Monday, December 7, 2015

Keeping Pace

What are the right thoughts to have the night before an MRI? What are the right reflections... what are the wrong ones? I've had so many over so many years and that's mostly the one I try to have the more MRI's I have, that no matter how tomorrow goes... each MRI of yesterday means I got more tomorrows than I suspected at the last one.

If I'm completely honest... and well I'm always that, I know that no matter how the results come in on Thursday after a very long 48 hours, I'll be relieved. Which way I'll be relieved more, I'm not sure I even know and that's no joke... Still I try to make jokes, wondering when they'll finally do a frequent flyer card at that place. It's not ever the machine itself that worries me, I've fallen asleep in it multiple times. Though while I think about that it occurs to me that perhaps the reason I fall asleep in it is because I don't sleep as well before it and perhaps it's just exhaustion.

But the pattern of therapy continues, November was the most races I've ever done in one month, 7. Though no matter what amount of races besides one, it's the first time in my life I brought home hardware from all races done in one month. Not a single race matched in distance, 10 miler, spartan super, 5k, 10k, 25k, 5 miler and the Austin Beer mile was the last one. I won the last one, becoming the 3rd time Austin Beer Mile champion... Somehow that win wasn't one my mom was proud of.

Still of all things, it led to an invitation to the 2nd annual beer mile championship. I was amused when they did an interview for their web promotion. If she wasn't proud of the 1st beer mile my mom certainly couldn't have been proud of the second one where the headlines changed  from dad runs races with beautiful daughter.. to brain cancer dude gets babysitter to get wasted after daughters bed time on a school night...Let me make it clear that I am certainly not making the case for binge drinking but I would dare say that if every person who drinks beer regularly even without changing their drinking habit ran a quarter mile for each beer they drank the world would be a happier healthier place in many ways. 

If anyone thinks those beer miles stopped me from doing anything, well the day after the first one I went and ran 15 miles. And between the two (completely sober mind you) I won a Balega Dance off at the Running Event with, you guessed it, bib #8. I won an iPad mini which went to Kiana for her Christmas present. I was just doing it for fun but when it came down to the finalists, I might have taken off my shirt and thrown it in the competitors face while it was all sweaty... luckily that hasn't shown up on the internet yet. 

But if the 7 races in November didn't show up a pattern, in the first 6 days of December, I didn't just do a dancing competition. (By the way while we're on it, I've won two eating competitions this summer and a dancing one and neither of those got news coverage! I'm not just one dimensional!). I also did 4 running races, the beer mile and 3 5ks. They were all ones I Pr'ed on or placed. But I've never been running to beat the watch, I've been trying to make the grim reaper work for it. I also was lucky enough to lead a social run with a bunch of elite runners from all over the US. Right next to me one of them was a friend from Spartan which had come in for the running event. It was the first time Spartan was at a running event, my worlds coming together in my home town. 

But it wasn't the iPad or the athletic or dancing victories that brought the biggest smiles. They never were. It was little moments like when Kiana decided at Costco that she wanted to push the cart and the more "bulk material" we put in she didn't hesitate. And I couldn't resist asking her if she would push me in the cart and somehow she did for a couple of hundred meters. Less than a week after the stroller had been retired and was in another home, roles had been reversed. I've been trying to talk her into it for almost a week now to do a race with me in the costco shopping basket but she must wear glasses form a disorder that comes from rolling your eyes at your dad. Either way, I'm not a guy who takes selfies usually but how do you pass up that type of opportunity to capture Kiana pushing me in a cart for the first time!

Still, the  idea of the MRI on some midnights weak and weary still is sitting like the raven tapping on my chamber door. There's no quite shaking the fact that no matter how many go well you keep doing them ever more, hoping that the tumor's stable, the scar tissue is the darkness and that they find darkness there and nothing more. I try to take in the joys in simple things and distract myself with the races. I am amused that when asked to keep a 7 minute pace I do so almost exactly on a day I forget my watch even if it's the day after a beer mile. I find comfort in the fact that no matter how the MRI goes, the scores are all but settled. Medical debts, if all goes well, will be done in fall of 2016 instead of spring of 2017. And if the MRI doesn't go well, finances aren't the issue, let's not kid ourselves, there's not going to be any more treatment, normal experimental or otherwise. It will be time to try accept my head being bloodied but unbowed. There were mistakes the first time I had a bad MRI, called finding out I had brain cancer, that I would literally bet you my life will not be repeated in regards to finances and relationships. 

But you have to find the simple distractions... the intensity of the races and the quickness between them almost makes me think life is normal that these distractions are they've always been, an unemployed workaholic whose made running and staying happy and raising his kid his full-time jobs. Sometimes they become personal and awesome like when you get the coolest shaped bib with #8. Or the fact that a company asks you to run out in "nude" shorts and a women's top to "be the hustle." And you know the only reason you were the first in your family to go to college and perhaps the only reason you're still standing is because you've always been hustling. I keep a frantic pace in order to hide in public from myself or others I never quite know. But I keep going, and searching because while I may have done the most races I've ever done in one week in a habit that is incredibly well, predictable, one foot in front of the other. Not one, not one was a race I'd ever done before so if you keep the system moving, the muscles and brain having to take in novelty, there is no way a tumor can grow right, it has no room to since the energy to feed new growth is being used elsewhere, right? RIGHT!?!

So the old habits continue in the right thing, with my coping and hoping mechanisms being commended, my acts of desperation that are anything but quiet somehow regarded as more socially acceptable, perhaps more acceptable by the body itself. But even the guy with the damaged brain goes through emotions and deals with them well often with music. I try to keep pace in all my races, in all of my race but that pace seems to sift on me in both. That's the latest song I've been listening to to deal with the emotions, a song called "Sifters"

What if we hadn't been each other at the same time
Would you tell me all the stories from when you're young and in your prime
Would I rock you to sleep
Would you tell me all the secrets you don't need to keep
Would I still miss you
Or would you then have been mine

I think this in relation to the odd circumstances that have become defining moments that I was training for the first ever Livestrong branded marathon when I found I had cancer... That I won Austin's first ever brain cancer research race and was it's lead fundraiser... that I signed up for a race that I'd win with a stroller just a few days before an MRI and went out there relived it was stable.

But then again I think about that no matter how tomorrow goes or really how Thursday goes since that's when I find out the results all the scores will soon be settled. For the first time I've decided not to take a copy home of the MRI since sitting and trying to analyze it myself accomplishes not much. I will try to think of post MRI things no matter what. I am scheduled to go to Brazil in exactly 2 weeks, a trip I once cancelled due to brain surgery and the passport finally has something new in it for the first time in over 5 years. I am the ARC president and the two events that I did that got me into long distance running, the Austin Distance Challenge and the Decker Half marathon, I'm the president of that club and while not by much both grew this year in both participants and financial resources and that also feels like settling the score. I wish it had been infinitely more but the final participants in the first half marathon I've helped organize for the kid born 8/8/80 was 880... Put together by many many people but 8 board members. That's  8/8/80 taken to team working making dream work. A weekend so busy where I barely had time for a Facebook status (that's seriously BUSY!) but where I'm taking comfort in that somehow we were a good team.

There is no way in which I don't think I've beaten cancer even if all goes wrong tomorrow. I've already won but I'm competitive enough to where I don't mind racking up the score for at least a little while longer. So MRI in the morning, results thursday... It's funny how I try to stay hopeful I've scheduled chess club immediately before the test and a track workout has no chance of being missed later in the day trying to remind myself that my head is on fire but still has strategy and that my legs are still what gets me everywhere. I keep having sifting thoughts as I go to sleep knowing I haven't exactly kept a constant pace but thankful for the days I got to do it and hoping as I do on each night for at least one more good day of keeping pace. 

1 comment:

  1. I call it scan-xiety.... I can't fall asleep for the life of me in that thing.... I usually always crank bob Marley through the headset and think of positive outcomes and happy thought meditation....

    I like the frequent flyer joke, I'm stealing it this January (my next MRI)