It has been rough since the Eroica ride last weekend. I spent most of the next two days in bed. Complications with my "recovery" has me back on an IV twice a day. And overall, I don't feel one bit better than the day I left the hospital. It has been 56 days since my bone marrow transplant, 378 days since open heart surgery, and honestly I have forgotten what it is like to feel truly healthy. Any physical activity I do is simple mind-over-discomfort management and not an artifact of any improvement. If I do something that another individual in my circumstances can't, it is only because I am willing to hurt more, not because I am actually better. I have been doing that for months and stuff just isn't much fun anymore. The doctors are pleased because I am not dead and therefore a success. I don't think that is a success. So here is what I hope is some wisdom for anyone who cares about this:
Live your life so deeply and fearlessly that when (probably not if) you come to a crossroads that involves either living briefly or existing for a bit longer, you will know instantly what to do. I have done some quietly spectacularl things and probably even more disastrous ones, but my life history pales in comparison to the one I should have lived - one that was truly fearless. Consequently, twice in one year I wasn't ready to correctly choose between a compromised existence or a shorter one ending in dignity. Both times I chose the compromise. I wouldn't do it again. I have been spending the last few years trying to become fearless, and doing a decent job of it, but still I didn't have a big enough stash of satisfying experiences to say, " Wow, it has been an incredible ride. I won't diminish it by a life winding down with medications and endless medical appointments. My life is too great for an ending in a hospital bed." I couldn't say that, not yet, and was unprepared for the decision. Do not allow yourself to get caught in this position. Live as if you are going to die tomorrow, scare yourself, get lonely, sick, robbed. Crash and burn and then come back again. Repeat that until folks start fearing for your safety. Then you will know you are living. There is tremendous wisdom in the saying that we should always carry death like a little bird on our shoulder. After a while you lose the fear, but not the awareness.
So now I am stuck with it all, patched, scarred, and jury-rigged to keep me going, whatever that means. And I am not interested in knitting or stamp collecting. I only want to run and ride trails and somehow make the world more beautiful just by being in it. As the milestone Day 100 looms without noticeable improvement, marking the difference between acute (OK I can do that) or chronic (very not good) side effects of a bone marrow transplant, I feel a creeping sense of earnest. But at the same time, life is distilled to a wonderful purity. And if I survive this shit, that will be the take-away.