Chapter 53: “The Measure of a Man”
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The whole “nearly dying” thing really awoke me from my slumber. I had been too content in enjoying my life, so much so that I almost forgot to fear my myriad near run-ins with the Grim Reaper! The good news was that this “anxiety attack” was an error; I wasn’t really dying and so, I was able to mentally separate that event from a real flight-or-fight worthy response. My senses had been restored and I could now resume my normal life.
Oh, that’s right, I still had to work at MBNA making calls dutifully but never pushing people past their point of rational thought. I carefully laid out the terms of the credit card I was selling at the time and never lied to the customers (like I had heard some other people doing). It kept my conscience – and the money I earned there – clean.
One night, I was on a call and suddenly, my vision tunneled and my focus waned. I ended the call earlier than normal, not pushing as instructed (even up to my modest limits). I logged off and sat there in silence for a moment. I felt like crap.
My hands began to shake and I felt weak. I wasn’t panicked like before while high, I was instead reacting to this sudden ailment accordingly. I kept telling myself: This is different. This is different. Assess. Assess.
I asked my cubicle neighbors if my symptoms were anything I should worry about. One lady spoke up, informing me that the reaction sounded like a diabetic sugar drop. She had diabetes and knew what those felt like and therefore, I listened. She gave me some peanuts and raisins to increase my sugar intake. I sat there as each minute offline counted against my stats ticking away like a timer on a movie bomb about to explode, but it didn’t matter; life was more important to me.
I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet; head on my hands. I only needed a moment of privacy. I imagined the chemical process of my body converting the nourishment into energy, but quickly decided it wasn’t helping and instead, tried to keep my mind off of it. I pulled out my cell phone, flipped it open, and read some old text messages. I read one from my friend Cody.
I’ll pick you up at your place before we head down to Portland tomorrow. Your house is closer and it would save us both some time.
This helped me regain my composure. Cody worked at MBNA too, but he took the day off (something I should have done). I had to work earlier to make up for the time.
Cody and I had been playing Super Smash Bros. Melee for months now. He would always beat my ass, but I would at least get a stock or two out of him before he’d win. I had been getting a lot better – ever since the hospital – so when we got wind of a tournament in Portland, we figured we’d give it a go. At the very least, it would be a fun road trip.
Our friend, Roxanne (the one who made that killer ‘Friendship Book’ all the way back in Chapter Two) decided she would come down with us and visit another one of her friends. The tournament was on the University of Southern Maine campus where that very friend was attending. Perfect fit. Plus, we could split the gas three ways. Win-Win… Win.
Cody and I were set to crash at the dorm of his friend, one who was also a big Smash Melee fan and a fellow contender in the tournament. I had never needed to stay in a dorm before and thus, it was sure to be an exciting experience to witness that kind of life.
Cody had driven us down, so for once, I was able to relax in the passenger seat. I thought it would be cool to put my feet up outside of the window, but when Cody was fueling up in Sherman, I tried it. I was too long and awkward to make that pose work. Sigh. There go my carefree passenger dreams.
We arrived at USM and dropped Roxanne off. When we got to the dorm room with our many bags we discovered that his friend wasn’t there yet. So we hung out in the Rec Room and played a bunch of pool and Ping-Pong. My Ping-Pong skills were vastly honed compared to Smash, and so, these matches were much more even.
Finally, after about two hours later, his friend had arrived. We set up the GameCube in the dorm and went to “the lab.” Regrettably, we only got a few matches in before we had to turn in; it was rather late after all and we had to be there at Ten AM.
When we awoke in the morning, I was reminded of how deeply I snore. Thanks, Cody. We went to the communal bathroom and I hopped into the isolated shower. It was such a weird experience. I had never taken showers in gym class in high school and I was never a part of any camp, so this shared bathroom occurrence was one of wonderment… and awkwardness.
Cody and I got a head start on the tournament. The other guys would follow, but we wanted to get there early and get some more matches in to prepare. We drove to the other campus where the tourney was being held and parked. It seemed rather empty.
Maybe we’re too early? Nevertheless, we continued into the building that was on the event page we printed out. It was the right day and right time. Yup, same building too. But where was everybody?!
We waited in front of the unmarked doors. Things weren’t looking good. As the clock ticked to Ten AM, we figured it wasn’t happening. Maybe it was rescheduled? We called Cody’s friend to ask if he had heard anything.
NOTHING. Then, correction– we called Cody’s friend to inform him that it was off. Man, I wish there was a way to stay up to date on these things?! Maybe the Internet can help one day?
We called Roxanne and went to pick her up. We regaled her with the “Tale of the Missing Tourney” as we drove back North.
Hey, it’s like I said, worst-case scenario: It was a great road trip.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.
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