Saturday, May 12, 2012

As Close to Nirvana as a Day Can Get and be Legal

Written May 6, 2012
I have decided to take a short (hopefully) sabbatical from work.

Within the space of a little more than a month-and-half, hearing that "you had a stroke and have a probably hideously fatal cancer," followed by "no, probably just chronic, needing lifetime, low-level chemo," to "lickety-split surgery" (not the GYN kind) followed by "oh, just a drug resistant osteomyelitis that will require at least 6 weeks of toxic antibiotics" to "oh, just a dead bone and a mutant booger, but we should keep the same treatment," to "we'd better stop the antibiotics, because they're giving you chemical hepatitis and other stuff," to "gee, that looks like a new piece of dead bone and tissue with a drug resistant pus icing just like a month ago, but don't worry, you can fix this by snorting antibiotics," to "well, back to the O.R. with you and what's left of your clivus," to "JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE O.R. (probably)," and "there is still the matter of that little stroke" can be a bit distracting.

Despite myself, during these six weeks, on and off, I have continued to see my patients as close to full time as I can. I have made several of the best catches of my career in the office, but that only goes so far when new tests and (my) doctors' appointments disrupt the day with regular irregularity. My pace has slowed to a crawl, and my mind is a little preoccupied. So, work and I have agreed that some time off is warranted.

However, I am the kind of guy to see the glisten on any dogpile. This is my first real vacation since the first day of medical school. I have temporarily absolved myself of all adult obligations that are not spousal or parental. For a brief moment, I will only be a father, a husband, a patient, and a dude. This is incredibly liberating. Even during the darkest days of osteosarcoma treatment, I still worried that I had to study for the Medical Boards and still was a public health activist. (The latter helped keep me from regressing to total childishness, but I can allow that now--for a minute.)

Time off was clarified on Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday, I had the best possible time I can imagine short of annoying the DEA.

On Friday night, K and I attended a live Nerdist Podcast, where three excellent standup comedians did short monologues mostly about their penises and then convened to revel in their geekitude. I laughed so hard my bowels hurt.

This morning, I slept in, but got up early enough to go to an early showing of The Avengers with K, B, and some friends. During the scary parts, B would come sit on my lap, and I would tickle his back. Again, I laughed almost to tears.

Then, we visited my sister-in-law's house and had some quality time with her dog and my brother-in-law's brother's puppy. I then attended a hearing at the Food Court, where I tore my yaki at the House of Maki, while B spent his allowance on some Legos.

After that, while our sons entertained each other, I went on a hike on the Freedom Road with my buddy Joel. We saw a herd of deer and met Mezozoic Myrtle the Big Snapping Turtle. (She was in a mood. It is egg-laying season, so she was particularly snappish.) See video:

Finally, K drove to New Hampshire, while B and I poured over a Lego catalog in the back seat. In New Hampshire, we attended a wonderful outdoor Cinco de Mayo party hosted by one of and attended by another of my very best ever friends from residency or anywhere. I played the guitar and sang, K sang, and B played the Bauran through rousing renditions of Hombre Muy Gordo (to the tune of Guantanamera), The Old MacDonald Blues, and Closer I Am to Fine. That little set was a longstanding dream realized for the first time.

We concluded the evening with a ride home with me and B in the back seat playing a pacifistic (at least after I had destroyed all dangerous competition) victory strategy on Civilization V on my laptop. He also asked questions way too advanced for an 8-year-old about what was the Great Depression, what is the Great Recession, what is inflation, what is deflation, etc.

The only way the day could have been more perfect is if I had remembered to charge my the battery for my fancy camera.

Eventually, and many times more, it will be back into the breach, but for now, forget it, Henry V. I'm taking some well-deserved R&R way back behind the lines!

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