Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Make It Or Break It

One year ago today, I was at Duke. My doctors from there and here seem to be divided on where to follow with some thinking I need to do follow up with only an oncologist, others with a neurologist, others with both. This reminds me of when this all started whether or not they could even agree on whether the surgery is necessary. 

I didn’t break that 5 minute mile… and I’ve looked around to try to find another race to do it. I was in good enough shape for it but in my insistence on trying new events I first tried the hurdling and my friend took a picture showing that I was clearly born to run… not to hurdle and then I pulled a hamstring. Nothing horrible really, there was a sports guy there who tried to massage it out and felt it and said yeah you definitely did something. Still I went out and gave the mile what I could… and just didn’t have enough sprint at the end and came in at 5:03… I went out and defended the only title I’d gotten in ultimate Frisbee where I was playing with everyone 8 years or younger than me and while I was not at my best, I did catch the winning score.  I’ve been relatively responsible and rested some this week, even skipping a 5k today for that and to make someone’s birthday party but I keep thinking about a race in Arlington in 2.5 weeks a mile race ( I took 3 years to join cross country in college despite being faster than everyone by the 2nd year because I thought it was silly to drive hours to run 5 miles and now I’m thinking about doing it to run 1. But there is a decision I’ve made about goals. I don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over and over. I never had and I don’t want to start now. If/when I break 5, I’m done with mile races that are well out of my price range (those track meets were $10 and that race is $5). If when I break 18 on the 5k, I’ll do that as well. 38 minutes on the 10k. 3hours on the marathon if I get a job that allows me to have the time to train for that (If not I’m already retired because the trophies sit on the mantle, but they don’t pay the bills). These are not random times, they are what’s considered elite times, times that will let you get in the first wave of most races that create waves. I’ve done it with the half already so I’m not sure I’ll get back to any of those, though it’s hard to walk away from the one that holds my bib number of 911.

The job offers haven’t come where I want (the ones that came were a long time ago and again, I should have taken them). I think this is a combination of many things. One is my bluntness and when you don’t spin or lie about the fact that you parted ways less than well… I am not sure how that comes across. One is that the job I lost is the only one I’ve really had for 7 years (when you can’t get a reference from your last place of employment and the last place I worked before that was bought out and the place I worked before that was volunteering internationally. Amy, a friend from work, always said I had an old soul and as I realize at many of the events and places I volunteer and help with, a lot of it (like the Travis County Elections yesterday), I am way way younger than anyone else. I used to attend the retirement system meetings and was the only one under 40 much less 30. Maybe that’s what I was prepared for death so well…  My attorney has let me know they are talking about some severance pay and I want to part amicably but it’s also bigger than being just about the money in my screwed up brain. 

Another issue is frankly my confidence is pretty shaken up. I honestly have no doubt that I would have broken 3 in Austin had I been able to think clearly and not think of an ex and her boyfriend who had cheered me on the year before at the course. But that’s not the only reason my confidence is pretty shaken up from the last couple of years. I’d say my life has been whittled away but it’s been whacked away. My main defining quality, my brain has some missing components. The good news is that the one thing they all agree on is the fact that we don’t have to monitor as closely as we have been has boosted that at some level. And that confidence, perhaps, the extra spare time, perhaps the fact that the stress of dealing with the ex employer is on someone else… has boosted my lumosity scores. They are all higher than they were 4 weeks ago and with 1 exception, memory, they are all higher than they were pre surgery. Like that 5 minute mile, it’s nice to have some measurement of progress. 
That lack of confidence though has translated into some of those interviews. The counselor I’ve sat with, I’ve always told him that my fear was that a memory error could cause issues. I don’t believe it ever did for any of the kids I worked with, including the mistake that caused this job to end but…  I have to grasp that my memory not being all it was is not bad. The fact that I got a 5:03 mile is not as fast as I want but it’s not a bad mile. But in interviews, you can’t go in and not believe in yourself. I have to find this somewhere. Hell, the brainpower 5k which I won last year, which I raised the most money for (if you read this and haven’t donated, please do so), which I switched a custodial weekend for, and which I’ve helped some organization details with wants me to write up something as to why this race is important… and I can’t figure out how to do it.
Anger isn’t entirely absent as I sit here and reflect on these make it or break it moments. This job stuck me in a closet when this started and my wife of the time who I had paid for both of her undergraduate and graduate degrees left when I was broke and now I’m even more broke… But in my clearer moments, I realize that some of it surely was my fault and perhaps as significantly, those who couldn’t be human during your weakest moments or those who you failed to show your humanity to, well, it may be a place to heal if given that chance or a place to be grateful to be separated from. 

I don’t know what’s coming. I think about testing this brain and going back to school which was the plan many many years ago. I was going to put my ex through graduate school but we had the best surprise the world has ever seen and so that delayed me going back to school, and then there was a tumor, and then there was a divorce. I think about it now but it’s not like I can get in tomorrow and it’s a huge risk when I’m trying to raise a kid… and back then it was about academic prowess now it would be about finding a job I would be okay giving 40 hours to or so and that was worth giving up more years of my life to. 

I set August 1st, 2012 today as a deadline for many things. I was so hurt last year at all this that I was fairly closed to ever being in a relationship. Some people said to give it a year and if I was still there well then so be it but if I wasn’t then to consider it. Back then I also didn’t want to have more kids because it felt reckless to bring another child into the world with such a clear expiration date. That expiration date is gone now, which feels strange. 

I’ve applied for some dream jobs with marathon kids, the American Cancer society, with Livestrong but they didn’t get me anywhere. Today I sat down with a temp agency and realize it may be time to accept that money, at the end of the day, is what makes the world go round. It was the same one that had done those tests that made me so uncomfortable. The results were intriguing to me for 2 reasons. They were high enough for them for a temporary position (a 3 month contract) but there was one fascinating element to me. The job requires me to be bilingual to earn $14 an hour (si lo soy) but in the tests my results were higher than average but they were almost perfect in Spanish (no more than 1 question missed in each of those). Language was always a risk and after the surgery, it took a lot of focus to understand my mom talking in Spanish, that would be gone less than 24 hours later but it was evident to me. Now these aren’t neuropsychological tests nor is there a before and after picture but it was very very interesting.
Showing something about the county or the insurance company or the world, yesterday, YESTERDAY, the life insurance forms finally came and they got a check in an envelope immediately making sure that if I go out, well at least this child has something that I can leave her at that point. I am not sure why but mailing that check made it a little easier to breathe. 

I don’t know what’s coming… that’s the story of life, certainly mine. But August 2nd last year, Kiana was on a trip with my mom and I was getting a tattoo that symbolized her and I together. It was shortly after the divorce was finalized. The tattoo is still awesome, she’s with my mom again but there’s ice cream here for her when she arrives.

1 year later… make it or break it still not settled. I hope one year from now I am closer to being made and not broken.

1 comment:

  1. There's two things I wrote that you need to read.

    Use as you see fit. I just thought of them after reading this..that's all! ;-)