Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Idea of You

My “sister” Susan and I a long time ago sat and talked about how her husband was struggling due to some injuries that may not allow him to continue his cycling habit with identity. She stated he had a hard time staying  “I’ve always been a cyclist… if I don’t get to be that anymore… than who am I.” I responded back then with, despite always have been in athletic events, that I was glad the biggest part of my identity wasn’t athletic which had to give but that it was my relationships and my intellect which perhaps would take some chips but I thought it would hold mostly solid… fast forward to now…

My intellect is chipped at some level and while my overall lumosity score is up… some things are down. The game I struggle with the most is one where you’re supposed to be a waiter where you remember old customers and their orders… I’d built my life around relationships with my friend Street saying that people were clearly my biggest hobby. I struggle with attention and there are some jobs where I might be otherwise qualified but I haven’t applied because I don’t want to be the devil in the details that can’t be done. And while that part of my identity I’m starting to get some confidence because of the lumosity, I’m also still wondering how the kid who was always nerdy… is missing part of his brain.

I sent the neuropathological reports to a couple of doctor friends… they have always seen medical stuff and neither of them is their practice but they can look at it as recent graduates and talk to friends about it and be completely naïve and blunt because they have no liability issues. One things maybe it was always a misdiagnosis and if that’s the case then at some level I should possibly be more worried because then we have no idea how we got here. The other one said that I think you had cancer and somehow you’re just a statistical anomaly and there’s no way to tell you anything about recurrence since your tumor was 3 in a million to begin with. He joked about how it’s too bad that my favorite show House got cancelled cause maybe I could have tried to make them figure it out.

And next Friday, I am getting that second opinion and the one doctor that I didn’t want to replace out of the random lot I drew and I are going to sit together… he’s having John Hopkins Dr. Berger, apparently a world renown neuro pathologist and the Duke guy talk and try to figure out what the hell we’re doing…. He was the guy that did the biopsy, the guy who had to hear me say as my first reaction, “Rub some dirt in it.” And in the end, he knew what was at risk and to his credit (discredit?) he acknowledged he didn’t have the skill to take something on in that part of the brain and tried to pass me on to a friend in Dallas but I chose to go to Duke. I trust him a lot and had he not passed on doing the surgery… I am not sure I would have gone to Duke. Says something about these guys characters that I literally have cell phone numbers for him and the guys at Duke and my neuropsychologist gave me a book about memory, something he states he’s never done with any other patient. I’ve still not told Kiana anything and I’ve still not really absorbed it as “real” thinking that somehow when that second opinion comes in that maybe it will conclude and finish with the same guy and that unlike I’ve been thinking for a while that I will go back to thinking that for the time being my future has a clearer “Cause of death-unknown.”

I’ve lost a lot of things in the last 18 months… a job, a spouse, a part of my brain, some friends because of single fatherhood and them realizing that a guy who doesn’t have that much free time is less fun to hang out with, the guy who used to run every ultimate tournament in Austin rarely plays anymore, and I guess I hope/ am nervous/dream about the possibility that I am about to lose a cancer diagnosis. Oddly enough it was literally within a month of me finally starting to get comfortable with the label of living with it…

But while ideals are great and ideas are a way to chase them… I created a playlist a while back, full of slow songs called exactly the same title as this entry, the idea of you which was stolen from a brilliant play( ). It’s a brilliant short act but there are of course 8 songs on the playlist where I tried to reconcile how different my ideas and realities had turned out to be and so quickly. Some of those songs have been previously referenced but I guess on Friday I am hoping to be singing one of them, it’s a brand new day, for the first time in such a long long time, I know I’ll be okay.  

The guy who didn’t want to define himself as an athlete that day so long ago… went to the Luke’s Locker all come track meet where between Kiana and I we did every event. Like I’ve done at every one of these I’ve done events I’d never tried before, realizing that new things are challenging, exciting, frustrating… For the first time ever I did a couple of field events. Kiana did her first mile and had to be stopped around the corner because she kept going… so somewhere she got those endurance genes. I have them for running; I am trying to find some way to keep using them emotionally and psychologically.

More than one person has noticed that the idea of a significant other pops up way too often on here… part of that is that this was something just as damaged by all this in me as anything else. But… I’ve also kept it front and center at some level so on Friday, no matter how this second opinion goes, I am taking that forever necklace down that sits on my rearview mirror and taking those livestrong rings and I don’t have the heart to throw them away but I’m going to put them in a safe that my bank provides me for free as an outstanding member (read, I owe them tons of money for a mortgage, we’ll throw you a free bank box 15 miles from your house). If it comes, it comes. Unlike the new events which I’ve signed up for, I am so far away from being able to take a real swing at that and thinking maybe George Clooney’s ideas aren’t so bad.

At my 30th birthday party, I joked about how if you’d told me to guess my life from 20 to 30 I would have gotten it all wrong except the person next to me. Between 30 and 31, I would have gotten that wrong … she’d be gone a few months later…except there was still one little girl who ran a mile with me and starts kindergarten… Between 31 and 32, I would have gotten a bit more right but still some gigantic misses… I am not going to try to guess anything between 32 and 33 but going to be open to some new hurdles (the only event I haven’t done at these track meets is hurdles and I will do it at the last one, using it as warm up hoping I can break a 5 minute mile at it but I’ve learned quickly trying to take 8 seconds off on a mile is a long long time but matching my life, the only event I pr’ed in that I’d done before at this decathlon was my 8th one, the 800 with a 2:23).

I gotta find a job and pay the bills soon and very soon, tomorrow is the panic button date…who knows how long some ideas will last… how long some realities will but I hope to be able to take them and afford them.

Still, I am struggling what is the idea of me? What is my identity? I don’t know… Pentti Saarikoski, a Finnish poet who wrote a serious of poems where the series was called “What is actually going on?” He wrote why I write: “By writing I create an identity for myself. Without it I wouldn't feel being anybody, thus a personality. - It's not as much a question of self-expression as a need of finding yourself.” Here’s hoping Friday is not heart breaking. 

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