Discussing this weakness is embarrassing.
It hurts because it contradicts the public face I present on this blog and in person regarding the way I handle my health challenges.
It hurts because it reveals vulnerability, but not on my terms.
I woke at 1:30 this morning out of a tight sleep to go to the bathroom, as I do several times a night.
Coming back to my bed, it occurred to me that I hadn't turned off my cellphone before turning in. So I searched for it in a half-sleep.
It wasn't in the bedroom.
It wasn't in the kitchen.
It wasn't in the bathroom.
It wasn't in the living room.
My panic shattered the last vestiges of sleep.
Did I lose the phone at the bar last night? (No booze, just ginger ales.)
I scoured the bedroom again, then the kitchen.
Then I checked the computer table.
There, peeking out from under the plastic dust cover over the computer, was my cellphone.
I grabbed it and smashed it to pieces on the floor. Repeatedly.
All my doctors' numbers, friends' numbers, phone numbers of all kinds gone.
It was literally a blind rage.
Rage isn't called blind for nothing.
The warning signs were there all along, only I didn't pay them much heed. In hindsight they're crystal clear:
--The deep emotion, to the point of tears, at hearing certain music (why music and not poetry, for example, is beyond me). I've always been this way, but moreso lately. In short, I find myself reacting to poignancy and pathos and the occasional unfairness of life with much deeper emotion these days.
--The impatience with small stuff (and small people) that shouldn't be fussed over.
--The refusal to allow myself to truly express fear out of concern it would consume me.
There were other signs, but maybe that last one was key.
I wasn't giving myself the freedom to express a very basic and very healthy human emotion: fear.
The surgeries, the setbacks, the uncertainties, the red tape, everything that has been going on lately and over the years combined into a volatile mix last night.
I've always had a bad temper, long before my health struggles began.
But last night was scary.
It was liberating, or so I thought, to believe that I had no fear of reality. But as it turns out, fear swam freely below the surface of the ice. I rejected it when I should have embraced it.
I strove to be like boxer Rocky Marciano, 49 wins and no losses and on top of the world, even if that world wobbled violently from time to time.
My "fuck you" attitude in the face of fear and adversity wasn't the absence of fear. It was a response to it -- but an incomplete response, with no release valve.
I felt that if I stared reality in the face, it would back down.
Externally, I showed no fear -- none -- chatting with the doctors, being led down that terrifying corridor to the operating room, jumping up on the operating table and telling the surgical team, "Let's do this."
Internally, I was shaking like a dog shitting peach pits, as Ken Kesey put it.
The problem is that I prepare for battle but don't sound the all-clear down once the air raid sirens stop wailing.
And so there was last night.
I wasn't relieving stress nearly as well as I thought.
Hence this post.
Yes, it's very flattering to be thought of as fearless and brave and a rock and an example and all that other bullshit that nobody could ever live up to. At least, I know I can't live up to it and maybe I should stop trying so hard. Or trying at all.
Fighting for my life is a messier business than I thought.
It's far more complicated than I envisioned.
I hope the water doesn't become even more muddied through accusations of my being a hero or an example or any of that other nonsense, ever again.
I had my post-op checkup today and the surgeon says I'm healing well. The proof of the pudding will be in my serum calcium level. The blood test results will be in next week.
I asked the surgeon his gut feeling about the big picture. He said I'll probably need much more extensive surgery in 10 months to a year. Every case of this disease is different, and mine presents bigger challenges than many.
A simple series of blood tests over time, though, can change everything.