Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not My Proudest Moment

I had run miles the day before admitting myself to the hospital the day before the surgery, walked a couple the morning of. The morning after the surgery I got up to try to do some walking and followed through by walking 8 times around the elevator lobby and was pretty exhausted. I couldn’t help both be both amused and frustrated by the fact that a guy who had qualified for the Boston marathon less than two weeks before could now hardly walk.

My little brother David had arrived the night before; to this day, I honestly can’t remember whether the idea of him being there is something I recall because I was told he was there or if it’s an actual memory. The next morning I recall him being there; he stated it was tough to walk in and see me post surgery as the first time he’d seen me in quite a while. I got out of the ICU in about 16 hours because my system was stable and one of the nurses said that was the quickest she’d ever seen someone get out of ICU after brain surgery. While that was flattering, I don’t know that it’s my proudest first place.

My mom and brothers were there the next morning and it would be quite late before my wife arrived. No one could get a hold of her and so they were worried and I was also lonely for her. It turned out that she had slept in that morning from me keeping her up the night before but since I had no recollection of that it hadn’t occurred to me.

The doctors had initially told me that I’d be released on Sunday afternoon or Monday if all went well. They now said with how I was progressing I might get out Saturday morning instead. Then I would have a follow up appointment on Friday where they’d let me know how the prognosis was looking and that I would have to return in 2, 3 or 5 weeks for follow up which would likely be radiation, chemotherapy and/or medial experimentation. The majority of patients ended up in one of those and I should be prepared. I asked if I could do the follow up with someone in Texas and they said that was up to me but pointed out that their place, they believed, was the best. Honestly, when they told me about the 3 possible time options, I had hoped that when they gave me the final info that it would be 3 weeks. This was despite the fact they made it clear that the sooner I came back was because the prognosis was worse and it could be said that I should have wanted the 5 week mark but every one of the doctor’s appointments I’d had with options thus far had come back as worst case scenario so for once I thought I’d be thrilled to have the middle of the pack option.

I called a few people that day and said hello and told them things had gone well but it was a bare minimum. I had made a short list of people before the surgery to call them because they had been so incredibly helpful. They almost all reacted very kindly but also were shocked at how I came across stating it seemed too well. The conversations were all short because my energy level was still low and my pain level rather high but they all stated I came across as happy and enthusiastic, that they loved that about me. I had received over 200 hundred emails, texts and phone calls from almost that many people both before and after the surgery. I was rather humbled by this; while I’ve always carried myself fairly confidently and it would be unfair to say that I often wasn’t arrogant, I suddenly started to understand humility. I realized that not even if I had volunteered every hour of my life to this point or volunteered every single one from that point on could I earn this much support. I had joked to Todd a few weeks before that “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me more arrogant.” With essentially rolled eyes, he said “Only you would say that” but I’d failed to follow that through. I’d gotten this far almost entirely on the backs, hearts and skills of others. My head was swollen but unlike usual this time it was only from the surgery.

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