One Month (Golf shots, Despair, Urination, Ripped Shorts and Happiness)
I started to put together a long and actually researched post in honor of 1 month into this journey a few days ago. I scrapped it last night and wrote this..
I promise to make this less of a journal in the future, and I promise that this blog is eventually going to be used to inform a lot more, but for the beginning it had to be all about me. I thought I needed it, and I was 100% correct that I did.
It’s me talking to myself, as much as it is talking to anyone that reads it. It’s me coming to grip with flaws in my character, with personality traits that I don’t like, or want to change. It’s me coming to the realization that I’m not just Matt Walker from Lambertville, NJ anymore.
For the first time that realization actually feels good. I still have many of the characteristics that I have had my whole life. I still am guided by where and how I grew up. But, overall, I’ve changed so, so much. I don’t think the same things are smart that I used to. I’m inspired by totally different situations and people. I have totally different opinions. I believe in totally different things. This blog is me coming to grips with the notion that I could actually really like myself and be happy in my own skin. It’s me coming to the realization that I don’t have to feel sorry about who I am.
That it has been one month since I decided to go full force into “understanding MS” is mind blowing for me. It feels like it was both 3 years ago and 3 days ago. There are things that are so far in the rear-view I can’t even comprehend why I cared about them. There are things that feel like they happened yesterday because they are still a valid part of my life. I apologize for anything that seems like a self-pat on the back from here on…
There are stories. There are situations that I can look back and realize the importance of. There are situations that I can laugh at, where I couldn’t imagine smiling at the time. There are some where I wish I made a different choice, but think I’m finally using to learn something from, as opposed to just feeling bad about.
There was the day where I grabbed an unfiltered Lucky Strike that my roommate had left out on the kitchen table, and walked to the back door of my apartment building with all intents on smoking. The back door jams from time to time. Usually you just put your shoulder into it and it opens. I dropped my shoulder hit the door and in the process squeezed down on the cigarette, cracking the paper. I threw it away and walked inside. That was 4 days after quitting.
There was my epic (In my mind) ordeal at the golf course. I left work at around 4pm after staring at a blurry computer screen while every dark thought I’ve had came screaming through my head for about 7 hours. I had to go. I went home and realized that sitting by myself would only be worse. So I drove to the golf course to hit some ball at the range. Finding out that no one was playing, I decided to go out. I played 18 in about 2.5 hours and finished right before dark. Only to find that I lost the only set of keys I have. Well, I drove around looking for them, but alas it was too dark. Good thing too, because everyone had left the course except the one greens keeper. I called the locksmith and sucked up the idea of spending 300 bucks on new keys, and told the greens keeper I’d be about 20-30 minutes. Well, that didn’t fly because the gate automatically closed in 5 minutes, and I had to leave. So I walked the 1/3 mile lonely walk to the front gate, which thankfully closed behind the greens keeper, meaning I got to show off my climbing prowess. In process of scaling 3-4 feel of steel fence, like the exact opposite of anything that resembles athlete, my shorts decided to rip down the middle… leaving my boxers, and sometimes more, hanging out no matter what I did. My uber came and I realized that my roommates aren’t home and I can’t get in my house. At this point I just started laughing uncontrollably. I was almost broken. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more lost over something that didn’t really matter. Then my phone rang, and my one roommate had landed at SFO. I would sleep in my house after all, and I wouldn’t have to ride Bart to a friends place with a golf bag and my balls hanging out. Within 2 hours I was laughing about it. The total ordeal actually made me forget about how much everything else sucked, ironically clearing my head.
There’s the time I pissed my pants. MS tends to mess with you in different ways. One of which I’ve read about is lessening your ability to hold it when you really really have to piss. So about 3 weeks before I decided to stop smoking and eased off drinking I’m at a happy hour for work. I’m enjoying myself, but my minds elsewhere. I was just starting to date a girl that I had met, and things were exciting. My phone got a text. Was I home? Should she come over? Me being insane I said yes. I could have easily said I can be home in 1 hour or anything that a sane person would have said. For some reason I thought it would work better if I acted like I was getting home RIGHT NOW. So I ran out of my happy hour, jumped in the Acura and jetted towards Alameda.
As I’m driving I realize that I’ve drank about 4 cups of water, 1 coffee, and 2 beers without taking a leak. It’s coming and coming fast. I manage to make it home, but as it has been for about a year, I have to piss so bad and it doesn’t feel like I can hold it like I used to. The dumpster behind my apartment looks like a forgiving spot, but a neighbor is by the deck. Fuck. I have to go inside. Being closer to the front of the building, and an elevator requiring less leak driving leg movement, I stumble/run into the lobby and hit the button.
I get on the elevator hit my floor and wait…. when the door opens I sort of hold it/ shuffle to my apartment, way back at the end of the hallway. I get to the last door and try my key.
I try again and then look up. I had hit 3rd floor, and am at 310 not 210. I realize I have probably 2-3 minutes until she shows up, feel a sense of “oh shit” and immediately proceed to piss myself at a level that is reserved for people trying to do it. Desperation leads to two things, and thankfully I have less quit in me than I thought, and my snap judgement was to move.
I ran downstairs, leaving a puddle in the hallway, throwing my shorts in the trash and jumping in the shower. I sprayed off, jumped into a t shirt and gym shorts, and threw my towel into the bathroom just in time to run to the front door with 10 seconds to spare to open it up and put a huge smile on my face. She had no idea.
There was numerous times where I thought to myself, why even try anymore. There were numerous times when I realized how much I enjoyed life. There was dancing to Ke$ha in Tahoe in my car. There was the 40 minute craps roll where I probably tipped the dealers 200-300 bucks. There was the time I accidentally put all of my chips in the circle in blackjack instead of playing the 10 dollar bet I had been playing because I was deep in conversation and had moved my seat (lost, and the dealer was at least nice enough to ask if he could give it back to me). There was the time two days ago where my hand just started shaking after hitting golf balls for an hour for no reason expect maybe to freak me out. There was the misguided and ill-fated trip to the trampoline park that ended with me dizzy and defeated. There was the trip immediately following that to the Batting Cages that left me feeling like a champion for defeating myself in my first MS video, “I will never hit a fastball again.” 90mph setting, contact all day baby.
There was Colorado and the mountains. There was the group of young Navy Corpsmen that played volleyball with me, took the shots I bought for us to share, listened to my story about my grandfather’s ship in San Diego (The Midway), and helped my friend with sound medical advice when he sprained and tore ligaments in his ankle trying to play volleyball with 22 year old servicemen.
There was the terrifying first time I told a girl that I was going on a date with about my MS (last week). There was the first conversation with my one sister right before I posted everything on June 25th. There was my first ever time going to Northstar Cafe for happy hour and not having a drink. There was the decision to climb my mountain. There was the plea for charity and a fundraising attempt. There was all of my family and friends chipping in with over $1200 to date for the climb that happens this weekend. I was hoping for $100-200.
There were the 30-35 pounds I’ve cut since June. There was the night I looked at my legs and decided to run up a hill as hard as I could. The last time I had ran, I broke my ankle so severely I ended up in the hospital for 2 days. I made it up the hill, I coughed and wheezed, and I realized that after a week of no smoking, my lungs were already stronger. There was the realization that my ankle was still weak, and in some pain, but that it also wasn’t something that could hold me back. My limp that had been in my life for 6 months was gone within a day.
There was the day I walked 10 miles. Something I probably haven’t done on purpose in 10-15 years. There were numerous times when I’ve felt horrible, weak, and scared. There were the times that i thought about conversations I’ve had since I announced my MS to everyone I know, the times where I was feeling the aforementioned bad thoughts. The things people have sent me, have told me, have made me truly feel run through my head daily and keep me going through the worst times.
I needed that. I am so thankful right now. And I’m feeling 150% better on July 29th than I was on June 29th. I am legitimately excited for life. As I’ve made clear numerous times, there are going to be down days, but re-reading this blog, and reliving the last month of my life, has reminded me of one thing… that I have a great life. Maybe the greatest I can imagine. It’s hard to really appreciate everything, and I know I lack humbleness from time to time.
But, everyone in my life has done their best to remind me that there are great people in the world, and that humanity is the most amazing thing to ever exist. That I am just a part of this wonderful mixed up puzzle we call life. That my ability to try and see other people’s perspectives is my greatest quality, and that my curiosity is something that I want to feed!
I still wake up every morning with the sick feeling in my stomach that i have grown accustomed to in the last 2 months (maybe 2 years), but it leaves faster, comes back less, and it feels more out of place when it does arrive, like a substitute teacher that you didn’t like, when you know that the real teacher is coming back tomorrow.
Wonder, joy, and excitement are taking over. I’m going to need everyone to keep this going from time to time. I’ll probably need help talking through different things from many of the people that know me.
In the next month I have my new MRI. I go to my follow up in late August to see if my MS has worsened and if my meds are helping. It’s no twist or coincidence that I’m going home to NJ / Philly 2 days after that follow up for a few weeks. If it comes back bad, I don’t know how I will react. I hope I continue to get strength from this and from all of the people I know. I hope I still strive to better myself, and stay excited about everything. I will see.