Friday, June 29, 2012

Guns, Gold, Girls: Epic running songs pt 1

This is one of my favorite running songs right now. The song starts at 1:30 and it is well worth watching the link as I think of this as I run. As one kayaker says "I would be proud to say that I did this, but I'm racing it" a philosophy that is HUGE in running:

What does it mean to say that "it's never going to be enough?" To me it means that I'm never going to give up on life, it's how I feel about life, I "will not go gently into the night" (Dylan Thomas). To me it means what I tell myself and patients every day, that what feels impossible emotionally and physically is something that is worth striving for, because without having worked towards that goal day in and day out, you still don't know if you can attain it. It means that you can survive a lot worse circumstances than you expected because it takes so much more to break your body.

No surprise, I think of my mom and how when we were in the hospital for those three weeks following her first seizure she could finally walk to the end of the hall and part of the way back (with a walker and the support of her two physical therapists). Then the next day when she got her diagnosis of brain cancer she couldn't even stand much less walk. It all felt impossible. She was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer that meant she would live for 3-9 more months. Over that time she would have several seizures, lose all capabilities, walking, feeding her self, bowel/bladder fundtion, until she could only move her eyes. At this point her organs would slowly shut down and then she would die. So walking felt pretty f-ing impossible for her at that moment.

I brought her to the end of the hall in her wheelchair, where she could see sunlight, and sat and talked to her. I had prepared for this moment and had expected the diagnosis. I had read every last paper on her form of brain cancer, about what treatments could possibly give her a chance to survive. I told her we had a plan, and kept talking, and don't remember what else I said but finally something worked. She reached for/grabbed for my espresso, a sign of her still wanting something!

My dad intervened. No stimulants... no caffeine. Your mother had a seizure. DAD! Mom is smiling, mom is excited about something, give her what she wants she just got a death sentence... And caffeine is NOT potent enough to cause a seizure, especially with all the anti-seizure meds. So I gave it to her and he took it away and complained of sharing germs. I asked her if she wanted one, she said yes. My dad protested, so I said oh dad, it will be decaf, and winked at my mom.

I sprinted down the stairs, got her an espresso, fully caffeinated, and ran it back to her and assured my dad with many more winks in my mom's direction that it was decaf. My mom, with a shit-eating grin and mischievousness in her eyes guzzled it down, a little drop running down her chin.

Then I knew I had to move back home. My mom and dad were fully in love but someone had to develop the desire to live in my mom and make sure she enjoyed what she had left so she would fight for the ability to walk or eat or anything and my dad was just much too blinded by his misery to be able to do that.

Every day I bought my mom the most expensive, foofiest caramel-latte-whip cream drink on the menu at Starbucks and every day my mom drank it as fast as she could while I reassured my dad that it was decaf (sometimes it actually was, when I felt really guilty about disobeying my dad for months on end). And afterwords she would beam and sparkle. Eventually she lost much of her short term memory and no longer remembered drinking the foofy latte afterwords, which was hard, as the only external proof of my daily effort was an empty bank account.

But when I hear this song, I think of that sparkle in my mom's eye and knowing oh, she has some life in her. Like in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, where tapping into your inner rapscallion is intrinsic to healing and health and will to live. No, it's never going to be enough and I hope all my patients feel the same.

Then, thinking of this, I pick up my feet, improve my cadence, and enjoy the freedom of running.

An image of my mom and I at christmas about a month before her first seizure, toasting wine glasses after having spent 4 hours making tortelini from scratch (i.e. making the pasta dough from flour, etc)

1 comment:

  1. Your mom was lucky to have you with her and you were lucky to be in a place where you were able to be with her.

    We miss you, hope Chicago is good to you!