Saturday, September 27, 2008

What You Can't See

It has been an interesting week for me, to say the least. I have started to feel better, stronger and more like my old self. I have managed to stay out of the hospital––that's something to celebrate––for three weeks. No doctors. No needles. No one poking me, looking at me like I'm going to die, no pain. At least nothing you can see. And I've had to battle, yes battle, to keep my integrity and my cool in a hostile environment. But that's another post, I'm sure.

At one time in my life, I was an athlete. I still think like an athlete––competitive, prepared, always trying to get better every day––but my body reminds me that my better days are behind me. During my days of playing just about every sport––I even played soccer for a while but don't tell anyone––I was fearless. And a little crazy. Some would say stupid.

When I was 11, I was playing quarterback at the Hollywood YMCA and dislocated my kneecap. Some kid dove right at my left knee to try and tackle me. We were playing flag football. I tried so hard not to cry. My Dad ran onto the field from the sideline and picked me up. I was more embarrased than hurt. And I wanted to go back in the game but I was going to the hospital because my kneecap was about to poke out of my skin. Fortunately for me, my Dad was driving fast and we hit a bump in the road. My leg got bounced around and my kneecap went back into place. Long story short, I was back in the game right after half-time. Good thing my Mom wasn't there or she would've taken me home.

That began a long and strange list of injuries that happened to me: broken thumb while running across the street, broken bone in my left foot my Senior year in high school––which I didn't know until a physical months later––two cracked ribs and dislocated shoulder playing softball (finished the game), broken nose playing basketball and way too many times on crutches because of knees, ankles and hip injuries. Even hurt my back bowling.

I can feel all them now. I can see some scars, as others do from all the sports injuries and surgeries. But there's a lot no one can see. No one can see the scars––physical and mental––from having to fight cancer two times. The "scar tissue" stays with you. If I had cancer twice, will I get it again? What do my insides look like after all the crap I had to put into my body to stay alive, to live another day? Hey man, I'm hurting in here! Does anyone notice? Do they care? 

It's not self-pity. I don't believe in that. There are millions of humans who have it much, much worse that me. But it's only human nature to be fearful of what we can't see. The things that go bump in the night. The scary movies that don't show an ounce of blood––ya know, the kind Hitchcock used to make. We can't see the internal pain we cause others when we treat them badly, when we only care about our own agenda, when all we think about is ME. 

I'm terrified to see what's going on in my body. I still have a ways to go. My body is fragile. It' still healing and will be for a few more months or even a year––at least that's what the doctors tell me. My body's jacked-up more than any injury I've ever had.

I just don't let you see it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stock You Can Count On

As the financial world and the stock market seems to be crumbling around us by the minute, it got me thinking about the word "stock". The dictionary lists 39 entries of the noun "stock". Some of the most notable include "the share of capital held by an individual investor", "a supply of goods for sale, kept on the premises by a store or business" and " a theater company's repertoire of plays". (In my mind, these three seemed to fit together!)

But the meaning of "stock" that has the most, well, meaning to me is when stock is used to define someone's standing and reputation. I once had someone say about me that "Greg thinks his reputation is much greater than it actually is." Now mind you this person didn't have the balls to tell me that to my face––I heard it from someone else. And he had known me for all of maybe 2-3 months and not very well at that. (My Wife thought he looked like someone who had a collection of child pornography. Which after she told me that, it was as clear to me as the cheesy, '80's porno-moustache on his upper lip that she was dead on in her assessment!).

Reputations are a tricky thing. They can be built on a single instance, over time or created by others who may never even meet us face-to-face. They can take years to build––on the positive side––and an instant to destroy. Think of the phrase "his reputation preceeds him". That can be good or bad. Reputations can be entirely fabricated. Is there someone you met whose reputation was the exact opposite of what you thought or was told? (Go back to your high school days for that one!)

When I was choosing my team of doctors and a hospital for my treatment of cancer, I had to do my homework. Who were the reputable doctors? What hospital was in good standing for cancer care and treatment? Was Hopkins really better than UPenn or the hundreds of others across the country? What about the radical treatment my Sister-In-Law received in Mexico? Doesn't Farrah Fawcett get treatment in Germany? Yeah, lots to think about. Lots of uncertainty. Lots of information to sort through. Lots of reputations to sift through. Not a lot of time when you are diagnosed with cancer. Time is not your friend. Time is what you're trying to save, not waste.

Who could I count on? Who would make my family feel comfortable. Hell, who would treat my family with care, respect and understanding. So I did the only thing I knew. I relied on the one person whose reputation and standing on issues of trust, respect, compassion, knowledge and understanding I could count on.

I put stock in myself. Because my "internal" reputation had been built over a period of time of making good decisions, honest decisions, decisions that took into account not only myself but those who I love and the effect it had on them. Did I invest in the right stock?

You bet I did.