Timing is one of those weird things that can bring a sense of cosmic order to a non-religious, spiritually-agnostic life. I have been fortunate to experience what could be called divine acts of timing. The universe has taken care of me, with sensitivity to timing. Acknowledging this, is a useful aspect of healing.
The following is a chronology of events, that in hindsight, took place just when they needed to.
Yoga pause, July 2015. I love yoga. I believe in it. It’s the first practice that made me feel connected to my body, in the moment, instead of just being a floating head, which is how I’ve always felt. I practiced yoga for about a year with a wonderful, uniquely talented, light-filled, generous yogi. The pause came about in anticipation of a trip to Aruba that my uncle invited me on. I look forward to returning to the mat when things have progressed a bit further and with the blessing of physical and occupational therapists.
Swimming pause, 2015. I paused swimming sessions (the pause is still on, but will resume when possible, I’m not a born swimmer, but it’s great exercise, especially for the core), sensing that I needed to adjust my physical recovery. That was a Tuesday, on Wednesday I fell into a tomato cage, in a community garden, and realized that my core could not enable me to push myself up on hands and knees. This event now symbolizes the end of my first era of presumed mobility. At about the same time, but not exactly due to the fall, I broke my glasses, I drove (a rental at the time) about a mile-and-a-half without them (I’m nearsighted) to Staples, to buy some tape to crudely fix my glasses. Leaving Staples, I later learned I dropped my wallet in the parking lot. I went to work. Before cancelling cards and taking the usual measures for a lost wallet, the police called to tell me that my wallet had been turned-in and I could come pick it up. I believe the man’s name was Joel. Joel left his number with the police, but my thank you call ended up in voicemail. Joel, if you’re out there, thanks again.
The next day I went to work, and fell, twice, hard, but with no injuries, within about 15 minutes. The HR Coordinator, and Corporate Counsel, after situating me comfortably on a sofa in a vacant office overlooking West LA, informed me that I’d need to go home and not return to the office without a doctor’s written approval. As it would turn out, this was a defining moment, that effectively initiated my current phase of medical care, treatment, and recovery, and the end of free-form walking, and driving. From the office, I called my friend, ex-girlfriend of 10.5 years, fellow parent of our dog (my heart), and now health advocate. She came and bailed me out, picking me up from work. From this point forward my orbit became much smaller, originating from home.
Not long after, through a referral from the neurosurgeon who performed the two surgeries I had, I went into the care of my current Neuro-Oncologist. Reacting to recent symptoms, the frequent falls, radiation and chemotherapy were discussed as near-term treatments—the opposite of the wait-and-see non plan of action that I was rather casually following via MRIs every six months with follow-up visits to a clinic at the hospital where I had the surgeries.
I indicated a desire to wait until things were financially more feasible and until I had a full year under my belt at work to qualify for California’s medical leave act. The doctor and team understood and accepted this, and were somewhat less concerned about the urgency of treatment once they saw recent MRIs indicating tumor stability. In late May of 2016, I indicated that I was ready to move forward with treatment. Surgery was planned.
Then came pneumonia. One Sunday morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. I texted “hospital” from my iPad, to my advocate. For the next week I was hospitalized. I had been scheduled for surgery the following week. As it turned out, the medical team decided that surgery was not right at that time, and that radiation and chemotherapy would commence. A few weeks later, in mid-July, 2016, I began six weeks of five-day-per-week appointments with what I called ‘The Radiation Monster.” All of this was while I was on medical leave.
Radiation ended in early August, with no distinctive side effects other than generally low energy.
At the beginning of October, my current chapter of being financially supported by disability (so grateful) and having my non-outpatient days more or less available to independent work—type design primarily and some freelance design work—began. As it has turned out, prioritizing treatment, mainly physical therapy and more recently occupational therapy, through outpatient and at-home exercise, first and foremost, have been the right way to make progress with my health. I can’t take credit for the timing, the initial work transition, which was uncomfortable for multiple months, ended up for the best.
I am, by nature, a worker, probably a workaholic in what now feels like a different life. Prioritizing health, unfortunately, often happens when something has already gone awry, as it did with me in forming a brain tumor.
I have danced, sometimes on a knife’s edge, with timing my whole life. From serious car accidents to unusual social encounters. Cosmically, so far, I have been very lucky and try not to take anything for granted, including the order in which things happen. Part of my current healing and recovery effort is to acknowledge the significance of people and events that enter life at opportune moments and to recognize the grace that surrounds me.