduled for the afternoon of the 12th and shortly after my wife left, I started trying to reschedule my flight for the 11th so that I could get home to my family as soon as possible. Dre seemed to tell me to slow down and just see how the week went but I emailed my friend Alex who would be coming later and returning home with me and asked him to check on it. Only a few hours after my wife left and I was already to get back to her and my daughter. Even if the flight changed I knew that this would be the longest I would have been away from her and while I’d call her everyday that was nowhere near adequate. People were visiting, being kind but I had prepared this playlist to get me through the week, a list on my ipad that I’d play in the background while doing some of the rehab games or while having down time. I kept listening to “Home,” a song sung by Celtic Thunder with the following lyrics echoing in my heart:

“Maybe surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
Just wanna go home
I miss you, you know

And I've been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you
Each one a line or two
'I'm fine baby, how are you?'
Well I would send them but I know that it's just not enough
My words were cold and flat
And you deserve more than that

Another airplane
Another sunny place
I'm lucky I know
But I wanna go home”

Calling my wife and Kiana everyday was the highlight of each day. In what turned out to be an inadequate way, I was trying to relieve what I perceived as the cause of my wife’s stress. I contacted a few friends and encouraged them to visit my wife or to take her out so that part of the week that I was gone could have some great fun. While my motive was in the right place, apparently some of these actions were a little too pushy for her as she called me and told me to slow down because she was trying to spend some time with Kiana. Begrudgingly, I accepted it.

My hosts were incredibly gracious about their meals and kindness. Friends were coming to visit and each day I was walking a little bit more. Something I said to them that week that while I sat here and waited for the results and the follow up, the main thing I started to realize was that I was due for some changes. Throughout the process, I had kept saying that I was just trying to get back to my life but those first few days after the surgery, what I kept saying to myself, to my wife, to the various visitors and hosts was that no matter how well this went, that I needed to be a better father and husband after this. I don’t think I was a bad one but some of my perspectives from growing up as a Hispanic male and having grown up a good part of my childhood without a father made me realize I had much more room for improvement than I’d ever seen. It’s funny that having cancer removed from my brain opened up my mind to a much better perspective. Other friends had tried to focus on some other views; One friend had dared to suggest that I was like Lance Armstrong due to the Boston bit despite cancer; I disregarded that and said that while Mr. Armstrong has done many amazing things that I wouldn’t want his story because in the end he and his family split up. Now while I have no details and have no idea what his cause was, I’d much rather fail at everything else and keep the family. Jim and Jan, the people keeping me, stated that it was clear from the way my wife talked about me that I had nothing to worry about.

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