Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Asymmetrical


In case you haven’t watched the Spartan video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auM8kK7qblg, which unfortunately is still less watched then the Gusher marathon youtube video of my gut hanging out, you may notice what I’m saying. You  may notice the shirt I point out, or those who know that I’ve been struggling with an ankle injury can notice exactly where it happened on that mud slide. What I notice above all is that the left side of my face is drooping. That happens far more dramatically late at night or after marathons or races where I’m tired and others have noticed it (some have talked to each other about it, the best have talked to me about it). Honestly, in the articles and the videos, some of them I’ve noticed my deficits more evidently, realizing how much more I say things like you know or seem to be trying to focus on what I’m saying. One of the articles pointed out what others had as well, that when tired I also slur my language more. The brain has issues so but does the actual head which is where the muscles are torn up primarily on one side, making some of the functions like smiling and talking that require both sides to symmetrical to function less adequately.

I’ve been invited to the Spartan beast championships in Vermont in September. I am going to go and I imagine like the sprint and the super it will very much kick my ass. But I’ve been trying to do more upper body working out (read more as doing some). I don’t have money for a gym membership and I’ve seen some more athletic friends who say the gym is their playground and so when I take Kiana to the playground, it becomes my gym. Turns out anything I can cheat with my legs, I do really well on but anything that’s strictly upper body… well there’s no cheating. Because when you’re purely a runner like I generally am, your muscles are even more disproportionately spaced out than they naturally are between legs and arms.

I still feel awkward at any comments or compliments calling me inspiration. I still dismiss them uncomfortably reminding people that I’m perspirational and they need to wok on their spelling. But the simple truth is that I’m not really as proud of my life right now as I am embarrassed  about the previous part. There is no human being who would not appreciate being commended for hanging out with his child or for exercise or for combining them but me, the one with a screwed up brain, knows that it should have happened long before cancer. And when people commend me on those things, I consider it about as high of a compliment as well you had a healthy breakfast (we’re all supposed to have healthy breakfasts!).

All I am trying to do is do what every good person does, take care of people they love and exercise. I am trying to do to the best of my abilities on those. This month, at 33 years of age, I just lived the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life, 8 years. I am hoping that I help Kiana’s life have that sense of home and belonging much earlier in life. And when she spends two weeks away at her mother's house for a summer visit or now that school starts again where she has to live in two houses, one all the time except for every other weekend, creating an asymmetrical concept of home, well, I don't know if I spend more time thinking about the beauty of the George Clooney lifestyle or letting my mind drift into how I should have paid more attention to family in the first half of my life. I have friends who have lost over a hundred pounds and they also get some serious accolades and they carry around  a picture of themselves at their fattest to look at when they are tempted to eat too much or the wrong thing. I am a guy with memory problems but there are reminders in every room in the house, some which shout out loud and some as subtle as strategically placed magnets to remember that if my life is going to be asymmetrical, I would like Life Part II, the part after cancer, to be the better part. My face may droop more on one side when I’m tired or smiling but if that's my only option I’d like to make sure that I’m smiling enough to where it tires out enough to show.

And I want to do this, not because I survived cancer, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. I am speaking at the Pocatello marathon in a week and half (closer to ready for the speech, still intimidated about both that and the marathon). And the story I’m placing the most emphasis on is not that hey I put off brain surgery to run a marathon or I won one with a stroller (though those are being mentioned), it’s my first stroller race was a half marathon with my mom in which even though she was the very last finisher, when she finished I was as proud of her that day as the races she’s watched me win (http://pickingupahitchhiker.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-better-half.html  ) . These are the heroic things to me. There was an article in psychology today about hero worship in Lance Armstrong for being a survivor http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/supersurvivors/201301/zero-worship-did-surviving-cancer-make-armstrong-hero and how we condemned him more for things other have done because we’d placed him higher. While I think anyone who wants to judge or condemn me is well within their right to do so and while my frustration with Armstrong is the cover up more than the sin (and I’m okay with him or I being held to some level of higher accountability because to him who much is given much is expected), I have rejected the label of hero or inspiration all along because at the end of the day, while I have a rare cancer, I am just a damaged human. As I prepare my playlist for Pocatello, one of the songs on there is the song hero from spiderman. because for all of us, our closest friends will always be those who see our broken humanity and love us anyway. I don’t raise money for things like Livestrong or braincancer research to be a hero, it’s to help channel the teamwork that will come out of that. They lyrics are:

And they say that a hero could save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away
Now that the world isn't ending
It's love that I'm sending to you
It isn't the love of a hero
And that's why I fear it won't do

I hope whoever likes me would like me whether or not I’d gotten cancer and had gotten to where I am just from growing up, not waking up in an ambulance. So, if you have enough boredom or insomnia to read this, know that today I made pancakes for Kiana and I took her to the playground and the track yesterday today where it was just her and I playing/exercising. I also ran for her back to school vision appointment and as we found out last year she has perfect vision in one eye and far sightedness on the other. Luckily for those kind of asymmetrical vision problems, we have glasses. For missing some things like I was, I am hoping to teach her to focus on the vision correctly all along. And every person who makes a pattern of eating healthy breakfast, purposefully spending time with people they love and exercising, you’re a hero in my book. And if you’ve done it regularly… well then you’ve lived your life more symmetrically than I have so keep it up.



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