Thursday, March 16, 2017

Just thinking out loud...

A friend just made a comment to me in an email, saying that my chemo would "stop him cold".  I told him that I'm in a four month struggle with this chemo and I don't have time to just sit around feeling sorry for myself.  I told him that I can't just sit on the couch with a vat of ice cream, and put my life on hold until I feel better.  Today may be better than the future.  So, I've got to do what I can, when I can.  It's really that simple.

In reality, I think it's the sudden prospect of a different future than I'd always imagined.  And, it's not even that "sudden", but the cumulative effects of treatments, the realization that a cure will likely never happen, and that soft tissue sarcomas simply reduce lifespans.

I have to live with that every day.  I see three ways I could react to this reality.  I could live in denial, with no changes in my life, except for treatments.  I could do the treatments, and then give in to the inconvenience and lowered quality of life.  I could sit on the couch, watch TV, give up the gym, give up skiing, give up cooking, and simply wait for the end.  Or, I can decide to live the hell out of my life.  Technically, there's a 4th scenario, but that is ending all treatment, and I'm not ready for that quite yet.

So, I choose the third path.  It's not a hard path for me to choose.  It's how I've always lived my life.  Full speed.  Head on.  Get out of my way.  I've joked for years that there will be time to sleep when I'm dead.  I still believe that.

I'm trying to not be stupid.  When my body needs rest, I rest.  Last weekend, I took the weekend off of skiing because the temperatures were very cold and I wasn't 100%.  I slept a lot that weekend.  But, I also cooked a lot.  I tied a lot of flies.  My wife and I went to a beer tasting.  I watched a movie I've been wanting to see (regretfully, it sucked).  And, I lifted weights on Sunday.  For the most part, I consider that to be a rest weekend.

My current chemo regimen will go through the end of May, at least.  If the chemo works, I will then have surgery in June or July.  If it doesn't work, we will try another treatment.  We will try until something works and I can have surgery, or until we exhaust all options, or until I decided that quality of life is more important than the side effects of the treatments.  I have no idea which way this path will lead.

I could easily be gone in a year, to be perfectly honest.  Or, I might be here for another 5 years or 10 years.

It is odd thinking that this could be my last ski season as an instructor.  That my last trout season might be starting in a few weeks.  Or that I might have to leave a job that I love for health reasons.  My current job is the most fulfilling job I've ever had.  I work with smart people, committed people, people who want to improve the state of healthcare in our country.  And now, as a major consumer of healthcare, the work seems that much more important.

I worry that I won't live to see the end of our current President's tenure.  I want to see my children graduate from college.  I want to see them blossom into young adults, fall in love, and live lives of their choosing.

And mostly, I want to spend my life with my wife.  That is the hardest part of all of this.  I've been on this planet for 55 years now, and I've spent 34 of them with my wife, 30 of them married.  This means more to me than anything else I've mentioned above.  I know she's a strong and tough lady.  I know she will be OK.  But, if something happens to me, it's going to hurt her.  And, I'd do anything to avoid that if I could.

But, don't feel sorry for me.  This isn't a post where I'm asking for sympathy.  I've lived a hell of a good life.  I've had some amazing adventures.  I've lived all around this country of ours.  I know so many good people that I feel privileged to call my friends.

Sometimes, the story just has a different ending than you hope for.  That doesn't make the story a tragedy though.  It just makes it different.

And for now, despite the circumstances, there is no ennui here.  Not too much sadness.  Just a need to live my life as it exists now, to do the things I love, with the people I love.  And right up until the moment that it becomes untenable, that's what you'll see from me.

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