Monday, April 29, 2013


Van Gogh wrote that for his part he didn't know anything with certainty but the sight of the stars made him dream. This is the life we all have to accept and on my more eccentric, egocentric days, I'm dumb enough to think I have it worse than others. I traded emails with one of the many medical facilities (if nothing else this shows my loyalty that I'm not calling them out by name) who send me bills... All but one since the days I lost my insurance have been kind enough to tell me what things are going to cost in advance because when you're living off insurance and a limited budget... it helps to have some certainty and some budgeting capacity. To give you a basic comparison, for the last two appointments in what felt like the same amount of time one was was $128 and one was over $300. There's a variety of reasons I'm grateful for a 3 month break from medical appointments.

But uncertainty can be scary but it is just a normal factor in all of our lives right? Another reality that set in this weekend was that for the first time in a year and a half, I have no race I'm training for. I want to do some things this year like do well at the Brainpower 5k, or do a duathlon or a trail race but in my view of the world you're not getting ready until you sign up for something and I have no races I'm signed up for (part of that is have a couple of months of legal and medical bills and racing is not expensive but it's also not cheap). I've been called a running slut a few times because I do all types of distances and races (the nickname started at a Luke's locker track meet where $10 got you entry into as many of the track events that you wanted to do... I did them all, including the hurdle and let's just say I was born to run, not to hurdle; someone said they are thinking about stitching that "running slut" for me which having running slut hanging on my wall would be awesome.). People have  heckled me about the fact that this lack of something to focus on that I should go socialize (my favorite one was the go find single moms joke) and I do socialize; Kiana gets more playdates than I get real dates. Running has become one of the ways I socialize the most. Part of the reason I got more comfortable running more and doing that with Kiana as opposed to having her be a spectator on the sidelines of teams sports, part of why I switched to that was that I finally joined the running community as opposed to just races when I'd trained on my own. Running and training with Kiana, and with others made it feel more like a team sport. Kiana and I did the Texas Round up 5k last Saturday for the filming but the golf card didn't work so we didn't get filmed much... There were those who talked about that the course felt a little short, some that it felt just right but either way I came in literally 3 seconds slower than my time at Duke... which is pushing Kiana costs me 10 minutes a mile I would do it but it was comforting to have it be literally 1 second per mile. Afterwards she ran her first mile around the capitol and she bolted in for the last 100 yards! She was as excited about the dressing up for pictures after and the shooting basketball that they had for kids. And that was just as exciting to watch... running is just one of the many ways we bond... But I was glad to see that both of us in all of those events gave it what we got. I got a cheesy little saying from someone that the difference between try and triumph is a little umph. We won the father/daughter division so one more medal hangs in her room.

So having done my second fastest 5k, and Kiana's first road mile next to her (about 14 mine), we went to continue my running sluttiness. I did a race unlike anything I'd ever done before, it was running up 31 flights of stairs in a race that was raising money for Lung Cancer. Now my primary fundraising causes has been brain cancer for obvious reasons but when I was falling apart in all this and I stopped running, I met some people with lung cancer, one who had done an ironman, another who had a marathon with part of their lungs missing. Now I knew all kinds of statistics and realities about brain cancer but didn't realize that lung cancer is the primary killer of cancers and that 1) most smokers don't get it and 2) tons of non smokers get it.  I was asked to speak before the awards ceremony and essentially tried to state this. When we get up in the morning, most of us know how to be better. We don't need information in order to be better parents, or be in better shape, or be in better nutrition. What most of us need is not information but rather inspiration. I've found my muse, my rituals my ways to get better races in (some of that was great at both races, showing again that this is a team sport having friends before, along and after the race and both ahead and behind me in the races is a certainly a way to help you keep going). But people with lung cancer who literally sometimes struggle to breathe and still do these type of events are some of my inspiration. But I help out with this and with brain cancer research and with Livestrong for one reason alone, that a lot of good people whether or not they end up beating it, have a better chance if help raises awareness and money that will allow scientists to gather more information.

When this all started, we had a poker game at the hospital the night before the biopsy. Then when doctors didn't know whether the surgery was high risk enough, I had a poker game at my house to ask friends what they would do. Even newspaper articles have quoted me saying that I'm a poker playing and that the reason I assume I'm not going to be part of the minority that beats this is because I play the odds. But my friend Henry recently emailed me and said it'd been too long since we'd played poker so I'm having a poker game this Saturday night at my house  (if you read this, you're likely welcome) and it occurs to me that some of my view needs to be a little more enlightened. The game we play is Texas hold'em. You get to see something about your opponents options with the cards on the table and there are some hands you have to play because you're literally blinded in. And in the right spot, you have to play the cards you're dealt no matter how good or bad your odds are or you may get eliminated either way. One of the biggest games I ever one was with a 2 queen where late into the game, I flopped a full house to a 2 q 9 j 2 to someone who had queen ace. For those who don't understand that, let's just say that someone with a much better hand lost because of random odds. I would not have played that hand had I not been forced into it. But I won on some level of random luck. If I haven't been clear on this, I am betting the odds but I'm playing to win.

This weekend I also did counseling and went to church and in both of those I sat at the back. I'm not comfortable there but they are things that help with the uncertainty and provide a place that feels homely. I'd rather be in the front of the pack in races (Kiana and I went 9th and 10th respectively at the 5k. At the Frost Tower run, I came in second in my age group and in the top 10 over all. And showing you how I approach the world, I think I could have done better but I had no clue how to approach that race). But it is because I go to things where I uncomfortably sit in the back of the pack sometimes that I am able to get to the front of the pack at other events.

No MRI's, No doctor's appointment, shoddy finances, no job, nothing I'm training for so the uncertainty is certainly less than comfortable. Still, "Uncertainty is the refuge of hope" was written by Amiel.  Those will all come back I imagine but as was covered at church now remains faith, hope and love. And to me they are all pretty great and in my current life, all 3 feel very certain.

1 comment:

  1. You'll get that stitched "Running Slut" thing, Iram. Just give me a little time. I haven't cross stitched in like 20 years. But I am inspired. :-)