The first round of labs are back with an over-all slight improvement (my hemoglobin when from 12 to 12.5 and my estimated GFR, which is kidney function, went from 20 to 21). Probably the highlight is the fact that my electrolytes were normal despite the fact I had been more lenient in my diet. Just a couple of months ago I was eating only plain oatmeal and noodles and still my potassium was high.
My cancer labs are not back as they have to be sent out. It will take at least two days to see the state of my cancer.
Mini Ramblings: A Career Milestone
This morning, the final nail was hammered into the coffin of my career. I mentioned before that the local hospital, to my surprise, closed my clinic and laid me off. Immediately I had a neurologist in a local town call me and invited me to come to his office and open up a headache clinic. However, he is an employee of a large hospital group (Peace Health). Once I talked to them about this idea, they seemed hesitant. This morning they called to basically tell me to go take a hike, that they are not interested in a headache clinic. Unfortunately, headache patients have always been discriminated against and in my opinion, this was more about the profound misunderstanding about headache patients and their needs than about the financial viability of such a clinic.
Looking for Meaning
All of us look for meaning in life. I think it is a natural consequence of anyone retiring or loosing a job to doubt that meaning. But in the context of so much I’ve lost this year, this black hole of despair can be tempting.
Over the years, I have learned more from my patients than I think they have from me. I will never forget one patient that I followed when I was a headache specialist at Mayo Clinic. She had been the director of a large Christian organization (I think it was the Salvation Army) in a very large Midwestern city. She, being in her thirties and single, signed up to a Christian dating service. Her first date was supposedly studying for the ministry and sounded, online at least, like the perfect Christian man. They went out to dinner and then went back to her apartment, which was in a high rise. The date had been going very nice and she was starting to have feelings for this man. Then as they said good night at her door, she let him kiss her. But then he said he wanted to come inside. She said no.
As she went to close her apartment door, the man stuck his foot in the door to her shock. To make a long story short, he then forced his way into the apartment and brutally raped her. I think at this point, he wanted to cover up his crime so he tried to kill her by beating her with a heavy object (can’t remember if it was a brick or ball bat or whatever). He left her for dead.
She was seriously injured with a brain injury. She regained consciousnesses after several days and her mind was almost back to normal, but she had severe head pain (that’s how I got to know her) and she had a stroke-like impairment with difficulty moving half of her body. She spent the next year, mostly on her back and working with PT and rehab, trying to walk again.
She told me within the distress of all of this, the PTSD of the assault and the physical pain, the worst part was her own sense of meaningless. She had always been a strong leader and the head of things like the Salvation Army of a huge city. Now, she was struggling to drink from a straw and to sit up. She realized during that first year that she always measured her worth, her worth to God, society, and herself, based on her accomplishments. Now, she felt that she was only taking up space and oxygen, and at times, wished that the rapist had succeeded in killing her. But she wrestled with her emotions, her mind and God for months. Finally she heard God say (not literally but figuratively) that He loved her and that He found her to be of great worth simply because He had created her, and for no other reason.
This is the place I find myself at times, the wrestling with the idea of finding self-worth when I have no roles in society. I’m no longer raising kids. I’m not longer helping patients, and I’m barely a husband as Denise is quite self-sufficient.
I contemplate my next phase of life. I must be able to do something more than to sit alone and look out the window, and think. I do love writing and could write day and night. . . but will there be readers? Denise has always said that I should just write and then throw it away (especially when I write candid or controversial things), writing just for myself. Maybe that works for some people. There are people who play music for their own enjoyment. My father would go back to the bedroom and close the door and play his guitar. In his younger days he had played with the famous Carter family at his store in Tennessee. But he was shy when it came to music and never, ever would play for us. But I’m different. I don’t look for praise, but I write to educate and to entertain. It is important to me that people are educated and/or entertained by my efforts.
I’ve had up to a thousand people buy some of my books, but not tens of thousands. It is so expensive getting a book to market if you do it right (proof-readers, artist, etc), and the royalties are so low (25 cents to 75 cents a book) that you have to sell tens if not hundreds of thousands to break even. So, I don’t know if my writing is sustainable. We will find out when my next novel is released.
By the way, the man who had perpetrated the rape was caught and it went to trial. He and his good lawyer tried to paint the case that the woman (who admitted she was a virgin before all of this) was a tramp, liked really rough sex, and begged him to beat her. So her being raped and beaten almost to death . . . well, according to them, was consensual. After all, the man couldn’t go to jail as he was preparing for the ministry.
They almost won their case. . . but thank goodness he was convicted. But the emotional trauma to her, in a trial about a year and half later, was terrible.
So, down a rabbit hole once again. I am sorry about the drip, drip, drip of blog postings but as soon as my final labs are back, my “updates” should be done for a while.