Saturday, March 3, 2012

Climbing to Inspiration


It feels strange to be told that I inspire someone. This was something that I’ve been uncomfortable from day one when people felt inspired by me having snuck out of the hospital 2 days after a seizure to run 8 miles, one day after a biopsy to keep marathon training and for putting off brain surgery to run the marathon. I wasn’t trying to inspire; I was trying to live. This pattern of behavior was repeated on the anniversary of the surgery when 2 days after the second seizure I went out and ran 15 miles (for the record both of those runs were slower than I usually run and with someone next to me the entire time, Matt Naylor at the first one and several shipmates at the second one). We’re all driven by different things and we know my mind is screwed up so when people tell me I inspire them, I say the same joke I’ve always made, “Just don’t get inspired to get brain cancer.” And then I do what the etymology of inspiration is, I breathe in and let it out. (Speaking of running and inspiration, the blogger recently got blogged about and like the previous time, the writing is better: http://hawktober.com/2012/02/21/run-for-your-life/#more-622). Only a while before heading to the workout where this seizure would occur I had headed out to drop a couple of bottles of wine from Sonoma for some friends. It turns out the world is at best unpredictable.

I went to work on Friday after the seizure and don’t think anyone would have noticed without me saying something. My doctor said the MRI results showed no growth which is a good thing. The neuropsychological results won’t be in till next Thursday when I next see my doctor. However, there could still be growth because of this thing having invisible branches or tentacles that don’t show up until they are independent tumors. There are still moments where I remember that lady at the store who noticing the scar told me that her relative had diffuse astrocytoma but that the MRI’s showed nothing until it came back in 13 places… I said I was sorry, not really knowing what to say in that awkward of a moment. Today, one of the people in the running group who had seen me unconscious, told them it made them cry and while uncomfortable and trying to be witty I said, just think of death like a race finish line, I’m getting there before you. On the medical front, oddly even if the neuropsychological shows functional change, we won’t do radiation because that will only show loss of function but there’d be nothing big enough to radiate. I had wondered why if the MRI’s show possible growth, why we don’t just go for radiation for a fighting chance. It turns out that this type of surgery that I had, because of the location of the tumor, is usually only done once. But radiation on the brain is only ever done once, especially with something that’s this central. So the reason that we are hesitating is, that like many significant things in life, you only get one shot against delaying death from brain cancer.

I had hoped to spend March 3rd, the surgery anniversary, completely in a celebratory mood and most of it was and either way I’ll be grateful for each one I’m still standing for. My family is from the 7th Day Adventist denomination that like the Jewish faith, we are very emphatic about keeping the Sabbath on its original day and no other. That mentality had driven me to never work on important dates (ie never once did I work on my anniversary during our marriage, I always note people’s birthdays and attend all parties of significant dates that I can) and it was why I had a few things planned for today. If you remember this blog back long enough, the only long held plan was to plant a tree today. Well, Kiana is with her mother today and I wanted her to be part of us celebrating that new life at home so instead of waiting for that anniversary till after she got back and procrastinating on the day, I planted it with her before she headed out with her mother for the weekend. We planted a Mexican White oak (since Kiana’s half Mexican and half white) and she watered it like there was no tomorrow (I hope there are plenty tomorrows) and was disappointed that she couldn’t climb it immediately.

Still, today, I went on my 15 mile run with my running group. Afterwards I planned to go with the ultimate Frisbee crowd to clean up a park. However, with this new driving restriction, I couldn’t find a ride. Instead I went to a kids birthday party and then to see some of the ultimate Frisbee crowd. I also met with the pastor from Job ministries. Then I came home to pick those weeds that I realized were out of line and mow the lawn with my friend Zach’s help (I am basically back up to par but a seizure will leave you very sore and tired and its clear which are my stronger muscles because my upper body is far more stiff than my legs). Afterwards our friend Jenell made us a great dinner. But part of the day was putting together a care calendar which put out this morning by the end of the day had most of the first week full (I hope this attitude lasts cause I will likely need it for a few months). Last time I couldn’t drive I had a hard time accepting help but now as a single dad, I created the calendar asking people’s help in less than 2 days (even noting on my facebook status that I needed someone(s) to crash for a few days just in case anything went wrong, joking that it was finally their time to be little spoon). I’ve always been a planner and on days that will not go with the rides, I’m fairly grateful that I bought the house largely because it was within walking distance of both Kiana’s current daycare and where she’ll start kindergarten and where she’ll attend school for the first few years. But there’s still places we need to be driven to and there’s an online calendar and if you read this and ever wanted to be a chauffeur for school/work drop offs or for grocery hauls, let me know. These first few nights my doctors want someone crashing with me just for monitoring and that’s happening and then a few days from now my cousin is moving in and the amount of help she will provide appears to be growing and growing. A doctor friend said he knows some cute single nurses that he should hook me up with and it’s a sad day when you’re thinking about possibly pursuing dating someone because of medical reasons (no we didn’t make any of that happen).

Still, in the scheme of things, life is great. By coincidence or divine intervention, I am going to be helping Livestrong with the Davis Challenge (http://www.livestrong.org/Take-Action/Team-LIVESTRONG-Events/Ride/Team-LIVESTRONG-Challenge-Davis). There are 20-100 mile options and while I’ve never ridden 100 miles that was, to no one’s surprise, what I signed up for. I am going to help them do some recruiting of non-cyclists like myself and because the only bike I have is a mountain bike, I am getting a very nice road bike lent to me to train for the longest ride of my life. In my mind, thanks to the two changes, the worst case scenario days are where I get Kiana to school and then ride to work on what will likely be the nicest bike I’ve ever gotten to ride. Again by coincidence or divine intervention, someone sent me the Kelly Clarkson song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn676-fLq7I&ob=av3e) which states that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am not sure I’m quite that idealistic but I do think that whatever doesn’t kill you, if you focus, makes you appreciate more life than you did before no matter how much you did or didn’t before. And that is a form of stronger. Today, someone who was aware that it had been a year since the brain surgery, asked if I thought of this as my birthday. Oddly I don’t, I think of my first seizure on November 5th, 2010 as the birthday of Life Part II. How this sequel develops is a long way from playing but here’s hoping I get to watch that Mexican White Oak grow to where Kiana’s child can climb it.

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