Friday, September 19, 2008

vivendo discimus

I don't want to write this post. Really. It's been better than a week since I actually realized I did not want to write this and it's been nagging me ever since. I'm ashamed of my reason and I'm afraid I will alienate some of my friends but it is my responsibility to say what I'm about to say no matter how afraid I am to do it.

This started off as a more convenient way for me to share what was happening to me. As I said then, managing multiple email chains would have been difficult at best and impossible when I got worse as expected. Now it's a bit of a sounding board and a punching bag for me to just get some things out. This has been needing to come out for a while now and, in struggling with the problem itself, I'm struggling to have tried keeping it to myself out of fear of disappointing anyone else.

Realistically, I am doing much better that just a few months ago. I'm still having troubles from time to time and they're still frightening me too easily into doubting I can do much at all. I'm fighting to do fun things like fly away for a racer/driver coaching seminar, or spend a day at the track, or even just muster up enough within me to enjoy dinner with friends or a movie with Jody. As anxious as I am to get back to meaningful work, I am scared about what next Monday brings me in terms of balancing my ability to be effective with the need to spend more time than others in the bathroom. It's embarrassing and it crushes my spirit at times.

Which leads me to my knees, sometimes literally but most times in just a quiet desperation. I'm worn out. I don't know how much more I have left to wear away. I feel like the brakes on my car; able to get by but not without a bit of noise near the end squealing a little louder for attention.

And the trouble there is, the reason I am afraid to have said more to anyone other than Jody or my family, I'm not feeling like this is doing anyone any good. I clearly remember praying and, though scared, acknowledging my faith that God wouldn't have allowed me to be thrown anything I could not handle. I prayed that my faith would increase because the challenge certainly would. Through radiation and chemo and surgery and chemo and surgery again I felt buoyed.

And then chemo started again and the second round destroyed me. My hope drained away faster than ever. All that while, little Brie lay in the hospital and I could not visit her because I had poison escaping through my skin. I prayed she would be okay and was thankful for all of the miracles that seemed to have put her in the absolute best hands she couldn't have possibly planned or even paid to be more right. And my hope was obliterated when she died. Though I've been coping with that and am still finding acceptance, there has been an insidious want inside me that has aggravated the anger I have over my own disease and made me arrogantly call it a need.

It's been a desire, a temptation really, to want to know why. Why has this happened to me? At the beginning I had a real sensation that this was a test of my faith and being around others and sharing through the blog would be a way God would show Himself to others. And that gave me hope at the time. A year later I'm tearing myself apart wanting my part in the decision of whether or not all of this, me suffering with cancer and life afterward, is worth it... worth going through if it's just to be an example to others.

I'm just starting to scratch the surface of that and this post, as much as I'm afraid to make it, is what I think has to come. You see, I'm not perfect. My faith and what I believe do not make me any better nor worse than anyone else. They do not protect me from disease or hard times and do not make Life all teddy bears and rainbows. And just as Life can be tough for me, Life is also tough for everyone else. Which brings me to one fo the requirements of being a faithful person... this... relating to other people and sharing my experience... even when it's been hard and I feel like I'm failing to be a good example of how a believer faces rough times in Life.

I was reading a thread on a message board in a discussion of whether or not Creationism or Intelligent Design, the belief that the universe was created by God, should or should not be taught in public schools. The argument was familiar; that evolution was the only scientifically provable angle and should be the only curriculum taught to today's children as opposed to an unproven fairy tale of sorts.

I added my own personal take on the debate by saying this, "Personally, I revere science, the scientific method, and curiosity as a motivation for greater knowledge and understanding. I also happen to believe this quality was a gift from God. My faith is reinforced every time the tiniest new discovery is made. There is no scientific fact that will shake my faith. There is no scripture that can deny me the wonder, the enjoyment of discovery. I've got cancer. If there is an experience in life that could destroy my faith or express my disappointment in science, this is it."

For the record, it was in an off-topic forum of one of the BMW boards I read. ;)

What has shaken my faith though is this overwhelming wish to know why this has happened. I'm starting to realize that I may have gotten it right at the beginning and it's happened because it's supposed to speak to someone around me. What is it supposed to say? I'm not entirely sure, but I think part of it may be simply to demonstrate that a faithful man is not free of anything good or bad in Life. I think it may also be saying belief is not some easy choice for the lazy or the unintelligent man.

And the more I think about that, the more I'm okay with it because helping other people is something I think we all feel good about. I know it satisfies me even if I've been a little too anxious to get back to work; the last place I really felt I was being helpful. So while I'm afraid to admit I'm struggling in my faith, I will anyway because it may be helping you.

And to me, that is worth it.

vivendo discimus - by living, we learn

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I've had a bit of a rocky few days and I wanted to make some changes. Obviously the blog template changed, but I've got a post brewing that I'm both anxious and hesitant to put up here. God and I have been butting heads and I need to get some things out. For all I know, it's one of you that needs this more than me, but I'm going to do my part.

Meanwhile, I've added a new little picture over to the side linked to the Stand Up to Cancer movement. I missed the television program last Friday, but I'm going to try to find it online. I don't know much about the effort, but given the name I'm eager to find out more. Please click through and check it out for yourself. Because you know me, cancer has touched your life now. Sorry 'bout that... ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

and home again

I made it home from Durham without melting in the rain. The seminar was a fantastic experience and though I've still got butterflies when thinking about instructing, I now have a tone of ideas, techniques, and advice to draw from when I finally make that jump. Day two was just as good and sent me home with a list of bullets to apply to my own driving once I make it back to the track.

The flights home were uneventful except for another twinge in my abs (same one) that I'd otherwise been able to avoid all weekend. I tried reaching back over my head to raise the headrest of the airplane seat and -zing-. That set off a wave of anxiety and I must have looked like a ghost. I think I saw myself turn white. It didn't help that I was dog tired... or maybe it did. I got home around midnight and just crashed. I'm still glad I went instead of chickening out.

Hopefully this week will find me reunited with my badge and back to work work (as opposed to empty cube "work"). I was still pretty tired when I awoke yesterday morning so I logged into my email from home to see if the badge process had finished. Nope, not yet, so the decision to take a floating holiday was pretty easy. My boss warned me that I have to use them up before the end of the year. ;)

Jody telecommuted too and around mid-afternoon we both wanted to get out and do something. How about a movie? "I'd like to see Mamma Mia!" "Okay, I guess..." I enjoyed it after all and now I have A - BA stuck in my head. I will burn a CD this morning and pop it into the car today so it's not a bad thing. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How to test your faith

This is a image of the Raleigh/Durham area right now:


Yeah, that's the eye of hurricane Hanna just east of Fayetteville.

Why Raleigh/Durham? Well, that's where I'm at right now, posting from my laptop in the very nice Sheraton Imperial. I'm here for a driver coaching seminar being given by Ross Bentley, author of the Speed Secrets books.

So yeah, I've flown away from home, into a hurricane, by myself, just shy of two weeks after being in the hospital, anxious as all get out about these weird sharp muscle pains under my right arm (ribs) and below my belt. I know they're muscle pains because they only hurt if I'm reaching or stabilizing myself... so I'm moving kinda carefully as I go. And praying constantly.

God got me through the anxiety of getting on the plane and got me here just as the storm arrived. He blessed me with an easy checkin and some very good rest before treating me to a visit with wonderful friends, the Valentines, whom moved here earlier this year. We had a great dinner at Ole Time Barbecue that Brett had seen on Road Tasted with the Neelys on the Food Network channel. It was excellent. :d

Good nights' sleep capped off the big day and now I'm up getting ready to go learn how to teach drivers to drive fast. Oh, and safe too. :D

I am very thankful for the smooth sailing so far and I know I'll be okay going home... even through the tail end of a hurricane.

Monday, September 1, 2008

potentially big day tomorrow...

Hello again. I've been sitting on something that I've been trying not to get too excited about. I've had a handful of setback days still trying to get back to okay to help keep my mind off of it.

Last Tuesday, as I was waiting to see Dr. Grasso actually, I got a call from a fellow at Lockheed about a contract we'd recently won that is being staffed even as I type. I couldn't find anything about it earlier so it came as a bit of a surpise when I found out where it was. Take a guess?

If you guessed right back where I had been working, you'd be close. I've not been given all of the details yet (administrivia) but what it sounds like is going to be really really cool. I may find out more tomorrow as the wheels of bureaucracy continue to turn and I get closer to my old, normal status.

What I do know is it will be within my old customer's spaces at a rung or two higher on the ladder of development, test, and delivery that I used to work. I'll be back in that environment again which has me absolutely thrilled. Ever since it looked like I wouldn't be going back to my old task, I've been praying that whatever it is I should be doing be made nice and clear. I've been a bit thickheaded with this opportunity, but it does seem clear that's where I should be.

I was doubtful, and my bad days didn't help, but the customer is aware of my work limitations and wants me anyway. In fact, they want me as soon as possible so that I can overlap with the incumbent whom is leaving at the beginning of October. I do not know the situation there but that has also conspired to worry me; in the past it's always been me headed for the door having to train my replacement several times. But I'm going to put one foot in front of the other and believe it's where I ought to go. Hopefully, I will learn more tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I am a little nervous about the weekend approaching. I want to stay healthy this week and enjoy a driver coaching seminar down south in Durham, NC. The speaker is a fellow whose books I've read at the encouragement of some of my driving instructors. Before I got sidelined, I was being asked if I'd consider teaching and I secretly cringed. I'm not sure I'm skilled enough to teach someone else... I wouldn't know where to start. Well this is where I'm starting by learning how to teach another driver. I am looking forward to the experience and hope to catch up with some old friends at the same time.