Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Still Remains

It’s probably not a secret that I’m data driven, trying to put facts ahead of feelings. Once when scuba diving, we met up with a shark and just remained still. Once when backpacking we did the same with the wolf. Both went away. Being driven by data I still do have emotions and they can be very very heavy. But I try to make decisions based on where the data points. I play poker and while you can’t control the hand, you can decide how to bet on it.

My soon to be expired insurance actually has a cancer resource center that if I had taken it would have paid 100% of the costs plus travel costs if I had picked any of the top 3 cancer centers according to them, MD. Anderson, Mayo Clinic or John Hopkins. I considered it and weighed it with friends but Duke is considered the number one brain center in the world. Had I had liver cancer, kidney cancer or whatever I would have gone there but you don’t take second best for the brain in my book even if it costs more than the others would have. As previously referenced here, when deciding to do the surgery, I considered the impact of death which is less on younger children.

When going through divorce last year, I tried to figure out all types of data and made some decisions based on that. I didn’t want a divorce both for emotional reasons and because I thought Kiana would be best off with both parents; it states in my decree that I was against the divorce because it would be financially, emotionally and spiritually draining to Kiana but that I respected her right to walk away.  That’s the only way I could sign it but I also weighed in other factors once I’d resigned myself to it. The data shows that the long term impact of divorced kids is plenty but they are decreased by divorce being the main change. Kids who have to change schools, homes, friends etc end up carrying bigger emotional scars and longer term impact. Kids who have 50/50 custody also end up with more psychological problems than kids with a primary custodian which is why every state in the union has the set up that no matter the legal jargon is for custody there is a home parent in contested divorces. Kids are not meant to be shuttled back and forth, they need to have a home. While it took some sacrifices and continued to keep me broke, I kept the house and kept Kiana in the same daycare that she’d been at before all this started, trying to make the transitions the least as possible. In possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because my wife had been an incredible mother (stayed home for a year, nursed for 2 years, and worked at Kiana’s daycare till she was almost 4) I offered her to be primary custodian as long as she kept her in the same places. She passed up that offer saying she couldn’t afford it. Changing homes, changing schools, all of that stuff happens but if Kiana had associated it all with divorce she’d be even more harmed says both the data and my heart. As I’ve come quickly come to learn even as an adult, too many back to back changes, is traumatic and exhausting. So I tried to minimize them for my daughter.

I met with an attorney today who thinks that if we jumped through some of the legal hurdles through this and that there’d be a case that juries could be sympathetic to. But just like I didn’t want divorce, I don’t want to fight a place that honestly does good work through the legal system. I haven’t made up my mind and have requested a meeting with them to see if we can do it internally but that may continue to show my naïve idealism. I am a certified mediator and I just have this belief that people across the table can do a win win and people in a court room is often a lose lose.

So where’s the data on all this? I’ve given myself a deadline of July, in two months to decide whether or not to sell the house and/or discuss custody for financial reasons. This is the 3rd time in 18 months I’ve had to consider this. The first was in case of mounting medical bills, the second was because half of the household income was leaving, and this time it was because the other half left. The house is one of those places where my emotions win out because I’m not a guy who attaches to places but I wanted Kiana to always  have a room of her own, something that never occurred in my childhood, literally buying the place a month before she was born. If I have to get rid of the house and Kiana has to change anywhere, I have to honestly look in the mirror and figure out where her best home would now be, with an unemployed sick father or two other people, neither of which I’m much of a fan of anymore, but who may be better financially set.

If I don’t have decent or any health insurance and Kiana is not here, I’m done with medical appointments. The simple truth is that if this thing comes back, I probably don’t have much time anyway so if it’s a waste of resources, what is the point of monitoring it?

Do I make decisions without emotion? Of course not. I wouldn’t have put off surgery to run a marathon if it was all about data. I wouldn’t have tried to keep the love of my youth from leaving despite all the mess. But emotions make horrible masters but decent servants. In fact, I’ve been crying quite a lot in the last week, wondering what I’m fighting for and as I mention giving up, it’s worried a couple of people, with 2 asking if I mean suicide by giving up. I’ve never spent 1 second of my life being suicidal and if I ever did people would probably find out because I was dead. It’s making decisions like the ones that I’m talking about.

I don’t know what’s coming in the next few weeks but I’ve set some benchmarks and reactionary goals based on the reality that I don’t have much left in the tank. Someone said to me you took cancer so well but seem so paralyzed by divorce and now the job loss. I’m not sure any of them would have done it but I am a marathoner not an ultra marathoner. I listened and cried to Simon and Garfunkel’s the Boxer and wonder if that’s what the end of July will be:

In the clearing stands a boxer 
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
"I am leaving, I am leaving" 
But the fighter still remains 

I am not sure what’s coming (again). But if I leave, I guess that’s the day I need to take off the bracelet because I don’t want to misrepresent. I finished my relationship with the Stephen ministries pastor I meet with every week because he’s an employment attorney for a career (a lay minister) and it would have been unethical for him to talk to me about this. I also don’t know how to sit across from a guy who is brilliant in what you are going through in life and pretend like there’s no elephant in the room. As I did that, I was crying but couldn’t help think of what happened to both Stephen and Paul.

I am not done yet. I picked up two full bags of recycling today in the trash run, the most I’ve ever picked up by finding a homeless area and spending a bit of time cleaning from which I came out with burrs and cuts but some things that will help the homeless area be a little cleaner and the resources they used be renewed. I am worn out, very worn out. But when the time comes, for all of this to end, I hope part of that spirit never died when my remains are still. 

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