Thursday, January 21, 2010
Run For Your Life
So, recovery has gone very well so far. It's been nearly a week since my skull reconstruction, and I feel very good...the headaches are gone, I'm off nearly all meds (only seizure suppression remains), and not in any pain. We're not completely out of the woods, as there is still significant risk of infection or other complications, but we haven't seen any signs of them so far. I look pretty good too:
No real swelling or discoloration to speak of. I also maintained my track record of being discharged from the hospital early. So, five surgeries in, I got to thinking -- is having brain surgery something you just get good at? Is a procedure so invasive, injurious, and with such a high risk of complications something your body just "gets used to"?
What makes my body able to handle these procedures with relative ease? Why do I recover so quickly? Why have my stays in the hospital always been cut short? After removal of the right frontal lobe, why was my stay in the hospital the same as someone who had their tonsils removed? Why am I still the only brain surgery patient in the recorded history of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to skip ICU completely? How can I have brain surgery and run a half-marathon six weeks later, or train for and run a full marathon while undergoing twelve months of chemotherapy? I've discussed this with my neurosurgeon here, and with those at Cedars and elsewhere...and the answer, quite simply, is fitness.
You all know by now that I'm a man of strong faith, and I believe God has preserved me in this world to serve Him and testify on His behalf. No doubt in my mind that plays a role. But, to bring this blog to a close, let me say it quite clearly:
I believe fitness -- running, in particular -- has saved my life. After my first surgery, I made a decision to put my body in the best possible physical shape to fight cancer, and I think much of my success in the fight is a direct result of that decision.
Would I have made it through five brain surgeries if I had been out of shape? What about 22 rounds of chemotherapy and 42 rounds of radiation? Had I not been in marathon shape through all of it, would I have recovered as quickly? Likely not. Would I have recovered at all? Who knows. Would I even be alive today? Perhaps not. A few months ago, I watched the movie "Run For Your Life," the story of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon. The title of the movie indicates that running defined him, and was his primary reason for living. For me, it's not my reason for living -- it's the reason I'm alive. Don't miss the difference.