“Real Human Connection”

June 2 2015

8 rounds of chemo with Folfox. 15 days per cycle. One relatively long hospital visit of 3-4 hours plus another brief visit after 48 hours to remove the SFU pump. That is what lies ahead of me. The possible effects of the oxaliplatin, with nerve damage to my fingers, extreme sensitivity to cold and loss of appetite due to everything tasting bad scare me. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

My throat is sore and I am starting to have a slight cough. With both boys sick, it is a wonder I haven’t getter whatever bugs they are carrying sooner with my weakened immune system. I had a terrible right last night – hot, itchy, pain in my belly, and a full bladder all conspired to keep me from a good night’s rest.

June 18 2015

Where has the time gone? The last time I wrote something was last week! I spent 2 days at
home, when I could not face going out in the rain, then sleeping until 2 pm yesterday after a late night of working. I need to break this habit of working late into the night. Sleep fights cancer. Smoking causes cancer. Why do I continue to do things that could potentially kill me? I have always thought I would die young, but that was before I had a family that I adore more than anything in the world. The thought of not being able to watch them grow up and become whole and self actualized men who fall in love and discover their passions and fall on their faces and learn from their failures is one I cannot face.

I need to make the choice to stop these destructive habits. It is completely within my power, but I need to find help and support. After my last coaching session with Laura, I stayed up really late watching ‘What Would You Do?’ episodes. Internet addiction is an addiction seemingly like any other. Using that time to do and to think about other things would be nice. Exercising and learning Spanish need to be my positive incentives with clear, concrete goals.

June 19 2015

Last day of school and summer vacation begins. It is appropriately hot and sunny and I am feeling good, but tired. Asking myself the question of why I continue to do things that could potentially kill me, my mind turns to fugu, or pufferfish, the Japanese delicacy that has to be prepared by only the most skilled sushi chefs who know how to leave the barest trace of the poison to give diners the faint taste of death. Apparently it tingles the tongue and lips.

I am no adrenaline junkie looking for death-defying activities to get a rush, but I do believe that nothing is a better reminder of the preciousness and fragility of life than tasting death. Mine was never going to do a life lived in quiet desperation. I believe that taking risks and making mistakes is how we grow into whole and better beings. I used to make the excuse that for any of my personal failures, like being irresponsible or prone to excess, that that was who I am. But change is not only possible, it is inevitable. I want to regain control. The late night video surfing needs to be replaced by real human connection.

October 9 2016

I picked this journal back up purely by chance yesterday. Reading about my early days with cancer was somehow restorative, so I resolved to start journaling again. I have absolutely no recollection of why I stopped. It was a non-decision. Death by attrition. The last line I wrote in June as summer vacation started last year was that I needed to replace my virtual fixes of emotional voyeurism with real human connection.

Looking back over the past year, more than year, that has passed, have I managed to deepen or increase my connectedness? I don’t think so. I have been feeling more distant from Matt than probably at any point in our relationship. Have I invested in other relationships over this time? Aside from reconnecting with Emily and through the other women in leadership roles at OSF, there has been a pretty big hole in our lives where friendships beyond work and home are concerned. Matt’s last blog post about my cancer ended with “my wife is going to live,” and in order to feel more alive, I need to have people and perspectives in my life that help me to grow and challenge me and bring more fun into my life. My strongest associations with fun are with drinking, dancing, debating, and dining. I need to come up with a plan with Matt to bring more of these things into our lives.

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