This has been an interesting year for personal medical issues. I’ve never had them before. I mean, I had my tonsils out when I was six and it took five nurses to hold me down for an injection in my buttocks. (Maybe one of you can tell me why that injection was necessary!?) But beyond that, I’ve been a pretty healthy guy . . . until February.
First, I broke my toe. I was making dinner and tried to dropkick the island in my kitchen into the hallway. It didn’t move. My foot went one way and my toe went another. Snapped that baby right off. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but my podiatrist told me not to run or bike, or swim for eight weeks. (Those eight weeks felt like an eternity; whether or not I did exactly as I was told . . . well that’s fodder for another post.)
Second, I went to see my friendly neighborhood dermatologist for a routine visit, only it turned out not to be so routine. She diagnosed me with skin cancer on my outer ear, and by the time I was able to get in to see the surgeon, they had to slice off a little more than I had hoped to part with. But again, no big deal.
Then two weeks ago, I had what I think was easily the scariest weekend of my life. I’ll tell you a little bit, just so you get the picture. I woke up early on Friday morning and I couldn’t feel my BODY: couldn’t feel the weight of it as I was lying in bed, couldn’t feel the covers, couldn’t feel my fingers when I rubbed them together. It was, I imagine, like being in some kind of isolation tank. I was totally in my head, and it was freakishly disconcerting. I went to the pool and was surprised to find that I could swim, even though I couldn’t feel the water passing across my arms as I stroked my way through it. (And to tell you the truth, I was asking myself whether it was possible that I’d had a stroke.)
I waited until mid-afternoon on Sunday to escort myself to the Emergency Room. (I do have an X and Y chromosome, after all.) There they hooked me up to machines, ran lines, and poked me for a couple of hours. (Mostly I lay there waiting. If it were a recipe it would read: Active Time 5 minutes.) When all was said and done they told me that I had the best blood work in the joint and sent me home with a piece of paper that indicated I was FATIGUED. (My best guess is that “tired” is what you are at the end of the day; “fatigued” is what you eventually get when you are tired at the end of every day . . . and maybe you ignore it.)
I slept ten hours for three nights in a row, and now I’m mostly better. I’m trying to get six or more hours of sleep a night, in contrast to the four I was getting . . . which in retrospect was probably not particularly healthy. (And yes, I do hope that neither my doctor nor my mom is reading this.)
So, not a great experience, but I did learn a couple of things. (Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; it probably also makes you smarter . . . at least potentially.) Here’s what I’m finding:
1) I’m unusually hungry for connection. That’s weird because I’m an introvert, meaning that people drain me. I mean they really drain me—yeah sorry, but that probably includes you. But I don’t care anymore. I’ve always understood the brevity of life, but now I guess I’ve hit a particular age and I REALLY KNOW how short is short. (We call that “experiential knowledge.”) And I already know I’m not leaving anything behind—nothing but people and relationships. So I intend, for as long as I can and to the best of my ability, to rock the relationships. Carpe Diem!
2) I’m willing to push a little harder . . . drive a little further. Again, life is short. I might not wake up in the morning, (wouldn’t that be heaven?) . . . or YOU might not. I dunno. It’s creepy, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. You never know what tomorrow holds, if it holds anything. Like the old prayer says, “Only one life. ‘Twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Soli Deo Gloria!