Jump Already!

FullSizeRender

I received a call from Dr. Shilpa Shah on my first day back to work. Oh no, I thought. It was Monday and I had gotten a CT- scan on the Friday before. I didn’t expect a call so quickly. She never called me.

“You have some activity in your brain.”

There’s a disconnect between her velvety voice and the information delivered. I hang up the phone. Numb. Why am I at work? What’s wrong with me? Have I not learned that the days of slumber are over, the illusion of boundless time, the sleep walking from event to event?

Dr. Shah arranged more scans. I had a brain MRI set up for the following Friday . I arrived and the technician placed me in a long cylinder.

“Claustrophobic?”

“No.”

He inserted foam into my ears. He shot contrast into my veins. Soon, I was meditating to the magnetic beat, visualizing myself bathed in green (the color of healing) and picturing how Philip Glass might incorporate the rhythms of the MRI into one of his pieces. I pulsated on the table for an hour. I then raced the disks over to my radiation oncologist. Dee was visiting her new born nephew in Ireland, so I asked a friend to accompany me. We both sat quietly in his office until he arrived.

The doctor entered. We exchanged pleasantries. Why do I always feel the need to put doctors at ease? He pulled up images of my brain on a big screen, mulling over them, scratching his chin. He used terms such as, “I think,” but “I can’t be sure.” I focused on the imperfections in my brain, white circles that shouldn’t be there. It looked as if a dandelion had been blown into my frontal lobe. The doctor sat on a chair with wheels so he could look me in the eye. Then look away.

“They’re brain mets, right?” I said.

He mused,“ it could be an infection, or a fungus, or Valley Fever.”

Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought!

He wouldn’t commit to anything.

“You’re asymptomatic which is good, but its confusing.”

I welcomed his confusion.

Together, we shared a nervous smile.

“Let’s do a scan in a couple of months,” he said.

It sounded like he was punting the ball, but I agreed.

I was a bloodless ghost. I couldn’t feel my skin, but my muscles were working and I walked out of the office. Everything had slowed down. One of the office staff shared a plate of cookies with her coworkers, another laughed for unknown reasons. The most incidental activity, which was everywhere, made me want to scream. I felt as if I arrived from solitary confinement. Laughing or smiling felt like a dagger. I was full of envy and rage, but in a nonsensical way, it was a calm rage.

“What did you think?” I asked my friend while getting into the car.

“I wasn’t impressed by his shoes,” he said, “shoes say a lot about the man.”

“They were new and shiny … probably from Ross,” I said.

“They weren’t Brooks Brothers, that’s for sure.”

I drove home with the images of his black shoes on my mind. He’s on top of the food chain as far as oncology is concerned. Why Ross?

I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t want to let anyone down. Does this happen to everyone? Probably not, but it’s what I felt. The idea that I caused this somehow is like a mist that won’t lift. Over the next couple of days I cried, mostly in the shower, the falling water elicits a torrent of feelings, I guess, followed by an unexplainable relief (that’s quite nice.)

Then I got bored.

I hated the feeling of hopelessness. So, I reached out to others who could help. I wanted direction. I thirsted for it. The people that run Ojai Cares are virtuosos in the category of help. I found out about The Pine Street Clinic in San Francisco. I was advised on a host of things.

I now follow the ketogenic diet; I take supplements and medical cannabis. I’m a practitioner of Tai Chi and other forms of meditation. I still walk in the chaparral and surf as much as possible, but exercise ignites a pain in my hip from tumor scars, or lesions, that slows me down. People have survived and thrived with brain mets for many years. I plan on being one of them (even if it’s unconfirmed.)

Most days I feel inspired and charged with life. I read in one of my cancer books that’s there’s a difference between, “not wanting to die,” and “wanting to live.” I get that and want the latter.

I’m so grateful for my consciousness, and this opportunity to work on myself. It’s like the first time being on a big diving board as a kid. There’s a long line in front of you and one behind as well. No time to chicken out and turn around. I find myself afraid to jump off but once I do it’s not bad, in fact, it’s fun. I get the opportunity to let go, to let go of my hostages, people and institutions that I have expectations of, I get to let go of old ideas I’ve dragged around, ways of being that no longer work or serve me in any way. Do I do these things because I’m an enlightened person? No. I do it because there’s a long line behind me and they’re growing impatient.

“Jump already, would ya’?”

Here I go.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Jump Already!

  1. Sean, I am so sorry you are having to go through this…. The waiting is the worst. But take heart, they have come so far with treatment if it is confirmed…. My girlfriend, who was diagnosed with breast cancer In 2009, had 15 lesions show up on her brain two years into it. Spread to the menengia (fluid around the brain) as well two years after that. They have eliminated it there and she has only 2 lesions that they are currently treating still on the brain. When she was diagnosed it had already spread to her bones and they are keeping that under control as well, six years later!! Faith and will, my friend….. Adding you to my prayer list, so there’s that!! And I have nice shoes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sean, I got together recently with Metro up here to watch the MLS finals. He mentioned his sister hearing about a recent set back with you. I thought no news is good news and I know what you mean by not wanting to let anyone down. Deep down I was afraid to ask. Just now when the blog was updated I thought, oh no. Upon reading this I began to weep myself. Words cannot describe what you mean to me and our family.
    My spirits were instantly lifted when I read Lori’s message above! Thanks for that Lori, and as always very well written Sean! Love you so much!
    Terry

    Liked by 1 person

    • You walking in my words is all a “writer” can ask for. It’s not the real reason I write these, but trust me, I’m trying to keep the reader involved by making these posts not so much about information but about story.

      Like

  3. Sean, I heard the news from you when you visited, so the blog entry was no surprise. But it did something else for me. The life in your writing is so strong, it heals my own concerns about your health.
    Letting go . . . beautiful.
    And your brother’s ( I assume it was your brother) entry also helped. What a wonderful support team! You could never let them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Sean and Deidre, We passed your house last Sunday and it looked like you were having a party. We felt happy for your celebration. Sad that we weren’t there! Let’s get together soon. Beyond that, you and your family have been in my prayers. What a journey this is. Stay focused on living!!! You teach so many with your beautifully written wisdom!!! Thank you. God Bless!!! Hugs!!!Jump!!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are such a gifted writer, Sean. I’m undone that what you describe is you. I’m thinking of you and grateful you are giving us the gift of sharing. Your clarity, vulnerability and honesty is gorgeous.
    Love,
    Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alexis…49% of me says “don’t post this stuff!” but the 51% that says “this might help someone else” wins out. The encouragement I always feel from you and others helps.

      Like

  6. Sean, sorry to hear the news. I do like the title of this blog entry, Jump already,would ya! Cancer is a horrible, humbling and ultimately nerve racking. As I communicated previously, I’ve experienced it in my immediate family. Every three months the appointment with the oncologist looms…we both know when its scheduled. There is a quiet and screaming loud fear leading up to that day….10 years and counting, but when will it return? We had to learn very early in our marriage to Jump already would ya! Jump into life and live it today as tomorrow is not guaranteed. This is what the title of the article meant to me… Whilst it makes one’s life richer, it also difficult living with the unknown of tomorrow. I weep as I read your blog and wrote this entry, as your entry is honest if not raw emotion and feeling I can understand and identify with everyday of my life. God bless. Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its a roller coaster, alright, but one that goes up as well! I’m feeling strong and invigorated and empowered. I know about your wife’s condition from what you’ve posted. She’s lucky to have your support, as I am with Dee, because we can become very self-centered people as you might imagine, and not the easiest to live with.

      Like

  7. Sean,
    You want to put the doctors at ease because you are a nice person and you know that even though they give bad news sometimes, they are probably nice, too.
    I love a doctor who shops at Ross. He is down to earth.
    This year has been shit.
    Hopefully, 2016 wonderful.
    Keep the faith,
    Michelle
    P.S. Should you see a neurologist? If so, call me for some names & #s. Or, I’ll see you – since the doctors at Stanford joked that I am able to teach the neuro residents there. 😭😜

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh God. As wonderful as your words are and the way you share your thoughts I cannot say I am delighted to read them this way. Thinking of you and Deirdre and please God you will get positive news.
    Ann-Marie

    Like

  9. Sean, I am so sorry to hear this news. And, I am utterly inspired by your words:

    “I get the opportunity to let go, to let go of my hostages, people and institutions that I have expectations of, I get to let go of old ideas I’ve dragged around, ways of being that no longer work or serve me in any way.”

    You cannot imagine the revelation to me to read your words about letting go of “hostages.” I have hundreds of hostages that I take every day of my life in my thoughts, attitudes, and resentments. What a wonderful image you paint in letting go of yours. Thank you for that.

    I drive by your house daily and think of you.
    I will stop by, too.

    Love you,
    Toni

    Like

  10. Sean, Since I don’t have your email, I thought I’d try to get in touch with you from this sight. Scott has kept me abreast of your situation and my heart goes out to you and your family. Your shoulders must be strong to bear all that you have had to face. I have put you in our book of prayers at church and keep you in my daily prayers s well. I’m sure you know that I live in Camarillo. I would like to be of some help to you and your wife it is at all possible. I can easily drive up to visit and give your wife a break or a shoulder to lean on. I would never interfere if there are others to give you strength. But, know that I am available and would love to see you. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers and I hope to see you one day. Always, Bety Logsdon Woodard >

    Like

  11. I only just read this now and am hoping your actual report was better than what this seems to imply…or if it was mets it’s stopped.
    Mostly I want you to enjoy some peace for your heart and many years with your family. Love from CT

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s