Sunday, December 7, 2014

Accepting Change


Neibuhr is quoted for that famous prayer of asking for help in accepting things we cannot change. I suppose that can be the potential for the beauty and/or disaster of prayer is the idea that our requests can cause change in the universe to bend to our will. I've never prayed that particular prayer though at some level it can be a helpful attitude. Still an attitude I always admire in what we should desire out of our lives, out of the universe, is similar: we should work on changing the things we cannot accept.

I always appreciate the kindness of people who reach out when it's obvious I'm stressed with upcoming medical tests, races, media, life. I don't know that I always handle it well... in fact I know that I don't always handle it well but I try to always appreciate the kindness. So while people responded well to that E60 was coming out to watch the weekend's events that was by far the least consequential part of it (in fact the only change that inspired was be making my bed since my mom would heckle me immensely if somehow an unkempt bed by her son was shown but just for the record I rarely make my bed). The changes we made this weekend was getting our playlist ready which started with a first holiday music. It was some very intense but creative interpretations of Christmas classics from Frosty the Snowman, to Santa Claus is coming to town, to Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer and even Mary Did You Know (While it's a creative song, I think most parents know when we kiss our babies we have kissed a gift from God). Kiana made it clear between the beginning of holiday parties and picking out our outfit for one of the races which one of us was getting presents and which one of us was getting coal.

Still, the next day a strange thing happened that had never occurred before. Medical appointments always come with reminder calls (as to PTA meetings etc) and when the MRI rolls around there's
always two, one for the imaging facility and one with the oncologist office. But somehow literally
within minutes, perhaps moments of when the MRI reminder had called the neuro oncologist office called. With those two happening so close together, some others came to mind but let's just say we went with hope as my four letter word. I always try to put my frustration energy into something productive so I went and raked leaves with conviction, keeping the annual tradition of making a huge pile for Kiana to come home and play with. It's questionable when she does that which one of us correctly understand the purpose of raking leaves.

Still the next day I headed to the MRI and handled the needles better than I ever have. And then I went home and looked at the MRI, all 282 images as if I have some clue as to which one means what in relation to what. Still, I compared it older ones, wondering if it looks better or worse (clearly it looks better, no wait, clearly it looks worse). A nurse friend said to me that this is exactly why you should not look at your own medical things since you have no clue how to read them. But perhaps exactly because you have no clue how to read them is why you sit there and look at it, believing reading it gives you some control. The humor coping mechanism certainly came into effect and I said if anyone ever wanted to look at me straight in the eye or see inside my mind here was their chance. After Kiana's bedtime is almost always the lamest time in my life cause what do you do then? I come from west Texas but somehow starting at the way dye creates contrast on an MRI is probably not what they meant by Friday night lights. It's a moment where me, the guy who is not allowed to take alcohol or caffeine knows if a cute girl would share a rum and coke, he would love her still.

I assure you it was not a coincidence that this weekend was packed more than average with accepting every possible holiday party in between picking up race packets. In the digging up of old MRI's to
have something to compare it to, I found the first bib of the Decker Challenge that I did right after getting out of the hospital. I use this story in my speeches many times that on a randomly assigned bib I got 911 which I responded with "Are you kidding me, I don't even have to put the emergency number on the back, you guys put it on the front..." Looking on the back of that bib and seeing who the emergency contact back then was less than comforting. Still, in changing the things that I couldn't accept, it was a tiny but significant comfort that this year I'd be doing the race with bib #8 and it was the first time since on Decker, the sixth time I would run it that it would be customized to the race not just a generic bib print.

But before that was Kiana's first two miler not in a stroller and our first night time run. She would gun through the first quarter mile in a pace I thought she would not sustain. And I was right sort of because she ran the entire thing faster, bursting into unbelievable sprints in between displays or when she had accept doing the entire course in about 19 minutes. She started the course with 4 adults and
would beat every single one of us in because she put on some jets on at the end that I didn't recognize with the time to catch up to her. When the race was over, she definitely showed she was my daughter. She cried for the same reason I suppose I'll cry if anything has progressed on Monday because she thought the run was going to be longer and she wanted to go out there and run some more. Still before we left for home, she had gotten ready to get back into smiling mode and pointing out which one of us is the naughty one and which one of us is the nice one.

Still, when we got up Sunday morning to do the Decker challenge, what is the hardest half marathon I've ever done (this is how you know I'm not a fair weather friend because it has gotten extreme weather on both ends of the scale and I've done it six years in a row), we lined up with nervousness and happiness that starts at each race. She was wearing her Santa hat and I was amused she took it off for the national anthem... I know there's different rules about ladies hats but didn't quite know where a pink Santa hat falls into this. Still, the race started and I gunned it. I had a very specific goal of making this race faster than the one I'd done with bib 911. The music pumped and blared up and down lonely hills. Kiana's growth was felt both ways but she was very conversational and out of all things pointed out from her newly acquired 2nd grade division skills why 13.1 was a half and 26.2 was a full and showed me how the division worked out loud.

In the end, I actually had enough to where I went faster on the second part of the course. I would hit my goals with with my time being my 3rd fastest half marathon ever, my 2nd fastest on that course, and my faster stroller half or what you would call making it as easy as 1:23. If we want to take the amusing math details it was actually 1:23.08 with bib #8.  I would take 10th overall and take second in my age group. Perhaps fittingly, it was exactly between my fastest marathon and the marathon that had bib #911, a middle ground I'll make over and over again in changing the things I cannot accept. I will take a slower time with a stroller with cancer than a faster one without her even without cancer.

We'd actually go to an even with Livestrong and some young adult cancer survivors. At some of those events I'm more chatty than others... with my MRI in suspense I was quieter than usual and continue to be amazed that some of them don't realize that there isn't a doorman in the world who could handle how impressive they are when they walk in the door. It was a jewelry making event which frankly I mostly just watched but Kiana made more pieces of jewelry than I've purchased in my entire life. We'd stay out and about till her bedtime so that she could be less stressed about the MRI results tomorrow because clearly as she sang through a half marathon and made jewelry that was all she could think about.

So I don't know what's coming tomorrow but I do know that I may have to accept that. But I also know that, once upon a time I put off brain surgery to run a marathon. But as of today, there are exactly ZERO races left that I did between diagnosis and surgery that I haven't done with Kiana. And I hope that catching and sharing more moments with people I love is something that while I have breath never changes.

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