Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Worse Than the Disease

Yesterday was a day of a great amount of mixed emotions and many thoughts (be warned this entry will reflect as it meanders through that). I wish it had been only happy because it was the first month without any cancer related stuff and it finally happened. But it was also a day where congress and the President seemed to be fighting about universal health care. I’ve shared what I think about that here before (http://pickingupahitchhiker.blogspot.com/2013/09/universal-health-care-and-bully-pulpit.html) and whatever else you think of the law, the one aspect that I like above all is that it lets you take out insurance with a pre existing condition (in Texas you have to be cancer free for 5 years, something that I’ll likely not achieve). Oddly enough, that fight was enough to shut the federal government down for the first time in 17 years.

Continuing that odd trend, it was the day Seton and I finally arrived at a conclusion about my medical bills which concluded in that this uninsured guy will have more standard pricing in future regular visits. And somehow a realization that they had overbilled me by $35 and will likely hold that for my  next visit. They asked if that was okay with me and I responded that I’d rather have it back since I prefer money in my pocket rather than theirs. However, it was my second month in the black in forever, even if that was less than $20 but progress is progress. I mean it rained last week and Kiana went and danced in it. 

It was a day where I biked 55 miles, the longest I’ve biked in almost a year preparing for the Livestrong challenge. I did a ride called the dam loop and at the end of it, I was sure that they had missed an n at the end of the first word with how that ride felt. People still give me a hard time about Spartan, marathon, 5k Spartan, 100 mile bike ride trying to remind me that if I would just focus on one, I’d do better at it. Let me state this, they are right. There’s an old phrase that if you aim for nothing you’ll hit it every time. I am aiming for better times in each of those events but I am not aiming at it for so long that I don’t get to do the others. But what I am aiming for did occur this month which was less cancer related deals, months where those appointments are the exception, not the rule. I hope this is a pattern that continues.

It was a day where Kiana tried the maple syrup I brought back for Vermont for the first time. She never puts anything on her pancakes or waffles so her deciding to do so was somehow exciting that she was venturing into new adventures of her own. And still she painted my toe nails a hideous green and picked flowers and put them in my hair. It was a day where she as she does often and yet each time it seems like a little miracle, she stopped and picked flower. While I’ve gotten her to sign a contract that she won’t have a boyfriend till she’s 20, I gotta wonder if she ever gets married if she won’t choose to be her own flower girl.

Somehow it was also a day became emotionally disturbingly clear during this month that while I am a guy who used to have his life planned 10 years in advance, I really don’t put anything on the calendar anymore besides school functions, medical appointments and sporting events. I was once the guy who’d reserve international flights the day after they opened up and who bought his house near a good school before his daughter was born.  Even the idea that the Gusher marathon being kind enough to start a scholarship fund for Kiana in light of my win was thinking ahead. Well, that wasn’t my idea. The honest truth is that they offered to help out with some current bills, medical or otherwise and I blew them off but when they offered that scholarship fund who says, no don’t help my kid out with a college scholarship? Perhaps, my day to day approach is reflected in that I signed up for the gusher marathon 9 days before it happened and had never heard of it 3 weeks before I won it.

Yesterday was also a day where I couldn’t find my anti seizure medications for quite a while. I spent hours looking for them and I’m still clueless as to how I misplaced them. I found them eventually but that created some serious anger and anxiety about when I miss things that should be so obvious and are so important.

So on a day that I hoped to just have a happy day (and overall it was) I was following news about Universal Health Care, settling things with a hospital and desperately searching for medication. Yet each of these things, even when I let them get me to my emotional worst where you just have to go outside and sit and breathe, make me at least want to try to focus on the bigger picture of raising a kid. I got to fulfill a lifelong dream last Friday, the simplicity of getting to watch Don Quixote. It was the first musical I’d wanted to see since I was a kid, mostly because it was referred to an episode of Quantum Leap. I also read it in college and understand why it’s often referred to as the greatest book in all of Spanish literature.  I referred to it here before since I thought about Don Quixote  when I kept running after the second time I woke up in an ambulance (http://pickingupahitchhiker.blogspot.com/2012/03/quixotic.html). I’d never gotten to see the musical and really had no concept of what was coming other than the songs. It dealt into the writer’s criticism of many things and how a dreamer like Quixote was more than a little crazy. Some of the people who I think really did love him harmed him trying to get him to be more normal even as they sang I’m only thinking of him. They manage to cure him in the end but in the middle a priest wonders whether the cure would be worse than the disease. That phrase has haunted me since Friday. I would not be this good of a runner or this good of a father or this appreciative of friends and family without cancer ( I also somehow wouldn’t be this committed to George Clooney and so closed to the idea that I could find Dulcinea). I would not stress out over pills but neither would I be this focused on the living. For Quixote, the cure was worse than the disease because it was in his illusions that he found and gave hope. The cure left him a broken bitter man, perhaps reflecting his creator Cervantes. I’ve tried to be realistic and optimistic in all this, sometimes with massive failures and fears, others with hopeful ventures. But today, on the first day following the month that didn’t have any cancer appointments or obligations, I don’t know that I’m going to dream impossible dreams I want to keep dreaming more and more. If this does become the norm, I want the cure, or at least as close to it as I get, to always keep the focus that this disease has given. Missing that would be far far worse than dying young. 

Even the knight errant who sang “the wild winds of fortune will carry me onward oh whither so ever they blow” still chased castles and knighthood and didn’t just follow the wind. Between the Spartans and the marathons, maybe I should go to Greece or maybe I should go to Spain and chase Don Quixote or maybe get to that Brazil location I never got to because the trip got hijacked by the hitchhiker in my brain… But I got to watch him sing the impossible dream even thought it took me over half my life to do so. Today I am going to the German Town of Fredicksburg outside of Austin for the first time even though I’ve meant to for years.. I’m not quite as crazy as Don Quixote was at his best nor quite as broken as he was when he was healed… Perhaps it was sung best in his musical

A man can do quite anything, 
Outfly the bird upon the wing, 
Hold moonlight in his hand. 

Yet if you build your life on dreams 
It's prudent to recall, 
A man with moonlight in his hand 
Has nothing there at all.

 And yet how lovely life would seem 
If ev'ry man could weave a dream 
To keep him from despair. 

So I’ll keep dreaming. And even if these are just little dreams like having no appointments last month, Kiana trying maple syrup, watching Man of La Mancha at a local playhouse and Fredicksburg are all branching out to tilt at windmills and hold on to some of my crazy and sane simultaneously which is better than the disease. 

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