chapter 36: Autumn

October is one of my favorite times of year.  i love the winds of change blowing about, whisking us all away, far from the summer’s warm and subdued blankets of green and blue, and into the crisp air of fall romances, the calico foliage of harvest landscapes, and the cozy embellishments of a world adjusting to the cool, not yet prepared for the cold.  people put on jackets and walk hand-in-hand on wooded paths, falling more in love with every step.  oh, and they also have brain tumors.

Seasons change, in nature and in life; and in the light of my new opportunity to find a job more suitable, i delved into the intriguing world of the delivery person.  given my circumstances, it held an uncommon allure; i considered the benefits:  rather than trying to race against an invisible and unforgiving clock, i could sit down and rest while i worked.  there would be little physical demand, and no cheese could be thrown at me.  not unless i rolled down my windows.  so i began my research, and i struck gold almost immediately:  i found a part time job (for the interim), working under a guy who had been at the place for 5 years.  he’d show me the ropes, and i’d learn to become a true professional, a respected leader in the field, a master of industry and enterprise.  i’d be known far and wide.  as the guy who delivered spaghetti.  okay, not my life’s ambition, but i needed something.  two days into my job, i got more than the something i was expecting:  the guy QUIT.  suddenly, i was the main driver.  i told the restaurant manager to give me every shift he had.  and so he did.  i began working 7 days a week, including a minimum of 4 doubles.  my life became nothing more than a series of presses to the gas and brake, a ballet of blinker signals and caution lights, and a bevy of “please sign here” edicts, each one given just before my return to the throne behind my steering wheel.  but the king was dead, and i don’t mean Elvis:  i was a man on a mission, and GPS was my guide, but GPS as being Getting Pathetic Sleep.  i woke up and went to work; i came home and took care of menial responsibilities until the early morning; then to work i returned, after only a modicum of rest.  70 hours was a tiring week for an already exhausted Me, but i didn’t care; i was broke.  my brain hemorrhage had wiped me out, in more ways than one.  i just wanted to work and get back on my feet, by any means necessary.  still, my schedule had me waking to my best impression of the “time to make the doughnuts” guy.  i was a zombie, which was seasonally appropriate–to my delight, Halloween was just around the corner; but my upcoming favorite holiday wasn’t the only thing spooky.

one night while working, out of nowhere, i felt a pain in the center of my head.  it sat there for a couple of seconds, then it began lurching outward, toward my scalp.  it felt like a mushroom cloud from a small A-bomb, and the intensity grew with the diameter of the explosion.  it wasn’t enough pain to make me grimace, but it was enough weird to make me concerned.  i immediately called a friend, in case something detrimental soon occurred; i wanted someone to know what i’d just experienced.  i was left with a dull headache for about 20 minutes.  the incident buoyed in my thoughts, for days and weeks, afloat on an ocean of what-ifs.  i wondered when i might be caught off guard, and then caught off dead.

what if Dr. M was right, and the aneurysm attacked the center of Wade, like a cherry bomb exploding in a junior high toilet?  what if i was upright one moment and horizontal the next?

Flush.

November brought another instance of cranial peculiarity, and i made my appointment with Dr. M to re-test my aberrated gourd.  or pumpkin.  actually, jack-o-lantern.  i was an orange, green-stemmed globe, with a jagged, toothy smile, and the fire of a brain lesion lighting me up.  Trick or Treat.

unfortunately, scheduling with UCLA was like Charlie Brown trying to get a decent piece of candy.  over and over, “i got a rock.”  as Christmastime grew closer, it became apparent that a new set of MRIs would have to be a late present for me.

in the meantime, as i walked through November with a teetering threat, i only hoped my clock was the only thing to Fall back.

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