After waking early this morning I listened again to the voice mail that Dr. Marek left for me last evening. The message was the same; the M.R.I. was good. There were no signs that the cancer had migrated to other areas. I felt energized!
It is Saturday and suddenly this journey had positive mile markers to guide the way. A long list of things to do around the house, neglected lately, came to mind. My grandson, Logan, is spending time with his father, which is a good thing; although I will miss our Grandpa-Logan Saturday adventures.
I awoke hungry. After allowing the doctor’s message to lift my spirits I lifted my butt out of the chair and headed to the kitchen. I made a bowl of Golden Grahams and two pieces of toast with Blue Bonnet on it. This may sound boring to you, but after weeks of oatmeal and one piece of dry toast as the staple, this breakfast was like a five star dinner to me.
It was a mistake.
Within minutes the pain associated with eating returned with a vengeance; a 6 on the pain scale.
Inside where thoughts are born lives another character I call The Naysayer. I could hear him stirring with each passing moment.
“The doctor’s message was just a spot of good news not the cure for the cancer that still sits in your bowels. You can’t eat just because you are feeling better…you idiot!”
I ignored his words while concentrating on the pain, wishing it away. Slowly the pain lessened; 6, 5, 4, then a 3 and finally landing on a 2.
I thought again about my list of things to do and decided I would mow the lawn before the heat of the day arrived. The Bermuda had gotten rather lengthy and needed to be cut. I hoped that this would be the last time this year; soon the grass would lay dormant for the short Texas winter.
I pulled the old Craftsman Q4.5 out of the shed and primed her to start. Always reliable she decided to be stubborn this morning. It required about dozen pulls on the rope before the engine sputtered to life. I pushed the mower about ten feet before she died, choking out under the thick-overgrown grass. It took only a couple of pulls on the rope to restart the Briggs but she only traveled two feet before succumbing to the Bermuda jungle once again.
I raised the deck two notches (higher than I prefer but obviously a requirement today), primed the engine and pulled the rope again. And again. And again. This time it took about eight pulls to wake the stalled engine. By the time she started I was covered in sweat and breathing hard. The pain I felt earlier was creeping up the scale and had reached the 3.5 mark.
I don’t have a large yard but I knew it was going to take quite some time to finish this first task of the day. With the mower finally roaring at full speed I would push her just a few yards before feeling as if I had reached exhaustion. The perspiration and pain scale were increasing in harmony. I could only hold onto the handle and bend forward when the waves of pain came. I kept telling myself, sounding like the Watty Piper's Little Engine, “You can do this, you can do this.”
Then the voice of The Naysayer rose above the symphony of my own words of encouragement and the roar of the Briggs-
“You can’t do this! You still have cancer. You are still anemic, bleeding on the inside. Just give up, you are not who you used to be…idiot!”
I could see my shadow cast on the ground, a figure bent at the waist, holding onto a lawn mower to keep from falling face forward. It was hard to believe that just a few months ago I was going to Planet Fitness five times a week, working hard, obtaining body weights that I hadn’t seen in twenty years.
“That’s not you anymore. Face it! YOU HAVE CANCER!”
I ignored the voice of The Naysayer and continued slowly to push the mower over the long grass. It stalled two more times and required every ounce of energy and will-power to pull on the rope to bring it back to life. Each time I would measure how much more I had to go and with determination rising from an unknown source I continued.
“Idiot, you are making it worse.” The Naysayer whispered.
The mower sputtered and died once more. I looked up and saw a stretch of grass about two foot wide and fifteen feet long that still needed to be mowed. I pulled the rope…nothing. I pulled again and still nothing.
This old reliable Craftsman mower had run out of gas. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I yanked on the rope she was not going to start without gas.
I sat down on the freshly mowed grass, holding my midsection as if that may bring some relief and looked at the small patch yet to be mowed. “I’m not finished”, I whispered to myself.
“I am not finished!” I told The Naysayer.
“I am not finished!” I told God.
“I AM NOT FINISHED!”
If you happen to drive by house and see this small patch of overgrown grass know that I am leaving it there as a reminder to myself-that I am not finished.
But I am tired. I sit here writing these words in this electronic journal so that I won’t forget. But I am tired. It’s only 1:50 in the afternoon and I am done for the day. I think I will watch some football with my eyes closed…
To be continued….