Thursday, October 30, 2014

What could clowns and Lou Gehrig possibly have in common?


O.K. So guess what I've been doing. Go on. Take a minute. Guess.


Those of you who answered, “Sitting thinking about all my fears” should... Wait. Seriously? Any of you thought that? Why that's... not right. Really. Why on earth would you think that?


Anyway, that's what I was doing. I was thinking about the things that make me fearful. Why? Good question. My answer: Who knows? I suppose the easy answer would be that it's around Halloween, the spookiest, kookiest time of the year. Do I strike you as a spooky, kooky kind of guy? Right.


Besides, I've never been a big fan of Halloween. When I was a kid, growing up in Scotland, our teachers always made us do some of kind of Halloween-themed craft project, usually a lantern. It never mattered much what the theme was, mine always turned into a horrible, terrifying lump of paper strips glued together: “Now, Masterrrr Arrrnold. Do we rrrrreally think that worrrrk is acceptable?” “No teacherrrr.” “Ah should think not.” Arrggghhh. One year we were supposed to make a spider. Hope was high for a while, but my spider ended up looking more like a lantern than any of my lanterns ever did.


But about these fears. I don't know why I started down that (dark and scary, for those of you who are Halloween fans) path. True, fears pop up now and then, but it's usually more of a Whack-a-mole situation: one pops up, you whack it with the mallet, it disappears, then another pops up. But, in this case, I was actually making a list.


Now, just by bringing such a thing up, I realize some of you may have started doing the same thing. Sorry. If you haven't, don't. Facing your fears and thinking about the fears you don't want to face are far from the same thing. Think about bunnies instead.


One revelation I did have, though, was that the fears at this point in my life are considerably different than what I would have listed even a couple of years ago. I mean, I'm still afraid of snakes, and there is still no actual reason for that fear, but I've had it for as long as I can remember. Adam and Eve, maybe? Mind you, on two continents, I have probably seen a total of five snakes in 65 years and each one was scurrying away from me as fast as it could slither (eew).


And clowns. I'm still afraid of clowns. I understand that a lot of clowns are involved in helping others, and most certainly devote a lot of time and energy to entertaining people. I do. I understand that. But, they still creep me out. They're usually so big and energetic. Even so, if they kept their distance, it might be okay. But they insist on getting into my personal space and trying too hard to make me laugh. It's called coulrophobia, by the way, the abnormal fear of clowns. Though Dictionary.com says it looks like “the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the Internet and which every smarty pants takes up thereafter.” Well, the smarty pants thing sounds somewhat familiar.


The fears that I need to confront today are deeper, more emotionally based.


I am afraid of losing any more loved ones. I guess that's always been running as a background script, but now it's very much to the forefront. Obviously, finding out how quickly one can go from thinking you're healthy to having an incurable cancer could do that to you. Linked with that, we had to put our beloved cat Samantha to sleep about a month before I was diagnosed with cancer. That was horrible. If you're a pet lover, you know what I mean. If you aren't, I can't explain it to you. I have actually shed far more tears over that loss than my own illness.


My reaction to this type of loss is, “Fine. I'm just not going to love anyone or anything again!.” You can probably see the obvious flaw in that plan, right? Even if you don't love anyone or anything else, you're still stuck with the loved ones you already have. Damn.


As bad as multiple myeloma may be, I don't think it even makes my top 10 list of diseases I wouldn't ever want to have. Number one, with a bullet as we used to say in the radio biz, is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. As I'm sure you know, with ALS your body slowly deteriorates while your mind remains strong and active. My big brain frustrates me enough now. I can't imagine not having someway to periodically dump some of the crap buildup. Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, polio, and, I'm sure, countless others I've never even heard of, would be higher on my list that multiple myeloma.


Sitting here, writing this, though, my biggest fear is that my multiple myeloma becomes active again before I'm ready. Yeah, I know, you're never ready, but, in some ways, you can be.


That one is pretty situational, though. I have my monthly clinic visit tomorrow, when they do the blood work that will tell us how I'm doing. Initially, I thought that the cancer becoming active again would be a constant fear, hanging over my head like the proverbial Sword of Damocles (whoever he was). It isn't, though. I don't actually think of it very often, but around my checkups it does tend to make a cameo appearance. I'm actually getting much better at letting things be that I have no control over, though.


One positive in this fear list thing is that I realized I no longer have inkafaceaphobia: the abnormal fear of ink from a restaurant paper napkin coming off on your face and having no one tell you about it. Look, we have to deal with our fears where and when we can. Cut me some slack.


There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere.”