It’s time to address https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/26/jusjojan-daily-prompt-january-26th-2018/ the 800-pound elephant in my living room. This Superman shit is getting out of hand. It’s a real thing (obviously, it’s the name of my blog), and it’s getting in my way and clouding my judgment.
There is good Superman. Like the time I was driving my daughter’s friend home. She and my youngest were in the back seat, we were in traffic and when the light turned Green the horns started blaring. Cars started going around the lead car and I realized that the car was stalled. My youngest elbowed her friend and said “watch this’ as I opened my door, in traffic, ran over and helped push the disabled car to the side of the road. After I knew the driver was all set for a tow I got back in the car. I asked my daughter what she had meant by her comment and she said: “I knew you would help that car.” I pointed out to her that no one else did and she said, “Dad, it’s a good thing.”
There have been many of those. I won’t apologize for them. Then there is the “bad” Superman that takes on too much and sacrifices his own health in the process. I have been guilty of that as well. Would you believe me if I told you, and I can’t be more honest than I am at this moment, that I really don’t think about what is good for me? I’m not looking for a cookie like some deadbeat Dad on Springer. I really don’t care what happens to me. The only pleasure I get out of life is helping others.
When my health was deteriorating severely pre-transplant I managed to put up a serious fight. To not worry my kids, to keep my job and continue to support my family I pushed myself too far. My boss praised me, my wife chastised me. Bad Superman was born. I like how it worked out. Denial wasn’t just a river in Egypt, it was a great way to get to the end zone. I found mental strength in the absence of physical.
As I came out of the fog of anesthesia post-transplant, my eyes strained to see a doctor hovering above me. He asked me when I had last worked. I asked what day it was. Tuesday night? I responded that I worked until noon the day before. He asked if I knew the criteria for dialysis (which I stubbornly refused to do). I did not. He informed me that I was ten times over the limit for dialysis and he was amazed that I didn’t have a heart attack. That explained a lot but I didn’t really care, I was alive now right? The doctor left the room shaking his head. He wasn’t impressed. He thought I was just an irresponsible jagoff. He was probably right, but again, it worked for me.
On recovery, I was consumed by the need to get back in shape and pay back the gift I had been given. In that order. I worked out like crazy, I even did P90X. My Transplant surgeon said, “Kidney transplant patients don’t do P90X”. I said, “they do now.” Once I felt good, I began to help other people. I volunteered, I led kid’s mountain bike expeditions. I joined the Freemasons to really put a stamp on my commitment to be a better person and help others. I was a better father, friend, coworker and overall person. I tried to be a better husband, but that ship had sailed already. In the midst of this quest for purity of the soul, I got lazy about my medications and I had a rejection episode. A hospital stay and enough prednisone to kill a stampeding Rosie O’Donnell later I was down about 15% kidney function. Bad Superman. Lesson possibly but not likely learned.
Here and now, in the present, I have found a day that I can’t save. I’ve finally found my true Lex Luthor. My wife. Since we agreed to divorce, she has been noticeably depressed. Her best friend, who my wife famously “picked” over me as her confidante and number one, is telling me that something is wrong with her. While highly tempted to tell her, as the anointed yin to her yang, to fix it herself I am instead terribly worried. Her living situation really does suck. She lives with the best friend, the household is a real disaster. Between the lack of privacy, the new and increasingly frequent arguments with each other (which my wife is completely unequipped to handle), and lack of money she really is slipping into a depression. I saw just how bad it was Wednesday night. At my daughter’s 16th birthday of all places.
Instead of a “sweet 16” party she deserves, with a hundred guests fawning over the wonderful, sweet, caring and amazing girl that I would actually die without, we had a small gathering at the aforementioned house of horrors. I hate it there but I gladly drove 2 hours there. I wouldn’t miss it. My 2 oldest were unable to make it and I walked into a true shit show. My wife was livid, she was fighting with her friend and for some reason barely talking to me. I managed to get her alone for a minute and stupidly asked her if she was ok.
“Fucking great, living the dream.”
I fumbled a bit and then told her that I am used to her not being happy, but I’d never seen her depressed. I told her I was worried about her. She told me that there is nothing that I can do.
We tabled it for the moment and went on to celebrate my daughter’s special day. God bless her, she managed to make the most of it. She’s used to being disappointed I suppose. I showed her the blog post I wrote for her the other night (in confidence). She cried, in a good way. In the absence of material things, I made the gesture of words and she appreciated it. When I left, I gave my wife half of the measly earnings I had made this week. She gave me a weak thank you, a half-assed smile and I left.
“There’s nothing you can do” echoed through my head the entire ride home, haunted me in my sleep and was waiting for me when I awoke. The fact is, there is something that I can do. I can go back to work. It is very likely that I will be offered a full-time position in April. If I get a good enough offer, it may be time to cancel the SSDI claim, take care of myself and hope for the best. I would be able to give my wife enough to get a place of her own, or at least make her situation better. I would be doing something, instead of resigning myself to accepting things the way they are. I just have to determine the cost. It could be up to or in excess of the limitations of my body.
I have known my wife for 29 years. Married for almost 23. She raised four amazing children. Despite some notable wrinkles, she has been a good wife for the entire time. I can’t leave her like this. I know I’m not well. but when has that ever stopped me? As a man of integrity, the right way is the only option and I can’t help but feel that I am not doing all that I can.
Is this the true test of my lack of concern for my own well-being? I know that at least one of you out there is going to agree with this…in order to save others, I have to put my own mask on first.
Dammit Superman, what are you going to do now?