Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fudge and Family and Five Years

Remember, remember the fifth of November! 5 years ago today the brain cancer journey began in a hospital emergency room... I thought it meant my future was going away but it was just the beginning of a life I couldn't have imagined but that I love living each day. There's certainly been damage, ambulance rides, way too many medication attempts. But there's also been wins, focus, and a heart that perhaps has gotten bigger to make up for the gaps in the brain.

It's funny, I'm a guy with a damaged memory but there have been some good ones in the last few years... I hope I remember the best ones but I know some of each never materialized. Still both in just basic humanity and awareness that some things don't quite sink, I recently added the "memory" feature on Facebook this morning it brought up the very last social media post I ever would put up before the seizure that would start the cancer journey: "families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts."

That describes the last 5 years incredibly adequately... I had a hospital room full of friends before and after the biopsy, before and after the surgery. Almost all of them are still here but there are even more friends now. The awareness of my mortality made keep too many people away at a distance, wanting to believe that I could handle it all alone and that if I couldn't they'd be better not having to put up with me. Now I appreciate them each time I see them often showing affection with as firm of a handshake or hug that I can do and still pretend like I'm super manly :). I'm not sure whether it shows how sweet they are or that they're nuts that we are still all friends.

I stopped by Livestrong to drop off the $4000 check from the 3rd Spartan Charity Challenge Win. Turns out on what I consider my birthday of life part II, it is more blessed to give than to received. It was funny that the organization the helped me the most I blew off being called a survivor for a while but once I embraced it, I embraced it thoroughly. I learned to ride a bike for the Livestrong challenge and have biked five 100 mile rides with them. I'd never heard of Livestrong or a Century 5 years ago but turns out the people who help you face the unfriendly unknown get you to embrace a new way to move, turn, glide. There's not a single time that I drive that I realize it was gone for a good chunk of the last 5 years due to seizures. But I also recall that it's been almost 2 years since I had one. Some people say knock on wood and if there's no wood knock on their skull; I don't do the latter since I don't want to cause a seizure. But it somehow felt appropriate to drop off that check that on a day which is important to me to say thank you.

That mantra of attitude is everything has gotten me to try one new sport a year and one of those was the Spartan itself. I've ran 5 beasts in the last few years as well constantly believing that if you sign up for difficulty messy things the ones you don't sign up for are a little easier. The last one was the first one was one where there were team obstacles, ones you couldn't do without each other. I started in the elite heat but on my latest one I did it right next to my family, my cousin and his boys on their first elite heat and their first beast. The challenges that you needed teammates for were a lot tougher than any I'd ever done alone but joys and difficulty in my book are better shared.

I've kept up my old hobbies, playing ultimate still and running. I've pr'ed in every distance since then. I put off brain surgery to run a marathon so while I've done 5 Spartan beasts and 5 100 mile bike rides, it may show what built my heart that I've done 10 marathons since then. But I had a very inspirational person who heckled me into doing something I thought unachievable. I matched one week ago today the fastest mile I ever ran in high school at 17, 4:51 at 35 years of age. It might have been the right mix of unexpected rest and no road races in October. But it helps remind me that while inevitably for all of us, our best day will be behind us, well it reminds me not to accept that easily. Quiet desperation was the original road I took for a short time with cancer but I'm glad it didn't hold long and life has been kind enough to let me keep choosing life with a view. Still that's not nearly the part of running I'm most proud of. When I couldn't drive, Austin Runner's Club's leg, the Ship of Fools saved my life. I'm now somehow the president of it and I'm mostly the smiling face at the front of event while we have a great board and we're getting some good things done. 

In total honesty, some of the motivation for far too long was settling the score. Paying back the Austin
Runner's Club, paying back Livestrong, paying back the ultimate community, and of course paying bills that had come very unexpectedly. The proud hispanic male who couldn't accept anyone paying him for anything had to resettle the score and if truth be told, I intended to fade once that was done. While the personal debts are not settled they are ahead of schedule, may it be well said that the others I was just wrong about and I'm glad life was kind enough to let me share it forward. To him who much is given, much is expected but perhaps more accurately I wasn't expecting life to be this kind and to pay it forward in adequate perspective would be infinitely impossible. 

So instead I choose to embrace both the old and new, the borrowed time and to rarely be blue. People have dared say to me that my perspective has to be put on, it's like a unicorn that doesn't exist. That I see the world upside down from what I should. My daughter has perfect attendance, loves that her dad's the chess coach, was the top seller in the 3rd grade program. That alone would make any parent please. She got some jazz hands tonight during her musical as she played a spider in Squirm! This morning Kiana asked if I wanted to see upside down and then wrote upside down on a piece of paper and showed it to me. She then drew a stalk of corn on top of a unicycle and showed to me that there is such as thing as a unicorn. Someone tell me again, I'm supposed to be the one raising the kid right, cause maybe losing the imagination to have a little bit of fun is how we learn to be scared. She keeps me smiling and perhaps she shows exactly why we're family cause we're both kind of like fudge, a little sweet and a little nutty. 

I still worry on occasion; I mean my MRI is in about a month. Still, cancer and its side effects should be aware that the score is 5-0 and even if it grows (it was never gone so it's not like a return) it's too late in the game to make a comeback and in my book, no matter what happens, me and those on my team already won. So today or anyday anyone wants to celebrate let me know and we'll accept that we're both sweet and a little nuts and go have some fudge. 

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