Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pile of Good Things



Well, Thanksgiving weekend was interesting. The turkey trot win was awesome and there’s no trophy I’m more proud of. But it just kept flowing well. I had a few very kind Thanksgiving invitations but the one I took was the one to what was labeled as an orphan Thanksgiving where people who didn’t have any family in town got together. Other than the Cowboys losing to the Redskins, it was a great event. A lot of good people who were also good runners but  its this time of year I remembered why I don’t gain weight during the holidays (or at least not too much)

Saturday though was an interesting day. I ran 20 miles for the first time since before Boston and remembered why I don’t  train for marathons year round. But a friend of mine who does an annual charity beer mile. Chug a beer, run a quarter lap, and repeat. I’d never done anything like that and one of my friends asked where Kiana was. She happened to be with her mother but the friend wisely pointed out that probably that was not the best thing to take a kid to when there was a custody hearing pending. Still, turns out the guy who almost never drinks can chug a beer and I won it with a time of 6:40 in another exciting toe to toe finish. The turkey trot is an infinitely more significant race but it was nice to have two trophies within the same week, something that’s never happened before. Only the winners got bibs and appropriately enough the male winner bib was #8.

I rented a couple of movies to cover some of the silence and one that has sat on my counter for over a month 50/50 and has been mentioned in here multiple times didn’t and still hasn’t gotten watched. Someone pointed out that the fear of watching it may be a bigger deal than actually watching it, like the anticipation of jumping off something when you have a fear of heights is probably greater than actually doing it. I think we have a term for that, it’s called PTSD and yes the anticipation usually is worse but I also have a fear of heights and small spaces. I’ve managed to conquer those having skydived, becoming a scuba diver who on his first dive was the one who ran out of air the fastest the first dive and then later down the road always the last one because of these lungs that let me run… but I’m not sure I’ll get to this one.

One thing the guy who only watches movies once did do was buy his first ever downloaded TV episode. It’s from the British show, Doctor Who called the doctor and Vincent. They travel back in time to help Van Gogh from a ghost that shows up in his window. I loved Van Gogh long before this, a painting of his is in my daughter’s room, in high school while working at a stained glass factory I made a carved ear as a nod to him. But in this episode, which came out long before any of this started, Van Gogh has kind of a high emotional moment where he thinks that it changes everything, that he’ll do so much more, one of those hopeless romantic moments where it’s more romantic than hopeless. But when the time travelers get back to the future, all they’ve managed to do is remove a small ghost from his window and his mental illness  still commits suicide at age 37 after having completed some of his best works. I am no Van Gogh but I wonder if some part of us rhymes, that an illness in our own head is used to be as positive as it can, his therapy being painting and mine being running. To use some of those demons and through naïve idealism and hope turn it into something positive for as long as possible.

The time traveler says to his companion as she cries about the fact that they didn’t change anything: "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey, the good things don’t always soften the bad things. But, vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.

There have been many, many good people along this path. There have been a couple of girls who turned on some of those other raw emotions that we make movies, songs and books about. And for a few moments I think they change everything and Vincent thinks during those moments that they can have kids by the dozen… but of course they don’t. I’ve worked off the assumption of what the original prognosis was that I’m likely not going to make 40. I try to hold onto hope and naïve idealism, poring over the articles that friends have sent me about how exercise is good for the brain(http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/26/15460602-this-is-your-brain-on-exercise?lite), how athletes have a higher rate of survival in cancer, how a programmer with a similar diagnosis has made it an open source thing (http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/25/opinion/iaconesi-cure-open-source/index.html?fb_action_ids=10151323133942090&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=timeline_og&action_object_map=%7B%2210151323133942090%22%3A170620113061655%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151323133942090%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=[])...

The new neuro oncologist, Dr. Valiant, has compiled all records and at the end of the day thinks that what appeared as good news may have to do with more imaging issues and biopsy issues but that yeah I still have cancer.

Kiana above all but people in general is why I keep going. But these girls, these moments were everything seems all right keep part of the hopeless romantic alive. But then I remember my great grandmother dying and not remembering any of us and I don’t think I have what it takes to ask anyone to sit through that who wasn’t signed up beforehand to get that close if this ever gets ugly… When I made momentary romantic connections, I sleep better, I remember better, my lumosity scores go up. Trying to dismiss the romance of it, I remember that the damaged parts of my brain are the memory center and the hippocampus, both of which in all people work better when they are engaged in romantic type feelings, trying to dismiss the magic as science but science has never quite explained how we turn that on anyway. And these girls… without exception… somehow stick immediately when so many, so many people don’t in this facial recognition game (the rest I study on things like facebook or pictures, to give you an idea, it took 4 days for Kiana’s kindergarten teacher).

Some call this justification for my George Clooney lifestyle and judge me as less than wholesome accordingly. A handful of people have understood. Some have tried to say you don’t know that you’re going to be part of the minority that beats this, just be willing to go for it, something that I’ve considered more in this month, the first time I don’t have any brain cancer appointments in 2 years but I am nowhere near shaking the PTSD… Plus there is still this court cased based on this. It’s frustrating at some level to have so much of your life being in other people’s hands, literally and figuratively.

So every once in a while, I chug beers and win a race despite the fact that I have an alcohol limit. This weekend after running 10 miles I had a cup of coffee at Central Market despite the fact that I am supposed to have no caffeine. None of these will ever become habit but every once in a while, it’s good to be human and have cancer be less relevant. And all of that definitely adds to my pile of good things.

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