Friday, October 4, 2013

The One with the Politics

Back in high school, my history teacher always used to say, "war is a game that old men play with young men's lives."  I forget who he was quoting but that's not important.  Regardless of the source, it feels apt given everything going on in Washington today.

Now I'm not going to get all political here.  This is not the time nor the place for partisan debate.  How I see it, we have a bunch of people (of both parties) who are wealthy enough that they could retire in luxury for the rest of their lives and pay for the best healthcare in the world out of pocket playing a game of chicken, where all the have to gain is some illusory and temporary sense of power.  The price, however, is the well being of their constituents and employees.  They have no say over this government shutdown, and they are the ones who now suffer for it. 

Even so, suffering is one thing.  Death is another.

One of the government facilities currently shut down is the National Institutes of Health, or the NIH.  Senate has blocked a House attempt to give NIH an exemption; after all, it's not nearly so important as catching one's flight on time.  There are people who cannot wait for the government to get its act together and grow up.  There are people who had intended to turn to the NIH as their last hope.  I'm talking about the people who are so sick that they're willing - and legally allowed - to try anything, no matter how new or experimental, because they have no alternative and they're running out of time.  So while the Donkeys bray and the Elephants trumpet and nothing gets done, long-suffering people are denied their last, albeit small hope.

In other political news, Obamacare.  That's about all I really know or understand about it.  I've tried to educate myself and I've even spoken to an insurance representative about it but the only conclusion I've come to is that no one knows how this thing is really going to play out, and anyone who claims otherwise is probably selling something.  I'm going to keep operating under the belief that I can get insurance through work and that it's going to keep getting more expensive. 

And that's all I have to say on matter.

I had my MRI last week and met with Dr. C. a few days ago.  Still no change, though this time the MRI technician wrote that there was no change in a slightly different way (something to do with how they see no evidence of neoplasm but can't rule it out, which has been the case for about two years now).  Dr. C. had an addendum added to the report noting that yeah, nothing has changes, the MRI guy was just being weird.  As Dr. C. and I chatted, the topic of conversation came to compare me to other men of my age, to which I said that most men my age don't have brain cancer.  He stated, without hesitation, that neither do I.  I corrected myself to say a "history" of brain cancer, but I found his objection telling and reassuring.  We never really pinned down what my current status is.  No one ever said "remission," though that might tie back to the MRI and the inability to scientifically rule out new growth, no matter how many sets of eyeballs look at how many pictures over how many months and conclude that those little bits of enhancement are nothing but scar tissue. 

I feel like I've found a new normal for myself these days.  My memory isn't as good as it used to be, nor is my vocabulary quite so available, but I now find myself somewhere in the gap between recovery and adaptation.  I'm not 100%, but I'm used to not being 100% and I've found ways to cope.  It's really the memory problems that bother me the most.  Solving a problem can feel like fumbling with puzzle pieces, whereas once I had them all laid out before me, clearly defined and ordered.  Now, when I say a problem I'm not talking about minor things like tying my shoelaces rather than more complicated tasks, like fixing a broken computer.  I know that such things are beyond many people who are perfectly healthy but I'm not content with being another of the many when I have grown so accustomed to living in my own mind.  When I draw a blank like that it can be frustrating but it isn't crippling or frightening.  It doesn't interfere with my day to day life.  That only happened once.

A woman asked me for my phone number.  Nothing quite so enticing as a promise of a rendezvous to come so much as an order for take out.  I know my phone number like a rhythm; I start it and it flows out of me.  She tried to start it for me, but got it wrong.  That wasn't my area code, and once she got that wrong, once she shook my rhythm, I drew a total blank.  I had no idea what the number could possibly be.  I knew there was a seven in there somewhere, but how did the rest go?  For several moments I stammered and made embarrassed excuses, and tried to think of what to do.  I have an account program on my phone that has the number listed, but I couldn't access that while I was having a conversation.  Eventually I apologized, hung up, and looked up the number.  It clicked back into place immediately.  Of course that's my phone number.  Of course.

I never want to feel that sense of helplessness and confusion again.  I know my phone number as instinctively as my birthday.  I've had it for years and it's the only one I ever use.  If I could forget something so basic, what else could I forget?  That incident is now months in my past, and nothing like it has happened since.  Were that not the case I certainly would've gotten Dr. C.'s take on it.  Maybe I should have anyway.  Maybe next time.