My excuse for getting through just about anything these days is reminding myself of what I have survived. “If I can get through that, I can do this.” Likely a delusional and misguided approach to things, but those who know me well, know I am harder on myself than you can be on me. So in the personal intimidation category, I win hands down.
Obviously foremost in those comparative experiences is surviving my craniotomy, the past year of piecing me and our life back together and living with a brain tumor. On a long run or in the gym when my fuel tank seems to be on empty and tapped out, I think of how crappy I felt and how much pain I felt in the ICU and at home recovering and without fail, that gets me going. Comparative experiences come back to me in the most random of circumstances.
We have three dogs: two labs and one ancient, blind and slightly incontinent pug. As a result of Sophie’s blindness, she needs to be carried outside many times each day for the “potty”. As I watched her in the front yard one night, a storm started rolling in. Still waiting for Sophie to find that perfect spot, the lightning got closer and the thunder got louder and I thought it best to step back onto the porch and find at least a little protection. As I stepped onto the porch, the irony of my actions made me laugh as I remembered back to a night I had totally forgotten about.
Before I started my freshman year at Lafayette College, I had the opportunity, or I should say my parents had the opportunity to pay for me to participate in a pre-orientation. Selecting from a variety of outdoor adventure trips, I chose the rock climbing and caving trip. Having never done either, it seemed cool. This was a do-it-yourself adventure trip; the guides were there to keep us from maiming or killing ourselves, no Michelin stars here.
The first night, we woke to a huge storm. One of those middle of the night storms with haunting and blinding cracks of lightening, deafening thunder, driving rain and wind. Funny now, but not then, was that we were sleeping in tents in a field. All of us encapsulated in our large nylon tents held together by metal supports. This experience has likely fed my belief that the closest I will get to camping will be in a pimped out RV with plumbing, a full bar, gourmet meals and rubber tires to ground lightning strikes or my backyard with my boys in close proximity to the above necessities. The storms provided for one of those moments when you are not quite sure how to get yourself out of the mess and with no where else to go, wondering what do you do? I remember thinking how pissed I would be if I got electrocuted – getting zapped in a field in central PA was not exactly how I saw my life ending. Morning came eventually with clear skies and sunshine and we were all alive.
Remembering this experience all these years later as I stepped onto my front porch has served to show me that while I view my life with my brain tumor as my greatest challenge thus far, every challenge I’ve lived through and moved on from was at one point my greatest challenge. Today is great until tomorrow proves it’s better.