The Hardest Week of My Life
After a 15-hour flight from Abu Dhabi which included an unexpected diversion to DC and a 5-hour delay, we’ve landed once again on American soil. It may be 7 months ahead of schedule, but, without a doubt, this is where we need to be. For now. A few thoughts on the last week or so…
I’ve spent the last 8 years working in tv news, most of which was dedicated to covering crime. I definitely became desensitized to the violence that I saw around me. I also became too skeptical and cynical – too negative about what I saw.
In one week, the outpouring of support from around the world has reminded me of how good at heart people really are. I didn’t have wifi at the first hospital in Pokhara, so every morning Cassie would bring me the latest round of messages, emails, and notes that I had gotten. Family, friends, and total strangers offered their love, prayers, and help. I cannot describe how powerful this was for me, and how much easier it made my time in the hospital.
Nearly 2 years ago, I watched as a friend of mine got very similar messages during his time in the hospital (although for a very different reason). I saw him tear up as he looked through them, but I didn’t get it then. I do now. At the time, I probably told him to man up. This is still good advice, and I’m sticking with it. But at least now I understand why those messages can be hard to read.
I owe the Big Guy upstairs more than a few Saturdays at synagogue. There are certain coincidences that happened over the past week that, at least to me, cannot be fully explained without a helping hand from above. This could be a grand conspiracy from God to make me more kosher. If so, the point is made. Next time, please try something a little more subtle. I would’ve gotten the message.
What will my life be like from here? It will be just as fun and ridiculous as it always is. To me, there is no old life and new life. There is life. There is no before and after. There is now. There is no “new normal.” Life wasn’t ever really normal before so why should I expect it to become normal?
Let’s review: A suburban Jewish kid from New Jersey falls into a career in television news while simultaneously learning to fly the plane his father built in the basement before quitting his job to travel the world with his interfaith wife. Does that storyline change all that dramatically if we add the modifier “diabetic” into there? Didn’t think so.
I won’t ask the question, “Why did this happen to me?” Very simply, it happened.
More importantly, it’s not fair to others to ask that question. Why did one of my best friends have a stroke at the same age at which I developed diabetes? Why did an acquaintance of mine die in a car crash our 4th year of college? Why did a friend develop a malignant tumor in her early 20’s? These people and their families may ask “Why did this happen to us?” I have no such right. Not with something as simple and treatable as diabetes.
To the first doctor in Pokhara who, first, misdiagnosed my diabetes and, second, misdiagnosed the severity of my condition: You may want to review some of your notes from med school. Especially since you’re a diabetic and probably should’ve picked up on the signs IMMEDIATELY. Jerk.
(For those who are counting, that’s now two straight misdiagnoses from medical types. After I blew out my knew last June, a resident at UPENN hospital said I probably just strained something. It took my insurance 2 weeks to approve an MRI because she didn’t do it at the hospital that night. And now Dr. Diabetes can’t figure out that I have the same disease he does. Seriously?! You guys spend 87 years in med school. Let’s make sure your diagnostic accuracy rate is a bit higher than the MLB batting average. Derek Jeter is allowed to bat .312. You are not.)
To the medical staff at CIWEC in Kathmandu: Thank you for getting me home so quickly once my care was in your hands. I think my parents appreciate this even more than I do.
To my pancreas: I’ll see you in hell. Quitter.
To Nesquik chocolate milk: I will do everything in my power to work you back into my life in a way that’s good for both of us. Right now, we need some time apart. It’s not you. It’s me. You haven’t changed. I have. Our relationship lasted 31 amazing years. You’ll always be in my heart until you’re again in my stomach.
To the FAA: I have every intention of flying again (and some big plans here too). If you don’t give me my medical certificate back after I’ve filled out all the necessary paperwork, I will go all Bear Jew on your ass.
To everyone who has followed our updates these past few days: Thank you so much. Thank you a thousand times. And then a thousand more times. And then… you get the idea.
Stay with us! The adventure isn’t even close to over.
And finally, to everyone at home in the States: I’ll be recovering and rebuilding some strength in NJ. So let’s hang out!