Sleep Now in the Fire

Ok, this is serious and I need your help. I’ve decided that I have the wherewithal to find some land and design one last home for myself. The problem is, I don’t have land. In the past I restricted myself to urban neighborhoods (surprise), but I've since become enamored with the possibility of something in the country, rural, or semi-rural. If you happen to know of anything on the market in the Chattanooga area that might appeal- PLEASE give me a shout (I’m on tight schedule here- death is nipping at my heels.) I’ve posted on Facebook, and asked a real estate agent to help, but nothing has turned up so far. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help. 

Also, please let me know if there is a custom home builder that you or a friend have used and been very happy with, I could use some recommendations on that part of the equation as well. 

(Please note: I do feel bad about pleading for your help before I drop this awful blog post on you).

This post may be disappointing for a number of you to read. It has been disappointing to write. This is perhaps appropriate, however, as life is a disappointment. I’m going all Charles Barkley on you this week- so remember, I am not a role model. 

I’m ready to die. Not from the sense that I’ve made things right with the Lord and my soul is prepared- I’ve been there for a while. I mean, I’ve had about all I can take. 19 months of some of the wickedest chemotherapy you can cook up, coupled with a serious radiation session when my colon was invaded has made my life during this time pretty damned tough (not the mention the two bouts of sepsis, the other infections, the months of hospital stays, the half dozen ERCPs, the dozen drain replacements, the six weeks of home IV anti-biotics, the half dozen abscessograms, and countless CTs, scans and labs). We all know there is no “getting better” from gall bladder cancer. It doesn’t appear that my quality of life will improve, I just have to make myself happy with less and less as time passes. Well, I’ve reached a point where moving on to what’s next doesn’t sound like such a dire proposition. I’m quite ready to move on. I'm ready to die. 

The central question has been how to live any form of meaningful life given my current circumstance. As I've said previously, before cancer I had it all figured out. I knew what was important in life, and what I needed to do on a daily basis to enjoy it. It just so happened that those things all happened to be legally, ethically and morally sound, made a positive contribution to society, and generally conformed to what it means to be a “good person”. I put god and my family first, then found things that made life enjoyable- and I was indeed living a dream.

To be sure, there are a number of those things that cancer can’t touch, and that I continue to do. The ability to love my children is a simple example. But let’s be frank- with school and friends and their own interests, how much time do a seven year old and an eleven year old want to spent with a broken old person who’s too weak to even be able to kick a soccer ball with them?

Cancer has managed to rob me of virtually everything that helped me enjoy life. 

I can’t play sports- to the point that I’m too weak to throw a football to my children (much less play basketball with my friends). Go for a run- ha! Return to the triathlon world- what a joke.

I can’t travel- of course, I can technically buy a ticket and go to Rome if I wish. My skeleton of a body, however, is too frail to sit in an airline seat for eight hours (even in the front of the plane). Once there, I’m too fatigued to be able to effectively walk anywhere. Then, there’s the whole question of being near my doctors. 

I can’t eat- technically I can eat, however, the cancer has robbed me of my appetite. It has also changed the way food tastes. No matter how much I eat, I can’t gain weight or strength, I currently weight 50 pounds less than I should- that’s almost 33%.

I can’t cook- one of my great joys in life was preparing meals for my family on a daily basis and twice a day on the weekends. I no have the stamina to work in the kitchen. It’s also difficult to cook when the prospect of eating is so unpleasant. 

I can’t consume alcohol- Due to the condition of my liver, there is no alcohol at all. No wine with my pasta, no beer with a sausage. No social drink of whiskey with a client, no drinks to fit in with the crowd. No drinks to drown myself to escape this situation. 

I can’t swim. With the various tubes sticking out of my liver and out of my body, immersion is a no-no. So for every vacation I get the gut punch of having to tell the boys I can't play in the ocean or jump in the pool with them. It’s awful. (a quick hop in the shower is also a thing of the past- anything like that requires thirty minutes of wrapping up like a mummy.

It’s tougher to enjoy my friends- I’ve never been a very social person. I’m not the guy that goes out to meet his buddies every evening- I vastly prefer returning home to the boys every afternoon. Getting together with my closest friends, however, is still very tough. A lot of those relationships were lubricated by grabbing an adult beverage (not an option), or an occasional cigar (not an option). Layer on to that the awkwardness of dealing of with someone whose death is imminent is also tough for some folks. Which is not to say that I’ve lost  track with everyone- I still see the ones that matter from time to time. I’ve become a good judge of who’s with me. 

I can’t garden/work in the yard- again with the lack of stamina, and a skeletal frame that doesn’t do well with bending over, or up and down movements it’s just not possible.

I can’t teach anymore- I really enjoyed teaching the architecture history class at UTC. With the uncertainty in my schedule due to chemo and unanticipated procedures, I can’t commit to being there the way I need to.

All of this is to say that virtually all of the things that I enjoyed in life have been taken away. Think of the things that make your broader life worth living (disregarding the family/love thing which we’ve already covered)- what is life without those things? What is life? When robbed of the things in life that one enjoys, you are left with no life at all. Try waking up to that every morning. 

I’m arrived at the point where I’ve finally lost the ability to put a happy face on things. I’ve carried on for 19 months with that attitude in all manner of blogs and podcasts and social media, but it’s run out.  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m over talking about how I’m living the dream. Most of the things that I’ve ever enjoyed in life have been taken from me, and I can’t honestly look someone in the eye and talk about how great things are. 

I won’t even start on the people who are trying taking advantage of me, or trying to make my life more difficult. That’s for another post, and I’ll deal with them they way the way need to be dealt with.  

I’m sure there are a number of you who will be disappointed in my attitude, because my previous one was “uplifting”, or “inspiring”, or some other such adjective. The good lord will probably have a few things to say about it himself. My only defense is that expressing myself honestly and telling the truth as I see it is more important to me than getting Facebook likes. I'm not putting my blog out as a book as some have requested, I'm not a writing yet another tired book from the terminal cancer patient as has become de rigueur. I'm living the rest of life (may it be appropriately short) on my terms.

So that’s where things stand right now. There are a couple of things I’ll leave you with in parting:

1) Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m dealing with things in my own way. If you see me at the office, in a restaurant, a coffee shop, or otherwise out in public, I’m there for a reason. I’ll be there with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. I’ll continue to do an excellent job in my professional endeavors, and will remain a steadfast friend to my friends. The attitude described in this blog post is of my private self. Please feel free to treat me (and my public self) the way you always have.

2) I’ve also decided to once again take charge of my life and enjoy what’s left of it and be happy. Unfortunately, unlike the previous “good person” approach, it’s looking like I will have to do this from a place of selfishness. Obviously, it will not be my intent to harm others, but I’m 100% committed to doing what is best for me. You may or may not recognize the difference. Under my new policy, a few things have made me happy: a) a new shotgun, b) a new assault rifle (I had to buy it before Hillary gets elected), c) telling fast food workers on Broad Street my opinion on their job performance, d) a new pair of obnoxious gucci loafers, e) significantly exceeding the speed limit in my car (which is designed to exceed the speed limit), and g) the lifting of the ban on Cuban cigars for personal use.

I don’t know where the blog will fit in with this new approach. I suspect that it will be less fun for you to read about my selfish hedonistic adventures than self-righteous platitudes about how to take cancer in stride. In either event, as always, if it write it here, it will be the truth (unlike either the criminal or clown that are vying to run our country). But the bigger question will be if writing about the shambles of what i've been left with will appeal to me at all. 

Better than beating the Vols...which to be fair is old hat now.
Oh, and I guess I should say something about Alabama beating Tennessee again. I'm missed the game because I was watching my youngest play soccer in his first ever travel tournament. Go Team, I guess. 

See ya’ll whenever next time is. Enjoy some Rage this week.

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