By: Kenneth Stepp
When something meaningful happens in my life, I write about it. Part of my honesty and expose myself tour are my unforgettable moments. I have had so many, most revolve around my kids, most are amazing and beautiful, most isn’t always. So, into each life some rain must fall. I hear that all the time. My life could float Noah, so, I’ve learned to take the bumps and bruises and bounce my happy butt out and do it again. It never dawned on me the day would come that I could not bounce away.
July 1st 2014. That’s my day. I woke up early, worked several hours on my nonprofit, showered, dressed. Without telling a soul. I headed to the city next to us, to the emergency room. I have been blessed with health that always stunned my doctors. I look like an Olympic athlete on paper. Always big, tough, strong, and loud, not today. I was having extremely high blood pressure, dizziness, forgetfulness, and most of all, my eyes were just not working right. Two days before all this, I wrote 3 articles. First, I never do that many, second, the morning after I checked my column and they had gone viral. Most days I would be bragging. Not this day, you see, I didn’t remember writing them at all. I read all three, they really were good. But not something I remembered writing at all. Hey, maybe crazy me is a better writer that just me, right?
Pulling into the parking lot of Athens Regional gave me such angst, but, I do what I must. I parked under the parking deck to ward off the summer heat, walked in, sat down with the girl to check in. After telling her my symptoms, she called for a nurse, in she walked. Took my vitals, and BOOM, I’m a priority. This was my first time to Athens General. These were the nicest, most professional people I have ever met. I got to know all of them. One or two at a time they filed into the room and we had a chance to get to know one another. Awesome people.
They put me through a battery of tests. Name it, they did it. I thought they must be the most thorough staff on earth. If you know me, you know that I love the workers. Be it servers at restaurants or the staff at a hospital. They will never be more respected and honored than by me. It takes the same amount of time to be the best customer or the worst customer of their day. Hardly a choice really. The staff there was supportive and honestly cared. Hard not to appreciate that.
By the last time the young doctor came to see me, we were almost friends. A really great guy, he said he was the emergency doctor. And I would also be talking to the other doctors soon. Add one more to the list, the neurosurgeon. When he walked in and introduced himself, it made me wonder why. He began talking, his words began running together. Then he said two words that would change my life forever. “Brain Tumor”.
I wasn’t expecting that. At first it’s a wave of heat, then it’s disbelief. He began talking about the future. Not real far in the future. He said they would be admitting me immediately. Mainly because according to the quick onset. This was fast growing. He said he needed to do more tests right away and discuss treatment options.
I asked him if he could give me a while to process and he did. I asked the staff to go back and get him an hour later. I decided, no treatment. I will be going home to process on my own. I signed more liability releasing papers than I thought existed. I packed up and came home. To process, to write, to share my feelings with you while they are fresh. I hope that was ok.
Five days later, I went back for surgery. I spent five days in the hospital. The verdict was that they removed most of it. The tumor was benign, thankfully. He said it would grow back but would probably take about twenty years or so.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson