Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Undiscovered Virtues

Emerson wrote that a weed is only a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. When I look at my lawn and realize that I need to be putting a little more time into digging weeds, I’m not quite sure that’s completely correct but I appreciate the romantic sentiment. I sat in soreness the day after the Marathon, still both thrilled to be alive to win the cancer survivor’s division but still disappointed with my time. Kiana had been sick a week before throwing up and I’d been having stomach issues since then and your body can’t cheat during a marathon and get your best time. But the better side of me realized that even while crashing and walking, I had done better than I had in my first 2 marathons while giving it my all.

But the weed in my brain was still there… and 2 days after the marathon instead of two weeks before came the 8 hours of neuropsychological testing. It was less than thrilling: testing vision, fine finger coordination, memory and language skills and personality. I joked that since they had noted my coping mechanism as humor before that I would try to seem sadder this time. I delivered the shirt I had won from the Lumosity contest to my neuropsychologist William Dailey (lumosity had asked me what size I was and when I told him that I wanted it in my neuropsychologist’s size, they were kind enough to send two, I had hoped that this and other games I’d played would make a difference and there appeared to be some good spots and some bad spots (the rarely used words test clearly became obvious that part of my brain had not improved). The first time I had been trying to figure out the tests, the second time I was worried about the fact my wife had left 2 days before, this 3rd time I was focusing on doing what I could. The second one showed some improvements in IQ and certain memory and language functions but also some losses. This test, because the tentacles of this thing are invisible to MRI’s, will show whether or not there’s been functional loss and thus possibly growth. I hope the undiscovered virtues to this are that those apps have helped keep things stable and/or improve but there’s another MRI and after all that’s done I get to sit with my neurologist and look at what’s next.

Last year, when I’d gone to California, it was in my mind quite possibly a goodbye tour. This year, thanks to the won trip from the brainpower5k, it was more of a hello tour. I saw many of the same people but this time I had my own rental car instead of having to be driven around. I got to stay for a while instead of making it a whirlwind tour since I wanted to minimize the days off in case surgery went poorly (though I'll grant I may have worked the holiday on Monday before just because I still want to have maximum amount paid time off). I also had Kiana with me and we got to do all kinds of fun things in San Francisco which she looked at with the wonderment only children have. I don’t know how long those memories will last for either of us but I am glad we get to keep making them. Many of the same friends showed up and of course, they had this question about the surgery and about the medical tests but without exception I tried to always move onto more important things about this person’s new job, or that person’s new boyfriend or the happy moments that had grown into their life, those virtues that maybe aren’t discovered as well until you talk about them. Some people actually noticed the differences in me, the calmer, more toned down demeanor, the more easily distracted guy but those meals ended and started the same way last year’s had, with hugs and love except this time, it felt more like I’ll see you later than goodbye to me.

I’d taken a trip with a girl I loved shortly after the marathon of my life before some medical stuff and that part also echoed itself but this girl was more thrilled about the trip. I had actually hoped to be back on this trip with Kiana to introduce her to people and I was here and she was loving it! I was here with Kiana showing her a new part of the world wanting to never ever lose that excitement. One of the things on the trip was that we got lost a lot. Apparently I now remember things more like girls by landmarks rather than street names (hey it was a girl who made that joke!) so I made a poor navigator. And while I definitely got reprimanded for getting us off track there were times I just took in the hills and the San Francisco bay and some gorgeous skyline and remembered that not all who wonder are lost. Kiana fell asleep in the car on the way home a few times leaning into me. If that’s wondering or lost, well I’ll take it. There was a sign that said Never Grow Up when we took her to the Disney store and on the days I’m worried about this and she’s asleep on my shoulder I so wish Peter Pan was real. I recognize and appreciate that this weed of brain cancer has given me some clearer views but at this point here’s hoping it’s only the undiscovered virtues that are growing.

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